The TSL’s Grindhouse: C.C. and Company (dir by Seymour Robbie)

As our long-time readers know, I’ve seen my share of bad movies but it’s been a while since I’ve seen one as bad as 1970’s C.C. and Company.

C.C. and Company is about a drifter named C.C. Ryder (played by Joe Namath, who was a pro football quarterback at the time).  Ryder rides through the desert on his dorky motorcycle.  He doesn’t have a job.  He doesn’t have much money.  He does have a lot of hair and he also has a lot of teeth.  We know that because it’s rare that there’s ever moment when C.C. isn’t smiling.  C.C. is perhaps the most cheerful amateur criminal that I’ve ever seen.  Even when C.C. really shouldn’t be smiling, he’s smiling.  There are moments when people try to kill C.C. and he responds with a smile.  This could be a sign of C.C.’s devil-may-care-attitude but I think it has more to do with Joe Namath being a really bad actor.

C.C. is apparently a member of a motorcycle gang.  I say apparently because no one in the gang seems to like him and they’re constantly beating up on him.  The leader of the gang is Moon (William Smith) and among the members of the gang is an intimidating figure named Crow (Sid Haig).  Smith and Haig were both professional actors and genuine tough guys.  They not only knew how to act on camera but they also knew how to throw a punch without faking it.  Having them act opposite Namath doesn’t really accomplish much beyond emphasizing just how terrible an actor Namath was.  Even though Moon is a Mansonesque creep, you still find yourself rooting for him whenever he and C.C. get into a fight because Smith creates an actual character whereas Namath…. well, he doesn’t.  I sat through this entire film and never once did I find myself wondering what C.C.’s initials stood for.  That’s how uninterested I was in C.C.’s life.

Anyway, C.C. meets the wealthy and chic Ann McCalley (Ann-Margaret) after Ann’s limo breaks down in the middle of the desert.  C.C. not only fixes the limo but he also saves Ann from Crow and Lizard (Greg Mullaney).  It’s love at first sight but, unfortunately, Ann has places to go so she drives off and C.C. returns to the biker camp and watches as Moon sends his girlfriend, Pom Pom (Jennifer Billingsley), out to make money on the highway.  As I watched all of this, I found myself wondering how everyone else in the gang got stuck with names like Moon, Lizard, Crow, Rabbit, Pom Pom, and Zit-Zit (my favorite) but somehow C.C. was able to keep his innocent initials.  The movie never explained the ritual behind receiving motorcycle gang names and I think that was a missed opportunity.

Eventually, C.C. trades in his dorky motorcycle for a Kawasaki, largely because Kawasaki apparently paid the film’s producers a lot of money.  C.C. enters a race and wins.  Ann sees him win and falls even more in love with him.  C.C. gets into a fight with the gang and then he and Ann head to …. well, it looked a lot like Reno but honestly, who knows for sure?  Eventually, Moon and the gang track C.C. and Ann down and it all leads to one last fight.  We never do find out if the “company” of the title referred to Ann and her rich friends or Moon and the gang.  Not even C.C. seems to know for sure.

So, there’s a lot of reasons why C.C. and Company doesn’t really work but mostly it all comes down to the lead non-performance of Joe Namath as C.C.  There’s nothing tough or intimidating or rebellious about Namath.  C.C. is the biker you can bring home to meet your parents.  William Smith and Sid Haig are a lot more fun but they’re playing totally disreputable characters.  Namath and Ann-Margaret have zero romantic chemistry and the entire film has the look of a cheap made-for-TV movie.  Between C.C. and Company and Altamont, 1970 was not a good year to be a biker groupie.

That said, there is one good scene in C.C. and Company, where C.C. and Ann go out dancing.  While Joe Namath awkwardly shakes his shoulders while flashing that ever-present grin, Ann-Margaret dances as if the fate of the world depended upon her.  One year after the release of this movie, she would prove herself as dramatic actress and receive her first Oscar nomination for Carnal Knowledge.

Film Review: KIMI (dir by Steven Soderbergh)

KIMI, the latest addition to Steven Soderbergh’s interesting but frustratingly inconsistent filmography, stars Zoe Kravitz as Angela Childs.  Angela is an agoraphobic tech worker who is living in Seattle during the COVID pandemic.  A sexual assault survivor, Angela spends her days and nights safely locked away in her apartment.  She works from home.  She always keeps her mask some place near.  Occasionally, she’ll have a video session with her therapist.  Her mom calls and scolds her for not going outside.  She exchanges texts and occasionally more with Terry Hughes (Byron Bowers), an attorney who lives across the street.

And, she’s watched by Kevin (Devin Ratray).  Kevin also lives across the street and, throughout the film, he’s occasionally seen watching her from his top floor apartment.  It’s creepy but it’s not surprising.  KIMI is a film in which everyone is being watched by someone else.  Sometimes, they realize it and often they don’t.  Welcome to the Surveillance State, where privacy is the ultimate illusion.

Angela works for the Amygdala Corporation.  Under the leadership of CEO Bradley Hasling (Derek DelGuado), Amygdala has created KIMI, the virtual assistant that is superior to Alexa because all of KIMI’s errors are corrected not by a pre-programmed algorithm but instead by human workers who are constantly listening to KIMI’s data stream and correcting errors.  Angela is one of those engineers.  Usually, her job consists of programming KIMIs to play individual Taylor Swift songs as opposed to building Taylor Swift playlists.  When one owner calls KIMI a peckerwood, Angela programs the KIMI to understand that peckerwood is an “insult; vulgar.”  However, one data stream contains the sounds of what Angela believes to be a sexual assault and a subsequent murder.

Uniquely, for a film like this, Angela’s struggle is not to get people to believe that she heard what she heard.  Instead, her struggle is to get the evidence to the people who need to hear it for themselves.  Angela is terrified of leaving her apartment and, once she finally does, the outside world confirms all of her fears.  KIMI is a film about paranoia, a portrait of a world where everyone can be tracked and no one — from Angela’s too-helpful boss (Rita Wilson) to the man who casually walks by with an umbrella — can be trusted.

As I’ve said in the past, Steven Soderbergh has always been hit and miss for me.  It’s remarkable how many Soderbergh films that I love but it’s equally remarkable just how many Soderbergh films I absolutely loathe.  At his best, he can be a clever stylist and, at his worst, he can be painfully pretentious.  And yet, regardless of anything else, you do have to respect Soderbergh’s willingness to experiment with different genres and styles.  Soderbergh never stops working, despite the fact that he announced his retirement years ago.  Despite getting off to a slow start, KIMI is one of Soderbergh’s more entertaining thrillers, one that does a great job creating an atmosphere of paranoia and one that is also blessed with excellent performances from Zoe Kravitz and Rita Wilson, who makes good use of her limited screen time.  KIMI is a well-made Hitchcockian thriller and, along with No Sudden Move, it’s a return to form for Soderbergh after the two terrible movies that he made with Meryl Streep, The Laundromat and Let Them All Talk.  Yes, Soderbergh can be inconsistent but when he’s good …. he’s very, very good.  (Sometimes, he’s even brilliant.)  Narratively, KIMI may be a relatively simple film by Soderbergh standards but it’s undeniably effective.

Along with being a portrait of our paranoid age, KIMI is very much a pandemic thriller.  Angela mentions that her relationship with Terry started during the lockdowns, a time when no one found it strange that someone would be unwilling to leave their apartment.  When Angela does finally step out of her apartment, she is, of course, fully masked up and her paranoia about being followed severs as a metaphor for the paranoia that many people felt (and continue to feel) during the pandemic.  KIMI is not the first pandemic thriller and it certainly won’t be the last.  Still, what’s interesting to me that the pandemic subtext will probably be more noticeable to those who lived in states with mask mandates and aggressively regulated lockdowns than it will be for those of us who live in states that never had mandates and which, for lack of a better term, re-opened last year.  Half the people viewing KIMI will nod in recognition as Angela grabs her mask before walking up to her front door and as she quickly dashes down the street, careful not get too close to anyone else.  The other half will feel as if they’re watching some sort of dystopian science fiction film.  It all depends on where you’ve lived for the past two years.

Artwork of the Day: Men (by James Elliott Bama)

by James Elliott Bama

Hey, guys, there are other people in the water.  Just look behind you for a second.  The blonde has been saved but I don’t think things are going to go as well for the two other people in the water.

This cover is from 1959.  The magazine is called Men, which I think is funny.  (Real men save the blonde and leave everyone else to drown.)  The cover was done by James Elliott Bama.

Music Video of the Day: Let Somebody Go by Coldplay and Selena Gomez (2022, dir by Dave Meyers)

Oh, the goodbye hug.  The tearful break-up.  The understanding farewell.  The moment when you watch someone walk away and it becomes clear that the two of you will probably never see each other again.  We’ve all been through that type of pain and, more often than not, when we remember the moment, we remember it as being in black-and-white.  Selena Gomez was the perfect choice for this song, bringing truthful sadness and emotion to the lyrics.  

This video was directed by Dave Meyers.  Dave Meyers has directed a lot of videos.  How many Dave Meyers videos have we shared on this site?  I don’t know, I’ve lost track.  Whatever it is that it takes to make someone into a good music video director, Dave Meyers definitely has it.  This, of course, is actually the second video for this song.  The first video has a sort of sci-fi feel to it.  I prefer Meyers’s more emotional approach.

Remember when Selena Gomez shows up in The Big Short and explained how some sort of stock market concept worked.  And some old lady said, “I like Selena Gomez, I’ll invest in whatever she’s investing in.”  That was a weird scene and I have to admit that I still have no idea how the stock market works.

I usually don’t follow or comment on celebrity gossip because I find it to be tacky but I was happy when Chris Martin divorced Gwyneth Paltrow.  I was concerned that she was using all of his Coldplay money to invest in making candles.  I will admit that I kind of pictured the “Dinner Party” episode of The Office whenever I imagined what it was like to visit Chris and Gwyneth.  “Heybabe? How about we take the beer sign down until our guests leave and then we can discuss it.”

Anyway, enjoy!

We had that kind of love
I thought that it would never end
Oh, my lover, oh, my other, oh, my friend
We talked around in circles and
We talked around and then
I loved you to the moon and back again
You gave everything this golden glow
Now turn off all the stars ’cause this I know
That it hurts like so
To let somebody go
All the storms we weathered
Everything that we went through
Now, without you, what on earth am I to do?
When I called the mathematicians and I ask them to explain
They said love is only equal to the pain
And when everything was going wrong
You could turn my sorrow into song
Oh, it hurts like so
To let somebody go
To let somebody go
Oh-oh (oh-oh)
(Let somebody, let somebody go) yeah
Oh, oh-oh (oh), when you love somebody (oh)
When you love somebody (oh)
Got to let somebody know
Oh, oh-oh (oh), when you love somebody (oh)
When you love somebody (oh)
Got to let somebody know
So, when you love somebody
When you love somebody
Then it hurts like so
To let somebody go
It hurts like so
To let somebody go
But you’re still with me, now I know
(Let somebody, let somebody go)
Oh-oh (let somebody, let somebody go)
But you’re still with me, now I know