“Beauty And The Beast” : How Do You Update A “Tale As Old As Time” ?


Trash Film Guru

I’ll be the first to admit it : to the extent that I’ve racked up any “cool points” with my readers over the years, they’re pretty much all out the window by me admitting that I’ve even seen — much less bothered to review — director Bill Condon’s new live-action iteration of Disney’s animated classic Beauty And The Beast. The only pathetically tepid thing I can offer in my “defense” is that, judging by its mammoth performance at the box office, the entire rest of the fucking world has seen it, too, but still — it’s my job to be cynical to the point of obstinacy about this sort of production just as a matter of course, and to the extent that I’ve let any of you down by plopping down my hard-earned money on this blatantly saccharine offering, knowing full well what I was getting into from the…

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A Movie A Day #83: Shattered: If Your Kid’s On Drugs (1986, directed by Burr Smidt)


Shattered: If Your Kid’s On Drugs is a typical anti-drug video from the 1980s.  The story is familiar after school special material.  Kim (Megan Follows) and Rick (Rick Segall) are upper middle class kids who live in the suburbs.  Rick is a track star.  Kim is at the top of her class.  That all changes when they start hanging out with the local drug dealer (Dermot Mulroney), who gets Rick hooked on marijuana and Kim hooked on cocaine.  Kim gets an F on her report card.  Rick can no longer jump the hurdles.  Eventually, their parents stop drinking and taking valium long enough to force them into rehab.  The message is that tough love is the only solution.

The only thing that makes Shattered: If Your Kid’s On Drugs noteworthy is the strange and unexpected presence of Burt Reynolds and Judd Nelson, playing themselves and commenting on the action.  The first scene in the video is Burt and Judd driving their pickup truck through the suburbs, talking about how nice it is.  “Lot of nice restaurants,” Burt says.  “Are you going to buy me lunch?” Judd asks.  “Lot of nice restaurants,” Burt replies.  “This town is the American Dream,” Judd says.  “Or the American nightmare,” Burt adds.  When Kim and Rick are getting high in Dermot Mulroney’s chartreuse microbus, Burt and Judd sit on a picket fence and shoot the crap.  Burt can’t understand why teens would use drugs and Judd reminds him that it has been a while since he was a teenager. Rumor has it that both Burt and Judd appeared in this video to fulfill court-ordered community service.

Everything works out in the end.  If you have any doubt, just look at Burt giving us a thumbs up before the final credits roll.

Music Video of the Day: Estoy Soñando by ABBA (1979, dir. Lasse Hallström)


At first, I honestly thought this was another version of Fernando. It’s actually the Spanish version of I Have A Dream. I can find music videos for Connie Talbot’s cover version and Westlife’s cover version, but not ABBA’s English version. There is a listing for it. I just can’t track it down right now. The best I can find is a live version. Maybe that’s why this is up on ABBA’s official VEVO channel. It’s better than not having any version available.

I thought this was a Spanish version of Fernando because the video is basically the same. You have the group sitting around in an intimate setting singing a low-key song. How I mistook the song itself, I have no idea. Since I can’t find an English version, I have no basis for comparison between the two videos. Still, I think this is exactly how I would want that version to look as well. The song lends itself well to something that is stripped down and involves nothing fancy.

Enjoy!

ABBA retrospective:

  1. Bald Headed Woman by The Hep Stars (1966, dir. ???)
  2. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  3. Tangokavaljeren by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  4. Vårkänslor (ja, de’ ä våren) by Agnetha & Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  5. Titta in i men lilla kajuta by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  6. Nu Ska Vi Vara Snälla by Björn & Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  7. Finns Det Flickor by Björn & Sten Nilsson (1969, dir. ???)
  8. Nu Ska Vi Opp, Opp, Opp by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  9. Det Kommer En Vår by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  10. Beate-Christine by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  11. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  12. Att Älska I Vårens Tid by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  13. Min Soldat by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  14. Söderhavets Sång by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  15. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  16. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  17. Love Isn’t Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough) by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  18. Waterloo by ABBA (1974, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  19. Hasta Mañana by ABBA (1974, dir. ???)
  20. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  21. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. ???)
  22. Bang-A-Boomerang by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  23. SOS by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  24. Mamma Mia by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  25. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  26. Tropical Loveland by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  27. When I Kissed The Teacher by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  28. Tiger by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  29. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  30. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  31. Fernando by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström) + Spanish Version
  32. Dancing Queen by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  33. That’s Me by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  34. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  35. The Name Of The Game by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  36. Thank You For The Music/Gracias Por La Música by ABBA (1977/1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  37. One Man, One Woman by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  38. Take A Chance On Me by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  39. Eagle by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  40. Summer Night City by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)

Lisa Cleans Out The DVR: Road Gang (dir by Louis King)


I was going to start this review with a quote from Gandhi: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its prisoners.”  That was something that I first heard from a perpetually stoned ex-seminarian who used to live in a trailer park in Lake Dallas.  I always figured that, being as stoned as he usually was, he probably knew what he was talking about but, upon doing research for this review, I have discovered that Gandhi actually didn’t say that.  What Gandhi said was, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”  Fortunately, it’s the same basic idea and, regardless of how you phrase it, it’s a quote that perfectly encapsulates the message of the 1936 film, Road Gang.

Road Gang tells the story of Jim (Donald Woods) and Bob (Carlyle Moore, Jr.).  Bob is fun-loving.  Jim is more serious and engaged to marry heiress Barbara Winston (Kay Linaker).  Jim and Bob live in an unnamed Southern state (though I’m going to assume that the state is supposed to be Georgia, just because).  Jim has just written an article that exposes the corruption of political boss, J.W. Moett (Joe King).  The article is so good that both Jim and Bob have been offered jobs in Chicago!  There’s a lot of corrupt political figures who can be exposed in Chicago!

However, while driving up north, Jim and Bob are arrested on trumped-up charges.  At first, Jim and Bob laugh off Moett’s desperation but, unfortunately, another criminal happens to be breaking out of jail at the same time that Jim and Bob arrives for booking.  That criminal kills the arresting officer and then forces Jim and Bob to drive him across the state.  Eventually, the police recapture the three of them.  However, the escaping criminal is killed and Jim and Bob are arrested as accessories.  Under the advice of their lawyer, Mr. Dudley (Edward Van Sloan), they plead guilty and accept a deal.  What they don’t know is that Dudley works for Moett and that, as a result of pleading guilty, they are going to be sentenced to five years in a prison camp.

Okay, so the film gets off to a pretty melodramatic start.  And, to be honest, the entire film is extremely melodramatic.  A lot of time is devoted to Barbara trying find evidence that Jim and Bob were set up, something that is made difficult by the fact that Barbara’s father, like Mr. Dudley, works for Moett.  Fast-paced and not-always-logical, this is a B-movie, in every sense of the term.

And yet, as melodramatic as it is, Road Gang is deadly serious when it comes to portraying the brutality of the prison camp.  From the minute that Bob and Jim arrive, they find themselves at the mercy of the corrupt warden and his sadistic guards.  The prisoners are largely used as slave labor and subjected to punishments that are often arbitrary and extreme.

Road Gang doesn’t flinch when it comes to portraying why prison often not only fails to rehabilitate but also helps to transform minor offenders into hardened criminals.  There’s a disturbing scene in which Jim, Bob, and the other prisoners are forced to listen as another prisoner is whipped.  The crack of the whip and his howls of agony explode across the soundtrack in a symphony of pain and sadism.  Jim and Bob have two very different reactions to being in prison.  One survives.  One allows himself to be killed rather than take one more day in confinement.

Road Gang is often compared to I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang.  Actually, beyond the theme of a fatally compromised justice system, there is no comparison.  The angry and fact-based I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang is a hundred times better and, quite frankly, Donald Woods was no Paul Muni.  However, Road Gang still has its moments of power.  Decades after it was made, the issues it raises continue to be relevant.  Do we send people to prison to rehabilitate them or to punish them and are the two goals mutually exclusive?  And how can we say that someone has “paid his debt to society” when, even after a prisoner serves his time, the stigma of having been imprisoned closes and locks most doors of opportunity?

Road Gang shows up occasionally on TCM.  There’s where I recorded it on January 23rd of this year.

Here’s The First Trailer for Destiny 2!


And finally, here’s the first trailer for Destiny 2.  I’m going to be honest and admit that I don’t know much about any of this but I do know that there was more than a little excitement here at the TSL Bunker when this was released.

Is it just me or can Lance Reddick make almost anything sound noble?

Destiny 2 will be released, for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, on September 8th.

A Movie A Day #82: Sweetgrass (2009, directed by Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor)


101 minutes of sheep and mountains.

That’s the best description that I can give of Sweetgrass.  Sweetgrass is a documentary about shepherds in Montana who take a herd of sheep across the Beartooth Mountains.  There is no real plot.  The shepherds are not interviewed and very little is revealed about who they are.  They are men of few words so mostly the only sound heard is the constant baas of the sheep.  One of the shepherds does yell at the sheep, usually to curse at them for wandering off.  It is only at the end of the documentary that it is revealed that this was the last time that the shepherds herded their sheep and that their ranch, after 104 years of operation, closed the following year.

The scenery is often amazing and the documentary works as a record of and a tribute to a dying way of life.  Sweetgrass does not attempt to explain why these men do the work that they do or why the ranch is finally having to close.  It is a pure documentary, with no outside commentary, making it both enlightening and frustrating.  How much you enjoy Sweetgrass will depend on how much patience you have for baaing sheep.