Here’s The Trailer For Babylon


Here’s the trailer for Babylon!

I have to admit that my interesting in this film goes up and down.  I was intrigued when I first heard about it.  This trailer, to be honest, is a bit too frantic for me and a lot of it feels like the sort of thing that would have been mind-blowing in 2007 but, today, we’ve kind of been inundated with films about Hollywood’s decadent past.

That said, I’m still looking forward to seeing and judging the film for myself.

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Cutting Class (dir by Raspo Pallenberg)


Someone is murdering the students and the teachers at the local high school and it’s up to Paula Carson (Jill Schoelen), the studious daughter of the local DA (Martin Mull), to figure out who is responsible!

Though the principal (Roddy McDowall, who seemed to be cast as a lot of bizarre school employees during the latter half of his career) is a perv and the janitor (Robert Glaudini) fancies himself as being some sort of bizarre ninja with a mop, it soon becomes apparent that there’s really only two viable suspects. One of them is Brian Woods (Donavon Leitch), who has just returned home after spending several months in a mental hospital where he was regularly given electroshock therapy. The other is Dwight Ingalls (Brad Pitt), the alcoholic jock who is under tremendous pressure to win a basketball scholarship and who also happens to be Paula’s boyfriend! Brian and Dwight were friends when they were younger. Now, Dwight spends all of his time bullying Brian and Brian spends all of his time staring at Paula. Who could the murderer be!?

Actually, you won’t be surprised at all when the identity of the murderer is revealed. You’ve probably already guessed who the killer is. A campy slasher film from 1989, Cutting Class doesn’t exactly win any points for originality. If Cutting Class is remembered for anything, it’s for providing Brad Pitt with an early leading role. Pitt, it should be said, is totally convincing as Dwight. On the one hand, he’s such a jerk that it’s difficult to really like him but, on the other hand, he looks like Brad Pitt so you totally can’t blame Paula for putting up with him. For that matter, both Leitch and Schoelen give convincing performances as well. When you’ve got a trio as talented as these three, it’s kind of a shame that Cutting Class wasn’t a better film.

Cutting Class tries to mix horror and comedy but the comedy is too broad (Roddy McDowall leers like a cartoon wolf) while the horror is not quite horrific enough and, as such, the film never really settles on a consistent or an interesting tone. Whenever the film starts to get into a horror grove, Martin Mull shows up like a character in an overplayed Saturday Night Live skit. Whenever the film starts to find itself as a comedy, someone is horribly murdered and you’re totally taken out of the mood. This is also another one of those films where the characters randomly switch from being ludicrously stupid to unnaturally intelligent from scene-to-scene. The killer, for instance, is diabolically clever until the film’s final moments, at which point the murderer suddenly gets very talky and very easily fooled.

Cutting Class is occasionally interesting as a time capsule. It’s from 1989, after all. And it’s interesting to see Brad Pitt playing the type of character one would more likely expect to see on a very special episode of Saved By The Bell. Otherwise, this one is fairly forgettable.

Here’s The Trailer for Babylon!


Finally!  We have a trailer for Damien Chazelle’s Babylon!

Who would have thought that 2022 would have been the year that would have produced three flamboyant films about the decadence of the entertainment industry?  Elvis has already been released.  Blonde will be available by the end of the month.  And Babylon will coming out just as the year ends.  Judging from this trailer, it appears to be a film that will either be brilliant or a total disaster.  I’m hoping for the former.  America could use a really good movie about cocaine and pool parties.

Monday Live Tweet Alert: Join Us For Flight 93 and Seven!


As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in hosting a few weekly live tweets on twitter.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We tweet our way through it.

Tonight, for #MondayActionMovie, the film will be 2006’s Flight 93!  Selected and hosted by @Titus88Titus, Flight 93 is a docudrama about one of the planes that was hijacked on September 11th, 2001 and the heroic passengers who bravely fought back.  The movie starts at 8 pm et and it is available on YouTube.

Following #MondayActionMovie, Brad and Sierra will be hosting the #MondayMuggers live tweet.  We will be watching 1995’s Seven, the trend-setting and still disturbing horror film that established David Fincher as a director and which starred Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Richard Roundtree.  (Yes, Shaft is in the movie.)  The film is available on Netflix.  It starts at 10 pm et.

It should make for a night of intense viewing and I invite all of you to join in.  If you want to join the live tweets, just hop onto twitter, start Flight 93 at 8 pm et, and use the #MondayActionMovie hashtag!  Then, at 10 pm et, start Seven and use the #MondayMuggers hashtag!  The live tweet community is a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.  And reviews of these films will probably end up on this site at some point over the next few weeks. 

Film Review: The Lost City (dir by Adam and Aaron Nee)


Last month, when I finally watched The Lost City, I had two thoughts.

First off, I thought it was a perfectly charming little movie, a well-made and unpretentious film that went out of its way to entertain its audience and which, for the most part succeeded.  The film, which features Sandra Bullock as Loretta Sage, a reluctant writer of sex-filled romance/adventure novels, and Channing Tatum as Alan Caprison, an earnest but not terrible bright cover model, strikes just the right balance of adventure and comedy.  Bullock and Tatum are charming together.  Brad Pitt has a fun cameo as an ultra-macho wilderness guide who is hired to help track down Bullock after she’s kidnapped by a wealthy businessman who wants her to help him track down the fabled crown of fire.  Daniel Radcliffe gives a nicely eccentric performance as the villain and, for once in his post-Potter career, actually seems to be having fun with a role.  The jungle scenery is lovely to look at.  Bullock’s purple sequin jumpsuit is to die for.  Tatum shows off his physique.  The jokes come fast, the action is exciting, and we get to watch two people fall in love.  What more could one ask for?

My other thought is that The Lost City is a film that Sandra Bullock could have made at any point of her  career.  There’s never been a time when Bullock wouldn’t have been convincing in the role of Loretta Sage.  It’s easy to imagine The Lost City coming out in the aughts, starring Sandra Bullock as Loretta and Brendan Fraser as Alan.  Or perhaps even in the 90s, with Bullock and Matthew McConaughey as Alan.  Much as Top Gun: Maverick does for Tom Cruise, The Lost City serves to remind us that Sandra Bullock is one of the last true film stars, someone who can effortlessly move from genre to genre without losing any of their onscreen charisma in the process.  For audiences who have just spent the last two years being told that the world was collapsing and that nothing would ever be the same again, there is something undoubtedly comforting about films like Top Gun: Maverick and The Lost City.  They are a reminder that yes, it is permissible, possible, and even necessary to just have a good time.

And have no doubt about it, The Lost City is definitely a good time.  From the opening scene (which literally takes us into one of Loretta’s novels) to Loretta’s disastrous book tour to the eventual journey through the jungle, The Lost City is an entertaining film.  It’s not a film that asks for much from the audience.  There’s no complicated backstory.  It’s not necessary to have seen 10 earlier movies and a miniseries to understand everyone’s motivations.  There’s no bad CGI to challenge the audience’s willingness to buy into the story.  The film gets the job done in a relatively brisk 112 minutes and, at a time when even comedies are regularly running over two hours, it’s hard not to appreciate the efficiency with which The Lost City tells its story.  There is a mid-credits scene but it’s actually kind of funny.  For once, the promise of a sequel feels likes something for which to look forward.

If you missed The Lost City in theaters, it can currently be viewed on Paramount Plus.

Lisa Marie’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions for May


It’s that time of the month again!

It’s time for me to once again try to predict what will be nominated for the Oscars.  If you had to told me, at this time last year, that Top Gun: Maverick would emerge as an Oscar contender, I would have said that you were crazy but here we are.  Admittedly, it is early in the year and I think there’s always going to be some ambivalence towards honoring Tom Cruise.  (You just know that someone is having nightmares about him thanking David Miscavige in his Oscar speech.)  But with the reviews and the box office success that Top Gun: Maverick is getting, it would be a mistake to dismiss it.  After all, Mad Max: Fury Road came out around this same time of year in 2015.  As well, one can be sure that A24 will be giving Everything Everywhere All At Once a heavy awards push as well.  This could very well be the year of the genre blockbuster as far as the Oscars are concerned.

As for Cannes, it’s come and gone.  George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing got some good reviews, even if those reviews didn’t translate into awards at the end of the Festival.  David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future sounds like it’s going to be too divisive for the Academy and really, the thought of Cronenberg winning an Oscar has always been a bit implausible, regardless of how much he may or may not deserve one.  As for James Gray’s Armageddon Time, Gray has always been more popular with critics than with audiences or Academy voters.  If Gray couldn’t break through with something like The Lost City of Z, I doubt he’s going to do so with an autobiographical film about his life in private school.  Steven Spielberg already has the autobiography slot wrapped up with The Fabelmans. 

Of course, there’s still many films left to see and many more film festivals to be held.  Let us not forget that Martin Scorsese is bringing us Killers of the Flower Moon.  Personally, I’m looking forward to Damien Chazelle’s Babylon.  In short, nothing has been settled yet.  For all the acclaim that Top Gun and Everything are getting, who knows how the race is going to look at the start of the Fall season?

Anyway, here are my predictions for May.  Be sure to check out my predictions for February and March and April as well!

Best Picture

Amsterdam

Babylon

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans

I Want To Dance With Somebody

Killers of the Flower Moon

Next Goal Wins

Rustin

She Said

Top Gun: Maverick

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for Babylon

Kasi Lemmons for I Want To Dance With Somebody

Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Taika Waititi for Next Goal Wins

Best Actor

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

Colman Domingo in Rustin

Idris Elba in Three Thousand Years of Longing

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Brad Pitt in Babylon

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie in I Want To Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in Tar

Margot Robie in Babylon

Tilda Swinton in Three Thousand Years of Longing

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Supporting Actor

John Boyega in The Woman King

Leonardo DiCaprio in Flowers of the Killer Moon

Tom Hanks in Elvis

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Tobey Maguire in Babylon

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

Tantoo Cardinal in Flowers of the Killer Moon

Li Jun Li in Babylon

Samantha Morton in She Said

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Lisa Marie’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions For March


Now that the awards for last year’s films have been given out and everyone has already started to forget who won, we can start to concentrate on the next batch of Oscar contenders….

Oh, stop yelling.  It’s not that early!

Well, actually, it is way too early.  I mean, we’re still not really sure what is even going to be released this year.  Due to all the COVID delays, we went into 2021 knowing which films we could look forward to, mostly because all of those films were originally supposed to be released in 2020.  Compared to 2021, we’re going into 2022 blind.  The majority of the films that we do know about don’t really sound like Oscar contenders, either.

So, really, the only solution to how to predict the Oscar nominees when you know nothing is to guess.  The films and actors listed below are not there because I have any inside information.  Instead, they are there as a result of some wishful thinking and some educated guesses.  Killers of the Flower Moon was directed by Martin Scorsese, so of course it’s there.  The Fabelmans is there because a lot of people feel that the Academy didn’t show Spielberg and West Side Story enough love this year and I think the fact that the film is autobiographical will make it irresistible to same voters who nominated BelfastNapoleon is there because there might be some lingering guilt over how both Ridley Scott and The Last Duel were utterly ignored this year.  Rustin is there because it’s an Obama production and Hollywood loves the Obamas.  Chris Rock is listed as a supporting actor nominee because it would be the perfect conclusion to the saga of the Oscar Slap.  David Lynch is listed because …. well, I like David Lynch.  Personally, it’s doubtful that Tom Hanks will be able to pull off two nominations in one year but if anyone could do it, it’s Tom!

In other words, don’t take any of these predictions too seriously.  As of now, there are no definite contenders.  These are just some guesses.

Be sure to check out my even more random predictions for February as well!

Best Picture

Babylon

The Fabelmans

Killers of the Flower Moon

Napoleon

Rustin

She Said

TAR

Thirteen Lives

Till

The Woman King

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for Babylon

Chinonye Chukwu for Till

Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon

Ridley Scott for Napoleon

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Colman Domingo in Rustin

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Tom Hanks in A Man Called Otto

Joaquin Phoenix in The Whale

Brad Pitt in Babylon

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie for I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Danielle Deadwyler in Till

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Best Supporting Actor

John Boyega in The Woman King

Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon

Tom Hanks in Elvis

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Chris Rock in Rustin

Best Supporting Actress

Laura Dern in The Son

Sally Field in Spoiler Alert

Greta Gerwig in White Noise

Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon

Li Jun Li in Babylon

Lisa Marie’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions For February


Is it too early to start talking about next year’s Oscar race?

Of course, it is!  But I’m going to do it anyway.

Below, you’ll find the installment of my monthly list of Oscar predictions, not for what will win at the end of March but instead for what we’ll see nominated next year.  Obviously, there’s a lot that we don’t know about what’s going to happen later this year.  Only a few of the movies listed below have firmly set release dates.  Needless to say, I haven’t seen any of the films below and, as a result, I’m largely going on instinct.  Who knows if the films will be as good as their plot descriptions?  As much as I hate the overused quote from William Goldman, right now, no one knows anything.  Indeed, it’s not really until Festival Season hits that we really start to get even a vaguely clear picture of the Oscar race and we’ve got a long way to go until Cannes.

(And really, it’s debatable how much of a factor Cannes really is.  If the Oscar nominations were determined by Cannes, Red Rocket and The French Dispatch would be battling it out for best picture right now.)

The predictions below are, for the most part, just random guesses.  Most of them involve people who have won Oscars in the past.  The Fabelmans is there because it’s a Spielberg film, just as Killers of the Flower Moon makes the list because it’s directed by Martin Scorsese and it stars Leonard DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.  And, of course, a lot of the predictions are just the result of wishful thinking on my part.  I think it would be kind of fun if David Lynch got an acting nomination for his role in The Fabelmans, whatever that role may be.  I also think it would be nice if Brendan Fraser got a nomination to go along with his recent comeback.  I don’t know much about The Whale, beyond the fact that Fraser plays a 600-pound man trying to reconnect with his daughter.  For now, that’s enough.

So, without further ado, here are my way too early Oscar predictions!  As always, take them with a grain of salt.

Best Picture

Babylon

The Fabelmans

The Holdovers

Killers of the Flower Moon

Kitbag

Maestro

She Said

TAR

White Noise

The Woman King

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for Babylon

Gina Prince-Bythewood for The Woman King

Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon

Ridley Scott for Kitbag

Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper in Maestro

Brendan Fraser in The Whale

Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers

Ryan Gosling in The Actor

Brad Pitt in Babylon

Best Actress

Naomi Ackie in I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Ana de Armas in Blonde

Viola Davis in The Woman King

Cate Blanchett in TAR

Carey Mulligan in Maestro

Best Supporting Actor

Bobby Cannavale in Blonde

Robert De Niro in Killer of the Flower Moon

John Boyega in The Woman King

Tom Hanks in Elvis

David Lynch in The Fabelmans

Best Supporting Actress

Tantoo Cardinal in Killers of the Flower Moon

Laura Dern in The Son

Li Jun Li in Babylon

Da’Vine Joy Randolph in The Holdovers

Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

Scenes That I Love: Cliff Booth Beats Up Clem Grogan in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood


Today is Quentin Tarantino’s 59 birthday.  In order to celebrate the occasion, here’s Brad Pitt beating up a hippie.

This scene, of course, is from my favorite Tarantino film, 2019’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.  While some may say that Cliff goes overboard on the hippie, you should understand that this is no ordinary hippie.  This hippie is meant to be Steve “Clem” Grogan, a real-life member of the Manson Family who, in 1969, murdered an actor and stuntman named Donald “Shorty” Shea.  Shea, who worked on the Spahn Rannch, had apparently once taken Grogan under his wing but, when it was decided the Shea knew too much about Manson’s crimes and that he was a threat to Manson’s control of ranch owner George Spahn, the order apparently went out that Shea had to die.  While Manson, Grogan and Manson’s second-in-command, Bruce Davis, were the only three people convicted of Shea’s murder, it’s felt that they were probably aided by Tex Watson (played by Austin Butler in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood).  In real life, Grogan was sentenced to death for Shea’s murder, though his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment, with the judge reportedly saying that Grogan was obviously too stupid and too stoned to decide to murder Shea on his own.

The 18 year-old Grogan was a high school drop out and was also nicknamed Scramblehead, due to even the members of the Manson Family considering him to be abnormally dumb.  Grogan, reportedly, wrecked several cars, including one owned by Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys and, shortly before the murders, he was arrested for exposing himself.  That said, it’s also been suggested that Grogan was never as dumb as he pretended to be.  According to Ed Sanders’s book, The Family, Grogan did turn his life around once he was locked far away from the rest of the Family and free from Manson’s influence.  A model prisoner, he eventually led the police to the location of Shea’s body and he was paroled in 1985.  To date, he is the only one of the Manson murderers to have been released from prison.  (Bruce Davis, who was also convicted of killing Shea, has been ruled suitable for parole six times over the past ten years but, each time, the decision has been overturned by California’s governor.  He was mostly recently ruled suitable for parole on January 22nd of this year but Governor Newsom has yet to announce whether he will be blocking the decision.)  Grogan is 69 years old now and, as of a few years ago, he was working as a musician in the Los Angeles area.  Regardless of whether Clem Grogan turned his life around or not, considering what happened to Shorty Shea, it does seem appropriate that Once Upon A Time In Hollywood sees Clem getting his ass kicked by a stuntman.

In fact, Cliff’s entire visit to the Spahn Ranch is one of the best moments in Tarantino’s entire filmography.  It plays out like a combination of a horror flick and a western and there’s just enough odd humor tossed in to keep the audience especially nervous.  Given just how creepy the entire sequence is, there’s something very cathartic about Cliff’s refusal to play any games with Clem and the other hippies.  Cliff’s refusal to even let Clem wipe the blood off his face feels especially satisfying, in an odd sort of way.

Anyway, a happy birthday to Quentin Tarantino!  Last year, I observed Tarantino’s birthday by ranking all of his film, in order from worst to best.  You check that out by clicking here!

Spring Breakdown: Hunk (dir by Lawrence Bassoff)


Released in 1987, Hunk tells the story of Hunk Golden (John Allen Nelson).

At first glance, Hunk seems to have everything.  He lives in a huge house on the beach and he’s good-looking and muscular enough that he can actually pull off the rainbow speedo look.  Women want to be with Hunk and men want to be Hunk.  He’s rich.  He can eat all the food in the world without putting on a single pound.  He’s got a great smile and wonderful tan and he even knows karate!  Hunk drives a red convertible that has a personalized license plate, one that reads: HUNK.  If anyone else did it, it would seem narcissistic but Hunk can pull it off.

However, Hunk is deeply dissatisfied with his life.  As he explains to his psychiatrist, Dr. Sunny Graves (Rebecca Bush), he wasn’t always Hunk Golden.  He used to be a nerdy writer named Brady Brinkman (played by Steve Levitt).  After Brady’s girlfriend left him for an aerobics instructor, he somehow managed to write a guide to how to become rich.  Brady’s wasn’t sure where his inspiration came from but he was still able to make a fortune off of it.  After Brady moved to the beach to work on his next project, he discovered that being wealthy didn’t mean anything unless he also had the right look.

That’s when he was approached by O’Brien (Deborah Shelton), an emissary of the devil (James Coco).  O’Brien turned Brady Brinkman into Hunk Golden and taught him how to be …. well, how to be a hunk.  The only condition was that, after a number of months, Hunk would have to give up his soul to the devil.  Hunk agreed but now, with the deadline approaching, Hunk isn’t so sure that he wants to condemn his soul to eternal damnation.  Is being the hottest guy on the beach really worth an eternity of burning in fire and being poked with those little pitchfork things?

Now, it probably won’t come as a surprise to our regular readers to discover that this film was produced and distributed by Crown International Pictures.  From the 70s through the 80s, Crown International specialized in low-budget exploitation films, with a surprisingly large number of them taking place on the beach.  Nowadays, of course, the Crown International filmography can be found in countless Mill Creek boxsets.  Hunk can be found in several.  I own enough Mill Creek boxsets that I’ve probably got a dozen copies of Hunk in my DVD and Blu-ray collections.

That said, while the film’s low budget is obvious in every frame, Hunk is actually slightly better than the typical Crown International beach film.  While it seems to take forever for Brady to become Hunk, the film has got a likable cast and it actually delivers its message about self-acceptance with a surprising amount of sincerity.  This is the rare Crown International Film with a heart and, for every joke that falls flat (and there’s several), there’s at least a few unexpectedly clever moments.  The film takes an especially strange turn once Hunk becomes a celebrity and starts to wonder if he should accept the devil’s invitation to become a demon and help start a world war.  Steve Levitt and John Allen Nelson both do a good job playing Brady and his alter ego, though all of Nelson’s dialogue appears to have been dubbed.  James Coco delivers his evil lines with a properly devilish glee.  Incidently, this was also Brad Pitt’s first movie.  While he had no dialogue and went uncredited, he can be easily spotted as an extra in one of the beach scenes.

See him?

If you’re looking for silly and occasionally strange 80s beach movie, you could do worse than to check your Mill Creek boxsets for a copy of Hunk.