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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Movies on my TiVo

It may not be clear from this blog that I am a big movie buff. I prefer movies from the 60's and 70's, and Sci-Fi in particular, but otherwise, a good film is a good film. Here are a few that are sitting on my TiVo recorder awaiting my attention. They are mostly off of the Turner Classic Movie channel, which presents them uncut and in letterbox mode:

The Commitments

Good music, funny accents. What's not to like? Having survived several self-destructive bands myself, I can tell you this one is right-on.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Arguably the best of the Abbott and Costello movies, also featuring Bela (yes he's still alive) Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr. I like A&C, but to me all their movies are pretty much the same: Abbott spends about 90 minutes yelling at Costello, who reciprocates by trying to be as annoying as possible.

Wait, that's my house.

The Tao of Steve

I searched for and recorded this show on the recommendation of Mirty and Doctor Bean. I think it has an interesting central idea (the whole "Tao" thingie), but otherwise it is a cliche-ridden predictable movie with characters that I don't identify with and find pathetic and despicable. Sorry, but when I was 30 years old I had been married for 10 years with 5 kids and mortgage and medical school loans out the wazoo. Multiple sexual partners? Please.

American Graffiti

George Lucas' first hit movie, a few years before Star Wars turned him to the Dark Side. An amazing cast (Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, etc), great dialog and music, and bold, wide-angle camera shots prove that once upon a time George was actually a good film-maker. Before he surrounded himself with Ewoks. I think this film was the direct inspiration for Happy Days, so you can love him or hate him for it.

Corvette Summer

How come some movies don't seem to age but others look incredibly dated? This one looks like it should have been destroyed by 1980. I think mostly it has to do with the horrid disco/synth soundtrack that makes it sound like a lost episode of CHiPs!

I recorded it because I remember hearing about it in 1978 and thinking, "Wow, Luke Skywalker made another movie, I have to see this!" and never getting around to it. For some reason, I thought this was the last movie Mark Hamill made before his face was rearranged in a car accident. It turns out, it is the first movie he made after the surgery, and his features seem to be shifting over the course of the film. This is one of the few non-Scifi/non-Cartoon roles he's had since Star Wars, and he's not a bad actor, so for that alone it's worth a few minutes of your time, but not more.

The Odessa File

I don't remember much about this other than the fact that it was cool and had Jon Voight back when he was a good actor. I haven't watched it yet.

Soylent Green

How is it that Charleton Heston is so incredibly cool even though he delivers all his lines like he has bad case of gas? This is an atmospheric, moody movie, and typical of the type of near-future apocalyptic stuff he was making shortly after Planet of the Apes. As such, it involves a lot of swearing, neck-grabbing, and death scenes with an outstretched arm. The conservation/global warming theme is a little heavy-handed, but it really does inspire some thinking. The death scene with Edward G. ("where's your Messiah nooooooooow") Robinson is touching, both for the contrast of the beautiful images and classical music with the bleakness of the rest of the film, and because he actually did die a few days later.

Ed Wood

Genius. Pure genius. Not Ed Wood, he was a terrible film-maker. Tim Burton. This is an incredibly well-crafted yet hysterical tribute that even the late Ed Wood, world's worst director, would have appreciated. Featuring great performances by Johnny Depp and Martin Landau as a morphine-addicted formaldehyde-drinking Bela Lugosi (which won him an Oscar). Too many great lines to mention, but one of my favorites is when Orson Wells counsels a drag-wearing Ed Wood about being true to his vision:

"Why spend your life making someone else's dream?"

Good advice for anyone.

Mystery Men

This underrated film is a perfect spoof of Tim Burtonesque Superhero movies. The cast is incredible. Hank Azaria, as The Blue Raja (who wears green) seems to be channelling Major Minor. My favorite dialogue:

The Shoveler: Well, maybe if we had a benefactor like billionaire Lance Hunt it wouldn't be an issue...
Mr. Furious: Lance Hunt IS Captain Amazing!
The Shoveler: Don't start that AGAIN. Lance Hunt wears glasses. Captain Amazing DOESN'T wear glasses!
Mr. Furious: He takes them off when he transforms.
The Shoveler: That doesn't make any sense, he wouldn't be able to see.

Murder By Death

Another great 70's film with an amazing cast. This is an adaption of the Neil Simon play spoofing "great detectives." The best performance is given by Peter Sellers as a politically-incorrect Chinese detective Sydney Wang. Ever spouting Fortune-cookie parables, he gets upset when his son drives off in the middle of one:

Sidney Wang: Ah, yes, well, dog barking at night like mushroom. I- (drives away)
Sidney Wang: Idiot! Not finish mushroom story! You... idiot!


Another Chuck Heston film with a huge cast and a lot of stock footage from the War in the Pacific. I recorded this mainly to see it in wide-screen, as it's usually only available in Pan and Scan. Chuck really needs some Rolaids.


Jack's Shack said...

Say it loud, I am Black & I am proud. Great flick

JC said...

I had totally forgotten about Chips! I was talking about all the remakes the past few years and all I could think of that hadn't been remade was get smart.

fudge said...

isn't it some kind of social faux pas to call charles heston chuck? aren't you afraid of like waking up with a horse head in your bed or something?

torontopearl said...

Thanks for the memories...

Yes, I admit it; I went to see Corvette Summer when it came out -- don't remember much about it, except the title, though.

I remember going to see American Graffitti with a girlfriend at a particular theater, during Chol Hamoed Pesach, bringing our own snacks into the theater and having to listen to the munch-munch, crunch-crunch of popcorn all around. Our macaroons couldn't compete!

(And you like sci-fi films, particularly of the 60's and 70's; did you ever get to see the ones made in the 40's and 50's -- the ones that gave you a glimpse of futurama...today, they're a farce, down to the costumes!)

Ralphie said...

Soylent Green is people!

It's peeeeeeeeeeeeople!!!!!

Stacey said...

I could watch A & C all day and never get bored. I loved them!

I finally went and saw the new Star Wars Sith movie today. I loved it.

Semgirl said...

American Grafitti always cheers me up..

Semgirl said...

American Grafitti always cheers me up..

PsychoToddler said...

Jack: Say it lode, I'm Black and I'm prode!

JC: I was trying to forget about CHiPs! If they remade it, it would have to be some kind of gay flick I think.

fudge: More like a deer's head. He's head of the NRA

Pearl: Yes, big fan of the B&W scifi films of those days. Recently watched Earth vs the Flying Saucers with my kids. My wife just shook her head and walked upstairs. Note to Hollywood: Ray Harryhausen is brilliant with dinosaurs and skeletons. Stop motion is not a good technique for flying saucers.

Dammmm you Ralphie!!! Dammmm you to Heeeeeeeeellllllllllll!!!!!

Stacey: Didn't peg you for a Star Wars type.

Semgirl: I first saw American Graffiti as a 10 year old when they showed it to my camp one rainy afternoon in the Bungalow Colony. Now that I see it as an adult, I realize it's all about sex.

Wickwire said...

I was a young, very young, girl when I went to a drive in theatre with my parents to see Soylent Green. I'd kind of like to see it again. I've not seen Murder by Death but I think it sounds like I really should.

Stacey said...

I am a woman of many surpises. ha ha!

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

"New Soylent Clear —
Clearly less people
Clearly more taste."

treppenwitz said...

"Having survived several self-destructive bands myself..."

If you didn't catch it during the 10 minutes it was in the theaters, I highly recommend 'That thing that you do'. It is a classic self-destructive band movie with a catchy title song.

PsychoToddler said...

Wick: You HAVE to see Murder By Death. You will love it. It's on TCM Aug 4.

Stacey: Yeah, biggest surprise is you sound like Fran Drescher.

Steg: Mmmmmm....plastic people....

Trep (hehe): That Thing You Do is one of the best Band movies around. We used to do the intro to the song as an intro to "Ayzehu Chacham," the song I wrote with Lenny Solomon. Now we do Day Tripper.

Anonymous said...

you should definitely try to get hold of "Free Enterprise". It's hysterical, especially if you are a Trekkie and Sci-fi geek and can laugh at yourself.

Also, a 50's classic..."The Day the Earth Stood Still"

PsychoToddler said...

"Free Enterprise" was one of about 6 DVDs that were usually available on the shelf at my local library. It's a great film that makes fun of Sci-fi geeks, as told by sci-fi geeks and featuring William Shatner as...himself!

The extra features are funnier than the film. Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) is hysterical when he talks about Jews and Comedy. And if you're a Computer Game nerd (let's face it, if you like this movie, you probably are), you'll recognize Rafer Wiegel from his role in the Jedi Knight computer game. Freaky.

Bad Maria said...

Solent Green - ah, wonderful flick. If you liked Ed Wood - you must see the documentary "The Secret World of Ed Wood" too wonderfully fun.

I like your list alot and all of the movies are winners by me!

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