Friday, March 11, 2011

Worth Mentioning - 'Til They Lay Me in the Ground

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

This week, Jay features That Evening Sun and Cody talks snakes, fish, and the '80s.

Based on the short story: I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down by William Gay
Directed by Scott Teems
Stars Hal Holbrook, Ray McKinnon, Mia Wasikowska, Barry Corbin, and Carrie Preston

Per IMDb: An aging Tennessee farmer returns to his homestead and must confront a family betrayal, the reappearance of an old enemy, and the loss of his farm.

I recommend this film based on Hal Holbrook and his performance as 80-year-old Abner Meecham. Even if you take nothing else away from it, you will be in awe of the ease Holbrook displays as he slips into the role of an 80-year-old man who returns home to his farm after spending time in a nursing home. I found it hard to keep a smile off my face during the entire film as I watched Holbrook turn in a truly magical performance. I laughed out loud at his fine delivery of many lines, including this awesome one: "Folks in hell will be eating Eskimo Pies before Lonzo Choat hauls me anywhere!"

Holbrook plays Meecham, an 80-year-old on the lam from the local nursing home. He returns to his farm, where he lived up until he broke a hip one winter and his son Paul (Walton Goggins) shipped him away to the old folks home. His happy homecoming is cut short once he discovers that Paul has rented the place out to Lonzo Choat, a man Meecham thinks very little of.

This doesn't go over very well with Mr. Meecham, so he takes up residence in a small guest house that sits very close by the main house. The tension starts to boil up between Meecham and Lonzo as Meecham goes out of his way to aggravate the younger Lonzo, who is nothing more than white trash in Abner's eyes. What one would hope could turn into a peaceful resolution between two people who at the end of the day are "neighbors" and have lived in the same small town all their lives slowly turns into a much more painful excursion into misery, led by both of the men's obvious stubbornness.

I found this to be a very enjoyable film with strong performances from top to bottom. Holbrook's is spot-on, but he's equaled in every scene by Ray McKinnon as an unemployed, beer drinking father who seems to be in over his head in his new home. Both beautifully shot and hauntingly Southern, this is a film that will strike many emotional chords and veers away from any easy answers, but is well worth taking in. It's available for Instant View on Netflix now!

Cody's picks:


This film was supposedly inspired by the real life occurance of a carnival train derailment in Missouri releasing deadly snakes into the countryside, and for most filmmakers that simple story alone would be enough for their killer snake movie, especially after adding a "Jaws/4th of July celebration" type event to it, in this case the opening of a dog track.

But the makers of Jaws of Satan decided to get more complicated, coming up with a story that involves Satan, a disturbed psychic, and an ancient Druid curse that affects every third generation of a family and just affected the previous generation but has decided to affect the current one too because the bloodline may be at its end.

The bloodline may be at its end because the last male is a priest (played by Fritz Weaver). A cobra being transported to a carnival by train wakes up to find that it has become the embodiment of evil, with Satan himself taking residence in this cobra. It escapes from the train and into the town inhabited by the priest, the presence of its evil stirring the local snakes into a biting spree. Things progress from there. I'm a big fan of theatrical horror marathons, I've gone to several 24 hour marathons and all-nighters, and I like to daydream of putting together my own marathons in the future. With its totally crazy storyline, Jaws of Satan earned both this mention and a spot in an imagined marathon.

It's also notable that JoS was the screen debut of Christina Applegate, at age 9.

From a devil snake, we move on to a


With the Roger Corman-produced SHARKTOPUS (2010) coming out on DVD/Blu next Tuesday, I thought it was worth mentioning that director Lamberto Bava (under the pseudonym John M. Old Jr., in honor of his father Mario Bava's John M. Old pseudonym) and seven credited writers brought the world a rampaging shark/octopus hybrid twenty-six years earlier. And you don't have to watch Devil Fish alone, there's a great Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of it out now on DVD and Netflix Instant.


A late-'80s period piece homage to John Hughes, Take Me Home Tonight follows Matt (Topher Grace), a guy who's been squandering his potential post-college, as he tries to win over his high school crush Tori (Teresa Palmer) during the course of one party-filled night. Matt is accompanied by his best friend (played by Dan Fogler), who's out to party hard after being fired earlier in the day, and who is especially entertaining to watch.

I could really relate to Matt's life indecision in this. He's totally unsure of how to properly approach his life, and too scared to take any steps forward... Exactly the same situation I've been in. I had a major "I'm a failure" crisis in 2009, which ended with an epiphany that Michael Biehn, as Matt's father, tells Matt in the film - you're not a failure, because you haven't done anything to fail at yet. This movie was filmed in 2007 and has been sitting on a shelf since, due to studio issues. If it had come out soon after it was filmed, I could've made my realization a lot earlier.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. '80s nostalgia has overwhelmed my life lately, and this movie played right into it. It was a lot of fun spending a couple hours in the theatre basking in the '80s party atmosphere full of awesome pop songs (unfortunately, the Eddie Money song that the movie is named after is not included).

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