You know you watch way too many movies when you begin to see patterns emerging in the closing credits. First you have the unit production manager and the first and second assistant directors. I’ve learned that they get their own separate section above everyone else. Then comes the camera operators and the costume and set designers. About one minute down the scroll comes all the various gaffers and grips followed by a small army of drivers. I also like to see who is big and powerful enough to warrant an assistant and quite possibly a stand-in. I especially enjoy finding out who the foley artist was and am always quite relieved to know that no animals were harmed during the making of this movie. Sometimes I prefer the credits to the actual film.
Now, on with the shows.
Festival Express: If you are a fan of the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, the Band, and Buddy Guy, then you need to add this awesome documentary to your queue. Follow the groups as they travel by train across Canada (eh) playing various festivals along the way. The concert footage is spectacular but the real magic happens when the musical icons get together for several impromptu jam sessions as they ride the rails of the Great White North. Grade: A-
Chloe: This is not your typical wife hires a hot prostitute in order to tempt her possibly-cheating-on-her husband only to get involved with Little Miss Hottie herself kind of movie. It is so much more than that. Actually, no, that’s not true, that’s pretty much all it is. If you laugh like a hyena and have a propensity to say stuffins every chance you get (like someone I know whose name rhymes with kickball), go to the nearest Red Box, spend that hard-earned dollar and take Chloe home for the night. Grade: B-
Extraordinary Measures: Back in the seventies, this film would have been a network movie of the week. Unluckily for this decade’s movie-going population, we have to pay for the privilege of viewing movies that were based on actual events. The cheesiness factor of this film jumped the shark when the doctor knew that his magic elixir was working because the sick kids were giggling from the effects of a sugar high about a minute after they had received their injections. Velveeta to the max. Grade: D+
The Crazies: I am usually very enamored by pandemic zombie movies but two weeks after viewing it, I can only remember the crazy-ass drive-thru car wash sequence. Other than that one awesome scene, I can’t recall a single thing. Not a good quality in a movie. Grade: high D
Amelie: Watching Amelie is a lot like reading a really well written book by a masterful storyteller. Maybe that’s a natural byproduct of watching a French film with the subtitles on but it doesn’t really matter because this movie is a work of art. Whimsical and relevant, silly and serious, Amelie is a story about love and how it’s never too late to fall in. Grade: A-
Turistas: I learned a little bit about my cinematic tastes the moment this unknown-to-me-at-the-time-of-viewing movie appeared on my screen following an episode of Freaks and Geeks on IFC. Mix an exotic locale with a few naive ingenues and their male counterparts and add in several dastardly folks with seriously murderous intentions and sit me in front of the screen for upwards of 105 minutes. In this particular edition of my newly diagnosed go-to movie genre, the ladies and gentlemen were backpackers in Brazil and the bad guys were organ harvesters. All in all, not a terrible combination, for the viewer, not the backpackers. Grade: B-
The Runaways: I can typically judge a movie about a real or fictitious band/singer by the burning necessity on my part to rush out and purchase the soundtrack and/or original source material. Rock Star, Crazy Heart, La Bamba, and even Almost Famous are all prime examples of excellent films whose accompanying soundtracks currently maintain residence amongst my mythical (in my mind) cd collection. Sadly, The Runaways made it as far as my looking the music up on Amazon. The film focused way too much on lead singer Cherie Curry at the expense of the band. Grade: C+
Colma The Musical: By my count there were perhaps two decent songs and a couple of creative moments in an otherwise completely amateur production where a bunch of people listlessly wandered around the screen singing monotonously how crappy their lives are. Please wake me up when they get to the scene that takes place at the famous Colma watering hole Malloys. Wait, there is no such scene? Maybe they were saving it for the sequel. Sorry to be so harsh but thank goodness they didn’t try to make San Bruno the Musical. Grade: D-
Do you have a different take on any of these films? Perhaps a recommendation?
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