State Your Shame for 2017

Do you have those movies — you know the ones — the ones you *should* watch, the ones you could watch if you just made the time?

It's a Wonderful Life - Wall of Shame

The Blade Runners, the Godfathers, the Taxi Drivers, the It’s a Wonderful Lifes that everyone talks about and maybe you admit you haven’t seen them.

Maybe.

Or maybe you pretend because you know enough to make idle conversation and espouse idle, non-poignant remarks that won’t give away your secret.

CinemaShame is a community of online writers, bloggers and social media participants that have formed a support group, a safe zone, for penitent moviewatchers. We name the movies we regret not having seen. We watch the movies. We write about our experience.

Finally watching a “classic” after reading and hearing about it for so many years offers a different perspective than those that have lived and loved a film for their entire life. It’s an informed perspective that brings prior knowledge and cultural awareness. Does the film live up to its status? Does it live up to the hype?

Join the Knights of Penitent Moviewatching. Share your shame, fulfill your destiny. Kneel before the classics of Cinema.

kneel

Advertisements

Episode 7: Rocky Part 2 / Raquel Stecher

cinemashamAndMovieRocky2

Raquel Stecher once again joins James on the Cinema Shame podcast to complete their conversation about the Rocky series with bits and baubles about Rocky IV, Rocky V, and Rocky Balboa.

How much of a role does nostalgia play in the enjoyment of the Rocky films? And does that even matter when sitting down to enjoy a film franchise? As we weave our way through the decline of Rocky, we talk Dolph Lundgren’s unholy bench press, the inexplicable creative decisions behind Rocky V, and the sweet and sentimental coda to the franchise. We play the inaugural “Hot Minute of Cinema Shame” game and wax romantic about training montages.

Subscribe on iTunes / Stitcher Radio

Direct download (right click, save as): http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinemashame/rocky2.mp3

.

CREDITS:

Talking Heads:

James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble) – Host, lover of horror and crazy cinema challenges.

Raquel Stecher (@QuelleLove) – Classic movie blogger, workout and training aficionado.

.

Music Contained in this Podcast:

“Living in America” – James Brown

“Hearts on Fire” – John Cafferty

“Redemption” – Bill Conti

“Go For It” – Joey B. Ellis

“The Final Bell” – Bill Conti

.

Supplementary Links:

Raquel’s Out of the Past Classic Film Blog

.

itunesavailstitcher-banner-180x120

Recorded in October 2017.

Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. Negative dollars are made from this podcast.

Episode 6: Friday the 13th / El Cinemonster

fridaythe13thshame

David aka “the Cinemonster” joins James to discuss his monstrous creation, the Hooptober Horror Movie Challenge on Letterboxd.com. Our host and guest then give birth to a pair of “baby Hooptober” lists to demonstrate the ever-growing social media phenomenon and give a few horror viewing recommendations to populate your own Hooptober lists.

Cinema Shame’s Halloween Special also flips the Shame script and places our host in the hot seat for his first viewing of Friday the 13th Parts 1 and 2 for a conversation and analyzes how a horror-loving child of the 1980’s somehow avoided the grandaddy (or at least the Great Uncle) of the modern American slasher genre. The conversation then turns to the historical origins of the slasher within film, literature and contemporary popular culture.

Subscribe on iTunes / Stitcher Radio

Direct download (right click, save as): http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinemashame/Hooptober1.mp3

 

CREDITS:

Talking Heads:

James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble) – Host, lover of horror and crazy cinema challenges.

David the Cinemonster (@ElCinemonster) – Horror lover, expert and Cinema Shame’s resident Dr. Frankenstein.

.

Music Contained in this Podcast:

“Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell

“Friday the 13th Original Theme” – Harry Manfredini

“Red Right Hand” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

.

Supplementary Links:

El Cinemonster’s Hooptober 4.0 Rules and List on Letterboxd.com

James Patrick’s Hooptober 4.0 Watchlist

.

Supplementary Materials:

Theatre of Fear & Horror: The Grisly Spectacle of the Grand Guignol of Paris, 1897-1962

So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films

.

Recommended Homework Films:

Bay of Blood (Mario Bava, 1971)

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (Sergio Martino, 1972)

Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974)

Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975)

.

itunesavailstitcher-banner-180x120

Recorded in October 2017.

Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. Negative dollars are made from this podcast.

Episode 5: Rocky / Raquel Stecher

cinemashameRockyWide.png

In our first ever Series Shame!, Raquel Stecher (@quellelove) steps into the ring to tussle with the entire six-film ROCKY series. In the first of two very special episodes, Raquel and James (@007hertzrumble, as always) discuss ROCKY I-III and in doing so gush over gooey love stories, sweaty workout montages and surf-laden bromances. As a fitness guru herself, Raquel goes as far to question the effectiveness of Rocky’s training methods. This episode boasts perspectives on Rocky about which even Sly Stallone never dreamed.

Subscribe on iTunes / Stitcher Radio

Direct download (right click, save as): http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinemashame/CinemaShame_Rocky.mp3

CREDITS:

Talking Heads:

James David Patrick (@007hertzrumble) – Host, lover of crazy cinema challenges.

Raquel Stecher (@quellelove) – Classic movie blogger at outofthepastblog.com, fitness guru, cocktail aficionado.

Music Contained in this Podcast:

“Gonna Fly Now” – Bill Conti

“Know How” – Young M.C.

“Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

Supplementary Materials:

Tin Cup (1996, Ron Shelton)

The Set-Up (1949, Robert Wise) 

itunesavailstitcher-banner-180x120

Recorded in September 2017.

Copyrights are owned by the artists and their labels. Negative dollars are made from this podcast.

The Last Tycoon (1976, Elia Kazan)

 

Photo 02-09-2017, 16 10 41Elia Kazan was a coward who named names to the House of Un-American Activities Committee to protect his own career so I’ve never felt ashamed about not having seen many of his films. I quite liked On the Waterfront until somebody pointed out the film was a thinly veiled justification for Kazan’s own actions at those hearings. However Kazan’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon has been on my list since attending a workshop held by novelist Stewart O’Nan at the Edinburgh Book Festival a couple of years back. O’Nan had just published West of Sunset, a novel based on Fitzgerald’s experiences as a screenwriter in Hollywood working at MGM for two years. His only screenwriting credit was for 1938’s Three Comrades (Frank Borzage), but his time in the film industry clearly gave him enough material for The Last Tycoon and there are moments in the novel that feel like they come from first hand experience.

Published posthumously The Last Tycoon is only a fragment. You can read it in a few hours. It’s loosely based on the short life of MGM’s wunderkind producer Irving Thalberg who passed away in 1936, the year before Fitzgerald took up employment at the studio. The novel is narrated by Cecilia Brady, daughter of a studio boss, who is attempting to carve out a career in Hollywood despite her father’s objections to her working in the industry and in particular the close relationship she forms with his younger partner Monroe Stahr.

Photo 02-09-2017, 15 58 20

I think this story works better if seen through Cecilia’s eyes but in the film Stahr (Robert De Niro) takes centre stage while Cecilia (Theresa Russell) is relegated to a supporting character. Otherwise Harold Pinter’s screenplay remains largely faithful to the narrative. Later editions of the novel include Fitzgerald’s notes which show the novel’s third act would have been much more dramatic with blackmail plots and murder but these are ignored.

The opening scene establishes Monroe Stahr’s involvement in all aspects of the studio production and his near mythical status in the eyes of the public. An elderly tour guide (John Barrymore) leads a group of visitors through the studio and tells anecdotes about Stahr and his tragic love affair with the late movie star Minna Davis (Ingrid Boulting). Barrymore’s presence, “I’ve been here since the silent days,” lets us know this is a film about Hollywood and it’s past. Then we are introduced to Stahr at work as he oversees the editing of a movie, fires a director because the leading lady (Jeanne Moreau) doesn’t respect him, and has a heart-to-heart with an ageing matinee idol (Tony Curtis) who is unable to make love to his wife anymore.

Photo 03-09-2017, 04 43 31

There’s a rueful moment when Curtis stares at a publicity still on the wall showing him in his younger days and it must have chimed with the former movie star who was now working regularly on television. Had Kazan made The Last Tycoon in the 50s’ Curtis would have been perfect as Monroe Stahr. He’s got a restless hurt quality which would have suited this part, but I’m not sure about De Niro. Charm isn’t exactly his thing. He’s good in the quiet reflective moments but his Stahr orders people around like a gangster.

The lack of story means there’s a lightness to The Last Tycoon, but this works in the film’s favour. At times it feels like a Hollywood ghost story with Stahr haunted by the absence of his wife. When returning home after working late he looks to the stairs as if expecting Minna to appear suddenly. When he enters his bedroom Kazan cuts to a scene from one of her movies as if he is retreating into that world. Later he’s stunned to see a woman on the lot who resembles Minna, Kathleen Moore (Boulting again), and he seeks her out as if to reassure himself she wasn’t an apparition. They begin a tentative affair but they both want different things from each other. With it’s Hollywood setting, doppelgängers, and potential for melodrama I wonder what David Lynch could have done with this kind of material.

Photo 03-09-2017, 04 33 45

I don’t know if Kazan meant this to be his final film but it feels like a farewell and a fuck you to the business. While Fitzgerald was writing a tragedy about a man brought down by his own flaws Kazan’s version of Stahr is undone by the machinations of those around him. The climactic scene is taken from the book, a lengthy meeting between a writer’s union rep which ends in a booze-fuelled punch-up. Here this is the incident which gets Stahr removed from his position at the studio. The talented filmmaker finds himself exiled from Hollywood, undone by the work of a Communist agitator (played by Jack Nicholson). I get the feeling Kazan never felt any shame about destroying his former friends lives at all.

The film closes with a reprise of an earlier scene in which Stahr had schooled an over-literary screenwriter (Donald Pleasance) in the art of keeping the story simple and yet dramatic (something I think Fitzgerald probably had said to him during his time in Hollywood) but with De Niro now addressing the camera. “I was only making pictures…” which given Kazan’s history feels like he’s speaking directly to the viewer and insisting his work is more important than any other aspect of his life and that’s what he should be remembered for. He’s still a grass though. I’m with Nick Nolte and Ed Harris who refused to applaud Kazan when De Niro presented him with an Honorary Oscar in 1999.

Cinema Shame/Hoop-Tober Watchpile/Shame-a-thon 31 Days of Horror 2017

Halloween brings out the best and the worst of us as obsessive moviewatchers. I can only speak for myself, but I imagine my experience mirrors many of yours. When October rolls around (now mid-September because the 31 horror movies in 31 days doesn’t jive with adult schedules), horror movies dominate all channels. The wife shrugs her shoulders. Hide the more elicit DVD cases from the kids. You start arguing about sequels and franchises and Argento vs. Bava vs. Fulci.

My wife joins in when I can find a nice, palatable mid-grade horror film. In recent years, she’s joined me for films like Tremors and The Fog and comedies like The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. (Though, she still tells me she’s nervously scanning the mist for ghost pirates whenever a nice fog rolls through the Pittsburgh hills.)

Each year for the past four years, I’ve embarked upon the journey to watch at least 31 horror movies by the end of October. Last year I joined @ElCinemonster’s Hoop-Tober challenge on Letterboxd.com. Each year he lays down a few challenges to help guide the viewing of his monstrous minions. This year I’m again combining my Cinema Shame Horror Shame-a-thon with the Hoop-Tober Challenge 4.0 to perpetuate the most unwieldy title in the history of movie blogging and watching.

Welcome to the @CinemaShame/Hoop-Tober Watchpile/Shame-a-thon 31 Days of Horror 2017

31 Days of Horror 2017

Let’s lay down some rules for any lunatics that might want to play the home version of the 31 Days of Horror 2017.

Pick 31 never-before-seen (or unwatched DVD purchases) horror movies — “horror” is broadly defined as anything containing elements of the horror genre. So, for example, I’ve count the Abbott & Costello monster films in the past because of the classic movie monsters. Watch as many as you can stomach during your “month” of October.

I’m air-quoting “month” because, as I mentioned earlier, I’m borrowing @ElCinemonster’s notion that we’re busy goddamn people and 31 days is just not a reasonable duration for busy people to watch 31 horror movies. He’s beginning his “month” on September 15th. I plan to do the same. I hit 33 last year(!) and while I don’t expect to top that total I aim to match.

I’m going to pluck as many movies as possible from my Watch Pile (any film I already own that hasn’t been watched). I’ve been making a more concerted effort to watch more movies than I buy. The worthy remain. The ones I don’t see myself watching again hit Half.com or eBay. I’ll note the outcome of each disc in my blurb.

And speaking of blurbs… after each movie, I’ll toss up a mini-review and a 30Hz rating that will correspond to my review on Letterboxd.com. The review may or may not contain any actual insight. The reviews are the part of this project that will leave you a quivering pile of bloody goo. And now for the more specific Hoop-Tober demonic hurdles, courtesy of @ElCinemonster.

6 sequels (mix-and-match. 6 total)
6 countries
6 decades
6 films from before 1970
6 films from the following: Carpenter, Raimi, Whale, Browning, Craven, Tom Holland (mix-and-match, or all one)
3 people eating people (non-zombie)
1 Hammer Film
1 Romero film
1 terrible oversight aka OVERT SHAME! (use the following link, filter out the films you’ve seen and picked the highest rated film from the list that you can get ahold of)

And 2 Tobe Hooper Films (There must ALWAYS be a Hooper film)

-review them all.(eek)

Clearly one film can satisfy multiple criteria. Viewing and reviewing will begin at 12:01am CST on Sept 15th.

I plan to call some audibles when spur-of-the-moment cravings strike, but here’s my blueprint for the 2017 31 Days Of Horror CinemaShame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile Shame-a-Thon.

31 days of horror 2017

Past #31DaysOfHorror Shame-a-thons: 2013 | 2014 | 2015 Part 1 | 2015 Part 22016 

*rewatch

  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
  3. Brain Damage
  4. Caltiki: The Immortal Monster
  5. Cannibal! The Musical
  6. Christine
  7. Death Walks in High Heels
  8. Eating Raoul
  9. Friday the 13th
  10. Friday the 13th Part II
  11. House*
  12. House 2*
  13. House 3
  14. House 4
  15. Fox with the Velvet Tail
  16. Invaders from Mars
  17. Mill of the Stone Women
  18. Posession
  19. Prince of Darkness
  20. Shocker
  21. Spontaneous Combustion
  22. Suddenly in the Dark
  23. The Devil Doll
  24. The Dismembered
  25. The Green Butchers
  26. The Hound of the Baskervilles*
  27. The Wife Killer
  28. Spider (Zirneklis)
  29. The Velvet Vampire
  30. What Have You Done to Solange?
  31. Two Evil Eyes
  32. The Initiation
  33. The Fan (Der Fan)
  34. The Invisible Man (familiar comfort horror)*

the invisible man 31 days of horror 2017

What’s your list? What’s your plan for horror movie watching this year? If you’re keeping a list or participating in the Hoop-Tober challenge, I’ll link you in the header for my posts. Just leave a note with a link in the comments. Together we shall overcome… or we’ll be the loser pumped off in the first act to establish indomitable menace. It’s more comforting to know you’re not doing this alone.

Flipping the Tables

DeNiro.png

The movies I watch most frequently, roughly 80%, are subtle, full of dark images, deep thoughts, and painted with smoke, mirrors, and chiaroscuro. The movies I tend to walk around, to avoid, even when given four-star reviews, are bloody, action flicks, brutal and gruesome, cruel and angry. My best friend might argue with you, that is exactly what I watch, a mixture of the usual top-ten noir films we’ve all seen with Bogart and Mitchum and their splendid ilk. But I also watch a lot of 1940’s crime films with twisted femme fatales, and a mixture of characters with seemingly no conscience and no regrets. I suppose there is a discrepancy there but we all have our limits and I never did well with brutal, unless it was painted up pretty and put in stockings and a ball gown.

Enter Raging Bull, the top daddy on many critics’ lists, including Roger Ebert’s. I have a long love affair with both De Niro and Italian culture. They feel like family, like the sort of folks I suspect are in a few generations of my lineage and my husband’s. So when I was asked what films everyone has seen that I have not, Raging Bull and The Deer hunter were the first on my mind and out of my mouth.

I sat with my ice water, Raisinets, and popcorn and hit play. I was immediately transported into a painting. The movie is magnificent, and would be even with the sound off. But the combination of the music and the visuals is nothing short of, and the choice of Scorsese to use black and white hooked me from the start.

I was at ringside, not cheering or taking pictures. I was mesmerized by Jake LaMotta in the ring, boxing the air. He was alone in a smoky haze, only the camera flashes from out of the darkness indicating that anyone else could see him fighting his adversaries, and only he knew who he was boxing.

There are 8 boxing matches featured in this film but I don’t think Raging Bull is really about boxing. He could have been a tailor or a policeman or a mail carrier. It gets to the heart of jealousy and insecurity, and how a person can tear their family  and their own life apart with their hands. In that way boxing serves as the perfect illustration of a man that punishes others for their weaknesses and for their strengths that make him feel weak. A man that can punish himself just as easily, and take it. Over and over again.

I grew up enamoured with boxing. I think I got it from my mother, who, though she didn’t watch any sports regularly, except figure skating during the Olympics, but never missed a heavy weight bout. This was during Ali’s reign in the late 70’s–as well as Holmes, Norton, Spinks, et al. I never missed a Rocky movie, and loved all of them. But this is an entirely different animal. I believe that is because it begins as truth, from LaMotta’s own autobiography. I understand there were a few changes, but not crucial ones.

If it was fiction, I would be saying, hey, drop the anger a bit and balance things out. A viewer can only take so much? Lighten a few scenes, take a break with the pressure. But this is real life and Scorsese pulled no punches. We ride the wave from beginning to end, and it never lets up. But I won’t say anything about the end, never a spoiler with me, just in case I am not the only person in the world that has not seen Raging Bull.

The main difference between this and other ‘boxing’ movies, is that clearly each scene has been edited perfectly, edited for effect, and somehow the effects come off without being pretentious or condescending. It is a truly beautiful film. Cathy Moriarty is fantastic as his second wife, and Joe Pesci is brilliant as his brother. Most underrated actor ever, but I digress.

Check this out, one of my favourite scenes, when Jake tells his brother to hit him in the face.

De Niro barely even moves his head and body when he’s hit over and over. I understand he trained with LaMotta for a year to do this film right.

The hardest scenes to watch, but the most interesting are the ones with his wives, especially those with Vikki. They clearly loved each other desperately, but when Jake was jealous, or reacting to something she said, he was an animal, ferocious and unpredictable.

 

rage.png

 

De Niro’s LaMotta reminds me of what Brando pulled off in On The Waterfront, especially showing how a lady can temper the beast, at least for a time, and help him to feel something other than rage. In one memorable scene, Jake is trying to abstain before a fight but Vikki pushes him close to the edge. He pours ice down his pants and she goes to him and kisses him, holding him close. She walks away with a wet spot on her gown.

Between the rage and the passion, my inner voyeur was well satisfied, and now I can cross Raging Bull off my list. I could wax long about not letting anger ruin us and stopping the rage before we tear ourselves apart, but we all know this already, so lets’ be good to each other, and see lots of good movies to keep life rich, capiche?

 

 

 

August: Unseen Films of X Director

For the month of August, Cinema Shame will be highlighting the unwatched films of our favorite directors. You know the ones I’m talking about, you love Spielberg but haven’t found time to watch “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, you adore Scorsese but you still haven’t sat down and entertained yourself with “The King of Comedy”, you’ve seen the name George P. Cosmatos show up on cable but have no clue about “Of Unknown Origin”. Well, Cosmatos may be an outlier (even though his small filmography is strong), but you get the idea. We are focusing on films we have missed in a director’s filmography.

At first, I stumbled through IMDB searching for various directors scrolling through their filmography. It was too random. I was aiming for prestige directors such as Frank Capra, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Lewis Gilbert, etc. These auteurs had directed films that have been on my Cinema Shame list for years. I wanted to stretch my boundaries, as with most of my film viewing habits, I consider it to be a random journey. The directions for these journeys come from various sources, such as film twitter, a book, most recent boutique label blu-ray release. I like to believe most of the films I pick for viewing are based on my personal mood and current interest. Depending on my mood can be iffy. Thankfully letterboxd helps me map out my film adventure. I dived into some data analysis (what I call opening the app) and reviewed the directors I’ve been watching throughout 2017.

I picked three titans of cinema: Walter Hill, Tony Scott and Spike Lee. Are these my all-time favorite directors? I’m not sure yet, but each one has directed a film that would easily fall into my top 20. Throughout the month of August, I am going to tackle one film from each director. I hope you can join the Cinema Shame website on this little voyage. I will announce the films later this week. Feel free to discuss your Director Cinema Shame with your own blog post, twitter or your own blog throughout the month of August.