An American in Paris: Cinema Shame

an american in paris 1951 poster

Best Picture Shame: An American in Paris

Cinema Shame comes in all shades; however, the most common variety likely has to do with well-known films that have just never presented themselves or been made a priority. I’ve never avoided An American in Paris nor have I ever made a point to track it down. I once recorded it on my DVR, but forgot to watch it. Considering the number of movies we “need to see,” many so-called essentials fall through the cracks.

For the Cinema Shame February prompt, the great minds at the Shame-Q (yes — myself included) loaded the table with unseen Academy Award Best Picture winners. All well known films, certainly. Some with more lasting power than others. I have a weekly Cavalcade (1933) Fan Club meeting every Tuesday, don’t you?

That’s an imposing list of 89 films — many of which I’m guessing are not high on anyone’s Watchlist. It’s also a fun bit of personal reckoning. How many Best Pictures haven’t you seen? (My answer is 30, which is far more than I expected and just patently unacceptable.) It also speaks to how often, time and tide re-evaluates and re-assigns value to these films. At best they live up to expectation. At worst, they’re a trace memory of a forgotten zeitgeist.

I scanned my library’s shelves for Best Picture Cinema Shame inspiration. First rack. First shelf. An American in Paris.

an american in paris gene kelly kids

Knowing very little about the film itself other than the La La Land-inspiring finale, I went in largely blind — a pleasant change from most of my Shame viewings. Instead of a big, boisterous 1950’s musical, I found a small, wafer-thin narrative wrapped inside the serenity of Gershwin and the warm blanket of 1950’s Technicolor.

Gene Kelly plays Jerry Mulligan, an expatriate painter looking to enhance his reputation in Paris (#spoiler). His friend Adam (Oscar Levant), a struggling concert pianist hopes to launch a more profitable career (than tinkling the ivories in a lowly Parisian cafe) by working with the famous French singer Henri Baurel. Milo (an elegant Nina Foch), a lonely society woman takes an interest in Jerry’s work (and Jerry himself) and becomes a patron of his arts. Jerry, however, falls in love with Leslie Caron’s enigmatic store clerk Lise, complicating the patron/painter relationship. Further problematic: Lise’s engaged to Henri Baurel. Oh the tangled webs. 

an american in paris 1951

There’s plenty to love about An American in Paris, but the beauty’s found in smaller moments, the technical artistry of MGM in the 1950’s. Color. Set design. Photography. Gene Kelly’s athleticism. Small story. Big package. At least until the last reel when most everything comes together in a grandiose, twenty-minute finale, but we’ll come to that in a moment. The story doesn’t propel the film forward; there’s a sense of narrative listlessness as musical numbers pop in and out and occasionally arrest the film completely. All this plus some moldy 1950’s-era gender politics, contributes to some of the negative hindsight about the film.

And yet.

An American in Paris remains a charming and likable film, in no small part due to Gene Kelly’s natural charisma and Gershwin’s romantic score. Kelly, as ever, exudes joy. He is the embodiment of entertainment, selling every moment as if it’s the most fun/whimsical/romantic/downtrodden moment you’ve ever experienced. In the past I’ve seen that as both a strength and a weakness in his performance style. When it works, however, it’s magical — even if his pure strength and athleticism seems discordant with Minellii’s balletic symphony.

leslie caron an american in paris

Now, I must make a confession within a confession. This is the Russian nesting doll of Cinema Shame posts. I’ve never cared for Leslie Caron — but I’d never seen her dance. How is that I could have wandered the depths of classic cinema but avoided the one thing that made Leslie Caron magnificent. In An American in Paris I found her positively beguiling and I could not take my eyes off her.

I have no doubt that the finale swayed Academy voters. Outside the last twenty minutes, An American in Paris isn’t even in the Best Picture conversation. As I suggested earlier, the majority of the film is an MGM confection of big budget style over substance. Jay Lerner’s script failed to analyze the potentially complex and volatile relationships between Jerry and Milo or Herni and Lise.

nina foch an american in paris

Then again, dissecting what made Nina Foch’s patron of the arts the most interesting character in the film would have more fully humanized her and simultaneously raised difficult questions that the film wasn’t prepared to answer. It’s about true love, mon ami, and that’s all you need to know.  When a perfect, dramatic moment arises in An American in Paris, the conflict thaws and disappears just in time to preserve everyone’s happily ever after. Except Milo, who recedes silently into the background.

That said, sometimes happily ever after paired with something as magical and technically resplendent as An American in Paris‘ final reel is all we really want and the more easily that the Milo’s slip into the background the less we notice the frayed edges of visual splendor.

cinema shame February prompt

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First-Watch Cinema Club: January 2018

I decided I wanted to blog more in 2018. I don’t know why. I’m already spread wafer-thin as far as time and energy is concerned. So we’ll make this quick and painless and just share some more love of classic and underseen cinema.

Hopefully, I’ll give a few items to add to your own watchlist — you can use them to fill out your Cinema Shame rosters. That was a shameless cross-promotion, mind you. Also a reminder to fill our your Shame Statements for 2018. You’re already late. Every month I’ll highlight my favorite 4 first-time watches. We’ll stick to Pre-2010 offerings to give these films time to recede from your memory.

First-Watch Cinema Club: January 2018

#4. Kid Blue (1973)

kid blue

Surprisingly low-key, often aimless Dennis Hopper vehicle boosted by a strong supporting cast including Warren Oates, Peter Boyle and a scene-stealing Janice Rule.

Looking positively svelte — some might say “gaunt” — in the role of Bickford Waner, Hopper plays a reformed (but inept) trainrobber trying to go straight in a town called Dime Box, Texas that wants nothing to do with him.

He stumbles in and out of menial jobs and eventually befriends Reese Ford (Warren Oates) and his wife Molly (Lee Purcell). The two form a strong bond, true bros, until Molly literally throws her knickers at Bickford and Bickford’s not a perfect man. Reese learns of the affair and severs the friendship.

Screenwriter Bud Shrake took great care in scripting this particular confrontation between Oates and Hopper — and the two actors, Oates in particular, have a meticulous way with damning silence. It was not his wife’s infidelity that has brought them to this point — but the betrayal of someone he’d known as a true friend.

Now an official outcast, casting aside any attempt at cultural assimilation, Bickford consults the other local outcasts (the Native Americans) about a little old-fashioned thieving. The unlikely gang attempts to take a pound of flesh from the society that has unfairly wronged them.

Director James Frawley (best known perhaps as the director of The Muppet Movie) allows this languid film to unfold without any agenda and only minimal genre-styled violence. This kind of thing only happened in the 1970’s — a character study with nowhere important to go. Foiled expectations for a Dennis Hopper western may turn some people off, but if you can survive the first thirty minutes or so, you’ll likely be rewarded with simple charms and an entirely unexpected moviewatching experience.

Kid Blue is available on DVD via the Fox Cinema Archive Collection.

#3. Captain Blood (1935)

While the wife went out of town to visit her family in Santa Fe, my daughters and I set sail to the library to scope out some child-appropriate classic cinema.

My oldest daughter K (8), has just recently discovered a more adventurous moviegoing spirit (because unlike a fortieth viewing of How to Train Your Dragon, I will almost always grant a classic cinema request). She jumped at the opportunity to watch a movie with the word “Blood” in the title because that’s definitely not something mom would have approved.

I don’t know if she witnessed as much bloodletting as she’d hoped, but she was glued to the screen for at least the first hour or so. I attempted to explain Errol Flynn’s status as a piece of 1930’s man meat — and equate his popularity with the only heartthrob she recognizes as an 8yo in 2018 — Brandon Flowers (the lead singer of The Killers). It was a really loose analogy, but I think she understood. More problematic was explaining King James and his predilection toward torture and slavery. This was not a topic I anticipated explaining to my 5yo.

This classic Errol Flynn swashbuckler was one I’ve been meaning to watch for ages. My dad put a bunch of Flynn’s films in front of me at an early age, but this was never one of them. Errol swashed and buckled and fell in and out of love with Maria de Havilland and ran afoul a French scalawag played by Basil Rathbone. This French pirate version of Basil Rathbone might just be my favorite Basil Rathbone.

Captain Blood certainly didn’t undermine it’s status as a classic Errol Flynn swashbuckler, but it fell just short of personal favorites The Sea Hawk and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Captain Blood is available on DVD from Warner Brothers.

 

speedy harold lloyd#2. Speedy (1928)

A good Harold Lloyd film — but a fascinating portrait of New York City in 1928 from Coney Island to Manhattan. What they do with a wild chase through the city streets seems damn near impossible in 2018 or 1928.

This was another daughter viewing. I’ve been attempting to endear them to the classic triumvirate of silent comedians. Chaplin wasn’t a big hit at first glance, but Harold Lloyd seems to have struck a nerve, at least with my 5yo. She refuses to call him Harold Lloyd. As far as she’s concerned his name will always be Speedy.

Since Speedy, they’ve gone on to view a few of Lloyd’s short films, and while I have your attention for a minute can we talk about how dark some of those early shorts were? Lloyd’s character is always trying to kill himself after being spurned by a love interest. Explaining the humor in suicide is a difficult task. Luckily, Speedy is attempted suicide-attempt free and just a fun romp through New York city at breakneck speed on a horse-drawn trolley.

Speedy is available on Blu-ray and DVD from the Criterion Collection.

 

#1. Lifeboat (1944)

lifeboat

Checked this box on my 2018 Cinema Shame statement. Also look for this to appear on an upcoming episode of the Cinema Shame podcast. Consider this a preview of coming attractions.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat is an exquisite technical achievement in filmmaking. A true showcase of a cinematic mind at the height of his craft. And then there’s Tallulah Bankhead’s resplendent performance anchoring the entire thing. See what I did there? Anchor. Lifeboat.

Like its single-setting sibling, Rope — Lifeboat takes full advantage of its claustrophobia and limited scope to focus on the frailty of the human condition and the latent ugliness beneath every facade. Hitchcock revels in a filmmaking challenge, and it often brings out the best, most subtle facets of his extraordinary ability. Whereas it’s easy to overlook the nuance in something like North by Northwest due to the film’s constant movement and action, Lifeboat highlights framing, juxtaposition of character, and the movement of actors within a frame.

This is a master class in close-quarters filmmaking. If you want to learn how to piece a film together with nothing but actors and a camera, single-setting Hitchcock is a good place to start.

Lifeboat is available on Kino Lorber Studio Classics Blu-ray. 

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2017 3rd Annual 30/007Hz First Watch Hertzie Awards

My Letterboxd.com stat sheet indicates that I watched 304 movies in the year of 2017 and 70.7% of those were brand new to me. From Manchester By the Sea on January 1 to Baywatch on December 31 that’s a solid collection of movies. Only 17 of those films were released in 2017.

What? You’re dying to know more details from my Letterboxd.com stat sheet?

letterboxd stats

I watched more movies on Friday than any other day of the week and of the non-English countries of origin I watched more Italian films than Japanese films despite watching 10 movies from the Zatoichi series. I’m fascinated and I know you are too.

While everyone else is out there during this time of year discussing their favorite movies from the year that was, I’m not so sure I’m qualified anymore. The Oscar nominations arrived this morning. And unlike my more youthful days when I was a barely-compensated entertainment journalist for a tabloid-style publication, I haven’t seen them all — nowhere close, actually. You know what I have seen? The 304 movies I watched last year. I am 100% qualified to discuss and give out awards to all of those movies.

So what you won’t see is any furor over accolades for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I declare this a Three Billboards fury-free zone. Because, yes, you guessed it. I haven’t seen it. (Yet.)

My Oscar-season counter-programming might not entertain more than a couple people out there on the Interwebs, but I enjoy allowing myself the time to reflect upon my year in movies — so much so that this is the third year I’ll have given out the prestigious Hertzies. To recap: Slither (1973) took home the first Hertzie grand prize in 2015 and The Wanderers (1979) walked off (without controversy) with the 2016 Hertzie. Some love the Oscars, others fancy the Golden Globes, and four people out there know about the Hertzies.

Now it’s time to turn the microphone over to the once and forever Hertzie girl, our master of ceremonies, Myrna Loy, to present the nominees for the 3rd Annual Hertzie Awards.

myrna loy

Presenting the 3rd Annual First Watch Hertzie Award Nominations

Celeste Holm, The Tender Trap
Jennifer Jones, Beat the Devil
Angela Lansbury, The Private Affairs of Bel-Ami
Joan McCracken, Good News
Una Merkel, Murder in the Private Car
Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons

*Surprise nomination for Una Merkel in the silly Murder in the Private Car might cause some controversy. It’s almost like the Rumble just wanted her to come to the party. 

 

Jack Lemmon, The China Syndrome
Adam Driver, What If…
Thomas Gomez, Ride the Pink Horse
Victor Mature, My Darling Clementine
Victor Moore, It Happened on Fifth Avenue
James Stewart, Rope

*Adam Driver’s here solely due to his sex nacho speech.

 

Humphrey Bogart, In a Lonely Place
Ronald Colman, A Double Life
Douglas Fairbanks, The Mark of Zorro
W.C. Fields, The Bank Dick
Shintaro Katsu, Tale of Zatoichi
Joseph Cotten, The Magnificent Ambersons

*Colman receives his second nomination in as many years. Is he destined to become the Hertzie’s version of Susan Lucci?

 

Amy Adams, The Arrival
Irene Dunne, Theodora Gone Wild
Gloria Grahame, In a Lonely Place
Judy Holliday, Bells Are Ringing
Lisa Margolin, David & Lisa
Barbara Streisand, What’s Up Doc?

*Amy Adams received the only nomination for a modern film in the lead acting categories. And this automatically gives me more credibility than the 2017 Academy Awards. 

 

John Paxton – Murder, My Sweet (1944)
Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger – Black Narcissus (1947)
Eleanor Perry – David & Lisa (1962)
Andrew Solt, Edmund H. North – In a Lonely Place (1950)
Orson Welles – The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
Samuel G. Engel, Winston Miller – My Darling Clementine (1946)

*That little indie film, David & Lisa, picks up it’s surprise second nomination.

 

Trey Parker – Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
Mike Gray, T.S. Cook, James Bridges – The China Syndrome (1979)
Richard Linklater – Everybody Wants Some! (2016)
Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola – The Godfather Part III (1990)
Kim Ki-Young – The Housemaid (1960)
Buck Henry, David Newman, Robert Benton – What’s Up Doc? (1972)

*The Original Screenplay category wins at life. Just look at those options. Nowhere — and I mean nowhere — could you ever see a Korean film from 1960 in the same category as Cannibal! The Musical and The Godfather Part III. Plus, the category contains two, count ’em, two exclamation points! 

 

Alfred Hitchcock, Rope
Kim Ki-Young, The Housemaid

Jose Ramon Larraz, Symptoms
Ida Lupino, The Hitch-hiker
Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Black Narcissus
Orson Welles, The Magnificent Ambersons

*I can’t wait to seat this crew at the same table, just to see what happens. The potential conversation between Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and Jose Ramon Larraz is the reason the Hertzies are the best awards show on the planet. 

 

The Bank Dick (1940)
Bells Are Ringing (1960)
Black Narcissus (1947)
In a Lonely Place (1950)
Rope (1948)
What’s Up Doc? (1972)

*Two comedies, a thriller, a film noir, a musical, and a technicolor melodrama contend for the top prize. 

 

Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
The Housemaid (1960)
Mill of the Stone Women (1960)
Symptoms (1974)
Tower of Screaming Virgins (1968)
Vanishing Point (1971)

*Some don’t even care about the Best Picture award, contending that the real action happens here — in what amounts to the Hertzie after party. Even this category stirs some controversy as Kim Ki-Young’s The Housemaid slips into the B-Picture category, but word has it the studio felt it had a much better shot at carrying away the first foreign-language Hertzie in the coveted B-Picture category than fighting it out with the big boys. 

 

The winners will be announced the night of the 2018 Academy Awards on March 4th! Stay tuned to see if your favorites take home everlasting fame and glory.

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The Best Songs of 2017

Every year since 2005, my friend Mike at bsidesnarrative.com and I have been compiling our “Best of” lists. It’s a competition without a winner or a loser. It’s a way for us to communicate about music and share our thoughts without being able to chat as much as we’d like anymore. The above link will take you to his list.

The 100 Best Songs of 2017

 

The year 2017 was a bunch of whatever. Broken. The Upside-Down became our reality. While all that nonsense raged on and fueled our fears and whipped our disillusionment into a lather, the year found time to beget a veritable trough of earhole-worthy jams. It was a year of transition, a coming-to-terms with the dumpster-fire status quo. We may not like the world in which we live, but the torrent of inspired and reactionary art may be the silver lining to the coming apocalypse. #SmallVictories

I tweaked the “Best of” rules this year. For 2017, I’m only allowing myself one song from each artist. This benefits you in two ways. 1) You won’t be forced to read a list of nothing but Valerie June, The War on Drugs, and Alvvays, and 2) I get to pick more artists and more songs. If you’re reading any of these 2017 lists, you’re likely looking to find new records and artists to make these days more meaningful/beautiful/soulful/tolerable. Or you’re hate reading and shaking your fist angrily at your computer screen. Either way, thanks for the click.

And I reserve the right to completely change my mind about all of these songs next week.

Disclaimer in perpetuity: I’m still just one guy and while I listen to a lot of music, there are people who listen to a lot more. Like the folks at Aquarium Drunkard, My Old Kentucky Blog and Said the Gramophone — my three go-to music blogs. In many ways their input came together to form these year-end lists like Voltron. 

best songs of 2017

Past years of the Best of: 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 

Bonus picks: “What’s That Perfume That You Wear” – Jens Lekman; “No Coffee” – Amber Coffman; “Runaway” – Julietta; “Do You Still Love Me?” – Ryan Adams; “No One Like You” – Blue Hawaii; “Still Waking Up” – Tim Darcy; “I Know A Place” – MUNA; “I Promise” – Radiohead; “Keep Walking” – Kelly Lee Owens; “Soothing” – Laura Marling; “Wild Indifference” – Joan Shelley; “Westermarck” – Charly Bliss; “Stellular” – Rose Elinor Dougall; “Sweet Saturn Mine” – The Moonlandingz; “call the police” – LCD Soundsystem; “The Fear” – The Shins; “Old Time” – Willie Nelson; “Ran” – Future Islands; “You Never Come Closer” – Doris; “1234” – Kevin Morby; “There’s a Honey” – Pale Waves; “Baby Luv” – Nilufer Yanya; “Thinning” – Snail Mail

inifinity

Covers: 

“Sorrow” – Paul Shaffer And The World’s Most Dangerous Band (with Jenny Lewis) / “Valerie” – Ra Ra Riot / “Can’t Help Falling in Love” – Beck / “Fragments” – Blondie

For whatever reason, covers dominated my earholes in 2017 and while I have a hard time ranking cover songs in the main countdown, I reserve this slot for trends/miracles that deserve a little bit of time and attention. Back on January 6th, Sorrow” was actually the very first track added to my “2017 Hits” list, which is the year-long collection of tracks from which I draw this countdown. To wrap up the covers portion of this countdown, Blondie checks in with a defiant, goddammit I’m still relevant wave goodbye on her cover of Adam Johnston’s piano ballad.

“Valley Boy” – Wolf Parade

So I cheated and added #101. I couldn’t neglect my boy Spencer Krug, who more than any other indie vocalist sings at the frequency of 30Hz.

 

100

“French Press” – Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Melbourne 80’s indie-rock nostalgists sound like Real Estate and the Strokes at the same time. My birthday wish from 2009 just came true.

 

99

“Heartstruck – Wild Hunger” – Hamilton Leithauser, Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen shares Leithauser’s delicious appreciation for expressive 60’s-leaning vocal styles. The two bounce verses off each other like cunning Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em linguists.

 

98“T.V. M.A.C.” – Mega Bog

Neo-jam-glam on *ahem* wry toast.

 

97
tie: “If We Were Vampires” – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit / “Alleyway” – Anna Tivel

This is me. Weeping. Like a baby.

 

96“Let ‘Em Talk” – Kesha (feat. Eagles of Death Metal)

Kesha’s Freedom Party 2017. A killer kiss off track backed by grumbly guitar rockers Eagles of Death Metal. The pop diva never sounded as comfortable in her own shoes as she does here, doubling as a riot grrrl.

 

95“Running Second” – Ainslie Wills

The terms “fierce” and “symphonic” come to mind when considering Melbourne’s Ainslie Wills. This teaser track from a pending 2018 LP promises more great things from this underrated songstress from down under.

 

94“The Blackout” – U2

Most will balk when I suggest the best track on U2’s latest album sounds like a lost gem from the Pop era. “The Blackout” forces Adam Clayton to the foreground and the result is the freshest U2 track since “Discoteque.” #ILikePopGoddammit

 

93“Ouija” – Graveyard Club

Dueling vocals and baroque synth. Stop teasing me with greatness and release the new record already you morose Minneapolis bastards.

 

92

“Deadly Valentine” – Charlotte Gainstbourg

Dramatic, grief-laden 6-minute vocal opus backed by strings and loss. Inspired in part by the apparent suicide of her half-sister, the Parisian actress and singer produced her greatest record to date. This song is one that will linger and grow and transform the more you listen.

 

91

“Ugly Human Heart Pt. 1 & 2” – Daniel Romano

An eccentric two-part romper stomper from the Canadian singer-songwriter.

 

90

“Call on God” – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

I challenge you to give yourself to this song. Listen to the hope and the majesty in Sharon Jones’ vocals. Knowing the battles she fought and the live she lived. You will be moved. The late, great soul singer released the best record of her career after she was already gone. Her spirit endures.

 

89

“Rules” – Hoops

Two minutes and thirteen seconds of Hoops jangle-pop perfection. Why bother with more when you jangle that hard?

 

88

“Follow My Voice” – Julie Byrne

Julie Byrne’s voice reacts and recoils, occasionally suffocated. It’s a fragile human spirit — that voice. Gazing upon its mortality with wonder and fear and the depth of human emotion.

 

87

“Grandma Hips” – Your Old Droog, Danny Brown

I don’t know Coney Island’s Your Old Droog from a ceramic mixing bowl, but he had the wisdom to share the microphone with Danny Brown.

86

“Heavy Hearts” – Hater

Swedish quarter dropped their first full-length featuring this standout showcase of melodrama rock. Soaring vocals with a side of clouldberry jangle and jam-pop.

 

85

“Elegy” – Leif Vollebekk

Liquid melancholy backed by simple piano chords, metronomic drumbeats. Think Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” recorded on a bedroom eight-track.

 

84

“39 by Design” – Drab Majesty

Andrew Clinco channels Clan of Xymox. Some have called it “neo-goth,” but let’s all agree never to speak that term again. Pitch-perfect deep, dark thoughts with guitar, reverb and deep, mumbly vocals.

 

83

“Pink Up” – Spoon

While “Hot Thoughts” got all the airplay, the understated “Pink Up” rose up from the B-side depths to rule Spoon’s excellent 2017 LP — their best since 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

*also eligible for the countdown: “Hot Thoughts”

 

82

“When the Heart Attacks” – Gabrielle Papillon

Paste Magazine liked Gabrielle Papillon to Ben Folds, Joanna Newsom and Tori Amos as one of our most important singer-songwriters. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m new here. I “discovered” this tremendous talent on her fifth LP.

 

81

“Show You the Way” – Thundercat (feat. Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins)

Soul/funk/jazz impresario Thundercat (Stephen Bruner) impressed and beguiled in equal measure on 2017’s Drunk. Any artist that recreates a lounge-style atmosphere and introduces the likes of Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins as special guests in the middle of a song (without *much* irony) has my eternal affection.

 

80

“Cold Apartment” – Vagabon

When Lætitia Tamko’s vocals interrupt the opening silence on “Cold Apartment” you stand up and take notice. Without tremendous range, she cuts with unique precision and gives Vagabon a singular identity.

 

79

“Dog Years” – Maggie Rogers

Fun fact: I stayed a couple nights in Easton, Maryland — Maggie Rogers’ hometown. I had some amazing oysters in a crab shack in February. I loaded them up with paralyzing amounts of horseradish and hot sauce. But anyway. This NYC-educated singer-songwriter’s the real deal and if you’re not listening to Maggie Rogers right now you’re going to miss out on the time period during which you can say you listened to Maggie Rogers way back when.

 

78

“Judy French” – White Reaper

It seems that someone, perhaps Louisville’s White Reaper, is having some fun on their Wikipedia page: “White Reaper is the worst band in the history of bands. Known for making the crowd want to punch a baby, their garbage sound should not be tolerated.” While I’m loathe to cite a Pitchfork review, I love that they summed up the White Reaper sound as cheeky, classic rock for the Camaro-set.

 

77

“Talisa” – Daniele Luppi / Parquet Courts

Italian producer Daniele Luppi unites superheroes of indie rock — Karen O and Parquet Courts — on this balls-forward guitar and bass driven driven ode to former model Talisa Soto.

 

76

“J-Boy” – Phoenix

Total snoozefest. Recommending a Phoenix track. What is this 2003? What’s old is new again. Phoenix and frontman Thomas Mars keep evolving. 17 years young, yet they’ve never sounded stale.

 

101 – 76   /   75 – 51   /  50 – 26  /   25 – 1

 

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Night Creatures: 31 Days of Horror

#29. Night Creatures (1962)

Nature of Shame:
Unseen Hammer Horror.

Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1960’s
Hammer Horror

I took a poll on Twitter to see which Hammer horror film I should consider to fill my Hooptober requirement. As I’d seen most every one of the suggestions, the conversation became a welcome reminder about how much I enjoy these movies. I really should fit more Hammer horror into my schedule.

I fell on Night Creatures because it was mentioned in that thread and I happened to have the recently released 8-film Hammer Blu-ray set featuring a bunch of movies I’d seen and Night Creatures!

The Story

In 18th-century England, the Royal Crown sends Royal Navy Captain Collier and his crew to investigate reports of illegal smuggling and bootlegging in a coastal town where locals believe in Marsh Phantoms.

night creatures aka captain clegg

Talking about Night Creatures (aka Captain Clegg) might be unfair to anyone that’s not seen the film. Detailing the film might remove the sense of discovery because any in-depth description might, in fact, cause a viewer to say “meh,” and move on to something more salacious. Directed by Peter Graham Scott, Night Creatures proceeds at a languid pace and without any legitimate “creature” payoff.

So instead of detailing specifics, I’ll tell you why you’re still going to watch Night Creatures.

#1. Peter Cushing as a priest with unspecified past transgressions.

#2. A restrained Oliver Reed with a pompadour coif.

#3. The titular “night creature” effects.

#4. Pirates. Angry pirates. Retired pirates. Pirate henchmen. You name the pirate variety, Night Creatures offers you pirates.

Final Night Creatures Thoughts:

This entry in the 31 Days of Horror marathon has been brought to by the words “brevity” and the phrase “about to eat Thanksgiving food.” I do encourage you to watch Night Creatures because it surprises and rewards through the offerings of two proper thespians and a nice little twist that may or may not see coming.

 

30Hz Movie Rating:

Availability:

hammer horror blu-ray

 

Hammer Horror 8-Film Collection is available at Amazon and wherever fine Hammer films are sold.

Buy Hammer Horror 8-Film Collection on Amazon.

 

 

2017 @CinemaShame / Hooptober Shame Statement
31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews.

#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936) / #3. The Velvet Vampire (1971) / #4. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) / #5. The Initiation (1984) / #6. Poltergeist (1982) / #7. Night of the Lepus (1972) / #8. The Black Cat (1934) / #9. The Raven (1935) / #10. Friday the 13th (1980) / #11. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) / #12. Body Snatcher (1945) / #13. Dismembered (1962) / #14. From Hell It Came (1957) / #15. Symptoms (1974) / #16. Eating Raoul (1982) / #17. Spellcaster (1988) / #18. The Old Dark House (1932) / #19. House (1985) / #20. House II: The Second Story / #21. Christine (1983) / #22. Suspiria (1977) / #23. The Invisible Man (1933) / #24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991) / #25. The Wife Killer (1976) / #26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993) / #27. The Wicker Man (1973) / #28. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) / #29. Night Creatures (1962) / #30. Nosferatu (1922) / #31. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare / #32. Day of the Dead (1985) / #33. Psycho II (1983) / #34. The Green Butchers (2003)

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A bl-g about classic and not-so-classic movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick