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terrible in a terrible way
Roger Corman's influence is all over Hollywood. One of the many to be given their start by Corman is the director of this stupid movie. His name is David DeCoteau and for some reason he's been allowed to make stupid movies to this very day. Good for him.
The movie was made for a little under 100k and it's hard to say what this money was spent on. It wasn't lights that's for sure. Everything is cloaked in black having been lit by a couple dozen desk lamps. Basically some babes initiate some other babes into a barely populated sorority (there are three members it seems). Instructed by the sorority babes, the prospective babes with schmuck guys in tow set out to rob a bowling alley which is a lot of fun because there's an imp hidden inside the trophy they need to steal. UH OH. The imp goes all Wishmaster on the crew, a punk babe shows up, and that's when I mostly lost interest.
The movie tries its hand at some lame referential nods. A girl who resembles Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein, that sort of thing. Fred Dekker did this kind of stuff better in Night of the Creeps. That's a great movie there.
So we have babes and nerds and an 'imp'. Add to this an exploitation workhorse, the late George Flower, who shows up as a janitor - only he's not drinking (his character that is, I'm sure he was bolloxed on the set). Missed opportunity. He spends most of his time stuck in a closet and talking to himself. What a waste. In fact, that's basically what this movie is - a gigantic missed opportunity. If you're going to have close to zero production values with a cast drawn from the Herschell Gordon Lewis play book then just throw everything at it. Beheadings, torchings, foul language, casual cruelty, thrash metal. There's a dash of all this where it needed to just go nuts and empty the whole bag.
Brinke Stevens is in this movie. She commands a bit of a (creepy) following. I have no clue why, but she is prolific. A better movie to laugh along with is one she appeared in a year before; Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity, one of the endless variations on The Most Dangerous Game. Cardboard set type junk but a lot more entertaining.
There are way better movies of this kind out there. The pacing blows unless you count intermittant nudity for the hell of it. Nothing wrong with that but it's not enough to hang the movie on.
Lines are delivered.
Some of the dialogue is amusing but mostly it's bare bones half-assed exposition (they have to say something I guess). I did like the bit cribbed from Groucho Marx where a guy is getting laid into by Michelle Bauer and he says something like
"If you were any closer I'd be behind you" "Oh you're so witty!" "Yeah but I stole that"
And George Flower's line "f***, that's stuck tighter than a nun's c***" is cheerfully delivered.
There was a sequel of sorts made in 1991 called Sorority Babes in the Dance-A-Thon of Death that's supposed to be even more boring. And whoever made that puppet: good try but no. Makes Rawhead Rex look Oscar worthy.
With Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, Robin Stille, Andras Jones
Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
An outstanding film
Following 2002s underrated Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Clooney's sophomore film again addresses the world of television, however he retreats from the surreal world of Chuck Barris responsible for the 'game shows' which would provide the blueprint for reality television. Instead, Clooney's film is a restrained though thoughtful examination of famed CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow (David Strathaim) who stubbornly refused to submit to the doctrine of undemocratic and outlandish communist witch-hunts perpetrated by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. Good Night and Good Luck is at heart an illuminating study of a time when journalistic responsibility as well as the integrity of the television medium itself was not incongruous with optimal ratings.
The film, thematically akin to documentary, is essentially confined to the studio from which Murrow's show See it Now was broadcast. Robert Elswit, the favoured cinematographer of Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, Boogie Nights) shoots these often cramped environments with a crisp clarity, recalling Roger Deakins' work on The Man Who Wasn't There. Strong silhouettes amid smoke-filled network offices and boardrooms confirm the 'feel' of the 1950′s. The inclusion of whip-cuts, shallow focus, the odd zoom and objects obscuring the frame compliment the black and white palette, impressing on the viewer the sense of urgent response felt towards McCarthyism. Murrow is routinely framed in such a way as to emphasize his tenacity; the shot lacking in the significant movement which defines the rest of the uniformly excellent cast.
Strathaim's portrayal of Murrow is accurate in all the right ways. His performance asserts the quiet dignity and resolute determination of Murrow. Clooney himself portrays Fred Friendly, co-creator of See it Now. Frank Langella is excellent as CBS Executive William Paley. The scenes between Langella and Strathaim are absorbing to watch; Murrow obstinately refusing to reject his principles while Paley attempts to reconcile corporate interests with the moral strength of the See it Now show. In an interesting move, the decision to use archival footage of McCarthy rather than cast an actor seems designed to assuage commentators who might suggest the film is uneven in it's treatment. I thought it achieved this quite successfully. None of McCarthy's well-known characteristics are exploited in aid of ridiculing him. He is presented appropriately as he was; a demagogue intent on summoning divisive rhetoric to achieve his aims.
Though essentially a dramatization of the events surrounding the McCarthy trials, I prefer to enjoy the film as both a light character study of Murrow and as a sub-textual indictment of television. The quote above is taken from the beginning of the film, an awards dinner in 1958, exemplifies his staunch provocation towards the media. Murrow represented the true potential of the television medium, tirelessly working to ensure it's enduring status as a tool for extrapolating and critically engaging with issues. He was critical of the role sponsors may have in editorializing and wary of corporate investment eschewing integrity for entertainment, notably embodied by the influx of game shows in the 1960s. Having been a pioneer in television's enormous growth he also witnessed the mediums downfall.
To my mind "decadence, escapism, and insulation" is no less prevalent in the television of 2010. It's tempting to argue that the internet allows respite from the one-way street of sloganeering, self-help and ostensible objectivity emanating from "wires and lights in a box". Murrow's work might suggest that even if this were to be true, it should still be ceaselessly scrutinized and complacency rejected. The media, whatever it's incarnation, plays far too great a role in our lives for us to be so forgiving of inaccuracy and fabrication.
Nora inu (1949)
An intelligent tale of loss and redemption
In the sweltering heat of post-war Japan, rookie detective Murakami (Toshiro Mifune) loses his Colt automatic after boarding a crowded tram. With the assistance of veteran cop, Detective Sato (Takashi Shimura), Murakami delves into the seamy underworld of black market dealers and desperate criminals in a race against time to recover the weapon.
Made before Kurosawa's famed Rashomon, STRAY DOG is a noir-style examination of responsibility and the chain of destruction and harm generated by the material cause of one moments inattention. The film takes obvious visual inspiration from American film noir, though the moral predicament which consumes Murakami can be understood in a distinctively Japanese way; as a thoughtful articulation of simple decency and honour reclaimed.
"The swords the samurai wore as their prerogative and sign of caste were not mere decorations. They had the right to use them on the common people"
The loss of a samurai's sword was the loss of honour, which only its recovery could restore. For Murakami, his aloofness resulting in the theft of his gun is a source of great shame. On first hearing of the Colt's implication in an armed robbery, he offers his superior a letter of resignation. Rather than accept, the chief partners him with the experienced Detective Sato. A sort of master/student dichotomy. The idea of culpability,explored to a greater extent in RASHOMON(1950) is the locus of STRAY DOG. It also provides a moral imperative for the films protagonist.
In order to redeem himself, Murakami traverses the ruins of a post-war society. His search leads him through slums and sleazy districts; lowly inhabitants desperate for money explain their rejection of morally coded behaviour. The sense of duty Murakami ascribes to is starkly opposed to this, essentially, that the vicissitudes of life can justify larceny and violence. The trail leads to Yusa (Isao Kimura) whom Murakami shares a great deal in common with though they have chosen to take different paths. Both are veterans of the war and have been victims to theft. Yusa embodies the fall of moral righteousness in the face of persecution and misfortune.
As Sato mentions at one point "a mad dog knows only a straight road". The ability of an individual to react with wisdom in the face of a moral dilemma is diminished once one has become accustomed to the temporal fruits of vice and materialistic greed. Yusa steals to buy fine clothes, in essence, purchasing status. STRAY DOG shows the blinding nature of this path to be a a very human predicament. In the film's final sequence where Murakami pursues Yusa, the two lie side by side exasperated from the chase. The irreconcilable dualism of 'good' and 'bad' so fundamental to film noir is eroded when Yusa bursts into tears, conscious of the futility of his path. Defiance is replaced with sincerity, where "nothing is kept in reserve, nothing is expressed under disguise, nothing goes to waste".
STRAY DOG is a great example of Kurosawa's attention to questions concerning morality and honour, independent of his famed period films.