Jail Bait

There is little to do on a very hot and humid Japanese summer’s afternoon except watch a good B-grade crime film with an electric fan by your side, so I chose this Ed Wood-directed film.

The story is about a young man who gets in with the wrong crowd, panics during a bungled heist and offs a night watchman. From there he feels guilt and with the help of his world-famous plastic surgeon father, prepares to turn himself in. But, the mastermind behind the heist is out to get him because he thinks he will also go to the joint. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it makes the film worth the watch, even if it was a tad predictable, and it involves a face change.

So for an Ed Wood film this has a pretty coherent story, nothing spectacular, but it is a decent tale. The acting though is very Eddy, some of the actors are quite wooden, although the main cast do a pretty good job.

There was a very bizarre comedy/dance act scene in the film, it seemed very random. It involved a real act, a blackface performer (one of the last) by the name of Cotton Watts, and well, it is best if you just watch the actual scene here.

There was this scene (screenshot below) where I was wondering why Eddy wanted to have this guy show off his ripped chest as he put on a shirt. Turns out he was Steve Reeves, a bodybuilder in the day and this was his second appearance on film. He would go on to a successful film career, especially in Italian peplum films. Unlike most other films he was in, his actual voice was used, he was dubbed in the others.

Just changin’ my shirt, and lookin’ good.

The fellow who played the plastic surgeon, a Britisher by the name of Herbert Rawlinson, died from cancer aged 67 the night after shooting finished. His character was originally intended for Bela Lugosi, but Herbert was a good choice.

The young man was played by Clancy Malone who was an aspiring actor, and who delivered Eddy’s groceries. This was his only film.

The Cotton Watts scene was not filmed by Eddy, rather it was footage taken from one of Cotton’s shows. From Wikipedia:

The inclusion of the footage in this film probably reflects the sensibilities of the intended audience. Jail Bait was primarily released in areas of the Deep South, where blackface still held a nostalgic appeal.

This is not essential watching, but I liked it. Watch it here why don’t you?

Date watched: July 14th
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2018: 41

Ghostbusters (2016)

This was a film I was looking forward to, as well as kind of dreading. I didn’t really think the original film needed updating, it is fine as it is, even the CG back then was pretty adequate if I remember correctly, but with an all female main cast I thought it might be worthwhile.

As it turned out it is a very mixed bag. The cast were all fine, especially Chris Hemsworth who was the funniest of all despite little screen time. All of the actresses were fine in their parts, with Melissa Ann McCarthy the funniest of the four. And the cameos by Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Ernie Hudson were all well done.

Unfortunately though a lot of it just fell flat, especially some of the attempts at humour which didn’t raise much more than a smirk, or were eyebrow raising at times. It also seemed a bit cobbled together at times, but it was very slickly made. The story followed the original just a bit too much, and it didn’t introduce anything much new except for a few new ghost-busting gadgets.

And the final battle scene just a bit tedious, I was just waiting for it to end. And of course we were left with a hint of things to come in the inevitable sequel.

It wasn’t terrible, but it could have been better, but I am not sure how. Perhaps some sharks would have helped.

Date watched: March 10th
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2018: 21

The Polka King

This is the story of Jan Lewan, polka ponzi scheme perp.

Jack Black plays Jan, and he does a good job of it, along with the rest of the cast in their roles. The best character would be Jan’s mother-in-law, although she is portrayed as a grumpy curmudgeon which she probably wasn’t so much in reality, but it was good for a few laughs.

There are a few fictional elements added to the story for comedic purposes, and the real reason for Jan being skivved in prison was fabricated, but the rest of it seemed accurate when compared to the documentary at least.

Jan was involved in the film, mostly by chatting with Jack Black on Skype about his life story, and Jan joined him during recording of the soundtrack. Jack also worked with the Jan Lewan orchestra. Jan fully endorses the film.

If you are interested in real-life stories of polka intrigue then this is worth a watch as it is quite accurate. As a stand-alone film it is just average.

Date watched: January 26th
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2018: 7

Whitney: Can I Be Me

This doco about Whitney (whose music I absolutely loathe) is by English filmmaker Nick Broomfield (he made the excellent The Leader, His Driver and The Driver’s Wife and Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer) which is the main reason for watching, as his films in the past have been great, and I thought it was an odd choice for him to make this, being an official doco. Overall it was actually quite badly filmed and put together but was quite gripping as well, mainly because of watching Whitney and her total loser husband Bobby Brown, spiral out of control.

Date watched: 12th October
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2017: 59

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

James and I watched this last night after a toss up between watching this or Return of the Jedi.

The last time we watched this was in December 2013, you can read the review for it here. My opinions of the film have not changed much, but I would add that some of the dialogue was diabolical.

It was a big improvement over the previous two episodes though, and had some pretty good action scenes.

Only 33 days to go until Episode VIII.

Date watched: November 11th
Score: 7
Film count 2017: 126

Passengers

Kind of interesting but gets boring then picks up towards the end even though it’s totally predictable, but it looks good and the actors are ace, especially Michael Sheen as an android. It does justify the nastiness which happens to Jennifer Lawrence’s character though, it pretty much says it’s OK to stalk people and ruin their lives, they will come around in the end. There has been quite a backlash to it’s creepy premise.

Laurence Fishburne got $20M for about 20 minutes of screen time. He took the money pill.

Date watched: 17th October
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2017: 55

The Miami Story

Mob crime even back in 1954 seemed to be bad enough in Miami that even the film studios got in on the action.

The film starts off with a narrator, who talked in a very authoritative voice throughout the film, explaining that crime in Miami was pretty bad until the city decided to mop up crime. We then meet an actual U.S. Senator sitting behind his desk telling us that crime in Miami is a thing of the past because of the fine job the cops and good citizens of Miami are doing to rid the place of Tony Montanas.


“Crime is a thing of the past here in Miami!”

The story starts off with the assassination of two Cubans as they stepped off a flight from Havana.


A bit excessive with the tomato sauce!

We then meet Tony Brill, a dirty nightclub owner who the city want to arrest because of all the illegal stuff he is doing, but is too crafty to make a mistake and get busted. He has a pretty good scam going, and with the help of his right-hand man is raking in the dough, and has plenty of pretty ladies. He was the guy who ordered the killings of the Cubans as he thought they were moving into his territory.


Tony Brill (no nickname)

An ex-convict, with the most excellent name of Mick Flagg, was a real savvy dude in the world of crime until he went straight, is coerced by a group of influential citizens of Miami into taking down Tony and his organisation for once and for all. With the help of the police and a posse of Cuban henchmen he sets about his plan, which of course is cunning, efficient, and involves a dame or two. Of course there are a few problems he has to overcome such as the kidnapping of his son by Tony, but with quick thinking and pure brawn he saves the day and gets a new wife out of it all.


Mick Flagg and son.

Overall the story was pretty standard but moved along nicely and had a few 1950’s style thrills. The acting was a bit wooden, along with the direction and cinematography. But, it was only 75 minutes long, and it was interesting to see 1950’s Miami which seemed to be quite a happening and prosperous place even back then.

Date watched: June 29th
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2017: 73