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Week Twelve: Swinging Shindig


Robert Altman: Giggle And Give In, dir. Paul Joyce (1996) ★★★★☆
Altman (left) with actor Elliott Gould (right) on the set of The Long Goodbye.

I have a long list of favorite directors. Some of them I studied in college, some I grew up watching, and others I have found in more recent years. I came across Robert Altman on a winding path; it's really all because I grew up with a certain show about army doctors.

M*A*S*H was a huge staple in my house growing up and while I didn't really watch it until I got into my later teens, I knew what my father was watching as soon as that haunting theme started. The first semester of my freshman year was spent getting to know the area, meeting new people, and bingeing M*A*S*H.

It wasn't until I finished the show and read the first novel that I decided to watch the movie. I knew it would be a lot different and the humor would be more morbid but despite the differences I really loved it. I went on to discover more of his films from then on and this documentary did a great job of highlighting ones I have seen and ones that are more obscure.


Jake Speed, dir. Andrew Lane (1986) ★★☆☆☆
While it didn't get a wide release until Arrow came out with a new blu-ray, the original VHS box art stands out.

When I watch a film for a specific actor and know going into it that they will be my focus it's much easier to get through bad movies. I have talked about Dennis Christopher in the past and his film Breaking Away is still my favorite movie I have watched throughout this project.

This film has him playing a pulp fiction novel writer for an action hero that he's actually the manager for. The two of them seek out adventures and end up helping a woman that had her sister kidnapped. He is both the comedic relief and the savior in many scenes when he comes in clutch with various modes of transportation.


Born To Win, dir. Ivan Passer (1971) ★★☆☆☆
Horizontal posters have gone out of style now but had brief popularity in the 1960s and 70s.

This is one of those rare American movies from the 70s and 80s that's actually in the public domain. It's super easy to find on free streaming platforms and YouTube. That being said it isn't exactly a good movie. Yes, George Segal acts his heart out but that doesn't make up for the boring story, bad story, and cringe worthy dialogue. I would only really recommend it for die-hard fans of the Segal.


Alice's Restaurant, dir. Arthur Penn (1969) ★★☆☆☆
The closed dump sign made the original song an official Thanksgiving tradition to many families and radio stations.

What the movie showed in one hour, fifty minutes and forty five seconds, the original song said in eighteen minutes and thirty-six seconds. In a similar vein to The Pied Piper (dir. Jacques Demy, 1972) Alice's Restaurant is a twisted loved letter to folk music that they have to tell through a different art form altogether. I wished we got a short film instead. This film drags. A well known drag as it wasn't exactly praised at the time of its original release.

The vast majority of flicks released in the 60s and 70s that featured musicians, it tried too hard to focus on the music included and played in the film than the actual story. It's also missing the comedic timing that the song held so strongly.


Too Late Blues, dir. John Cassavetes (1961) ★★★☆☆
The stunning poster design for the film may lead you to believe the actual movie would be as cinematically impressive.

Filled with music and romance, this early Cassavetes' film stands out as very mainstream. Is it really one of his films if you can understand every word his actors are saying? They almost seemed scared to follow his cues but his style emerges in one of the early scenes where the characters are playing a game of pool; they don't overlap each others dialogue too much but it's edging towards the classic style you expect from him.

It was a studio friendly film and I'm sure was more of a gateway to funding for bigger projects than him doing something for the sake of art. If it wasn't one of his films and I didn't go into expecting more than I got I probably would have enjoyed it a little bit more.


Alexander The Grape, dir. Jim Henson (1965) ★★★☆☆

Incomplete animated portions were replaced with Henson's original storyboard

As I get closer to completing the short films of iconic puppeteer Jim Henson I can see his later style emerging more and more. This was much more kid friendly than his short film Time Piece and carried a more distinctive narrative and moral. This more family friendly approach wasn't complete though as about half of the short was left as the storyboards, featuring Henson's messy drawings and handwriting.


Nimic, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos (2019) ★★★☆☆

The majority of movement in the film is portrayed with tracking shots.

This creative little short that I found once again on Mubi left a weird aftertaste in my mouth. Although it was interesting and well shot and the science-fiction concept of being physically replaced by a "nimic" isn't overused at all, the pacing and lack of information ruins the eerie quality. It becomes more confusing than unsettling.

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