May's Movie Milestones
- Dans Paris (2006) - "Luminous, enlightening and often hilarious..." says the Time Out quote on the front of the case. I have long avoided buying books with
the word 'hilarious' anywhere on the cover, because they never
are; they are mildly amusing at best, downright baffling, miserablist
shite at worst. I now think I am going to have to do the same for
films. I'm sure Dans Paris' 89 minutes (was that all??) must
have been stuffed full of knowing-critic, Nouvelle Vague homaging
yockfest moments but to us mere mortals it looked like the same old
French cinéaste tripe-twaddle warmed over. The only real thought I had
during the whole show was: why are French film-makers obsessed with
small breasts? Two actresses get their kits off during the show and,
sad, middle-aged bloke that I am, I have larger boobs than the both of
them put together! I think there's some sort of secret annual prize at
the Cannes Festival for the smallest breasts in a French film. 'Le nipple
d'or'. (Any films with Charlotte Gainsbourg in them are, obviously, not
allowed to compete.) Googleing the exact phrase "French actresses with large breasts" gets zero results. (Apart
from, now, this one.) In the interests of fairness I should point out
there is an equal quantity of male nudity too.
- Snow White (2001) - TV movie version with Miranda
Richardson having fun as the evil Queen. Not good but but not terrible.
The kids liked it. Though the presence of tarmacked roads and raccoons
in Generic Euro Fairytale land was a bit odd.
- La guerra dei robot (1978 ) - I can't help wonder how or why
the translators called one of the characters 'General Gonad' but I'm
sure they had their reasons.
I can recommend La guerra dei robot for many many reasons: the delirious script, "It's crazy! A harvest of human flesh!" the music, which is dead pure early experimental synthcrap; the 'climactic' space battle, which is one of the dullest and most repetitive pieces of film making ever committed to screen - and I do include some of Andy Warhol's early efforts here - but mostly I recommend it because its got Yanti Somer wearing skin tight wet-look leather. And that can't be bad.
- Maverick (1994) - Enjoyable nonsense.
- Danger: Diabolik (1968 ) - A Trash Masterpiece. One of the
best scores Morricone wrote. And the sexy as hell Marisa Mell never
looked better. Love it.
- Stranger than Fiction (2006) - In which Will Ferrel finds an
odd enough script that allows him to go for a career-switch 'serious' role
without pissing off his comedy fans (like Jim Carey did with the Truman Show)I was thoroughly enjoying it till it fell to bits and copped out in
the last couple of minutes. God damn the Hollywood upbeat fucking
'can't kill the hero' endings. That was the whole point of the film!
He had to die!.
- Inferno (1980) - Dario Argento's semi-sequel to his Susperia. I've never seen Susperia. I think I may have to go look it out. Inferno wasn't
a good film by any means - basically the same old same old Italian
horror shtick with endless corridor wandering characters fumbling their
way to gruesome deaths - this time accompanied by a thundering bonkers
OTT score by a third of thundering bonkers OTT prog-rockers Emerson,
Lake and Palmer (the Emerson third). Parts of it were so odd that I
just have to see the original.Inferno is another of the, now released uncut, 'Video Nasties' of the 1980s.
- The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) - a rewatch of a
particularly wonderful bad film with some great great lines. I
particularly liked our mad doctor's speech to his assistant when we
first see the (accidentally) severed head of his fiancée being kept
alive by three test tubes, a bubbling beaker of Ingredient X, and a
couple of G cramps. It's delivered with a sincere passion too. The Mad Scientist's Prayer :
"What you see is real. What I've done, I've done, and what I've done is right - it is the work of science."Amen.
- Liar (1997) - interesting.
- The Lodger (2009) - the seventh or so screen version of Marie
Belloc Lowndes' Jack the Ripper story. Pretty dull despite the ADHD
camera work. No style left unturned - including a clumsy and pointless
Hitchcock homage far too early in the show to make any sense. Second
film in a row with the central American part played by an British actor -
the part was central, the character wasn't someone from Belize or
Honduras - Tim Roth in Liar and Alfred Molina in this.
- Django (1966) Over-long (at 90 minutes it dragged)
plotless, rambling Spaghetti Western which only exists to make Sergio
Leone's films look like staggering works of genius. (Which in some ways
- The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu (2009) - short, very
cheap, occasionally vaguely funny, comedy based on the works of H P
Lovecraft (and there's a idea you don't see every day).
- The Army of the Dead (2008 ) - incredibly tedious, lost in
the desert, re-awakening an ancient curse, horror shot on digital (the
second unit stuff looks like it was done with a camcorder, as if they
had decided to do some found footage but forgot when it came to the
After watching it about hour (or rather staring at the screen waiting for something to happen) I flipped up the DVD player's On Screen Display to discover that only about 30 minutes had passed. After that the most fun I had with this was spotting all the usual zero budget, zero wit fuckups; those moments where you saw the tyre tracks of vehicles from the rehearsal or first take in virgin desert - often in fairly tight shots, moments where 30 seconds with a brush would have eliminated them The moments where you see shadows of crew members when there shouldn't be anyone else around; and the really lovely moment where our hero and heroine, holed up in the middle of the night in 'an abandoned radio station' try to ignore the daylight coming through the holes in the blinds because no one had bothered to drape a piece of blackout material the other side of the window (or the other side of the blind for that matter. It's not as if anyone had to leave the room to do this.). Badly written, ploddingly directed and most of the 'actors' involved would have trouble holding down a day job as a walk on part in a daytime soaps. Crap, but, worse than that, boring crap.
- Mystery Men (1999) - Umpteenth watching.
- Split Second (1992) - Another Rutger Hauer SF movie that I'd
never heard of until I found it in a charity shop. Just how many
straight to obscurity SF films did this bloke make? This one is set in
the not too distant future of four years ago ( 2008 ) and is the usual
mismatched buddy cops chasing serial killer crap set in a London ankle
deep in water, overrun with rats, and populated by people like Michael J
Pollard, Kim Cattrall, and Pete Postlethwaite. Once the film has
laboriously set up the usual mismatched buddy cops chasing serial killer
crap set in a London ankle deep in water stuff - it then lurches about,
crashing helplessly from one undercooked cliché to another and getting
progressively more desperate and crapper as it does so - till some sort
of critical mass of stupidities is reached, and then someone (probably
the cast) suddenly decided they were making a comedy and for the last
third it turns into quite a weirdly, OTT, stupidly funny film - till the
crappy rubber monster turns up in the last couple of minutes. Then it
falls flat on its arse again.
- Barbarella ( 1968 ) - again. I like Barberella.
- Alien Cargo ( 1999 ) - A made for TV movie that looks like
it's going to be yet another deep space OMIGOD! THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE
ON-BOARD EATING PEOPLE! piece of SF wallpaper but turns out (after a
clunky opening act) to be a not bad piece of 'hard SF' with no huge
plasma guns, no self-destruct buttons, no men in rubber suits or any of
the other usual Sci-Fi channelly crap. An amazingly unusual downbeat
ending too. Not that the ending is amazing but the fact that it is
downbeat at all is remarkable - our likeable hero and heroine don't make
it. They're not dead at the end of the film but they are well and truly
fucked and resigned to their fate, and have just said goodbye to their
only hope of rescue. It's a good inevitable ending. I have watched far
too many films where some amazingly out of nowhere, pulled out of the
scriptwriter's arse, twist ending saves everyone in the last minutes of
the film. Sometimes when a film has engaged me, and even when I like
the characters in deadly peril, I sometimes just sit there willing
the film to end badly. Sometimes I want the film-makers to have the
courage to let the story run where it has to and not manufacture a happy
ending just to keep the card-filling preview audiences from having to
actually think. Five stars to these guys for doing that.
EDIT: Thinking about it, the ending totally saves this film. Even though I called it a 'not bad piece of 'hard SF'' it still had more than its fair share of "erm, I'm not sure that's right", and "Ooh, isn't that handy for our heroes," moments. Most of them forgiven, in hindsight, because of the ending.
(No stars to me for splitting that infinitive.).
- Encounters in the Deep (1979) - There are some films which are just bafflingly hypnotic in their dullness. Encounters in the Deep is
an Italian Spanish co-production set in the Bermuda Triangle in which
nothing happens, then it happens again, and then again and then, in case
you missed it the first couple of times, the whole cast diligently do
nothing again - again, sometimes underwater, and then it just stops,
after an extremely boring sequence of nothing happening which may (or may not) be the climax of the film.
- Centurion (2010) - Deliverance with Romans.
- My Darling Clementine (1946) - Great film. (apart from that producer added shitty studio insert shot right at the end).