Weekly Update: Another week in hospital, another random bunch of streaming films watched.
Curious what else I’ve seen this year? -Click here to read the full list of movies viewed year to date-
194. Reel Injun (2009)
This documentary traces the history of the American Indian as presented in cinema. Featuring interviews with Native American actors/directors and other filmmakers with experience working alongside them, the story traces the myths and gets to the bottom of how Indians became a faceless antagonist in so many Westerns. The film also addresses the new wave of Indigenous cinema, where independent filmmakers have begun to spring up from various tribal communities. The film stays entertaining while also serving as an incredible historical and sociological document, essential viewing.
195. Damn the Defiant! (1962)
Inspired by one of the largest mutinies in the naval history, Damn the Defiant! tells the story of a British Naval frigate that undergoes a crew rebellion after their firm but fair captain is injured, turning command over to his sadistic executive officer. Films about mutinies all have pretty much the same flow to them; this is no exception, but Alec Guinness’ solid lead performance keeps things fresh. Those looking for a film depicting life in the age of sail could do worse than this.
196. Becoming Bond (2017)
Less a “documentary” and more a “docu-drama”, George Lazenby gives the filmmakers his best anecdotes from his childhood and various careers leading up to his work on his one and only film in the James Bond franchise. He worked as a Used Car Salesman and Male Supermodel before essentially conning his way into the Bond role. At least that’s how he tells it. The film reenact’s Lazenby’s stories using actors and the result is a very amusing look at Lazenby’s life. One does get the sense that many of his stories are apocryphal, or at least considerably exaggerated for comedic effect, but the stories are so fun to listen to that it’s hard to split hairs.
197. Twelve Years a Slave: Solomon Northup’s Odyssey (1984)
Avery Brooks, who would gain further notoriety as Captain Benjamin Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is cast as the titular hero of this strange story of a kidnapped freeman forced into slavery in the early 1800s. The film is not dissimilar to the more recent bigger budget adaptation of the same story, but the dialogue and presentation are far less polished. The normally dependable Brooks seems to have been under the impression he was on stage, because his performance is far too showy for the material. He’s always been a stage-oriented performer, but things are pushed a bit too far here. It is good that Steve McQueen chose this story to re-do, because this was clearly something that needed to be given a stronger presentation.
198. The Brave One (1956)
This sweet fable won an Academy Award in the 1950s for Best Writing. I’m not sure that’s a fair assessment of the material, and the film’s reputation has probably been blown up even more by the fact that the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo worked on it under a pseudonym. This is really just a nice little story of a boy and the bull he raises from a calf, and his struggle to keep his pet from being taken to the bull ring. There’s nothing showy about the movie, and the writing is pretty unremarkable. But its solid family entertainment, particularly the excellently filmed bullfighting sequences.
199. Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies (1993)
Rocker G.G. Allin was inarguably the living definition of “punk” rocker, famous for his violent onstage outbursts, usually against his audience. He’d strip himself naked, urinate/defecate on stage, and beat himself bloody with the microphone. Director Todd Phillips explores Allin’s appeal, and with interviews with Allin himself and those close to him, a picture develops of a truly mentally unbalanced individual. Phillips clearly empathizes with Allin, and might even buy into some of his statements about Allin’s “greatness”. But I found myself feeling sorrier for Allin than anything else.
200. Forbidden Zone (1980)
Randy Elfman, then-leader of Oingo Boingo, set out to make this the band’s definitive statement of their famously eccentric stage show. With a cast of misfits and using sets that feel somewhere between German Expressionist and High School Stage play, the film tells an incomprehensible story which is somehow never less than fascinating to watch. It is challenging sometimes to discern what here was a technical mistake and what was actually an intentional decision. The hard R-Rated Alice in Wonderland-like atmosphere here has an audience that will embrace it, though.
201. The Molly Maguires (1970)
Sean Connery and Richard Harris star in this story of a coal mining town in the midst of a series of terrorist attacks. Connery is the head of an organization known as the Molly Maguires, who use terrorist action to fight against the injustices miners have been experiencing at the hands of the company town. Harris plays an agent of the company hired to infiltrate the Maguires and catch them red-handed. The film deals with the moral quandary of terrorist action for a cause, and asks you to make up your own decisions as to who was on the side of right, if any were to begin with.
202. Class of 1984 (1982)
A hilariously campy 80s nightmare scenario, in which the teenage population become so dangerous that they essentially control the schools themselves. Teachers are besieged and outnumbered against the hordes of awful young human beings representing the future of America. It is up to one band class teacher to take on the students at their own game, and no phony liberal things like law and order are going to stop him. This is one of a series of Reagan Era panic movies that have aged into comedies.