Saturday, December 29, 2012

LIE #71: Better than Jesus’ Birthday: “2001: A Space Odyssey”

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968; Stanley Kubrick; screenplay by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, from a story by Clarke; special visual effects supervisors: Wally Veevers, Con Pederson, Tom Howard and Douglas Trumbull)—a hyper-real/hallucinatory/mystical vision of hope and human advancement to oppose the retrograde, conformist steps the world actually took in the real year 2001, In 70mm (!!!!) on Christmas Eve 2012 at the Lincoln Center, where the projectionists still know and respect their craft: It was better than heroin!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gerry Anderson Always Knew the Value of Blowing Up Stuff!

It happens in threes…
First we lose two great character actors, Jack Klugman and Charles Durning,
then visionary TV producer Gerry Anderson (1929-2012).

As influential as Roddenberry, Serling or Lucas, Anderson captured the imaginations of children of all ages—but mainly boys with tech-fetishes and space madness, including me.

As a kid, how many reams of paper did I fill up with my ballpoint pen illustrations of his Eagles, Thunderbirds and spinning-top UFOs? How many hours a week did I play with all the toys I had from his shows?*

RIP, Mr. Anderson, you were F.A.B.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Forget It, Zugsmith: It’s Chinatown (& Merry Xmas!)

First off,
Merry Xmas!
And Happy New Year!
Here’s hoping 2013 is better for all of us!
(Now tell all your friends to start following LERNER INTERNATIONAL!)

I don’t really like the holiday season, but must pay it some respect, if only as a form of supernatural self-defense—which is why the image up top is Chuck Heston aping the Big JC (Happy B-day, you crazy peace-lovin’ lug, you!) from the conclusion of the underrated post-apocalypse flick /commentary on important stuff The Omega Man—oh, look to the right, and there’s yours truly in happier days!

The Holidays are a haunted and forlorn season, infused with more pained ghosts and evil hobgoblins than Halloween.
This time of year gives me the shivers in more ways than one.

However, today we do look at a film that touches on drug addiction, prostitution, racism, sexism, mysticism, degeneration, transgression, narcotics trafficking, and all the sordid aspects of the “Yellow Peril” hiding in the slums and sewers of America!

In other words, the perfect Xmas movie!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

LIE #68: The November 2012 Index

So jeez, what the hell happened in November? And why does it take me so long to post about it?
Houseguests crashing over because of Hurricane Sandy, much mental turbulence due to the job search, houseguests bringing over rare films, heat waves, cold fronts, visiting friends I haven’t seen in a while, living a genuine life not just a vicarious one,
plenty of DVDs thrown into my lap via the lovely folks at the New York Public Library (love ya!), and
a delicious Thanksgiving dinner (cooked by yours truly*) almost ruined by psychotic relatives…

Oh, the usual…

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Year of the Dragon’s Best New Old Films—As Well As 2012’s Best Films Seen—Before the Mayan Apocalypse Resets the Clock of Infinity!

Is this list too early?
Well, I seriously doubt I’ll be seeing anything truly impressive in a movie theater or on DVD or via streaming before the end of the year, and anyway, by posting this before the end of 2012, I’m throwing down a gauntlet to the cinema godz:
Now they will be forced to put a truly awe-inspiring film into my path…

And then, I will be glad to go back and revise this post!
(Because do you think I’m actually going to get to see Zero Dark Thirty or The Man With the Iron Fists or Holy Motors in a theater this year? More than likely I’ll catch ’em on DVD from the public library sometime in 2013…)

On the other hand, LERNER INTERNATIONAL could be posting this list ahead of any Mayan Apocalypse that could be roiling our way…
Besides, Cthulhu and his buddies are always lurking around the corners…

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

LIE #66(6): Escape From Beneath the Conquest of the Planet of Squeaky’s Revenge! Taking “The Zed Zee Quiz”

For once, I am a force for good! Huzzah!

In the wake of LERNER INTERNATIONAL’s First Quiz and My Answers to said quiz, the fabulous Sq.Dave of The Zed Zee Conundrum (and the unfortunately now-defunct Rockin’ Monkey) posted his own quiz!

Quiz! Quiz-quiz-quiz!

Very much a continuation of my own topic for quizification—that topic being “Favorite That’s Not”/“Silver Medal,”
Sq.Dave has come up with several excellent questions of his own—
Answers below/Gentlemen, start your engines!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mutated Warren Oates Welcomes You To: MY ANSWERS!!! (for LERNER INTERNATIONAL’s First Quiz!)

A few weeks ago, LERNER INTERNATIONAL entered that great filmblogger tradition and
posted questions for its first quiz, The “Silver Medal”/“Favorite That’s Not” Quiz—
At the time I wrote: “One thing that bugs me most about some movie quizzes… is the lack of bandwidth, with the same answers appearing from all contestants.”
So I quiz you to find out stuff I don’t know! 

Quizzes are fun when they stimulate the ganglia and stir up the opinion-soup simmering in your brain—especially if you’re a film geek who needs to share your arcana with others.
That’s why Cinephiles tend to be different from every other gaggle of otaku: They like to share info. It’s like a thermonuclear doomsday machine, what’s the point if you keep it a secret?

And it’s with quizzes like these that we exchange our secrets.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

LIE #64: The Far-From-Mellow Mid-November October 2012 Index

Hurricanes! Unemployment! Elections! My First Quiz! Insane Parents! Laziness! Halloween!

Those were some of the gremlins and hobgoblins that floated and glided through the month of October, aiding, abetting and often confusing the output of LERNER INTERNATIONAL.

More than anything else, there was a strand of “intensity” running through the majority of the movies screened in the 10th month—I never get around to watching as many horror movies as I’d like (I doubt I’ll ever complete a “31 Days of Shocktober”)—but the atmosphere of Samhain infuses the month, tainting the air with madness and the smell of blood…compounded by the weather and the whirling hall of knives that was the electoral process…

With that sort of mood running like an electrical current through the month, it was no wonder that practically none of the films watched could be considered “mellow.”
Not that I’d have it any other way…

Meanwhile, October saw LERNER INTERNATIONAL implement its first movie-related quiz—if you haven’t take the quiz yet, you simply must! Don’t worry, it’s fun!
(And my answers will be up soon…Promise!)

Enough editorializing! Onto the Films!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Glengarry Glen Sheepshead Bay!

Let us observe the above frame-grab:
A rain-swept establishing shot from the classic Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), it was filmed on Sheepshead Bay Road in my “hometown,” the neighborhood where I grew up: Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY.

Much of which was underwater after the Hurricane… 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lust for Lustig—You Must Attend “William Lustig Presents”!!!

If you exist anywhere near the NYC area, do yourself a favor and check out “William Lustig Presents” at the essential and incomparable Anthology Film Archives (where I had my own Biker Movie Fest, “Chrome, Scum and Celluloid,” in the early 1990s—so you know they’re good).
The current Lustig series started on November 9, and runs to November 27.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

LIE #61: Mel Gibson Swipes a Page from Don Westlake’s Playbook—And Redeems Himself! (Election Day Special #2!!!)

Get the Gringo [a.k.a. How I Spent My Summer Vacation] (2011; Adrian Grunberg) is the most Donald Westlake-like film that the late master mystery writer had absolutely nothing to do with.

The film is also an utter blast, one of the tightest and most fun action movies I’ve seen in a while.
Exciting, sleazy and well-plotted, it’s well worth a look—
Of course, it will help if you’re open-minded enough to separate Mel Gibson, the engaging and sardonic action movie star, from Mel Gibson, the batshit lunatic ubiquitous on the gossip pages.

Election Day Special! Walter Hill’s Excellent and Not As Apolitical As You Might Think “Extreme Prejudice” (1987)

Extreme Prejudice (1987; Walter Hill) is much more than an exciting, uber-macho, testosterone-drenched, breathlessly-paced, grimy and sleazy slam-bam action flick directed by one of the grandmasters of the genre with a cast of the roughest, toughest B-listers around—
it’s a thriller that goes far beyond simplistic the white hat/black hat rhetoric prevalent in the 1980s, and has bubbling under the surface a serious contempt for “cowboy politics” that show no respect to the laws of sovereign foreign nations—or our own.

Considered a western by its producers, the flick touches upon more “contemporary” themes like paranoia about a shadow government, and conspiracy theories about secret wars being fought at home in the name of “National Security.”

Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome to the “Favorite That’s Not” Silver Medal Quiz! (Featuring Pix of B-List Kaiju)

Cinematic, Genre-Centric, Potentially Mayhem-Packed!

Yes’m, this is LERNER INTERNATIONAL’s First Quiz, and welcome to it!
Look, Hurricane Sandy has trapped you indoors if you live on the Eastern Seaboard of the US, so what else are you going to do? Take a movie opinion quiz!

Why “Silver Medal” and “Favorite That’s Not” Quiz?
One thing that bugs me most about some movie quizzes (aside from my frustration at the questions) is the lack of bandwidth, with the same answers appearing from all contestants.
Of course, there are classics out there that all filmgoers love across the board, and so you’ll get a million people all answering “Godzilla” or “Willis O’Brien’s King Kong,” when the question is “What Is Your Favorite Giant Monster?”

Let’s try and shake that up! (And doesn’t Hedora, the Smog Monster [above, at top] look like he’s made of silver?) (And NO, monsters are not the only topic discussed in this post...)
Questions below!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thirty-Wonderful Reviews of Halloween

Since I have been so lax (once again) in my attempts at a “31 Days of Shocktober,” I’ve instead made a list of 31 of my horror reviews for you to enjoy.
If I was a big liarpants, I’d say I’d watched all these movies this month, but that’s not how LERNER INTERNATIONAL ENTERPRISES rolls—even despite our abbreviation.

The majority of the reviews are in praise of the films in question, with the two negative reviews being recommendations towards fixing the flick in question (with one of those also being an overview of Tobe Hooper’s career).

Read on—links ahead!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

LIE # 57: Bleak House—Some Notes on “The Cabin in the Woods”

The Cabin in the Woods (2011; directed by Drew Goddard; written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard) is hardly deep; but definitely fun.

It’s often like something the ghosts of Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft have conjured up—cruel surveillance-paranoia technocrats meet Cthulhu—and on second viewing, I noticed the flick has a nihilistic streak a mile wide.

And maybe that’s a good thing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Girl With the White Halloween Meme 2012

Despite our apparent differences, one of the sites LERNER INTERNATIONAL visits routinely is the wonderful The Girl With the White Parasol (and if you don’t recognize that movie reference, shame on you!).

Usually concentrating on more civilized films than us, Rachel’s The Girl With the White Parasol has posted its “Halloween Meme” quiz, and who are we to fight the inevitable?

Like ghosts drawn to the psychic, LERNER INTERNATIONAL is compelled!
Answers (and possible spoilers) below…

Sunday, October 21, 2012

LIE #55: Make Mine Marvel!

Marvel’s The Avengers (UK title: Avengers Assemble) (2012; written and directed by Joss Whedon; from a story by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon, based on characters created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee) is a blast—a one-way ticket to Fanboy Heaven.
More importantly, the film celebrates the can-do teamwork spirit of the USA that brings together different fractious personalities to unite for the common good, as opposed to the cold and brutal self-created authority of the Batman and Superman mythologies.
’Nuff Said!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mid-Shocktober Cinema! 2012 Version!

Reviews of Quadrophenia, “A Room With No View,” Lockout, and The Legend of Hell House

It is a bit of a lie for me to use the word “Shocktober” in the headline, but ’tis the season

Thinking of curtailing my viewing habits (addiction) until I can play catch-up with my writings, but not sure if that’s even possible…
Desirous of writing more in-depth pieces, but also for maintaining a steady flow of “product.” Decisions, decisions.
And there’s nothing to do with neck-bar-codes; just a fab pic I had laying around and wanted to share.
Here we go…

Sunday, October 14, 2012

LIE #53: Be Cruel to Your School (From 1976, DVD MIA “Massacre at Central High”)

Massacre at Central High (1976; Rene Daalder) is an incredible political metaphor disguised as a sleazy B-movie that needs to be (re)discovered*

Copious violence and teen nudity is the hook to get asses in the seats, but like with the best grindhouse potboilers, a strong sociopolitical message is inserted.
Not that that should stop you from enjoying naked teenagers getting slaughtered.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sergio Leone and the Infield Quiz Rule: SHOCKTOBER 2012 Edition!

Once again, the Fabulous Dennis Cozzalio via his incredible film site Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule has unleashed one of his uniquely skewed, and probably patented, Movie Quizzes! (Mack Daddy Denny the C.’s answers are HERE—but read mine first! Please.)

Where in the past, the gauntlet was picked up by fraternal site The United Provinces of Ivanlandia, this will be the first time the brain trust at LERNER INTERNATIONAL is tackling the topic—and confidence is high!
For one thing, the ramblings these questions inspire are a lot of fun—
Turn launch keys NOW!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

September Index: The Hunt for Job October

Lists! Lists! Lists! (That’s to be said in the same manner Kurtwood Smith snickers, “Guns! Guns! Guns!” in the classic Robocop.)
Jeez, I watch a bunch of movies, it seems.
But that’s what happens when you’re looking for work…
And for kicks, this post of LERNER INTERNATIONAL will be illustrated with an exquisite corpse of comic book panels—whether they make sense depends on your point of view…

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Not Quite Ozploitation (and two by Polanski!)

Wake In Fright (1971; Ted Kotcheff) has all the elements of a B-movie exploitation flick—a visitor to an remote town must deal with the place’s strange and foreboding customs—but wisely never plunges into obvious horror-movie territory.
There’s nothing supernatural going on, nor any superfluous “crime” subplots that are supposed to jack up the action.

However, Wake In Fright is a vicious anthropological study of the Australian continent’s worst citizens, both rural and urban, and as such is a top-shelf entry into a specific segment of “feel-bad” Savage Cinema.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Three 4 Friday! (Some Brief Reviews…)

Bastards of the Party, The Relic and Marat/Sade

Playing catch-up here at LERNER INTERNATIONAL
Today we’ve got one dopey pic, and two very political movies of genius—
Gotta counteract the downtime from being a Victim of the Economy…

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Checkin’ Up On Kinema! (Four Movies Get Reviewed)

Silent House, John Carter [of Mars], A Marine Story, and The Parking Lot Movie

We’ll get to the movie reviews in a moment (two genre flicks, two flicks dealing with contemporary issues; three “thumbs up,” one “thumbs down”), but let’s talk about music for a moment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

LIE #47: Father Knows Best

World’s Greatest Dad (2009; Bobcat Goldthwaite) is about the venom—making the viewer squirm. But as long as you can appreciate acidic, nasty humor that takes no prisoners, while still delivering maximum laughs, you will enjoy this film and its vicious take on the “sympathy industry.”

Monday, September 24, 2012

LIE #46: Dolls Have No Feelings? A Review of 2009’s DVD MIA “Air Doll” (and some other films)

Air Doll (2009; Hirokazu Koreeda) is what you would get if Nagisa Oshima adapted a Hans Christian Andersen or Grimm’s fairy tale: a doll gets a heart and becomes human—with all the resulting pain and suffering that that offers.
But in this case, the doll is the type you inflate and have sex with—including a removable polymer vagina; and the overall film is a bleak metaphor/comment on the routine and system-wide subconsciously reinforced dehumanization of women, grounded by an impressive performance by lead Doona Bae.

In other words, a doll gets a heart and finds out that it’s not worth it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

LIE #45: The “Mom” Is a Harsh Mistress

Mom (1991; Patrick Rand) can only be recommended if you are a horror-comedy completist, or working on your graduate thesis on the topic.
Not to say there aren’t moments of almost pure genius, but they are few and far between, and I just don’t know if you should spend your time on this movie.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

August 2012 INDEX: What We Watched As We Lost Our Jobs

In August, psychiatrists and Europeans take vacations.
But being neither, August found me getting laid off—after 12 years!—from my day job gig as one of the editors of a trade magazine covering the chemical industry
Twelve years…Scheisse!

So you can expect that last month’s movie viewing here at LERNER INTERNATIONAL might be a tad… influenced by this news.
That’s certainly why the majority of the images in this post will be of things blowing up—

Meanwhile, in August 2012, if a flick couldn’t keep my interest, I wouldn’t finish watching it: I was ruthless.
And they did have a chance. If your film can’t grab my interest in the first ten minutes, then get a new job, loser.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A New Fave: “God Bless America”—If Jonathan Swift can do it, so can Bobcat Goldthwaite! (And then we’ve got reality TV zombies with “Dead Set”)

God Bless America (2011; Bobcat Goldthwaite) may not be a perfect movie, but as far as I’m concerned it is certainly a great film: a pure, undiluted rant; a 200-proof “scream from the heart”—incredibly personal filmmaking that isn’t about navel-gazing or suburban ennui.

In gentler times, this film would have been an Ealing Studio comedy, with a dour Charles Laughton sneaking poison into the tea of various boors and louts.
But since these are the days we live in, Goldthwaite’s movie is a blood-splattered, sick-humor black comedy that smashes over the head with a brick because subtlety is no longer appreciated. God Bless America is a violent, angry satire lambasting the current non-existent state of civil discourse in the US—and I loved it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

LIE # 42: No Guilt! (And “Bad Movies I Love”: Michael Bay’s “The Island” and “Army Medicine in Vietnam”)

Before we look at this week’s “Bad Movies I Love”—one of which happens to be almost a snuff flick, and the other being Michael Bay’s 2005 clone conspiracy sci-fi shoot-’em-up The Island (no relation to Michael Ritchie’s 1980 pirate gorefest)—let’s look at that very same phrase, and why it is preferable to “guilty pleasures.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

LIE # 41: Shakespeare Goes to War—Ralph Fiennes’ “Coriolanus” (2011)

An aggressive and intense adaptation of an obscure William Shakespeare play, Coriolanus (2011), is actor Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut, and—aside from Shakespeare buffs, the film’s most obvious potential fanbase—is best for, interestingly enough, science fiction and/or war movie fans.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Today’s Bad Movie I Love: Clint Eastwood’s “Magnum Force”

A financial success that received a critical drubbing, Magnum Force (1973; Ted Post) just doesn’t get the .44-calibre love it deserves, even from Fans of Clint.

Monday, August 13, 2012

More “Bad Movies I Love”—with 2002’s “Scooby Doo” and 1967’s “Hurry, Sundown”

“I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?”
—Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) in Ghostbusters

“East, West…Mere points of the compass…”
—Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) in Dr. No

You ask me, honey
What it was all about
Ya even asked me where the light went
When it went out
I'm B-A-D
I'm bad
Don't mess with me
—Bo Diddley, “I’m Bad”

LERNER INTERNATIONAL was lucky enough to be given the chance to contribute to the very popular, and highly recommended guest-blogger “Bad Movies I Love” series at the excellent film site Rupert Pupkin Speaks.

Of course, “Bad” in this sense means “What other people, blinded by their own lack of imagination, consider bad.”

At Rupert Pupkin Speaks, my list of “Bad Movies I Love” includes
Will Ferrell’s Land of the Lost (2009),
The Island (1980), directed by Michael Ritchie
Johnny Knoxville’s The Ringer (2005),
The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968) directed by Robert Aldrich
John Waters’ A Dirty Shame (2004)
Zardoz (1974), directed by John Boorman—BTW, I forgot to mention in my commentary that Zardoz’s Big Stone Head and the Exterminator Masks (pictured above and below) were based on director Boorman’s own face! Groovy!

Meanwhile, in the wake of writing up my “Bad Movies I Love,” I kept coming up with more and more films that I was kicking myself really hard for forgetting to include—mainly because I never think of films I like as genuinely bad.
One film like this is Apollo 18 (already thoroughly commented about HERE), and two others are 2002’s Scooby Doo, and 1967’s Hurry, Sundown.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

“Apollo 18,” and the Spiderz From the South Pole of the Moon, a “Bad Movie I Love”

Sometimes I think that maybe at some time or another, nearly every movie I love (or at least like a lot) has been HATED by some major critic—usually upon its initial release.

DVDs of Skidoo, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Todd Killings and gorehound-“found footage” pioneer Cannibal Holocaust all sit proudly on my shelf—and they were all treated poorly (by most “respectable” reviewers, if not all) when released, completely misinterpreted by their narrow-minded critics, but so unique in conception that audiences were unfamiliar with what they were facing and needed guidance—
But none was forthcoming…even to this day, some of those films are still ill-regarded.

Only time will tell if the critically-reviled Apollo 18 (2011; Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego) will end up on my shelf, but I just finished watching it again a few days ago, and dang! Even on a second viewing, it’s still a tense sci-fi/horror thriller-mystery, with plenty of effective—and well-earned—shocks, and some of the niftiest monsters I’ve seen in a while.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

LIE #37: “My First Movie” Caused a Great Sickness: Robert Wise’s “The Andromeda Strain”

“Andromeda is perfect for existence in outer space: it consumes everything, it wastes nothing.”

If you stick with it, by its conclusion The Andromeda Strain (1971; Robert Wise) is so exciting that you forget that the story is being told in quasi-documentary flashback.
From the beginning, we know the world doesn’t end—and are reminded routinely with flash-forwards that act like a Greek chorus, but we end up biting our nails nonetheless.
In preparation for this blogathon, I screened the film again (via Nflix Streaming), and it was still exciting.
Director Robert Wise was that good.

The Andromeda Strain is LERNER INTERNATIONAL’s entry into the “My First Movie” blogathon, sponsored by the wonderful film blog Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear.