Much was made of Hollywood legend Roger Corman’s recent launch of a paid YouTube channel, Corman’s Drive-In, but here’s an under-reported fact: several of the films in that initial launch (including Eat My Dust, Big Doll House, and Not of This Earth ) quietly returned to Netflix this month as well. They’re Corman movies, so you know what you’re gonna get — quickie production values, uneven performances, and so on. But you’ll also get the jolt of energy and enthusiasm unique to that studio, where up-and-comers were getting their first taste of moviemaking, and few films capture that spirit as well as Hollywood Boulevard. Corman let his ace trailer editors Joe Dante (who would go on to helm Gremlins and Small Soldiers) and Allan Arkush (Rock n Roll High School) direct this satirical portrait of a cheapo off-Hollywood exploitation movie studio not unlike their own.
Punch Drunk Love
It’s awfully easy to look at the trailers (or, better yet, the K-Mart ads) for Grown-Ups 2 and wonder if Adam Sandler ever did anything worth a damn. And that’s when it’s time for a fresh viewing of Punch Drunk Love, his peculiar and exhilarating 2003 collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson (it’s the bridge from his Altman homage period to his later, weirder stuff). In teaming with Sandler, whose early comedies he admired, Anderson pulled a neat trick: he placed Sandler front and center in what is not (technically, at least) a “comedy,” but neither he nor his star reinvented the Sandler screen persona. Instead, they turned it on its head, utilizing Sandler’s basic image in his better films (nice guy, agreeable, prone to fits of rage) and taking him seriously. You can see the actor taking a calculated and brave risk in every frame: faced with continuing to slum it in lazy garbage like Little Nicky or Mr. Deeds so as not to let down his talentless buddies who rely on him for a check, Adam Sandler here goes toe to toe with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and when Hoffman blinks, we believe it. But moviegoers stayed away — sophisticated audiences were scared off by Sandler’s presence, while his fans had no patience for his experimentation — and Sandler kept trotting down the road to Jack & Jill. Still, it’s nice to have Punch Drunk Love around, to remind us what he’s capable of when he bothers to show up.