Recently Rated Movies #45

Kontroll
Dir: Nimród Antal // 2003 [Showtime]
Cinema 4 Rating: 7
One of those movies that periodically renews my interest in filmmaking, Kontroll takes place entirely in the Budapest Underground, and even opens with a sharply pronounced disclaimer to not mistake what happens in the film with the real subway system in that city. That's good, because in the film there is a serial killer who goes about pushing lonely riders onto the tracks in front of the trains at the last surprising second. The real surprise here is that not only is the serial killer angle, which is so overdone in movies now it's ridiculous, not all that interesting, it's really not even necessary to the film. I'm certain some other conflict could have been derived to allow the hero to tackle his own personal problems through solving the mystery, but, that said, the killer storyline doesn't really detract all that much from what is really almost an Altmanesque crazy-quilt of characters -- the majority of them ticket-checkers on the Underground. The fun part is watching the ticket "kontroll" get bashed about both mentally and physically by the unconcerned riders on the train, and judging from this film, no one in Budapest ever buys a ticket. Perhaps that's why there is a disclaimer -- hate to think a whole foreign city is loaded with subway cheats. Serial killers? Well, you expect them. At least, movie producers do. And keep your eyes peeled for the world's cutest Hungarian girl in a teddy bear costume, which she wears Kinski-style through most of the film. Oh, didn't I mention the film was kind of weird?

Dolemite
Dir: D'Urville Martin // 1975 [DVD]
Cinema 4 Rating: 4
Watching some of the Japanese "Starman" films a couple of months ago reminded me of a four-year-old wrestling with his older brothers, where the little hero would throw a karate chop which couldn't dent warmed-up butter, but his siblings would react like he had almost put them through a brick wall. It's cute at that age; in grown-up stuntmen, it's rather silly, but it can be great fun when done properly (as in the Starman films, where it is done seemingly on a huge, hundred-attacker scale). In the cult "classic" Dolemite, which causes even the most casual fan of blaxploitation films to go "Hells, yeah!" when it is mentioned, one wonders constantly if star Rudy Ray Moore, as the pimp/anti-hero, hasn't been trained in the martial arts to the level of a four-year old. His moves can barely be called that, since he hardly commits physically to even the slightest punch. Worse, since he is a comedian, and a horribly-acting one at that, he is given a couple of showcases for his rhyming, pseudo-rapping routine, which made me long for even one minute of Nipsey Russell on the old Match Game instead. (The poems would be mercifully shorter, the delivery would be sharper, and the result would be twelve times as funny.) Perhaps I am not predisposed to enjoying films about pimps and drug dealers getting revenge on other pimps and drug dealers, or perhaps I am not "of the world" where revenge like this is something to be admired. This would be a bullshit statement -- this film is just bad guys killing other bad guys, but done right, it can be an incredible rush onscreen. And if you think perhaps I am just not cut out for blaxploitation films, I will point out that the same week, I watched Foxy Brown and Coffy (I was actually watching all of them as a wind-up for Grindhouse) and enjoyed both of those films for what they were: campy but engaging low-budget revenge thrillers. The chief crime of Dolemite is that it is deadly dull and unfunny. It's as campy as the other films I mentioned, but at least those were backed up by talents like Jack Hill and Pam Grier. Here it's just Rudy Ray Moore, and from where I sit, he never should have stopped telling his long-winded poems at backalley dice games.

Clash of the Wolves
Dir: Noel M. Smith // 1925 [TCM]
Cinema 4 Rating: 6
I grew up watching a 1950's version of Rin Tin Tin (with that fat, annoying, freckled Rusty kid), but I had never seen the real deal until a couple of weeks ago. TCM cranked out one of the original Rinny silents, and I was stunned. Not because the film was any great shakes -- it was only average melodrama, after all -- but because I was astounding by some of the stunts they had their star pooch tackle throughout the film. Rinny was literally the Douglas Fairbanks of the canine world, and to watch his incredible leaps and tackles and dashes across the desert is to wonder if they actually ran through about three dozen dogs in the course of filming. The comedic stuff, too, was also a lot of fun, and even though the film itself wouldn't pass muster outside of a kiddie show today, I was thoroughly entranced by the action and adventure. An incredibly fun time while it lasted. And to find out the original Rinny dies in Jean Harlow's arms? There's a scandal that US Magazine would have a field day with today...

Comments

I know I usually call 'bullshit' on people saying they like a movie only because it's horrible, I have to say thats how I feel about Dolemite. I agree it's boring to the extreme, and Rudy Ray Moore is one of the least amusing comedians ever, but there's something about it's ineptitude that is so extreme as to be amusing.

I particularly enjoy Dolemite's speech patterns, which start out slow and steady and halfway through a sentence he starts shouting everything.

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