American Grindhouse: written by Elijah Drenner and Calum Waddell; directed by Elijah Drenner; narrated by Robert Forster (2010): Breezy, informative documentary about American exploitation films from the beginnings of film as a medium to the early 1980’s. Grindhouses were cheap, theatres that often showed movies 24 hours a day. In the decades when American movie companies were allowed to own theatre chains, grindhouses were unaffiliated and willing to show the risque material that wouldn’t appear in mainstream movies.
At 80 minutes, American Grindhouse is too short to effectively cover 80 years of movies. What is covered, though, from the graphic childbirth movie The Story of Life to the beginnings of modern pornography, is fascinating. Boy, though, does this movie have a bit too much commentary from director John Landis and not enough from film historians. Still, a good introduction to The Repressed of American movies. Also, I love the movie in which Jesus fights American Neo-Nazis. Recommended.
Men in Black 3: based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham, written by Etan Coen; directed by Barry Sonnenfeld; starring Will Smith (Agent J), Tommy Lee Jones/Josh Brolin (Agent K), Jemaine Clement (Boris the Animal), Emma Thompson/Alice Eve (Agent Q) and Michael Stuhlbarg (Griffin) (2012): The third MIB movie is much, much better than the meandering second one. It borrows a chunk of its plot from an original series Star Trek episode (“Assignment: Earth”, if you’re wondering) and the rest of its plot from every time-travel concept ever.
Will Smith’s Agent J has to travel back to 1969 after an alien thug (Boris the Animal) alters time so as to both kill Tommy Lee Jones’s Agent K in the past and enable an apocalyptic alien invasion in the present day. Various shenanigans ensue. Boris bears some resemblance to DC Comics alien thug Lobo, while a benevolent alien called Griffin recalls Superman pest Mr. Mxyzptlk. So it goes.
Josh Brolin does a nice Tommy Lee Jones impersonation as the Agent K of 1969, while Alice Eve looks nothing like Emma Thompson, her supposed future self. Michael Stuhlbarg’s alien Griffin really seems like a part meant for a young Robin Williams. Or youngish. Lightly recommended.