page contents

FILM
Captain Canada's Movie Rodeo
July 2018
Gabriel Ricard

cc+logo.png

The films reviewed in Captain Canada’s Movie Rodeo are pulled from a list of films that was started when the column started. The list covers everything I’ve seen for the first time between 2012 and the present.

Technically, we’re celebrating a birthday today.Have I really been writing this column every month for six years? Should I be pleased about that? I think I am, but I’m often a lousy judge of how my life’s going. I’m grateful that I get to do this column every month. I’m also grateful for the other one I get to write every month for Cultured Vultures. Captain Canada specifically is one of the longest-running endeavors I’ve ever had. It’s followed me to all of the places I’ve lived since 2012, which amounts to a fairly long list. Captain Canada turns six this year, and it has outlived a handful of friends, a few relationships, and the condition of my lungs on a one-pack-per-day habit.

If there’s any point to highlighting the age of this column right now, it would have to be this: I’m not very good at staying still. I’m not very good at working with something for a long period of time. That’s why it takes literally years for me to get around to editing short stories or novels. I’m fucking floored that I’ve managed to get four books published in the past four years. In other words, my life is marked by a struggle to stick with something for the long haul. It doesn’t seem to be a problem with friendships, but it’s a fight to remain committed to just about anything else. Projects that last longer than a couple of months can drive me absolutely nuts.

Then there are these columns. I’ve kept up with both Captain Canada’s Movie Rodeo and Make The Case from one month to the next. Sometimes, I’m not sure why. I guess I just still love film, although the specifics of that relationship have changed and evolved over the years. Beyond these columns, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to talk about movies that really appeal to me. Not anymore, at least.

The columns generate conversations all the time. Captain Canada in particular has been doing that every month for more than half a decade. I suppose if there is a more specific reason for this column sticking around, beyond the fact that Drunk Monkeys is gracious enough to allow it, those conversations would have to be at the top of any list. These columns have introduced me to people. They have created ridiculous, hilarious arguments. I’ve also been a writer for over 20 years. Anytime people are willing to pay attention to what I’m writing, I’m grateful.

To that end, thank you to everyone who has supported this column for the past six years. I can’t say if it’s going to keep up for six years more, but I can promise you Captain Canada is going to be a silly, passionate curator of film for a long time to come.

DOUBLE FEATURE

Incredibles 2 (2018) (B+) & Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) (C-)

 Image © Disney/Pixar & Universal 

Image © Disney/Pixar & Universal 

Trying a brand-new feature this month. In honor of the column’s sixth anniversary, I’m going to simultaneously review two new films that are in theaters, if I had the opportunity to watch both of them in a row. We’ll see how this works out. 

I don’t get to watch several movies in a row at the theater anymore. I did that at different points in my life because that’s just what I decided to waste my money on. When you stop caring about certain things, and you’re roughly middle class, it’s easy to find resources for something like living at a movie theater for hours at a time.

However, as I’ve been disassociating more as of late, I’ve also been waking up in the middle row of the Elwood Quad more often. The Incredibles 2 came up first. I was anticipating it much more, like anyone who saw the first film nearly a decade-and-a-half ago. There aren’t a lot of surprises to be found here, but it’s a solid sequel on every possible level. Written and directed once again by Brad Bird, The Incredibles 2 has more than enough in its characters and universe to tell a comic book-inspired story that feels quite distinctive among a much deeper pool of superhero releases, compared to the one the first film swam in during the fall of 2004. Focusing on Helen Parr/Elastigirl naturally makes sense, but there’s enough from all the favorites to keep pretty much everyone happy. One more? Why not. Age the kids out a little, and please don’t wait another fourteen years.

Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom is a follow-up to a movie I didn’t particularly like. It’s also part of 25-year-old cinematic universe that I’ve never particularly cared about. That’s not intended to sound like that’s a superior position to take. They just aren’t movies that have meant as much to me over the years, as they seem to mean to a lot of people. So with all of that in mind, and at least acknowledging the movie’s good graces to at least know how incredibly dumb it is, I can’t say I had a bad time. Like a lot of epics that I’m not invested in, Lost Kingdom is way too fucking long. There are way too many fucking characters across this very silly fucking story. Yet the whole mess jumbles into something that has moments of honest and pretty sincere pleasure. It’s just not enough to make it rational to suggest this movie to anyone who doesn’t like dinosaurs and/or Jurassic Park/World movies.

At the end of seeing these movies one after another, I had a mild delirium that slammed the movies into each other in my head. I wouldn’t recommend the experience overall, so that gets a D+ unto itself.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977): D+

 Image © Cult Epics 

Image © Cult Epics 

One of the greatest, absolutely-goddamn-serious titles for a movie ever, you certainly wish Death Bed delivered on what that title promises. I honestly have no idea, but this is still a surreal, generally confusing movie from writer/director George Barry (his only feature) that also has the disadvantage of being very boring. I think it’s possible to get into this, and you must appreciate the fact that Barry made a movie on a budget slightly larger than nothing. I also think that if you’re hoping for a ridiculous spectacle, you should probably go somewhere else. 

 

 

Look Back in Anger (1959): B+

 Image © Warner Bros. 

Image © Warner Bros. 

My obsession with the English actors of this era filters into this column a lot. I know. Richard Burton’s career was such a mixed bag, with his stretch of weak performances in terrible movies lasting for just about half of his entire filmography. In that definition of his timeline, 1959’s Look Back in Anger is right in the heart of his last best period as an actor. Based on a play by John Osborne, it gives Burton a fantastic, wounded character to interpret in a particularly intensive way. In other words, this is one of those definitive Richard Burton performances, if you’re familiar with the man’s career. 

There is an unhappy marriage, people in love with other people, desperation, and class warfare. Britain had a small industry of movies on those subjects going by this point. Look Back in Anger is one of the best of the so-called kitchen sink realism movement. In simpler terms, it’s just people arguing, repressing, and drinking heavily. Obviously, I’m not saying you can’t tell impressive, moving stories within those features. Look Back in Anger is not only proof that you can, but its fire also has a surprising amount of resonance at this moment in time.

The Bad Sleep Well (1960): A+

 Image © Toho 

Image © Toho 

There might just be an honest-to-god theme going on with these titles, in terms of the movies I’m choosing this month. Oh well. I’m not smart enough to figure it out, so I’ll leave it up to all of you.

The Bad Sleep Well makes me wish Akira Kurosawa had worked in contemporary settings a bit more often. Many of his early films were, and then there are flawless classics like Ikiru, but The Bad Sleep Well feels like something else entirely. While The Bad Sleep Well goes to Kurosawa (who directed, in addition to being one of the five writers involved in the project) favorites like Shakespeare, and corrupt, there is something unique about the energy of its setting. Perhaps, it’s because Kurosawa rarely went to subjects like corporate intrigue. Regardless, even without the uniqueness of its atmosphere and framework, the movie is an intense experience from start to finish. That is even more so the case, if you become attached in any sense to Toshiro Mifune’s tortured young executive in thriving post-War Japan. You probably will.

The Last Movie Star (2017): C+

 Image © A24 

Image © A24 

If nothing else, Burt Reynolds is honest about what has brought him to this current point in his career. He was indeed once a movie star. His run as one of the biggest movie stars in the world lasted long enough that no reasonable person would call his success a fluke. He also happened to torpedo a lot of that success with arrogance, many poor decisions, and some legitimate bad luck. All of that is mirrored in The Last Movie Star. The movie imagines Reynolds as a fictional faded icon, but the parallels between the life and career of Vic Edwards and that of Burt Reynolds are obvious enough. Director Adam Rifkin (who also wrote the script) doesn’t lay those parallels on too thick, and he doesn’t complicate things with a needless grasp by Edwards for redemption.

Instead, The Last Movie Star proves that Reynolds still has a good deal of talent left as an actor. It also tells a story that puts a fairly uncomfortable light on not only Edwards, but obviously on Reynolds, as well. He’s old, broken on several levels, and longs to be famous and healthy again. The Last Movie Star arrives at a good enough compromise for Reynolds, Edwards, and the audience. This is a good and almost certain last hurrah. Reynolds doesn’t pander, and the pain he visibly seems to fail, as he takes stock of his life, gives the movie something that is often lacking in stories such as these. There is no absolution, but there is a measure of peace to be found here. Furthermore, The Last Movie Star reminds us of why Reynolds was a star at one point to begin with. It wasn’t an accident, and it certainly wasn’t a fluke.


Gabriel Ricard writes, edits, and occasionally acts. His books Love and Quarters and Bondage Night are available through Moran Press, in addition to A Ludicrous Split (Alien Buddha Press) and Clouds of Hungry Dogs (Kleft Jaw Press). He is also a writer, performer, and producer with Belligerent Prom Queen Productions. He lives on a horrible place called Long Island.