Monday, July 28, 2014

Alan Partridge

Steve Coogan stars in this film based on the awkward, clueless radio/TV presenter. Having never heard or seen the original basis for this film, I was concerned I wouldn't understand what was going on in it. Those worries were unfounded, as I grasped the concept from the first wry, hilarious moment. I don't want to spoil too much, but Alan Partridge skewers every radio and television personality with lightning quick, The Office-like precision. Featuring music from Bryan Ferry and Sparks, Alan Partridge is laugh-out-loud funny.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Devil Fish

A shark-octopus hybrid occasionally goes on an unconvincing rampage in this poorly-executed Italian Jaws ripoff. After a couple of partially dismembered bodies are dragged out of the ocean, nothing of interest happens until the 37-minute mark when the tentacles finally appear. It's not very impressive. Then someone is raped, and the rapist covers up his crime by giving his victim a bath and tossing in a hairdryer. I'm not sure why. There are several yawn-inducing love scenes, and I'm not sure why. Someone is pummeled by tentacles, and someone brandishes an ax. While Devilfish is truly awful, I'm not certain it deserves its place in IMDB's Bottom 100 (it's currently #47, above Monster A Go-Go, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, and The Beast Of Yucca Flats). Devilfish contains shoulder pads, high-waisted jeans, and very few devil fish.

The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant

Legendary DJ and snazzy dresser Casey Kasem is pals with a mad scientist with a penchant for attaching superfluous heads to things in this less-than-incredible horror film. Bruce Dern shows off his forlorn rabbit with a phony rabbit head bandaged to it, and his forlorn monkey with a second forlorn monkey bandaged to it, and his snake that already had a second head, and then everyone stands around and wonders why his hideous creature with a second head attached to it suddenly dies, and maybe it's because living things don't often need a second head haphazardly attached to it and, I'm only guessing because I'm neither a legendary radio DJ nor a surgeon, probably rampant infection. Then a crazy criminal drinks milk from the bottle while driving in a maniacal fashion because I'm assuming it's in the script. A gigantic man wearing a sweatshirt with shoulder pads runs awkwardly, and I'm not sure why. The milk-drinking criminal now sporting two heads kidnaps a woman over and over again, and then someone makes her drink water. Why is it that whenever something traumatic happens to someone, they make them drink something? Does trauma make people thirsty? I'm not really sure. Then Casey Kasem shows up to save the day, and he's cavalierly dressed in a vaguely Seinfeld-esque puffy dress shirt with an enormous collar, a fashionable cravat, and a huge belt buckle, and by 'cavalierly' I don't mean 'in an offhand fashion' but I mean he looks like a swashbuckler. Zoinks.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Visitor

An 8-year old girl plays Pong, causes basketballs to explode with the unconvincing power of her mind, and calls legendary director John Huston a bastard in this psychedelic sci-fi film. There's a rooftop full of bald guys, awkward editing, shaky camerawork, aliens wearing football helmets, and a score that doesn't seem to sync up with the action onscreen. John Huston looks uncomfortable and bemused, Shelly Winters roughs up a smart-alecky kid, and Glenn Ford has a cold sore and Hi-Def isn't doing it any favors. It's mortared with about a million failed layers of concealer, and they really should have used one of those invisibility cloaks from Harry Potter. The cinematographer tries to keep it out of frame by shooting Ford from the back in an arty fashion, but the darned thing keeps hogging the spotlight, chewing the scenery, and demanding a trailer.

Oops, someone replaced my video clip that doesn't exist of Glenn Ford's cold sore verbally abusing a makeup artist with a clip of a zit verbally abusing an advertising executive from the acerbic film How To Get Ahead In Advertising.

Anyway, while there are some striking images in The Visitor, there's also a LOL-worthy bird attack in a moving car that results in vitreous hemorrhage and incineration, and a inexplicable moment of ice skating and escalator riding. I'm not 100% sure what happened or why, but it was as entertaining as a feathered-haired Bad Seed freakout could be.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Field In England

Deserters during the English Civil War eat a psychedelic mushroom stew and have a 17th century freakout in a misty field in this avant-garde black-and-white film. Featuring beautiful, painterly cinematography, an eerie, foreboding score, and an inscrutable, metaphysical script; A Field In England is very slow-moving and in the style of experimental filmmakers Kenneth Anger, Derek Jarman, and Peter Greenaway. It is categorized as a horror film, but those hoping for a Stuart Period costumed torture-porn bloodbath may be disappointed by the wordy historical drama with clinical male nudity and an inexplicable tug-of-war that it actually is. However, viewers searching for an Eraserhead-like, alchemical puzzler will be rewarded by a cryptic, stroboscopic ending.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fangs Of The Living Dead

A model becomes the owner of a castle and a countess all in one day thanks to the estate of a family she never met, and this never once causes her any sort of concern; but in all fairness, this movie was shot before the internet age and Nigerian spam. So she travels to the town where her brand new castle is, orders a beer in a bar, announces she's the new countess, and all the townsfolk recoil in horror as if she just announced she's going to appear in a vampire film that doesn't have many vampires in it. She heads over to the castle where she meets her suspiciously-cold-to-the-touch uncle, and they head down to the crypt because it's in the script and very, very believable that she'd do that. She writes her dead father's name on one of the crypts in lipstick as an abrupt sort of dedication, and that doesn't seem weird at all. I guess she didn't have a Sharpie handy to desecrate one of her supposed ancestor's grave within the first five minutes she's in her brand new creepy castle, and that seems to just barely make the uncle mad.

As the countess is sleeping, a busty visitor walks into her room to thicken the plot, and by "thicken the plot" I really mean, "climb into the sack with her and stroke her hair because that's how European vampires say Hello".

This turn of events vaguely annoys the uncle, so he chains the busty vampire up in the crypt to give her a good whipping, and the countess states that she's "allergic to castles" and I'm not sure what that means exactly. In an explanatory flashback, a witch is burned at the stake by torch-wielding villagers because of course she is because this is a sort-of vampire flick from the late 60s/early 70s and every movie back then had at least one witch in it. I'm nearly 100% certain that One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, The Conversation, and The Last Picture Show all had a witch burning scene in it, and you should watch them again in case you don't believe me.

Suddenly, the shadow of a poorly manipulated phony bat appears at the window. It's not very good. Then there's the sound of stock werewolf sound effects because of course there are because this film is called Fangs Of The Living Dead and you might as well have a werewolf because there's very few vampires and almost no living dead people, well, at least I don't think so. Then there's a gauzy nightgown-filled romp through the cemetery, and the now vampiric bar maiden climbs out of her grave that seems to have a styrofoam lid. Then someone asks the busty vampire if she's "going to catch a cold in that flimsy dress", and she replies "The cold of the grave runs through my veins", and I think they're possibly serious.

The Lego Movie

It's been nearly a week since I saw the charming, delightful film The Lego Movie, and I still have the insanely catchy tune "Everything Is Awesome" stuck in my head.

And now you do, too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Linotype: The Film

The history of the "hot type" typesetting machine is examined in this dry, but informative documentary. Talking heads lament the demise of the huge machine that created type out of molten lead amidst vintage film clips. I learned that typesetters would often type the phrase ETAOIN SHRDLU to signal that there was a typo in the copy, and sometimes that two-word phrase would find its way in print. Someone also says the startling phrase "I saved my first squirt", and it sounds much dirtier than it really is. Linotype: The Film is educational, and features music by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin.

Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction

Comprised of film clips, smoking, extended silences, and several musical numbers, the career of character actor Harry Dead Stanton is sort of outlined, but I can't say I got a lot of information out of it. David Lynch drops by to ask Harry Dean a few questions, and I can't help but wonder what a cocktail party with those two would be like. I don't think a lot of conversation would take place, the bar would be emptied, and the house would be littered with severed ears crawling with ants, cigarette butts, and Molly Ringwald. Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is well shot, engrossing, and enigmatic, however, viewers wanting facts and figures should look elsewhere.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Body Care And Grooming (1948)

For those inhabiting a human body for the first time, the hygiene film Body Care And Grooming from 1948 is an indispensable primer for the care of your host. Whether this is your first demonic possession or if you're a seasoned pro, Body Care And Grooming will help you avoid some common pitfalls associated with the upkeep of the human body. As a reminder, humans are complex organic mechanisms, and their disgusting outer shells are often in need of cleaning, repair, and decoration. Please remember to wear clothing, and modern, up-to-date styles are preferred. For instance, human males feel human females have no worth if their hair is unkempt, or if their bobby socks are loose, droopy, and slide down their legs. This is of particular importance to incubi and succubi, as humans dislike mating with unattractive humans who have no regard for current fashion. Also, humans need to excrete waste on a regular basis, so try to avoid using other human's toilet articles. And finally, wash the host's hair at least once every two weeks whether it needs it or not, and adding a touch of lemon juice is preferred. Following the rules laid out in the informative film Body Care And Grooming will allow you to continue inhabiting your host for many years with little fear of being discovered and exorcised, or until the End Of Days, whichever comes first.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson directs this ornate tale of a cavalier concierge and his lobby boy. Featuring murder, art theft, and dessert, all the Wes Anderson hallmarks are in abundance: Flat, affected, grandiloquent dialogue. Symmetrical, deep focus cinematography. A rich color palette of mustards, corals, plums, and aquamarines. Gorgeous sets. Sumptuous art direction. A wry, serpentine screenplay. Exquisite acting. And finally, an Egon Schiele joke. Begging to be crushed beneath the weight of multiple Oscars, I hope Wes Anderson and his eccentric, blithe, and delightful The Grand Budapest Hotel will be awarded handsomely in 2015 after years of being unfairly ignored for Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Moonrise Kingdom. Playing more like an delicately seasoned amuse-bouche than a gravy-soaked plate lumped with hunks of chicken fried steak, The Grand Budapest Hotel is meant to please the palate, enchant the eye, and showcase the chef's skill, rather than gorge one's gluttony.