Thursday, April 28, 2011
A miniature clipper in someone's bathtub or the ocean during a fierce storm crashes against rocks I guess and the two lone survivors stagger around on a beach in a film that seems 30 years older than it actually is. Nothing else really happens. Stage-y acting, except by the lead who seems to have been abruptly awakened from a deep nap. Badly mic'd haughty dialogue. An inappropriate score that seems to have been stolen from several other movies that doesn't sync up with the action onscreen. Pitifully executed action sequences that consist of awkwardly tripping and rolling around under a net. Actors seem to carefully place weapons around the room in anticipation of the upcoming fight scenes, and as if the director didn't know to say "cut", an actor drops his axe and the opponent allows him to pick it up and have another go. And the villain accidentally breaks the fourth wall and looks into the camera. There are so many awful moments and continuity errors, I just stopped after a while, because what's the point? Epically terrible, and seems light years longer than a 70 minute runtime. I watched it on Hulu, and you can watch it below, but why would you?
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
A very well made film documenting The White Stripes' blistering tour of Canada. Filmed in lovely black, white, red, and color. It was playing on Showtime, I think. Here's the trailer:
A well-made but quirky documentary that exhausts the minutia of the 80's animatronic music band that was the centerpiece of (now Chuck E. Cheese) Showbiz Pizza Place. Overlong by half, what initially seems like a pleasant trip down Memory Lane quickly becomes obsessive, maudlin, and creepy. I watched it on Hulu, and you can watch it below. If you dare.
BTW, good luck with those nightmares filled with mechanical puppets and their blank soul-less eyes and the stuttering movements as they clamber after you in the night. Oh, that was just me? Ok then.
People in lab coats frantically slap their fingers against keyboards in a desperate attempt to look scientific while computers flash lights and make bopp-boop-boop noises. Then suddenly and with very little warning except for the never ending credits, Julie Newmar appears talking on a phone. She'll do that a lot. Then there's a badly lit crane shot of Bo Svenson smoking a cigarette in a car while foreboding synthesizer music plays. Then he gets shot for some reason but it doesn't seem to bother him that much while a car flips over and explodes. Ron Glass is there, too.
Then there are more lab coats, and some military guys talking science-fictiony things, and it begins to seem very familiar, as if you've seen this exact set-up in every single Fred Olen Ray movie you've ever watched, and you wonder if the movie is ever going to get to the point because it's been playing for almost 10 minutes. Thankfully, Bo and Ron talk and drive cars like Bo was never shot in the earlier scene, and there's a Valley Girl standing beside a station wagon with a flat, and a fireball steaks across the sky looking like a marshmallow that got too close to the campfire, and lo and behold, there are two winos camping.
The fireball crashes, and it's a UFO I guess, and everyone runs to the crash-site because that seems like the sensible thing to do. Suddenly, there's tentacles, and the Valley Girl is killed, and the crash-sites looks like a tinfoil Thunderdome littered with gooey body-parts. There are camera and boom shadows, an intermittent cricket noise, some creaky shtick, styrofoam "organic rocks", garish acrylic sweaters, and you wonder why James Cameron or H.R. Geiger never sued and you figure it's because they already have $4. Special effects consist of throwing a salad eating crab through a dog door then knocking it through a window with a baseball bat, a pair of Keds, and a jar of murky-looking yellow liquid. Nearly 99% space-free. Completely awful in every way. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming.
We have a clip? Awesome! It's in German? That's ok, it doesn't matter.
Above average documentary about the portraitist. Having endured many hardships and rarely selling paintings during her lifetime, she was extremely prolific and became widely acclaimed near the end of her life. Includes vintage interviews with the eccentric artist. On Netflix Instant Streaming.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Adrian Paul and Malcolm McDowell star in this sci-fi flick about black holes and...why are you laughing? Oh c'mon, Adrian Paul and Malcolm McDowell have been in some good movies. Ok, Malcolm McDowell has been in some good movies. Ok, ok, Malcolm McDowell has been in a couple of good movies and he's never seen a script he didn't like. Anyway, there's a black hole and math and computers and floppy discs...and really, it's just rude to laugh. I'm not done yet...so there's an Amanda Tapping body double, a less-than-believable evacuation scene and Adrian Paul is pushed heroically through fire in a wheelchair with a somewhat confused look on his face. And the tagline is 'It'll swallow you hole". Hole. Get it? Don't walk away from me, I'm still talking here. It was really bad, and I think I'll always regret watching it. It's on Netflix Instant Streaming.
No clip. You'll thank me for it.
The worst samurai in the world busts into a house and kills his wife and lover in slo-mo, causing them to haunt it. A couple of hundred years and one avocado-colored refrigerator later, a boring American couple move in. Features wooden acting, shaky camera-work, several boring conversations that go from emotionless to histrionics in a flash of an eye, and a couple of chemistry-free love scenes for some reason accompanied by a twinkling piano score that would make Rachmaninoff vomit. Glacially paced and very corny, this film has cliched double-exposure ghost effects, a soft-core Love Boat vibe, and a LOL-inducing crab attack. At one point someone says, "There's an awful face in my soup", and they really mean it, I guess. Terrifying for those afraid of bad acting, uninteresting people and things that aren't very scary. On Netflix Instant Streaming. You should find something else constructive to do, but watching the crab filled trailer below wouldn't hurt you.
A beautifully photographed documentary about Mark Hogancamp, a man who was brain-damaged after a vicious beating and who is now an artist who has created a miniature town. I'd really rather not describe much more for fear of giving too much away. Sad, disturbing, shocking, but ultimately inspiring. A slowly unfolding testament to diversity, the wonders of the brain, creativity, and the human spirit. Marvelous. On Netflix Instant Streaming.
A full-length Duran Duran concert video filmed and directed by David Lynch. Featuring many songs from their critically acclaimed new album, several fan favorites, and some abstract weirdness from David Lynch. Also features a few bum notes, floating disembodied heads, and the occasional fork. Fans of Lynch may find it isn't quite weird enough, and fans of the band may complain they're obscured through most of the concert by smoke or flames or what-have-you. Still, it's an interesting experiment. Here's a clip, and several others can be seen at Vevo. I was going to post A View To A Kill which has producer Mark Ronson on guitar, a female string quartet, and a nice homage to John Barry; but I thought this was a better performance.
An electrifying full-length concert video of Tom Waits marred by distracting vignettes, you know, the kind often seen in Classic MTV-era full-length concert videos, the ones that were probably approved by some film/record executives who decided that viewers probably wouldn't want to watch an electrifying performance by Tom Waits without some sort of vignette completely breaking up the flow because film/record executives get paid an awful lot of money to make decisions like that but they'd be wrong. However, don't let that keep you from watching because it's still pretty wonderful. On Netflix Instant Streaming.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
An absurd western set in Nevada or Japan where a gunslinger crosses paths with two clans who are searching for treasure. Beautifully filmed with hyper-saturated color, the actors all wear extravagant costumes in super-violent action sequences. Very hip and very stylish, but it seems to drag near the third act. I was sometimes a little lost trying to keep up with the plot amongst all the gunfights and explosions, but it looks so great I didn't mind that much. I watched it on Showtime.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
A rather ordinary comic book based revenge western with gunfights, horses, fire, explosions, MMA, ghosts and shaky cam. John Malkovich's accent drifts in and out, Josh Brolin mumbles for good reason, and Megan Fox mumbles for no reason. The action sequences are hard to follow, the night sequences are too dark, and Megan Fox does very little other than stand around in a corset and look dewy. The supernatural aspects are pretty cool, but there aren't enough of them. It's playing on HBO or Showtime or whatnot, but you should do something else.
An awkward and potty-mouthed extended Saturday Night Live skit with cheesy 80's adult contemporary jams, action flick cliches, celery jokes, and Val Kilmer screaming like a girl. I snickered a couple of times and felt really bad about it while watching it with both hands covering my eyes and peeking through my fingers. Painful. I watched it on HBO and shouldn't have.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Alan Smithee, the infamous Hollywood pseudonym used by directors to distance themselves from bad films, has made a bad film and he's stolen it. An endless stream of guests stars are "interviewed" while they seemingly dry-read cue cards in an attempt to appear natural and relaxed and nothing else happens. The camera is often visible in reflective surfaces, cigars are used as clumsy Freudian symbols, lens-flare is seen indoors, and fingers or something blocks the left-hand side of the shot around the 25-minute mark. Sylvester Stallone is nearly incomprehensible, Robert Evans mispronounces cojones, and Joe Esterhas apparently never saw a first take he didn't like. It's now playing on Showtime, but you should watch something else.
Armed with little more than a $100,000,000 budget and the lyrics to the original Saturday morning kids' show theme song, Hollywood has managed to create a humorless kids' movie kids under 13 probably shouldn't even watch. Features poop jokes, penis jokes, vagina jokes, boob jokes and auto-tune jokes; all of which fall flat. Will Ferrel and Danny McBride ad-lib, but they don't seem into it. Features lines of dialogue like "Never trust a dude in a tunic", "You just gave murderous primitives fire", and "Crap-balls". Just awful. It's now playing on HBO, but watch something else.
A man in a suit listening to a transistor radio takes a chick out on a rowboat in the middle of the night because that's the best time to get your boating done. They bicker to the strains of rockabilly as he has a heart attack because that seems fairly likely and then she shoves his body overboard, tossing in the radio for good measure. Cue credits. An early Francis Ford Coppola film with stark black and white cinematography; it has a creepy and picturesque castle, a will, family intrigue with an eccentric henpecking mother, a mysterious ceremony, several murders, dodgy accents, wooden acting, and occasionally someone off camera bangs on a harpsichord. While it has some inventive and startling images, the pace drags and at times it seems as if they needed to stretch to make this a full-length feature. Also has an underwater underwear-based continuity error. I watched it on Hulu, and you can watch it below.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Well, here we are. This is the 100th terrible movie I've watched since starting this blog in late December 2010. I wanted the 100th to be very special. It isn't.
Chachi, Eight Is Enough, and Hong Kong Phooey have inane adventures at a high school with thousands of seniors whose average age seem to be 28. Through an accidental inclusion of Jack Daniels into a plant growth formula, lab mice and Scott Baio acquire incredible telekinetic powers. You can tell Scott Baio is using telekinesis because he gets a very constipated look on his face and sort of raises one eyebrow. Then things float lazily around the room, such as a teenage girl or a creepy ventriloquist's dummy, as if someone off-camera is holding these things up with strings like a marionette. Anyway, all that's really important to anyone in this movie is cheating roulette wheels and finding a date to the prom, which is generally what's important to most teenagers nowadays. The action in this film consists of prune juice based humor, salami based marijuana inspired dream sequences, cliched amusement park montages, multiple topless females, Willie Aames wearing high-heeled boots, floating mattresses, and Lawanda Page calling Scatman Caruthers an ugly spasm. It was like an early 80's sit-com that isn't very funny and lasts for 90 some-odd minutes. This film is so bad I wanted to saw off my own head to make it stop. I'm going to say one positive thing about it, though. If you're looking for an accurate portrayal of what most people looked like in 1982, this is probably it. They wore knee-high socks with stripes, tiny shorts, Lacoste shirts, Nike Cortez shoes, had their hair parted down the middle, and it was awful. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming, and unless you want to have flashbacks of high school no matter what year you graduated, I'd avoid it.
What? No clip? It makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little just thinking about reliving the experience, so no. No clip.
It's getting a passing grade, but just barely. It looks extremely expensive, but cramming product placement for Tron sheets, action figures, Coors beer and Ducati motorcycles into the first 10 or so minutes of the movie will help pay for that. It has about the same amount of plot as the original, which consists of little more than "go there, do this, come home". It features a couple of frighteningly soul-less CGI'd young versions of Jeff Bridges and one old zen hippie Jeff Bridges, and I'm not sure which is worse. However, it's beautiful to look at, has some startling special effects, several thrilling action sequences, incredible house-shaking sound, and a fantastic score by Daft Punk. Sadly, it drags whenever the humans have to do something. I watched it on Pay-Per-View.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The film opens with someone getting strangled. We don't really know why, because it's so out of continuity. You're just supposed to take it for granted. It's something that just happens, and the movie never brings it up again. But we don't know that yet. Why? Because the strangler, Tor Johnson, ex-wrestling star of Plan 9 From Outer Space, widely considered the worst film ever made (BTW, it isn't), hasn't been exposed to radiation from the stock footage of an atomic bomb blast that turns him into the Beast Of Yucca Flats yet. Yeah, so that happens, and his briefcase catches on fire, and you suddenly realized that no one is talking except for this never ending narration. And you realize that the actors are filmed from far away, or their faces are blocked, or the shot is framed in such a way so that you rarely see anyone talk. And the narration says stuff like, "Touch a button. Things happen.", or "Trouble Up The Road. Murder.", or "A woman's purse.". Anyway, a woman sitting in her Volkswagon smoking gets strangled, and you think to yourself, "How plausible is it that she never noticed a gigantic radiation scarred ex-wrestler with a penchant for strangling just climbed in her Beetle without her realizing it? I mean, how completely absorbed in the act of smoking do you have to be to not notice THAT?", but it doesn't matter. Not a lot happens other than people driving cars or climbing rocks, and you start to think this movie is a lot like watching a really boring silent home movie of someone's crappy vacation with Tor Johnson. There are numerous continuity errors, haphazard editing, someone's thumb is visible in the upper left-hand corner of the shot at one point, and nearly everyone stares off into the distance even if they're in a closed room. Is this movie taking place in the desert or the forest? No one knows. There's some unconvincing plane footage, some unconvincing parachute footage, and some unconvincing Tor Johnson footage where he's kissing a rabbit. I'm going out on a limb here but this is possibly the very worst movie I have ever seen, beating out Manos, The Hands Of Fate, Troll 2, Double Agent 73, and You've Got Mail. I watched it on the DVD set 50 Horror Classics, and you can watch the entire 53 minute film for free at Youtube, but you probably shouldn't.
Scores of documentary film-makers describe the inspiration, improvisation, truth, artifice and art of documentary film-making. Very enlightening. On Netflix Instant Streaming. It made me want to re-watch a few of the classic documentaries they discussed such as The Thin Blue Line, In The Realms Of The Unreal, and this:
Socialists. Unions. Terrorists. Feminists. War. Drugs. Religion. Selfishness. Corruption. Denial. A widening gap between the rich and the poor. Absurdity.
How very little has changed since Luis Bunuel's masterpiece was released in 1972. Beautifully shot, expertly acted, funny, shocking, surreal, offensive and sublime. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming, and it was a wonderful print, probably the restored Criterion version.
A well shot and slightly quirky documentary about a Swedish all-male synchronized swim team that rarely succumbs to the easy route of making fun of its stars and has a brief message of acceptance, but sadly succumbs to the maudlin at the very end. Has high standards often seen in documentaries on National Geographic. On Netflix Instant Streaming.
Monday, April 11, 2011
You might want to sit down for this.
A guy in orange short-shorts runs through town changing traffic lights with his magical over-sized computer glasses because apparently he's a computer nerd trying to fit in some cardio after a tough day at the office to some awful early 80's synth music. Meanwhile, his girlfriend is leading a leotard and leg-warmer clad dance troupe, only it's oddly reminiscent of this:
Then, after some love story exposition is set up, and it's really stupid, where the girlfriend is jealous of the boyfriend's relationship with his computer; the couple are Tron-ed into some devilish realm of dungeons and cartoon dragons and swords and magic and lasers. Dwarves steal boyfirend's computerized wristcuff that looks like it was made out of the remnants of Jennifer Beale's cut up sweatshirt, awkward-moving stop-motion animated statues shoot lasers out of its forehead, and boyfriend has to complete 7 tasks, but you wish he wouldn't because they all suck. Then there's a devil puppet that looks like Billy Idol chewing when it tries to talk, zombies with swords, and a frozen Jack The Ripper. Then, with very little advanced warning, the metal band W.A.S.P. makes an appearance, and there's an epic battle that consists of Blackie Lawless gently tapping boyfriend in the head with his guitar, causing boyfriend to become unconscious. It's even cheezier than it sounds. Oh wait...we have a clip? Great! Because a picture is worth a thousand words, or 7 directors, I can never remember which:
Well, the movie rambles on a while longer, and it has a cut & paste feel about it, like someone circled words in the instruction manual of a Commodore 64 computer and the collected works of Gary Gygax and called it a script. Absolutely terrible, and I probably should have saved this one for my 100th movie, but I didn't. On Netflix Instant Streaming.
A below average documentary about the Grammy nominated polka performer Jan Lewan, the second half becomes quite riveting when the "Polka King's" gift shop, amber jewelry, and travel empire crashes down around him. Consists of mostly vintage performance clips and current interviews. On Netflix Instant Streaming.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
A guy in a tiny rowboat throws an enormous net into the ocean. Then the Phantom From 10,000 Leagues tips over the tiny boat. I'm assuming it's a phantom, because it looks like an overgrown seamonkey. I'm assuming it's from 10,000 leagues because it's right there, like, 5 feet below the surface of the water. Anyway, the guy instantly drowns. He washes ashore, and two guys in suits stand over his corpse squabbling because that's how you have fun at the beach. Then two other guys show up but it still isn't very interesting, and you wonder if Annette Funicello is going to bring her pals, throw a Beach Blanket Bingo and liven up this movie. She doesn't. Then folks stand around and talk some more, people open doors with dramatic looks on their faces, and janitors sweep. I watched it at Hulu, and you can watch it below, but you really shouldn't.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Voiceover narration about some sort of outer-space vampire nonsense that sounds suspiciously like the Count from Sesame Street competes with a briefly groovy 60's rock soundtrack and Scooby Doo sound effects. People congregate in a dark alley, where they're preyed upon by a group of vampires lead by one who looks suspiciously like Harvey Korman. Suddenly we cut to a rocket control center, which consists of talking heads sitting in front of a black curtain while computers make a "beep beep boop" noise. They talk to a strangely flat rocket ship which looks like it was cut out of cardboard, and you can tell they're talking to people in outer space because they keep looking up. This flat spaceship hurtles through space, then it's suddenly struck by phony lightning, and then John Carradine staggers around and exclaims they were just hit by a solar storm because those are totally the same things. Seemingly hours later, they land on a drawing of a planet, and disembark from the ship in what I can only guess is California with any number of different colored films being placed on the lens. Cows dressed as prehistoric cows, gila monsters, and an elephant that looks like the Banana Splits are shown, and one of the astronauts says, "Wow!". I'm not sure why. Then cavemen attack one another because that's what needed to happen. Plus there's this crazy animal that rhythmically yelps in the distance throughout the entire movie. I guess it's to create some sort of vampire outer space caveman ambiance. Is this a vampire movie? Is it an outer space movie? Is this a caveman movie? Is it terrible? The answer to all these questions is a confusing "Yes". There are many more treats to behold; like a sex machine, and bats being hung from a string, and a bug-eyed water monster, and lots of crazy pseudo-science, but I don't want to spoil it for you. I watched it at Hulu, and you can watch it here, but you definitely shouldn't.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
A Dracula rip-off where they've substituted people standing around in the dark talking for horror and suspense. Features a distracting score more appropriate for a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Is a piccolo the right instrument for a scene where a hunchback digs up a coffin in a misty graveyard? I'm not sure. Also features murky noir cinematography and an unconvincing love story. By the way, this film has some messages I'm not okay with. Burning books is not okay. Reading books does not turn you into a vampire. And it's not okay for gangs of vigilantes to force their way into your house without a search warrant, even if those vigilantes are easily thwarted when you turn out a light. I watched it at Hulu, and you can watch it below, but I'm not sure you should.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Bikers drug a couple who are picnicking, rape the girl, then shove their car over a steep rocky cliff because that's generally where people picnic. Violent motorcycle-based nonsensical desert high jinks ensue. You can tell the bikers are misunderstood counter-culture figures who have something to say because they wear jean jackets with the sleeves torn off, they just happen to kill people sometimes. There's broadly drawn stereotypes, choppy editing, gigantic eyelashes, a half-hearted fight scene, and dune-buggies. There's a moment of cafe table-top boogying that seems to last for 6 days, and about 6 pages of script. Sometimes the camera zooms in and out of focus, and you wish it would stay that way. A never-ending nightmare, and it's on Netflix Instant Streaming.
A crackpot apiarist fiddles around with hives for about 10 minutes or so, attempting to extract a magical fluid from bees that changes guinea pigs into rats and changes frustrated aging businesswomen into frustrated aging businesswomen dressed in a wasp mask, capris and high-heeled shoes who go on killing sprees. There's a montage with a frantic xylophone soundtrack, mutant cat wrestling, and suspicious pipe smoking while wearing a bow-tie. Special effects seem to consist of putting glasses on attractive women and calling them ugly. Dreadful. On Netflix Instant Streaming.
A visually stunning caper film from the director of Amelie, City Of Lost Children and Delicatessen. A satire about the arms trade; it has the usual circus-like group of actors Jeunet works with, it's art directed within an inch of its life, and it's very funny. Highly recommended. On Netflix Instant Streaming.
Maybe I'm feeling generous, or maybe I just needed a laugh without thinking too much. This film achieves what it sets out to do; it says and does silly things and drops the f-bomb a lot. Brief recap: Neon colors. Chevy Chase. Nu Shooz. Kid-n-Play reference. Catheter removal. Vomit covered squirrel. And I don't recall seeing a side-ponytail, so that has to count for something. That's pretty much all you really need to know. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming, and I feel sort of bad about it.
Richard Rogers, a film-maker from the Hamptons with Spielberg aspirations, quixotically films a documentary of his life for a couple of decades. Good friends Wallace Shawn and Bob Balaban attempt to posthumously glue the pieces of the film together into something watchable. Fail. 100% windmill-free, unless it's hidden in his navel. Insufferable. On Netflix Instant Streaming.
Family members who have never met are summoned to a skull-shaped house on a mountain near downtown Atlanta for the reading of a will. Voodoo happens. There's stock lightning footage, skulls with melting candles on top, a boom shadow, wooden acting, a montage set to a love song, a terrible matte painting that looks nothing like its real-life counterpart, groovy slacks, and a mustache as big as a canoe. It has a couple of cool ghost and zombie moments, but otherwise bores. On Netflix Instant Streaming.
Monday, April 4, 2011
A 'killer with no face' and a steel claw for a hand roams around an old, dark house looking for some stolen loot. There's stock forest fire footage, banging shutters, and a rubber bat on a string. Agnes Moorehead plays an uppity Endora, someone else says "Land's sakes!", and Vincent Price plays every role he's ever played. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming, but you probably shouldn't.
A richly photographed absurdist take on apathy and voyeurism, where a steel-belted radial with psychokinetic head-exploding powers roams the desert and kills whatever it encounters while a Greek chorus-type audience watches the film and provides commentary. Features music by the electronic artist Mr. Oizo (who also wrote it, filmed it, and edited it). It was showing at the Cleveland International Film Festival, but you missed it. You can watch it at I-Tunes for $7.99. Here's the trailer:
Six drumming musical terrorists are hunted down by a tone-deaf cop. Hilarity ensues. Expect metronomes and several performances of Haydn's Symphony #94. It was playing at the Cleveland International Film Festival, but you missed it. Here's a clip:
A slight French film where a successful businesswoman receives letters from her 7 year old self. It has a few moments of lovely cinematography and a charming performance by Sophie Marceau; but it has a syrupy score and it's briefly derivative of the much better film Amelie (although the film seems to realize its mistake and drops that angle pretty quickly). Would make a huge blockbuster Hollywood film starring Jennifer Garner or Sandra Bullock with very few changes needing to be made, and it will probably be a much worse film than this. It was showing at the Cleveland International Film Festival, but you missed it. Here's a trailer, dubbed in German because that's all I could find.
They're too old to fax, but young enough to throw a discuss 12 meters. A conventional documentary about extraordinary athletes who range from 80-100 years of age, it was funny, moving and inspirational. 5 people battle health issues, train in their respective sports, reflect on loved ones who have now passed on, and behave like bad-asses in their efforts to compete in the World Masters Athletic Championships. It was playing at the Cleveland International Film Festival, and you missed it. Here's a clip I found on Youtube describing the film: