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


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