Friday, September 27, 2013
2013: Part Eight: Cinematherapy 5
In terms of eclectic fare, the last month has been exceptional. I'll start off with Spider-Man 2.1, which I nabbed inexpensively at my place of employ and which yielded an "extended cut" of Spidey 2. While I can't say that the extended scenes were any kind of revelation, I can say that this viewing reminded me of why I still love this movie so much, and why I still tear up on occasional during its running time. I thoroughly enjoyed checking this out with the wife for the umpteenth time. And for the record, I am one of the crazed few who (mostly) enjoyed Spidey 3, but that would be another subject for another time.
I showed Sarah John Frankenheimer's Seconds, featuring a tortured Rock Hudson, for the first time ever the same week. She seemed to appreciate its singular charms. As for me it's long been a favourite, filled with suspense, pathos, and several genuine shocks, all shot in a phantasmagorical black and white that keeps the eye engaged and the mind as off-kilter as that of the protagonist (played to fever pitch perfection by Hudson, always criminally underrated as an actor - see All That Heaven Allows by Sirk for further proof). A haunting film, Seconds has just received the Criterion Collection treatment, but I'm not sure if I can justify a double dip just yet.
A pair of low rent oddities were the chaser for the exquisite Seconds. The coda to Rudy Ray Moore's quartet of demented humour classics, Disco Godfather is, sadly, the least of those four efforts, making Dolemite, the Human Tornado, and even the uneven Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil's Son-in-Law look like towering classics of the blaxploitation genre. Still, Disco Godfather exudes much of Rudy's usual charm, even if it is a schizoid tale of a disco DJ (played by Moore, of course) who happens to be an ex-cop hellbent on banishing angel dust from the streets of his community. The heavy-handed "message picture" is even more odd among Moore's ouevre in that it looks as though there was an almost painful effort to dial down Rudy's decidedly blue approach to humor a few notches, resulting in a PG-13/ light R vibe that is incongruous with the film's heavy subject matter. Why this effort was made, I haven't a clue, but it results in a mildly emasculated Moore not being allowed to use all the tricks in his arsenal. Whether this was his choice or not, I don't know (but I should've asked him - politely - the two times I interviewed him). For what it's worth, the great Carol Speed of The Mack and The Big Bird Cage makes an appearance but is onscreen for far too short a time.
The second cinematic anomaly I picked up that week was Pelo Suelto, starring Mexican pop diva Gloria Trevi at the height of her youthful popularity and hyperactive exuberance. A confession: the only way to obtain this film on DVD is in Spanish with no subtitles, but to paraphrase one Craig Ledbetter: " With Gloria Trevi... who cares???" The whole thing is a fun romp, with a light story but, once again, a "message picture" of sorts - this time about child kidnapping. However, the highlights for me remain the two performances of the song Pelo Suelto. Catchy!
Next up: a Japanese filmfest and at last... Centennial!