Monday, November 02, 2015

September and October


The Shape of Things to Come (1979) - a tedious entry in the Star Wars Clone Mania of the later seventies starring Jack Palance. Supposedly based on the book by H G Wells (it isn't) the film is populated by extras from TV shows Jason of Star Command (which is funnier) and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (which is more credible) and is VERY BORING. The film was made even more tedious on my DVD player by the fact that the disc I own was dubbed into French (a language I can just about struggle through a comic book in) and had no subtitles - despite it saying that it did on the case. Mind you, the box also sported a random still from TV series Space 1999, possibly because actor Barry Morse was in both, possibly (though I doubt it) because some stock footage from Space 1999 was used in it. I didn't see any but then I was asleep for a while and may have missed it.

Scream of Fear (1959) - neat little Hammer chiller.

Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! 

Louise-Michel (2008) - a very dark (French) deadpan comedy. Disturbingly non-PC but very funny. Unemployed workers pool their redundancy money to hire a hit man to kill the guy who closed their factory. The man they hire to do the job is a total blowhard and can't even shoot a dog. The 'hitman' unable to do the job himself farms it out to a series of terminally ill people on the grounds that they have nothing to lose. The moment when the wheelchair-bound cancer sufferer fails to put the brakes on his chair, fires a shotgun, and is propelled backwards by the recoil into the path of an oncoming tram is one of the funniest ("I shouldn't be laughing at this") moments I've seen in years.

Attack of the Crab Monsters 

Monkey Business - Marx Bros. Not their best but amazing how their simple clowning can still entertain (my kids are aged 13, 11, and 6).

October Second night of the Franco/Scottish film society weekly bashes: ROTOR (my choice) - a stupendously awful Robocopy which I can recommend, unreservedly, for all connoisseurs of really crap films and Le dîner de cons (her choice) based on a play and which I can recommend, unreservedly, for all connoisseurs of really well made, funny films. A delight. (It was Hollywood remangled as Dinner for Schmucks. Apparently, like most Hollywood remanglings of perfectly good films, it stinks.)

LOTR 3 The Return of the King. Bored me stupid. Mind you shouting, "get a room!" at Sam and Frodo denying their passion for each other was fun for a bit.
Night of the Eagle aka Burn, Witch, Burn (1962) - small scale film about modern day whichcraft (or delusion and coincidence) based on a Fritz Leiber story and not bad; not bad at all. Some nice acting and some great camera-work.

Thursday Nuit Movies:
Le Prénom - funny French film about the dinner party from hell - obviously based on a play but nicely opened out in an intro and coda which probably weren't in the original but worked well. Having a whispered commentary on the political allusions and literary allusions that I would have otherwise missed added greatly to my appreciation of it.
My choice: Orlando - the umpteeth time of watching for me and the first for her. One of my favourite films ever. I'm not sure my whispered commentary on some of the historical literary allusions helped her much but at least I had time to make them, by Christ, French actors can't half rattle off the dialogue fast when they get going.

Dead of Night - with Daughter Number One. Another off her bucket-list. A deliciously creepy, 1945 Ealing chiller. The final shot of Michael Redgrave in the ventriloquist story gave me the shudders. Great stuff. I was afraid she would find it talky, and slow, and dated but she loved it.

Les Maitres du Temps - dull and pointless animated piece of French SF which has put me off forever rewatching the director's La Planete Sauvage. I saw La Planete Sauvage when it first played in the cinemas back in 1973 under the English title Fantastic Planet. I remember being mesmerised by a strange, lyrical wonderful film. I was about 15 and watched anything I could go see. In the last couple of years I've seen two of the other films from the same director, Rene Laloux, and been bored stupid by both. I'm not sure I could stand the disappointment of finding that the Planete Sauvage that plays in my memory  is not as good up on screen.

Le Nom de Gens (2010)- a pretty funny look at identity in modern France that had laughing out loud and falling in instant movie lust with the leading lady Sara Forestier. (At the SAME TIME!)

OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus - slightly less funny French Bond spoof.  It had its moments.

Steamboy - Anime.  Lots of sound and fury which was much less than the sum of its explosions.

Faintheart - Geek wins back the love of his wife and the respect of his son. Amiable little film which misses being not good by a wide enough margin to be enjoyable. If the mix had been slightly different it could have been a mawkish mess. Not brilliant but it worked.

The Nightmare Before Christmas - No 1 son's choice for Pizza Night. - I fell asleep.

Buckeroo Banzai - with Merriol

Pirates: an Adventure With Scientists 

Rocky Horror Picture Show - First annual Hallowe'en showing at the Baldwin Bijou Cinema. Next year with umbrellas, rice, newspapers, rattles and more people!

Abandoned in October Diagnosis Murder    

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


  1. Dark Crystal - a comfort watch after Daughter Number One and I realised (after 30 or so minutes) that both of us really weren't enjoying Pan's Labyrinth at all. So we turned to something familiar and undemanding to get the nasty taste out of our heads.
  2. Bride of the Monster - Ed Wood Jr's near masterpiece.
  3. Ed Wood - to my mind Tim Burton's best piece. It certainly feels the most honest and heartfelt. Daughter No 1's verdict? "What a sweet film!"
  4. Barbarosa - stultifyingly long 2 hour epic abut the formation of the Lombard League stuffed full of fascist symbolism and Rutger Hauer. Actually it was really stuffed full of horses. The script was a real clunker full of people telling each other historically important things the audience need to know but which they would have been fully aware - "Yes, these new taxes that the newly installed Pope Bendict the whateverth are really hurting the people..." Blah blah blah. Real local radio advertising dialogue. "Yes, June with the Lombardy League you get not one but two chances of fighting for.... " Blah blah blah. Mixed in with this guff there was a subplot about a woman who had visions, was due to be burned as a witch - but wasn't by order of the Empress (who burned someone else instead) and ended up, for some totally unexplained reason, in armour on the battlefield (though whose side she was on is anyone's guess). The only thing that kept me watching (apart from the insane hotness of the witchy woman Kasia Smutniak) was giggling with glee at every new interior. For some reason (maybe he had shares in a candle company) the director had his set designers stuff every interior full of candles. Inside a peasant's hut late at night as the occupants try to go to sleep there were at least a dozen candles alight in the room. A dungeon cell had another dozen and when the hero and heroine fall into bed at last - in daylight. In a ramshackle hut with sunlight streaming in through every crack and crevice - candles. (It rained on the funeral too. But only only round the grave itself. The people standing in the back were in brilliant sunshine and dry as bones.) Between the candle scenes we had the horse scenes. Horses filled up a lot of screen time. Some times they went this way sometimes they went that way, sometimes they were in slow motion (which usually meant there was a river, or at least a big puddle, coming up for them to splash through). I would guess a quarter of this film's running time was spent on shots of people riding across the screen. Gallumph gallumph gallumph. People appeared and disappeared from the narrative and then reappeared when you'd forgotten who they were. The whole thing looks like it was shot as a miniseries and they cut it down to a movie. And cut out the wrong bits. Another quid wasted in Poundland and another one off my 'Watch Rutger Hauer's Entire Career' list.
  5. Vertigo - for her turn in our nightly, while the rest of the family are away, turn and turn about movie watching binge Daughter Number One swithered between this and 2001: a Space Odyssey. (Getting very grown up tastes in movies for a 13 year old is No 1 Daughter). I'd never seen it before. I loved it. Not sure she was deeply in awe of Mr H's sure direction and weird sexual overtones as I was but she enjoyed it. Had some interesting things to say about the acting too.
  6. Cabaret - with No. 1 Daughter.
  7. District 9 - Better than I was expecting but not as good as I hoped. It started out well but just unravelled. I can't understand for instance how in the humans moved all the aliens down to the surface they allowed them to take vast quantities of heavy weaponry down with them. A couple of handguns slipped by the security I could buy but a heavily armed exoskeleton walking tank thing? Nope.
  8. Amateur (1994) - Expanding No 1 Daughter's movie horizons again with a strange liitle elliptic thriller. Her reaction was, "Wow! That was great!" - and it is too. I renew my biannual vow to search out more of Hal Hartley's films.
  9. Akira - again and I don't get it - again. (Japanese comic book 'meaningfulness'.) But I enjoy the lightshow and anime freak No 1 Daughter, who has been wanting to watch it for the last couple of years, is blown away.
  10. She Wolves of the Wasteland (aka Phoenix the Warrior) - another of the near inexhaustible supply of 1980s post Mad Max, post-apoc movies which ticked most of my post-apoc movie checklist: big hair, fingerless gloves, battered cars with excessive amounts of roll bars (but sadly no spikes this time), night scenes illuminated by pointless fires in old oil drums, an arena where our protagonist is expected to fight to the death, really crap acting etc. This time though the tedium was leavened with tits. Loads and loads of tits. It kept me watching. Whenever the scriptwriters ran out of idea (sic) they must have just pasted a page or two from Playboy into the script. (Actually there was one almost interesting scene in the film. - apart from the big breasted girl having the shower under the waterfall, and the dark-skinned naked girl doing the dance, and the.... okay, there was one almost interesting scene in the film that didn't rely on large breasted girls waving their norks at the camera: Our wandering fleeing heroes encounter a bunch of mutant types who worship the ancient ways and bury their dead in the open air, on hilltops, sat in recliner armchairs before an old television. An possibly novel idea which is allowed to fizzle out before it develops.) Did I mention the tits?
  11. Pirates of the Caribbean - better than I remember but still a little too long.
  12. Battlefield Earth - with daughter Number One who endeared herself to me for life (again) by muttering, at the 30 minute mark, "I'm rooting for the aliens".

    She also greeted every single one of the tatty wipes that transitioned between scenes with a cry of "Powerpoint!" - and then popped a cherry on by crying, after one of the Powerpoint wipes opened up on our hero being hosed down by prison guards, "Powerwash!"

    Great timing that kid.

    Her final verdict? "Well that was piece of shit!"

    I love her.
  13. Oblivion (2013) - which I really quite enjoyed in a 'I parked my brain' sort of way. (Which after all is the best way to watch films. Just surrender yourself to them.) Yes, I'm sure not a lot of it makes sense if you think about it for a few minutes but, while it was on, I happily surrendered to the seriously drop dead eye candy and the vaguely coherent story. (Ferrinstance: if Morgan Freeman's character had thought to write Tom Cruise's character a short note explaining what was going on things might have been sorted out a lot faster without him losing quite so many people to the baddies). Coincidentally the second SF film in a row with a leading Scientologist in the starring role about the human remnants of a devastated world being mined of its natural resources defeating their alien occupiers by means of a suicide bomber. Is this a Scientologist thing?
  14. The Chaser ( 2008 ) - long violent Korean serial killer thing 'based' on real events. I doubt if I shall watch it again.
  15. White Cargo (1973) - I have a horrible compulsion to watch bad films. It's like the fascination many people suddenly develop to slow down and look out their side windows when driving past a seventeen car pile-up. There are all sorts of bad films out there but there is nothing quite as bad as a 1970's British Sex Comedy (the most oxymoronic genre title in history given that they never funny and barely even titillating). White Cargo is a particularly naff example of its type. Notable only for starring David Jason who later went on to be a much loved British sitcom staple (Open All Hours and Porridge) and one of those much loved British irascible TV detectives (Frost) - but will be longest remembered as the voice of Dangermouse!

    In White Cargo, he plays a bumbling Walter Mitty type who stumbles on and foils a white slaver gang working out of a strip club. As our hero first enters the club we get the only decent joke in the whole film:

    Hero: (Looking in some confusion at the ticket he has just been given.) "Just a minute, it says 'welcome to Woburn Abbey' on this!"
    Sleazy Night Club Owner: "We're a large organisation..."

    I almost smiled.

    Once we get going the film descends into a series of set pieces where our hero escapes and rescues the girls who do little more than stand around in 'saucy' 70 lingerie and don't get any lines AT ALL because they would have to be paid more. None of them even say 'yes' or 'no' to direct questions but are only allowed to nod or shake their heads.

    The comedy grinds on as our hero imagines, time after time, his heroic alter ego (nicer shirt and an annoying habit of straightening his tie) performing long-winded minor heroics before the same series of shots shows us his real kack-handed attempt to do the same thing. (Using the exact same setups each time. Most of the day on set must have been spent waiting for Jason to change his shirt between shots).

    In the end our bearded menacing villain (who has the minciest little girl running style you will ever see) is pushed into a canal and the film ends.

    I lost count of the number of times characters did that stock sitcom acting tic of signalling their apprehension of someone else's misunderstanding by making a little 'tut' noise followed by a tiny sigh and an upward eyeball rolling glance. "Oh! you didn't think... " Whatever happened to that? You don't see that any more. It was a very 70s thing.

    How and why anyone bothered to 'digitally remaster' this is a mystery. Dave Prowse is in it so Darth Vader completest might find about 3 minutes of it essential viewing. Though the really sad thing is that it was only about 3/4 the way through that I realised I had actually watched it before.
  16. Pirates of the Caribbean III: World's End - bored the pants off me but the kids seemed to like it.

Abandoned in August: Pan's Labyrinth


  1. Starcrash (for the umpteenth time)
  2. Kiss me Monster - incomprehensible piece of spy caper stuff from Jesus Franco that makes even less sense than I remember.
  3. Six Days and Seven Nights - Anne Hesche plays a heterosexual, Harrison Ford plays old, David Schwimmer plays the same twat he played in Friends - and it's crap. Anne Hesche does have nice tits though.
  4. Fatal Deception: Mrs Lee Harvey Oswald - Helena Bonham Carter in a TV movie which felt a lot longer than its 87 minute run time. Some nice location work, nice costume, and set dressing but let down by a script that clanked along but ultimately went nowhere.
  5. Wild at heart - not one of Mr Lynch's better films.
  6. Confidential Report -
  7. Orlando (1992) - shared with Number One daughter - who now wants a copy.
  8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 - only one more to go (huzzah!) and I'm pretty sure Dobby isn't coming back for it (double huzzah with sprinkles!). Christ! I was bored.
  9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 - ditto
  10. Elvira Mistress of the Dark - NORKS!
  11. The Two Towers - Which I enjoyed a lot more than number one .
  12. The Fifth Element - again.
  13. Lockout (2012) - overlong (it was 95 minutes and felt like two hours) violent piece of action shit which proved, yet again, that all futuristic prison movies are crap. As a measure of the overwhelming stupidity of the script I offer in evidence the fact that our heroes bosses', safe on-board an orbiting police station and closely monitoring the situation, only notice the gigantic orbiting space prison has deviated from its usual orbit and is plunging towards the earth after it has collided with, and totalled, the International Space Station.... Later the hero and heroine jump out of the plummeting space prison (wearing space suits) and start to fall to earth faster than it is falling. (Huh? I'm really not sure how that works but the script writers obviously couldn't think of another way to get our protagonists out of the way of the cataclysmic explosion about to occur - the usual bomb with a digital display timer on the outside - YAWN!). After entering the atmosphere (and not burning to a frazzle) our heroes discard their suits - a matter of snapping a couple of toggles and off it pops (death by accidental space suit toggle snappage while in a vacuum must be pretty common in this operation if they all come off that easily) and, as a cherry on the stupidity trifle, they parachute to the ground. All space suits come with internal parachutes apparently. Just in case.
  14. Brokeback Mountain -
  15. Car Wash (1976) - I like Car Wash. One of those cracking little films that just cheers me up.
 Abandoned in July: The Idiots after twenty minutes. Lars von Trier does the Dogma thing (the cinematic version of finger-painting) and it's shit.


  1. Journey to the Center of the Earth ( 2008 ) - the Brendon Fraser one. Again. Number One Son's Movie Night choice. My heart fell but I had forgotten how hot the lead female was - so not a totally wasted 90 minutes.
  2. Barbarella - As part of her whistle stop tour of Great 60s Trash (Last week it was Danger Diabolik) I introduce Number One Daughter to Barbarella. She loved it. This is the film that Starcrash - another of my favourite all time SF films - wanted to be. No 1 Daughter likes Starcrash too. Chip of the old block is my daughter, gladdens my heart it does.
  3. Happily N'Ever After (2006)- not very good kids' movie aiming for the Shrek target market and failing. I fell asleep.
  4. Forbidden Kingdom (2006) - I'm getting to like Jackie Chan films. Even the later CGI Wire-Fu stuffed ones. (Though anything with Chris Rock in it still gets a body swerve)
  5. The Scorpion King - Conan in all but name.
  6. Fritz the Cat (1972) - pointless, unpleasant, and boring.
  7. Lord of the Rings - for a second time and which I didn't hate as much as I did last time mainly due to having fun formulating several new (possibly libellous) reasons why I think LotR is crap.
  8. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010) - this almost worked but just didn't gell for me. I love the comic books - what I understand of them, my French is very rusty - but the film just missed somehow.



  1. Frozen - Friday night choice of Number One Son (aged 6) - who has seen it before so has no excuse. Not as bad as I was dreading but the SONGS! Dear Gods! (Probably - almost certainly!- the first use of Fractals in a Disney movie in the lyrics to Let it Go: "My soul is spiralling in frozen fractals all around...") A couple of non Disney moments struck me as I watched it. For though this looks feels and sounds like a 'Classic' Disney fairy tale there is a great chunk of 21st Century feminist subtext going on here: the sudden sexualisation of Elsa as she builds her Fortress of Solitude was remarkable. And the Act of True Love that makes everything better in the end is not the expected heterosexual kiss but the heroine sacrificing herself for her sister. Very modern; almost interesting. If only it wasn't stuffed full of bloody awful songs!
  2. Voyage of the Rock Aliens - as bad as that title sounds the reality is worse.
  3. Humanity's End (2009) - About 5 minutes in I remembered where I had seen the director's name, Neil Johnson, before. He'd directed a piece of shit called Demon's in my Head which (it turns out after a bit of poking about in my diary and the IMDb) I watched some ten years ago.* As it happens Johnson made Humanity's End, a zero budget Battlestar Galactica wannabe, ten years after he made Demon's in my Head. He hasn't improved as a director or scriptwriter. The story is confused and doesn't make any sense, is badly told; the characters, not even paper thin, do stupid things and swap sides for no apparent reason, and have rambling, 'WTF is this all about?' inducing conversations at the drop of a hat. It's just a bunch of ideas and lines from other films piled up together in the hope that something will gel. It doesn't. A (very naff) self-published novel made flesh.
  4. Saint (2010) - stupidly gory Dutch horror film about a demonic Saint Nicholas who, every 32 years when a full moon falls upon December 5th, terrorises Amsterdam. Not often you see a film in which our hero is rescued from police custody by a horse falling from a rooftop onto a police car and then rescued from the horse's demonic owner by someone waving a flame thrower. I almost enjoyed it.
  5. Headspace (2005) - urban horror that started well but slowly slipped into very familiar territory and lost it when they finally showed the monsters - which looked very like the Creature from the Black Lagoon with horns.
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) - overlong but entertaining enough.
  7. Terrornauts (1967) - very dull piece of British SF which suffered the indignity of having TWO comic reliefs in the shape of Charles Hawtree and Patricia Hayes.
  8. Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (2009) - an anime based on a puzzle game my 13 year old Number One Daughter plays on her DS. A confusing opening had multiple layers of flashback (which probably meant something to people who knew the games but left me sitting there in the dark for 15 minutes waiting for the film to start) the middle was like Scooby-do on acid and the last five minutes were an agony of 'don't know how to end the movie' flopping about - with a post credit sting that I don't think got get us back up through all the layers of flashback. Number One Daughter enjoyed it.
  9. Death Note (2006) - another Japanese film that starts with a weird disjointed flashback opening just like Professor Layton. After a few minutes I came to the conclusion the central character was an unmitigated arsehole and couldn't wait for him to get his comeuppance - it didn't happen. And it didn't happen very slowly. With lots of slow zooms and dolly shots to cover up the fact that not a lot was happening. Number One Daughter (who has read a couple of the books) enjoyed it.
  10. Beyond the Rising Moon (1984) - dull sf film which aimed, at times, for meaningfulness and missed.
  11. Twelve to the Moon (1960) - probably the dullest 'first men on the moon' film I have yet seen, though it does garner a few brownie points for having a mixed ethnicity crew (the non Caucasian members of which actually survive till the end of the film!) and messages about world peace and forgiveness. (The bad guy turns out to be the snarky French member of the crew who is thwarted by the snarky Russian member of the crew and the angry Israeli member of the crew dies in a Noble Act of Self Sacrifice with tortured German member of the crew, who is the son of the Nazi commander responsible for the extermination of the angry Israeli member of the crew's family etc. etc.). But, by golly, it was a grind getting to the end. There were, as was obligatory in space films of this period, unexpected meteor showers along the way which did nothing to alleviate the boredom. The end (the aforementioned Noble Act of Self Sacrifice) involved our heroes knocking up an atomic bomb out of bits lying about their spaceship and dropping it down the Popocatepetl volcano which will, somehow, by the magic of WTF 1950's movie science, unfreeze the whole of North America which has been plunged into an instant ice age by moon people.
  12. Starship (aka Lorca and the Outlaws 1984) - six years before making his masterwork, Battlefield Earth, ("This! This is the one I will be remembered for!") director Roger Christian made this flaccid, tedious piece of SF poo. I think it was about an evil corporation wanting to massacre all its employees and replace them with robots and the only people who can stop them are three, young, unemployable actors and a robot. Leaden-paced but with sudden out-of-nowhere bursts of confused, badly-staged action which made the film both boring and baffling at the same time - an interesting combination. The show culminated in a superb piece of Ed Wood like stock footage abuse when a couple of (very) long shots of quarry blasting were meant to stand in for the cataclysmic explosions bringing the down the evil guys' base - or something. I was too bored and baffled to be bothered working out what was going on at the end apart from noting that our hero couldn't even pull a lever convincingly. Apparently 1980's pop sensations Toyah Wilcox and Peter Gabrielle were in it but I must have blinked and missed them.
  13. Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)
  14. Danger Diabolik (1968 )
  15. The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - not as bad as I remember it, but not good.
  16. Cry Baby - again. I have no idea how many times I have watched this silly little film. This time I watched it with Number One Daughter who seemed to find it as funny as I did consequently I found it even funnier because I was watching it with her. Most movies improve with communal viewing.
Abandonised during May:

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. I managed to get to the point where our three maverick marine biologists - trying to solve the problem how to contain a thawed-out Giant Prehistoric Shark, capable of leaping clean out of the sea and biting chunks out of long-haul passenger jets cruising at several thousand feet - took it in turns to peer down a small microscope for a few seconds. Crap, even by the Asylums's low standards.

Sunday, April 05, 2015


    1. Charlie's Angels - Me: "Well... that was even shitter than I was expecting..." No 2 Daughter (aged 10): "Yep."
    2. X-Men First Class - That was fun! I really liked this. It had one "err... hang on!" moment when I was thrown out of the narrative. (The moment where Mystique appears in the guise of Sebastian Shaw wearing the soon-to-be-Magnito-helmet made me wonder how she knew about the helmet when she had never seen him in it and, as far as we knew, didn't even know of it's existence.) It jarred at the time but was explained to my satisfaction in the post-match analysis by my ten year old daughter: "The brain readery guy told her about it!" Makes sense.
    3. How to Train Your Dragon (2010) - Friday night with the kids.
    4. Roma (1972) - I love Fellini. This wasn't his best but I do like his films. I don't understand them - there was little or no narrative structure in Roma just a series of seemingly unconnected impressionistic scenes which jump about in time from the early 1930s the present day. Fellini throws everything at the screen: breaks the fourth wall, has inbuilt critical insults - there's a moment where a young hippy type attacks the director for making the same old film over and over again and he does keep the camera moving moving moving: there's not a still moment. I liked the verve of it and the dreamlike qualities. I have a friend who is visiting Rome at the moment. I think I may have seen more of it than he will. I know if ever I go I will be vastly disappointed in the real thing.
    5. Speed of Thought (aka Scopers 2011) - talky little low budget SF about telepaths and nasty government abuse of them that nearly works. No explosions or stupid car chases just semi-credible what iffery. There are a couple of moments where you have to suspend your disbelief but they are character and plot moments not 'How the hell did he walk out of THAT without a scratch?' moments.
    6. Gregory's Girl - Watched as a Friday Night Family film. My 12 year old loved it.
    7. Shogun Assassin - two of the Lone Wolf series (about a wandering rōnin and his 4 year old son) chopped into one blood-filled slaughterhouse of a film. The back of the case described this film as "Astonishingly violent". For once the blurb writers weren't overselling the product.
    8. Quantum Apocalypse Sci-fi channel TV movie and a poor one at that notable only as a wee nexus for sad geeky Kevin Bacon moves. It featured turns from Gigi (Farscape) Edgley, Peter (Tron, Babylon 5) Jurasik, and Stephanie (Battlestar Galactica) Jacobsen. It's shite.
    9. First Men in the Moon (1964) - Friday night with the kids. Mildly entertaining.
    10. Quatermass and the Pit (1967) - prompted by the discussion we had after last night's movie (when I noted Nigel Neale's name on the writing credits) I introduce Daughter Number One to Professor Bernard Quatermass. She is less than overwhelmed - but is polite about it.
    11. Images (1972) - 100 minutes of Susannah York going bonkers in Ireland. Overly-arty twaddle but even second string Altman is better than 90% of the stuff I watch.
    12. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) - Whiz! Bish! Bang! Kaboom! - which was all very fine but looked so obviously shot in some form of High Def format. I know this is the norm these days but usually, with big budget productions, the show is filmized (horrible word) before we get to see it. The video cut video footage is made to look like it was shot on film. I can't understand how and why they spent so much money on this and have great chunks of it look like it came from a Sci-Fi Channel, straight to DVD movie. I'm not talking about the SFX, which were incredibly well done, but those parts of the show where the special effects guys weren't needed. A lot of simple dialogue scenes and close ups were so obviously shot on video it hurt.

      Saturday, March 28, 2015

      February March 2015

      (chunks from memory as the place I normally keep this list crashed taking most of March with it)

      1. Shadow Hours (2000) - Now here's a bit of serendipity. 12 years to the day since I had my last drink and swore off the demon booze for the rest of my life (dammit, I still miss red wine!) the first movie off the top of the Unwatched Pile is about a reformed alcoholic and drug addict's decent into hell under the guidance of a wonderfully seductive Peter Weller. Not a great film but it felt horribly real. 
      2. Superman Returns - a bit of a ponderous chore. That's Number One Son (aged 5) at the end of his Superman movie Friday Night boxset stint at last. 
      3. Chicago Cab (1997) - low budget, based on a play, film following a Chicago cabbie through a 14 hour long shift. Great cast, Gillian Anderson, John Cusack, John C Reilly, Julianne More etc., popping in and out of the back seat to deliver two minute character sketches. Not as big as the sum of its parts but it had its moments and kept me watching.
      4. Brick (2005) - well that was a major disappointment. I'd seen the trailers a couple of years ago and immediately put it on my 'must see list'. I bought it and never got round to watching it. As the end credits rolled tonight I remembered why. Brick was written/directed by Rian Johnson who directed the vastly overrated and fundamentally flawed Looper. Somewhen since I watched Looper in November 2013 and now I had forgotten that fact. So, another good reason why I won't be rushing out to watch the new Star Wars films - he's the writer director of episodes 8 and 9 - unless I forget.
      5. The Railway Children (TV remake) - I cried.
      6. The Brady Bunch Movie - with Number One Daughter. We laughed.
        R.O.T.O.R. (1987)- and...
      7. Death Machines (1976) - a double dose of cheese night with Number One Daughter. An evil Oriental Dragon Lady injects three martial arts fighters with a serum that turns them into zombie-like assassins, and she sends them out against her enemies.
      8. Fucking Åmål (aka Show Me Love) - teen gay romance which manages to be very real and very sweet at the same time. A gem of a film.
      9. Evil Brain From Outer Space - a fever dream of a Japanese superhero movie made by chopping together three shorter films: The Space Mutant Appears, The Devil's Incarnation and The Poison Moth Kingdom... 
         which were 45 minutes, 57 minutes, and 57 minutes in duration respectively. The total 159 minutes of the three films were edited into one 78-minute film. Since the three original films were self-contained stories, three different plots had to be edited together, and a considerable amount of all three films dropped. The result has been called, "an alternately mind-blowing and mind-numbing adventure... a non-ending cavalcade of characters, chases, captures, rescues and fight scenes. (Wikipedia:)
        All of which resulted in more 'What the hell is going on?' moments in just over an hour than David Lynch has managed in his entire career to date. 
      10. The Bat - No. 1 D and I both fell asleep.
      11. Tron (1982) - Friday night choice of Number One Daughter. Good girl. 
      12. Chicken Run - Friday night choice of Mrs JunkMonkey. A whole week since I watched a film! 
      13. Fuk sing go jiu (aka My Lucky Stars 1985) - Jackie Chan in a overly long comedy action film with some okay fight/chase sequences but weighed down with a heaviness of slapstick 'comedy' the Three Stooges would have found embarrassing. Why do Chinese film makers find the thought of mass diarrhoea so funny?
      14. Tron Legacy - my Friday Night Film choice. Depleted numbers in the audience: Number One Daughter, Number One Son, Number One Grandmother, and me. We all agreed the story was pants but it looked and sounded terrific. Just like the original really. 
      15. Red Sonja - "We must find the Talisman!" 
      16. Fletch - I didn't want to think for 90 minutes so I watched a Chevy Chase film.... It did its job. 
      17. Thunderbirds (2004) - I ignored my kids' advice.They did try to warn me.  "Don't watch it, dad, it's crap!"  Pah! I though, what what do they know?   Appaprently they know a crap film when they see one, it is fucking AWFUL! 
      18. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - well that was confusing. after a long gap we continue the family HarryPotterthon and I am totally baffled. Can't remember who half the characters are or what happened in the last film. Subsequently I haven't got a scooby what is going on in this one. I don't even understand the title! I know Snape announces he is/was the 'Half-blood Prince' at the end of the show but why this was important or why it was a mystery in the first place (or even what one is!) passed me by. On the plus side Harry was slightly less annoyingly weedy this time, was only rendered unconscious once, and the only school rule he broke (and for which he was immediately forgiven) was half-killing another pupil in a fight in a bathroom. (The Potter films do like their bathrooms.) Timothy Spall's name appeared well up the cast list but he appeared on screen only once. Unless I blinked and missed him turning up again I remember him opening a door at one point and (maybe) closing another one. I don't recall him actually saying anything. I wonder how much he got paid. Some of the music was interesting. You can tell I was gripped.
        Coincidentally the second film in a row I've watched to feature a bridge over the Thames being destroyed. What are the chances?
      19. Epic (Friday Night with the kids rewatch choice of Number One Son.  Naff story, great design.)
      20. Fucking Amal ( aka Show Me Love 1998) - very wonderful coming of age movie that has grown on me a lot.
      21. Young Master - more of Jackie Chan's early Kung Fu capers.
      22. Timeline (2003) - another one of those films where the cast all shuffle about one nationality and play swap the accent.  Most of the lead 'Americans' are played by Brits.  The evil Englishman is played by a Welshman. The French heroine is played by an Englishwoman The  Scottish professor (Billy Connelly being even more unconvincingly dreadful than usual) has an American son  - and a couple of Canadians straddle the gaps.  The story is hacknied 1950s pulp with holes the size of small continents.  One of those films where hardened, well-trained, brutal, armoured warriors are easily defeated in hand to hand combat by studious academics thrown in the deep end.  This - as anyone who has fenced with anyone who has had any kind of training at all knows - is utter bollocks.
      23. X-Men - all American superheroics with two Brits and an Aussie playing the three main characters.


      1.  Aliens (1986) - I swithered for a few moments between watching the Special Edition and the Cinema Release - the memories of watching Cameron's Director's cut of The Abyss still hurt - but came down on the longer version. Glad I did. Felt like a good solid piece of work that didn't outstay its welcome - which the longer cut of The Abyss did in spades.
      2. The Lego Movie (2014) - fun Friday night with the kids choice of Number One Son who has been singing 'Everything is Awesome' for months now since he saw it in the cinema. I can see why. I loved it - a wee bit treacly at the end but forgiveable. The second film in a row to feature our hero saving the day in the last reel wearing a yellow exoskeleton. Basically the Matrix in Lego - but funnier and making more sense.
      3. William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996) - long promised watch with Number One Daughter. I cried. She didn't.
      4. Mask of Zorro - a prequel which seemed to take an age to get going and then just turned into another Spielbergesque box-ticking rote 'Adventure'.
      5. Our Man Flint - after recommending it to a friend as a groovy spy spoof I thought I'd have another watch. It pays better in the memory than on the screen.
      6. Logan's Run (1976) - Pretty much ditto. And, totally coincidentally, from the same producer too.
      7. They Live ( 1988 ) - A rather superior little chiller from John Carpenter which lived up to expectations.
      8.  Krull (1983) - a rewatch with the family. I still think it's dull but it was less dull than I remembered partially I suspect because Daughter Number One was laughing at some of my occasional soto voce MST3K-type comments.



      1. Last Days on Mars (2013) - another in the almost inexhaustible (well, I can think of at least 10) films in which the First Manned Expedition to Mars goes Horribly Wrong. This time a long dormant pathogen turns the crew, one by one, into - go on guess... - that's right, unstoppable killer zombies! (Where do they get these crazy ideas?) Unusually the screenplay was based on a short story by an SF writer: Sidney J Bounds. Even in 1975 the idea must have been tired but the screenplay at least ends very bleakly. No happy ending. A British/Irish co production with Lottery Funding and a couple of Americans shipped in to make it sellable in the States. Looked good, the hardware was well done, and the usual mixed crew getting on each other nerves worked well. But like most films of this type I found the first half - the world building, everyday Joes and Jos doing their job stuff a lot more interesting than the second half's running around getting eaten by numbers stuff.
      2. The Lost World: Underground (2002) - not really a movie - not even a straight to DVD one - but just two episodes of a less than mediocre TV series glued together.
      3. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace - well, that was as bad as I had been lead to believe.
      4. 100 Million BC ( 2008 ) - Another Asylum POS which conformed to Rule 7 of all low budget time travel movies in that the second half was spent running round contemporary LA chasing a rubbishy CGI dinosaur. Shot late at night, and I suspect surreptitiously, the actors were often upstaged by locals walking around in shot in the background totally unaware that there was a film being made. Seriously destroys the credibility of life or death scenes with a rampaging dinosaur when there is some bloke on the other side of the street just shambling past on his way home from work.
      5. Thirst (2009) - 2.5 hour Korean film about a vampire priest and his nymphomaniac girlfriend. My first Chan-wook Park film and it's not going to be the last. I loved it. (I live in hope that the sequel will be called 'Thecond'.)
      6. Elf - our annual family watching of one of the better Hollywood Christmas Movies of the last couple of decades.
      7. TNT Jackson (1974) - limp piece of Filipino kung-fu blaxploitation in which everyone looked as bored as I was. It was short.
      8. Hudson Hawk (1991) - another of those much reviled films knocked off the list. Derided as a giant turkey, and total waste of time and money at the time Hudson Hawk turns out not to be as terrible as I was led to believe. When it was released most people were expecting Bruce Willis in another Die Hard like action film and instead got a long, not as as funny as it thinks it is, 'Road To' movie. They didn't 'get it'. I 'got it' but just thought it was all a bit meh rather than awful. Next on the list: Ishtar!

      Friday, December 12, 2014



      1. Manborg 2011 - a deliberately bad film (zero budget, lo-def, lots of blue screen and retroesque stop-motion) that has its moments but wasn't bad enough to be good - or was too good to be good - or I didn't get enough of the references to understand just how good it was at being bad... or something. It was short. And I almost laughed once but shan't be running out to look up any more of the makers' work.
      2. Vixen - Russ Meyer. There were breasts.
      3. The Legend of Zorro - Friday Night Choice of Number Two Daughter - which was a lot of fun.
      4. War of the Robots - utterly dreadful piece of Italian SF watched with Number One Daughter. Much giggling gave way to snores as we both fell asleep.
      5. Daredevil - as bad as I had been lead to believe. Worse that Catwoman? Hmmmmm...
      6. Minator (2006) - low budget reworking of the Theseus myth that just about gets away with it - by derivative, low budget Sci-fi channel Movie standards - stand it next to a proper movie and it would look pretty shoddy. Minator was a little more ambitious in the atmosphere department than most modern monster by numbers films and did have some serious eye candy moments. The costume department in particular had fun trying to recreate the lavish decadence of Eiko Ishioka on a budget that stretched to about three pieces of vinyl leatherette per extra. Plotwise it was cobblers in that the Minator (and the whole of the palace above the labyrinth) is destroyed when our hero sets alight a plume from a natural gas vent. Gas which, in addition to being perfectly breathable for most of the time has the curious effect of turning innocent virgin Irish women into lipstick lesbians. Another Rutger Hauer movie off the list.
      7. Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft (2013) - Hoooo boy! A knockbuster feeding frenzy! Of the four! (at least) films reworking (or at least using the names of) the Grimm Brothers' story made in 2013 this HAS to be the worst. I haven't seen any of the others: Hansel and Gretel, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Hansel & Gretel Get Baked but I can state this as a fact. This is the worst. An amazingly pants film which featured an endless reuse of establishing shots of places that appear to have nothing to do with the story. (At the start they are used so ineptly that our heroes appear to be expelled from the new school they are then sent to - which is clever.) By the end, after watching the same half dozen shots of somewhere endlessly reused, I got to recognising the extras. The star extra was the girl in the pink trousers and knapsack who can be seen aimlessly wandering around in shot after shot after shot. Even those scenes which are supposedly taking place days after her initial sighting she's got the same clothes on and is diligently striding about getting nowhere. Nameless girl in pink pants, I salute you; you stole the movie. (Not that I suspect it takes much to steal a movie from Fivel and Booboo Stewart. Eric Roberts didn't even try. I suspect he was too busy laughing at the script and where the director was placing the camera to keep a straight face for most of the time.)
      8. Endgame - Bronx lotta finale (1983) - "A telepathic mutant recruits a post-World War III TV game-show warrior to lead her band of mutants to safety." Italian Post Apoc crap that starts off as a variation on the Tenth Victim - segues neatly into another Escape from New York clone before becoming another Mad Max-alike and ending up in the same quarry that all other Italian Mad Max-alike movies of the 80s end up. Yawn.
      9. How to Train Your Dragon 2 - okay story but seriously dead good in the eye candy department.
      10. Itty Bitty Tittie Comittee (2007) - Girl meets girl; girl loses girl; girl blows up the Washington Monument. Fluffy bit of rad les fem which would have been a lot funnier and daring if it had been made 20 years earlier (I knew women like this back then) but still passable.
      Abandoned in November:
      Dragon's Rage (2012) Elfs and Dwarfs and goblins and other bollocks running around after magic Bloodsteel maggufin stuff - all handily explained in a pre-credit montage which dropped us into the middle of the story. (Dragon's Rage, it instantly becomes obvious, is a chopped down version of some much longer TV thing) Within moments of the credits finishing actors are standing around in pointy-ear makeup and floor length robes, barely able to summon up the energy to deliver clichéd 'Fantasy' arsedribble about 'alignments' and 'crucibles' and 'destiny' while the director whooshes his steadicam around them. I lasted about 16 minutes. In that time I managed to spot what looked like a nice white modern house in the distance on a lakeshore and a spelling mistake in the chapter headings: 'Proficy'!?

      October's Movies


      1. A Scanner Darkly - A rewatch. Not as weird as I remember but still pretty odd stuff. Very funny too. "God-damn albino shape-shifting lizard bitches!"
      2. Destroy all Planets - A Sunday afternoon rubber monster Sumo match between Gamera (the fire breathing space turtle one) and - via some audacious plotting - just about every other monster he had appeared with as reused footage from the previous films. A deliriously weird introduction to the wonderful world of Daikaiju (giant monster) Movies for a couple of Daughter Number Two's visiting friends.
      3. Warlords of the Twenty-First Century (aka Battletruck 1982) - New Zealand Post-apoc Shane stuff.
      4. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - That was fun!
      5. Akira -
      6. Superman 2 - Friday Night Movie with the kids.
      7. The Most Dangerous Game (1932) - the much imitated original.
      8. Superman 3
      9. Star Pilot (aka 2+5 Mission Hydra 1966) - For at least the third time, this time with the kids on a wet Sunday afternoon.
      10. The Arena (1974) - Starring Pam Grier. Gratuitous nudity, violence, sadism, with a few token nods towards feminism and black liberation to excuse it all. Roger Corman's formula for the seventies. Basically: a Women in Prison Film in peplums and togas*. Parts of the film were passable; parts of Pam Grier were outstanding.

        * or should that be 'pepla and togea'? Latin never was my strong suit.

      Monday, September 29, 2014

      I Could Sellotape it to my Face!

       Insert stuff here.

      Tuesday, September 23, 2014


      1. Starcrash (1979) - It doesn't matter how you approach it Starcrash it is a terrible film - and I love it dearly.
      2. Dark Planet (1997) - Possibly THE low point in Michael York's career. (I know!) Dark Planet is the usual tale of uneasy allies thrown together for some totally inadequately explained reason.

        (Somewhere, in one of the the tons of exposition heavy scenes that litter the film, a disembodied head does get round to explaining what is going on but not why this particular bunch of characters with 'history' has to do it. There are brief mentions of, "hand-picked team" and "selecting the best").

        So, bad guys and 'good' guys are thrown together in a ship, heading for a black hole, through which one of them has already travelled. They're doing this to discover a 'Dark Planet' - a possible new home for the population of war-ravaged Earth. Needless to say there are disposable goons with 20th century hand guns, lots of running up and down the same two corridors shooting them, and lots of second-rate, would-be Trekkie-babble about "Laying in courses" (which takes three button clicks), and "Shields to maximum!" (which takes three button clicks), and "Damage report!" (which always has to be shouted while small fireworks explode behind you). That sort of bilge. All filmed in a cardboard box with no lights other than those flashing on consoles or coming from the computer screens so powerful they manage to project their graphics onto the faces of those staring at them (sometimes).

        Incidentally we know it's second-rate, would-be Trekkie-babble and not any other sort of second-rate, would-be techno-bollocks because about a quarter of the way into the film York's character takes time to read through the files on his new shipmates:

        From which we discover that not only does our heroine have the "Order of the Maroon Beret -with Clusters" ... (apparently you can get ointment for it) but is also lists, "Trekkie Consule (sic) Referencial (ditto sic)" under 'Astro Training' in her CV.)
      3. Robin Hood Men in Tights (1993) - very unfunny and very dated; some of the 'spoof' stuff was so of its time that it meant nothing now. The kids were just plain baffled by great chunks of it though my youngest laughed when people fell off things. Or over.
      4. Iron Monkey (1993) - Watched with Number One Daughter as part of my Widening her Cinematic Experiences project. (Code words for 'introducing her to a wider variety of crap than she would otherwise encounter'.) This month Chop Socky Kung-fu action! - actualy it's quite hard to find anything in my shonky collection that isn't an 18 to show her. Iron Money is quite a classy show and a lot funnier than Robin Hood Men in Tights ever hoped to be.
      5. Batman Forever - Batman obsessed Number One Son's Friday Night Choice. Nomber One Daughter and Mrs JM hid in their rooms and Number Two Daughter was out bowling. Son and I ate snuggled up in the big comfy chairs and ate popcorn until I fell asleep. I think it's called 'Bonding'.
      6. Clonehunter (2009) - micro budget SF which had its moments but not enough of them. I am a very forgiving movie watcher. Things don't have to be seamlessly, mind-bogglingly slick to please me. Rough and ready 'Let's make a movie right here in the barn!' is far often much more interesting than soulless Hollywood factory product - if the story, the characters or that elusive 'style' thing are interesting enough. None it was interesting enough here. I wanted to like it but was all just so listless. There was just nothing much to get involved in. After a while I started counting the number of times I could spot the pole holding up the huge blackout curtain that appeared behind our heroes with alarming frequency, and wondering why no one had thought to pull it taught to get rid of the wrinkles. There was a lot of Hiding the Lack of Scenery One Big Light Lighting too - a huge light is placed facing the camera, the set is filled with smoke. A small fill light on the floor near the camera and away you go.

        Instant Film Noire

        This could be anywhere and have been filmed anywhere. The sort of shot that is so meh it needs to have something seriously interesting going on in the acting or plot to keep the audience's attention from wandering away. It wasn't. I only watched this film last night and I can't remember what this scene was about let alone what was going on in this shot. (I think that's our hero, I'm not even sure about that.)