Saturday, November 30, 2013

Don't Trust The B... In Apartment 23

I don't watch television shows. They get in the way of my movie viewing. However, I accidentally stumbled upon this television show called Don't Trust The B... In Apartment 23, and I've watched nearly the whole season while eating box after box of Little Debbie Cherry Cordial Cakes.

I love them so much. Phony chocolate covering a phony cherry-flavored filling and two phony graham cracker cookies, they're like a cough syrup-flavored Moon Pie. I have 3 boxes hidden in the kitchen cabinet where we keep the pots and pans, and since no one likes Little Debbie Cherry Cordial or cooking they'll be completely safe. Anyway, here's the premise of this situation comedy: The heroine of the show becomes roommates with a horrible woman in New York City. It's just an awful situation. The heroine of the show is just trying to make her way in the Big City the only way she knows how, and she's dogged continuously by this other roommate's quirky antics. It's very frustrating to watch, because I can relate to the heroine on a very deep level.

See, I have a work environment I lot like that, where I am surrounded by chipper incompetents who deserve a smackwich, but I never came up with anything as genius as a smackwich because I just shove them all down an open elevator shaft. And I can relate to poor Chloe, who has a nightmare of a roommate who is smiling and happy and optimistic and just so, so awful and who is always trying to squash her party buzz. It would be like living with a blonde, effervescent Buzz Killington, and I would probably push myself down the elevator shaft just to get away from her.

Anyway, I'm very upset to find out that this TV show I've never heard of until like 5 minutes ago is totally cancelled, and I'll never see my BFF Chloe again.


A bullfighter is gored and paralyzed. His wife dies in childbirth. His scheming nurse marries the depressed, disabled bullfighter. The daughter lives with the grandmother until she dies from an unfortunate flamenco accident. Forced to live with her evil, naughty step-mother deep in the cellar of her mansion, the daughter is only able to visit her father when the step-mother has her BDSM photo shoots with her chauffer. Years pass. After nearly being murdered, the girl escapes and lives with bullfighting dwarves. Does this plot sound familiar? Blancanieves is a lovely fairy tale, but it isn't Disney. Beautifully shot in black and white, it is also silent. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Time Zero: The Last Year Of Polaroid Film

The birth, death and rebirth of the instant self-developing film is examined in this interesting documentary. Using a muted color palette and a hint of soft focus, Time Zero looks reminiscent of an instant Polaroid picture. The film features an interview with John Waters, who has taken a Polaroid picture of everyone who has entered his home since the early 1990s, and no one can see them until after his death. Waters was very upset on the discontinuation of Polaroid film, and his interview is one of the highlights of the film. Speaking of being very upset, Polaroid-induced tears start flowing in Time Zero around the 50-minute mark, so you Polaroid fans should grab some Kleenex at that point.

My youngest daughter is a photographer who takes photos using expired Polaroid film, and if you scroll back a few posts you can see one of her portraits of me. I've tried telling her that they make brand new cameras. In fact, nowadays some don't even need film! She won't listen to me. Anyway, I think her photo captures my essence perfectly, especially because in real life I'm faded, off-color, and slightly blurry.

Warning Shadows

Awkward lovey-dovey shenanigans occur during a riveting evening of shadowplay with tragic results, I think, possibly, in this creaky silent film. Featuring knee-britches, wide-eyed, overly expressionistic sideways glances, and no inter-titles; Warning Shadows has some striking imagery but it's terrible slow moving. Instead of playing Shadowplay For 19th Century Swingers By Candlelight maybe they should've played Tiddlywinks.

Secret Disco Revolution

I've been having an argument with someone for the past several years. He was completely flabbergasted when I told him that disco was never meant for mass consumption, that it was protest music for several oppressed minorities, and that the record-burning "Disco Sucks" movement was motivated by racism and homophobia. He didn't believe me. And now it looks as though someone made a movie about this very topic.

Featuring a slight touch of hyperbole and lots of disco hits, Secret Disco Revolution is interesting and informative, but I found the Three Ghosts Of Disco Past who do things like throw glitter on a mirror ball or get the old heave-ho from Studio 54 to be somewhat irritating.

Anatomy Of A Psycho

A man slowly journeys down the road to hooliganism after his brother goes to the gas chamber; and it's a long, long road filled with lengthy conversations with uninteresting youths in this boring drama. There are several oddly choreographed fight scenes amongst interchangeable fifties youngsters who all seem to have some sort of sudsy relationship troubles of one kind or another, but I stopped caring long before the lead actor finally becomes a psycho. I've seen worse psychos in my day. Here's the film if you really must watch it. It appears to be in the public domain.

Journey To Planet X

Two guys make homemade films in this awkward, cringeworthy documentary. I give props to these guys. They're following their dream. However, it's very difficult to watch as they struggle with equipment, egos and a severely limited budget. I did enjoy their creativity, as the filmmakers cobble together props from a variety of offbeat sources. Journey To Planet X is an inspiring look into DIY filmmaking, so much so that I'm looking into painting the penthouse Chroma Key Green.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Russian Ark

A ghostly observer time-travels through the Hermitage in this exquisitely costumed drama filmed in one uninterrupted take. Although forced, stagey, and a little pretentious, Russian Ark is technically impressive and features one of the most beautiful sets in the world. I gasped several times after the camera moved through darkened hallways and entered one of the Hermitage's masterpiece-filled rooms. Unfortunately, nothing really happens in Russian Ark. It's a 90-minute walk through a museum. People expecting Top Gun or The Hunt For Red October will be disappointed, because Sean Connery is not driving the ark and no one plays volleyball.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Anton Corbijn: Inside Out

The influential photographer/director is profiled in this well-shot documentary. Featuring brief clips from several of his Corbijn's groundbreaking music videos and many shots of his celebrity black-and-white portraits, I found myself less interested in continuing to watch the documentary and more willing to kick out some 80s jams.

Joy Division "Atmosphere"

David Sylvian "Red Guitar"

Depeche Mode "Never Let Me Down"

He also directed the video for Arcade Fire's "Reflektor", and the film shows Corbijn at one of Arcade Fire's concerts. Honestly, I would've thought Arcade Fire would've gotten him some better seats.

Unfortunately, the documentary grinds to a halt once it starts to focus on the director himself. Evidently, he doesn't have a lot to say.


A janitor is trapped in a stall of a women's restroom during an office bikini-lesbian X-Mas party when a zombie apocalypse breaks out in this low-budget horror-comedy. Taking place almost entirely within a bathroom stall, Stalled has an interesting premise but is hampered by lackluster cinematography. There's drug-fueled zombie crowd surfing, zombie toilet rats, severed fingers being flung by a bra, and a graffitied Sharpie doodle as a co-star. It could've been worse.

Speaking of being trapped at the holidays with no escape, we decided as a family to have a Thanksgiving-related costume party, and by "We decided as a family" I really mean "I delivered an ultimatum via mass-text while eating hummus". In order to be served Thanksgiving dinner, everyone must come dressed as something Thanksgivingy, and the winner gets a prize, and the prize is they get to eat Thanksgiving dinner. It is mandatory. All of the Deathrages are very competitive, so I'm looking forward to seeing what my family will wear. Since we are on a time-crunch and very zombie-centric, I'm expecting quite a few Zombie Pilgrims. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I think I'm going to dress up as dressing.

I'm going to crush the competition. No one stands a chance. However, I might be the only person at the table wearing a cardboard box with "Jiffy" crudely crayoned all over it, and if that's the case, more stuffing for me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Garbo: The Spy

Using clips from old movies to forward the plot, the story of the Spanish double agent who fooled the Nazis into believing D-Day was only a diversion and the real invasion of France was to take place at Pas De Calais is detailed in this dry, enigmatic documentary. Images of war, strife, and marching armies are paired with charts, graphs, and clips of films featuring Peter Lorre and other stars of the 30s and 40s, and you never quite get the sense of who Garbo is until the last minutes of the film. Garbo: The Spy has an intriguingly quirky soundtrack with music from Brian Eno and Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Bloodsuckers from outer space or the ocean attack an Irish island, and the only way for the villagers to survive is to get drunk in this well-made horror comedy. Good acting and fine cinematography raise this film above others in the genre such as those often produced by The Asylum, but I couldn't help the fact that watching a CGI monster that looked like a rolling ball of tentacles brought back terrible memories I thought I had repressed from the time my frenemy Cthulhu spent several weeks sleeping on my couch.

All the alcohol that was flowing in Grabbers reminded me that Cthulhu left half-empty bottles of expensive craft beer everywhere and didn't replace them. Craft beer doesn't grow on trees, especially when the drinker of the craft beer didn't buy them, doesn't finish them, can't seem to find the recycling bin, and ain't got a freakin' job. His dirty socks and underpants littered my living room, and my entire penthouse smelled like dirty jeans, a ripe bleu cheese, and desperation. It was very unpleasant until I shoved him down an empty elevator shaft. I realize that falling down an open elevator shaft does nothing to an Ancient One, but it subtly let him know how I felt about the situation, and I'm all about subtlety.

Ping Pong

Octogenarian badasses compete at the World Table Tennis Championship in Inner Mongolia in this charming and inspiring documentary. Watching these athletes train and compete almost makes me a little ashamed to complain about my various aches and pains; but almost, because I'm not burdened with human emotion. Watching this film makes me want to join the 120-years+ age group and play table tennis professionally, because I'm pretty fit for my age and I could just shove some of those athletes down on the floor and cause them to break their hips. I do the Insanity Workout and I'm a ruthless competitor. I could be World Champion if I were to ever get off the couch, learn how to play table tennis, and stop eating all these cookies. Unfortunately I have an unfair advantage. I would probably be disqualified. I never appear to grow older because I have a painting that does that for me.

Yeah, sort of like that.

Computer Chess

With so many bad haircuts, grainy footage, vintage computer equipment, moments of awkward geekiness, and overhead projectors, I had to research whether or not Computer Chess was found footage documentary of a real computer chess tournament from the early 80s. It is not, and unfortunately Computer Chess would've worked better in that format. Near the 3/4 point, Computer Chess tries to incorporate some semblance of a plot, and the movie suffers for it. The surreal "There is no spoon" aspect causes the film to seem disjointed, and also would have been more successful if it stayed in that format as well. Still, Computer Chess is an interesting, uncomfortable experiment.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Escape From Tomorrow

I knew as soon as I agreed to it that it was a terrible idea. I should never have said that I would go on vacation to Disney World with unemployed, girl-chasing Jim, his sunscreen-obsessed shrew wife Emily, their two dead-eyed children, and the cameraman who can't quite hold the camera steady. I knew there would be humidity, long lines, slurping ice cream from plastic sporks, screaming children, topsiders, fanny-packs, shopping for crystalline tchotchkes, awkward restroom encounters, bickering, fainting, hallucinations, and giant turkey legs because I've been to Disney World before. I just didn't know it would be with Jim, Emily, their two angelic cherubs, and the cameraman because they're all very irritating and they somehow have the uncanny ability to make an unpleasant and very expensive day out at the Magic Kingdom even less fun than it sounds. Maybe it's just me but if I'm spending a quarter of a million dollars out at Disney World, everybody better have fun or else. No whining, no complaining, and no BDSM quickies with the Witch from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Next time they want to go on vacation, I think I'll pass.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bad Girls Go The Hell

Partially nude people try to simultaneously titillate and remain inexplicably clothed while being repeatedly hit with a belt in this dreadful sexploitation "roughie" directed by notorious "nudie-cutie" director Doris Wishman. Since I brought up Doris Wishman in my review of Movie 43, I decided to watch one of her films. I really shouldn't have. Here's the plot: A girl wearing revealing nightgowns and underpants is victimized by everyone she meets. 

Spoiler Alert! It's a dream. 

Spoiler Alert! Or is it? 

Spoiler Alert! It is a dream, but it isn't very good. 

Doris Wishman is foot and shoe obsessed in Bad Girls Go To Hell, but she hasn't quite achieved her auteur-like framing of shoes in extreme close-up, and she hasn't fully begun to use her technique of subtly drifting her camera away from actors while they're speaking badly-dubbed dialogue which then culminates in confusing shots of inanimate objects like lamps and phones that she mastered in her later Chesty Morgan films Deadly Weapons and Double Agent 73, and by "mastered" I mean "seemingly fumbled in an almost all-thumbs manner" and by "auteur" I mean "can't stop watching through my facepalmed fingers because it's a burlap sack full of WTF".

Bad Girls Go To Hell is recommended only for Doris Wishman fans. Everyone else should avoid it like it's covered in a mysterious sticky substance.


Prior to the Daniel Craig era of 007, I had convinced myself that a James Bond movie consisted of approximately 10% thrilling opening sequence, 5% entertaining title sequence, 10% Bond foreplay, 5% Bond Girl, 3% car or other gadget, and 65% meh. Skyfall has all those common elements. There's a thrilling opening sequence involving a chase through a bazaar, a colorful CGI title sequence with a great theme by Adele, and fisticuffs aboard a moving train. There's a couple of underutilized Bond Girls, and some foreplay with a sadly lisping and unfortunately coiffed Javier Bardem. Bond finally whips it out near the end and it's impressive, and by "it" I mean the Aston Martin. I enjoyed Skyfall, but all the ratios remain intact.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Movie 43

Wikipedia has a page called "The List Of Films Considered The Worst Ever", and of course I had to make sure. They did not consult me, and they should have. I'm not convinced Wikipedia knows every film considered the worst ever, because Malibu Beach Vampires is not listed. If you haven't seen Malibu Beach Vampires, you absolutely must.

Malibu Beach Vampires is the second worst movie I've ever seen, right behind Birdemic: Shock And Terror.

Anyway, watching Malibu Beach Vampires makes you take stock of your life choices up to that point, including the decision to watch Malibu Beach Vampires. It makes you reconsider every film you've ever seen. You can no longer trust your instincts. What is "good" and what is "bad"? Your scale becomes distorted. You've climbed down the Bad Movie Rabbit Hole, and the hole is deep. It's so deep, in fact, that if you stood on the precipice of the Bad Movie Rabbit Hole and dropped in a pebble to gauge its depth, you may never hear that stone hit the bottom. The stone would crash into Movie 43 at the very top of the Bad Movie Rabbit Hole, smash into Sharknado somewhere in the middle, continue gathering speed and hitting most of the films by Ed Wood, Andy Milligan, and Doris Wishman near the bottom, and then striking Malibu Beach Vampires and Birdemic at the Earth's core.

What can I say about Movie 43? It's awful, but in the Bad Movie Rabbit Hole it isn't so bad. Movie 43 is what would happen if someone loaded a slow-moving ship with about a million Oscar winners and nominees and set it on a course to strike another slow-moving ship loaded with about a million up-and-coming future superstars. There is no way to alter the course of the ships, and everyone on board is clutching their Oscars, Golden Globes, and MTV Movie Awards. They slowly careen into one another and the ships begin to sink. In a futile effort to avoid drowning, the actors jettison their shiny awards into the ocean, say the word "poop" a lot, and use their enormous prosthetic breasts to make guacamole because that's fine. They all drown anyway. It's a sad and regretful situation.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Four wine experts attempt to pass the difficult test to become Master Sommeliers in this tedious documentary. Amidst cheesy vocal jazz on the soundtrack, literally thousands of grape varieties, flash cards, spit buckets, (and to add insult to injury) geography; brilliant, driven, but pretentious snobs try to outdo each other by pretending to smell the most imaginary aromas in a glass of wine.

If I ordered an extravagant bottle of wine and the selling point was that it had a bouquet of cat urine, rubber hose, or my grandmother's purse, that bottle is going back and I will be quite angry. Can you imagine? If I was eating in a fancy, shmancy restaurant and the waiter presented a bottle of Le Sac De Grandmere 1956 and said it had delicate hints of litter box, I'd laugh right in his face and demand he be fired.

It cracks me up when people pay out the nose for something that has a particular hint of aroma in it, or the suggestion of a flavor element. They think it's sophisticated. If I'm paying $200 for a bottle of wine, it better not have a suggestion. I want to be punched in the mouth with flavor for that price. And no one is going to be impressed if you knock back a mouthful of grape and say, "Why, that has an austere, cliff-edge finish with notes of a well-integrated minerality and a touch of barnyard". Everyone is going to realize you're a douche.

Near the end of this movie, I couldn't contain my curiosity. I poured myself a glass of wine, swirled the liquid around in the glass, and inhaled. I smelled wine. I did not detect notes of vanilla, jasmine, oak, or cat piss, and I tried. It smelled like wine, and I'm almost certain pretty much every wine I've ever smelled smelled like wine. I'm not saying that sommeliers aren't well-trained professionals and don't have well-paid noses and palates, I'm just saying that gullible people often need to reassured in their purchases.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

House II: The Second Story

Arye Gross moves into a haunted house, then the corpse of his great-grandfather drives him around in an Alfa Romeo Spider in this dreadful horror-comedy. Being the owner of an Alfa Romeo Spider, I have to say from experience that you'll never get the stench of rotting corpse out of the interior of your Alfa Romeo Spider if you drive your dead great-grandfather in it, even with the top down. It's going to take more than a few squirts of Febreze to freshen that up, let me tell you. If you're going to go on a joy-ride with the wisecracking frontier gibberish-spouting animated corpse of your great-grandfather, take the Kia.

Anyway, back to the movie. There's a poorly rendered crystal skull, a guy in a gorilla suit, a pterodactyl puppet, some unconvincing 80s pop music, and a turquoise bolo tie. House II: The Second Story was awful. Avoid it, if you can.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Institute

Enigmatic and self-indulgent, The Institute is a documentary about a scavenger hunt that took place in San Francisco, I think. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure. You can trust very little in The Institute. Are the people being interviewed still participating in this surreal, Dadaesque game? Are the film-makers? From what I gather from information on the internet, it does seem over. I had more questions than answers from this film, and if the game is indeed over, that's a shame. Although I would never be a part of a club that would have me as a member, I would be interested in participating in this weird scavenger hunt. It seemed like a bunch of culty, conspiratorial, breakdancey, sasquatchy fun.

Murders In The Rue Morgue

Even on the best day, my handwriting isn't great. Judging from my notes for Murders In The Rue Morgue, I didn't have a great day. My notepad is missing some pages, and most things written in it are mostly just illegible scrawl, so I'll do my best to sort out what my intentions were because I'm not watching this movie again. Here's my attempt to figure out what this movie is about and what I wrote in my notebook in the dark, half-asleep:

In the film Murders In The Rue Morgue, 19th century ladies lie upside-down on chaise lounges in complicated underpants and then get murdered by juleis (sic) wearing capes. Extravagantly costumed, thulen (sic). (I'm not sure what juleis are, and I'm not sure what a thulen is or why the sentence just stops there. Maybe if we keep going, we'll find out.)

The hat budget alone must have cost thousands, as everyone wears a 3-foot tall hat made of feathers at every opportunity. That's the 19th century for you. Anyway, between the capes, the hats, and the ape-man costumes. (Yes, the sentence just ends. There was supposed to be a joke there, obviously. Sadly, I don't recall what it is, because I scribbled the words gauzy nightgowns and can-can over it because that's exactly what needed to happen.)

People get acid splashed in their faces which instantly kills them, and people get buried alive which doesn't. I'm not sure, because I haven't priced a gouleia costume lately. (I have no idea what a gouleia could be. I think this could've been a funny joke, but the likelihood is that two pages that didn't intend to go together ended up accidentally creating some sort of Exquisite Corpse-like sentence. Still, the possibilities are intriguing.) Dream sequences, flashbacks and faintings. (Ah, I remember that were an awful lot of faintings in Murders In The Rue Morgue, but I really don't recall what everyone was fainting about. People fainted a lot in the 19th century. It could've been anything.)

And that's it. Maybe if we watch a trailer, we can figure out what all this was about.

Nope, I still don't know.

Blood For Dracula

Udo Kier plays a pale, aristocratic vampire in search of European virgins in this horror comedy. Udo stars as Count Dracula, and he wanders around Europe in the daytime while casually shielding his face from the rays of the sun with his hat, nonchalantly takes crucifixes down off the walls because he finds them mildly irritating, complains about garlic, eats vegetables, and twitches awkwardly on brass beds; so he doesn't really act an awful lot like Count Dracula. He vomits up blood that he drinks from a bunch of women who claim to be virgins but they aren't, and Joe Dallesandro tries to say the word 'whore' but says 'hoo-ah' instead for some reason. A forlorn oboe plays throughout on the soundtrack, and I sort of expected the Black Knight from Monty Python's Holy Grail to show up at the end and complain that "It's only a flesh wound". He doesn't, unfortunately.

Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf's

Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf's is a documentary examining the American Dream, and the American Dream is to be able to afford expensive items no one else can afford. Hey, don't get me wrong, I love expensive items as much as the next billionaire, because having expensive items no one else has is fun. Actually, having an item no one else has is fun regardless of price. Inspiring envy in others is inspiring. I don't necessarily have to spend $6000 on a pair of ugly shoes to feel elitist. I can happily spend $60 on a pair of ugly shoes and feel elitist, because I like ugly shoes no one else would ever wear and if I ever see anyone else wearing apparel I own it's dead to me forever.

If I were to ever go to one of those red carpet movie premieres (and I probably wouldn't) and someone were to ask me what I was wearing (and they probably wouldn't), I would gladly tell them I am wearing my vintage 80s Cocteau Twins t-shirt, my vintage belt with hot dogs on it I bought from Strange Cargo in Chicago, my Cheap Monday jeans with the skulls on the buttons, and my socks from Target with tacos on them. I could guarantee no one would be wearing that outfit, and probably no one would want to.

Anyway, I found one moment in Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf's to be very ironic, where someone was recounting a story where a bag lady came in to Bergdorf's and was asking about a fur coat. The salesperson tried to be helpful, because if you're making $450,000 a year as a retail salesperson you'd better be helpful, and kept telling the woman that she couldn't afford the coat, and the bag lady reached into her shopping bag and pulled out a fat stack of cash to buy it. The person telling the story said, "You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, because you never can tell if a bag lady is carrying a bag of cash", and I have to call bullcrap on that. Everyone who shops at Bergdorf's WANTS to be judged by their cover, and pays a bag full of cash to have it done.

Necessary Evil: Super Villains Of DC Comics

An exhaustive, tedious look at some of the more well-known super-villains of DC Comics, and by "exhaustive" I really mean that I found the endless interviews of writers and artists exhausting. You know what would've made this documentary about super-villains a bit more interesting? More villainy. Sure, the film-makers include clips of some of the villains, but they would cut right back to someone talking and talking and talking about what makes these characters tick. Instead of talking about villainy, why couldn't we see some of it? The villains take a back seat in a movie about villains, and it's a big pile of meh. Speaking of big pile of meh, Necessary Evil interviews Guillermo Del Toro who directed this summer's Pacific Rim, which is supposed to be a movie about giant robots battling giant monsters but it's really a movie about a bunch of bros who drive giant robots and have a bunch of crybaby feelings and then you hardly ever see the giant monsters. Del Toro was a perfect fit for Necessary Evil, but probably not for the reasons the film-makers thought he was.