Wednesday, June 9, 2010

July August Weird Wednesday Titles and Writeups

Bad news for Michigan Phil. Freebie & The Bean.

July 7, Dir. Y.K. Kim and Woo-sang Park, 1986, 35mm, Ritz
Earlier this year at Weird Wednesday we presented a pretty astonishing film, NINJA TURF, a film that contains no ninjas at all but nevertheless thrilled the crowd with its depiction of immigrant street gangs and 35-year old high school students. The crowd was confused, many were angry, a few had blood streaming from their eyes. But we all knew we'd witnessed something. Now for those same people and also for those who missed NINJA TURF because they had to work or were pussies, we present the director's followup THE MIAMI CONNECTION. It also takes place among superannuated high schoolers and there's a lot of talk (and even a song) about ninjas but it remains to be seen whether any ninjas were actually persuaded to appear in this film. Part of us hopes not. After all, it's not ninjas themselves that excite us, it's the anticipation that ninjas might appear. (Lars)

July 14, Dir. Duke Mitchell, 2010, 35mm, Ritz
In what was believed for years to be his only movie as writer-director, MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE (aka THE EXECUTIONER), Duke Mitchell (aka Dominic Micelli) created a film about the mafia that crackled with vular authenticity. It's kind of an underground classic, showing small-time underworld hoods in much the same light as THE SOPRANOS did so many years later. Mundane details of criminal life were given the same weight as the machinations of a major racket. MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE, while not perfect, leaves the audience wanting more of Mitchell's odd world view. We're happy to report that Duke Mitchell's lost film GONE WITH THE POPE has surfaced. It's further proof that Mitchell is the cinematic poet of vinyl sofas, mustache wax and overloaded bullet squibs. The premise is brilliant, a hustling crook gets the bright idea to kidnap the pope and demand $1 ransom from every Catholic on the planet! Our knuckles are sweating with anticipation! (Lars)

July 21, Dir. Patrick M. Wright, 1976, 35mm, Ritz
70s teen sex comedies were never noted for high standards of writing, acting, editing or directing but HOLLYWOOD HIGH is a goddamn outrage. They say if you gave an infinite number of monkeys typewriters one of them would produce Hamlet. Well, if you gave three monkeys a camera, they could produce HOLLYWOOD HIGH and be done in time for lunch and a rubdown in the steam room. It's just uncommonly poor in every regard. But that doesn't mean it won't give you every bit as much entertainment as a movie made by people with IQs over 100. It's mainly about a group of teenagers who get high, drink a lot of beer and then look for a place to have sex. They made a whole movie about that. There's also a guy who's supposed to resemble the Fonz from HAPPY DAYS. He's called "the Fenz." Also, I have reason to suspect the guy playing the wacky retarded guy is actually retarded. Be warned. (Lars)

July 28, Dir. Matt Cimber, 1975, 35mm, Ritz
One of the all-time great blaxploitation classics. Though not as well known as the bigger-budget, studio-distributed hits like SHAFT and SUPERFLY, CANDY TANGERINE MAN was one of the most popular, widely seen independent movies of the '70s. It's a kind of Jekyll and Hyde story. The Baron is a middle-class suburban family man by day (he even mows the lawn), but when the sun goes down he's the king of pimps. His Rolls Royce even has flames painted on the sides. No other movie, not even THE MACK, has presented such a colorful, fun, nasty view of "the life". Anyone who shows up for this one expecting to see a slick polished Hollywood showroom model will be disappointed. On the other hand, those who expect to see a wall-to-wall velour fashion show with a thumping funk soundtrack and nasty, mean-spirited dialogue straight out of Iceberg Slim will find themselves aloft and afloat on a purple-velvet, Hai-Karate-scented cloud nine. With flames painted on the sides. From the director of THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA. (Lars)

Aug 4, Dir. William Grefe, 1976, 35mm, Ritz
Part of Alamo SHARK WEEK! August 2-8 at the Ritz! Ever since the colossal success of JAWS, there have been lots of movies made about the shark menace. The smell of money in the water drove producers into a rip-off frenzy, resulting in such immortal works as UP FROM THE DEPTHS, GREAT WHITE, MONSTER SHARK and their little homies BARRACUDA, ORCA and TENTACLES. MAKO: JAWS OF DEATH at least has an original angle on things. Richard Jaeckel plays a weird nature-loving guy in South Florida who has a psychic link with sharks. When he finds out they're being exploited by scumbag scientists who conduct illegal experiments on them, he decides to take a bite out of crime. More a portrait of Jaeckel's obsessive oddball than a shark movie at all, MAKO: JAWS OF DEATH has a lot of the steamy pulp energy that characterizes Florida movies. Everyone is covered with a thin layer of sweat and grime and most of the plot logic seems to have been boiled out of the mixture. With foxy Jennifer Bishop as one of those mermaids in a tank, Harold "Oddjob" Sakata and Milton "Butterball" Smith as "Butter". (Lars)

Aug 11, Dir. Richard Rush, 1974, 35mm, Ritz
A buddy movie about two fascist cops in San Francisco. They violate the civil rights of everyone within a 400 foot radius, steal, extort, destroy a lot of private and public property, shoot and run over innocent bystanders. they're total fucking dicks and they're great. James Caan plays Freebie, who uses his badge to get as many perks as he can, and Alan Arkin plays Bean, a Mexican American (!) cop with a serious anger management problem. The film follows them through a typical investigation as they ruthlessly beat confessions out of suspects, perform illegal searches, shoot a nurse, ridicule a dentist and worse. While it may sound grim - it's not. It's hilarious. Caan and Arkin are relentlessly charming and funny, even as they shred the constitution and wreck dozens of cars. Director Richard Rush (THE STUNT MAN, PSYCH OUT) was basically given carte blanche to use San Francisco as his canvas, and he creates a subversive masterpiece that leaves audiences exhausted from laughing and cheering. (Lars)

Aug 18, Dir. Bert I. Gordon, 1965, 35mm, Ritz
Bizarre mod fantasy about a group of juvenile delinquents who take a growth potion created by young Ron Howard and become giant hellraising teenagers. It's a pretty extreme cautionary parable about the inevitable youth revolt that was already germinating fast in the initial wave of baby boomer puberty. But sociology aside, it's a lot of fun, there's a kind of careening irresponsibility in it all, as the young people literally walk all over the adult establishment. It's also sexy in that inimitable mid-'60s way. When the teenagers grow, they naturally grow out of their clothes so we're treated to the spectacle of radiant, healthy young 60 foot-tall beauties wearing a scrap or two of improvised clothing. Very loosely based on the story "Food Of The Gods" by H.G. Wells. Starring Beau Bridges, Joy Harmon, Tisha Sterling, Johnny Crawford and a raging young Toni Basil. (Lars)

Aug 26
YOU MUST CHOOSE! Since its inception, the Weird Wednesday Choose Your Own Adventure Night has been a virtual guarantor of cinematic strangeness far beyond even our own Wildest Dreams. Here's how it works: we pull three movies from the vaults, I'll fill you in a bit on the details, then you, the audience, will choose the movie by applauding. As always, we have some awesome movies set aside for just such an occasion. Choose Your Own Weird Wednesday is one of the great, though irregularly scheduled, traditions of this series. Some of the best, wrongest and just plain awkward moments in my life (Anybody remember the chugging magenta meat of COUNTRY HOOKER?) have been at Choose Your Own Weird Wednesday nights. This year make your voice heard! And don't come sniffing around looking for hints about which movies will be in the mix 'cause I'll just make some shit up. (Lars)