Aaaaaaaaaaand we’re back.
If your the type to notice the time stamps, you’ll have noticed that I missed last week’s new release wall, and I wish I had some big dramatic story to tell you why that is (although due to recent events, personal drama might be a little overrated at the moment) but really it just comes down to the fact that working two jobs while in the middle of moving takes up a lot of time. Who’d have thought?
Anyway, all that means its that we get to play a little catch-up this week, with a DOUBLE DEUCE of new release picks. So that’s twenty titles for the price of one column! So lets cut the jibber-jabber and dive right in:
THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945)
Now that we’re post-Memorial Day, we have the usual uptick in military-oriented releases. Some are cash-grabs that won’t be listed here, and others are being utilized because they would be overlooked otherwise. I don’t think there’s any way THEY WERE EXPENDABLE could be overlooked by those who know what it is, but it’s nice that it’s getting an appropriate bump from the holiday. Directed by John Ford, this is one of his few non-Westerns (although if we’re looking at his filmography, there are more than you’d think, such as my personal favorite THE INFORMER), but it’s also Ford’s most personal work. Ford served during the Second World War and by all accounts it was a defining period of his life, so making a film like this, which highlighted the crews of PT boats operating in the Pacific Theater, would be close to the bone for Jack Ford.
And it’s a hell of a film, filled to the brim with exciting sequences, solid performances, and a core of melancholy that works in conjunction with Ford’s obvious respect for the men and women who served. Personally speaking though, my favorite aspects of this film are the behind-the-scenes details. Specifically, how this film pretty much allowed Ford to torture John Wayne, who had basically run every trick outside of running to Canada to avoid being drafted. It only really stopped when co-lead and Ford’s fellow veteran Robert Montgomery asked Ford to stop for his sake, effectively bringing Ford to tears.
Oh no, looks like I’m breaking my “no anime” rule for this column. Which is a rule I didn’t come to lightly, not because I dislike the art form, but because those who are into it tend to be the worst. What, you mad? Come find me, or Miyazaki, if you want an ass-kicking.
Anyway, I remember seeing this a few years ago and being pretty charmed by its low-stakes sci-fi. This is being released in conjunction with director Mamoru Hosoda’s newest film THE BOY AND THE BEAST, which by all accounts is a ton of fun. However, without seeing that, I’m gonna go with this flick, because I’m probably due for a re-watch, and if nothing else, to maybe turn some people on to the rare anime film that won’t make you want to take a shower afterwards due to perviness. Probably.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (2016)
This is one of those flicks that got released with little more than a whisper when it was released theatrically, but has steadily been gaining a chorus over the last several months that has piqued my interest way more than any trailer could. Sure, it falls into the usual “white folks move to a new country and get mixed up in forces they can’t hope to understand” structure that’s riddled with tropes that are annoying at best, and straight up offensive at worst, but if they get it right, India is a fascinating setting and a culture with a completely unique mythology that could lend itself well to the horror genre.
HAIL, CAESAR! (2016)
Any new Coen brothers movie is a gift, but HAIL, CAESAR! is the kind of gift that has a spring-loaded pie all set to hit you in the face once you open it up. I saw this in theaters, like the rest of you I’m sure, and as fun as the whole movie is, I found it even more amusing realizing that the Coens are firmly in their “don’t give a shit” phase of their careers. Not to say they don’t care about their craft, no, they just don’t give a shit about making movies more accessible to general audiences. They’re making movies for themselves, and the hell with anyone else.
This flick is relentlessly entertaining, with the Coens creating reverent send-ups of some of their favorite films from Hollywood’s Golden Age, but because it’s the Coens, there’s a subversive streak that you can’t help but enjoy. This also fits very firmly into their films about the nature of faith, such as A SERIOUS MAN, and life as chaos like BURN AFTER READING, and will probably require several rematches just to know what’s really going on.
Plus, it’s got a Dolph Lundgren cameo. How cool is that?
Depending on how long this column goes on, I’m sure I’m eventually going to gain a reputation of being a Michael Bay apologist. Because here’s the thing, although I will always see the TRANSFORMERS movies as the cinematic equivalent of scrap metal in a blender, with the same amount of pathos, when Bay is working in the “real” world, I think he does interesting work. Mileage may vary obviously, but the man can go big like few others.
13 HOURS has Bay operating somewhere between the THE ROCK and PEARL HARBOR, and given the events that it’s depicting, I suppose that’s a best-case scenario, where Bay is concerned. The Benghazi attacks are still very much in the national consciousness, and will definitely rear its head again in the upcoming election, but Bay handles the events with enough of an even hand that the narrative remains compelling without devolving into straight-up xenophobia.
I know, I was surprised too.
Now admiringly, I’m always going to give a movie that makes mercenaries out to be heroes some serious side-eye, but actors like James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, and Max Martini manage to make their characters distinctly human, and in a story like this, that’s a heroic feat onto itself.
THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE (2015)
A movie about a bunch of psychopaths escaping from an insane asylum, who take up residence in a haunted house based on their exploits? Sounds like my prom, what’s not to like?
99 HOMES (2014)
This flick’s been getting a slowly building rep of being a quietly devastating film about the US housing crisis. Writer/director Ramin Bahrani has a filmography filled with stories of people pushed to extremes by unyielding forces, and this one, focusing on a family man forced to work for the same real estate broker that foreclosed on his home, sounds right up my alley. Add America’s favorite weirdo Michael Shannon into the mix, and you can count me in.
Few movies fascinate me the way McQ does. A shameless BULLITT rip, staring a past-his-prime John Wayne, directed by John Sturges is the kind of thing that sounds too weird to exist, but here we are. This is a movie that does not really work at all, no matter how hard it tries, and because it tries might be the reason I find it so watchable. Can’t claim it’s a forgotten classic or anything like that, but it’s like watching something from a bizzaro universe where Wayne went more crime-film instead of cowboy, and that’s the kind of what-if I can get behind.
For all the movies I saw at TIFF, this is the one I kind of kick myself for missing. My buddy Jim weathered food poisoning to see it, and damn if it didn’t heal him. Unfortunately, I also missed it during its theatrical run (as I tend to do with anything not called GREEN ROOM), but Charlie Kaufman has built up a lot of good will with me over the years, and I fully expect this’ll hit a lot of my sweet spots. Even a few I’m sure I didn’t know I had, like all ancillary characters being voiced by Tom Noonan.
Yeah, that sounds like something I’d be into.
THE BOURNE CLASSIFIED COLLECTION (2002 – 2012)
I don’t really understand the appeal of the Bourne films. As generally in favor of globetrotting conspiracy thrillers as I am, whenever I watched any of these films in the past, they tended to leave me cold. But now, with a new one inexplicably coming out soon, I figure now’s as good a time as any to indulge in my inner shakey-cam and try to give this series another shot.
HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS (2015)
We give a lot of love to Burt Reynolds here on Daily Grindhouse, so it seems only fair to give some coverage to his former love Sally Field, especially when she does something as distinctly unique as HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS. I was lucky enough to catch a screening of this at the Princeton Garden Theater with director Michael Showalter in attendance, and I was pretty smitten with the film as a whole, which is a fascinating character study of a woman romantically pursuing a much younger man in the wake of her mother’s death. This is about as atypical a romantic comedy as you can get, and Showalter is expecting you to come in with preconceived notions of how this story will play out so he works to subvert them at every turn. But that wouldn’t count for shit if it wasn’t anchored by the kind of performance that Field gives here, which is equal parts charming, brave, and super goofy. Look, we all know that movies tend not to do any favor for women over fifty, so anytime we can support a movie like this it’s worth it, thankfully it’s also really good, so its not exactly like you’re making a sacrifice.
This takes place in 2018, so on the off chance that Trump becomes president, I figure we got a 50/50 shot of our world looking like ROLLERBALL or THE PURGE. If so, I’ll take ROLLERBALL.
EDDIE THE EAGLE (2016)
I think there’s something very telling that Taron Egerton followed up his work on THE KINGSMEN with this flick. Going from a cool rough-around-the-edges super-spy saga to a goofy movie about a dork going after Olympic gold. This flick kind of came and went from theaters without a blip, which is a shame because it had just started getting some good word of mouth, and had started to pique my interest. Judging from the trailer, there’s some solid visual flash to go with its earnest tone, and these days feel like we could use that sort of tone, as long as its sincere.
NIKKATSU DIAMOND GUYS: VOLUME 2 (1960 – 1965)
This is the second volume of Arrow’s ongoing exploration of under-seen studio pictures featuring the movie stars of its day. The first set featured mostly crime films, whereas this one seems to focus more on comedies. These Arrow sets are always a bit of a hard sell, usually featuring films that rarely made it off their native shores, and they come with a somewhat pricey package. If you’re at all interested in this era of Japanese filmmaking though, there are worse things to throw money down on.
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016)
I’m generally not a fan of JJ Abrams’ mystery-box bullshit, it’s an approach that might make for good marketing, but structuring a movie completely so you can reveal a secret for revelation’s sake will never not be groan-inducing for me. So hit me with a mackerel and call me a polar bear, because I was shocked when I saw 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE and found I pretty much loved it. Part of it was probably because its namesake was the last mystery box movie I legitimately enjoyed, the other part was because with a cast that includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr., and Mr. John Goodman, that’s basically a three-hander that can’t lose. Sure, single-location thrillers are a dime a dozen these days, but with the aforementioned cast and a strong technical hand from first-time feature director Dan Trachtenberg, there’s definitely enough meat on this particular bone for a re-watch.
More than anything, it makes me interested to see just what Bad Robot as a whole is doing with CLOVERFIELD — I’ve heard that its effectively become a company shorthand for standalone films as anthologies bridged together by a single word, and storytelling techniques which could be brilliant but could also blow up in their faces. So far so good, I guess.
BLACK DOG (1998)
Sometimes you just need to watch Swayze leap into some white-knuckle trucker action.
HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (1945)
This is a classic probably better known for the remakes it spawned (HEAVEN CAN WAIT and DOWN TO EARTH), but weirdly enough, not many people seem to have seen this one, at least in my (admittedly limited) group of friends. A comic-fantasy focusing on a boxer killed before his time, this is ostensibly one of the first body-swap comedies and manages to still be pretty fresh, half a century later.
Although I can’t watch anything with Claude Rains without immediately imagining his INVISIBLE MAN cackle at the end of every delivery.
Every once in a while, I forget that Dominic Purcell headlines DTV movies, but inevitably something like GRIDLOCKED comes along, and reminds me. And this time, he’s bringing Stephen Lang with him!
JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987)
They’re releasing all of the JAWS sequels this week, and honestly I’d recommend all of them, but I’m going to go with JAWS: THE REVENGE because it’s really not a good movie but it’s got such levels of bat-shit crazy that it could lend some out and still have enough left over to be the shark-revenge movie equivalent of modern-day Gary Busey.
If nothing else, while watching it just remind yourself: this paid for Michael Caine’s beach house.
He earned it.
Never let it be said that Daily Grindhouse isn’t for the children.