October Prompt: Horror, if you must

October is here which brings us to our prompt focusing on the genre of films involving the United Nations to celebrate United Nations Day on October 24th!

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Hold on. I’m getting word that nobody cares about United Nations Day. You goddamn xenophobes. It’s about what? Horror? Well, alright then. Horror it is.

For me personally this is a genre that I’ve always overlooked, I assume its because I’ve seen more bad horror movies than good. I grew up with middle of the road horror in the late 1990s and early 2000s, such as the return of the teen slasher film (Halloween H20, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legends), a large influx of PG-13 horror movies  (The Ring, What Lies Beneath, Darkness Falls) and a flurry of remakes (The House on Haunted Hill, House of Wax, 13 Ghosts).

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Due to my bad choices, I have some gargantuan Cinematic Shames to hack off the list. This is going to be the month I eviscerate some big ones off the list. Such as John Carpenter’s The Thing, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre and Browning’s Dracula (1931).

The saddest part of that incredibly sad confessions is that I own all of these films. The Thing has been sitting on my self for two years collecting dust. I’m hoping these films will give me a broader foundation for the horror genre. I want to be better!

If you want to do an extreme challenge for this month there is the Hooptober Cinco rules (https://letterboxd.com/cinemonster/list/hooptober-cinco-your-terror-is-a-locked-room/) created by The Cinemonster. There are rules and guidelines but the overall objective is to watch 31 horror films during October. You can view 007hertzrumble’s post about his October plans here.

Let us know what horrible and terrifying Cinema Shames you have planned. Along with that, throw in your Halloween costume ideas. Submit your Shames by tweeting your post to @CinemaShame or emailing us at cinemashame@gmail.com. Use the banners below to tag your posts and spread the horrific October Shame! Or UN Shame. Either way.

-NB

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Remembering the Bandit

The world lost a cinematic legend on September 6, 2018. I was in California when a friend called and told me the news about Burt Reynolds’ passing at the age of 82. “Smokey and the Bandit” is a staple of classic cinema in the South, an area that loves racing, drinking beer and the occupation of driving semis. My first introduction with Burt was in middle school when I watched a double feature of “Days of Thunder” and “Smokey and the Bandit”. The latter was a film that was on constant rotation throughout college, every road trip playlist included “East Bound and Down”. It was just last year I went with some friends to see to “Smokey and the Bandit” for its 40th anniversary, a nearly sold out theater for a Sunday afternoon showing. The Alamo Drafthouse had a special screening on September 16th in honor of Mr. Reynolds. Even though Hurricane Florence was pouring heavy rain around the area, the screening was sold out, a testament to the love of Reynolds.

Mr. Reynolds’ filmography is something I have neglected for years, with a lot of his major work, the work that started his career such as “White Lightning”, “Deliverance” and “The Longest Yard” always on the peripheral of films to watch. I’ve caught up on that deficit in my cinema shame over the past few weeks, watching some of those classics and even some of his more recent work. I knocked off “Deliverance”, “White Lightning”, “The Longest Yard”, “Cannonball Run”, and a release from last year “The Last Movie Star”. Each one having various aspects of quality, but the one constant is Burt’s magical charm shining through, even in “The Last Movie Star” that beautiful smile is still there.

I think the best way to celebrate Burt’s life is to share his work with others. I’m hoping my discussion of his work can maybe persuade to watch his work. I know James Patrick is working on an episode discussing Reynolds and I cannot wait for it to be online. If you haven’t had a chance to read his obituary in The New York Times: (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/06/obituaries/burt-reynolds-dead.html) I highly recommend taking the time to read it. It is elegantly written, presenting the whole picture of Burt; the positives and negatives, the lows and highs.

If you have the chance please join us and share your thoughts on Burt Reynolds and  raise a Coors to toast the legend.

August Prompt – Ebert Brings the Love and Hate

Happy August, Cinema Shamers! We are back on schedule with our prompt being released on the 1st of the month. So, get up and catch those shameful watches on the run. This month our prompt is going to focus on the most famous critic in the history of film criticism, Roger Ebert.

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The show he shared with Gene Siskel, At the Movies, was a big influence on my early years of film watching. I will say I always preferred Siskel to Ebert. Siskel always felt more like a blue collar critic, or maybe I just agreed with Siskel most of the time.

For the month of August, we are going to focus on movies Ebert loved… but also the ones he hated. Ebert released four books in his series titled “The Great Movies,”totaling 409 films, a list that could keep you busy for years, let alone a month.

As with most critics they let know about their favorites, but they’re also well known for the films they reviled. I knew he didn’t like Blue Velvet due to an infamous debate on “At the Movies.” I will admit I was surprised by some of the films listed, one of which was a favorite of mine during my teenage years, Tommy Boy.  I would highly recommend checking out that Hated list, there were some shockers on that list. The star rating of these hated films range from zero to 1.5 stars.

Links to the lists appear below. Browse the entries for your next potential Cinema Shame. You can pick one from the hated or the beloved, maybe even both for the completists. I know I’m going to finally give Caligula a watch because Ebert walked out even before it was over.

“‘Caligula’ is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash. If it is not the worst film I have ever seen, that makes it all the more shameful: People with talent allowed themselves to participate in this travesty. Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length.”

Ebert’s List of Great Films: https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/roger+ebert+the+great+movies/ 

Ebert’s Most Hated Films: https://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/eberts-most-hated

As always, submit your Cinema Shame by tweeting your post to @CinemaShame or emailing us at cinemashame@gmail.com. We look forward to seeing you… at the movies.

–NB

 

End of July Report

It’s the end of July, which closes out our prompt on Summer Blockbusters. Thanks to all our contributors. I know for myself I didn’t complete my post or even watch the two I picked for myself, which was “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “War for the Planet of the Apes.”  While I didn’t get to see these, I did get to see a current summer blockbuster, that will most likely be a future Cinema Shame contender for those unlucky few who decide to miss out: “Mission: Impossible Fallout.”

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Cinema Shamedown – show the contributors some support through their twitter handles and  their blogs

@requelstecher discusses – “Le Samourai” – http://www.outofthepastblog.com/2018/07/le-samourai.html

@Campbelldropout covers “Broadway Melody” -https://cinemashame.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/broadway-melody-1929-musical-prompt/

@realweegiemidget reviews “Misunderstood” – https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/misunderstood-1984/

@TakingUpRoom writes on “How to Steal a Million” – https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/how-to-steal-a-million/        

@007hertzrumble reviews “Heaven Can Wait” – http://thirtyhertzrumble.com/heaven-can-wait-cinema-shame/

@007hertzrumble steps into the jungle with “Rambo: First Blood Park II” – http://thirtyhertzrumble.com/rambo-first-blood-part-ii-cinema-shame/

Broadway Melody (1929) – Musical Prompt

I’m a stubborn person, as my Mom would say I’m hard-headed. In stating that, I completely ignored the advice from @007hertzrumble and @hollywoodcomet regarding “Broadway Melody” the Best Picture winner from 1929 (you can check out their comments on episode 12 of the Cinema Shame podcast). An informative watch due to the historical context, but overall not really a film worth watching and should probably be removed from some shame lists. I’m far from a musical expert, more of a neophyte regarding the genre. Even though I’ve witnessed few, “Broadway Melody” is at the bottom of the barrel.

I was blinded by the gold beauty from the Best Picture statue on the cover of the DVD. Only the second film to receive the honor, it was the perfect follow-up after my shame statement on the first Best Picture winner “Wings”. I fear I’m sounding too harsh but there was little value in this viewing. The only positive was the beauty and an introduction to the film careers of Bessie Love and Anita Page. The film’s plot is best classified as a bad love story involving a pair of sisters who come to New York to be on Broadway. The sisters are Hank (Bessie Love) and Queenie (Anita Page), a small-town act from the western U.S. coming to the big city to take their vaudeville act to the next level. The sisters receive help from Eddie Kearns (Charles King), a songwriter and performer and Uncle Jed (Jed Prouty), their agent and family connection in the city. Eddie’s background and connection with the girls is where the confusion with the film starts. He knows the girls, but how well? I would say it’s between picking up a date from a newspaper ad to preparing to take a knee and pop the question. I assume the viewer is supposed to be so enamored by Queenie’s looks, that it is completely justifiable Eddie would drop Hank for Queenie. The reconnection between the three is played out in the hotel room, there is a pervy reacquaintance between Eddie and Queenie, who has blossomed into a woman, in which we are not given any details on when the last time Eddie saw her.  Eddie is supposedly the next big thing on Broadway and boasts his cred to the sisters when they come into town, promising them a large number in his musical.

The relationship of Eddie and Hank is never fleshed out with background information. I don’t need the whole story but for a man to state he intends to marry a woman I would like a little evidence to build a reality of this relationship. Eddie’s whole infatuation with Queenie is so over the top any viewer can tell where this plot is going. Eddie gets the audition for the ladies and it doesn’t go well. Hank argues and fights with the other dancers after her and Queenie’s performance is sabotaged. While their musical number was impaired, the overall dance routine was not remarkable. This is where the editing or story gets messy, I originally thought the sisters didn’t get the dance number but they show up on dress rehearsal performing with Eddie. They are then pulled from the show due to the slow tempo of the number. I have no idea about the tempo, I wasn’t entirely sure how a song about Broadway connected with a show set during the age of Romans. The main aspect of the plot is one sad love story. I find it hard to believe the intent of this production was to delivery a sad movie about isolation and failure. Being the first Hollywood musical, I would expect a more uplifting story. Eddie becomes obsessively attached to Queenie, gets extremely jealous when other suitors try to take her out. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be cheering Eddie on in this movie or to be repulsed. Is he the hero? Trying to protect Queenie from these Broadway producers who only want one thing, which is the same thing Eddie wants but somehow, he is the noble, deserving suitor. Hank is basically left out in the cold and realizes Hank’s infatuation with Queenie. She must watch Eddie pine after Queenie and witness the two get married. The two sisters break up the act. Queenie steps into the role of housewife and Hank partners up one of the dancers she fought during the audition. They start their own vaudeville act and prepare to tour the country. The only piece of emotion is shown near the film’s end, as Hank leaves New York and vows to return to Broadway, there is a shot of her face as she mentions Queenie. It shows her loneliness and heartbreak. It’s a subtle shot and I could be placing too much emphasis on the shot because her character’s romance with Eddie is never fully explained. We are even unsure her about her relationship with her sister, was it the performing that she loved or just being with Queenie.

In Richard Barrios’ book “Must-See Musicals,” “Broadway Melody” is included as one of the “50 show-stopping movies we can’t forget”.  Barrios states about Broadway Melody, “As with many Oscar recipients, it’s timely entertainment, not timeless art, and as a very early sound film, it now seems as primitive and remote as a relic from the bronze age. The dialogue sounds as though they were still trying to figure out exactly how movie talk should sound, cinematography is static, the musical numbers gauche, if charming, and the dramatics pretty threadbare.” I don’t know a lot about the technical aspects of many films, rarely do I judge classic films just on their technical aspects. “Broadway Melody” desperately needed a decent story, it lacked depth regarding the relationships of the characters. As for this being on someone’s musical shame list, I would suggest finding a different musical. I plan to follow this up with the recent Criterion’s release, “King of Jazz” which was released in 1930, it was also included in Barrios’ book.

July Prompt – Summer Blockbusters

Some of my fondest memories growing up were summer vacations at Emerald Isle in North Carolina. Being at the beach for a week had advantages in and of itself, but my favorite activity was trips to the local cinema and seeing the most recent Summer Blockbuster. Some of these were comical duds, e.g. Wild Wild West (those Jim West sunglasses from Burger King were on point, however). Some just escaped me, e.g. Men in Black. Some were just outright bad bad bad bad bad bad, e.g. Godzilla (but I do love that soundtrack), and a few, like Spiderman 2, would become my favorite films of all time.

The movies that fall into the category of “summer blockbuster” are an interesting breed. They belong to no specific genre, but at the same time they remain a genre unto themselves. They’re built for a massive audience via a delivery system of pure spectacle.

Over the years, the summer movie season has become something lesser. Remember the anticipation? The fevered rush to get tickets? Nowadays my excitement level hovers near zero regarding most summer blockbusters. I think there are two main reasons for this downturn, rampant disappointments and perpetual, regurgitated franchising that always lends an air of overfamiliarity.

Still, occasionally there are glimmers of hope. Low expectations transformed into awe. I can’t help but think about my glowing response to Edge of Tomorrow — and that was four years ago! Due to my lackluster attitude, I’ve been late to some summer blockbusters. I didn’t see Avengers until three years after its release, and I’m not referring to the one with Sean Connery in a teddy bear suit.

As for the guidelines in picking a movie for this Cinema Shame prompt, I think the only parameter for a potential selection is that it had be released between the months of May through August. It just has to *feel* like a summer blockbuster. Movies built on spectacle and pure entertainment value. My choices for this month will be watching the most recent films from the Planet of the Apes series: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes.

As always, submit your Cinema Shame Summer Blockbusters by tweeting your link to @CinemaShame or emailing us at cineshame@gmail.com. We look forward to your selections, conversation and good natured ribbing over these choices.

Please, someone, anyone watch Armageddon.

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As always add these banners to your post to make it Cinema Shame brand juicy.

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June Prompt – Musicals

Happy Summer, Cinema Shamers!

I apologize for the delay in getting the June prompt posted. Nothing says “Summer” like Musicals and if you need proof for that statement, one is a little ditty called “Summer Nights” in a small musical called Grease and the other piece of evidence is one of the most highly anticipated movies of this summer, Mamma Mia 2. I said it here; therefore, it is fact. Mamma Mia 2 is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. (I’m waiting for my pull quote.) People have been clamoring for more of Pierce Brosnan’s singing and the miracle that is the Hollywood studio system has answered.

The main reason for June having a Musical focus is the Shameless tie-in to TCM’s online course “Mad About Musicals.” If you have the time I would highly recommend enrolling http://musicals.tcm.com and taking a stroll through the history of Hollywood musicals. 

I completed their course on noirs two years ago and really enjoyed it. Progress at your own speed, watch a wide variety of movies you wouldn’t normally. I’m hoping this musical class and this prompt will lead to some new watches and hopefully some new favorite films. My personal viewing history of musicals is limited, a genre into which I’ve failed to deep dive. I’ve probably seen more modern musicals than classic. I hope to knock off two to three musicals from the ol’ shame list, with John Waters’ Hairspray which will also be my first John Waters film.

As always, let us know your Musical Shames by tweeting @cinemashame or emailing us at cinemashame@gmail.com. We look forward to the conversation and discussion this month.

Also, don’t forget to check out James Patrick (@007hertzrumble) and Jessica Pickens (@cometoverhollywood) on the most recent episode of the Cinema Shame podcast as they discuss Hollywood Musicals.

Until next month, Shamers….

–DB

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