Friday, August 17, 2018

'Scotty' and 'McQueen' docs boost today's movie scene; 'Mile 22' does not

Did you ever wonder about the sex lives of some of your favorite old movie stars? Of course you haven't! But you will, if and when you see an engaging little film called "Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood," one of two documentaries opening here today.

Personable Bowers and his longtime wife still live in not-so-secret Hollywood.
Spencer Tracy and (alleged longtime love) Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Walter Pidgeon, Charles Laughton, Rock Hudson, Lana Turner, Cary Grant and considerably more are among a long list of famous movie names associated with the titled "Scotty" Bowers, a WWII veteran-turned "pimp for the stars."

As based on Bowers' 2012 best seller, "Full Service," the doc claims that Pidgeon pulled into a Hollywood Boulevard gas station one fateful afternoon, took a liking to the handsome Marine working there, and offered him a ride that would change Scotty's life forever.

The way director Matt Tyrnauer tells it, Bowers basically got the idea to start hooking up movie stars with vets like himself after his own fling with fellow bisexual Pidgeon, and that meant all comers in both sexes. Most importantly for Bowers, who has been telling his story on various legitimate TV and radio talk shows for years now, is how he kept his life and loves secret throughout the Golden Age of Hollywood, when spilling the beans would have ruined careers, if not an entire industry.

Certainly his conquests -- and clients -- now all long gone, owe him a debt of gratitude. Currently well into his '90s, and given show biz's penchant for hyperbole, Bowers actually might be called a legitimate living legend. In fact, seeing how the man still putters around with what his wife of 35 years calls "a constant twinkle in his eye," such ongoing good nature somehow even lends credence to what unfolds in this fascinatingly well-told film.

Not rated: 1:37; $ $ $ $ out of $5

On the other hand, if fashion keeps you more involved than gossip, then the dark-tinged "McQueen," a second bio doc making its debut appearance today on northeast Ohio screens, might be more your movie cup of tea.

"McQueen" works best when fashion is at his fingertips. 
This one showcases the relatively brief career of young and outrageous designer Lee Alexander McQueen, a hip Londoner who founded his own label in 1992 after rising from the ranks of tailor and even before working as the chief designer at Paris-based Givenchy for five years.

The shadiness of it all comes from the creative mind that made significant splashes with an assortment of collections inspired by the likes of Jack the Ripper, books about the murder of women and even the sordid crime of rape. It's no wonder McQueen was called "the hooligan of English fashion," but his own personal tragedy, which included mental illness and addiction, are revealed as well.

Together it all becomes a mostly absorbing analysis of facts, offered up by friends and family, easily mixed with many good-looking film remembrances of McQueen's still-famous signature fashions.

Rated "R": language and nudity; 1:51; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

Meanwhile, in the realm of mainstream action candy, Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg continue their movie bromance with "Mile 22," the fourth and, perhaps, least appealing pairing of the producer/director with his certified producer/star.

Unlike "Lone Survivor," "Deepwater Horizon," and "Patriot Games," their latest collaboration is not based on actual events, although it might play like it is with a lengthy pre-credits sequence that has Wahlberg's tough-as-nails secret squad of CIA types taking out seven KGB operatives on American soil.

Wahlberg shoots but rarely scores in "Mile 22."
From there Berg moves us into "Indcocarr City" (allegedly in Southeast Asia) where, now 16 months later, Wahlberg keeps acting like a total nut job in barking out commands and asides during a prelude to moving an "asset" (played by Iko Uwais from "The Raid" films, both much sharper pictures). Naturally, the trip  to an airfield and apparent safety takes the titular 22 miles.

Team members along for the weapons-heavy, ultra-violent ride include Lauren Cohan (TV's "Walking Dead") and former MMA-turned WWE badass Ronda Rousey who, honestly, probably should stick to her day job.

Cohan, though, as a rugged mom very anxious to return home to her little girl, and martial artist extraordinaire Uwais combine to nearly save the day, at least in terms of making the movie-going experience something more than gaping at an oddly edited mish-mash of motion (without the "e").

Rated "R": strong language and violence throughout; 1:30; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

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