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That's the Way of the World (1975)
Not a great film, but perhaps the only accurate look at the biz
I am rating this high merely due to the rare nature of its accuracy. There's still an element of Hollywood cliche's of the record industry included, but the studio scenes and some of the management scenes are compelling. Some of the things are over the top; like Bert Parks singing, and Earth Wind and Fire performing in a roller rink and the staged ghetto-talk by the brothers. Even with some of the bloated soap-opera elements,there still is this aura of docudrama about it. I don't know of a film that portrays the recording/arranging process better. This accuracy may be some or most of its undoing, people often don't acre about the ingredients of the cake they are eating, just the flavor. The "how" it got there is unimportant, only the finished product. Napster being a prime example. So with that, this film may only appeal to Earth Wind and Fire fans as well as those who have a curious nature.
Bikini Avengers (2015)
Where's the bikinis?
Yes, we all know that Skinemax (and/or the ilk on premium channels) videos have the appeal of a wet ashtray. We all know the sex is fake, the boobs are fake 90% of the time ( usually with atrocious boob jobs- poor girls) they can't show aroused genitalia, any type of sex, sperm etc. Also off the table is a coherent story-line, acting skills, large cast of players to pool from, original music, etc etc. So I set the DVR to record this and watched a few days later and of course its right-off-the-bat into the fake sex-scene without any explanation, then some pointless dialogue that went absolutely nowhere, and then we have two scenes back-to-back of our lead protagonists who are the bikini avengers ( not sure what they are avenging) who seem to spend their time in regular street clothes or spandex unitards and capes, they have a big expensive "bat cave" then depart in the bikini mobile- a Honda. Then its another abrupt sex- scene with the same girl in the 1st but this time its lesbian action with music I swear they lifted from the weather channel. Then its another Avenger scene, alas, still no bikinis another fake sex scene this time with an actress who fakes a Russian accent, back to the avengers bat cave, still no bikinis, fake breasts sex scene with more weather channel music, blah blah blah, back & forth, no bikinis ever. The thing is they changed the title of the move from Bikini Avengers to Bikini Super Heroes, which was an excellent time to change it to Spandex Super Heroes or really what it is : Spandex Boredom Bandits.
There's no bigger fan of A.S. than me. I'll write that again; there's no bigger fan of A.S. than moi! Seven years ago I caught here stand-up routine and was completely impressed, so much so, I boasted to my friends:"keep your eyes out for this one, she's going to be huge". I was right. So when I heard she had merged her skills with the omnipotent Apetow and SNL vet Hader, I was thrilled, especially on the heels of her success with her solo show " Inside Amy Schumer" which IMO is brilliant from top-to-bottom, and has only improved since its debut. Sadly,this is where my admiration pauses, and I do hope its ONLY a pause. It appears that her 1st foray into a tinsel-town backed project was to be guided with a conservative hand, to narrow the margins of Amy's comedic breadth, which as you know, is highly suggestive and sexually charged, as some sort of test to see if she will play ball with the establishment and/or if not, Apetow would be there to pull in the reigns, thats the sense I get of this because even though she is credited as the sole writer, its far too prosaic, conservative for her, and its in the absence of her brand we get cliché'd and perhaps Apetow script(ed) influence. The film starts off closer to Amy's M.O. but as it progresses in run-time, it regresses in edginess and her personality eventually gets lost amongst predictable clichés. Some of the material in the film closely mirrored bits from her erstwhile stand-ups. Amy needs to be Amy. Its as simple as that. The whole package, at least for now, is this innocent cherub-looking blonde who juxtaposes her appearance with dismissively dry explicit sex talk. Good news, is there was a lot of hype and great publicity for her in 2015. Along with the ROI the distributors made with Trainwreck, she will be sitting pretty
.for a while.
Flesh and Bone (2015)
Heavy on the cliché but entertaining.
Just about everything from top to bottom on this latest Starz Original series entry is a tried cliché, and maybe that was the intent but to strip it down and expose the visceral underbelly of the current ballet industry. Of course, there's no accuracy in this at all. We have seen it all before in Flashdance and in Black Swan, but also in more subtle forms like in Fame or even Meatballs. On the plus side, the casting is superb, they must have spent a year gathering this ensemble of actor/dancers who have the energy and talent for such demanding and explicit roles. The production quality is excellent with the editing and directing spot-on. I can live with the cliché's as long as I'm not insulted or bored, and F&B is both compelling and entertaining, totally binge-watchable too. But the writers need to reign-in Claire's nonstop suffering and playing the psychotically-damaged victim. She seems completely unable to experience joy on any level and its getting old, leaving me wanting to smack some sense in her; our protagonist MUST have more dimension other than suffering. The rest is as you may expect: she needs money so she strips, one of the dancers is rich so daddy funds her "hobby", the aging star is evil and a coke-head, the rest of the company is envious and punishing, the company is losing money, the would-be benefactor is a pervert, a hobo is the voice of reason, typical offerings from Hollyweird in the cliché'd world of dance. BTW, ballerinas eat and eat heavily, its MODELS who starve themselves.
Great Bikini Bowling Bash (2014)
First off, no bikinis. Maybe thats what they are wearing under their tops? Who knows? Maybe they forgot one of the words in the title of the film they were shooting. ( there's also no "bash", btw) so I don't know how "great" it is! Secondly, these are some pretty ugly skanky women. Sure , Im not expecting Julie Andrews in a film of this title, but this also isn't a porn-movie, so there's no excuse for not hiring women who have not endured the wrath of inbreeding and Dr. Frankenstein manipulation. One of the girls looks like a Mexican version ( not meant as offense to Mexicans in any way) of Barbra Streisand but much more odd looking ( if thats possible). The gargantuan/chubby blonde has had some pretty messed up botox and other altering procedures along with horrific fake breasts. the 3rd girl looks the most normal of the 3, yet has the worst boob-job, far more sexier with her clothes on, that applies to all 3 of them. The story is inane and cliché'd, of course. Apparently you can get a B-list actor to cough up $4 million to throw a frame in a bowling-match to save a bowling- alley that has no patrons. How about gals that looks somewhat human?
Stupid and Improbable story.
Well acted? Sure. Decent directing and production values- yep! Plausible or realistic storyline? Not at all. There is no Shaffer Conservatory. Berklee College of Music in Boston used to be heavy on big-band jazz, but now the school has become far more vocational. None of the conservatory's I am aware of feature jazz as a curriculum, and if they did, it certainly would not be a major. No music professor in the USA would have a job if they behaved the way Fletcher does, and more to the point, no JAZZER would ever behave this way under any circumstances. Jazzers are not confrontational or competitive, that would contradict everything they stand for. The way the other musician behaved and talked in this film is not even remotely accurate AT ALL. Real musicians in REAL life, ESPECIALLY JAZZERS, are brotherly. A professor would never come into another professor's class and take over, would never physically abuse a student or yell at them this way ( with intense profanity, humiliation, and gender-insensitivity). A teacher wouldn't come in and insult the entire ensemble EVER. They would never audition them in the manner Fletcher does. They would never focus so much on the drummer, nor would they put so much emphasis on a stupid and pointless competition. The JVC Jazz festival, like any other jazz festival, does not have label-people attending to scout for new talent like baseball scouts. Labels are overrun with demo tapes and web links to downloads, and his remark that if you screw up they will remember you for the expressed purpose of denying you a deal is absolutely inane.I have NEVER seen a drummer get bloody hands just from playing fast: a stick only weighs about 2 ounces and is very smooth. Oh BTW, drummers never share sticks. Sticks are very personal, and ALL drummers, in a music program, carry a stick bag with them like a woman carries a purse. I have never seen "alternate" drummers in an ensemble or page turners for drummer. Big-band rehearsals at 9AM? Are they joking? You'd never get that many musicians to be at class that early and behave like soldiers in bootcamp, NO WAY! Are we to believe that Andrew get tossed from school, before Fletcher, because he messed up playing a song in a competition? Seriously? Even though he was bloody from a car accident? Maybe if this imaginary tale took place in hell, it would have slightly more credibility. Hollyweird NEVER portrays musicians accurately in a feature film. This is not a powerful movie, it doesn't make a point or carry any type of profound message and it doesn't portray musicians or music-schools with an accuracy at all. Im sure its fooled a lot of lay-people.
Satan's Mistress (1982)
Two Saggy reasons
Hey, I have the guts to be honest, the only reason I watched this was because I remembered " that chick from the Bond flick who's boobs came close to falling out of her top leaning over at the craps table!" Well that film was Diamonds Are Forever, and her character was Plenty O'Toole who later gets tossed out of a hi-rise hotel window by mobsters and in real life she's the bubbly, vivacious, curvy and beautiful Lana Wood. Apparently her 15-minutes was not enough for her because we fast forward a full decade and she's back, this time in the low-budget Satan's Mistress ( although the version I was streaming titled it "Demon Rage"). Over 5 minutes of the film goes by before the opening credits begin when I am greeted with the production company titled: " BJ Creations." This, along with the screen-caps of Lana Woods breasts, Lana's major nip-slips in the intro, compelled me to believe I was in for an enjoyable evening of typical gratuitous low-budget boobies, and general sleaziness. However the top billing went to Britt Ekland, another Bond co-star ( as agent Goodnight in "The Man With the Golden Gun") and Kabir Bedi yet another Bond co-star ( as Gobinda in "Octopussy") Hmm, 3 actors, 3 different Bond film. Whats going on here, especially after all of this time? Well Britt is hardly in the film at all, but of these 3 ex-Bond characters, she's the most-known, so I guess they needed her name for some street-cache. The film is irretrievably stupid, based on some premise ( which the producers try to sell as fact in the opening credits) that supernatural powers commonly cause people's loneliness. Buy hey, again, to be honest, I already outlined my "2-reasons" for wasting my time. We get a few brief topless scenes of Wood who has remarkable areola on her DD's ( just guessing cup size), 2 of which are her on her back, where she's aged just enough for them to start sagging and be headed towards her arm pits. Needless to say, I was disappointed and hardly titillated at all.....
Are they kidding?
Im giving this a "5" for the way it was produced, assembled and edited on a technical level within the confines of a documentary. The actual content/message is a complete joke. Is there anyone with minimal intelligence who's not aware of how tough the entertainment business is? Free-will is a bitch! You would think the women interviewed in this documentary were immune. The average woman in the USA earns $15K a year, after 30 years thats $450,000. An A-list actress makes 20 times that for 8 weeks work. This crockudrama' features bitter C-list bit-players moaning about this and that, when they should be thankful they still had many gigs without resorting to giving BJ's to execs. Looks? Yep! You betcha', I don't wish to pay $12 to see a fat hag, I wanna see beautiful women, because they are the freaks of nature, not the norm. Beauty, like entertainment is usually successful because its bigger than life isn't it? Why should Paramount forfeit profits to appease the unattractive? Its an open market. Berklee College of Music, a world renowned school of music, and the only school of music that aims most of its agenda/curriculum within the entertainment business, only produces graduates in which 3% find employment. This isn't new news folks, its cliché and has been for decades ( see "All About Eve"). Of course women are used less; movies are more about life and the MALE dynamic, his physical strength, his professions, his dominance, and his criminality. This may change by the next century, but that's the way it is NOW. Who does not know this? Answer: Apparently the women in this pointless film. Genetically, women are more in need of self-assurance, acceptance, and self esteem than men, this is why you are more upset when you are rejected: You have more to prove, so the distance of your fall is greater in your mind. I do agree with the women in this film on one point and that is their assertion of the male assholes presence within their profession. ( again, not exclusive to the film industry: see Mad Men) But, they are also assholes to the man as well, just in different ways. Not one of the women in this documentary has created a noteworthy role on the level of say: Olivia de Havilland, Sigourney Weaver, Meryl Streep, Ida Lupino, Bette Davis, Hillary Swank, etal. None of them are beauties but earned respect and built great careers. But I do want to close with this:All of the award shows ( and there are 75 of them) award the same amount to women as they do the men.
There is a vital reasoning behind the purpose of making this film. Chanel is one of the most influential persons of the 20th century, and Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" is arguably the best piece of music ever composed. As a matter or fact, I am quite surprised this story, in its generality, was not tackled sooner. This film has many of the element we see in any other films that are well shot, acted, and edited. However, it is the constant vagueness of the storyline which concerns me and left me unsatisfied. I can see the styling of sparse dialog, especially when the writers can convey all the meaning they need to with forced economy, and economical dialog is what you get with this film. However, this is an information-driven story, and next to nothing is explained to the point I felt it was assumed that I as a viewer were to be expected to know the details about the subject before hand. As a result, I had to research multiple web-sites to fill in the blanks, to answer the questions that this film left behind. When you are trying to convey complex scenarios with limited dialog, the camera becomes more vital to tell propel the story and the burden on the actor's abilities become's crucial. This is where, IMO, the film lacks cohesiveness and purpose. I wanted to know more about both of our protagonists, Coco and Igor, but I got little information, leaving me to use my imagination, when I wanted facts instead. I never new "Rite" had so many re-writes over so many years, I never knew of the affair, I knew of the controversy behind the the music but I had been taught early performances caused riots. What happens to Katarina? The kids? Did they get back together? What were Coco's thoughts about her affair decades later? What drove her to Stravinsky? The "Rite" score seems to just magically be completed but I was eager to learn insights of the creative process and see it develop. To that point, I think they really missed out as "Rite" is the primary music played throughout the film and is used as a phantom character. I like Mikkelsen well enough, but found him to be an odd choice for this role. Coco, portrayed by Anna Mouglalis was sublime and commanding.
Agent Carter (2015)
Another winner for the Marvel franchise
It was a double-pilot night for the latest addition to the Marvel franchise/saga and I am happy to write I was not disappointed. Taking place in the 40's, with hints of post WWII as pseudo- narrative backdrop against the fantasies dreamed up by Stan Lee, Agent Carter adds a stylish touch to what may be best described as pre-quel to the mammoth story-line the smart folks at Marvel are weaving, this time as a precursor to "Shield", piggybacking on Captain America. The real standout to me, is our protagonists, Peggy Carter ( adroitly played by Hayley Atwell) who's strength on her own is enough to carry the entire show on her shoulders. Yes, she's that good and commanding in her role. She has all the right elements, the camera loves her, and her character earned my respect almost immediately. It's great to see more & more women being cast as power figures. Carter has the unfortunate circumstance of living thru the male/sexist dominated era but she doesn't whine about it, she walks the walk. She's nobody's fool. All of the necessary production values are here: solid directing, writing and editing, detailed and good looking. They really capture the essence of that era with lighting, set-design, technology, and costuming. The era-specific music goes a long way to tie everything together. Not the best show on ALL of TV but may be the best new show on network TV and a pleasure to watch until Shield return.