Quite an eclectic grouping of releases this week. Up first is Hotel Salvation. The film is about Rajiv who has to put off work to take his father to the city of Varanasi so he can die at the Hotel Salvation. His father has been having dreams and believes it’s his time to pass. I can’t claim to know a thing about their religion or traditions, but even not knowing them, the film is very relatable if you are of a certain age or have parents closer to death than life. Rajiv wants to honor his father, but also wants to provide for his family and doesn’t seem to quite believe in all of it as much as his father. The hotel has a 15 day policy and you have to leave if you don’t pass on. Or so they say. It’s a nice look at family, life, death, traditions, balancing your life with those around you that you need to take care of. It’s well acted and well made and just a nice little movie that if you can relate to, you will enjoy.
Second we have Hitler’s Hollywood. This documentary is a pretty fascinating look at the movies made by Germany during The Third Reich and how Hitler used cinema as propaganda. What’s really interesting is how films are propaganda even if you don’t realize it. Sure there were films that were completely antisemitic and showed the “dominance” of Germany and the German people, but there were also a lot of subtle films that on face value were just seen as entertainment, but did have an agenda. What I also liked is that it talked about what happened to the actors and filmmakers after and during Hitler’s time. Many got blacklisted and couldn’t work again after World War II. Some used fake names. The film even mentions some well known Hollywood names that left Germany at that time and went on to have big careers. What’s a shame is, some of these films could be beloved classic cinema if they didn’t have such a stigma to them. There was a lot of talent and a lot of well done movies that could be influential if they had been made elsewhere. If you are into cinematic history, this is a must watch.
Third we have Godmonster of Indian Flats. I wish I liked this more because I know it’s a cult classic to some people. The ending is solid, but the first hour is pretty uneventful. It starts out in classic cult movie form with some weird creature being found in a herd of sheep and people trying to analyze it. The synopsis talks about blowing up gas stations and going after politicians, but none of that really happens till the end. We don’t really see the full size creature for at least 60 minutes and by then the characters in it kind of bored me. I wanted some bizarre creature feature with crazy deaths and action and really didn’t get it. The first hour is just small town people shooting guns and a parade or something like that. I guess it wasn’t for me, but for those who are fans, this is a good collection. It is a new 4K preservation from the only surviving 35mm theatrical print. It has trailers and shorts from other films. It comes with a bonus film, Legend of Bigfoot and more. Even if I don’t love the movie, I love what AGFA is doing for these films.
Speaking of not loving a movie, boy did I not understand Blue Desert. It’s a Brazilian film about a guy searching for meaning in life. I get that part. But lots of it repeated with people switching dialogue and dreamlands and some weird train (I think it was a train, at least some sort of vehicle). There is a female soul mate and I think he meets his later self who tries to explain things to him, but maybe I missed that point completely. It’s visually cool, but I have no idea the meaning of any of it. Some of the plot points come from a book from Yoko Ono so that clearly speaks for itself. The lead actor is very good, I just wish I understood the point of the movie.
Fifth we have Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In The Complete Fifth Season. Goldie Hawn is gone, but Lily Tomlin is still on the show at this point. This season seems to be more about the guest stars than the overall cast and also features the show’s 100th episode. There are a ridiculous amount of big names in this season and it does feature some of the skits/characters the show was known for. You get people you expect like Johnny Carson and Steve Allen, but a lot of athletes show up too like Broadway Joe Namath, Sugar Ray Robinson and legendary sportscaster Vin Scully. It has a lot of laughs and some great musical performances, but it seems to be the weakest of the seasons I’ve seen.
Last we have The Leisure Seeker. On paper the movie shouldn’t work. It’s based on a true story about an older couple jumping in their RV and heading for a trip that their kids don’t know about. It’s one last getaway in their beloved Leisure Seeker. It feels like movies we’ve seen with characters we’ve seen before, older people closer to death with bad memories, taking handfuls of pills and reliving their glory days. What separates this film though is it stars two of the best of their generation, Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren. You know what’s going to happen and how it will end, but the ending is still a bit of a surprise. You know something will happen, but I didn’t see THAT coming. The story is something that feels familiar, but watching Sutherland and Mirren is still an enjoyment. It’s a good movie for an older audience and for those of us who appreciate acting.