Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lovecraft: Fear Of The Unknown

Neil Gaiman, Guillermo Del Toro, and John Carpenter appear in this documentary about the horror writer. You know, I'm always bothered when people go on about Lovecraft and his unauthorized biographies of Cthulhu. Lovecraft never even met Cthulhu. H.P. Lovecraft made most of that stuff up. Cthulhu and I were roommates at Miskatonic University. We called him Chip back then, and he hated it. He was an average student and liked to party. His tentacles were a source of some embarrassment, and he was never a big hit with the chicks. He has difficulty finding pants that fit so his khakis are always just a little too short. I give him a hard time about it. He likes ping-pong. We still go out for drinks every so often, and if the bar has it he'll have an absinthe or two to try and impress people even though he doesn't really enjoy it. He borrowed a colander from me a couple of weeks ago for some unknown reason, and he owes me $20 even though he gets a nice income from all that cheesy Cthulhu-related merchandising. I'll never see that colander or the twenty bucks again. So all you Cthulhu fan-boys should settle down. Anyway, I watched Lovecraft: Fear Of The Unknown on Snagfilms. Here's a trailer:

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Baby

I'm taking a break from the film festival. Just a brief one, though. Back to it on Sunday. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop watching movies. Just not quite as many. I have a lot of stuff to do, and I need to cleanse my palate with something terrible. Writing reviews for good movies is awfully boring. Everything has to be just so, and I can't go on my wacky stream-of-consciousness rants. Bah. 

The Baby is a not-very-horrifying horror film where a grown man wearing a diaper wimpers in a crib. There's a grown woman wearing ponytails and curlers, a grown man wearing a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit, a grown woman with a cold sore, a cattle prod, rattan furniture, and a bad-ass Dodge Dart. There's also funky jazz, awkward boogeying, too many WTF moments to list here, and someone says "hang loose" without a hint of irony. I think there might be an extremely subtle psychological subtext going on in this film that all women are stabby infant-obsessed bitches and all men are gigantic lazy breast-feeders who can't change their own soiled garments, but I might be wrong. Here's a trailer:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

20th Century Man

A man invents a time machine and travels 76 years into the future in this impressive short film. Shot in black and white and using remarkable special effects, it was very well done. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a trailer. I watched 20th Century Man at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their Ohio Shorts Program #2.

The Approach

Jellyfish amble through the Ohio Valley and miniature thunderstorms rumble across tabletops in this serene short film. I think there was a tornado in the kitchen languidly twirling about, but I forgot to mention it in my notes. Anyway, the CGI was very imaginative. Sorry, there doesn't seem to be a trailer. I watched The Approach at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their Ohio Shorts Program #2.

17 Girls

17 Girls is, well, teen angst at the seaside in French. Boredom, peer pressure, and chain smoking occurs. Oh yeah, I forgot the pregnancies. Lots and lots of pregnancies. So many pregnancies. Anyway, it was well acted and shot; the camera focused on these naive, self-absorbed young girls as if they were the only creatures in the world...and as far as the girls were concerned, they were. I watched 17 Girls at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:

Amy Casey

Amy Casey is an Ohio artist who creates incredibly intricate drawings of houses suspended from strings or teetering on stilts. The short film is a fascinating look at her creative process with many glimpses at her beautiful artwork. Again, there doesn't seem to be a trailer. I watched Amy Casey at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a link to her webpage if you'd like to see her paintings.

Magnum Opus

An elderly musician discards his belongings and the former drug addict neighbor who lives below him acquires his things in this short film. A sweet, tender, and hopeful film. I watched Magnum Opus at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their Ohio Shorts Program #2. Sorry, there doesn't seem to be a trailer.

Where Dreams Don't Fade

I was always under the impression that Kenya was arid. I don't know why. Maybe it was a mis-remembered Mutual Of Omaha episode that gave me that idea. Anyway, Where Dreams Don't Fade is a documentary following 3 distance runners as they train on the red dirt roads in the lush, green countryside of Kenya. I really enjoyed it. Sadly, I can't find a trailer. I watched Where Dreams Don't Fade at the Cleveland International Film Festival.


A very intriguing Iranian film, Mourning is set almost exclusively in a car as an aunt and uncle discuss the  death of their nephew's parents in sign language while he sits in the back seat as they drive to Tehran through the mountains. Incredibly intimate, it has an engrossing script and gripping naturalistic dialogue. It also has gorgeous cinematography of a country that is probably a mystery to most Americans. I enjoyed the way the camera sometimes deliberately obscured some of the action to create an even more voyeuristic  feeling. I watched Mourning at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:

Up Heartbreak Hill

A group of Navaho high school athletes struggle on and off the track and must decide if they will leave the reservation and go on to college in this interesting documentary. It sheds a lot of light on a culture we don't see much of. An impressive first film, there was a Q&A with the director and a Native American panel after the screening. I watched Up Heartbreak Hill at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:


The puzzling film Pig is tearing my family apart. I enjoyed it and thought it was a well constructed and shot sci-fi thriller, although the beginning was a little slow and the ending was somewhat abrupt. Mrs. Deathrage hated it. It's very rare where we don't see eye-to-eye about stuff like this. I think we'll pull through. I watched Pig at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:


A scarred woman and a grieving masseur begin to heal in this Lifetime-y short film. Syrupy music and floral arrangements are in abundance. I watched Touch at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their Independent Shorts Program #7.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


A young boy channels the poet in this funny short film. Features a hilarious script, excellent cinematography, and expressive close-ups. I watched Bukowski at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their Independent Shorts Program #7. Sorry, can't seem to find a trailer.


Animals end up with Xs for eyes in this hand-drawn short film. Nearly dialogue-free and painted with a sombre palette, I thought it was lovely but had difficulty connecting with it. Nominated for the Best Animated Short Film at the 84th Academy Awards. I watched Dimanche at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their Independent Shorts Program #7. Here's a trailer:

Not Even A Mouse

Odd, creepy, revolting people bicker while one family member hits on a fifteen year old girl in this satisfactorily shot short film. I found it to be completely unlikeable with an open-ended conclusion, but I suppose that was the point. My least favorite film so far. I watched Not Even A Mouse at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their Independent Shorts Program #7. Here's a trailer:

Sway Away

Inanimate objects emote in the breeze in this cute short film. I saw the strings. I watched Sway Away at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their Independent Shorts Program #7. Sorry, no trailer.

An American Mosque

This short film shows the efforts by a community of American Muslim farmers to rebuild a mosque destroyed by arson in 1994. It was well done and informative. I watched An American Muslim at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their Independent Shorts Program #7. Here's a trailer:

Toll Booth

The monotonous and repetitive life of a nearly expressionless toll booth attendant is featured in this experimental film. Impressionistically shot in the grainy look of the American films of the 1970s using a yellow palette, Toll Booth is slow-moving and enigmatic. There was a nicely done long overhead tracking shot of the main characters in a field of wheat that I particularly enjoyed. Due to its glacial pacing, I think most audiences would find Toll Booth to be a test of endurance. I watched Toll Booth at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:

The Mexican Suitcase

Lost photographs from the Spanish Civil War are featured in this powerful documentary. Contains affecting images of soldiers running through trenches and grim photos of some of the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in the conflict. Michael Nyman performed the beautiful score. I watched The Mexican Suitcase at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Even more CIFF

20 reviews in 2 days, I think. I'm surviving on chips and coffee. 4 full length features today, and a shorts program.

A People Uncounted

A People Uncounted is a documentary about the genocide of the Roma people during the Holocaust. Gorgeously photographed with long tracking shots, great handheld camerawork, and excellent graphics and animation; it's simultaneously beautiful, sobering, and tragic. Filled with harrowing interviews with Holocaust survivors and grisly concentration camp footage, it's not for the faint of heart. I watched A People Uncounted at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life

Larger Than Life doesn't do it justice. The enormous presence that is the Broadway icon Carol Channing fills every frame. Funny, sentimental, and riveting; even people who have little knowledge of Carol Channing's work will be charmed. I watched Carol Channing: Larger Than Life at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:


A man awakens to find he is living his life out of order in this puzzling thriller. Beautifully shot in black and white and well constructed, it wears its influences on its sleeve. Shuffle would be the result if Frank Capra directed The Twilight Zone. I found the ending to be a little syrupy, but my taste is a little more Kafka than Capra. I get it. I watched Shuffle at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:

The Finger

A small Argentinian town holds an election amidst political intrigue and murder in this quirky film based on a true story. A bus never stops to pick up travelers, a man is suspended by someone's grandmother's antique orthopedic device in the town's general store, and a finger with a mind of its own is submerged in a jar. I enjoyed it a lot. The music is great, too. I watched it at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:

Anything For You

Two women have a heart-to-heart talk in a restaurant in this stagey short film. It was well acted, but I kept wondering if their server was ever going to take their order. I watched Anything For You at the Cleveland  International Film Festival as part of their 10% Shorts program. Sorry, no trailer.


A man reconnects with his father suffering from dementia during Pride Fest in this short film. Well shot and acted, I found it reminiscent of Queer As Folk. I watched Pride at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their 10% Shorts program. Here's a trailer:

Wild Imaginings

A teenaged boy has a fantasy, and angst happens. Well shot and featuring very dramatic music, I found it very Abercrombie And Fitch-y. I watched it at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their 10% Shorts program. Sorry, no trailer.


A young boy brings a drawing home from school that causes confusion and turmoil in this howlingly funny and profane short film. Well shot and acted, it was my favorite of the 10% Shorts Program. I watched it at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a slightly (?) NSFW trailer:


A woman goes on a blind date and there's a twist in this short film. Well shot in a cinema verite style, but extremely brief. I totally saw the twist coming, but that still doesn't make it heart-wrenching. I watched Charlotte at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their 10% Shorts program.

I Now Pronounce You Husband And Husband

The mayor of New Paltz, NY was criminally charged for conducting same sex marriages in 2003 in this short film. It's not much to look at, but the couples interviewed are funny. I watched I Now Pronounce You Husband And Husband at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their 10% Shorts Program. Sorry, there doesn't seem to be a trailer.

The Maiden And The Princess

A young girl "accidentally" kisses another girl on the playground and a musical fairytale occurs in this short film. Well shot with good art direction, it was quite charming. I watched it at the Cleveland International Film Festival as part of their 10% Shorts Program. Here's a trailer:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Drive-In Movie Memories

An average but informative documentary about the history of the drive-in theater. Shot by the same director as the black and white shorts, Drive-In Movie Memories had many interviews, clips from b-movies, and the fun intermission shorts everyone loves. Here's a trailer:

The director held a brief but entertaining Q&A at the end of the program, and Toby Radloff was in the audience and asked a question. He was the friend of Harvey Pekar. Here's a clip of Harvey and Toby:


An accidental photobomber finds his photographic likeness is more well-traveled than he is in this inventive short film. Shot in stills and assembled in Photoshop, it was shot by the same director as Rent-A-Person and Validation, and many actors and themes were in all the films. There was a final film in the series entitled Phone Book, but sadly I can't find any information about it. You can watch Slow below:


A genial guy validates your self-esteem and your parking and then meets his match at the DMV in this inventive short film. Shot by the same director as Rent-A-Person. You can watch it below:


A restroom attendant becomes an entrepreneur in this black-and-white musical short film. It was very clever. I watched it as part of Drive-In Memories at the Cleveland International Film Festival, and the director did an entertaining Q&A at the end of the program. You can watch it below:

Sense Of Humor

Two Canadian comics are kidnapped by a serial killer and forced to teach him to be funny in this broad, colorfully shot black comedy. Do you remember years ago when Tim Burton had an original idea and was funny? Well, Sense Of Humor was sort of like that. The jokes come fast and furious and at times I thought it tried way too hard, but it was pleasant enough. It was breezy fare, and breezy fare is few and far between at foreign film festivals. Here's a trailer. It's in French, but you get the idea:


An industrious 4 year old child lives in rural France in this pastoral and meditative film. Enigmatic, ponderous, and hardly idyllic; I found it to be quite disturbing. We see many gritty moments of farm life; cows amble through fields, piglets tumble in hay, people gather firewood. Animal activists should avoid, and this film is definitely not for small children. NaNa is well photographed but I couldn't say I enjoyed it. I watched NaNa at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a clip, but don't be fooled by this brief moment of levity. It's the only one I could find:

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Sorry for the reviews being so brief; but honestly, I'm not that concerned if you're bothered by that. 3 movies yesterday, 5 today. I don't want to get behind, because when I get behind I stop caring. Onward, into the future! So get off my back about it. I've got movies to watch.

Of Two Minds

Of Two Minds is a very well-done documentary about bipolar disorder. Featuring many interviews with sufferers of the disorder, it's a surprisingly funny film even while recounting their often harrowing life stories. Many of the participants are artistically inclined, and we get looks at their often stunning artwork. I watched the premiere of the film Of Two Minds at the Cleveland International Film Festival, and there was a very informative Q&A with the film-makers and participants afterwards. I couldn't find a trailer for the film, but here's the end credit music by (musician-artist-novelist-bipolar sufferer) Kristin Hersh:


A corporate headhunter steals his clients' art in this well-done thriller. The first half is somewhat predictable as the film-makers present all the required puzzle pieces, but Headhunters is very tense and exciting. The second half is very entertaining as you watch the pieces becomes assembled. Contains several scenes of grisly violence, but this film is a huge crowd-pleaser. Keep an eye out for the inevitable Hollywood remake that someone will totally screw up. I watched Headhunters at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a slightly NSFW trailer:


A Kazakhstan village that collects space junk as it crashes on the steppes collects a beautiful wayward space tourist in this visually inventive film. Expansive landscapes filmed in deep focus and a funny script are highlights. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern. I watched Baikonur at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Here's a trailer:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

CIFF 2012

I'm way behind in my blogging. I have 3 movie reviews to write, and honestly, I might not get around to it. Meh. Let's just say they probably weren't very good, and move on. My vacation starts Saturday, and I deserve it. It's exhausting being me. Plus I received my All The Movies, All The Time, Any Time I Wish Because I'm So Awesome passes (I'm pretty sure that's what they're called, but I didn't look very closely.) to the Cleveland International Film Festival because I'm a well-connected internationally renowned film blogger, so I need to fire up the Volvo 1800 and hit the road. Maybe I'll blog about my adventures and the films I view. Maybe I'll write a best-selling travelogue or novel about the whole wacky scenario. Maybe I'm already doing both. I'm mysterious and mercurial, so you can never tell.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


A boy repairs his father's clockwork automaton in this meticulously crafted boys' adventure tale. The oddly stuffy first half is strictly for the kids with its overly fussy CGI, and the wistful second half is for the film-loving parents who will need an encyclopedic knowledge of early film. Scorsese has an obvious stand-in during the conclusion and I don't appreciate being scolded about film preservation (I had almost nothing to do with the loss of almost all silent films, Marty.), but I loved the film snippets and the inclusion of music by Erik Satie. I pay-per-viewed it. Here's a trailer, but you're probably already familiar with it since it won 5 Academy Awards including Art Direction, Sound, Cinematography and Visual Effects:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Night Caller

A glowing orb from Ganymede lands in England and then suddenly there's a freaky Walker Brothers-esque theme song in this slow moving sci-fi film. It's very well shot, but glacially paced. There's a rubber monster claw reaching out from behind a door, a pretty good Monster POV shot, Velma drops her glasses, and the monster makes a getaway in a stolen car. I'm not sure why. The dry British 'acting' in this film caused me to nod off around the half-way point, and I figured I've seen it all. You can't make me watch the rest. It wasn't awful, but I'm not willing to risk it. I watched The Night Caller on Youtube. Here's a clip:

Oops. Someone replaced my unnecessary clip of The Night Caller with this very necessary clip of The Walker Brothers singing "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)", and I feel pretty good about it.

The Man Who Fell To Earth

David Bowie strikes dramatic poses, wears elegant suits and dandified hats, and frolics (really?) nude (really.) in this artfully rendered but extremely boring film. There's jarringly awkward music, purposeful lens flare, and surprisingly little dialogue. There's also copious blue eyeshadow, gold metal-flake motorcycle helmets, a train with wings seemingly made of cheese in the desert, a scene where a prone motion-sick Bowie gets dragged out of an elevator by his arm and carried down a hallway, a scene where the Thin White Duke watches 9 TVs at once, and a scene where Ziggy Stardust knocks a plate of cookies into the sky. I'm not sure why any of this happens. It's beautifully shot pretension, sort of like 2001: A Space Odyssey only gooier. There's an old saying, "An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of crap.". If that's the case, this film might weigh 12 pounds. I watched The Man Who Fell To Earth on Netflix in a crystal clear Criterion print, and I probably should have just listened to the album Low for the millionth time instead. Here's a trailer:

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Head

A scientist's head lives atop an aquarium in this atmospheric horror film, and I honestly didn't pay very much attention to it. The description of the film had me at the jump. It claimed there was going to be some headless dog experimentation, and various serums, and a hunchback nurse. The nurse was there, but she looked more like some sort of strange religious cult priestess, and that was pretty cool. And there were several eerie night scenes with the moon peeking through some clouds, and what might have been a graveyard possibly, and at least one stripper. There was also some cool spooky music. But I found myself becoming concerned that I need to change my corporate logo. Right now the logo consists of a picture of me flipping the bird, and I've often been told by the board of directors that many of our customers find that offensive. Whatever. So I started doodling and trying to distill my awesomeness into an instantly recognizable symbol of the Deathrage Industries brand and our fine line of quality brimstone related products, and the next thing I know the movie is over and I have 3 pages of scribbles and not the usual kind of scribbles that will help me review a movie but a bunch of illegible scribbles that look a little like a scribble of me flipping the bird, and that won't help me do diddly squat. Oh well, that happens sometimes. Anyway, I only sort of watched The Head on Youtube, and it wasn't very good. Here's a clip featuring a scientist's head atop an aquarium for some reason:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Night Of The Blood Beast

An astronaut crash lands and dies kind of and scientists I guess talk about it while I play Words With Friends in this yawn-inducing film. Don't laugh. I'm surprised I have friends, too. That's not important right now. I didn't mean to divert my attention to WWF, it just happened. I was eating a Stouffer's Mac and Cheese, and then I realized the astronaut who died is now up walking around like nothing happened but he isn't a zombie and that's unfortunate because it's still boring, and I played the word gratin for 13 points. That's a little coincidental; since gratins, Stouffer's, and this movie are all pretty cheezy. You really should get a better score than that. Apparently the astronaut somehow contracted a drawing of an alien blood cell for some reason that only slightly killed him and I played the word god for 8 points. Again, I should have gotten more points than that. I now have no vowels, and a giant hamster-like creature attacks, and there's some pretty cool spooky organ, and I played the word par for 6 points. I'm not very good at this game, and there's a bit of fluff at the top of the frame of the film and it's very distracting and I just played the word weep for 10 points. Man, I'm lousy at this game and so is this movie. Now the cast is in the desert, and I wonder why the script always demands shooting in the desert in terrible movies from the fifties and sixties. I guess it was cheaper, and I played the word qi for 11 points. I'm not sure that's a word, and I'm not sure this is even a movie. Anyway, I only sort of watched Night Of The Blood Beast on Youtube. Here's a trailer:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Unknown Island

Adventurers journey to a matte painting of a South Pacific island or California where Tyrannosaurus Rexes make chimpanzee noises in this King Kong ripoff. There's rear projection, mutiny, whiskey, jodhpurs, rubber stop-motion dinosaurs and lots of pixelation in the print I watched. I'm not sure it matters. I watched it on Youtube. Here's a clip of unconvincing Tyrannosaurs milling about what appears to be Joshua Tree National Forest, but I've been wrong before:

Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero

Godzilla and Rodan fight a three headed monster on a newly discovered and incredibly unlikely planet near Jupiter in this Giant Monster film. There's some questionable science, a matte painting of a planet, Nick Adams, a spacesuit related continuity error, orange turtlenecks, theremin, and many things dangle from strings. If you've seen one Giant Monster movie, you've seen them all. Here's a trailer:


A mother is forced to decide which of her twins survives after a huge earthquake in this epic film. Featuring a cast of thousands, excellent cinematography, and great effects; it's also fairly depressing and again reminds me that I'm not ready for any sort of cataclysm. My family and I were shopping at the grocery store when suddenly I realized they had a sale on Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls and were now sold out. I became inconsolable and prostrate in the aisle, telling everyone to go on without me. That sort of behavior is not going to get you far in a crisis. I watched Aftershock on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ship Of Monsters

Outer space chicks wearing bathing suits and evening gowns meet a singing cowboy in this comedic Mexican film. There's a matte painting of space, a ray-gun that goes boi-oi-oing, some slide whistle, an aluminum foil robot, some unconvincing monsters, several musical numbers, and no subtitles. They're not needed. I watched it on Youtube and I'm not sure why. Here's a clip:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Yeti: Giant Of The 20th Century

Italians or Canadians wearing garish ties unconvincingly defrost an enormous forced perspective split screen yeti for some reason in this hokey film. People turn knobs aboard a helicopter in an effort to look scientific, a Carmina Burana "homage" plays on the soundtrack, and people flee a snarling pants-less Wolfman Jack impersonator in need of a VO-5 Hot Oil Treatment. I'm not sure why. Several cast members pretend to eat a 300 pound salmon, someone combs their hair with the salmon skeleton, someone Bactines a Yeti, then Lassie comes to the rescue and I realize the Seventies were full of plaid parkas. Seriously. This King Kong ripoff has HR Pufnstuf quality special effects, bad acting, a bad script, and a Yeti disco theme song. It's amazing if you're amazed by stuff that sucks. I watched it on Youtube. Here's a clip of a Yeti rampaging through Toronto:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cocaine Fiends

People order chicken from a 'public eating place' that apparently only serves chicken, take 'headache powders', and go to a drive-in restaurant and order a tomato juice because that's something that's refreshing, thirst-quenching, and commonly done in this boring film. People keep cocaine in their stockings, say 'swell', 'making whoopie', and 'bum's rush', and can't pay their tab when they order a $2 gin fizz because in 1936 that would be the equivalent of $64,000 in this contrasty, choppy, and damaged print. Large sections of movie seem to be missing, and that's fine. I watched Cocaine Fiends on the Mill Creek Entertainment DVD set 20 Cult Classics and it was less than classic. Here's a trailer: