Friday, September 28, 2012

Every Film I Watched in July:

  1. Mirrormask - repeat viewing.
  2. War of the Worlds (1953) - A wonderfully crisp clear and gorgeous transfer which really showed the Three Strip Technicolor off beautifully. Daughter number one has been wanting to see this ever since we read the book. Her verdict, " Bits were creepy but it got very religious at the end".
  3. The Spanish Prisoner (1997) - I love the way David Mamet plays with conversation and words and he really shows off here. I also quite fancy his wife.
  4. Forbidden Plant (1956) - part of my summer 'Introduce the girls (aged 10 + 7) to some of the Great SF movies before all the teenage, 'you know, d'uh, that's, like, so Old...' cynicism shit kicks in project'. They loved it. I was struck for the first time - after many viewings - how incredibly hammy some of Walter Pidgeon's moves are. That arm throwing gesture he makes as he dies is dead pure Victorian melodrama.
     The fool! The meddling idiot! As though his ape's brain could contain the secrets of the Krell!
  5. Dark Crystal (1982) - - Not a film you watch for the plot. It's one of those films that you watch for the art direction. The kids loved it. (So did I.)
  6. Sax Rohmer's The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969) - Damn! I just love the way Jess Franco made total simulacra of movies. He's directed 194 films to date and all the ones I have seen have been awful. Nothing much happens in Sax Rohmer's The Castle of Fu Manchu: Christopher Lee gets to stand about a lot in a variety of Mandarin costumes while trying to deliver his lines without moving his face - in case his make-up falls off. The set piece disasters, engineered by Fu Manchu, are hacked out of other films and make very little sense in their new context - especially as one of them is in black and white and obviously shows the Titanic going under (intercut with devilish Fu Manchu and his minions in full glorious colour throwing levers). Another genius moment has a very Spanish looking Chinese assassin throwing a hand-grenade and the explosion it makes is cut from B&W WW2 newsreel footage. Not even the presence of seriously hubba-hubba! Italian trash crumpet hotness (Lady Frankenstein herself) Rosalba Neri - getting soaking wet in a torn shirt - does much to lift the interest levels!

    What is utterly fascinating (to me at least) is the way Franco tries to edit his footage (and other people's) to give the impression that something is going on. There's one superb example in here. There's a sequence (hah!) where Fu, daughter and several Chinese henchmen of variable ethnicity are doing something scientific and evil at a bench covered in mad scientist glassware filled with various coloured water with bits of dry ice dropped in the bottom. Bubble bubble bubble. Cut to Christopher Lee's eyes. Cut to bubbling. Cut to Chinese person. Cut to bubbling. Cut to the actress playing Fu's daughter. Cut to bubble. Cut to eyes. Bubble. Eyes. Lee. Daughter. Bubble. Keep cutting like this but faster and faster... keep going... keep going... keep going.... Then stop. Well, that filled up a few minutes of screen time.... What shall we do now? A whole movie where nothing happens but lots of editing and camera zooms try to give the impression that it does. Great stuff.
  7. Cómo ser mujer y no morir en el intento (aka How To Be A Woman And Not Die In The Attempt 1991) - dull, episodic, Spanish middle-class marriage 'comedy' which showed just how fabulous Pedro Almodóvar's movies really are.
  8. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) - Pizza night choice of Daughter Number 2 - funnier and weirder than I remember. The music is wonderful.
  9. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) - kept the kids amused. I spent most of my time looking at Vanessa Hudgens' bum and trying to keep my snide comments as quite as possible. "Now they run!"
  10. Ghosts on the Loose (1943) - I'll watch anything with Bela Lugosi in it - even if only once. He doesn't appear much in this one; his time in the studio was probably measured in hours rather than days. The only other reason to watch it is because it's one of Ava Gardner's first real parts. Not that she does a lot either, just stands about looking statuesque for the most part.  (Which she does really well.)
  11. Orders to Kill ( 1958 ) - Somewhat great and undeservedly obscure war film from Anthony Asquith. In it a former bomber pilot is parachuted into France to kill a member of the Resistance who may have turned informant. Faced with having to kill a likeable human being, face to face - instead of pressing a button and dropping tons of high explosives, the agent baulks and starts to question the morality of his orders.
  12. Salute of the Juggers (aka Blood of Heroes 1989) - a rewatch of one of the seemingly infinite number of SF movies that Rutger Hauer made after Blade Runner. For years it was essential to anyone who wanted to make a low-budget SF film with any kind of kudos to hire him. It's a post apocalyptic sports film - and it's great. A cracker of a forgotten film. Except it isn't totally forgotten. There are international leagues now playing 'Jugger' the game invented for the film - though with slightly less ultra-violence and no dogs' skulls.
  13. The Abyss (1989) - which I had never seen before and now consider the three hours I spent watching the extended Special Edition Director's Cut With Added Patronisingly Simplistic Message Content to be utterly wasted. Wish I'd watched the shorter funnier version, though I suspect I would have lost my patience with it at the same point. Our hero falls for 30 minutes straight down the abyss, buffeted and bouncing off a undersea cliff, and lands RIGHT NEXT to the nuclear bomb he has come to defuse - and then we have the whole 'don't cut the blue wire' gag? Oh Come on!
  14. The Corpse Bride (2005) - Friday Night (a night late) film choice of ten year old Daughter Number One (who told me this afternoon that her favourite song at the moment is Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's haunting murder ballad, Where the Wild Roses Grow.) Looks like I have a tweenage protogoth on my hands.
  15. Incubus (1966) - William Shatner in Art House Esperanto horror movie thought lost to the world (after the negative and all known prints were destroyed) until a subtitled copy turned up in France. The Scy-Fy channel coughed up for a restoration job which put English subtitles over the French. It has spelling mistakes.
  16. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) - George Lucas has apparently stopped directing films. Hurrah! Tonight, to complete my kids' exposure to the Star Wars saga, I finally got round to watching the last of them. Dear Gods! what a marathon bore it was. The kids were yawning and fidgeting by the 90 minute mark and I was prepared to scream if I saw another establishing shot of a space craft aproaching a landing pad, rotate 180º, unfold legs, and touchdown. Enough already!
  17. Mulholland Drive (2001) - just to get the taste of Star Wars out of my head I crammed it full of David Lynchy weirdness and Naomi Watts' tits.
  18. Love and Other Catastrophes (1996) - delightful, undemanding, tiny budget feel-good romantic Australian comedy. Chosen at random, without knowing anything about it, from my huge pile of VHS tapes I have never watched. The film turned out to be my second in a row to feature the adventures of a blonde/brunette lesbian couple. This time though there was a happy ending - and jolly fun it was too. To add spooky coincidence icing to the serendipity cake, the director of Love and Other Catastrophes has only directed one other feature film, Strange Planet, which starred - da da dahhhhh! Naomi Watts. (How did people live without the IMDb?)
Abandoned in July:
Full Alert (1997) Hong Kong Cop film which may well have been as good as some of the reviewers on IMDb think but was rendered unwatchable by fucking awful dubbing. Two American voice actors in a tiny echoing room (I know what I mean) doing all the voices. Impossible.
Soul Survivors (2001) - about twelve minutes into this - not that I was timing it or anything but we were just coming up to the well foreshadowed but unexpected 'Inevitable twist-of-fate that would send the story off in a new direction' that all the screen-writing books tell you should happen at the fifteen minute mark - and I got bored. As it was a cert. 12 there was very little chance of the rather attractive (in a blonde stereotypical Hollywood actress way) lead, Melissa Sagemiller, getting naked so I didn't bother sticking with it. (The words, 'Melissa Sagemiller getting naked', now return four thousand six hundred and one results on Google.) Edit: by the middle of the month: 1,050,000 results! Popular girl.
Leprechaun (1993) - An evil, sadistic Leprechaun goes on a killing rampage in search of his beloved pot of gold. Jennifer Aniston's first movie. After 20 or so minutes I realised the best joke of the whole film comes in the first few minutes: evil leprechaun recoils with full Christopher Lee style hissing from a four-leafed clover held like a crucifix. It went downhill very fast after that, even Aniston's rather cute hot-pant clad buttocks couldn't keep me interested....
Repo: The Genetic Opera ( 2008 ) - utter shit.


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