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FILM
Captain Canada's Movie Rodeo
August 2018
Gabriel Ricard

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Even if your name is fucking Damian, I think it’s important to remember that it’s not all for you. I’m specifically talking to a certain group of men right now, but I suppose this could be directed at just about anyone who likes something that will probably be revamped or rebooted at some point in the future.

No, I’m not here to tell you that you can’t have an opinion about, oh, let’s say the new She-Ra. There is no question that it is very clearly a cartoon designed for kids. It might be based on a cartoon that was popular with a previous generation of kids. I’m sure the people behind the new series would love to have the long-time fans get into watching, too. We all seem to understand these things, but some of us seem to forget you aren’t necessarily the primary target audience. We had this problem when the most recent Ghostbusters came out. We’re having problems along these lines with every single goddamn Star Wars movie. These are being mentioned because this is technically a movie column, and the new She-Ra is going to be a series.

One after another, I’m citing examples of things that certain types of men are actively trying to shit on. Why? I don’t really know, despite being a dude myself. Companies and creators are rebooting things I like all the time. I’m generally not pleased about such developments, and I’m not afraid to at least say so in some simple way. That’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about this deranged, fucking childish notion that such opinions are somehow more important than the ones of the audience that is actually the focus of the property at that current moment in time.


Do you truly believe that your opinion of a children’s cartoon, or whatever the case may be, is somehow more important because your parents fucked first? Do you know how fucking stupid you sound? Now, I’m a grown man who collects stuffed animals, so I’m not judging the fact that you have an opinion about She-Ra, or whatever the case may be. You can even say things like “Eh, it doesn’t like it’s really for me.” If someone asks you to elaborate, then go for it.

Really, say whatever you want. Just don’t act like anyone has a responsibility to give a shit. I suppose this is true for all things, but I’m not going to argue that right now. This isn’t really the right column for something like that. What I am going to do is argue that if you think your opinion has more weight than the target audience for anything, then you may want to just think about it for a minute.

Let’s try this something fun. What is more important: Your opinions, or creating a space for kids to enjoy things that are specifically meant for them in the first place? Doesn’t mean you aren’t invited. It just means that if you’re not having a good time, and you don’t have anything to offer beyond giddy negativity, maybe just look for the nearest exit.

Whatever you’re bitching about, I’m sure you can find and worship your favorite version in your own fun-filled way.

DOUBLE FEATURE: Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018) (B+) and Skyscraper (2018 (D+)

 Images © Marvel & Universal 

Images © Marvel & Universal 

Why did I do this again? Because I drink too much on the weekends, enjoy walks, and never drink enough to forget about the shitty movie theater that is roughly a 15 minute walk from my house. The shittiness of the theater is more about the people who go there, then about anything to do with the theater itself, or the employees. I think like it’s important to mention that.

I saw Skyscraper first, because I had a feeling it was going to be the lesser of the two films, and I wanted to end the evening on a relative high note. My instincts turned out to be more profound than I ever could have realized. Skyscraper is the Dwayne Johnson movie in a long time to remind me that even The Rock has limits to what he can do to make a deeply stupid movie palatable. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber has made some enjoyable films, including Dodgeball and the surprisingly-excellent Central Intelligence. Here, he’s stuck with a premise that wears out its welcome about 20 minutes in. The Die-Hard-On-Steroids concept isn’t even the problem. It just doesn’t seem like anyone really had a plan for this movie beyond the trailer. Johnson is fine in a fairly standard role for him, and it was genuinely nice to see Neve Campbell again (as Johnson’s wife). The only other nice thing I can think to say about this movie is that it’s only 108 minutes.

Ant-Man and The Wasp moves along the same predictable path as Skyscraper. It just benefits from a much better cast, a style that smartly avoids the impulse to top the first Ant-Man, and a sense of humor. After the soul-wounding intensity of Infinity War, seeing Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly banter as two of Marvel’s most underrated characters is a welcome sight. Pack that in with the fact that Marvel knows exactly how to make a comic book movie that amounts to a breezy good time. It’s hard for me to imagine this film topping anyone’s best Marvel movies list anytime soon, but I’m hard-pressed to imagine that you won’t have a good time with this.

Overall, I would rate the double feature experience as a D+. I need to stop doing this to myself, or I need to see two good movies in a row. It doesn’t help that a car almost ran me over on the lonely, warm walk home.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, Her Lover (1989): A+

 Image © Miramax 

Image © Miramax 

Highly controversial at the time of its release (it doesn’t take long to see why), The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, Her Lover has something for everybody. It is a high mark for both Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon, who continue to be two of the finest actors in the world. They bring unforgettable, unshakable energy and intensity to their roles as a local mob boss and his wife. Gambon in particular plays one of the most revolting men in film history, but his unrelenting ferocity and childish gluttony make it impossible to look away from his endless array of horrible words and deeds. Don’t be tempted to compare this character to our current administration. You will rob yourself of one of the best villains to ever appear on the screen. Mirren’s mafia wife is just as engaging, but for different reasons. Peter Greenaway starts us on an intense note, and he never really lets up. You can’t imagine the affairs and furtive, desperate dealings are going to give these people a happy ending. What fucks you up early on, and keeps you watching, is still being left to wonder how all of this gorgeously-shot insanity is going to come to a head.

I promise your jaw is going to be wrapped around your ankles, by the time this bloodthirsty lunatic of a film is finished with you.

Sextette (1978): F+

 Image © Crown International Pictures 

Image © Crown International Pictures 

Mae West’s final film is really, really, really fucking weird, guys. It also has the double whammy of being pretty terrible in every possible way. Yet the movie, currently available on Amazon Prime, is absolutely riveting in that glorious train wreck sense of things. Part of the appeal is in watching the incredible assortment of forgotten stars and young up-and-comers (TIMOTHY FUCKING DALTON plays West’s new young husband). This is also a film that features Alice Cooper, Ringo Starr, Dom DeLuise, Keith Moon, Walter Pidgeon, and George Hamilton. It’s worth watching Sextette, which has gone on to become the subject of numerous urban legends (such as the highly disputed rumor that West couldn’t remember her lines, and had to wear an earpiece), just to see these people try to make sense of whatever the hell is going on.

I’m not even going to waste your time with the plot. This is a great bad movie that is well worth appreciating on such terms. At the same time, credit should definitely be given to the iconic West. Although this is very, very far from her best work, she still clearly had the charisma and repartee that made her a star in the first place. Honestly, even at 84 years old, she doesn’t look half bad in this either.

The Death of Stalin (2017): B+

 Image © IFC Films 

Image © IFC Films 

Not surprisingly, this deliriously-silly-yet-oddly-plausible take on the death of famed Russian mass murderer/thug/leader Joseph Stalin comes to us from the same guy who created Veep for HBO. Armando Iannucci brings a similar kind of impressive-dryness-applied-to-insane-circumstances atmosphere to this story, which emphasizes such marvelous chemistry among the cast (particularly scenes with Steve Buscemi and Simon Russell Beale) that it feels like you’re watching some sort of comedic ballet. Everything moves quickly, and everything seems to depend on flawless editing and banter from such cast members as Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Issacs, and the great Michael Palin (who really needs to take on more non-Python acting gigs, as he might just be the best pure actor in the entire Monty Python gang). Iannucci has been masterfully coordinating such ensemble farces for a while with Veep, and he is more than comfortable with that mode of storytelling here.

I won’t speak to the historical accuracy of The Death of Stalin, but it’s definitely one of the best political satires in recent memory.

The Hollywood Stranger Meets The Skid Row Slasher (1979): D-

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If Ed Wood is just a little too talented a filmmaker for your tastes, you’ll always have Ray Dennis Steckler. The man who never made a movie for more than $38, 000 (which wasn’t Hollywood Strangler, by the way) is celebrated today for making some of the worst movies of all time. At the same time, his most watchable (well, sort of watchable) works possess the benefit of coming from a truly unique perspective. I guarantee you that you have never seen a zero-budget movie quite as strange as this one, in which two serial killers knock off a number of victims on their own, before eventually meeting up for some sort of psycho-sexual showdown. Pierre Agostino plays the Strangler, while Ray’s on-again-off-again wife Carolyn Brandt (a fixture in most of Steckler’s movies) plays the Slasher. There isn’t much more plot than that.

While this is one of the slowest, most painful viewing experiences you will ever likely have, I still have to recommend trying to get through it at least once. The bleak weirdness is occasionally compelling, and the whole thing does offer a nice time capsule for the sleazier days of Los Angeles in the 1970s. You could even go so far as to say that while the movie is literally just these two killing hookers and winos for a little over an hour, there are flickers of something deeper from the performances of Agostino and Brandt. You could also make a small argument that this movie is inadvertently progressive for featuring a female serial killer, which was rare for the period.

If nothing, Steckler is a testament to staying true to your absolutely insane convictions. The Hollywood Strangler Meets The Skid Row Slasher isn’t for everyone, but the right kind of viewer will be endlessly fascinated by everything this movie features, and by everything it implies.

If you can, opt for the version of this movie that features audio commentary by the drive-in movie critic himself, Joe Bob Briggs. He provides an entertaining approach to all of the unreal trivia and history that surrounds one of the worst movies ever made. 


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.