Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cute Dogs & Cosplay in the Noonday Sun: The Films of October 2013 - FINALLY!

Oh my god, aren’t these dogs SO cute?!?!?
Yer a good doggie, yes, you are!
Scratch your belly, you like that, right, puppy?
Yes, you’re a goooooood dog!

Jeez, I want one!
French bulldogs or the pug-Chihuahua mix, the chug—all of them are so delightful—
and noble!
And wise! Like canine Yodas!

So what does this have to do with the Films of October 2013? Read on, read on….

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Best Science Fiction Film You’ve Never Heard Of: 1968’s THE YEAR OF THE SEX OLYMPICS

Come for the salacious title and stay to get your mind blown!

1968’s The Year of the Sex Olympics is the best science fiction film you’ve never heard of, predicting a world of human-debasing reality-TV shows and constant government-sanctioned/encouraged pornography. Written and created by sci-fi grandmaster Nigel Kneale, this film is intense and thought-provoking and still utterly relevant.
Do yourself a favor and catch this nightmare of the future as soon as you can!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New MUST SEE: 1973’s “Bonnie’s Kids”—Sleazy Drive-In Neo-Noir That You Cannot Miss!

Bonnie’s Kids like the kind of kicks that could kill you!
Hang out with “Bonnie’s Kids”—you’ll have a blast!
Bonnie’s Kids—they’ll blow you…away.

Lurid sleaze abounds when Bonnie’s Kids strut their stuff! Sisters Ellie and Myra are nothing but trouble—in and out of bed! But ripping off gangsters is never smart, no matter how sexy you are. Will these bad girls make it? To find out, see Bonnie’s Kids!

Forgotten and largely unseen since its initial release
in 1973, Bonnie’s Kids is a lost neo-noir sleaze classic that deserves rediscovering. It’s so much more than drive-in/grindhouse filler: It’s a great twist on the “femme fatale on the run” theme, one that really toys with the audience, like an especially malicious cat with a hapless mouse.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

L.I.E. ONE-HUNDRED!!!! Where No LIE Has Gone Before!

Thanks to loyal readers and friends!
Your feedback and comments keep me going, and I really regret not being able to post as much as I would like.

That said, since I’ve subtitled this post “Where No LIE Has Gone Before!” it will be illustrated with some of the Star Trek images that I’ve had clogging my computer for too long.
I wasn’t going to use a picture or a cake, or the actual number “100.”

I love the original Trek—it was the show that Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea should have been.
The Original Trek was really about a U.S. battleship cruising the Pacific, keeping the peace—promoting the benevolent Pax Americana. Voyage was just dopey kids’ stuff—but set on the U.S. Navy’s most super-science submarine! Voyage should have been about subverting Castro and destroying the crops of Laos, not lobstermen, phony lizards and atom bomb swallowing whales! (Although that was a cool episode…) 

For the reviews of August and September (and more Trek pix, both from the show and our nation’s cosplayers), please read on:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Bluesmobile Still Needs Gasoline: Elwood, His Car and the Movies of July 2013

For me, one of the most potent bits of evidence pointing to the veracity that the Blues Brothers were in fact “on a mission from God,” was the almost-heroic death of the Bluesmobile.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My New Favorite Movie: 2006’s “Aachi & Ssipak”

If you are in any way, shape or form a fan of weirdness, then you owe it to yourself to see 2006’s Aachi & Ssipak
Hilarious, action-packed animation from Korea as punk hoodlums battle government killer-cyborgs, the mutant Diaper Gang and porn-obsessed gangsters to make it in a future where poop is money!
Coming soon to a theater near you! (If you live anywhere near Brooklyn, that is…)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

LIE #97: Pacific Rim! Premingerliciousness! And the Movies of June—Finally!

Any gripes against Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (2013) are sniggling ones: For the amount of money spent—and that bread is all on-screen—this is about as perfect a giant monster vs. giant robot flick as you’ll find.

(This, more, and the films of June, all below)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Battlin’ Babs From Brooklyn Conquers the West!

When feisty Barbara Stanwyck’s hard-as-nails, incredibly successful businesswoman is blinded by love for the first time in her hardscrabble life, her selfish and immature younger brother takes the opportunity to ruin her empire.

Sounds kind of modern, right?

Well, it’s as close to a “Douglas Sirk” film that Sam Fuller would ever come to: 1957’s Forty Guns.

But since it’s Stanwyck and Fuller, it’s practically perfect.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Harry Harrison’s “Bill the Galactic Hero” and the Return of Alex Cox: Huzzah!

Despite—or because of—directing Repo Man, one of the greatest films ever made, Alex Cox is one of those filmmakers who just don’t seem to make enough movies.

So it was with joy that I heard that, via Kickstarter funding, Cox would be adapting one of my favorite books, the hilarious science fiction satire, Bill, the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

LIE #94: Heatwave Quintet—“Blind Beast” & Friends!

Thermonuclear heatwave meltdown in effect, but no summertime-popcorn-Propaganda-Machine-brainwashing here at LERNER INTERNATIONAL, no siree!

These five films are thought-provoking and controversial, yet brush against the Genre Zone quite successfully—after Blind Beast, we look at the recently released Upstream Color, the long-awaited follow-up to cult favorite Primer; then Larry Cohen’s 1977 exploitation biopic The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, best watched if you put yourself in a late-1970s mindset. We conclude with reviews of lost early-1980s UFOlogy masterpiece Wavelength and its abducted aliens; finishing with Kuroneko, another Japanese film, with bloodthirsty yokai seeking revenge.

Blind Beast (1969; Yasuzo Masumura) WOW, what a film!

“Why can’t touching be an art form?!?"
An insane blind sculptor kidnaps a young model that he’s become obsessed with—in order to recreate the “perfect “ female form in Yasuzo Masumura’s unique erotic horror masterpiece Blind Beast. The madman cries out, “A new art form, by and for the blind!”—and he means it!

Friday, July 5, 2013

LIE #93: Beyond Blaxploitation, It’s Bla-Sex-Ploitation—1976’s “Black Shampoo!” (And "The Purge")

We gotta flick here that’s pure, 100-proof, 1970s old-school 42nd Street exploitation madness about the dangers of being a stud hairdresser.
Enlivened by beyond over-the-top performances and excessive (but thematically integral) nudity, 1976’s Black Shampoo is blasexploitation at its height: Mr. Jonathon knows how to satisfy his customers!

(And later, we’ll be taking a look at the New School in Exploitation, reviewing The Purge!)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Impressive Overreaching Imagination: The Twisted Films of Charles Pinion

Supersaturated with eyeball kicks and a non-mainstream aesthetic, psychedelic splatterpunk is one way to describe the underground films of low-budget auteur Charles Pinion.
Consensus reality just gives up after a certain point and the nudity, madness, supernatural sacrilege and gore—lots of gore—spills all over the floor, slithers up your legs and eats your brain.

“Pinion’s imagination occasionally overreaches his limited budget, but the results are always impressive,” Shock Cinema’s Steve Pulchalski accurately pointed out in 1997.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

He Is Legend: Richard Matheson RIP

Richard Matheson RIP

A great novelist and even better screenwriter has left this dimension to explore a new one, and we are all the lesser for it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Billy Can’t Be A Hero: A Re-Appreciation of William Friedkin, and the Movies of May 2013

In the last month or so, I’ve not only rescreened William Friedkin’s films Sorcerer (1977) and The French Connection (1971), but also caught his latest movie, Killer Joe (2011), as well as read his recently-published autobiography The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir

An iconoclastic autodidact, director Friedkin has always been interested in morally questionable people doing bad things (sometimes with good intentions, sometimes not) and the consequences of their actions.

It has been several years since I last saw any of WF’s work, and for some reason (probably raw, ugly contrarianism), he had fallen out of favor with me. Wow, was I stupid! His flicks are GREAT!!!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mars Needs You! “Mercano el Marciano” (“Mercano the Martian”) Invades Brooklyn on June 7, June 9 and June 20—BE THERE!!!

Do you like Martians? Animation? Political satire? Rude humor? Subtitles?
Then have we got a movie for you!

From Argentina, the animated Spanish-language Mercano el Marciano (Mercano the Martian) is the epitome of cult movie: not too many people have seen this, but those that do, love it.

And during the month of June, there will be only one place in the entire U.S. of A. that you could see this rare flick: Brooklyn’s own Spectacle Theater!

This will be the film’s first theatrical (non-festival) screening in the U.S., and like a UFO, who knows when it will return!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

NO LEGS to Stand On: Saturday, June 1st, at midnight, You MUST see “Mr. No Legs”! (read more below)

If you are anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard on Saturday, you must make your way to Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater to catch a super-rare, midnight-only screening of lost exploitation freakshow Mr. No Legs (also known as The Amazing Mr. No Legs—which is my preferred title).

Directed by Ricou Browning, this 1979 sleazeploitation anti-classic is set in the ugliest Tampa imaginable, and follows two grotesquely self-righteous police detectives (one with the obligatory porn-stache) tracking dope dealers and corrupt fellow cops, while trying to stay out of the clutches of unstoppable mob enforcer, Mr. No Legs, a martial arts master with many a violent trick hidden up his sleeves—and wheelchair.

Shotguns, switchblades, ninja stars and his fists are No Legs’ weapons, and if he’s outnumbered, there’s always a convenient swimming pool around to pull an assailant into where this hitman doesn’t need his legs to kill you.

Like the poster says, “Don’t cross him or he’ll cut you down to size!”

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ray Harryhausen RIP—and the Movies of April 2013

Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013)
The Last of the Old School Special Effects Masters has passed away. Now Harryhausen joins Albert Whitlock, Derek Meddings, L.B. Abbott and a small handful of others creating special visual effects for the Afterlife—all without computers!

Big Ray was no hired hand, though:
Harryhausen’s was the rare case of the special effects man determining the path of the motion picture routinely—essentially acting as a hands-on producer (even the directors usually hired by him and partner Charles H. Schneer were non-entities: so as not to interfere?). His individualized, specific form of stop-motion animation is intractably tied to the movies they were in and vice versa.

There is a certain tone to Harryhausen’s flicks, combined with an extravagant but classical sense of fantasy that puts his name directly on the same level as George Pal and Walt Disney as the Masters of Family-Friendly Fantasy. You might consider it a level of “cheese” in Harryhausen’s wholesome enterprises, but it is extremely earnest, and absolutely charming—and drips with the hard work of one solitary man.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

LIE #85: This Evening, Scream along with God (or, Jesus Freaks vs. Bible Thumpers; Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?)

“Summon the AAAy-toner!”

Can your soul stand the theological implications of 1971’s The Night God Screamed?
You get old-school 42nd Street madness with this lost exploitation flick about the dangers of uncanny Bible-quoting hippies and the generation gap.
Deliciously nasty 1970s trash, and a great midnight movie!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

LIE #84: “Hurricane” Warning—Our Entry Into the Mary Astor Blogathon

[This post is part of the Mary Astor Blogathon, being sponsored by the fabulous Silver Screenings site and our new best friend Tales of the Easily Distracted—both superb sites you should visit regularly. This tribute to Mary Astor runs from May 3rd to May 10th.]

One of the first “disaster movies”—from even before the term existed—1937’s The Hurricane is a melodrama about two South Sea islander lovers separated by the cruel twists of their oppressors’ laws—until Mother Nature clobbers everyone in the penultimate reel.

A fan of the Disaster genre, I was looking forward to The Hurricane, but man! Like a white-trash family living in a trailer park in Florida, Texas or Louisiana, I should have known better.

Mary Astor is billed third in the film, but if you’re a fan of her work, you’d do better by watching The Maltese Falcon or The Palm Beach Story for the umpteenth time instead of this depressing mess.

Friday, May 3, 2013

In Praise of Jack Kirby (and we've been given the LIEBSTER AWARD—Huzzah!) (Spraining My Arm Patting Myself on the Back Edition)

LERNER INTERNATIONAL ENTERPRISES is lucky enough to have had the Liebster Award bestowed on it by that absolutely perfect blog, The Girl With the White Parasol, and we here in the LIE control room, say THANK YOU, and send many, many delicious telepathic chocolates her way!!!
More on The Liebster in a moment, but first, the illustrations for this post: you might be asking, What’s with all the Jack Kirby?

Well, The King (Mr. Kirby’s nickname—and shame on you if you didn’t know that) is the answer to one of the Liebster’s questions (see below) because he is one of my favorite artist/writer/storytellers ever.

Kirby’s is a clunky, yet beautiful and psychedelic style that has always stirred my imagination—not only was his art cosmic, so were his tales: supreme super-weirdness from beyond space and time, with storylines that were never mundane. No simple stopping of bank robbers for Kirby! It was routinely gods vs. man vs. demons, with the soul of the universe in the balance!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

RIP, Roger Ebert: The Good Soldier of Cinema Has Left the Building (as well as my reviews of the movies of March 2013)

Roger Ebert (1943-2013) has escaped into the future, into that dimension we have yet to see.

No matter what, fans of the Cinema of Weirdness have to love Roger Ebert because he wrote Russ Meyer’s 1970 magnum opus Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, one of the greatest movies ever made.
That’s Roger and Russ above—and if you don’t know which is which, what are you doing here?

Ebert went on to script two more flicks for Meyer: Up! (1976) and my fave, the beyond-whacky Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979).

As a teen, after only having the opinions of NYC-centric-intelligentsia critics like Vincent Canby, Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris to turn to (I won’t bother to comment on the nabobs and halfwits pretending to be critics on New York’s TV stations—even as a kid, I knew they were wastes of skin), discovering Roger Ebert via PBS’ Sneak Previews (I can still whistle its theme!) was a godsend: Ebert was a populist, but he was smart—and, as far as I could tell, he wasn’t a snob.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Flying Sperm Dogs, Yo! “The NeverEnding Story” for the White Elephant Blogathon

 [This is part of Silly Hats Only’s White Elephant Blogathon—for more details about this celebration of bloated/egotistical/insufferable/incomprehensible/why-did-they-ever-make-that films, go HERE…and for a complete list of films and blogs tortured by them, go HERE]

The NeverEnding Story (1984)
(Die unendliche Geschichte)
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Screenplay by Wolfgang Petersen and Herman Weigel, with additional dialogue by Robert Easton
Based on the novel by Michael Ende
Special effects directed by Brian Johnson

Long story short:
One man’s nostalgia is another’s utter and complete lack of interest.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

LIE #80: Stoked for “Stoker”!

In a nutshell, Park Chan-wook’s first English-language film, Stoker, is right now at the top of my list for Best Movie of 2013.
This is the type of film that feels like it was made only for me, with complete disregard for what “popular taste” demands.
What can I say? I LOVED it!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cowboys, Noir & the Fabulous Raquel Welch: It’s Time for Another “Sergio Leone & the Infield Fly Rule” Quiz!!!

Mack Daddy Dennis C. over at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule is at it again, with one of his patented super-duper quizerinos, and who is LERNER INTERNATIONAL to turn down a challenge like this?

The title of Denny the C.’s test this term is: “Miss Jean Brodie’s Modestly Magnificent, Matriarchally Manipulative Springtime-For-Mussolini Movie Quiz”—a tongue-twister for sure!

And no, I haven’t seen The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but like all of his quiz titles, DC is referencing a character from a film who was a teacher.
I guess Denny liked school…Well, nobody’s perfect.

Answers Below!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

LIE #78: There’s Something About “Aliens”—and the February 2012 Film Index!!!

Since most of the films screened at LERNER INTERNATIONAL HQ during February were of a political, if not “grown-up” nature [reviews below break], let’s start with something silly (that’ll also give us the opportunity to do some serious desk clearing regarding jpegs cluttering our files)—
Let’s take a brief look at
James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), specifically the people-to-xenomorph ratio—what was up with that?

It takes one human (or animal, as Alien3 showed us) to create a “xenomorph warrior” (the type of nasty critter that popped out of the unfortunate Kane’s chest), so with the 158 colonists captured and “infected,” that makes 158 alien warriors.

Okay, let’s say there were some farm animals and pets along (although we’re never given any indication of that), so we will be generous: add another 100 living beings to the list (although some of those will be smaller animals like chickens or cats; maybe a cow or a couple of pigs, but not many; it’s a “shake & bake” colony, remember?).

Therefore, there should only be about 250 aliens on the planet.
And we see the space-leathernecks kill a lot of them.
No, I’m not going through the movie and do a body count, but in reality, by the end, it really is one-on-one between Ripley and the Alien Queen.

Not that we’re ever given any indication of that: For drama and suspense, Cameron makes us believe there are thousands of the nasty critters on that inhospitable ball of rock, with plenty more creeping about the shadows.

And because Cameron is a master of action and suspense, it isn’t until seventeen damn years later that I get around to thinking about. Kudos, sir, well played!

Onto the reviews!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Blue January: The 1/12th Index!

January was an arty and serious month for films viewed here at LERNER INTERNATIONAL: for the most part, a conscious decision to reinforce a more serious frame of mind, and to give myself more stimulating and thought-provoking input.
The Same-Ol’ Same-Ol’ just isn’t cutting it like it used to.
Man does not live by exploding robots, zooming cars and buckets of blood alone!
I needed cinema that exercised me; and gave me real stuff to chew on later.