Haven’t seen you for a few days, sorry about that. I promise to have an installment of Scott’s Film Geek Journal, but only if I have something to report. I’ve been knee-deep in podcast country the last few days, so I didn’t want to lead you on. Say what you will about me, but I’m no cocktease. Since this is not only going to be what’s covered each day, I’m also amending the format slightly so that the current date, and not the day prior, is listed as the date covered.
In today’s Film Geek Journal, we have a couple threepeats for you as well as provocative look at the seedy side of evangelism.
DAY 16: JANUARY 23, 2013
Papi, Chloe and the pups move into a posh, pet-friendly hotel when their two humans get jobs on the premises. Unfortunately, a couple of the hotel employees – human Jenny (Briana Lane) and dog Oscar (Jake Busey, who now sounds uncannily like Jason Lee) – are up to no good and nobody believes Papi when he says something is up. Moreover, the smallest pup Rosa (Kay Panabaker – LITTLE BIRDS, FAME) is feeling ostracized and Papi decides to throw her a Quinceañera to show her how special she is.
I never saw any of the other BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA films. But I will cop to one thing – I love dogs. I absolutely love them. I love dogs more than I love people. My own dog, Mystery (a.k.a. Misty Mundae Davis) is my favorite person of any variety. So, don’t expect me to gang up on this flick. I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. When you show a chihuahua playing Rachmaninoff on the piano, I’m in. When you show me an all-dog metal band called Black Labbath, I’m really in.
The film is cute and funny, though it is also unfortunately very predictable and at times plays it little too safe. Still, I found this far more enjoyable than I was expecting. ★★½ (out of ★★★★)
MARJOE (1972) – Marjoe Gortner is a trip. You may have seen him in such films as EARTHQUAKE!, STARCRASH, MAUSOLEUM or more respectable fare like the cult oddity WHEN YOU COMING HOME, RED RYDER? And while he’s not a great actor by any stretch of the imagination, he did manage to convince a lot of people early on that he was something more than he was.
Gortner was born into a family of Pentecostal evangelists. At four years old, he was tossed out on stage with his folks and became known as the youngest preacher in the country. At many revivals, he claimed to receive visions from God, heal the sick and save thousands from an eternity in Hell. Of course, it was all bullshit. As soon as he was off stage, they would empty the buckets and empty Marjoe’s pockets of the money they had fleeced from the faithful congregation. This Oscar-winning documentary picks up as Gortner re-entered the profession as an adult. In his private life, he believes in a higher power, one of acceptance, love and free will. But in his public life, he’s expected to fleece the crowd with warnings of fire and brimstone.
But even the documentary itself is a sham. Pretending to be a straightforward documentation of this spiritual leader at first, Gortner points out the tricks of the trade employed by himself and everyone he deals with in order to squeeze money out of the congregations. It is a shocking expose that the Pentecostal crowd was none too happy about. It was an eye-opening, soul-cleansing statement where Gortner willingly exposes himself as a fraud and takes the rest of the evangelists down with him. It comes frustratingly close to greatness several times, but stops short, never going into nearly enough detail about several intriguing paths of inquiry. Nevertheless, it’s a great flick and one everyone – no matter what you’re belief (I’m a Christian, though not a traditional one.) – should check out. My own experiences with the snake oil salesmen of the faith healing crowd caused this film to really resonate with me. It’s currently available on YouTube, or you can rent it through the mail from Netflix. ★★★ (out of ★★★★)
STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984) – STAR TREK II, perhaps the greatest non-trilogy sequel ever in my opinion, ended with a shocker. This third installment picks up with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise being decommissioned and mourning their absent friend. Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) seems to be experiencing a mental breakdown however, at times behaving like a certain Vulcan we know. These are the good parts of STAR TREK III. Where it doesn’t do such a good job is in revisiting the Genesis planet from the last film, with an unintentionally comical Klingon (Christopher Lloyd) in pursuit.
The budget for STAR TREK II was slashed in half from STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE. Fair enough. While that film wasn’t a bomb, its poor execution (at least in the theatrical cut) and performance put the entire idea of a series in question. But after STAR TREK II was nothing short of a miracle, who expected Paramount to slash the budget yet again? Hence, we have a Genesis planet that looks like a set. We have a few questionable effects. And the performances aren’t so hot either – Robin Curtis in particular made me miss Kirstie Alley.
Nevertheless, the first half of the film is pretty great. McCoy’s ailment, including its big reveal is a great set-up. The crew of the Enterprise breaks Starfleet regulations and engages in a complex scheme to steal the Enterprise and rescue their friend. This is all great, entertaining stuff. And if the second half of the film could only deliver on part of the thrills, it’s forgivable in the long run. Great ending too. ★★★ (out of ★★★★)
BLOOD SIMPLE (1985) – A woman leaves her abusive husband and engages in an affair with his introverted but none-too- smart employee. The husband vows revenge. A corrupt private investigator is hired to murder the couple. And all that’s just the beginning of this low-budget film of double-crosses and hidden agendas which marked the debut from Joel and Ethan Coen. Betrayal, murder, paranoia, fear and unexpected twists comes fast and furious after that. Frances McDormand, John Getz, Dan Hedaya and M. Emmet Walsh star in this film noir.
HELLHOLE (1985) – first viewing – A woman (Judy Landers) witnesses a murder and then immediately gets amnesia. The killer (Ray Sharkey) follows her to the mental institution to which she is confined. He’s still after her and he wants what she has, if only she could remember what that was. Meanwhile on the premises, a sadistic doctor (Mary Woronov) is performing perverse and fatal experiments on the more rebellious patients in her care, sending them to a horrible place from which no one returns… a place the patients call “hellhole.”
PARADISE MOTEL (1985) – first viewing – Teenage outsider Sam moves to a new neighborhood when his father buys a rundown motel. When the school lothario catches wind of this hookup, he convinces Sam to let him use one of the motel rooms so he and his friends can have a place to bring their girlfriends. In exchange, Sam is one of the cool kids, but at what a price.
And by now, you shouldn’t be surprised that we won’t be covering these right now. You will hear what I thought, as well as what Austin and Jesse thought, when we cover these on our podcast FILM GEEK CENTRAL PRESENTS: THE FILMS OF 1985. Hopefully, you’ve checked us out already. If not, get on that. We’ve got two episodes up for streaming right now and it just gets better from here on out!
Total films watched in 2013 so far: 48
My soundtrack for January 23, 2013: “Here is the news, another action-filled adventure. All the worst from the world convention…”