Monday, September 09, 2013

August's Flock of Filmic Fun

  1. Goemon (2009) - a solid 2 hours of near non-stop high-energy super-ninja stuff based on a Robin Hood type character from Japanese legend. Very bloody and very messy (just about everyone dies, babies get tossed into vats of boiling oil, wives of less co-operative assassins are slaughtered out of hand etc etc) and it's amazingly entertaining. I'm not sure I kept track of who had (or was about to) be betray(ed) and/or kill(ed) (and/or vice versa) by whom - at one point I was slightly convinced that someone had managed to usurp himself before working out that one of the himselfs was someone else - but I really enjoyed it. A Jacobean revenge tragedy on steroids (with ninjas).

  2. Heckler (2007) - talking head documentary about what a pain in the arse hecklers can be to stand-ups which segues into a talking head documentary about what a pain in the arse internet film reviewers can be to stand-up comics who go on to make unfunny comedies. It's a heartfelt movie, driven by the producer (stand-up turned actor) Jamie Kennedy's hurt at getting trashed by many professional and amateur reviewers. And it's a heartfelt message that is totally undermined every time he appears on screen behaving like a spoilt brat. Several times he is shown talking to critics, who have panned him, challenging them to justify their attacks. He is often unable to read out what they have written about him, stumbling over some of the longer words (which he clearly doesn't understand) and is then unwilling, or unable, to engage them in any meaningful dialogue - instead suggesting to one reviewer that if he had had a really good messy blow job recently he might have liked his film more - wha...? Another reviewer gets the Star Trek Vulcan split finger salute thing waved in his face and told he "lives at [the San Diego] Comic-Con" as if this was an amazingly funny and devastating put down. It wasn't. In both cases the reviewers looked bemused and uncomfortable. Jamie Kennedy just appeared to be mentally unwell and did himself no favours. Any sympathy he might have generated was pissed away with his displays or rudeness and crudity. There is an important message in here: we should all be careful about what we say especially in the anonymous and (relatively) unregulated interweb. People have feelings and having two years of your life's work shat on by nasty little wanabee hacks with no creative experience of their own must hurt. It's an important message but delivered badly.

  3. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2010) - I loved it!

  4. Mirror Mirror (2012) - A perfect Friday Night Pizza movie. (Thanks, Daisy!).

  5. Attack of the Crab Monsters - a giant papier mache monsters eating scientists movie which had the girls and me in stitches for its entire running time.

  6. Super 8 (2011) - which was darker than I expected - though that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I quite enjoyed it though, about half-way through, I had the weird feeling that if ever I ever watched it again I would probably hate it. Not quite sure I understand why I felt that way but it might have something to do with the fact that it suddenly reminded me of The Goonies. I hated The Goonies. I am the only person in the world who does, but I thought it was horrible.

  7. The Stuff (1985) - or maybe I should just wait a couple of years. I dismissed The Stuff a tale of a killer pudding thretening to take over America as:
    Nearly as crappily crap as it sounds. For the most part it is the usual mess of muddled story, sudden narrative jumps, and never explained incidents,
    I was wrong. It's a very odd, witty very funny little film. I apologize to all concerned for my sniffy remarks.

  8. Ice Cream Man (1995) - now this was crap; I don't think I'm ever going to change my mind on this one. Ice Cream Man is a witless wander into the Kids Know Someone is a Killer But No one Takes Them Seriously So They Set Out To Prove It genre. Inept in every direction, for most of the time it plays like a slightly gory Children's Film Foundation production with David Warner and Olivier Hussey getting paid for a few days work while wondering what did happen to their careers. It's a measure of the scrappy production values that the kid consistently referred to as the 'fat kid' and who is always shown slower more plodding and out of breath than the others in the gang is, in fact, played by a kid of perfectly average weight wearing a variety of padded jackets and 'fat suit' clothes with no attempt to make his face, hands or any other viable part of his body look overweight. A production so crappy they couldn't find a fat American kid actor? Things I learnt from this film:

    • Lee Majors II looks very like his dad.
    • Staff members pushing stock trolleys around American supermarkets don't notice when people climb on and off them while they are being pushed along.
    • Fading to black at the end of Every Scene really does look as shitty and indecisive as I suspected it would.

  9. Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 3 of Mrs JM's relentless family watchings of the Harry Plodder films. Second movie in a row with lots of fading to black at the ends of scenes as our hero faints at least four times (I lost count). And sometimes my initial thoughts are correct. Half way though watching this I had the thought that I had seen this film before:
    Originally Posted by my IMDb 'review' back in Aug 2005
    For all the effort that went into this film (and technically it is very impressive) I doubt if I will remember a single frame of it in a week's time.
    Well it's been more than a week but I was right. I knew I'd seen it but didn't remember a thing about it. Nothing. My memory of this film was a total blank despite the fact that several sequences were shot a couple of miles down the road from my house. It didn't even generate a sense of deja-vu. I had totally forgotten it. This time (and maybe last time too) I found myself increasingly irritated by our hero. He's such an annoying little twerp. Can't keep a secret for more than 30 seconds before he's rushing off to tell Hermione and Ron all about it (the fact that the prisoner bloke is out to kill him - see! it's going already, the Gary Oldman character. No, the name's gone - and the incredibly useful animated map thing. He's no sooner given it in the strictest confidence than he's blabbing all about it to H & R) - and I'm getting so fed up with him being forgiven for everything. Every time he breaks 'the rules' he is let off this time and warned not to do it again or there will be consequences... next time... kindly smile, twinkle in the eye. (Yawn!)

  10. Welcome to Collingwood (2002) - a film which starts with one of my favourite opening gimmicks: show characters in absurd/weird/puzzling situation followed by a title card saying: "Three Weeks Before" and playing the whole film out in flashback to the point where the absurd/weird/puzzling situation makes perfect and inevitable sense. I laughed. A lot. I now need to see the original: Big Deal on Madonna Street ( 1958 ).

  11. The Princess Bride (1987) - for the umpteenth time. One of my favourite films.

  12. The Giant Claw - more rainy afternoon bad movie fun with number One Daughter.

  13. Movie 43 (2013) - I would go and find the turd icon to slap here but I suspect the makers would find it funny. What a piece of shit!
Films I abandoned in August (I do have SOME standards!):

Phobic (2002) (I lasted 7 whole minutes!) of a very home-made looking: shot on video and badly at that. It starring someone who I remember stinking up the screen in a stonkingly bad 1998 supernatural thriller called Talisman. I have better bad movies to watch than this.

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) - A 'comedy'. After twenty minutes watching a bunch of middle-aged well-heeled hedonistic one-note cardboard cut out arseholes: character A = Failed in Long Term Relationships, Character B = Unfulfilled Dreams he Decided Not to Follow etc. I realised that, for a comedy, it was incredibly not funny. All the humour (that I could detect) seemed to consist of the characters calling each other 'gay' or ridiculing anything that didn't conform to some hard-drinking, slut-fucking, party-animalling version of emotionally stunted, alpha-male arseholeness. To hell with them.

July's List of Magical Movie Moments

  1. The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

  2. The Fourth Kind (2009) - aliens, found footage, and Milla Jovovich. As crap as it sounds.

  3. The Objective ( 2008 ) - A bunch of special ops types wander round Afghanistan one by one falling prey to Ancient Mysterious Thingies till the last one meets God/gods/Ancient Mysterious Thingies. One of those films that is almost... something... not 'good' but something. Felt a lot longer than 90 minutes though.

  4. Stories of Lost Souls (2005) - seven (or eight if you have the US edit) shorts assembled to form something with a feature length running time. The shorts (like most shorts) vary from the bland to the banal and back again with the odd interesting moment. There is some attempt to link them with intertitles (which also help smooth out the changes in aspect ratio) but they do little to disguise the fact that what we have here is a bunch of shorts stripped of their credit sequences (where possible) and nailed end to end with gaffer tape. The Shooting Gallery on Channel Four used to show this stuff late at night when all but total film geeks (or those of us waiting to see our names in the credits) had gone to bed.* The Propeller Channel on SKY used to do similar but both had the decency to run the opening and closing credits. WhatStories of Lost Souls has got is a stunning cast list: Paul Bettany, Cate Blanchett, Billy Boyd (in US edit), Sophie Dahl, Michael Gambon, James Gandolfini, Jeff Goldblum, Daryl Hannah, Josh Hartnett, Hugh Jackman, Keira Knightley, Maureen Lipman, Joanna Lumley, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Andy Serkis, Sarah Silverman, Imogen Stubbs and others. After a while it became apparent that lots of actors will be very generous with their time to wannabee directors (lots of favours called in I suspect: the short directed by Hugh Jackman's wife is very red carpet) and that most of these films were selected for inclusion here because of their casts not because of any thematic unity. Of the seven I most enjoyed 'Supermarket', written, directed, and starring Illeana Douglas. It might not have been the best film of the bunch but it was the most likeable; possibly the only chance you will ever get to watch Jeff Goldblum sing a George Formby song.

    *Cool! It has been revived! That'll teach me not to watch TV or look at the listings any more.

  5. The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) - I have never seen an episode of the Brady Bunch (did it ever air in the UK?) but this updated and modernised self-parodying gem is so clever and well made that I didn't feel the lack. A film that plays that game of tottering naive, fish-out-of-water characters (and the sympathetic audience) towards embarrassment predicament situations and then rescuing them at the last moment with some very funny twists. It's a formula that usually has me running a mile; it can slip over into mawkishness so very very easily. This show played the game with such full-on nauseatingly gung-ho gusto that it rolled right over the pathos potholes and carried me with it. I'm not ashamed to say I laughed; a lot. I now have the theme tune stuck in my head.

  6. Lair of the White Worm ( 1988 ) - I am a man who is easily pleased and watching Amanda Donohoe outrageously camping it up as an immortal vampire lizard woman in thigh high PVC boots, or naked and painted blue wearing a huge 'ceremonial' pointy strap-on dildo pleased me immensely. (I know; I'm sad.) This film just doesn't work on so many levels (like all of Ken Russell's films) but it is amazing. It's not funny, it's not horror, it's not sexy, it's not interesting, exciting, weird or... anything really but it is just so gloriously bonkers trying to be all of those things it becomes something else. I just can't help wondering what it would have been like if it hadn't been directed by Ken 'Phallus' Russell in his usual histrionic manner. I doubt it would have been as funny.

  7. The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) - Again. I don't often rewatch films quite so quickly but after enthusing about this piece of jolly fluff to my mum I decided I wanted to share it with her. I'm afraid I have a new Top Guilty Pleasure film.

  8. Satanik ( 1968 ) - very cheap and instantly forgettable fumetti-based film with a female scientist type doing a bit of an inverted Jekyll and Hyde; turning from disfigured monstrosity to beautiful (but ruthlessly deadly) master criminal.

  9. The Great Garrick (1937) - another of my all-time favourite feel-good films. A forgotten gem from director James Whale.

  10. The Paper (1994) - a day in the life of a New York newspaper. And rather well done too. I quite enjoyed it.

  11. Session 9 (2001) - another random selection from the VHS pile. It's the innocents in a creepy place falling one by one to an unseen killer routine but given a twist. Instead of the usual assortment of teenage wannabees stranded in the spooky place (in this case an abandoned mental hospital) we have instead a group of white, blue collar workers with a contract to strip the asbestos out of the place. They're working to a deadline and going home at the end of the day. It's all very credible - and creepy. Not bad at all. Great sound work.

  12. High Heels (1991) - Pedro Almodóvar

  13. Fearless Tiger (1991) - tedious piece of straight to video martial arts crap which involves a wafer thin plot nominally about international drug running but really about the producer star showing of his kung-fu moves - endlessly showing of his kung-fu moves over and over again... okay already! enough with the hand waving, can we have some plot please! Mind you, when he does start talking it's hard to work out what he's saying a lot of the time. I had to rewind the tape a couple of times before I worked out that the 'seeny krute' meant 'the pretty way round', really really bad acting (we are talking village hall am-dram levels of credibility here). Very dull.

  14. Be Kind Rewind (2008 ) - should there be a comma in that title? Feels like there should be but there isn't; I checked. I nearly abandoned this the first 20 minutes of so just left me stone faced and very very unamused. Maybe it's me but I just don't find Jack Black at all funny. It got better once the 'Sweding' started but it seemed to take an age to get there.

  15. Raising Cain (1992) - erm? I'm not sure I really got what all that was about but Lolita Davidovitch was hot, John Lithgow had fun chewing up the scenery in every direction he could think of and there were director Brian De Palma's trademark extended shots - one of which followed characters down three storeys. I like shots like that - for one thing, it gives the actors a chance to do some real acting. I think I like the way De Palma makes films more than the films themselves.

  16. Candy ( 1968 ) - I finally get to see Candy a star-studded piece of late '60s kitsch I've been meaning to look at for years. Starring everyone from Brando, Burton, and James Coburn, written by Buck Henry (who wrote the screenplays for The Graduate and Catch 22) from a book by Terry Southern (who worked on Dr Strangelove and Easy Rider)... and I didn't really like it - there were okay moments, but few and far between. For the most part I thought it too long, too self-indulgent and very very dated. Many people compare this film with Barbarella which was made in the same country (Italy) released in the same year, has a superficially similar(ish) plot line (innocent sexually attractive blonde falls in with a succession of men who take advantage of her naivete) and both films contain shots in which actors writhe around on sheets of glass (the 'weightless' stripping sequence under the opening credits in Barbarella* and a weird, out-of-nowhere shot supposedly in the back of a Mercedes in Candy where Richard Burton's character attempts to seduce the virginal heroine.) Anita Pallenberg is in both films, The director of Candy starred in Barbarella director Roger Vadim's...And God Created Woman (1956) Terry Southern Co-WROTE the screenplay Barbarella etc etc etc. You can see why people compare the two.

    The really big difference is that Barbarella is an adult, a woman; though she doesn't understand what is happening a lot of the time she is a willing and active participant in the sexual acts that occur during the course of the film and is shown to enjoy them. (The only time I think that she isn't a willing participant is when Durand Durand's attempts to pleasure her to death with his Excessive Machine - even then she has a capacity for sexual pleasure far beyond its capabilities and the machine is destroyed instead.) Candy on the other hand is a girl - a teenager still at high school - who is repeatedly coerced into having sex (if not actually raped) by everyone she meets including her uncle and, in the end, her own father. For the most part she seems to get no pleasure from any of these incidents - and for the most part this is all played for laughs. Sorry, but these days this just looks like big-screen child abuse.

    * One of the high water marks in 20th century SF film making in my humble opinion: