Thursday, March 22, 2018

When Danger is Boring

Film: Casanova 70
Format: Streaming video from Kanopy on rockin’ flatscreen.

I really wanted to like Casanova 70. I really did. I think I can be forgiven for thinking that it would be in the same vein as films like Divorce, Italian Style and Marriage, Italian Style. After all, all three of these films are Italian sex comedies from the 1960s starring Marcello Mastroianni. Casanova 70, as the third in that trio, had to have what the others did, but more and better, right?

Actually, not so much. I realized pretty quickly that I had more or less seen this as a short a number of years ago. Woody Allen remade this as one of the scenarios in Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex. One of the vignettes in Allen’s film is about a woman who can only achieve an orgasm when she has sex in public. Allen plays the husband and has the entire thing filmed both in Italian and in the sort of style used for this film. It’s a direct nod to this sort of sex comedy, because in this film, Mastroianni’s character can only find himself interested in sex at all if there is a serious hint of danger involved. No danger, no sexy times.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday Horror: Cloverfield

Film: Cloverfield
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on The New Portable.

Life is short, so I really try to focus on watching movies I’ve never seen before as much as I can. Sure, I rewatch some, but I really do try to watch things that are new to me when I can. Some of my rewatches are to have something on in the background while I work. Some are because I have a desire to revisit a movie I like. Some, like Cloverfield, I rewatch for this blog. I didn’t love Cloverfield when I watched it the first time, but I didn’t hate it either. That said, it’s not like I was aching to see it again.

What I find interesting is that Cloverfield has spawned an odd collection of…not really sequels, but sort of related films. Cloverfield is a found-footage kaiju-style movie in which a huge monster attacks New York as in the best of the Japanese giant monster movies. 10 Cloverfield Lane, released a few years later, is related to the first film in that they seem to take place in the same world, but the style is completely different. A third film, The Cloverfield Paradox is just out this year; I haven’t seen it yet, but I assume that once again it will be mildly related to the original film without really being anything like it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Films: The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
Format: Internet video on the new internet machine.

Casting a biopic is a weird thing. Do you cast for looks or the “essence” of the person? Or do you just go with a name and hope that everything works out? In the case of The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell, the answer to these questions was evidently “none of the above.” Gary Cooper was cast as the title character in what Mitchell’s family believed to be a huge mistake. Where Cooper was tall and laconic, Mitchell by all accounts was short and fiery. Apparently, no one in Mitchell’s family thought this casting made any sense at all because the two men couldn’t have been more different.

Anyway, the title of the film tells you pretty much everything you need to know regarding the plot. Billy Mitchell (Cooper) is a staunch advocate for air power in the years following World War I. It’s Mitchell’s belief that air power is the future of the military and the future of warfare. No one else seems to believe him, though; both the Army and the Navy haven’t even pretended to throw a bone or two toward the fledgling air corps.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Off Script: Starry Eyes

Films: Starry Eyes
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on laptop.

The movie industry is obsessed with itself in ways that would be evidence of psychosis in just about any other industry. When it wants to pat itself on the back, we get movies like Argo that posit our movie makers as selfless heroes. When it wants to be nostalgic, we get Hugo, touting the history of films as something like a history of humanity itself. When it wants to make fun of itself, we get things like Hail, Caesar!, showing Hollywood to be a place of insane self-obsession and detached from reality. In its sardonic moods, we get The Player, which is everything Hail, Caesar! is turned nasty. So what happens when someone decides to take this sort of navel gazing and slip it into a horror movie? You get Starry Eyes.

Sarah (Alex Essoe) desperately wants to break into the movie business. She’s marking time working as a server in an exploitative Hooters-like restaurant called Big Taters. There are a few things that stand in her way. One is that most of her friends either aren’t supportive or actively subverting her goals. Erin (Fabianne Therese) actively goes on auditions that Sarah has done and attempts to steal her roles. Second is that she is a trichotillomaniac, pulling out her own hair in moments of stress. The only people in Sarah’s life who seem to care about her at all are her roommate Tracy (Amanda Fuller), and Danny (Noah Segan), who talks about making a film and wanting Sarah to star in it.