Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: more new links added

A Polaroid selfie: Perfect Sense
Below, the links to reviews and citations (and a couple of short reviews below those), currently including only the early links I've come across at this hour...more will be added as I can find them or become aware of them (please let me know in comments if I've missed yours or someone else's) always, thanks to all our contributors and to you readers...
The Prize

Bill Crider: The Prize [trailer]

B.V. Lawson: Media Murder

Comedy Film Nerds with William Elwood; with Mike Schmidt

Dan Stumpf: Curtain at Eight
Three Strangers

Ed Lynskey: Side Street

Elizabeth Foxwell: Three Strangers; With Good Reason: "Brooks Hefner on S. S. Van Dine"

Evan Lewis: Hubley Colt .45 capgun video

George Kelley: RoboCop (2014); "The Death of College as We Know It"

Iba Dawson: Fed Up; 31 Days of Oscar

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Flamingo Road; Possessed; The Damned Don't Cry; The Mark 
Glass, Funches, Varney and Kashian

Jackie Kashian: Todd Glass, Janet Varney and Ron Funches at SF Sketchfest;
Chris Mancini on PS3 Games

James Reasoner: Eisenhower and Lutz

Jeff Segal: Horror/exploitation -film documentaries and videotape nostalgia: The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry, Slice and Dice, Rewind This! and more; Thriller (1970s UK series): "Screamer"

Jerry House: "Scientology: The Final Countdown"

John Charles: It's Alive! (1969); In the Year 2889

Juri Nummelin: Winter's Tale

Kate Laity: Women in Horror Month

Kliph Nesteroff: The Red Buttons Show with Eartha Kitt; Hiya Chum!; A Gentleman at Heart; Bracken's World
The Skin I Live In

Laura: The Tall Stranger; The Stand at Apache River

Lucy Brown: The Paradise

Martin Edwards: The Skin I Live In

Marty McKee: Aspen; Destination Inner Space; The Time Travelers; Scotland Yard Inspector; Pier 23; The Case of the Baby Sitter

Mary Robinette Kowal: conventional sexism (also: Rebecca Watson)

Michael Shonk: television series one can see on YouTube...and not on "legit" dvd, so far...

Mystery Dave: Beetlejuice

Doctor at Sea
Patti Abbott: Sugarfoot

Paul Gallegher: Writers in Conversation (at ICA, London):  "J. G. Ballard" (the post's header image is borderline NSFW)

Prashant Trikkanad: "We Are the World" and related projects;
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Richard Metzger: Seizure

Rick: CBS Agatha Christie telefilms; Doctor in the House and its sequels

Rod Lott: Hellraiser: Hellworld; Man Beast; The Ultimate Degenerate
Chase a Crooked Shadow

Ron Scheer: Gravel in Her Gut and Spit in Her Eye: The Life of Dorothy M. Johnson

Sergio Angelini: Chase a Crooked Shadow

Stacia Jones (et al.): Six Films: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three et al.

Stephen Bowie: Peyton Place: the day Mia Farrow cut her hair

Todd Mason: Perfect Sense; The Big Day (2001; aka We Met on the Vineyard): please see below.

Walter Albert: The Cockeyed World

Yvette Banek: Sid Caesar;  Mapp & Lucia

Two solid "smaller" films: Perfect Sense; The Big Day

Perfect Sense is a BBC production, from their film arm, in tandem with a number of northern European units; the Scandinavian presence is about as great as the Ingmar Bergman influence
The most blatant nod to Bergman in the cinematography...
Green and McGregor
is felt, atop being a film solidly in the recent spate of end-of-the-world films with British flavor, ranging through 28 Days Later and Children of Men to Sean of the Dead; however, this film about an unstoppable disease which robs its human victims of their major senses one by one is less prone to galumphing stupidity than most of those others (very much including 28 Days Later, where the action-film nature of it might allow one to forgive, and Children of Men, where such forgiveness is less likely given its supposedly more serious nature...even given how much of an improvement the film is on its source novel).  The film is built around the lives of an epidemiologist (Eva Green) and a high-end chef (Ewan McGregor) who meet in part because her apartment building is next to the back entrance and "smokers' lounge" of his restaurant, and he takes an opportunity to bum a cigaret from her one afternoon, just as the first signs of the coming outbreak are beginning to puzzle her working group. As the disease progresses, one first is overcome with a quick bout of severe depression and the sense of smell is lost; eventually the next step is a brief, uncontrollable urge to eat anything around one's self that can be seen as remotely food-like, then a loss of the sense of taste; as Green's character notes, these are the chemical-interaction senses, and there is a hope that since they are linked, they'll be the only ones affected. Meanwhile, our principals are both relatively closed-off personalities who find themselves more vulnerable than usual in the face of this plague, the chef obviously (like most people) trying to find ways to cope with the new necessity to
make food attractive without flavor or scent; Green's scientist among those working hard to find any sort of handle on the disease, even as its effects are highly disruptive to civil society and their work. And then the next stage becomes apparent...the film is deftly put-together, the relation between the two somewhat bitter or at best self-involved careerists (they refer to themselves self-mockingly as "Mr. and Mrs. Arsehole" at one point) is believable, and while there are flaws (not quite enough is made of her research life, as opposed to his, cuisine being rather easier to present by film types than
At a street-performer's impromptu eulogy for lost senses.
microbiology; no attempt is made to make Green believably Scottish nor to explain why her sister [Connie Nielsen] is rather acceptably a Scot), they are made up for by the virtues. Including such offhand bits of interest as a point at which some of the lab animals are out of their cages, and we see the first interaction between rabbits and a monkey I'm aware of in film (the rabbits are very curious about this apelike creature, the monkey gentle but slightly spooked by their attention); readers of John Varley's novella "The Persistence of Vision" will find the ending a rather interesting variation, sadly relevant to the suddenness of the characters' predicament, vs. the sufficiently prepared-for lives of the characters in the Varley. It's good to see Green in a genuinely good film; Cracks was as close as she'd come in my experience previously.

Ivan Sergei and Margulies as the couple.
Even more flawed, and somewhat slighter, but still more deserving of one's attention than most of the last decade's wedding comedies (even the rather decent ones such as Jumping the Broom and Bridesmaids) and serio-comic drama (such as the mixed bag that is Rachel Getting Married), The Big Day (2001; working title We Met on the Vineyard) finds a large cast adroitly running through aspects of a wedding delayed in part by an errant groom, rather childishly acting out after first hearing on the morning of The Big Day that his fiancee and his brother once had a meaningless tryst well before the engaged couple met (his behavior is given Just Enough explanation by the film's resolution). The brother, being in AA, thought he'd choose that morning to Make Amends by telling him so. While the film does stray briefly into some rote sitcom and farce tropes while the best man attempts to save face for everyone by spinning barely credible excuses for the groom's delay, and the mother of the bride (Dixie Carter) is clearly more interested in the social coup the wedding is for her, than in any question of happiness for her daughter (Julianna Margulies, and it's a bit of a stretch to see Margulies as Carter's daughter) or guests, the effect
...a little joke on tightly-wound relatives...
of the film as a whole is charming and reasonably clever and realistic, particularly in the interplay between the bride and her sisters and friends, and the best man and brother of the groom.  If Perfect Sense owes something to the likes of Bergman's Shame, The Big Day has taken valuable lessons from Robert Altman's work, without replicating his obsessions nor overindulging in his penchant for heavily overlapping dialog. The cast of The Big Day is full of recognizable and fine character actors (including the screenwriters Nancy Banks and Andy Buckley), obviously having a good time in this indy production; I shared some of that fun as a viewer, and this very obscure item (playing this month on Showtime's "multiplex" channels and available only as an out-of-print US or in-print Dutch import dvd--unless one prefers the OP US VHS tape) deserves an audience.


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Hi Todd, I'll be posting a audio write-up shortly — it's "We Are the World by USA for Africa," 1985

Jerry House said...

Mine's up now, Todd,"celebrating" the church of Scientology's 60th anniversary today.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, folks!

Yvette said...

Todd, I have a little something about the Mapp and Lucia television series just posted. :)

Todd Mason said...

Added! Thanks.

Yvette said...

Todd, never heard of either of these two films you've posted about. (Well, maybe that's rather the point, Yvette.) Anyway, the first one sounds intriguing. I'll have to see if I can find a viewing portal. :)

The second one is interesting to me because I love Dixie Carter and Julianna Margulies even if they do not look like mother and daughter.

Todd Mason said...

Yvette, I caught PERFECT SENSE on The Movie Channel, and have now purchased an inexpensive DVD. If you have an all-regions DVD player, as many are these days, the Dutch DVD of THE BIG DAY should work OK if you want to buy or borrow it (so many Dutch people speak English that I can't imagine the English soundtrack isn't one of the options if not the default on that disk)...but I see there was a long out of print US dvd, that is available online for relatively reasonable money, as well.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I came across PERFECT SENSE on a late evening screening (on the BBC) and was basically won over - as you say, it takes a tough line with its characters which makes it strangely more palatable despite the typical vagaries of euro-pudding casting (but I like Green - she was great in CASNO ROYALE and THE DREAMERS I thought) - I have the Varley but haven't read it, so thanks very much for that Todd.

Todd Mason said...

Cool. I think you might well enjoy the Varley story, Sergio...I think you'll like the way he thinks (though even when I was a very isolated 13yo reading "Vision" in its first magazine appearance, there were aspects of the story and the society it's set in that gave me pause). I think everyone in the world was more impressed with the new CASINO ROYALE than I struck me as so much posturing and people making a point of doing even worse things than they might if they weren't so Ashamed and reveling in that shame, even as everyone was also making sure that they, personally, would suffer maximally in every previous encounter. Hell, even the novel ends on a more realistic, if no less self-centered, note...doesn't wallow in masochism to the same degree. When Fleming is closer to the behavior of actual humans than you are, it's time you reassess.

She was excellent in THE DREAMERS, which by me is as stupid a film as Bertolucci has coughed up (which is saying something), nothing much about it coming close to human behavior (though she comes closest, against the script). She's even good in similarly terrible films such as CLONE since. Seeing her in a good film is what pleases me so here. I'm hoping that PENNY DREADFUL is worthwhile, as it clearly could go any which way.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd, I enjoyed reading your reviews of "Perfect Sense," "The Big Day," and "The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry" and was impressed by your understanding of the many films, television series, and documentaries covered. I haven't watched "smaller" films or documentaries in recent times in spite of my interest in that segment of cinema.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Prashant--though Jeff Segal was the reviewer of THE MAN WHO WATCHED FRANKENSTEIN CRY and the other horror/exploitation film documentaries. Always glad to see your perspectives on things, as well...

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Sorry I overlooked Jeff Segal's name. I naturally assumed you had written it, Todd.