Wednesday, January 28, 2015


A young woman is accused of theft and subjected to a traumatizing search in this taut, provocative film. Based on a true story, Compliance follows the Bullitt County McDonald's Strip Search Prank Call Case nearly to the letter, and I'm glad they told me as the events are so horrifying I nearly didn't believe it. After a caller identifying himself as a police officer informs a harried restaurant manager that one of her employees is being accused of theft, the manager follows the instructions from the slick, convincing, manipulative, and flattering prank caller, and then detains the hapless employee for over 3 hours. Ann Dowd as the manager deftly portrays a gullible, desperate, and overworked character while supplying hints of narcissism, tenderness, and shame. Heather McIntosh's unobtrusive, anxious cello score heightens the tension throughout.

Holy Motors

A mysterious man is chauffeured around in his hoarder-limousine as he dresses up for various appointments in this challenging avant-garde film.

Well, I've been trying to make my way through a couple of lists of The 50 Weirdest Movies Ever...

...because I'm all like, "Uh, yeah, right. I'm pretty weird, and I think I can handle it". Unfortunately, I'm now about a dozen reviews behind. Back to Holy Motors. It was pretty to look at, but I found it to be rather meh. Denis Lavant gives a tour de force performance, while Leos Carax directs a smug, jokey script in a forced, look-at-me-I'm-avant-garde manner. There were a few eyebrow-raising moments, particularly the motion-capture scene, but the chimps and the talking cars elicited eye-rolls instead. I wanted to like it more than I did.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Interview

I don't really follow the news, but from what I gather, the vanity Road comedy from Seth Rogen and James Franco known as The Interview caused a little international kerfluffle recently, and after seeing it, I'm not entirely surprised. The wafer-thin plot consists of the affable, goofy duo traveling to North Korea to interview a margarita-sipping, Katy Perry-listening Kim Jong-Un, and its scatological humor falls flat. Failing as a comedy, The Interview only just succeeds as a US Government propaganda weapon. Check out this spoileriffic shot I snapped, where two of Rogen's fingers are bitten off during a pivotal moment near the end of the film.

Having wrapped his bleeding hand with the North Korean flag, Rogen leaves his middle finger extended in a salute. Onscreen for a fraction of a second, it's a surely ad-libbed but probably suggested by CIA moment in a film that has the half-baked aroma of being ghostwritten by a secretive Washington agency.  I can only guess that the team of Rogen and Franco were seemingly allowed by a round-table of shadow operatives working within the framework of a stale 1960s TV skit to dead-horse their chummy, literally crotch-focused humor over an excessively redacted Cold War-era anti-Communist memo from a conspiratorial closet of the US government, somehow hammering it into the vague shape of an actual film, and if someone were to trim an hour and 20 minutes and replace James Franco with Barbara Eden and North Korea with Cocoa Beach, the end result wouldn't seem out of place slipped into a season of I Dream Of Jeannie. The Interview is as cuddly as a puppy, and a few of their drawn-out, awkwardly-smoochy shenanigans warrant a weak smile, but it's best enjoyed as a nefarious, breadcrumb-laden honeypot of espionage created to embarrass and undermine a dictator.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sweet Movie

I've gone on this rant before in, I don't know, maybe 500 movie reviews, but seriously, I don't care what era the movie was filmed in or the socio-economic challenges of the time, but there's just no excuse for the shocking reality of wicker furniture.

Film-makers, if your budget only allows for set design to include a wicker fan chair, then don't make your film. I don't care if you're making a political statement about capitalism by including a sequence featuring a wicker chair. Don't do it. I don't care if you decide to go upscale and include a piece of modern, stylish white linen-covered wicker furniture that looks like two hammocks. Don't do it.

And I certainly don't care if you decide to use a piece of wicker furniture that looks like the car Gary Numan drove around in Urgh! A Music War. Don't do it.

OK, after watching that clip from Urgh! A Music War, I've softened my stance on whether or not film-makers should use wicker furniture that looks like the tiny future car Gary Numan drove around in Urgh! A Music War, and by "softened my stance" I mean "film-makers should use footage of Gary Numan driving around a tiny future car in all their films". I'd watch that movie. It would be sweet.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Double

In a world where everything is antiquated, in need of repair, in need of a good scrub, in need of a coat of paint in any color but olive drab, ill-fitting, and probably formerly soviet, a man meets his doppelgänger. The Double is appropriately stagey, artificial, and dystopian, fitting for a film based on Dostoyevsky's novella. The bureaucracy of The Double is equally as villainous as the main character's double.

I live in fear that I might have a doppelgänger. Somewhere out there, someone could be my exact opposite, and plotting my downfall. Someone could be thoughtful, caring, considerate. Someone could be sitting around not watching movies, not eating Junior Mints, not being a successful entrepreneur, not having billions of dollars at their disposal, in other words, being totally, totally lame. I shudder at the thought.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mundo Depravados

Burlesque star Tempest Storm stars in this comedic sex murder mystery, where two detectives hunt down a pantyhose-masked, trenchcoat-clad, Keds-wearing sex monster, which is apparently a thing that exists. After the sex monster unconvincingly murders a woman in a doll factory who looks like the Jesus And Mary chain held her down and teased her hair, two detectives with a penchant for impersonations search for clues in two likely places: a television station that is host to an unconvincing, 15-second-long exercise program and the burlesque house because those two places are well known for containing clues. Every male character would rather peep through peepholes, through cracked doorways, and through heating vents instead of buying a ticket to Tempest Storm's burlesque act where she pretends to be murdered by the sex monster, and the two detectives become concerned that her act might upset the real sex monster. He shouldn't, unless sex monsters are often upset by Tempest Storm wearing two sets of lingerie and pretending to be unconvincingly stabbed in front of a unconvincingly strip-teased audience. Mundo Depravados is poorly mic'd, poorly acted, and very, very boring.

Monday, January 12, 2015


A wannabe musician stumbles onto a gig as a keyboardist for an avant-garde rock group in this bittersweet film loosely based on the career of outsider musician/comedian Frank Sidebottom. Featuring scenes of the musicians playing bendy straws, 11 months of rehearsals, a viking funeral, a safety word, and a gig at South By Southwest, Frank may play fast and loose with the history of Frank Sidebottom's band The Freshies but makes up for it with intriguing performances by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Michael Fassbender. Plus, I'm a big fan of theremins, and I don't want anyone touching mine, either.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Trip To Italy

Steve Coogan and Rob Dryson take another culinary trip, this time in Italy. Featuring gorgeous cinematography of a cliff top castle overlooking a bay filled with yachts, the poignant lava-encased corpses of Vesuvius, and the lush, green cemetery where Percy Bysshe Shelley is buried, The Trip To Italy also features the music of Alanis Morrisette and impersonations. Lots and lots of impersonations. Honestly, the film is filled with too many impersonations and too much Morrisette, which is any. While the one-upmanship of the pair riffing on Batman and Michael Caine over pasta was briefly humorous, the incessant impersonations ground on my nerves after a while. Still, The Trip To Italy was witty, droll, and a touch too long.

Buck Wild

Four bros go on a camping trip when zombies attack in this film. After their landlord gets hit in the head with a wrench, a chupacabra shows a little too much gum. Since no camping trip is complete without a hint of homosexual subtext, a banjo and a feather boa appear at the 6-minute mark, and the cigar-smoking bro works some nunchaku in the buff and the boxer brief-clad bro gets spanked and ridden like a pony. After the cast keeps saying the phrase "bad-ass" over and over without seeming to understand what it means, another bro gets a little pot-brownie-fueled zombie psychoanalysis in a humorous twist.


Schrodinger meets Sartre in this mind-bending sci-fi film. As a comet passes overhead, a dinner party gets weird. Featuring feng-shui, a mention of the Tanguska Event, someone claiming to be an actor on Roswell, a recounting of a dream about a bear, and 'a whisper of ketamine', Coherence is a loose, ad-libbed, shaky-cam film that's a lot more fun that it should be. Non-linear and a little stagey at times, I found myself becoming very anxious and tense during this film as the strange occurrences unfolded and not just because dinner parties make me anxious and tense. Hell is definitely a dinner party, and it's probably happening in a box with a cat.

The Thin Man

Stabford Deathrage's 2015 New Year's Resolutions

  1. Stop trying and failing to be Nick Charles. Again. For the 15th year in a row.
  2. Fail at #1. Again. For the 15th year in a row.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Women Aren't Funny

The anecdote that women aren't funny is examined in this largely laugh-free documentary in spite of it being filled with some remarkably funny women. Briefly touching on the history of funny women, and by "briefly touching on the history of funny women" I really mean "showing a couple of pictures of Lucille Ball and then fixating on her comedian husband", Bonnie McFarlane interviews many standup comics and stands in some weeds without pants. If we're merely answering the question "Are women funny?" with this film, then I would have to agree that the normally very funny Wanda Sykes, Maria Bamford, Sarah Silverman, and Joan Rivers aren't funny, and it's a shame.


A detective who can't seem to find shirts with sleeves takes out the Yakuza in this dreadful Ulli Lommel film. Featuring scrunchy socks, white hi-tops, white sport coats, pornstaches, wooden acting, stilted dialogue, unconvincing knife throwing, unconvincing furniture dusting, several unconvincing massages, and a continuity defying sleeveless vest, the detective makes the archetypal hero's journey, and by "makes the archetypal hero's journey" I really mean "uses unnecessarily large binoculars, says the phrase 'scrambled eggs and blood', inexplicably cleans his gun, does a little stripping, and becomes a sushi chef", and who isn't familiar with that old trope? Surprisingly enough, Overkill isn't even close to being the worst Ulli Lommel film I've seen. In fact, it almost resembles a film.

Meet The Feebles

Obnoxious puppets sing, dance, and do various other unspeakable acts in this early Peter Jackson film. Visually cluttered, shrill, and a little grimy, Meet The Feebles features sex, drugs, puppets eating one another, Russian roulette, and a beheading by a giant spider. One puppet drives a car through another's GI tract, and another is liquified with borax. It's a scatological Muppets, and it is offensive. Speaking of offensive, Meet The Feebles makes a Tet Offensive joke.


People get frozen solid and then talk a lot in this Brylcreemy 3D sci-fi film. Nothing really happens in Gog, and it would have really sucked a million years ago when this movie was released to be sitting in a movie theatre wearing those paper red and blue 3D glasses waiting for something to jump out from the screen in 3D and then have nothing at all happen because it definitely sucked now. You would think that something would pop out at the screen, but it doesn't, although the titular robot does spin around flailing its arms for a minute but I wouldn't call that exciting 3D action.