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DLeonard's reviews view profile

I'll Take You There  
on September 30, 2009 - 10:51 PM PDT
  of Wattstax (1972)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

This is an odd yet quite compelling feature. Suffice to say that if the subject matter appeals to you, chances are you will enjoy it, but the content may be unexpected.

In 1972 a concert was held in the L.A. Coliseum to commemorate the Watts riots of 1965 (actually just the capper to a week long celebration). Stax Records, home to many of the best American soul acts, sponsored the event which meant that all the performers were Stax acts and prompted the event to be called wattstax. The film is an account of this concert plus some additional footage, and it is this additional footage that makes this such a unique film.

Here is an incomplete list of what is included in this film beyond the concert footage. A montage of urban churches. Conversations with Ted "Isaac from the Love Boat" Lange and some other TV actors on the black experience. A crew setting up the concert stage. A poorly lipped-synced filmed performance by Little Milton. The dynamic Johnnie Taylor performing in a nightclub populated with folks in outfits that just have to be seen to be believed. Various folks in hair salons/barber shops adding their two-cents about the community and about being a black person in America. A clip of Dr. King's "I have been to the mountaintop" speech. The Emotions powerful gospel performance in a local church. And some very brief but very compelling bits with Richard Pryor just about 3 years before he became a superstar. At the outset I was disappointed that the film did not contain more of the music performed that day. Most acts are only shown for one song, and a few, like Albert King, have their one song truncated. But then it slowly dawned on me that this was done as a rare and colorful portrait of a place most Americans (let alone people of the world) will never ever experience otherwise. And 30 years down the road this has made the film become that much more special.

Additionally, some of the musical performances are truly special as well. The Bar-Kays with their outlandish outfits and infectious groove. Isaac Hayes as the grand finale. The sublime Staple Singers singing with a clarity that is startling. And my personal favorite moment, a show-stopping (literally) set by Rufus Thomas who spends several moments addressing a lone fan who just won't get off the field before finally bringing down the house with "The Funky Chicken".

Care to get a glimpse of the faces, minds, emotions, and music of Watts in the early 70's? Look no further.
Martha My Dear  
on April 15, 2008 - 6:39 PM PDT
  of Private Parts (1972)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

They don't make 'em like this anymore.

Private Parts was the first feature film for Paul (Eating Raoul) Bartel, and it is an odd little film combining elements of 70's exploitation, Bartel's usual luridness and dark humor, and some genuinely creepy situations.

Acting slightly more na´ve than she actually is, Cheryl has become a resident of her aunt Martha's seedy and eccentric filled Los Angeles hotel. While most of the folk Cheryl meets seem harmless enough, someone is going around hacking up nosy visitors. The plot may be a familiar one, but this movie will take you places you could never imagine, mostly due to the strange relationship that emerges between Cheryl and George, a neighbor who is an avid photographer.

For a 70's cheapie, the film looks great, and it completely captures the grimy feel of its hotel setting. As Cheryl playfully makes her way through the locked doors of her neighbors, it's easy to become anxious wondering what she may encounter. The cast on a whole is also exceptional with Lucille Benson as Aunt Martha a particular stand out. Lucille Benson's portrayal is an expert mix of sweetness and an unsettling sternness.

This is the type of unusual gem that just isn't made these days.

Similar to:
Eating Raoul - Once again Bartel mixes ghoulish humor and kink in his story of the na´ve Blands stuck in a world of swingers.

The Tenant - Polanski's thriller also incorporates an odd building filled with eccentrics.

May - The relationship of Cheryl and George plays close to being the inverse of May and Adam.

Monsieur Hire - A much darker exploration of voyeurism.
Missing an Angel  
on March 14, 2006 - 5:59 PM PST
  of Bettie Page: Dark Angel (Limited Edition) (Disc 1 of 2) (2004)
6 out of 7 members found this review helpful

Consider this a warning. When this movie showed at the SF Indie Fest two years ago, the audience left in droves. The organizer apologized to the audience before the 2nd showing.

Some of the worst acting ever witnessed, and any moments that would have made an interesting story were removed from the script.

Bettie Page fans, if you are curious watch through the 1st recreation of the silent stag film, then skip to the last 5 minutes for some truly "so bad it's good" moments.
Population: Tire  
on January 6, 2005 - 11:18 AM PST
  of HomestarRunner: strongbad_email.exe (Disc 1 of 3) (2004)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

The Strong Bad Emails !!!! Man I love GreenCine !!

One of my latest obsessions are the toons found on If you haven't yet discovered these little gems, then by all means rent this disc now. There's no need to start with Vol. 1, but it might help create a better appreciation of some of the more involved and very funny shorts that would be featured in Vol. 2 & 3.

Particular favorites:
Dragon - Seems to be a favorite for most people

50 Emails - Love the olde tyme Strong Bad

One Step Ahead - Poor Strong Sad, but he had it coming to him.
The Art of Richard Harris  
on October 25, 2002 - 4:29 PM PDT
  of This Sporting Life (1963)
7 out of 7 members found this review helpful

With his recent passing, folks will be taking a look at the films of Richard Harris. Except for his work over the last decade, very little is available on DVD. However, the great exception to this is his first leading role and Oscar nominated performance in This Sporting Life. Director Lindsay Anderson started his career in documentaries and it shows here in his portrayal of a working class stiff who achieves fame on the rugby field through brutality. Harris's performance is intense and the relationship between his character and Rachel Roberts's is touching and scary in it's frankness. There's no better place to start if you want to take a look at the art of Richard Harris.
Truly wonderful  
on September 18, 2002 - 11:42 AM PDT
  of American Graffiti (1973)
6 out of 6 members found this review helpful

After counting all his money and awards and listing various technical advances, George Lucas can offer one artisitic achievement; American Graffiti. No other film so deftly captures the emerging suburban youth culture that became the baby boomers, which continues to guide and influence our country's path. If you have a parent or relative in or around their 60's, most likely they identify with this film. I know my parents do.

Lucas follows the neo-realism style so prevelent in late 60's early 70's cinema, and uses it to great effect as he tells the story of several California teens through the course of a day. Nothing seems staged, forced or unrealistic as paths criss-cross and events influence decisions. Some of the conflicts may feel cliched, like Richard Dreyfuss's uncertainty over his future, but really Lucas was charting new territory. Even the constant pop music soundtrack, used as a kind of a Greek chorus here, was a fresh idea. It's only in retrospect that we feel we've seen it all before.

Two things make this film an absolute treasure, actually three things. 1. The fact that this was made by Mr. Star Wars 2. The stellar cast who at the time were all unknowns (except veteran Ron Howard). 3. Lucas's fine blend of nostalgia and critical eye. Obviously he has a fondness for these people, but he's only too aware of the limitations they often place on themselves and their futures.

As much as I enjoy Star Wars, I'll always lament the filmmaker that could have been had Star Wars not taken over his life, the guy who made this American classic.
Pure genius  
on August 22, 2002 - 11:28 AM PDT
  of Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
8 out of 10 members found this review helpful

How anyone could not appreciate this film is beyond me. The moment the murdering clown aliens make a ballon animal which acts as a blood hound to track down the snooping teenagers, I was hooked. All the cliches of 50's sci-fi are utilized and skewered, plus some groovy FX are employed to show the mayhem caused by the killer klowns. Besides, any film that can boast having a theme song by The Dickies starts out in the plus column in my book.

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