Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Sea Hawk (1924)

I have no interest in sports. But as a former Seattleite, I know I have to cover this movie at some point this year just because of its title. I meant to get to it right after the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory, but then I just sort of… continued to not give a shit about professional sports.

Anyway, The Sea Hawk—an Elizabethan period piece adapted from a book by Rafael Sabatini—chronicles the transformation of Sir Oliver Tressilian (Milton Sills)—a courageous but arrogant Cornish seafarer—into Sakr-el-Bahr (صقر البحر, which actually does mean “hawk of the sea”), Barbary pirate and scourge of the Spanish.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

With Richard Kiel’s recent passing, I felt like pouring one out for him in the form of watching his most famous role (outside of Happy Gilmore and inspiring idiotic tooth-wear, anyway). So I checked out his first appearance as Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Goodbye, Casey Kasem

A longtime hero of mine passed away this morning. More than any other actor, Casey Kasem always felt to me like the face of Arab-Americans. Whenever anyone asks me about famous Arabs, I invariably find myself naming him first.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Achmed Saves America (2014)

I loathe Jeff Dunham.

I don’t mean to say I have a personal beef with him. Maybe he has a wonderful personality. Maybe he put a lot of hard work into doing all those voices whilst moving his mouth just enough for his less drunk audience members to see the bounce of his Adam’s apple. Maybe he pays his bills on time or buys a round when he goes out with Bill Engvall or Guy Fieri or Joe the Plumber or whoever; I don’t know. I just know that I find his comedy jejune, racist, and insufferably unfunny. He fancies himself an “equal opportunity offender” as he uses bland comedy to effectively monetize racism in the vein of Lisa Lampanelli, but for “equal” opportunity, he spends an inordinate amount of time touting his stereotypical Arab Muslim dummy, Achmed.

So I regret to inform you all that Achmed got a movie, and I regret to remind myself that I’ve now seen it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ms. Marvel #1 (2014)

No, I have no qualms about using my film blog to talk about a comic book. Sue me.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ishtar (1987)

In Hollywood, Elaine May’s Middle-Eastern Cold War farce Ishtar has become synonymous with failure. The film had a notoriously catastrophic production; discord abounded, tempers flared, and friendships shattered. Production went so far over budget that Ishtar became the biggest-budget comedy in history up to that point. May found herself fighting against everyone as well as her own health. Ishtar earned only about 26% of what it cost. Critics called it every name in the book. What started as star Warren Beatty vouchsafing a career opportunity to his friend May ended in a dramatic falling-out between the two and later a breakup between Beatty and his then-girlfriend, co-star Isabelle Adjani, because of this film. May found her directing career destroyed and her Hollywood career in general reduced to a tiny trickle. Only in the last few years has the film become even possible to procure legally in America.

So infamous has its reputation become that to this day, critics use it as a standard by which they judge modern-day box office failures. For instance, Waterworld’s box office failure induced critics to derisively nickname it “Fishtar.”

Road to Morocco (1942)

In their heyday, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope teamed up to make seven Road to… films. Road to Morocco, the third one, made history as the first feature film to have characters break the fourth wall. It serves as a typical example of contemporaneous Hollywood comedies, of the chemistry common in comedy teams in the days of vaudeville, and most annoyingly, of how film portrayed Arabs at the time.