Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Novermberish to Decemberish - but definitely 2013!

Every Movie I watched In the Merry Merry Month of November:

  1. Run, Lola, Run (1998) - oooh! I liked that. Simple. Fast. Funny. - and hasn't our heroine got a lovely bum?

  2. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) - sweet Studio Ghibli (how DO you pronounce that?) offering which is being remade as 'live action' movie as I type.

  3. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) - for the umpteenth time. This time with Number One Daughter, whose growing fascination with crappy movies I am more than happy to pander to.

  4. Through The Time Barrier (1960) - told you! Much hilarity my best moment was watching the hero roll up a large paper plan into a tube and realising he had just made an origami baseball bat.

  5. The Neanderthal Man (1953) another riff on the Jekyll and Hyde story. This time our misguided, potion-brewing scientist is convinced that 'primitive' ape men with their larger brains (including during his lecture, a diagram of the noggin of the discredited forgery Piltdown Man) were more intelligent than modern man. Laughed at by his peers, he conducts experiments on cats, a deaf mute Mexican servant girl, and finally himself. The cat turns into a Sabre Tooth Tiger, he turns into a rubber masked 'apeman' and the Mexican girl sort of didn't happen really. (Apparently his formula didn't take well on females.)
    Anyhow, murders, clearly implied rape, and other generic molestations ensue, gun-wielding posses shoot at everything that moves, visiting scientist Richard 'Rocky Jones' Crane doesn't fall in love with the deranged scientist's daughter OR his fiancée while getting top the bottom of things and everyone has a whale of a time delivering their lines in a variety of overwrought manners. It's almost as if the actors were playing some really weird game at times, trying to see who could out-do the others acting with them in the scene and seeing just how far they could take it before the director told them to stop. In the end the deranged scientist is attacked by a Sabre Tooth Tiger (accidentally made by the hero during his investigating from a spare cat) and shot by the posse - simultaneously! You don't see that very often. Unfortunately, weird acting moments aside, the film was a deadly bore. A very very long 78 minutes.

  6. Laputa: Castle in the Sky  - Studio Ghibli again. Some seriously nice eye candy going on in this one.

  7. Looper (2012) - I may be missing something here, or maybe I was expecting too much, but I thought this a pretty dull affair. The complexity I had been led to expect was just not that complex. I spent the whole movie thinking I had missed something obvious and I was going to have a - "Doh! Of Course! Why didn't I see that?" - hand-palm moment at the end but I didn't get one. Most 1950/60s SF short stories that deal with time travel are more convoluted. The whole move was based on a clunkily stupid premise anyway. Rather than have people timetravelled back to be shot by the hit men; why not shoot them as and when - then timetravel the bodies back to be disposed of? That way the guys in the future KNOW their victims are dead and don't have to spend their time constantly chasing down their own old hitmen and then throwing them into the past to be shot (or not) by their younger selves - with all the possible problems and uncertainties that follow. ('Because they wouldn't have a movie otherwise!' just doesn't cut it: the premise is just too stupid.) Why not timetravel the victims six feet under? Why not to a secure facility? Why to the middle of a cornfield where the murder has to take place in the open air where any passing local could see it? An open field, moreover, where there is always the possibility of the victim escaping. As the time travel machines also operate in space as well as time (the later version of the protagonist get thrown from France to America when he moves back into his own past) there's no given reason why the victims had to end up in the field - even if they did, for whatever unexplained reason have to materialise in that particular spot, did no one in this international, ruthless, time-travelling Mafia have the wit to buy this field and build a shed over the spot where the victims arrived? With a cage in it? And a motion detector strapped to a shotgun? Something a bit more foolproof than hoping the hitman arrives and does the job he's supposed to? What if the shooter gets a puncture on the way, or his alarm clock doesn't go off? Stupid premise. Stupid movie.
  1. Nausica of the Valley of Wind (1884)- Studio Ghibli's Year Zero.

  2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) - Well that was pretty damn good!

  3. Despicable Me 2 (2013) - pretty meh sequel. I really liked the original but this felt like it had nowhere to go. The slapstick side-play of the minions saved it from being a bore but the central story was pretty limp and flopped about. Odd moments like the smallest kid screaming when her toy unicorn was in danger and her scream being so piercing it broke all the glass in the room looked as they were setting up a moment towards the end of the film where this amazing glass shattering scream would be a significant rescue moment. (All the glass jars containing the jams and jellies so laboriously set up being the other constituent.) But it never happened. Why was that screaming bit in there? Who knows. A little false start that led nowhere. The film felt full of moments like that. Half worked out. A couple of rewrites away from finished.

  4. Hotel Transylvania (2012) - A fun kid's film which played with the basic premise of all monsters that ever have been imagined are real, not nasty just misunderstood, and go for their holidays to a hotel run by Dracula. For a film plunging into the waters staked out as Tim Burton territory in most people's the makers did the adults in the audience the great favour by not ladling on the obvious movie references. Not perfect but I think it will stand rewatching.

  5. Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (1978) - the usual Hong Kong chopsocky played for laughs. Which meant the comedy made Norman Wisdom look subtle, and was about as funny as applying pile ointment. The music was spectacularly dreadful.

  6. Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds (1989) - rewatch of Alex Proyas' first, cheapest, and possibly best feature.

  7. Crocodile (2000) - a giant, sometimes rubber sometimes CGI, crocodile eats a bunch of annoying American kids on Easter Break - but not fast enough.

  8. Crocodile 2: Death Swamp (2002) - the same crocodile eats a load of bank robbers and other survivors of an air crash, and a helicopter.

  9. Shark Attack (2000) - another Nu Image film (the same producers as last night's crocodile flicks) A real Scooby-Do plot with the obviously-the-villain-from-the-first-shot property developer using mutated sharks to scare away tourists and buy up the town - and he would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for the meddling photogenic marine biologist and his pneumatic girlfriend. The third Nu Image film in two days all of them have included helicopters. I wonder if they're kinky for choppers in the Nu Image front office.

  10. Mistress of Atlantis (1932) - even in a tatty low quality transfer of the English language version (it was also shot in German and French versions simultaneously) this is an extraordinarily wonderful film. Wish I knew what it was that I love so much about it. For great periods nothing much happens, the story which really doesn't make much sense and could be written on the back of a stamp and the acting style is very very dated - but there is a wonderful dreamlike quality about the film that just captivates me every time I watch it. Wish I could find a decent DVD release.

  11. Meet the Robinsons (2007) - a rewatch with the kids.

  12. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978) - for the umpteenth time. This time satisfying the curiosity of Number One Daughter. Her curiosity was so satisfied that we immediately watched the sequel:

  13. Return of the Killer Tomatoes (aka Big Breasted Women go to the Beach and Take Their Tops Off 1988) - One of the rare times when the sequel is far better than the original. Though, if I had remembered the sex shop scene, and our heroine offering to give the hero a blow job, I might have thought better of watching it with her. (That's what the ratings are for, you thicko!) Right. That's four rewatched movies in a row. My hoarding of all this old crap is justified for another couple of months. Back to the new crap....

  14. 13 Assassins (2010) - I get over my Takashi Miike aversion. (I got half way through his Visitor-Q a few years ago before ripping it out of the DVD player and swearing I'd never let any of his films stink up my eyeballs again - ever!) My policy of watching anything on the Artificial Eye label and then sticking my hand into the To Be Watched pile and pulling something out at random served me up 13 Assassins. I doubt if I will ever want to watch Visitor-Q again but this was a workmanlike samuri epic.

  15. 2019: After the fall of New York (1983) - Gods! I do love Italian post-apocalyptic movies. This one mashes up the usual clichés and then delivers an optimistic 'man setting out to the stars ending' which is not that common an idea in this sort of flick. Riding off into the sunset yes, that's been done often enough - but the sun in question is usually ours, not Alpha Centauri. So mad Mad Max pointy-car mayhem meets Escape From LA post-urban ultra-violence with a brief bit of Planet of the Apes weirdness in an abandoned theatre. As a cherry on the cake: a recycled prop from Barbarella!

    I am so easily pleased.

  16. Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) - The fourth film I've seen directed by John "Bud" Cardos and, true to the form of the previous three:(Night Shadows aka Mutant, The Day Time Stood Still, and Gor II aka Outlaw of Gor), the hero is a total failure. Cardos' heroes don't DO anything except the wrong thing - or nothing. In Night Shadows the hero gets his brother killed, is rescued by his girlfriend, and ends up trapped and whimpering, hiding from zombies before being rescued by a secondary character we had been led to believe was dead. In The Day Time Stood Still (a masterpiece of vagueness) the protagonists, three generations of an all-American family, do very little for the whole movie but react with bafflement to unexplained weirdness around them. In Gor II a vegetarian swordmaster on a barbarian world gets generally abused and screws things up till someone else kills the villain. In Kingdom of the Spiders the hero (played by the Mighty Shat) has already lost his brother, 'killed in 'nam', but makes up for it by failing to save his sister-in-law from killer spiders, has to be rescued from certain death by the 'lady scientist' love interest when he in turn is bitten, nearly electrocutes himself by almost emptying a water based fire-extinguisher into an electrical fuse box (luckily the fire-extinguisher was empty giving us a hero who even manages to fail to screw up!), and so on. In the end our all-American action hero has to convey with a few "Oh sweet Jesus!" lines that he has managed to trap the few remaining characters still alive and they are now all spider food. By the time the end credits roll everyone in this film has died - or is doomed to die. Cardos's films look like typical low budget action films of the day - I bet the trailers looked very typical - but there is a strange fatalism about them that undercuts the clichés.

    Often while watching a film you know that people wouldn't act in real life like the movie hero. There are conventions: good guys can shoot straight, bad guys couldn't hit the elephant they were sitting on with a bazooka. All American males know how to hot wire a car in an emergency and can ride motorbikes likeEvel Knievel. (One of the things that makes Rob Roy a much better film than Braveheart is that in Rob Roy the central character pisses off the English, then does what any real person would do: he hides. As it turns out it's not the BEST thing he could have done but it's real. In Braveheart William Wallace is just an American Action Hero in a skirt.) In Cardos' films you get the idea that he's playing with the conventions of low-budget genre fiction, casting hero figures to type, and then getting them to react to the situations they find themselves in as if it were real. I guess he was lucky that he could do that. It would be impossible now. Back in the seventies the heroes of movies weren't guaranteed to survive till the end credits: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Silent Running etc.and even mildly nerdish Richard Dreyfuss could be an action hero (Jaws). These days hero types in action films always survive and are always superhuman. (Quite often literally so.) Even the 'Everyday Joes' thrust into a situation outwith their normal everyday lives are played by pumped-up steroidal hunks.

    I need to see more of this guy's films.

  17. Flight to Mars (1951) - Daughter Number Two wanted 'a crappy movie' for Pizza Night. You don't get much crapper than this.

  18. Moon Zero Two (1969) - Daughter Number One wanted a crappy movie while the rest of the family watched some Christmas bilge. We couldn't find King Dinosaur which she had wanted to watch after my brief history of the space suits originally made for Destination Moon but turning up in all sorts of other crap films. She's already seen Cat Women of the Moon, Flight to Mars (which prompted the discussion) and Robot Monster - this was the only other one I thought I possessed. I couldn't find it. So we watched Moon Zero Two instead which, slightly disappointingly, turned out to be far better than I remembered it.

  19. Arthur Christmas (2011) - Sony Aardman kiddy Christmas film with amusing moments but it didn't quite do it for me like Pirates did. Something about the rhythm of the film; the beats were wrong.

  20. Spirited Away (2001) - my favourite Studio Ghibli (so far).

  21. Jennifer (1978) - a film which bears more than a passing resemblance to Carrie from two years earlier with nods to Tourneur's classic Cat People in the swimming pools scenes. Misfit highschool girl with single, religiously driven parent is tormented to the point where she unleashes on her tormentors suppressed parapsychological powers (over rubber snakes). Not bad for a low budget knockoff. That one of the characters claimed to have slept with John Travolta, who had a small part in Carrie and had subsequently become a star, was a bit cheeky.

  22. Eaten Alive (1980) - Italian jungle cannibal nonsense which (according to people who know these things) was largely assembled from great chunks of other Italian cannibal films. I do know that the cover of my copy on the shoddy 23rd Century label:

    Eaten Alive 23rd Century by the_junk_monkey, on Flickr
    was at least partially assembled from the artwork of a totally different movie in my collection:

    Amazonia - The Catherine Miles story cover by nirejhenge, on Flickr
Films I have watched this year but forgot to note down at the time (possibly due to brain damage inflicted by watching them)

Ninja Terminator (see March)
Deathwalker II (1987) straight to video Sword and Sorcery 'Comedy' which polluted my phone for a while.


Blogger W Lawrence said...

Has to be one of the funniest blogs (or anything written for that matter) that I have read in decades.

5:52 PM  

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