Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Catwoman Rises

A billionaire dresses as a bat in this Catwoman-filled movie. Anne Hathaway is electrifying in the lead role. I can't wait for the sequel. Here's a trailer, but it has that meddlesome Bat in it.


A man files reports until he doesn't in this absurdist anti-comedy. Crispin Glover continues the subliminal acting he's been doing for the past 20 years. I would lavish more praise on this film, but I prefer not to. I watched Bartleby on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Turkish Star Wars

Actors jump on trampolines in this movie that I can only assume has very little to do with Star Wars. Here's what occurs: About a half-dozen or so clips from Star Wars are haphazardly hot-glued together, then a guy talks in front of a rear-projection of these clips. Then the theme from Indiana Jones plays, then we see footage of the aurora borealis and the Great Pyramid. For some reason, there's an epic battle between two guys and a bunch of guys on horseback. The horses seem annoyed by this. Cylon-esque dudes show up, shoot laser guns, then have a kung-fu battle with the two guys as ineptly edited close-ups of people and monsters appear on the screen. Then mummies attack. The two guys engage in vigorous calisthenics with rocks tied to their feet, and then zombies appear. The two guys end up in the Mos Eisley Cantina and have a kung-fu fight with a Teletubby, someone has a brain in a box, and we see some spectacular (and by spectacular I mean amateurish and LOL-inducing) trampoline routines which are played over and over again. Then some more appropriated Star Wars clips are used, then the movie ends. As the print I watched had no subtitles, I have no idea why any of this stuff occurred. I watched Turkish Star Wars on Youtube, and it was amazing if you're amazed by stuff that sucks. Highly recommended. Here's a clip:

Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell

Dr. Frankenstein creates another man in this Hammer Horror film. There's foggy graveyard corpse stealing, jars of eyeballs, and graphic brain removal surgery where the abby-normal brain is unceremoniously dropped into a soggy rag-filled bucket and accidentally kicked over. Not much else really happens. I watched Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.

Battle Beyond The Stars

John-Boy Walton gathers a rag-tag group of extraterrestrials together to do something in this low-budget sci-fi film. John-Boy wears a daring scoop-neck top and Uggs, flips some very scientific-looking toggles, and sits in a spaceship cockpit looking earnest. John Saxon sports an Aladdin Sane-esque makeup tattoo. George Peppard drives a spaceship with an unfortunate Confederate flag on the side of his spacecraft and almost wins the battle of the plunging neckline against Sybil Danning. The action consists of cameras panning slowly over spaceship miniatures, lasers going 'pew-pew-pew', and George Pappard cooking hot dogs on a stick over an open fire. In space, no one can hear you yawn. I watched Battle Beyond The Stars on Netflix, but I think I saw it in the theater when it was released and I think I blocked it out of my memory. I watched Battle Beyond The Stars on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt And The Magnetic Fields

Strange Powers is a well-made documentary about the cantankerous leader of The Magnetic Fields. Featuring bickering and collaboration amongst the band members; the film could have used a lot more of Magnetic Fields' acerbic, delicate, witty, and deadpan songs. I watched Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

The Darjeeling Limited

The Darjeeling Limited is another beautifully shot Wes Anderson film of quirky people engaged in quirky antics. Three estranged brothers search for their mother in India after the death of their father, but I don't think these brothers are people as much as a collection of idiosyncrasies and expensive accessories surrounded by a beautiful lapis, emerald, and turmeric landscape. I wondered who these people were, but ultimately stopped caring that much. Not for the briefest of moments did I think Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody, or Jason Schwartzman were brothers. The scenery was nice, though. I watched The Darjeeling Limited on pay-per-view. Here's a trailer:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Number 17

Some criminals do some stuff in this stylishly shot early Hitchcock thriller. In the midst of dramatic shadows and camerawork, a corpse's hand juts from the bars of a staircase railing. There's a long tracking shot...and then I fell asleep. I vaguely recall something about a train, but that's not especially helpful as in most Hitchcock films there usually is something or other about a train. It's a metaphor, I think. Anyway, I really should watch this one again. Look, give me a break. I'm still three movie reviews behind, and they ain't gonna review themselves. Plus, The Dark Knight Rises opens this weekend, and that thing's almost three hours long. I know you will probably find this hard to believe, but I have other stuff to do. I'm not a machine, and I sometimes need sleep. Not much. Just a little. I'll try not to let it happen during Movie Time. I sort of watched Number 17 on Netflix.

Sorry, there doesn't seem to be a trailer, but you can watch the whole thing on Youtube.

The People Vs. George Lucas

Nerds nitpick over why George Lucas feels the compulsion to tweak the films of the Star Wars franchise in this nerdy documentary. Composed of interviews of nerds, George Lucas, and other film-makers, and interspersed with Star Wars fan-films; it's pretty humorous. Everybody needs to chill-out, though. It's just a movie. But Han Solo DID shoot first. I watched The People Vs. George Lucas on Netflix. Here's a trailer.

BTW, Jar-Jar.

That is all.


A television comes to life and torments Hans Conried in this absurd comedy. Apparently, the television is a robot from outer space, and it shoots lightning bolts and controls people's minds. The movie is accidentally terrifying, as I was completely unnerved by the image of a television marionette climbing the stairs in pursuit of its victim. I'm not sure why this bothered me like it did. Maybe it's the thought of my own television sprouting gangly limbs and chasing me through the house blaring Toddlers And Tiaras and shooting me with lightning bolts while the soundtrack of my life plays irritatingly chipper flute music. Wow. I watched Twonky on Youtube. Here's a clip:

What We Do Is Secret

The brief career of the pioneering L.A. punk group The Germs is explored in this well-done bio-pic. I found the 'actors pretending to be non-actors being awkwardly interviewed' thing distracting, though. Oh well. Anyway, there's a kid reading Nietzsche, riots, spitting, bottle throwing, and flaming Fritos. Learning to play was last on the Germs' list of things to do in their five-year plan. Spoiler alert: They don't make it to five years. You probably knew that already, though. The soundtrack also features music by David Bowie, The Damned, and Joy Division. I watched What We Do Is Secret on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blithe Spirit

A man accidentally conjures the spirit of his dead wife and sophisticated ghostly capers happen in this dark comedy. Expertly directed by David Lean and featuring a witty script by Noel Coward, the print I watched was absolutely gorgeous. Filmed in Technicolor, the colors are glorious. I was very impressed by the simple but effective ghost special effects; where an otherworldly atmosphere is created by simply letting a fireplace cast shadows on the wall, or where a woman can appear to be from the Other Side by wearing a sea-foam green gown with scarves that can easily be taken aloft by a slight breeze. Blithe Spirit was excellent, and Margaret Rutherford steals the entire movie. I watched Blithe Spirit on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Crack In The World

People in lab coats launch a rocket into the Earth's crust and all heck breaks loose in this Brylcreem-filled sci-fi film. Not as awful as I was expecting, there's a lot of talking in a subterranean laboratory that looks suspiciously like the Batcave from the 1960s television show, a couple of explosions, and jets of magma. When the scientists finally head deep underground; all the glowing red rocks, smoke, and lava seemed kind of homey. I think I got a little misty. I watched Crack In The World on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Goodnight, We Love You

Phyllis Diller is a very busy lady. Comedienne, painter, inventor, pianist; she's done it all. Evidently, she can be difficult and demanding, but her secretaries are still devoted to her. This documentary takes a look at her long career while giving us glimpses of her final night of stand-up. Sadly, Goodnight, We Love You could have used a lot more comedy. I watched Goodnight, We Love You on Netflix just to get it out of my queue. Here's a clip:

Under The Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story

Dear Netflix: Please rename your section entitled New Releases. They're not new, and they rarely change. It's embarrassing. Maybe you should call it One New Release, Some Dreck No One's Heard Of, Some Reality Television Programming, Some Stuff I Wouldn't Touch With A Ten-Foot Pole, And Some Other Crappy Stuff. Anyway, I'm assuming no one's allowing you to have movies anymore. That's ok, I'll find them somewhere else I guess.

Under The Boardwalk is a documentary about the board game. Unfortunately, it's also partially a reality show as we have to follow the trials and tribulations of a group of people as they attempt to go to the World Monopoly Championship. There's The Villain, and The Newcomer, and The Reigning Champ, and it's all very boring. I was more intrigued by the history and evolution of the game and couldn't care less about those folks, but I guess I'm not the demographic they're trying to reach. Reality programming is one reason why I disconnected my satellite dish. I don't care about 'real' people, and I don't want to watch their 'adventures'. I like phony adventures by pretend people.

You know, that sort of sounds like reality programming. Anyway, I watched Under The Boardwalk on Netflix, and I don't know why. Oh yes I do, it's because there isn't crap to watch on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Rocket Attack, U.S.A.

Atomic bombs are a total drag apparently in this anti-nuclear weapon propaganda film. We've got military stock footage, accidental camera shadows, awkward blocking, and wooden acting; all in abundance. The members of the cast who aren't in military stock footage have agitated conversations on telephones every five minutes, someone in an overcoat awkwardly runs off into the brush, and with very little warning there's belly-dancing because that's exactly what's needed to break up the monotony of having to constantly worry that the Russians are going to annihilate Manhattan. 

Oops, spoiler alert? 

Sorry, I should have warned you that in this film Manhattan is totally destroyed by an atomic bomb, and it's simultaneously boring and terrifying as there's only about 6 pages of script and the film-makers use that one piece of stock footage of that one atomic explosion everyone uses over and over again to simulate the demise of the Big Apple. Oh yeah, and a drawing of a rocket flies through a drawing of space. I watched Rocket Attack, U.S.A. on Youtube, and it sucked. Here's a trailer:

Arena: Salvador Dali

Here's the deal. I'm way behind in my reviews, so that's why they're dull and brief. I went on vacation, then I became stricken with a lethal case of slack. I'm trying to get my act together, but I keep watching movies, and I keep falling behind.

Anyway, this documentary is about the surrealist painter. It's not much to look at, doesn't have enough Dali-style wackiness, and it's a little boring. Still, in my opinion, documentaries about surrealist painters on Youtube are better than almost anything currently in the New Release section of Netflix. Oh lighten up already, that's clearly an outrageous statement made for comedic effect. By the way, I went to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg years ago and would love to go back, because somewhere along Highway 4 in Florida is this crazy restaurant that had the best red velvet cake I've ever had. Sadly, I don't recall the name of this restaurant, and it haunts me. The art was good, too.

Sorry, but there doesn't seem to be a trailer for Arena: Salvador Dali. Here's a relatively harmless clip from Dali's film Un Chien Andalou; although it does have ants, an armpit, and a severed hand.

The Very Strange Story Of The Legendary Joe Meek

The groundbreaking record producer is examined in this documentary. He produced the first American #1 hit by a British artist (the Tornados' "Telstar"), pioneered many innovative recording techniques, and when the hits dried up he murdered his landlady and shot himself. This documentary isn't much to look at, but the subject matter is lurid and fascinating. I watched The Very Strange Story Of Joe Meek on Youtube.

In lieu of a trailer, here's Telstar:

The Clairvoyant

A "mind-reading" charlatan is suddenly stricken with bouts of actual clairvoyance in this well-shot thriller. You know, I could watch silvery, flickering, 1930s movies all day long. They just look so cool. Anyway, Fay Wray looks fairly luminous in it, and Claude Rains could pretty much act the telephone book. I watched The Clairvoyant on Netflix just to get it out of my queue.

Sorry, there doesn't seem to be a trailer, but you can watch the whole film on Youtube.

A Technicolor Dream

The events leading up to the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream in 1960s England is examined in this musical documentary. Featuring interviews with Nick Mason and Roger Waters and some vintage live performances when The Pink Floyd had a The in their name and before Syd Barrett became an infamous rock-and-roll recluse; the film can be a little obscure if you aren't completely familiar with the underground movement in Britain in the mid sixties. I watched A Technicolor Dream on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I'm taking a couple of days off. I'm somewhere around a half a dozen movie reviews behind, and I'm somewhere in the United States having exciting and offbeat adventures. I'm sorry if that makes you upset (not really), but you're just going to have to wait. Maybe you should go on vacation so you can relax, too. In the meantime, enjoy the Go-Go's:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


A woman becomes caretaker of a mansion where another female caretaker mysteriously vanishes in this noir-like thriller. Filled with stark lighting, lengthy shadows cast along walls, beams of sunlight streaming through trees, and long corridors; it's well-shot and visually inventive. The main character starts adding up the clues; and of course someone is usually quick to say, "Oh, I wouldn't worry about it.", which is generally cause for worry especially when everyone starts thinking you're crazy. Sadly, the ending is very disappointing. I watched Jennifer on Youtube. Sorry, but there doesn't seem to be a trailer.

Monday, July 9, 2012

It's Alive

Two bickering overdressed New Yorkers have car trouble in rural Missouri when they meet up with Tommy Kirk, and, uh, well...how could that possibly sound like it's a good idea at all? Seriously though, if you're in a movie and Tommy Kirk shows up you should probably be very concerned. There's either going to be a lot of swimwear or twisting or googly-eyed monsters, and that rarely turns out alright. Especially if there's not one but two instances of voiceover narration. There's no excuse for that. I watched It's Alive on Youtube. There doesn't seem to be a trailer so here's a clip of frantic twisting courtesy of Annette Funicello:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4 Half-Assed Reviews

Due to circumstances beyond my control (sloth, ennui, procrastination, snacks), I watched 4 films and didn't review them.

Shallow Grave: After they realize their new flatmate hasn't left his room for several days, three caustic and amoral flatmates become concerned in this Scottish thriller. I've seen it before, and I liked it. I watched it on DVD. Here's a trailer:

Guru The Mad Monk: People stand around outside a church and talk with New York accents while wearing unconvincing period clothing in this poorly made film. That's pretty much it. There's a decapitation, and someone's hands get cut off, and a sign that says "The Lost Souls Of Moravia" someone taped over the church's actual sign is peeling off, and it's all very boring. Here's a trailer:

Crippled Masters: Um, yeah. It was offensive and awful.

Morons From Outer Space: Honestly, I didn't pay much attention to this one. I was eating a Stouffer's Macaroni And Cheese and couldn't be stopped. Then I had some blackberry pie with vanilla ice cream. From what I remember, it was reminiscent of Dr. Who or Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, only with some dodgy American accents.

Thanks for your patience during this difficult time.

Mad Doctor Of Blood Island

A mad doctor creates zombies with green blood in this poorly made film. What I found to be most interesting about this film is the fact the cameraman/cinematographer/director decided it would be a great idea to have the camera zoom in and out frantically whenever something scary happens. Why did they do that? It was the wrong choice, but it's too late now to do anything about it. Anyway, there's lots of unconvincing fleeing, unconvincing spear throwing, unconvincing erotic dancing by torchlight, unconvincing hysteria while clinging to jungle foliage, unconvincing entrails, an unconvincing tomb snake, an unconvincing plywood coffin, and an unconvincing monster that looks like a lumbering Caesar salad. There are also many leis, lots of false eyelashes, lots of plunging necklines, and some unfortunate animal cruelty. I watched Mad Doctor Of Blood Island on Youtube, and it was pretty lousy. Here's a trailer:

In The Year 2889

A man and his daughter attempt to survive in their mansion after a nuclear holocaust in this poorly-made film. There's wooden acting, shaky camera-work, a couple of bikinis, a "spooky" swimming pool, a drawing of a mutant chipmunk, mutant cannibalistic zombies with papier-mache faces, and someone says, "I need fresh meat.", and that seems fine. It's really not as interesting as it sounds, but I'm not going to talk you out of watching it. I watched In The Year 2889 on Youtube. Here's a trailer:

National Lampoon's Vacation

One of my children came home from college over the weekend, and in preparation for an upcoming road trip I decided to show her the classic summer film Vacation. She was less than impressed. She rolled her eyes and said "It was interesting." in that way that she does when I do something that old people do. That's fine.

I've been looking at Yahoo Maps to try and figure out how the Griswold's got lost in East St. Louis. It's a mystery. It was daytime when they arrived downtown near Memorial Drive heading west on 70, so that means they had to double back east-bound then head south and arrive there at night 2 miles away. Maybe they stopped at the Wax Museum at Laclede's Landing or grabbed a pizza and some toasted ravioli from Imo's or went in search of a gooey butter cake and that footage ended up on the cutting room floor. I don't know, but that's what I would have done.

Anyway, since I'm old and a dad and I often go on road trips, I can relate to poor Clark Griswold. I'm often in search of gigantic balls of string or houses made of mud. That's why you go on road trips.

I watched National Lampoon's Vacation on pay-per-view. Here's a trailer: