Lisa’s Week In Review: 2/5/18 — 2/11/18


There’s a lot that I could say about this week.  I was sick at the start of it.  I was well during the middle of it.  I’m feeling even better here at the start of it.  But really, for me, this week has pretty much been all about the Winter Olympics!  Between the curling and the figure skating, I’m loving this month!

Anyway, when I wasn’t watching or thinking about the Olympics, I manged to get the following accomplished:

Movies That I Watched

  1. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
  2. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
  3. Bring It On (2000)
  4. The Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice (2010)
  5. The Dresser (1983)
  6. The Emigrants (1971)
  7. Fifty Shades Freed (2018)
  8. The First Power (1990)
  9. Gargoyles (1972)
  10. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  11. Hold Back the Dawn (1941)
  12. How The West Was Won (1963)
  13. Ice Princess (2005)
  14. Kitty Foyle (1940)
  15. Live and Let Die (1973)
  16. Mardi Gras For The Devil (1993)
  17. Mardi Gras Massacre (1978)
  18. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
  19. Mean Girls (2004)
  20. Miracle (2004)
  21. Shanghai Express (1932)
  22. Silk Road: Drugs, Death, and the Dark Web (2017)
  23. Zandalee (1991)

Television Shows That I Watched

  1. 60 Days In
  2. 2018 Winter Olympic Games — Under the sponsorship of the Big Evil Corporation, Kelly Thul and I live tweeted the Opening Ceremonies.  It was a blast!
  3. The Alienist
  4. The Amazing Race 30
  5. American Crime Story: The Assassination of Versace
  6. Ask the Undertaker
  7. The Bachelor 22
  8. Bride Killa
  9. California Dreams
  10. Celebrity Big Brother
  11. The Chi
  12. City Guys
  13. Crashing
  14. Deadly Women
  15. Degrassi
  16. Divorce
  17. Evil Up Close
  18. Ghost Whisperer
  19. Hang Time
  20. Here and Now
  21. Homeland
  22. Intervention — My God, is this whole “Heroin Triangle” thing ever going to end?  They are really dragging things out.
  23. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  24. King of the Hill
  25. The Magicians
  26. Murder Calls
  27. South Park
  28. Undercover High
  29. Vanished in Alaska
  30. Waco
  31. The X-Files

Books I Read

  1. Goldfinger by Ian Fleming (1959)
  2. Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (2017) — Yes, I finally read it.  To be honest, gossip aside, it’s a rather dry and boring book.

Music To Which I Listened

  1. Amy Winehouse
  2. Asaf Avidan
  3. Big Data
  4. Britney Spears
  5. The Chemical Brothers
  6. Dillon Francis
  7. Elle King
  8. Essa Corr
  9. Evil Twin
  10. Former Ghosts
  11. Fitz and the Tantrums
  12. Gita
  13. Half Waif
  14. Jacobus
  15. Jakalope
  16. Jake Bugg
  17. Johann Johannsson
  18. L Divine
  19. Lenny Kravitz
  20. Muse
  21. Pegase
  22. Phantogram
  23. Pierre Kwenders
  24. Radney Foster
  25. Saint Motel
  26. Southside Drive
  27. Sunflower Bean
  28. Taylor Swift
  29. The Ting Tings
  30. Unknown Motral Orchestra

Links From Last Week

  1. From The World Outisde The Window, The Films Outside The Window
  2. On Horrorpedia, check out my thoughts on The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane!
  3. B Noir Detour reviews the 1949 best picture winner, All The King’s Men!
  4. On Images By Erin, This Was Once A School
  5. On Film Grimoire, Anna shares her January 2018 favorites.  (Ann’s monthly post of her favorites is one of the things that inspired me to include a “links from last week” section to these weekly review post.)
  6. For those who follow such things, I am again recapping Big Brother over at the Big Brother Blog.
  7. Here’s some Mardi Gras for y’all: My experience Driving Uber on Endymion Saturday, Gluttony in the Big Easy, and Mardi Gras!
  8. Revisiting The Winter Olympics
  9. From The Dead Walk, Tony Todd: Candyman and Beyond
  10. From Someone Somewhere, The Revolutionary Power of Black Panther

Links From The Site

  1. Jeff reviewed music videos from Whale, Winger, and Journey.
  2. Gary shared his favorite Super Bowl commercial and paid tribute to John Gavin.  Among the films he reviewed: The Front, Bed of Roses, and Limelight.
  3. Erin celebrated National Weatherperson’s Day with a collection of “stormy” covers.
  4. I celebrated Francois Truffaut’s birthday and paid tribute to Johann Johannsson.
  5. Leonard shared trailers for Deadpool 2 and Venom.
  6. Ryan reviewed Shiner and shared his weekly reading round-up!
  7. Patrick reviewed Hell’s Kitty, which is a pretty good description of TSL mascot, Doc Bowman.

Have a great week!

(Want to see what the week before last was like?  Click here!)

(I’m still upset that Ashley Wagner isn’t skating at the Olympics this year.)

 

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Shanghai Express (dir by Josef von Sternberg)


(With the Oscars scheduled to be awarded on March 4th, I have decided to review at least one Oscar-nominated film a day.  These films could be nominees or they could be winners.  They could be from this year’s Oscars or they could be a previous year’s nominee!  We’ll see how things play out.  Today, I take a look at the 1932 best picture nominee, Shanghai Express!)

Welcome to China, circa 1931.  The country is beautiful, mysterious, and dangerous.  Civil War has broken out and living in China means being caught between two equally brutal forces, the government and the Communists.  Captain Doc Harvey (Clive Brook) is scheduled to ride the so-called Shangai Express, the train that will take him from Beiping to Shanghai.  The Governor-General is ill and Doc Harvey is the only man in China who operate on him.

For Doc, it’s a matter of duty.  However, soon after boarding, he discovers that he is traveling with the infamous Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich).  Though Doc has never heard of her, everyone assures him that Shanghai Lily is one of the greatest courtesans in China.   When Doc does finally meet her, he’s shocked to discover that Shanghai Lily is his former lover, Magdalen.  Did his decision to break up with her lead to Magdalen becoming a courtesan?

“It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily,” she replies.

However, Doc and Lily aren’t the only two people with their own personal drama taking place on the train.  The train is full of passengers, all of whom have their secrets.  Some of the secrets are minor.  One woman spends most of the trip trying to keep anyone from discovering that she’s smuggled her dog onto the train.  Other secrets are major.  It is suspected that one of the passengers might be working for the rebels.  And then there’s people like Sam Salt (Eugene Pallette), who is addicted to gambling and Eric (Gustav von Syffertitz), the opium dealer.  Looking over it all is a Christian missionary (Lawrence Grant) who considers both Lily and her companion, Hui Fey (Anna May Wong), to be fallen women.

It’s not an easy journey, no matter how nice and romantic the train may be.  If the express isn’t being stopped by government soldiers, it’s being hijacked by a warlord who not only wants to stop Doc from performing the operation but who also wants to take Lily back to his palace…

Shanghai Express is pre-code drama at its best.  Director Josef von Sternberg delivers an ornate mix of opulence and melodrama, never shying away from the story’s more flamboyant possibilities.  Marlene Dietrich, appearing in her fourth film for von Sternberg, gives a strong and unapologetic performance as Shanghai Lily.  Just as Lily never apologizes for who she is, the film both refuses to judge her and condemns anyone who would try.  The film’s sympathy is purely with Dietrich and Wong as they do what they must to survive in a world dominated by men who are either judgmental, brutish, or weak.  (Within just a few years, the Hays Code would make it impossible for a film like Shanghai Express to be made by an American studio.)  With one very important exception, the entire cast is strong, with Warner Oland and Eugene Pallette especially turning in strong support.  The only exception is Clive Brook, who comes across as being a bit too dull to have ever won the the heart of Shanghai Lily.

Shanghai Express is not the best von Sternberg/Dietrich collaboration.  That would be the brilliantly insane Scarlet Empress.  However, it’s still a wonderfully entertaining melodrama.  It was nominated for best picture but lost to another entertaining melodrama, Grand Hotel.

An Olympic Film Review: Miracle (dir by Gavin O’Connor)


(Back in 2011, Chris Mead — who wrote under the name Semtex Skittle — reviewed Miracle for this site.  At the that time, I had not seen the film.  Below are my thoughts but please, also be sure to read Chris’s review as well.)

 

Like all good people, I’m currently obsessed with the Winter Olympics.  Earlier this week I asked a couple of friends if they could recommend some good Winter Olympics movies.  A lot of movies were suggested but, without fail, everyone thought I should see Miracle.  (A lot of people also suggested Cool Runnings, which I’ll be watching next week.)  Having watched Miracle earlier today, I can see why everyone recommended it.

The year is 1980 and two hockey teams are about to face off at the Winter Olympics in upstate New York.  (The location, to be exact, is Lake Placid.  Fortunately, the giant alligators are nowhere to be seen.)

On one side you have the Russian team (or the Soviets as they were known back then).  They are widely considered to be one of the greatest hockey teams in history.  They are big, fierce, and determined.  Coming from a system that has declared individuality to be a crime against the state, the Soviet team plays like a machine.  The Soviets have won the gold in the last four Olympics.  As one American coach puts it, their greatest strength is that every other hockey team in the world is terrified of them.

On the other side, you have the American team.  However, this isn’t the type of American dream team that one would expect to see today.  In 1980, professional athletes were not allowed to compete on the U.S. Olympic team.  Instead, the 1980 hockey team is made up of amateurs and college players.  Unlike the Soviet teams, the American don’t have a government that grooms and supports them.  Instead, win or lose, they have to do it on their own.

Of course, it’s not just two hockey teams that are about to face off.  It’s also two super powers and two very different ways of life.  In 1980, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were the two most powerful rivals in the world.  The Soviets were trapped in an endless and unpopular war in Afghanistan.  Meanwhile, in the U.S., the economy was shaky, American citizens were being held hostage in Iran, and an ineffective President gave long-winded speeches about how unhappy everyone in the country appeared to be.  Both countries needed a victory but only one could win.

And it would take a miracle for that winning team to be American…

I don’t think it requires a spoiler alert to tell you that’s exactly what happens.  I mean, after all, I’m reviewing a film  called Miracle!  On top of that, it’s based on true events.  The U.S. hockey team — made up of college students and led by Coach Herb Brooks (played, in one of his best performance, by Kurt Russell) — not only managed to defeat the highly favored Soviet team but they went on to win the gold medal.

Even if you didn’t know that the Americans beat the Russians, you would never have any doubt about how Miracle is going to end.  Miracle is a film that utilizes almost every sports film cliché but it manages to do so with such sincerity and such style that you don’t mind the fact that the movie doesn’t exactly take you by surprise.  Is there any actor who is as good at project sincerity and human decency as Kurt Russell?  Whenever he says that he’s going to make his team into champions, you believe him.  When he says that he’s being hard on them because he wants them to be the best, you never doubt him or his techniques.  When he says that he’s proud of his team and his country, it brings tears to your eyes.  If there’s ever a movie that deserves a chant of “USA!  USA!  USA!,” it’s Miracle.

Hell’s Kitty: Movie Preview, Review and Trailer


Nine lives? Yeah you will need them! Have you ever exorcised a Kitteh? You might tonight!

Hells Kitty Key Art_preview

 

Let’s get the technical out of the way first!

 

Cast:

Doug Jones (The Shape of Water)

Dale Midkiff (Pet Sematary)

Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog)

Preview:

Based on the web series and comic book of the same name, and inspired by writer-director Nicholas Tana’s experiences living with a professedly possessed cat, Hell’s Kitty tells of a covetous feline that acts possessed and possessive of his owner around women. The results are as funny as they are frightening!

Nick a Hollywood screenwriter, discovers his cat has become murderously possessed, and will stop at nothing to rid him of any women in his life. As his life unravels out of control, Nick must find a way to have his kitty exorcised of the demonic spirit haunting her and creating a body count.

Review:

I don’t think I have laughed or cried at a horror movie in a long time! As a cat lover,and owned by a cat,this movie puts everything in their mind right in yours!

Would I Recommend this movie?

Pussy, Please! You got to  sharpen your claws and see this fun movie!

index

Where can you see it?

“Hell’s Kitty” will be available on VOD March 13th and on DVD March 27th!

 

Something You Should also know:

To kick of the movie release and to share their love for cats, the creators behind the film teamed with HOLLYSHORTS MONTHLY SCREENINGS and the TLC CHINESE THEATER recently hosted a premiere at the legendary theatre to raise money for FixNation.org. FixNation provides a free, full-time spay/neuter clinic with two full-time veterinarians capable of sterilizing as many as 100 cats per day. They also help hundreds of cats find suitable homes. For more info on the cause click here!  http://fixnation.org/

 

Here is the trailer!

Mardi Gras Film Review: Mardi Gras Massacre (dir by Jack Weis)


(Note: The Trashfilm Guru reviewed this film on his own site in 2012.  Check out his review by clicking here!)

With this being Mari Gras weekend, I imagine that thousands of people are currently flooding into New Orleans and hoping to have a good time.  In honor of their commitment, I have been reviewing Mardi Gras-themed films.  Today’s film is low-budget 1978 “shocker” called Mardi Gras Massacre.

A serial killer is stalking New Orleans and…

Wait a minute.  Does this sound familiar?  Hmmm … okay, sorry, let’s continue.

…the police are powerless to stop him…

Okay, I swear, I think I’ve described this situation before.  But, anyway, to continue with Mardi Gras Massacre:

…despite being the most obvious serial killer in history, the murderer is able to move undetected through the Big Easy.  His motive?  Human sacrifices to an evil power…

OKAY, STOP! I just realized that I’m basically rewriting my earlier review of Mardi Gras For The Devil.  Despite the fact that there’s a 15-year age difference between the two films, both Mardi Gras Massacre and Mardi Gras For The Devil have the same basic plot.  A psycho wanders around New Orleans and commits occult-themed murders while an intense cop tries to stop him.  Eventually, the cop’s lover is targeted by the killer…

I mean, it’s the exact same plot!  The only real difference is that Mardi Gras For The Devil starred recognizable actors like Michael Ironside and Robert Davi while Mardi Gras Massacre was a low-budget obscurity starring no one that you have ever heard of.

In Mardi Gras Massacre, the killer’s name is John and he’s played by an actor named William Metzo.  John spends all of his time looking for prostitutes and strippers who he can sacrifice to an Aztec God.  John has an altar in his apartment.  The altar, of course, is surrounded by red curtains.  As I watched the film, I wondered where he got the altar.  Even more importantly, I wondered how he could fit that huge altar into what appeared to be a pretty small apartment.

John manages to sacrifice quite a few women without anyone becoming overly suspicious of him.  This is despite the fact that John spends almost the entire movie wearing a three-piece suit and glaring at everyone he meets.  When John steps into a bar, the first thing that he asks the bartender is where he can find the “evilest” prostitute.  No one seems to find that strange.  Then again, New Orleans is a very forgiving town.

Anyway, Sergeant Frank Herbert (Curt Dawson) is in charge of the investigation and, as soon as he shows up with his porn stache and his hairy chest, we know that we’re watching a movie from the 70s.  Sgt. Herbert falls in love with a prostitute named Sherry (Gwen Arment).  Halfway through the film, we get an extended falling in love montage.  New Orleans looks really pretty in the montage but, at the same time, the film has just spent 45 minutes establishing it as a city where a serial killer can ask for the “evilest” prostitute without raising any suspicion.  So, romantic montage outside, I have hard time believing that Mardi Gras Massacre did much for New Orleans tourism.

I should point out that, much as with the case of Mardi Gras For The Devil, there’s not really a whole lot of Mardi Gras to be found in Mardi Gras Massacre.  Towards the end of the movie, we get a chase through a Mardi Gras parade.  It’s obvious that the filmmakers filmed the chase during the actual parade so, from a historical point of view, it’s interesting to see how Mardi Gras was celebrated in the 70s.  At the same time, throughout the entire scene, drunk people are waving at the camera.  (One person even tries to grab the lens as they walk by.)

On a positive note, Mardi Gras Massacre features one of the best trashy disco scenes ever .  As well, the version that I watched had Spanish subtitles and I’m happy to say that my Spanish is apparently getting pretty good!  As for the rest of the film, it’s a movie that will be best appreciated by grindhouse aficionados.  It’s a low-budget, poorly acted, thoroughly silly film and its obviously fake gore managed to get the film banned in the UK.  It’s a historical oddity and, like many grindhouse films, its appeal mostly comes from watching it and saying, “Someone actually made this and managed to get it into theaters.”  At the very least, it will hopefully remind you to not admit to being the “evilest” anything during Mardi Gras.

Scenes That I Love: The New Orleans Funeral from Live and Let Die


If any of our readers are in New Orleans for Madi Gras weekend, a word of caution.

If you see a funeral procession, don’t ask who the funeral is for.

Seriously.

This scene is from 1973’s Live and Let Die.  It’s a scene of many emotions.  It may start out with the sond of a sad tune but everyone’s pretty happy by the end of it.