#296- Blazing Saddles

Quick recap: A politician is out to destroy a western town so that he can take over their land. He sends them the scariest thing he can think of- a  black guy.

Biden always knew how to cheer Obama up

Fun (?) fact: At the end of the movie, when the crowd pours out of the studio lot, a random guy in a sweater can be seen just standing there. He wasn’t supposed to be in the movie but director Mel Brooks couldn’t get him to leave. He finally gave up, gave the  man waivers to sign and let him stay.

and there’s Trump and Bannon. god, this movie is more topical than I realized

My thoughts: You know what kinds of movies I hate reviewing? Classics. And do you know what is even worse than a classic movie? A comedy classic, which Blazing Saddles definitely is. Add to that the untimely death of Gene Wilder and you’ve got the perfect combination of a film I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole.

So, since I went ahead and lowered expectations for this review accordingly, I can freely say that I didn’t think Blazing Saddles was all that funny. I’m not really sure why. I sound so old saying this but I just don’t think vulgarity for the sake of vulgarity is all that funny. There’s that one scene when Hedley gets so excited he starts humping a statue and I’m sure people fell out of their seats when they saw that, but it just didn’t do anything for me. Trying not to sound to much like a school marm, I will say that the dialogue was snappy and there were some silly moments that made me smile. Not laugh,mind you, but smile. Also, Gene Wilder was wonderful.

I think some of my hesitation from this movie comes from all the racist stuff. I know it’s supposed to be satire but that’s kind of become a big deal again lately and seeing a bunch of white people hating a black guy just wasn’t the humor I wanted. It hit too close to home. It’s not like I can look at those scenes and laugh and think, ‘oh those silly people back then in the west. They were so backwards!’ because that’s literally what’s going on in this country right now. Not everyone, of course, but enough that watching Blazing Saddles just made me uncomfortable. That’s certainly not Mel Brook’s fault and if anything, I applaud him for thinking that we’d be able to watch this movie in 2017 and look at how silly everyone was.

Final review: 3/5. Sorry

Up next: A Night at the Opera

#293- The French Connection

Quick recap: A pair of cops go after a drug smuggling cartel with a connection. A French connection, if you will.

I like my coffee like I like my cops- flawed, with a bit of sass

I like my coffee like I like my cops- flawed, with a bit of sass

Fun (?) fact: Lee Marvin, current Night Vale Resident, was initially offered the role of Doyle but turned it down because he didn’t like cops. He went on to star in other roles and is just about to celebrate his 30th birthday.

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My thoughts: The French Connection reminds me of my non-existent days in the hood, where the drugs were rampant and everyone was just trying to get by in Brooklyn. I’ve never really gotten into cop films or tv shows (except The Rockford Files because of that sweet French Horn solo), but it gives me the same nostalgia as most Westerns do.

Plot-wise, the movie is pretty direct. The cops are trying to catch the drug cartel, but the audience knows who it is because we’ve been watching them from the beginning. It was just a matter of the two finally meeting each other. I was really curious what The French Connection meant until the opening scene, which is set in France. That’s when I realized that there is LITERALLY a French connection. I always like titles that just tell it like it is.

I enjoyed Gene Hackman especially, but everyone did a fine job in the film. The story is based off of real events, although I think only loosely. The duo reminded me of a podcast I’ve recently gotten into, called Stranglers, about the Boston Strangler of the 60s. Although the story itself fascinates me, I mostly love hearing from these old retired cops and the lengths they went to in trying to catch the killer. Much like those cops, this drug case consumed Doyle, to his detriment. I won’t give away the final scene but it didn’t really surprise me. Throughout the movie I kept wavering between whether I should root for Doyle or not, but I think it’s just the way things were done back then. He really wanted to solve the case and get the drugs off the streets and was willing to do anything to make that happen.

I’ve described your stereotypical cop film so far,yet there is something about it that just stands out for some reason. For me, I think it’s the combination of gritty landscape and ominous music. I love films from this decade and The French Connection fits in perfectly for that time period. It’s also a good reminder that despite what certain politicians think, things have gotten better and the War on Drugs is over.

Final review: 4/5

Up next: Boogie Nights

 

#282- Eraserhead

Quick recap: Poor Henry can’t catch a break on vacation- his girlfriend leaves him to care for their new mutant baby and he has a terrible time of it. Luckily, he has his weird neighbor to keep him company as well as a girl in the radiator.

Mondays, am I right??

Mondays, am I right??

Fun (?) fact: Director David Lynch has been cryptic about the origin of the mutant baby- everything from it being a calf fetus to something having been born nearby.

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My thoughts: Here’s a fun tip for all you cinephiles out there- do NOT watch anything of David Lynch’s body of work when you are alone in a hotel room. Trust me on this. What makes it worse is that I know what a Lynch film is capable of doing to me and I STILL went through with it. This is why I can’t have nice things.

No, I have no clue what this movie is about or what the symbolism means. David Lynch has said that it is a very personal film for him and if so, I’m really worried. It’s hard to pick the most wtf moment- when the mutant baby got sick, the whole chicken carving scene, when Henry’s girlfriend kept birthing (?) little alien worms which he then proceeded to throw against the wall? All of them traumatized me in their own special way. At the same time, I couldn’t look away. There were times I had to remind myself to blink because no matter what, I had to see what horrible thing would pop up next. It’s rubbernecking in the most extreme sense.

There is a part of me that thinks even David Lynch doesn’t know why he did what he did. At times, it just seems like he cobbled together all of the weird dreams he probably has and put them on film so we could suffer too. Maybe he is hoping someone, somewhere can find meaning and interpret what is a very active subconscious. That person isn’t me, though. After the movie ended, I could clearly hear girls in the next room laughing just like the mutant baby at the end of the film. I jumped off of the bed, threw on clothes, ran downstairs and sat in the sunlight for a few minutes, thankful that here, David Lynch’s imagination can’t hurt me.

dude has a thing for checkered floors. Someone should explore that.

dude has a thing for checkered floors. Someone should explore that.

Final review: I feel like I should give this a made up number like eleventeen but in the end, I’ll stick with 4/5

Up next: HORRORFEST is sadly drawing to a close

 

#281- Deliverance

Quick recap: 4 men go on a canoe trip and end up being hunted by hillbillies.

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Fun (?) fact: According to IMDb, more than 30 people drowned in the Chattooga River after the movie came out because they were trying to recreate different scenes.

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My thoughts: Bonus fun fact- I still have the ‘Dueling Banjos’ melody in my head. It’s better than my usual mashup of the Ducktales theme song/Mentos commercial, but I’d still like to move on from it, all the same. So. Deliverance. This movie is in the category of Movies People Unnecessarily Warn Me About, like The Exorcist. Yes, there were disturbing scenes, but it was no more or less disturbing than other movie I have watched on this list

Before I spew my actual thoughts about the film, I have a confession to make. Saturday Night Live’s Celebrity Jeopardy is one of my favorite things ( like most people, I assume), but I never really understood the Burt Reynolds impersonation until this movie. I haven’t seen many films that he is in but after watching Deliverance, I realize that I don’t need to in order to understand who he is. And, tangentially, what was up with that vest Reynolds wore? What was it made of? It seems like the kind of clothing that would chafe you until you were driven insane, but this is Burt Reynolds we are talking about, so maybe he was in his element.

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You could stand to show a little more chest hair, Mr. Reynolds

So. Deliverance. It didn’t do much for me, although I can appreciate turning so common, like a river, into something so sinister. I guess I’m meh about the whole thing because I was expecting more disturbing scenes than I got. Literally the only thing I knew about this movie was the rape scene, and although it was rough, it didn’t bother me like the one in Man Bites Dog did. Maybe because it’s a man, more people are shocked? On the other hand, this movie did not make me want to go jump into a canoe anytime soon. I’m not really a fan of being in the water anyway, but watching Deliverance made me all the more weary to go camping or some other similar adventure.

Final review: 2/5. I think my ambivalence comes from my dislike of most of the characters. Burt Reynolds was never supposed to be likeable, but I didn’t really care what happened to any of them.

Up next: Horrorfest marches on