Gangs, communes, Avengers and more! Movies watched (#SFWApro)

Warriors-Movie-Poster

THE WARRIORS (1979) is the stylized tale of gang warfare in which Coney Island’s Warriors, headed by Michael Beck, attend a gang conference only to end up stranded in the Bronx, blamed for a murder, and with twenty miles of hostile territory to cross. Can they make it? Will sexy outsider Mercy (Deborah van Valkenberg) be a help or a hindrance? Will the real killer find them first? This is both bizarre (the Baseball Freak gang being a particular example) and entertaining; to paraphrase the film book Celluloid Skyline, when New York slides into gang warfare and anarchy, it’s bigger and more awesome anarchy than any podunk town can provide. Given this was inspired by a piece of Greek military history, 300 might make a good double bill. All rights to image remain with current holder.  “They say Cyrus is the one.”

TOGETHER (2000) is a Swedish drama set in 1975 in which a woman walks out on her husband and moves into her brother’s commune, touching off a chain of conflicts among the gay, polyamorous, vegetarian and socialist residents. An enjoyable, l0w-key story, with political views very familiar to me from attending Oberlin around the same time. I was pleasantly surprised that despite all the chaos the new arrival stirs up, the commune survives—I’m not sure an American film would have played it that way. “Sometimes life is like a giant porridge, don’t you think?”

The Asylum’s AVENGERS: Grimm (2015) is as much a mockbuster of ABC’s Once Upon a Time as it is Avengers as the plot concerns four fairytale princesses (including a Snow White who looks a lot like the TV show’s Regina) battling Rumplestiltskin for the fate of our world. More interesting than most of The Asylum’s work, but not better; I was amused, sort of, to see low-budget films still use Spooky Black Eye Makeup as a sign of becoming a mind slave. “We’re not heroes—we’re avengers!”

MR. MAGORIUM’S WONDER EMPORIUM (2007) stars Dustin Hoffman as the immortal Magorium who’s ready to die and leave his magical toy store to head salesclerk Natalie Portman; Portman, however, isn’t sure she wants the responsibility, particularly with Obnoxious, Irritating Jason Bateman going over Magorium’s books (“It’s an IOU signed by Thomas Edison.”). Whimsical enough to work for me, though it’s not worth any great effort. “You would think that someone in the hot dog industry can explain this anomaly.”

JUDEX (1963) is a crime drama inspired by a 1917 serial, in which the eponymous mastermind (“Judex means judge—or avenger.”) sets out to punish a corrupt banker for his financial crimes, only to have his game plan complicated by the banker’s virtuous daughter and a woman scheming to cut herself in on the banker’s wealth. By the director of Eyes Without a Face with some of the same style—strains plausibility at the end, and not in a good way (like having a helpful acrobat just happen to show up) but worth catching. “I only refused because of your great wealth.”

HONEYDRIPPER (2007) is the name of Danny Glover’s dying 1950s juke joint, which he hopes to save by bringing a black radio singer to perform in hopes of luring a packed crowd and settling his debts. A more upbeat ending than I expect in a John Sayles film, possibly reflecting that Sayles emphasizes the time as a turning point in history: the nearby Army base is now integrated and rock-and-roll is taking off (despite which Sayles isn’t at all sunny on the brutality of Jim Crow in Alabama in this period). Stacey Keach plays the sheriff, Mary Steenburgen is the well-meaning white employing Glover’s wife and Charles Dutton is Glover’s best buddy. “A man has to walk through the gates of hell to get a piece of cheese!”

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