Sunday, December 17, 2017

2017 Movie Diary (Part 3 of 4)

July

  1. King Kong Lives! - Oh gods that was terrible! I don't think I have spent so much time watching people staring up at the top corners of the screen (cut to an up angle of an actor in monkey suit then back again) than I have in the last 100 minutes.
  2. Sexy Killer - Spanish slasher/zombie flick that played for laughs (and sometimes got them) whilst throwing all sorts of trick and ticks at the screen - the protagonist is constantly breaking the fourth wall - she rewinds the film at one point, takes part in a commercial break, and is in a split screen chase sequence. Not sure I'm ever going to want to watch it again.
  3. 800 Balas (800 Bullets) - Spanish homage to the Spaghetti westerns of old which would have been a lot better if it had slowed down occasionally. It was relentlessly fast even when nothing much was happening. One thing I did learn though though. In Spanish cinema it is perfectly acceptable to have scenes in which a 10 year old boy fondles the naked breasts of the attractive young woman trying to seduce him, and later be shown in bed (full clothed) next to her (fully naked). Why did I never get acting gigs like that?
  4. Shiri an over-long, pointlessly violent Korean thriller that signalled every 'twist' so far ahead that you didn't notice them when they arrived.
  5. 9 1/2 Ninjas - one of the unfunniest 'comedies' I think I have ever seen. Made by people who presumably had seen a couple of Zucker Brothers movies, thought, "That looks easy!" and then found out it wasn't.
  6. 976 Evil 2: The Astral factor - pretty meh sequel to a film I've not seen that had one really nice inventive moment. A secondary character gets sucked into a TV she had been watching (a la Pleasantville) and becomes part of the final scenes of public domain movie It's A Wonderful Life which suddenly segues into the, equally public domain, Night Of The Living Dead.
  7. Desert Warrior (1988) - another Post-Apocalyptical Mad Maxican riot in which Lou 'The Hulk' Ferrigno struts his stuff. Mad Max trope points are clocked up with incredible rapidity, desert environment, vehicles with too many roll bars and/or spikes, people standing in said vehicles as they move, character in eyepatch, fingerless gloves, and a fight to the death in an arena all hit the screen in the first few minutes. After that it was watching people in helmets - lots and lots of face-obscuring, reuse-the-same-extras-in-a-different-costume, helmets in this film - walking up and down corridors or across vast tracts of desert. Lots of walking in this film. Lots and lots of 'getting from here to there as slowly as you can to pad out the running time', walking. My heart would fall every time we cut to a wide shot of desert with a figure on the extreme edge of the frame because you knew what you would be looking at for the next couple of hours... (I exaggerate for comic effect. But not much.) Interspersed with all this walking were scenes liberally sprinkled with TERRIBLE acting. Real junior school, end of term show level, "Yes!... I will Now. Say my. Line!" acting - from grown ups! I don't think it was supposed to be funny. (But then the 'laser guns' in this film actually do go, 'pew! pew!', so maybe it was.) I do know the first time director has never helmed anything else for which, I guess, we must be thankful.

    [​IMG]
  8. Waxworks - a better than I was expecting horror which, though not brilliant, was far better than it had any right to be. Mind you, most things with David Warner in them are.
  9. Autómata - one of those not bad SF films which seems to have missed it's audience (or vice versa). Unfortunately for Autómata it was released around the same time as the similarly themed Ex_Machina. Ex_Machina is certainly a better film, but as an entry in the When Does Machine Sentience Start? genre this deserves a look. Well worth the £1 I paid for it on eBay. Stylistically it's very obviously (shamelessly?) influenced by Blade Runner but there are some knowing nods to other less obvious SF films too: Logan's Run and Cherry 2000 to name but two.
  10. Ender's Game - Lots of SFX.  I didn't like the book.  I didn't like this.
  11. Trans Europ Express - Once banned in the UK, now rather tame, piece of erotic French weirdness.
  12. It Came From Outer Space
  13. Alienate -
  14. Coherence (2013) - I like it! This may need rewatched and pretty soon too. Now here's a thing. I watched both this and Alienate on the same day. They have similarities. Both are low budget sf films which focus on the actions of individuals trying to survive and understand the extraordinary (mostly offscreen) events that have radically altered their lives. Both have a failed/failing relationship at their core. After watching Alienate for about an hour I was driven to turn on the On Screen Display of my DVD player to find out how much more there was to go before it ended. Only 36 minutes had elapsed. After watching Coherence I was amazed to find it had a running time of 124 minutes. I would have sworn it was only 80/ 90 minutes long.
  15. Mulholland Drive - David Lynch's best watched with Number One Daughter.  I had forgotten quite how much sex there was in it.  It's more than slightly uncomfortablemaking watching lesbian sex scenes with your gay daughter.
August
  1. Lady from Shanghai -
  2. Bellville Rendez-vous -
  3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -
  4. The Sinister Urge - (MST3K) an Ed Wood I have never seen before. (Well, most of it I had never seen before, some chunks of this one did turn up in other Ed Wood films - or vice versa). Joined, halfway through, by Number 2 Daughter who has never come across MST3K before and is, I suspect, an instant fan.
  5. Manos Hands of Fate (MST3K) - I was right.
  6. Reno 911 Miami - well that was pretty shit.  A big screen outing for a TV show I had never seen more than clips of before.  I guess I must have seen some of the more subtle, funnier bits or the film upped the squirm levels because this was just garbage.
  7. Around the World in 80 Days - silly fun.
  8. The Flesh and Blood Show - Pete Walker's first 'horror' film. He got better.
  9. Attenberg - Greek arthouse film about a father daughter relationship. It worked.
  10. The Evil Cult (aka lots of other titles) - OTT hyper-chopsocky capers with Jet Li and Chingmy Lau. I had NO idea what was happening for more than 45 seconds at a time. Utterly bewildering and thoroughly enjoyable.
  11. King of the Zombies (1941) - a creaky old Republic which some people laud as being subversively anti racist. (For its time.)
  12. Anti Matter (2016) - low budget British SF. Smart stuff. I liked it.
  13. Police Story 2 - Jackie Chan at his finest.
  14. Plankton (aka Creatures from the Abyss) Italian horror crap that made Troll 2 look well made. Five 'teenagers' find a (seemingly) abandoned boat in the middle of the ocean and the local fish - which have been lunching on radioactive plankton and thus mutated into hyper-sexual flying fish with a taste for human flesh - eat them.

    But not soon enough.

    The gratuitous nude shower scene was a brief but welcome relief. (The actress's only screen credit. Presumably - given the rest of her performance - she went back to something a lot less intellectually challenging than standing still in a bikini and fondling her breasts in the shower.)
  15. The Machine (2013) - yet another addition to the 'When does an attractive 'female' robot (called Eva or Ava*) become sentient?' genre. This time, I'm sorry to say, I didn't buy it. The script wasn't tight enough and I didn't believe in any of the characters at all... until the final couple of shots and the last line. Then, suddenly, just as the film ended, there was a little moment of a really great movie shining through but I doubt it was worth the effort getting there. Not sure the obvious reference to HAL's "I'm afraid!" line as the robot has its personality wiped helped. It's always dangerous to remind the audience about better films they could be watching instead of yours.

    * For some reason they are never called 'Beatrice', or 'Hortense', or 'Hildegard', or any of the million other perfectly respectable women's names nearly always 'Eve' or 'Eva' with the occasional 'Maria' thrown in.
  16. Brotherhood of the Wolf - a bit over-long mashup of French historical swashbuckler, choppy socky martial arts, and monster on the lose genres all mixed up with the sort of religious secret society skulduggery that seems to crop up in French fiction more often than anywhere else. Not as big as the sum of the parts but entertaining enough. (Some of the more entertaining parts belonged to Monica Bellucci.)
September
  1. Dune (for the umpteenth time) with Number One daughter (who was seeing it for the first time). Much hilarity was had.
  2. The Other Side of the Bed (2002 aka El otro lado de la cama) - meh!
  3. Snow White and the Huntsman -
  4. Fantastic Four (2015) - oh wow! It actually makes the 2005 version look good! I had bought the copy we watched in a charity shop for a quid back when it was first out. I mean, how bad does a film have to be that you find the thing on sale second-hand in charity shops the week it is released on DVD? My curiosity wasn't piqued enough to actually watch the thing though and it's languished in my 300+ disc pile of unwatched movies till I mentioned this to Daughter Number Two who, being my daughter, is developing a great taste in crap films. And suddenly it became a MUST SEE NOW! movie.

    The answer to the question "I mean, how bad does a film have to be...?" is 'Bad'. Very Very Bad. I think my moment of realisation of how truly awful the film was was the moment it dawned on me that the actor playing the teen Reed at the science fair was IT. He was our hero. He wasn't a stepping stone between the child actor playing kid Reed inventing stuff in his garage, and some other older actor playing grown-up, mature hero Reed. 'This speccy dweeb is our lead?' I thought, 'You're kidding me?!'. I'm sure the kid is a decent actor, and I'm sure he is a nice person but he was woefully miscast.

    As for the convolutions the script had to go through to get a black actor into the mix the less said the better. It would have been much simpler to dump the brother sister relationship (which played little to no significant part in the story anyway) and get rid of all the adoption bullshit they had to nail on to get it to work. The script had no problems with dumping other huge chunks of the 'canon' - why not this one?

    Truly Bad.
  5. Slaughter High - pretty shitty slasher film in which a bunch of British Actors, all way too old to play teenagers, try to keep their 'American' accents under some kind of control while reading lines written by someone who had watched a lot of old movies.
  6. The Class of 1999 - cliché heavy late 80's sf high school gang warfare crap.
  7. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) - the best. The final scene gave me horrors just like it did the first time I saw it, back when it came out. That time I didn't know it was coming, this time I did and it still got me. It got Number One Daughter too who was genuinely terrified at the end. I love being a dad.
  8. Martian Land - It's not great, in fact it's a pretty naff piece of junk but by, low budget (Sharknado) production company, The Asylums's standards it's a masterpiece.

    The plot is unfocused and all over the place and doesn't make much sense from one minute to the next. Most of the acting is one note (but then so are the characters so it's hardly ALL the actors fault - some of the dialogue is execrable) and some of the acting is okay. (The stand out was Arianna Afsar who did a pretty good job with a minimum of material.) The SFX are not terrible. All in all, the usual. Ho Hum.

    But there is one aspect to the film which was refreshing. The two young women trapped at the start of the film, and who have to make their way through the course of the film from point A to Point B to do something important - are a couple. They're a lesbian couple. And nothing much is made of it. It's not played up for titillation. It's not polemical. That they are gay is not a problem for the characters, or anyone they encounter. It just is. They're gay - so what? Background stuff - and they both survive to end of the film!

    Martian Land not going to win any GLAAD awards but Yaaaaay! it's a step!
  9. Wishing Stairs (2003) - I dip my toe again into the waters of Korean Ghost/Horror. Set in an all girl High School for the arts, Wishing Stairs is a tale of mild lesbian obsession, ballet, sculpture, and psychotic haunting that reminded me of a sort of Asian Bunty story gone wrong. The Four Marys at Slaughter High. I came out of it slightly baffled.
  10. Whispering Corridors - more ghastly Korean schoolgirly ghostliness. I liked it.
  11. Love and Other Catastrophies - a repeat watching of a lovely little Australian film about student life (including a happy lesbian couple for a change) prompted by my having bought the director's only other feature (Strange Planet) the other week.
     

Saturday, December 16, 2017

2017 Movie Diary (part 2 of  4)

April

  1. Hackers -  An early example of Hollywood not really getting the newly fangled internet thing. Notable mostly these days for containing a brief (but I would imagine well-thumbed) shot of Angelina Jolie's tits.
  2. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
  3. The Three Musketeers - I'm glad my critical faculties are still working. I got to the end of it thought, "Well that was pretty crap", then discovered it was a Paul W S Anderson movie. (I doubt if I would bothered watching at at all if I had known beforehand.) Some nice set design and locations but other than that utterly avoidable.
  4. Gappa The Triphibian Monster - I have seen many Japanese rubber monster movies but none quite as boring and pointless as this one.
  5. A Midsummer Night's Dream
  6. Source Code
  7. The Card
  8. The Lavender Hill Mob
  9. 2001: A Space Odyssey -
  10. Bill - Weekly family movie choice of Mrs JunkMonkey
  11. Airplane! - not as funny as I remember.
  12. The Shaun the Sheep Movie - I was forbidden by my 8 year old son from choosing "anything with spaceships and explosions in" for my turn in the weekly family movie. Great fun.
  13. Human Lanterns ( Ren pi deng long(original title) - a weird mixture. Almost like a kung-fu remake of a Italian giallo version of Yojimbo. Bits of it were very very odd. I liked it.
May
  1. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 (2017) - and Marvel Studios make ANOTHER over-long violent film about a dysfunctional father/son relationship that ends in two white men having a fist fight during a Big Dumb Light Show during which all the major characters get to discover the true 'meaning of family' by robbing others of the opportunity of finding it by killing them.
  2. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) - by the numbers sequel with far too many - "erm... how did they know that?" leaps of movie logic to keep me interested.
  3. Gods and Monsters - fictionalised account of the last days of James Whale shared with No.1 Daughter. Both of us were in tears at the end of it. And:
  4. Bride of Frankenstein - James Whales's 1935 masterpiece, much referenced in Gods and Monsters. Not a bad double bill.
  5. Jupiter Ascending (2015) - !!!! I haven't laughed at a film so much for ages.  Oh dear gods a hilariously bad film which plays with the Fortian 'we are all property' idea and the earth is due to be harvested by the aliens who own the planet.  Unfortunately for the film (though this is the least of its problems) the chief baddy is played by Eddie Redmayne who obviously channelled Dangermouse bad guy Baron Greenback as his inspiration. And whose volume control goes from one to eleven without ever touching the sides. A Razzie Award winner as  Worst Supporting Actor
  6. Hollywoodland - A detective fantasy about the death of George Reeves (TV's Superman) which was well made, impeccably acted, terrifically dressed (Hollywood in the 50s without going overboard), and just didn't connect with me. I wanted to like it but it just didn't engage.
  7. The Adventures of Pricilla Queen of the Desert - Number One Wife's favourite movie shared with Number One Daughter who loved it.
  8. Le Voyage de James à Jérusalem - delightful little film about a devout young African Christian discovering the realities of life in the modern 'Holy Land'. This is why I buy movies in charity shops that I have never heard of. (And in this instance I could only just about read the blurb as it was in French.) Sometimes, just sometimes, you find wee gems.
  9. Fiend Without a Face - funny (bad funny) British 'horror' film set around a US Air Force base in Canada (?) commanded by someone who refers to himself as 'an army man' (sic). Atomic-powered mental vampires suck the brains and spinal cords out of a bunch of not very good actors with very variable 'American' accents.
  10. Creature From the Haunted Sea - I indulge my 15 year old daughter's fascination with the films of Roger Corman.
  11. The Head
  12. The Brain the Wouldn't Die - a double dose of women getting full body transplants. The Head was the winner by far. I really need to see the full uncut undubbed version - if it still exists.
  13. The Deal - I think I could watch William H Macy read a telephone book out loud and find it fascinating.
  14. Blood the Last Vampire - a live action adaptation of a Manga I had never heard of starring an 'Asian Superstar' I had never heard of. Wall to wall, ADHD, 'action' which stopped from time to time to let the heroine do that over the shoulder not quite looking into camera shot that Manga (and their live action adaptations love so much). There are few shots towards the end, as the Katana wielding, demi-demon heroine finally gets to confront her Nemesis that are trippily, visually interesting but it's not worth the effort to get there.
  15. Alien Infiltration (aka Alien Opponent) - a would-be science fiction, straight to eBay, horror-comedy. Which failed to make the grade in any category. (Apart from the eBay bit: 75p including postage? - I should have known better.)

    The 'plot'. An alien crash lands in a rural junkyard and gets between some greedy arseholes and the body of the man they've murdered. They need the body to make an insurance claim. In frustration they do what everyone would do under the circumstances - go on television and offer a huge reward to anyone who can retrieve their victim. The rest of the film is spent watching the 'hilarity' that ensues as wannabee body retrievers run around getting shot in the head, eaten by alien parasites, electrocuted sawn in half by robots etc. etc. In one, played-for-a-laugh, scene a group of small children are sliced into pieces with an alien monofilament wire. Oh what fun.

    What makes the thing even worse than it sounds is that it's all so badly done, so irredeemably bad in fact, that it made Roddy Piper, the biggest name in the show and obviously just phoning in his part, look like a serious actor. Roddy PIPER! I really hope I don't see anything quite as shitty as this for the rest of the year.
June
  1. Romeo & Juliet (2013) - I am a real sucker when it comes to Romeo and Juliet. I don't think I have seen a version where the final scenes haven't reduced me to tears. Hell, I was wiping away the tears during Shakespeare in Love. This version however let me down. I just couldn't wait for them to die so the film would be over. I console myself with the fact that there's very little of Shakespeare left in here apart from the bare bones of the story and some of the famous bits you think you can quote. (Quite often very weirdly delivered. "I AM Fortune's fool!", "I am Fortune's FOOL!", "I am FORTUNE'S fool!", however you say that line it means something: for me it's Romeo's realisation of what he has just done. " I am such an IDIOT!"? - not here it doesn't; here it comes over as just another line to deliver. ) On the plus side the costumes, sets and location work were very good. But when you have one of the greatest love stories ever told being played out and you find yourself more interested in the scenery, or noting that just about everyone who gets on a horse can ride better than the actor playing Romeo, then you are in big trouble. Paul Giamatti adds some acting (seriously lacking elsewhere in the cast) and the editor provides one of THE ugliest jump cuts I think I have ever seen in a film. As Romeo walks towards Juliet in the crypt there is a cut, right down the line of action, between a shot of him walking away from the camera to one where he is walking directly towards the camera that made me exclaim out loud, it hurt so much. No, I didn't cry in this version. But everyone on screen did. Every other shot, it seemed, someone was dropping a tear from one eye or another. Everone got in on the act. Even poor Mr Giamatti had a crystick rubbed on his cheeks and had to look agonised as the the tears welled up. The best tears in the show though were the one painted onto Juliet's face in one scene. She's lying on her back and the tears just sit there, painted on, looking very thick - and with a bit of a matt finish. How not to film Shakespeare 101.
  2. The Naked Gun - for once a film that IS as funny as I remember.
  3. Sorority Party Massacre - a 2012 'comedy' slasher that just misses being the crappest film of the year so far by having more gratuitous nudity than last month's contender, Alien Infiltration. I really find it hard to believe that adults are involved in the production of shit like this.
  4. Fear Chamber (1968) - Boris Karloff's last film. Made in Mexico it is an extraordinary film lots of bad and incoherence mixed in with a few moment of utterly wonderful weirdness. The basic plot is that a kindly old prof. (Karloff) discovers a rock-based life form deep within a volcano. The rock can only live and grow by being fed a chemical found within the brains of terrified women (!) so the doctor obliges. Not wishing to actually kill anyone he somehow contrives, in the space of a jump cut, to start an employment agency/hostel for foreign women with a medieval dungeon, and high-tech lab in the cellar. The rest of the film is an amazing farrago of pseudo-science, sadism, and weird editing involving a creepy sunglasses wearing turbaned Indian, dwarf murdering, revolving bedrooms, lecherous Lesbian whippings, strip tease, kidnapping, skeletons in wigs, exploding computers and some of the most gloriously bonkers editing I have ever witnessed (and I worked on a Donald Camell movie!). At one point I was convinced a sequence had been shot by having the cast playing catch with the camera. In the end our kindly prof., realising the true import of his deeds, destroys the sentient rock by playing all the computer records he made of its growth backwards at it thus reducing it to a mere sample, easily destroyed with a hammer. Probably the most ludicrous, Get Out of Jail Free science fiction ending ever. Entropy reversal by data rewind playback. It's like making the whole of World War Two disappear by reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich backwards.
  5. Return to Oz - And I have a new favourite Disney movie. It used to be Dragonslayer - the only Disney film in which the princess gets eaten - but now it's this very odd Oz sequel. There were dull moments but enough extraordinary imagery to keep me more than happy. The scene where Dorothy steals the powder and the princess's heads all start screaming gave me the genuine whim-whams. A lot scarier and unsettling than anything in the Fear Chamber.
  6. Missile to the Moon - a rewatch with Number one Daughter of one of my favourite of the 'First Men on the Moon Meet an All Female Society Dressed in Swimwear' genre (there are more of them than you would imagine). If nothing else I treasure this film for the most genius bits of American Desk Drawer Acting ever. (The following is from my film diary back in 2008:)
      "It's a well know fact of life that the only reason you ever open a desk drawer in an American film is to pull out a powerful (loaded) handgun. Only reason. The only thing Americans keep in the top drawers of any desk is firearms. Early on in this movie one of our aged scientists does just this. He opens a desk drawer and pulls out a luger which he slips into his pocket. A few minutes later his partner becomes aware of unexplained things happening out on the missile launch pad and decides to investigate - but first!... he goes to the desk and pulls open the top drawer. But what's this? The gun has gone! He stares into the desk drawer for a moment. No Gun? Drawer. Open. No gun? How can this be? A look of blank incomprehension registers on his face (not unlike that on William Macey repeatedly saying "Hi Honey, I'm home!" in Pleasantville and receiving no reply). He shuts the drawer - and after a moment - it's crazy but it might just work - pulls open the top drawer ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DESK - and Whew! pulls out a powerful (loaded) hand gun and rushes off to investigate..."
  7. Car Wash - Daughter Number One's rather odd choice for the Friday Night Family film.
  8. Stop Making Sense - Talking heads in concert - what can be better than that? - watching it tonight I realised that if James brown is indeed the 'Godfather of Soul' then David Byrne is the 'Godfather of Dad Dancing' and I was struck by the utter drop-dead gorgeousness of backing singer Ednah Holt[​IMG]
    - that's her on the left: Fwaarrrrr!
  9. Shock Treatment - the 'sequel' to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. A mess.
  10. The House by the Cemetery - another off the infamous DPP, 1983 list of 'video nasties'. Can't say I feel that depraved or edified after watching it. A bit bored maybe.
  11. Brazil - Gilliam's best. I've been wanting to rewatch this one for a while but been too worried that it might not live up to my memory of it. I needn't have feared. It was better than I remember.
So, as 2017 draws to a close I strap a couple of electrodes to the long neglected corpse of my blog and administer twenty-seven point two thirds and a half billion electron volts of pure unadulterated Movie Diary.

I think this is every movie I have watched over the last year:

January:


  1. Les yeux sans visage (1960) - extraordinarily weird and wonderful piece of French transplant horror which has been on my must see list for a while. Thanks to Father Christmas and with the indulgence of Number One Daughter, who shared the experience with me, I saw it tonight. Wow! Loved it.
  2. The Truman Show (1998) - Daughter Number One's turn to choose a film. I'd forgotten just how wonderful it was.
  3. Ex Machina (2015) - dang! I like good SF films. and this was a good one. And, as Daughter Number One pointed out, the second film in a row to deal with a character in an enclosed environment in which they had spent their entire life.
  4. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) - Daughter Number One's last choice in our week of movie watching while the rest of the family are elsewhere doing healthy outdoorsy stuff. I now have this tune firmly embedded in my earworm banks.
  5. Robot World (2015) my IMDb review
  6. Star Trek 3 The search for Spock - well that was a ponderous bore. I'd never seen it before - I can see where the 'odd numbered ST movies are crap' theory came from. The best bits were some dreadful costume design, the usual WTF? get out of jail free handwavium technobilge, ( "Protomatter. An unstable substance which every ethical scientist in the galaxy has denounced as dangerously unpredictable!") and hilariously risible dialogue.

    KIRK: ... Bones...?!

    McCOY: ... Rapid ageing... all genetic functions highly accelerated...

    KIRK: And his mind?

    McCOY: It's a void. It would seem, Admiral, that I've got all his marbles.
  7. The Fantastic Mr Fox - which I like more and more each time I see it.
  8. The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) - a lot slower and cruder than I remember.
  9. Le Bossu (1997 aka On Guard) Good to see this wide screen on DVD as I only had ever seen it cropped on VHS. Great fun, a real old-fashioned swashbuckler with some great art direction and camera-work.
Feb
  1. Buba Hotep - silly fun in which a geriatric Elvis fights an evil Egyptian mummy in an old people's home.
  2. Jumanji - Friday Night Family Pizza movie.
  3. Labyrinth - ditto
  4. Survivor (2014) - Okay I like bad SF movies and This had 'bad SF movie' written all over the DVD case, "The fate of the planet lies in her hands - In the early 22nd Century, the Earth falls out of the sun's orbit..."

    "...falls out of the sun's orbit?"

    That's as far as I got before I decided I had to buy it. How? What? Why? Wha...? I mean for one thing 'falling' implies that something travelling in an uncontrolled manner down a larger gravity well. If the Earth had fallen out of the Sun's orbit that means... what the hell does it mean? And 'the sun's orbit', not the Earth's orbit around the sun.... I was in my 'This Makes NO Fucking Sense SF Movie Happy Place'.

    The cherry on the topping of the 'must buy this' cake though was realising that, buried in all the credits in that annoyingly small lettering cluttered at the bottom of the box (and yes I am the sort of sad git that reads them), there was no director's credit. There were producers credits, costume designers, DP, music and all the other usual (contractually obligatory) credits - but none for director. A film so bad they couldn't even make up an Alan Smithee name to shove in there? And they'd mispelled the name of the show's biggest name actor. 'Kevni Sorbo' (Formally known as Kevin Sorbo star of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Andromeda, and voice-overs for Skylander video games etc.) I hope they spelled all the Kickstarter backers' names that scroll past in the end titles correctly.

    I live for this sort of thing.

    The film itself was pretty bad. The opening exposition - in which our heroine tell us that, after the Earth 'fell out of the Sun's orbit' we tried to steer the planet with 'particle accelerators' but accidentally created black holes 'all over the galaxies' that somehow boiled off all the Earth's water but only after seven giant space arks had made it off the surface - was the best bit. (By this time I was in a sugar coma of delight.) After that it was Mad Max on foot, before a Planet of the Apes-a-like ending, with a bit of The Time Machine sandwiched in the middle. Quite often the most interesting thing on screen was the geology in which drone-mounted cameras endlessly followed our (rather yummy) Army of One heroine and her parkour running 'alien' pursuers. Some seriously interesting looking rock formations on display.
  5. Solaris (2002) - the American remake. It's few years since I watched the 1972 Russian original which I consider to be a bloody brilliant film. I don't know what the 1972 version is about, alienation, despair, love seeing how long a director can hold a static shot of a slow moving river and still make it fascinating? I have no idea, but I love it dearly. The American version is sort of about, set design, heterosexual love, and the Judeo/Christian God in space. I doubt if I shall be rewatching it. (A decision I probably made during the cheesy visual reference of those hands from Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel with a small boy standing in for God and a (possibly dead) George Clooney being Adam).
  6. Paris, je t'aime (2006) - 18 short films around a common theme (love in Paris) and it works. There are one or two sections that don't come off but that is hardly surprising. Looking through the reviews on the IMDb everyone says there are one or two that fail - but no one agrees which ones.
March

  1. The Hidden Fortress - I just found a Kurosawa Boxset I'd forgotten about!
  2. Belle de Jour -
  3. My Neighbour Totoro -
  4. The Harry Hill Movie -
  5. Et Dieu créa la femme -
  6. Dominion (2014) - sometimes you know you're in for a bad movie from the moment you first hear about it. I first heard about Dominion this afternoon when I picked it up in a charity shop.

    It cost me a quid.

    The cover was chock-a-block with funky spaceships heading for Earth. Some of them appeared to be exploding. The back had a graphic showing a GINORMOUS spaceship hovering over a city, like the opening episode of V , or Independence Day - there was a lone human with an automatic weapon silhouetted in the foreground. There were two grammatical errors in the opening sentence of the blurb - but the masochistic cherry on the "I must buy and watch watch this piece of s**t" cake was the fact that the film not only starred but was produced by Booboo Stewart. Booboo Stewart! I have only ever seen one Booboo Stewart film before, the amazingly dreadful Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft - my thoughts on which are buried in here somewhere - but his name alone was enough to make me buy it. He is a dreadful actor.

    Needless to say NONE of the stuff that was on the cover appeared in the film (which looks like it was shot on someone's phone - apart from the library helicopter footage establishing shots and prologue - more of which later).

    In a stroke of cost/design cutting genius, most of the alien ships zipping about the place were seen as stark black outlines against bright skies or planetary backgrounds. They might as well have been cardboard cut-outs. When we did get to see some light and shade on them, the SFX was about the level last seen in season three of Babylon 5 back in the mid 1990s. The script was fucking awful too and was probably created by randomly cutting and pasting from the comments under Youtube UFO-nut videos by someone who have never read an SF book in his life and wouldn't recognise a hoary old cliché if it bit him in the arse.

    "Oh 'Galactic Council' that sounds neat, 'Prime Directive 'oh I'll have that.... "Time is different there" Wow! Mind-blowing concept...." etc.

    Somewhere along the line I suspect the film came in three minutes short. I can't think of any other reason for the bizarre prologue in which a bunch of aliens (who never appear in the rest of the film) explore a desert planet as a voice over tells us (in meticulous detail) what is happening on screen. The explorers find an underground facility full of embryos in suspended animation and we learn that the Desert Planet is EARTH! Dum Dah Dahhhhh! and the embryos are mankind's last hope of rebirth after - cue flashback to the main movie showing how, with only five days till the invasion fleet of evil Booboo Stewarts from Draconis Nastiplanet arrive to wipe out humanity, a kindly alien twerp gets everyone around him killed as he rescues his girlfriend before vanishing off to the stars with the pointless crystal maguffin of something. Though to be fair, in a voice-overed post script, which looks like a total afterthought, he does come back and, by the magic of some cheap shots of a fleet of spaceships and some library music (the largo from Dvořák's 9th), rescues the unslaughtered bit of humanity that the beneficent aliens couldn't be bothered to save earlier in the film, and relocates it to some other stock footage which has been colour graded to make it look a bit 'alien'. All of which makes the pointless prologue even more pointless that it appeared at the beginning of the film!

    I know it's easy to say 'this scene looks like it came from a different film but the fact that the prologue is also better photographed that the main feature and has its narration credited to a different writer really really really makes me think it has come from a different movie entirely.

    So far the worst film I have seen all year and yes, that does include the Kevni Sorbo one.

    EDIT: A few days later, looking back at it, the highlight for me (there's always a moment in any crap movie, no matter how bad, when you learn something. Usually it's how NOT to do something. This film's nugget of "well I'll remember not to do THAT in my movie" was the moment when our hero is looking through the super-secret government-suppressed UFO stuff on the USB stick of Destiny. Two characters peering at a screen muttering "Wow!" and "Look at that!" and "Amazing!". The shot is framed so that we see the characters faces and the back of the screen. This makes a certain amount of sense. Filming TV or computer screen is not as simple as it would appear - all sorts of interference patterns crop up between the scan lines of the screen and the frame rate of the camera. This set up also gives the editor more freedom to cut away from it to a shot of a screen with anything on it rather than having the actors and what they are looking at locked before it gets to the editing suite. The actors don't have to appear in the same shot as whatever they are supposed to be looking at. What went wrong here was that the editor chose to show screens full of folders. Hero: "Wow look at that!": cut to screen full of folder icons and a cursor: cut to hero looking at screen, "Amazing!". The effect was to make him look like a right bozo - easily amazed these UFO nuts.
  7. Intacto (2001) - Spanish film that plays about with the idea that luck is transferable and can be stolen or wagered. Strange and slightly wonderful.  I will be coming back to this one.
  8. Monsters University - Friday night pizza and movie with the kids.
  9. Atomic Cyborg Aka Fists of Steel - Italian low rent Terminator knock off without any of the special effects, plot, or character development. Another added to the stinky 23rd Century Label collection - 75 pence well spent.
  10. The Lego Batman Movie (2017) - which started of well enough but by the end of it I was overwhelmed with indifference.
  11. Alien Blood (1999) - Okay. THIS is the worst film I have seen so far this year and will probably remain so*. For a film involving aliens, lesbian vampires, gratuitous nudity, lots of machine guns, children with psychic abilities that can make people explode, and the random shooting of jugglers and bagpipers - this is one phenomenally dull film. One of those films in which nothing happens for ages and people stand around looking vaguely in the general direction of where someone else might be if the director had bothered established the geography of the room, while cheap synthesiser music tries to build some kind tension. At some point someone says "Fuck this!" and shoots someone else for reasons never even partially explained. And then we'll have a painfully slow series of cross fades of random pieces of countryside and (probably symbolic) flames till the film ends up somewhere else with some other characters doing something equally vague. According to the IMDb this shot on video piece of shit had an (estimated) budget of £1,000,000. I would guess that estimate could be at least several hundred percent over-generous. It's a bad home movie.

    * Out-classes the other two nominees by far. Also a serious contender for the most pointless and ineptly shot gratuitous nude bathing shot of the year.
  12. Space Station 76 (2014) - erm... ok? That was all a bit pointless. A bunch of people are vaguely unhappy in an interestingly designed retro space station. (The conceit here is that this is what the future looked like in 1976 all Space 1999 interiors, video cassettes, everyone smokes.  Lots of nods and references to other films like Silent Running, and 2001.) No aliens or melodramatic twists, just day to day suburban life of a bunch of unlikeable people on a space station. A bit like 1990s space soap Jupiter Moon but with a bigger budget, smaller cast, and fewer plot points.. and it's all just a bit dull.
  13. Clue
  14. Mondo Hollywood - "a magnificent display of Sixties self-indulgence. Timothy Leary wannabees, rootless rich kids, druggies and thrill-seekers join to make Hollywood seem like the center of the cultural universe. Too bad it's only in their addled minds." IMDB reviewer 'tdickson'.
  15. King Kong vs Godzilla - Godzilla films don't make much sense and were probably made for a target audience of seven year olds but this one was even more of a bewildering pudding than others I have seen. Some real kak-handed English language footage had been added in which 'UN reporters' talked straight to camera (while trying to keep a straight face) helping the narrative along by saying "Godzilla is now here!" while pointing at a small map of Japan. People pointed at maps a lot in this film; probably the only characters that didn't point at a map at the drop of a hat were King Kong and Godzilla.

    All that this cutting away to the UN newsroom did was slow down the action and make it look like the two strands of the film (Kong on one hand and Godzilla on the other) were coming from two separate movies.

    The best bit for me though was the sudden, strange cognitive dissonance moment when I realised all the black-faced, body-painted "primitive superstitious natives" going "wugga wugga wugga" on Kong's island were Japanese extras painted up to look suitably 'ethnic'. Back in 1963 this kind of thing was acceptable in Holly wood films when studios regularly sprayboothed and makeup-slapped Caucasian extras to double as 'Africans' or 'South Sea Islanders' but I'd never made the logical jump and thought that Japanese film makers would do the same.
  16. Scavengers - whooo that stunk! A Firefly like crew of misfit (but loveable) 'scavengers' led by a 'Russel Crow Look alike of the Year' winner...
    [​IMG]
    ... find the Maguffin of Evil Destruction and are pursued around the galaxy by Captain Black McNasty and his black clad crew of nasties - some of whom are black. You know Captain Black McNasty is evil because he has this habit of shooting his crew members dead half way through conversations, and spends most of his time whispering his dialogue in a gruff mumble while trying to count spiders in the corners of the ceiling. A seriously great virtuoso performance by Sean Patrick Flanery (whose place in history is guaranteed by having played Indiana Jones more often than Harrison Ford). A masterclass in bad acting.
  17. Evil Aliens - dreary alien invasion gross out splatter 'comedy' which has one genuinely interesting moment and one half way decent joke buried in all the tasteless offensive shite. One was the combine harvester having a cassette tape labelled "Ambient Farming Music" (in Welsh) the other was the moment when the blinded sound man of the on-screen film crew navigated his way down a beach using his sound equipment. For a second or two there was some interesting film-making on the screen. The rest of it was total garbage.
  18. Stranded (2013) - I bought this in a local charity shop purely because of the bit of the blurb that read "Directed by Oscar Nominated Roger Christian; the creative mind behind Star Wars and Alien" Whoohoo! The creative mind behind Star Wars and Alien! Cool! George Lucas and Ridley Scott's Svengali!

    No.

    Sadly I knew this to be a piece of wishful thinking on some sales person's part because if anyone from marketing had bothered to look him up they would have soon found out that, though Roger Christian did indeed work on both movies, he was hardly the 'creative mind' behind them. In the 1977 Star Wars he worked as a 'set decorator', and was one of two 'Art Directors' on Alien.

    What the blurb writer failed to mention though was that fact that Roger Christian is probably most famous for having directed the millennial mega-stinker Battlefield Earth.

    Sadly Stranded isn't as enjoyably bad as Battlefield Earth. It's just bad. It's yet another small crew in a confined space with something horrible in the air ducts picking them off one by one story. The entire crew of four of a lunar mining base are thrown into horrible jeopardy when an unexpected (huh?) meteor storm punches holes in some small bits left over from an episode of Space 1999 and suddenly everyone is running around in the dark trying to stop something happening while things explosively decompress stuff in the wrong direction - and for ten or so minutes I had no idea what anyone thought they were supposed to be doing. Seriously no idea. But whatever it was they had to do it NOW! Before things went CRITICAL! or OVERLOADED! So they did. And things GOT WORSE until Christian Slater OPENED A BIG AIRLOCK THAT WOULD FIGURE PROMINENTLY LATER IN THE MOVIE and let all the evil Carbon Monoxide out. After that things settled down for a bit and we found out what our characters were called - because you know all that boring stuff that you usually find at the start of this kind of movie. The sequence where you get to see them wake up and have breakfast and squabble for a bit? Where you get to meet the cast and find out who they are, and work out who the likeable ones are, and who the funny one is, and what the hell they actually DO for a living...? This movie didn't bother with that bit. It just threw rocks at the characters.

    Anyway, before we've got the characters' names straight in our heads (there are only four of them how difficult can this be?) one of them has got herself infected by some alien spores that came off one of the meteors and is suddenly MASSIVELY PREGNANT! Boss man Christian Slater is yelling about keeping her in ISOLATION and opening the door to med bay every three minutes (and leaving it open) and then LOCKING HER IN ISOLATION again till he has open the door again a few seconds later and then he's yelling he has to QUARANTINE her. But then she gives birth to an alien thingie which escapes through the door he left open.... And on and on it goes with people doing stupid and pointless things just to keep the plot running. For instance: at one point in this pile of keich our commander is wrestling with the infected quarantined woman in the med bay and, before he subdues her, is stabbed by her with some sharp surgical instrument . At which point the doctor comes in (through the door the commander had left open - yet again) and, for no other reason than the plot says he has to, the doctor takes his belly-stabbed commanding officer OUT of the Med bay (where all the medical equipment is) to to stitch him up somewhere else in the station (oh and they leave the door open again). You see, if he DIDN'T take Slater's character somewhere else to stitch him up, and leave the door open, another character couldn't do what he has to do to keep the plot moving in the med bay simply because there would be someone there to stop him. And the film would have ended. Stupid film.

    I spent most of the film trying to work out why a static, underground moon base would have seatbelts in the office chairs. I guess for a similar reason that the BIG AIRLOCK THAT FIGURED PROMINENTLY LATER IN THE MOVIE looked like it was designed by someone other than whoever designed the rest of the space base. The airlock is a fully articulated irising piece of sexy, almost organic, design while the endless corridors of the space base are utilitarian, rectangular, and drab. Factor in too that we never actually see any of our characters standing next to the thing and it would be very easy to presume that the airlock door did in fact come, second hand, from a different movie. The chairs had seatbelts because Stranded was shot, I learned from the 'Making of' extra, on a standing generic Space Station set that someone has in a shed in Canada. In the next movie made there someone would be flying that set through the heart of a supernova and would want to be well buckled in as the camera pointing at him was shoogled about.
  19. Deux jour, une nuit
  20. Brave
  21. Dracula 3000 - Holy mother of God! There aren't many films that cause physical pain to watch but this is one of them. Another of the endless number of low budget SF films in which a mixed-sex crew board a derelict space ship and find something nasty on board. This time it's Dracula. And that's the end of the plot. Seriously. The rest is just watching the director sneaking his cast and crew into what looks like a petrol refinery when no one is about and filming them walking up and down the same three corridors for hours and hours. Occasionally they stop by to see if the local high school art class has finished making the few purpose built sets and do some expositioning at each other. (The 'recreation room' where some of the 'action' takes place has a pool table and some comfy sofas, and a weapons rack stocked with loaded semi-automatics. Like all interstellar cargo ships.) Udo Kier lends his B movie credentials with a limp, on-screen, cold reading of bits of script that are supposed to be the the ship's previous captain's log. The ONLY thing that could have saved this film from the IMDb's bottom 100 would have been copious amounts of gratuitous nudity. There wasn't any.
  22. Guardian Angel - Cynthia Rothrock kicks stuntmen for a very long 97 minutes before there is a pointlessly dull motorboat chase (at the end of which our heroine is too stupid to turn the wheel of a speeding motorboat heading for some cliffs several hundred feet away and instead grabs hold of a rope that is inexplicably dangling from a helicopter hovering overhead). Other highlights included our villainess, holed up in a hotel room, boiling water in an enamel saucepan on a gas ring to make a cup of tea (do Los Angeles hotels normally come equipped with kitchenettes?) and then cauterising a bullet wound with the saucepan, and some fantastically crap costuming.
to be continued...

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

I think this just about sums up my attitude at the moment:

‘We want independence, not for any flag or anthem, but for the opportunity to create a better, fairer society. Not because we are inspired by a great past, but because we aspire to a better future. Not because we regard Scotland as superior, but because we refuse to accept that it is inferior”

http://indyref2.scot/my-nationalism-not-yours

Friday, February 10, 2017

Yet another brief Snippet from the Screenplay of my Life.

INT. KITCHEN. DAY.

I am drawing at my drawing table and Number Two Daughter is just home from school.

ME:
(Always looking to accentuate the positive.)
So, what's been the best part of the day?

No 2 DAUGHTER:
Finding out that Jaffa Cakes don't make me itchy.




Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Another Brief Snippet From the Screenplay of My Life



 THE CAR. INT. DAY.

I am driving, EBEN is sitting next to me on the front passenger seat, eyes glued to his Nintendo DS.  He's playing Scribblenauts, a (to me) incomprehensibly complex puzzle solving,role-play game in which interactive items are combined in varied and interesting combinations

 EBEN

What do you need when you go camping... 
Other than a fire, and a chair? (Pause)
 Oh! My chair's on fire....!

Missing CD? Contact vendor

Free CD
Please take care
in removing from cover.

Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

(this copyright notice stolen from http://jonnybillericay.blogspot.com/)

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