Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Django Unchained

I honestly didn't want to see Django Unchained. Much like Tarantino's film Inglourious Basterds, I wasn't in the mood to be entertained by another of history's tragedies. However, Django Unchained is directed with such style, it's exceedingly difficult to not be entertained. The screenplay is wordy, the soundtrack is effectively narrative, the supporting cast is surprising, and the cinematography is stunning. Flashbacks are shot in as an homage to seventies exploitation films. And it's hard not to see well-placed symbolism in the blood-spray on white cotton, spatter on the flanks of a speeding white stallion, or gore on the white columns of a Colonial plantation home. The villains in Django Unchained are either vicious, pretentious, inhuman dandies, or toothless, bumbling, ignorant rednecks; and they are justifiably mowed down by the dozen. And Django is a stoic hero played with reserve by Jamie Foxx, who becomes an uneven partner with bounty hunter Dr. Schultz, played with a flourish by Christoph Waltz, in a time period when such partnerships largely did not exist. The whole affair is very watchable, which I found unsettling, but then again, Tarantino already set a president with his last film.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Searching For Sugar Man

Rodriguez's music became Anti-Apartheid anthems in the 70's, and no one in South Africa knew what happened to the mysterious musician. Did he kill himself on stage? Various myths arose, and two South Africans attempt to piece the story together in this moving, well-shot documentary.

I once had the pleasure of seeing legendary reclusive outsider artist Jandek perform live. Up until a few years ago, almost nothing was known of the performer of atonal blues who had self-released almost 60 albums. He did no interviews, never performed live, and only a couple of photos of him existed. Suddenly in 2004, a handful of gigs happened featuring 'a representative of Corwood Industries (Jandek's own record label)', and fans finally caught a glimpse of him.

Even when the show was announced when I saw Jandek live, I still refused to believe it. I assumed an impostor would show up, if anyone showed up at all. I arrived at the gig where signs were posted that said "The artist requests no photos", and the stage was bare except for a chair and a guitar. It was quite thrilling. Sure enough, a tall thin man dressed in black and wearing a fedora sat down on the stage and began performing his strange, otherworldly blues.

I'm still shocked I got to experience this event.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Beneath Loch Ness

Unconvincing deep-sea divers unconvincingly excavate rocks or something in unconvincing Loch Ness when an unconvincing earthquake causes an unconvincing CGI boulder to crush one of the divers, then the unconvincing tail of an unconvincing Loch Ness Monster is partially shown for the next hour or so while Americans talk about it while looking a little too suntanned and sweaty for being in an unconvincing Scotland that looks suspiciously like California, then I stopped caring. Not for a single moment did I ever believe any of the underwater scenes took place underwater, and I would think that's an important detail when your film is titled Beneath Loch Ness. It's just awful.

Luckily for you, there doesn't seem to be a trailer.

In completely unrelated news having nothing to do with Scotland, My Bloody Valentine have announced they will be releasing their first album in 20 years sometime in the 'next two or three days'. While that's a thrilling development, it's also a relatively unlikely scenario as new music has been threatened once every few years for the past two decades. Let's all hold our collective breaths, shall we?


The CIA attempts to rescue diplomats from Iran under the guise of shooting a science fiction film in this movie directed by Ben Affleck. Using a muted color palette, editing that seamlessly blends period footage with modern recreations, and cinematography that is reminiscent of such '70's classics as The French Connection and All The President's Men; Affleck subtly crafted a tense, thrilling and stylishly constructed film filled with political intrigue. It's cliche to say, but I was on the edge of my seat through the entire film even though I knew the ultimate outcome. Argo will probably take home the statuette for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Chariots Of The Gods

Chariots Of The Gods is a classic documentary film that theorizes that early human civilizations were contacted by extraterrestrials. Seemingly narrated by what I can only assume is a Munchkin from Oz, outrageous pseudo-scientific claims about ETs influencing everything from the building of Machu Pichu to the creation of Egyptian mummies are flung about while a freaked out avant-jazz soundtrack blares in the background with very little solid physical evidence to back these claims up. By no means am I saying that I don't believe that aliens were here in the past. They totally were. Seriously, ancient people weren't capable of creating these monuments without outside help. Have you ever seen anyone ever carve one of the enormous Moai of Easter Island? Of course not, so therefore it couldn't have happened. Early humans just didn't have it in them to be creative all on their own. The only reasonable explanation is that aliens did it. With freaking laser beams and mental telepathy.

I think Bigfoot had a hand in it too, but I can't be sure. It's just conjecture on my part.

Dreams Of A Life

Dreams Of A Life is a documentary about Joyce Carol Vincent, an enigmatic loner, who died mysteriously in her bedsit in 2003 surrounded by Christmas presents and whose body was not discovered until 2006. Using interviews and recreations, the film-makers attempt to illuminate the few details known about her life, but unfortunately questions remain unanswered. The film is reminiscent of those true crime television shows, but with a creepy, gossipy vibe; like overhearing acquaintances trying to piece together the facts about a sad, lurid tabloid story. Dreams Of A Life is overlong, but it does have a good score by Barry Adamson and features tunes by Mahalia Jackson, Betty Wright, and Human League.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2012: Ice Age

A family attempts to outrun a 200 mph glacier in this Asylum film. In the year 2012, which is the perfect year for a glacier-based apocalypse, volcanoes unconvincingly explode causing a crudely-rendered glacier to crash into Maine and characters to talk on walkie-talkies for 7 minutes of screen-time. Then there's some unconvincing family-time, an unconvincing traffic jam, an unconvincing airport terminal, and unconvincing parking in Manhattan for $5. Then there's some unconvincing gigantic icicles, unrealistic snow, excessive close-ups, an unconvincing senator's office, and lots of familial bickering. You'll also find some Times Square green screen shots, a miraculous Mitsubishi that can outrun a speeding mile-high glacier, a brand-new disposable college friend, confusing geography, flash-frozen Bostonians, crushed hitch-hikers, Birdemic-esque geese, car-jacking hoboes, an unconvincing Lincoln Tunnel, Cessna-based family comedy, and a miraculous Dodge Ram minivan conveniently filled with bomb-making materials.

Watching 2012: Ice Age, I found myself filled with questions. Is this scene supposed to be happening in the daytime, or at night? How many tornadoes can actually be caused by a speeding glacier in one film? Can grown men be pinned under Intermetro modular shelving units? Does the National Guard often thwart coat-jackings during glacier-based crises? The answer to those questions are Yes, 3, Yes, and What the hell is a coat-jacking?; but that's answering a question with a question, and it's not really important right now. Watch this film and find out. It's highly recommended if you like stuff that sucks.

Gerhard Richter: Painting

It's painting.

Lots and lots of painting.

According to Wikipedia, Richter is the top-selling living artist. One of his paintings sold for 34 million smackeroos. Something tells me I'm in the wrong business. Seems like a fairly lucrative grift to me.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Satanas: Les Vampires

I didn't realize this serial is actually 6 and a half hours long. I don't have time for all that. So I watched one episode called Satanas because the title sounded pretty cool. Anyway, here's what went down. A top-hatted guy with an outrageous name who claims to be the head of the vampires paralyzes a guy with a glove, everyone glares at one another, then they all head out to the Happy Shack Cabaret. Everyone starts checking their watches because Ol' Satanas is going to 'show proof of his power' at 2 o'clock. Using his crazy rolling cannon, he promptly blows up the Happy Shack Cabaret, which is a drag because that sounds like an alright place to tie one on. Then a chick named Irma Vep shows up, someone gets kidnapped slowly via horse-and-carriage, and I nod off because it's 1:30 in the morning and that's a terrible time to start a 6 and a half hour serial about criminals and with no actual vampires.

If I can get around to it, I'll try to watch a few more episodes because they all have intriguing titles like The Severed Head, Hypnotic Eyes, and The Spectre; only I'll start it a little earlier.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Circo is a lovely, poignant documentary about Circo Mexico. A family toils amidst mud as they build up and tear down the big top in rural Mexico. While Circo has some very striking imagery, particularly of the child acrobats as they perform to mostly empty stands; the film is an unflattering portrait of struggle and poverty. Circo is a powerful film about the disintegration of a family, and its sense of melancholy is enhanced by Calexico's evocative score.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nazis At The Center Of The Earth

Dominique Swain unconvincingly drills an unconvincing drill through 2 inches of unconvincing snow and unconvincingly strikes the unconvincing wing of an unconvincing Dr. Mengele's plane in unconvincing Antarctica in this shot-almost-entirely-in-close-up-so-no-one-notices-how-cheaply-made-it-is Asylum film. There's a lot of unconvincing CGI and green screen effects, lots of unconvincing face-removals, and a convincing Jake Busey; and by a 'convincing Jake Busey' I mean I actually believe he's in this movie but never once did I believe he was anything other than a villain. He's a walking Spoiler Alert.

Anyway, this film contains rotting Nazi soldiers, a steam-punk swastika-ed UFO, and just when you think you've seen it all but happening exactly when you expected it to, a Hitler Transformer. In conclusion, Nazis At The Center Of The Earth is badly realized Hollow Earth Aryan soft-core torture porn that's surprisingly short on the soft-core and the torture while still being extremely distasteful, and that's exactly what I expected.

Something Unknown

Something Unknown is a documentary about the science behind psychic phenomena. Using interview clips in varying degrees of visual quality with scientists involved in psychic research, the film-makers attempt to persuade the viewer into believing in psychic research with 'proof' of varying degrees of quality. Investigating into the 'Big 5' realms of psychic phenomena, telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis, and psychic healing; spoonbending and psychic detectives get lumped in with global correlations in random data experiments with varying degrees of believability. People wave their hands around in a mystical fashion, and people occasionally say scientific words like 'photons'. I remain unconvinced; especially when the film-makers open with a clip of obvious sleight-of-hand and end with a bit of Oliver Stone-esque propaganda where an image of the word 'miracle' is inserted as the narrator speaks about belief and placebo. Overall, I found Something Unknown to be 19th-century spiritualism gussied up in 21st-century clothing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

85th Annual Academy Award Nominations

The 85th Annual Academy Award Nominations were announced this morning. I have only seen 2 of the nominated films, as that requires going to the theater and watching movies. I should start doing that. Every year I say to myself, "Stabford, you're pretty awesome. But you're also kind of busy. You should try to get out to the theater more often and watch movies. You know, out in public, amongst people. People who sit directly in front of you, or (even worse) near you, sharing the same armrest, kicking your chair, talking loudly, texting, opening packages of snacks, and chewing. It'll be fun!" and then I don't because all that stuff sucks.

Lincoln leads the nominations, and I've already seen one Lincoln movie this year and it had vampires in it. Actually, I'd rather skip all the Best Picture nominees, as they seem really depressing. One is about love, one is about melting ice caps, one is about slavery, one is about hostages, another is about the French Revolution, another is about a lifeboat, another is about football, another is about terrorism, and the last is about the Civil War. By no means do I watch chipper, cheerful films; but seriously, that's a bunch of grim stuff there.

Maybe I should start my own award show. Like maybe, "Stabford's First Annual Movie Awards That Are Entertaining And Relatively Well Made And Don't Leave You Depressed For A Week", but I don't think all of that will fit on a statuette.

33rd Annual Golden Raspberry Award Nominations

The 33rd Annual Golden Raspberry Award Nominations were announced yesterday. I haven't seen any of them, as that requires going to the theater and watching movies. I should start doing that. Every year I say to myself, "Stabford, you're pretty awesome. But you're also kind of busy. You should try to get out to the theater more often, and watch movies. You know, out in public, amongst people. People who sit directly in front of you, or (even worse) near you, sharing the same armrest, kicking your chair, talking loudly, texting, opening packages of snacks, and chewing. It'll be fun!", and then I don't because all that stuff kind of sucks.

Anyway, one of those Twilight movies leads the nominations, and I've already complained about those movies before so I won't complain about how vampires and werewolves should look like vampires and werewolves and not the cast of Dawson's Creek. Seriously, who takes a vampire seriously that wears a jacket from Eddie Bauer? I know I don't.

Anyway, I visited the Golden Raspberries webpage to see the nominations, and the page was filled with ads and spam and other awful things, so I didn't hang out long. Here's a list from Total Film detailing all the lucky nominees:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cloud Atlas

Six stories ranging from the 19th century to the distant future are intertwined in this epic sci-fi film. The plot is way too convoluted to outline here because I'm lazy. The CGI is incredible and the score is lovely, but the makeup was very distracting. However, Cloud Atlas was never boring despite a nearly 3 hour runtime. It's nice to see the Wachowskis back in form after several clunkers.


A paid assassin is forced to kill his future self in this sci-fi film. Filled with beautifully shot sequences such as a rocking chair eloquently captured during photography's 'magic hour', an expectant tarp rippling ominously from a breeze, and a child hiding in a cornfield whose blood-covered face has one clean furrow running down it where it has been washed clean by a lone tear; Looper has a nearly unrecognizable Joseph Gordon-Levitt, some very convincing CGI and a well-constructed script. I enjoyed it a great deal.

Ruby Sparks

A young novelist writes a woman into real life in this sappy romantic comedy. The novelist is unlikeable, the woman is only partially realized, the setting is scrubbed-white, tastefully furnished and nouveau-riche, and everyone is slightly quirky. I think those things were supposed to be intentional, and the vapidity was supposed to be the point, but it's still insufferable. Thankfully, around the half-way point, Plastic Bertrand's 'Ca Plane Pour Moi' plays on the soundtrack during one of those cliched 'getting to know each other' montages, and that's a relief.

Wasn't that great? All he does is hop around against a typical 80s geometric pastel backdrop for 3 minutes, and it's so much more interesting than 104 minutes of Ruby Sparks. Then the lead characters go to an outdoor movie and watch Dead Alive, and I hoped that we wouldn't have to watch any more Ruby Sparks and watch that instead.

No such luck. Then someone said, "It's love. It's magic.", and I died a little inside.

Saturday The 14th

An oblivious family inherits a cursed mansion in this corny, cliched, schticky horror comedy. There's candles, cobwebs, creaking doors that open and close by themselves, and Jeffrey Tambor from Arrested Development playing a vampire of sorts. There's also a TV that only plays the Twilight Zone, a Book Of Evil, wooden acting, and hokey jokes. There's also onion dip, a Barbra Streisand joke, and a snarling Paula Prentiss crawls on the floor. The family wanders around their house and ignores obvious signs of danger like a severed head on the table, bats in the belfry, threatening messages scrawled in the condensation collecting on the kitchen window, and monsters having a midnight snack and emptying out the fridge. Who does that? I'm fairly oblivious, too, but even I would have noticed my fridge being empty.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fantasy Mission Force

Jackie Chan does some stuff in this thing someone called a film. None of it is very good. My daughter StumbleUpon-ed this list someone made of the weirdest films they had ever seen, and surprisingly enough I haven't seen some of them. I don't StumbleUpon. I search with a purpose, but I admit I have aimlessly Wikipedia-ed in the past. Did you know that Mzungu is the Bantu term for 'someone who wanders'? Neither did I. Did you know that the Urban Dictionary calls the hypnotic state caused by aimlessly clicking through Wikipedia a Wiki-trance? Neither did I. You learn something new every day. Anyway, I think StumbleUpon-ing is something the young people do, but saying "StumbleUpon-ing" and "something the young people do" and "you learn something new every day" is probably something that old people say and I probably shouldn't say it.

I just tried to go StumbleUpon something, and I have to sign in; and I don't remember my log-in information, and that sounds a lot like effort and I hate that. I'll have my daughter StumbleUpon something for me, and then I'll complain about it.

I've grown tired of waiting for my daughter to wake up, so I asked my wife to StumbleUpon something for me, and she said that StumbleUpon-ing is so 2010. I don't know what that means.

I'm not knocking StumbleUpon. I just think it's a lot like listening to the radio. You have to wade through a lot of static to get to what really interests you. Anyway, I'm hoping if I write StumbleUpon enough some more suckers, oops, I mean 'people interested in bad film' might StumbleUpon my blog. I should do that more often, you know, just write a bunch of words to increase my chances of scoring a Google Search hit. What's that called? Oh yeah, I remember now. It's called Shamelessly Begging.

What do people like nowadays? Heck, I don't know, but it probably isn't any good. I just took a peek at Yahoo to see what is trending, and I have no idea what any of that stuff is. Apparently, people who read Yahoo want extra cash, have stressful jobs, are concerned about bloating, want to lose those extra pounds, and would like to buy Ronald Reagan's house. Who would have thought? I don't find any of those things to be very interesting, but what do I know? Well, I guess I'll give Shamelessly Begging a try:

Lindsey Lohan. Star Wars. Paula Deen. Kelly Clarkson. Hulk Hogan.

Hmmm. That's a wacky list of things to be interested in. I'll see if Shamelessly Begging increases traffic, but I don't think whoever StumbleUpons or Googles my blog will like the results. Anyway, here's the link to those weird films:

I like lists, and I like lists of weird movies, and I like lists of weird movies I haven't seen. Lists of weird movies I haven't seen are pretty rare. If it's weird, I've probably seen it. I have to give the author of that list some props, as I somehow missed out on 18 out of 36 films. I would make a list of The Weird Films From This List Of Weird Films That Stabford Hasn't Seen, but that involves effort, and my time might be better served by just shutting up and watching those films I haven't seen.

Anyway, I have no idea what Fantasy Mission Force is about, and I don't want anyone to tell me. All I know is that there were kilts and sumo wrestlers and headbands. Scenes just seem to start and stop, seemingly at random, all while accompanied by music inappropriate for the action onscreen. There's flying and leaping and somersaulting and sword-play and gun-play and explosions. There was a demolition derby of sorts and a haunted house and cannibals and Nazis. Fantasy Mission Force was tedious, but I recommend it if you like stuff that sucks.

17 films to go.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ancient X-Files

Archaeologists attempt to unearth answers to some of history's mysteries in this National Geographic documentary series. While I would assume that a documentary with the words X-Files in it would be on the darker side of things, I still enjoyed it. Seriously, this documentary should have alien abductions and bees and mutants and government conspiracies and it doesn't. It has the Ark Of The Covenant. While the documentary was describing the Ark Of The Covenant for the third time, Mrs. Deathrage asked what the Ark Of The Covenant was. To be fair, she was playing some sort of game on her computer and wasn't paying close attention to the program, but of course I asked her if she had ever seen Raiders Of The Lost Ark. She couldn't remember if she had or not, which doesn't surprise me. She remembers every date of every thing that has ever happened, and I don't. I remember every movie I've ever seen, and she doesn't, so it's a trade-off. Anyway, I had to remind her that the Ark Of The Covenant is that big tacky golden box in our storage unit that she complains about because it doesn't go with our decor, and she finally remembered because archaeologists keep calling us about it.


Billionaire is a horror film recounting the story of Larry Hillblom, the billionaire founder of DHL, whose estate was beset by several paternity lawsuits after his death from a plane crash. I am going to make a New Year's resolution that in 2013 I will not watch any more movies about billionaires in peril. It's incredibly unnerving. Watching movies about billionaires no longer being able to afford to finish building their 90,000 square foot homes and having their illegitimate offspring coming after their fortunes keeps me awake at night. I kind of worked sort of hard for my fortune, and I want to keep it. I will decide who I will or won't share it with (which means I probably won't) and no one else. I definitely do not want strangers or politicians or poor people shaking me down for cash and prizes. It's bad enough that my children are dividing up my estate, and I'm not dead yet. They do it right in front of me. They take tubs full of DVDs and plunder my bank accounts. I'm putting a stop to that. I've decided that hundreds of years from now when I finally tire of this world and perish, I want to be buried beneath Deathrage Towers, have it imploded with all my stuff inside it, and have a monument built on top. NBD.