Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (1990)

Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (1990) movie poster

director  Jim Abrahams
viewed: 06/09/2018

Welcome Home, Roxy Charmichael is not as iconic a film as Edward Scissorhands ( also 1990), but it’s a more pleasing prime Winona movie, non-blonde and outside the social cliques.

It’s also a flawed though well-meaning portrayal of someone with not just awkward but maybe mentally ill. Winona is at her best playing contemporary young women out of step with the center of culture, though not really that far from it. At first Dinky (Ryder)  seems like she might be a homeless girl, by the edge of the lake with her menagerie of cast off creatures. She’s unkempt and generally disliked by her home town, virtually disowned by her adoptive parents.

But we come to find out that she’s a misunderstood smart girl (almost straight A’s), who doesn’t identify with her family, school, or town. And even though she develops an obsession over the town’s favorite daughter, Roxy Carmichael, this isn’t further insanity, but a wish-fulfillment escapism of a sound mind.

It’s kinda sweet, seriously. Though also a bit pat and winds up with a rather typical “happy ending” in which boy and girl are united, everything is happy, and everything upholds the social norms.

Roxy Charmichael also features a good, less notable but solid B character cast beside the principals.

The Jeff Daniels aspect of the film is interesting in ways, too. He’s Roxy’s ex-boyfriend, father of a baby she left behind. Though supposedly happily married, the promise of Roxy’s return throws him for a loop, and his wife walks out on him. He can’t come to terms with his obsession. Roxy Carmichael, though never “seen” and vaguely mysterious for what she is famous, is a feminine ideal, swathed in pink, Daniels’ ardor and Winona’s aspiration.

I’m not sure how I never got around to seeing this before.

La nave de los monstruos (1960)

La nave de los monstruos (1960) movie poster

director Rogelio A. González
viewed: 06/01/2018

Women are from Venus; men are from the rest of the galaxy, in La Nave de los Monstruos (The Ship of Monsters en Inglés.) The is a Mexican horror-sci-fi-Western-comedy absurd and good-natured, weird and fun.

Yes, two Venusian babes show up on Earth, looking for men to help the Venusian cause. They’ve picked up characters from Mars and elsewhere, all brought back to re-seed Venus. Only when they set eyes and ears on Earthling Lauriano (Eulalio González), they fall into a squabble over who lands the singing vaquero. And it turns out that Beta (Lorena Velázquez) is actually a vampire from Uranus.

That’s right, a vampire from Uranus.

The other monsters are a variety of oddities, under the sway of she who wields that belt of power. Unfortunately for Beta, Lauriano’s heart is given to Gamma (Ana Bertha Lepe) and so Beta’s quest to take over the Earth is set to failure.

Initially, the comic aspects seem disappointing. But Eulalio González is funny and charming, giving the movie just the right verve in its tone and style. I’m not sure how good the translation was in the version I saw but it had some genuinely funny moments.

At the end of the day, Tractorr, the robot doesn’t just fall for a jukebox, the robot gets the jukebox in the end. The kind of happy ending they just don’t write enough of nowadays.


Deadpool 2 (2018)

Deadpool 2 (2018) movie poster

director David Leitch
viewed: 05/27/2018 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

Deadpool 2 is the lesser Deadpool of the Deadpool movies. I’d commented about its predecessor that I didn’t think that the movie was as clever as it thought itself. That’s even more true here in the sequel.

Ryan Reynolds and just about everybody from the first film is back, along with Josh Brolin as Cable, Zazie Beetz as Domino, and surprisingly Julian Dennison (from Hunt for the Wilderpeople) as Russell/Firefist. Oh yeah, and all those guys in X-Force.

Knowing jokes about lazy writing don’t make lazy writing okay. They pack in the gags, cultural references, and R-rated raunchiness into a story that also tries to have a heart. That having a heart thing is the mushy muddle that undercuts a lot of the film’s potential irreverence making it much more like the things it attempts to lampoon.

Ingrid Goes West (2017)

Ingrid Goes West (2017) movie poster

director  Matt Spicer
viewed: 05/26/2018

Ingrid Goes West is a black comedy that doubles as a psychological horror.

Aubrey Plaza is brilliant as Ingrid, a young woman with obsessions and compulsions, a natural born stalker who gets released after a period in a psych ward. With the money left her from her mother’s estate, she “goes West” toward her newest obsession, Instagram star Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen).

The film skewers California culture, social media existence, millennial hipsters, and is painfully spot-on.

Plaza’s Ingrid is unraveling and when Taylor’s smarmy bro Nicky (Billy Magnussen) shows up, disaster is not far off.

The film’s ending is interpretive: happy or terrifying? I’m going with the latter. Uncomfortable, funny, and bleak.

Dudes (1987)

Dudes (1987) movie poster

director Penelope Spheeris
viewed: 05/23/2018

Jon Cryer makes a cute punk.

Penelope Spheeris’s Dudes is very 1987, a transition between between early and late Eighties. It’s also a then present day revenge Western featuring punks versus thugs (also played in part by punks).

It exists between light-toned comdey and a darker sense of drama, also between pure Indie film and something more commercial.

A decent oddity, fitting well in the center of Spheeris’s oeuvre.

Chatterbox (1977)

Chatterbox (1977) movie poster

director  Tom DeSimone
viewed: 04/27/2018

Is that a boom mike dangling there or are you just really glad to see this movie?

Chatterbox is the movie that dares to literally ask the question: “What would you say if I told you my vagina could talk?”

And I can tell you that this is definitely a man’s idea of if a vagina could talk. And sing. Circa 1977. 

Unsurprisingly, a sex organ with a voice and personality turns out to be a total pain in the ass for Penelope (Candace Rialson), especially once Virginia the vagina takes to showbiz.

It’s amusing, if not actually funny.

Nice to see Rip Taylor though.

Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (1999)

Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (1999)

director  Matthew Bright
viewed: 03/25/2018

I just read a possibly apocryphal trivia note on IMDb that said that Doris Wishman was originally set to direct Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby.

If only.

Freeway II embodies the exploitation aesthetic in a lot of ways. It’s a black comedy that tries to out-sleaze its predecessor at every turn, which it does easily. In Freeway (1996), Matthew Bright laced mordant humor throughout the movie while also playing a lot of it like a straight drama. Freeway II is so much more over the top, it’s a lot harder to take seriously.

I’ve liked Natasha Lyonne since first seeing her in Slums of Beverly Hills and she’s great here, with her raspy New York voice, world-weary but still wide open.

I think if Vincent Gallo had somehow managed to not be quite so hilarious, he might have been really scary as Sister Gomez, the evil witch of this fairy tale version of Hansel and Gretel, much less pointed than in the earlier film.

Freeway is both fun and well done. Freeway II fun but much less compelling.

If Doris Wishman could have made this film… If only.

Freeway (1996)

Freeway (1996) movie poster

director Matthew Bright
viewed: 03/25/2018

Matthew Bright’s black comedy Freeway is still sharp and funny over 20 years later. Reese Witherspoon was never better than in her break-out role as Vanessa Lutz, the Little Red Riding Hood from the ‘hood.

I saw this back in its original release and not since. But I’d been wanting to watch Bright’s sequel, Freeway II: Confessions of the Trickbaby, so I thought it would be worth the re-watch first.

How many people recognize Vanessa’s photo of the father she never met as Richard Speck?

It’s still very funny and dark.

Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)

 Earth Girls Are Easy (1988) movie poster

director Julien Temple
viewed: 03/18/2018

Earth Girls Are Easy is definitely in the running for “The Most 80’s Movie Ever”. I say that, but I also think that about a lot of 80’s movies. Still…

Adapted from a song on Julie Brown’s 1984 EP “Goddess in Progress”, Earth Girls Are Easy feels a bit more early 80’s than late 80’s. By 1988, things were a lot less day-glo and new wave. But still, it works.

Geena Davis shows more skin here than anywhere? She spends a significant amount of time in a very becoming bikini, revealing all 6’0″ of herself. This is a much more sexualized role than I can recall for her anywhere else.

She’s wearing that bikini when an alien ship lands in her swimming pool. A pre-In Living Color Damon Wayans and Jim Carrey goof hardcore with a more subdued Jeff Goldberg. Jeff may have had a nice physique but I’ve never considered him the dreamboat he’s made out to be.

Julie Brown’s musical numbers wonk out this broad and bright comedy. I think it’s kind of funny that the credits state “Introducing Julie Brown” in 1988, since the record was from four years earlier and some of us with clear eyes and memories recall seeing her topless in 1981’s Bloody Birthday.

If You Don’t Stop It… You’ll Go Blind

If You Don’t Stop It You’ll Go Blind!!! (1975) movie poster

directors  Keefe Brasselle, I. Robert Levy
viewed: 03/06/2018

Wikipedia summarized the plot of If You Don’t Stop It…You’ll Go Blind!!! thusly: “A 1970s sketch-style comedy featuring profane old ladies, gay cowboys, and sex contests.”

A study of the history of comedy, sexual mores, and political correctness might find an interesting way to view this film in a useful context. Outside cheap, punchy cornball and occasional rape jokes.