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Deadhead Miles (1973)
An impossible-to-find classic
Like everybody else I saw Deadhead Miles on TV years ago and then never seen hide nor hair of it again. Thanks to internet piracy you can now download a blurry version someone had the wherewithal to record the last time A&E aired it.
It's an odd little movie, but if you're a fan of Arkin's other 'odd' movies you'll love it as I do. If you're looking for a road film ala Burt Reynolds, look elsewhere. Think 'Little Murders', but not as surreal. There's no plot to speak of. Arkin's character, Cooper, drives a twice stolen rig across New Mexico presumably to get all the cash for himself. He picks up a mostly silent hitchhiker who acts as proxy for the audience to witness Cooper's jibes. It's full of memorable and inexplicable moments and characters. At one point Cooper stops with the intention of visiting a girl to get laid only to find her tethered to the wall in mid-seduction. Did he ever really know her? Why was she tied to the wall with a harness? You'll never know.
Why this movie hasn't had a DVD release when so many other crap movies have is beyond me.
Twisted Issues (1988)
Super rare cheeze
I ordered this video out of the back of the third issue of Slaughterhouse Magazine. Back in 1989, I think. Came with a soundtrack cassette and booklet that I apparently lost. Overpriced at 15 bucks. I found it today while pilfering through old porn and comic books in my attic. I just had to get online and see if Charles Pinion had made anything else like it or even if he was still making movies at all. I'm kind of disappointed to find out that he's still doing underground stuff, but definitely intend to checking out all he's got.
Anyway, I have no idea if this movie is available anywhere, but it's worth checking out. Horror/Comedy back before everyone with a videocamera started taking themselves too seriously.
As far as plot goes -- don't watch it for the plot. It's better described as being late 80s skater punk variety.
The lost post-Cheers success story
It's ironic that two of the very rare sort of American sit-coms not to condescend to the audience both came from ex-Cheers actors. One, of course, is Fraiser, the other was the short lived Pearl. The show was perfect for all the actors involved. Rhea Perlman has never really found the right vehicle for her acting outside of Cheers and Pearl. Malcolm McDowell was pitch perfect for the first time since A Clockwork Orange.
Anyway, Pearl got short changed early on. Earlier even than the equally brilliant but more difficult to love John Larroquette Show. If you missed either of those shows when they were first on the air, then you've probably missed them for good. If there's a lesson to be learned, if you're a TV exec don't ever target an audience with any kind of IQ if you hope to have success.
Un chant d'amour (1950)
A Song of Love
I can't believe that all four reviews here are preoccupied by the homosexual aspect of Genet's short film. I guess being familiar with his novels - Our Lady of Flowers, Funeral Rites, etc - I took it for granted that his film would necessarily be set in a prison and involve human longing manifest in homosexual contact between inmates. Don't be fooled, though. Movies like Brokeback Mountain harp on the homosexual factor, making it a political issue that hammers the viewer over the head. Midnight Express made prison sex a pop-culture joke. Genet seems naive by comparison. It's only a vehicle for his art, though certainly a favored one, owing to fact he spent most of his life in French prisons. Anyway, the setting could function just as well as a fictional netherworld dedicated to isolation. Its a brilliant and deliberately shocking movie and shouldn't be missed by anyone.
Ginger Ale Afternoon (1989)
Yeardley Smith gets topless, 'nuff said...
The movie is pretty terrible with an anecdote-sized premise, but Yeardley Smith shines.
Jesse and Hank Mickers waste away life in a trailer park bickering over Hank's infidelity which he blames on the pressure placed up the marriage by Jese's pregnancy. This would make a great setup, but unfortunately this is most of the movie. The grand payoff (he said sarcastically) comes when Jesse and Bonnie - the other woman and neighbor - make peace with their relationship. Jesse goes into labor and Bonnie comes to the rescue.
Its a small film and good for what it is. And as a fan of Yeardley Smith (aka Lisa Simpson) I'm almost tempted to give it a rating of ten for her all too brief nude scene. Its a shame she hasn't done more work because she's a lovely and charismatic actress. Compared to her other work from this period (Maximum Overdrive, Legend of Billie Jean) this movie is the best showcase for her talent. And she gets naked... did I mention that?
Wonderland: Pilot (2000)
Well, well, basic cable comes up with an original idea and scraps it...
I'm not quite as convinced as others that the reality of the severely mentally ill in America was represented accurately with 'Wonderland' but I do know it was a well done and engrossing series that didn't survive its premiere. Its such a horrid cliché that everything good on TV snuffs it off the bat - Freaks and Geeks, Bonny Hunt, Family Guy, etc. Anyway, what was made available of Wonderland promised for good television. I was most impressed by Ted Levine (best known as the psycho from Silence of the Lamb) as a doctor coping with the end of his marriage and following civil but trying custody battle. The patients with the exception of the mass murderer introduced in the debut were decidedly ordinary to the point of banality. I recall fondly an elderly couple, one accusing the other of being crazy, citing idiosyncrasies as evidence, thus forcing the counselors considering the case to examine their own romantic relationship. Ahhh, but who needs such depth when you can force wannabe actors and models to eat raw pig parts for prizes and entertainment?
Another movie from my childhood that has stayed with me...
I had the same experience other members had with this film. I saw it on HBO when I was eight and it's since become part of me. Like them, I Googled, queried, etc. Unfortunately, my memory failed on the major points and I came up empty-handed. Finally, another member of IMDb came through. Anyway, this film is a lost jewel. It scared the hell out of me as a kid and I hope to see it again if I can find a used copy of the VHS somewhere. The premise is pretty simple. A group of Aussie thugs take a young teacher and her charges hostage, their escape and subsequent fight for survival turns bloody at the end. I still recall holding my breath during the underwater cave scene and never quite being able to hold it long enough. If you get a chance to watch this flick do so. Its ultra-rare and unforgettable.
Buried Alive (1990)
Great awful movie
I love this movie to death. Its b-grade schlock of the highest caliber. My mother rented it around '95 or somewhere around that time, thinking it was a made-for-TV movie with the same title. I would've sworn it had been made in the early '80s for its pure b-movie quality. I honestly can't say if the overall effect was intended, but it succeeds effortlessly to capture the last days of the slasher film (cum Poe inspired imagery) genre. Long story short, a new teacher arrives at the Ravenscroft Institute, a girl-school staffed with lunatics. Not surprisingly she begins having hallucinations/nightmares as her pupils disappear one by one--in laughingly inventive ways. The only complaint I have is with Robert Vaughn who I absolutely can't stand. But even so I wouldn't have changed a thing. Get some friends (or develop multiple personalities) together, get a pizza and watch this movie. Its the essence of life.
The Lotus Eaters (1993)
A somber and touching movie
I happened to catch this flick on television a couple of years ago. My mother was away taking care of my dying aunt and my father was working double shifts at the hospital. I mention that because the setting was perfect to watch this particular movie. Its peaceful and while seemingly cliché the dialogue and action is pitch-perfect. Its the type of film you want to watch alone on a night when you're in no mood to tune into the news or the regular sit-coms and can't sleep. Its really a shame that it hasn't received wider distribution, especially in the US. I can probably count every good film that's come out of Canada on one hand, and this one goes on my thumb. I'm still looking for a copy.