Monday, November 30, 2009

I just turned myself into a verb!

A new level / depth of displacement behaviour!

(We're on in two days and I still don't know my fucking lines... )

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Remember a few days ago when I said I lived in hope of finding an LP cover as compulsively horrible as this one?

I should be careful what I wish for. Because today, in Ft. William's Save the Children's Cancer for Sick Animals shop, I find this:

Willie Sutherland is the guy in the glasses. He's blind. According to the minimal sleeve notes the guy on the right is Frank Coutts, the little girl is called Mandy Coutts and is, presumably, his daughter, neither of them (as far as I know) were blind. Nor was the photographer, or any of the three men and a dog Wick-based record label Grampian Records.

Stevie Wonder was blind. So was Ray Charles. So were a brazzilion other blues, gospel, jazz and folk singers: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie McTell, Blind Willie Johnson, Sonny Terry, and Blind Boy Fuller to name but a few easily lifted from Wikipedia.

None of them got stuffed with a record cover that made them look so predatorialy pervy. Even for 1972 this is one ugly fucking record cover.

Now I have had this LP for at least six hours I think the thing that disturbs me most about it is the spacing of the lettering, those huge gaps - there presumably to stop li'll Mandy's cotton socks getting in the way - very unsettling.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Can't Multi-task! - I'm Only Seven....

One of the reasons I keep the film log I post here, is so that, in some future time, my kids can read it and a. understand some of the jokes and weird things I have been saying to them and b. find out the name of 'that movie' with a particular image or moment that has seared itself into their juvenile heads.

Over on IMDb there is a whole (busy) message board dedicated to answering questions about movies. A lot of them are along the lines of: "I saw this movie when I was a kid and I would love to know what it was - all I remember is that there is this bit where... " followed by some very sketchy, befuddled details. Quite often regulars on the forum name the elusive movie within minutes and the original poster is effusively grateful. " You guys are amazing! I've been looking for this movie for twenty years!" etc.

So, future Holly and Daisy, the movie with the girl with the blue umbrella was The Blue Umbrella, the bit with all the spiders flying into the sky was Charlotte's Web, and the reason Daddy has been giggling like an idiot for the last two days and bounding around like a loon screaming "Yor's World - he's the ma-aaaan!" is because he watched Yor: The Hunter From the Future....

I don't use the word 'awesome' if I can help it. It's not a word that fits too happily in the mouth of a middle aged, middlish-class Brit. It makes me sound like I'm desperately trying to cling on to my rapidly receding youth - like the balding, middle-aged Teddy Boys that caused me so much amusement in my own spotty adolescence. I avoid using 'awsome' for the same reason I avoid using words like: 'Dude', 'Rad', 'Bitchin' and 'Gnarly'. But I have to use it now. Yor: The Hunter From the Future is an awesome film.
If I had a comedy sidekick he would at this point pop up and say: "You're in awe of Yor?"
Yor is the Man! Yor is the prima inter pares of Italian SF movies, A truly wonderful piece of crap movie heaven on earth. If anyone ever asks me why I watch so many dreadful movies I will make them watch Yor. It's the eternal hope that I will find something as wonderful as Yor that makes me carry on. It is, in short, the dog's bollocks. Paydirt! The movie that has everything: a truly bewildering masterpiece of crap which proves, if nothing else, that the Italians invented Mashup years before anyone else thought of it.

Turn down the house lights and cue the post Flash Gordon, Queeny-lite type intro music of...

So, after we have recovered from the opening credits what happens? Or more to the point, what doesn't happen? Yor, (He's the man apparently) disappears from the screen for a few minutes and we spend a few blissful moments with a tribe of hippy cavemen who, apart from looking like they are about to announce the imminent arrival of Monty Python's Flying Circus, are tra la la blissfully happy in only the way that a bunch of characters due to be brutally slaughtered to a man by the end of the first reel can be.

Soon the happy hippy hunter-gatherers go on a hunt (or a gather) and within seconds one of the tribe, a pretty young female in a leather bikini and film-star teeth, spears what looks suspiciously like a small pig with ice-cream cones stuck all over it. But - Argh! What's this! Suddenly the badly dressed pig's mum heaves into view and the the front half of a giant cardboard flesh eating triceratops bursts out of the jungleywoods and attacks! Leather bikini girl is doomed! But suddenly YOR -
Aaahhhh! The Hero of the Universe!
- jumps out. Yor hits dinosaur with axe. (I am tempted here to make a joke about Italian dinosaurs being called 'Dino', but I won't.) Yor leaps over Dino's prongs like a Minoan bull dancer. Yor hit Dino again with the axe - right between the eyes this time. Dino die. Yor exultant.

Yor drink Dino blood. Yor hero to tribe. Big party. Girl in the bikini do the hoochie-coochie dance because she suddenly has the hots for hero hunk man in bad Hulk wig. Suddenly! before the hoochie coochie gets really interesting, purple painted Neanderthal cavemen attack. Our hero, his newly acquired crumpet, and her elderly guardian flee - and everyone else is killed, apart from all the women who are captured and dragged away to be ravished. And the audience is happy! because we know where we are. We are in One Million Years BC country, okay, the heroine's boobs aren't as big as Raquel Welsh's (though Yor's are) and the monsters are rubbish, but let's just settle back and enjoy the anachronistic nonsense of cavemen vs. dinosaurs. Yay! Go dinosaurs!

Back to the plot.

Pausing only to possibly have implied off-screen sex in an old tree, Yor and the girl retire to a secret cave. But suddenly! they are attacked by the Purple painted Neanderthal cave men again. Yor is thrown off a thousand foot cliff, and bikini crumpet girl is carried away, struggling, to the usual implied fate worse than death.

Yor wakes up, only slightly pissed off to find himself at the bottom of a cliff (but basically unhurt) - 'Nya! I've been thrown into deeper ravines... ' - and climbs back up to the top again. At the top he meets the elderly guardian who, presumably, has just been sitting there all night waiting for Yor to not be dead after being thrown to his certain death and climb back up to meet him. Together they go to the lair of the purple people eaters. They've just about given up working out how to sneak up on the bad guys' cave without being spotted when they are attacked by a 'Beast of the Night', a bloody big bat thing. Yor knocks it out of the sky with one arrow, then punches the bugger a few times, and ...

... this is so fucking brilliant ...

... lifts the dead bat beast over his head and uses it as a hang glider!

He is the Ma - aaaan!

Yor hang-glides into the cave, drop kicks the head bad guy in the face, and kills everything that moves. (Apart from bikini girl of course.) Yor pulls a rock out of a huge dam the purple people eaters have, for some inexplicable reason, constructed inside their cave and everyone Yor hasn't already killed with his axe dies. (Including, presumably, all the women he was supposedly there to rescue.)

Next morning our three companions are in an arid desert, on the other side of the big mountain, looking for a mysterious woman who wears a medallion exactly like Yor's ("Like mine?" "Yes, like yours, Yor.") Yor goes on alone.

Suddenly! Yor is attacked by stuntmen wearing rags and carrying pointy sticks - which are on fire! Yor is captured and taken before their queen who looks suspiciously like she goes to the same crappy wig maker as he does and - Da Da Dahhhh! - has a medallion just like his. Somehow we have slipped from One Million Years BC land into some kind of Conanesque world. Where muscle-bound adventurer drift from place to place encountering weirdness magic and evil. Okay. I can live with that. Yay! Go Evil!

"You are like me! Who are we where do we come?" cries Yor. (I'm paraphrasing here.) "No idea." she says, "The people here say I fell from the sky and they found me next to this huge block of ice with these frozen bodies in it. They too are wearing medallions just like us." (But not that much.) "Don't stress about it though because you are about to be sacrificed." Yor objects to being sacrificed, grabs a sword with flames shooting out of the side of it, and - kills everybody!

And then the cave collapses for no apparent reason.

Everywhere this bugger goes things just self-destruct and hundreds of people die.

So now Yor has two women. (He grabbed the queen on the way out of the collapsing cave). Yor Happy. (Actually Yor VERY happy). Girlies not so.
Just when the cat fight (told you his movie has everything) is getting interesting they are SUDDENLY ATTACKED by the purple Neanderthal guys who weren't as dead as we thought - and Yor has to kill them all over again. During the fight the queen gets killed (not, for a change, by Yor) and is buried - but only after Yor takes her medallion. No point in burying jewellery is there? Muscle-bound, walking catastrophe he may be - but he's not stupid.

Yor and his friends reach the sea. No sooner have they not even sat down for a rest, than they hear screams coming from a cave. They rush to the cave and find a Dinosaur (which looks suspiciously like the Triceratops he killed earlier, but without the big pointy bits) attacking women and children. (Doesn't anything this man kills stay dead?). They kill the Dino (again) and much happiness ensues and, not really understanding that they are dooming themselves to an early and messy death, the village invite Yor and his friends to stay and have a party. (They also try to give him another woman, but he passes.) Oh, and by the way, they say, something really weird happened round here recently. Something fell out of the sky and we killed the man who climbed out of it - and then it conveniently exploded so there is nothing to left to show you. Apart from this bit (I love the lengths low budget movie makers sometimes have to go to to get out of actually showing you anything on screen.) 'This bit', incidentally, looks very like a truck wing mirror with some bits of sticky-backed plastic stuck on to make it look a bit futurey. (I don't think we are in Hyperborea any more, Toto.) Anyway, party party party, la la la! happy happy Kaboom! Laser blasts from unseen circling spaceships explode the village - and everyone dies! (For a bit.)

Yor and his companions set sail on the (dead) headman's boat to the mysterious island of which he had (prior to dying) told them.

After the inevitable storm and shipwreck. Yor is captured by black suited robots left over from a slightly more expensive film starring Richard Kiel - that's right, this movie is cheaper than something starring the bloke who played a sidekick villain called 'Jaws' in a James Bond movie.

Somehow we have neatly segued from a really awful Conan rip off into a low rent post Star Wars SF movie, filmed in the same refinery they shoot every other low rent post Star Wars SF movie. There is a rebel underground trying to overthrow 'The Overlord' who is bent on 'doing evil' and making the same mistakes 'the ancients' did.
(Oh I get it! Were in the future that's why it's called Yor, the Hunter from the Future, oh yeah, I see - I can be so thick sometimes....)
These mistakes presumably include breeding a Master Race of androids, using Yor's sperm and bikini girl's body, to replace the old models, which are pretty plodding and useless, and look, as one reviewer so wonderfully put it: 'like Darth Vader had fucked Hello Kitty'.
"After you inseminate the woman, you die!"
Okay. Don't know about you but I think hearing that would pretty well squash my libido dead. So what's Evilon going to do now?
"Aha! After I wank you - and do something to her with a turkey baster - you will die!"?
The rebels choose this moment to - er - rebel. Why this moment? No idea. But this is the time they choose, and so, after a lot of running around shooting colour coded laser blasts (Goodies - green, Baddies - red), in which a couple of cavemen pick up 23rd century technology insanely quickly, and a couple of Action Man dolls serve as stunt doubles for some trapeze work (I kid you not), and a particularly pointless Lady of Shanghai type Hall of Mirrors sequence which did nothing to advance the plot but did give the audience a chance to have a good look at the film crew from several angles, Yor blows up the whole fucking island - and kills everybody!

It's incredible. Put this guy within three feet of anything that looks like an ordered society and it crumbles to bloody ruin within minutes. Apparently Edward Gibbon's massive Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is, for the most part, a chronicle of a happy enlightened culture, at ease with itself, and at peace with its neighbours. It's only towards the end, shortly after we read the phrase 'Then this bloke called Yor showed up', that it all starts going tits up.

It's now the end of the movie. The sun is setting in the west (it could be the east but let's assume it's the west) the island is sinking into the sea and Yor and his pals fly off into the setting to spread the word about not meddling with things man was not meant to meddle with (especially Yor's thing) and a voice over wonders aloud if he will succeed. I guess they were hoping for a series or at least a sequel.

I really hope they made one. Yor 2.

I'd invest in it.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Everything in the World is Boring - Except Crumpets and Gnocci

Continuing my fascination with the weirdness of LIDL's graphic design team:


And now I come to think of it, aren't complimentary things usually free? Defined as "given free as a courtesy or favour" by one online dictionary. So are you supposed to help yourself? And why doesn't 'food' deserve a capital letter?
I need to to get out more - except this is what I do when I do go out.

Maybe I should stay in more.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

I've been cooking a lot recently. I've been reading cook books and trying new things. Not exotically weird and wonderfully complex things but just extending my repertoire of basic, easy, good wholesome foods a bit.  I've got fed up with doing the same old things over and over again and I'm sure the kids and Merriol have been getting fed up with eating them too - well maybe not fed up but they're not greeting me emerging from the kitchen with  the "Yum yum! What's for tea tonight?" delighted enthusiasm that I secretly hope for every time - a hope I suspect I share with most of the homemakers of the world if the advertising aimed at us is to be believed.
"Yum yum! What's for tea tonight?"
"Deep fried Chicken crap in a bucket!"
 Delight! Delight! Delight!
Tonight, suffering from a surfeit apples - thanks to a pile of slightly bruised ones being reduced to near nothing in Tesco's yesterday, I tried Tarte au pommes Normande from  Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking.  The trouble with cooking from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking is that there are no pictures.  I have no idea what I am cooking is supposed to look like. The apples for Tarte au pommes Normande should, I read, be: 'peeled and cored' then sliced 'evenly and rather thinly'.  How thin is 'rather thinly'? and in which direction should I be slicing?  Should I be slicing from the top down to make rings?  or sideways? I needed a photo to tell me.  There was no photo.  I ended up slicing it radially.  When the apples have been cooked in butter you are then instructed to 'arrange the apples in overlapping circles' on the pastry base.  How? How the hell do you 'arrange' one and a half pounds of cooked, limp, sliced apple into a 7" tin so it looks good. (Damn! Should have gone for the rings).  After a bit of faffing about I ended up with a vaguely symmetrical arrangement which wasn't too horrible.  The apples cooked well in the oven and came out slightly browned, but still in firm slices, not a mushed up and soggy pulp like so many apple pie recipes seem to do.

In the end I was glad there were no illustrations.  Food is too often about the presentation - what it looks like the moment it arrives at the table.  If there had been a super glossy, wonderfully lit, four colour photo of the finished product I may well have felt disappointed (or frustrated) that my effort didn't look like 'it should', that it wasn't 'perfect'.  Food should be about so much more than just what it looks like.  Elizabeth David may well have looked down her nose at my effort and pronounced it terrible,  but you know what?  I had fun making it  and, most importantly, there's none of it left.  We ate it all.  It tasted great.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Middle-Aged Nostalgia (With Technical Notes for Younger Readers)

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Loud and proud. I like Vinyl. I like big round black records that have been loved and played and had joints rolled on them, and lines snorted off them, and god knows what else done with them - I never thought of this before but it strikes me as amazing that no matter how utterly, incredibly gourdtwistingly stoned we got in the seventies we could always perform the complex task of changing records, and putting them back in their sleeves so they didn't get mashed up, without noticing we were doing it.
A lot of my misspent youth was spent sitting around playing music into the early hours of the morning getting stoned and talking about - whatever it was we talked about until the early hours of the morning. No idea any more. Whatever it was it was probably deadly urgent and earnest . Thatcher. The Miners. Chile. Freeing Nelson Mandela. Was the Anti-Nazi League really just a Militant front and, even if it was, should we still join? Should we go to Greenham Common? Yeah, I know I'm a bloke ... but ... okay, you go to Greenham Common, I'll stay here and ... erm ... stay in bed for the day?
Singles have been issued on various formats, including 7-inch (18-cm), 10-inch (25-cm) and 12-inch (30-cm) vinyl discs (usually playing at 45 rpm); 10-inch (25-cm) shellac discs (playing at 78 rpm) The most common form of the vinyl single is the 45 or 7 inch, the names are derived from its play speed, 45 rpm and the standard diameter 7″ (18 cm).
Singles were more fun than LPs. LPs had to be changed (or turned over) every 20 minutes or so - none of this putting your 28 TByte iPod Nano on shuffle and never listen to the same track twice till the battery runs down nonsense. Singles were hard work. Two or three minutes to choose something to be played next that would carry on the theme of whatever was playing at the moment. I don't know if this was universal, but there always seemed to be an incredibly complex set of unspoken rules about the rightness and wrongness of what could or should not be played. I never did understand all of them but rigorously enforced them all the same. The important thing though was that it was a concious effort to put on music. The decision had to be made, the record selected. The old record removed and the new one placed on the turntable, the correct speed selected,
Gramophone discs were manufactured with a range of playback speeds(from 16pm to 78rpm)
and the needle whacked back on the wax - without a horrible skidding screech or crash - before the mood has evaporated - slip the previous record back into its sleeve, and move aside as someone else says "Hey! I know what I want to listen to next!" and starts riffling through the records. It was a skilled job being a wastrel in the seventies. Actually I don't think we got as stoned as we thought we did. We didn't have time. Too busy changing records and making munchies.

Mind you, I do remember waking up on the kitchen floor one morning and listening to side one of Elvis Costello's Armed Forces repeating on the Dansette several times before I managed to summons up the energy to switch it off. It must have been on all night. Our neighbours must have really loved us.

This Very Model!

So, Vinyl, love the stuff. It's so cheap too. Charity shops round here are selling LPs off four or five for a quid. Often I buy them just for the cover art - or lack of it. There have been some seriously shit things done on the front of LP covers. I live in hope of finding something as compulsively horrible as this one which lurks somewhere deep in the depths of

Sunday, November 01, 2009

My Month in Movies ...


  1. Spiderman
    - Pizza night choice of daughter number one. First time I have seen it. Spiderman was never my favourite Marvel character - a lot to do with Steve Ditko's drawing - I never did like his stuff so I wasn't too disappointed. The kids loved it. I spotted continuity errors and enjoyed some of the character actors doing their thing; J.K. Simmons (whoever he be) was brilliant as the newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson. Best bit of the whole movie.

  2. Queen of Outer Space
    - I love watching actors work. Even bad actors. And the best time to watch actors work is when they aren't saying anything, when they are reacting to what is being said, or when they are watching other people saying things. Cheap shoddily made films like Queen of Outer Space allow plenty of time to watch actors work because, for a lot of the time there isn't much else going on on screen. Actors willing, or forced by circumstance, to work in cheap low budget movies like this are cheaper than just about any other element of the film - except maybe stock footage. Special effects - even crappy ones - are labour intensive and expensive. Which is why I was overjoyed to suddenly find this piece of cockuppery in a piece of bilge that I know far too well for my own good.

  3. Devil Fish (MST3K)
    - "A shark... with tentacles!" That's about all you need to know really, isn't it?

  4. Charlotte's Web
    - I've never liked Charlotte's Web, too overly-sentimental for my taste. Mind you, I never read it as a kid and that often helps make childhood classic reading - er - classic. So I was not looking forward to this (it'll be bloody Heidi next, mutter, mutter ...) and the constant bloody Danny Elfmanesque music was driving me up the wall by the end of the first ten minutes, but some of the CGI was pretty good - actually some of it was pretty amazing if you stopped to think about it - and there was always the old standby of 'Spot the Voice' which can keep me entertained during the dullest of animated movies. What does it say about me that I recognised Steve Buscemi's voice but not Julia Roberts' or Robert Redford's? The end was vastly over-long. I just sat there for the last ten minutes willing it to end. "For god's sake stop milking it - the movie's over already." The end credits finally started to roll, I heaved a sigh of relief, Holly burst into tears - and so did I. (Almost.)

  5. Quest of the Delta Knights (MST3K)
    - David Warner - one of my favourite character actors, whose staggering workload of genius includes Tron, Time Bandits, Time after Time, and a gazzilion voice-overs pays the rent by playing three roles in a straight to video piece of historically confused junk which seems to have been filmed at a Renaissance Fair. It must be strange being a jobbing actor, one day you're playing opposite Steve Martin (when he was funny) in the Man With Two Brains, the next you are picking up an Emmy for playing a Roman in a miniseries, the day after that you are hiding behind a variety of bad, stick-on facial hair surrounded by a dozen or so extras trying to recreate a geographically woolly Dark Ages by sheer will-power alone - an effort doomed from the start by the costume designers letting anyone who had their own 'olden days' costumes turn up and be in the movie. "Vikings hat? Fuck yeah! you're in. Hey, Louis! There's a guy here with a viking hat. Shove him on a horse and give him gun will yah?" The only thing going for this movie were the heroine's tits which were shoved into one of those 'lift 'em up and wobble 'em' dresses Barbara Windsor always seem to wear in the 'historical' Carry-On movies. They were fun. Probably the only reason Warner took the part.

  6. The Screaming Skull (MST3K)
    - The movie opens on a shot of a coffin. A voice over by a Serious American Male: "The screaming Skull is a motion picture that reaches its climax in shocking horror, its impact is so terrifying that it may have an unforeseen effect. It may kill you. Therefore, its producers feel they must assure free burial services to anyone who dies of fright while seeing - The Screaming Skull!" The camera dollies in the the, now open, coffin which is empty save for a hand lettered sign: 'Reserved For You'.- Dramatic Music!

    I fell asleep.

  7. Mission Stardust
    - When I'm not watching unwatchable SF films I am quite often reading unreadable SF books - I'm especially fond of the execrable Perry Rhodan books. Mission Stardust (aka the usual shitload of names around the world) is the first, and sadly, last attempt to bring the character to the screen. I had heard of it's dreadfulness for years It is, I read, so dreadful that fans of the books deny its very existence. A movie so bad people who liked Perry Rhodan books thought it was crap? This was a movie I had to see!
    And now, thanks to the mighty power of the Interweb and unseen friends across the Atlantic I have, at last, watched it. It is as dreadful as I had hoped. I will have to watch it again and write more about it because it appears to be a woefully under-appreciated piece of Eurocheesyness (only 6 reviews on IMDb). The special effects were remarkably shoddy for a movie of the period - at one point the light from a descending model rocket casts shadows of the surrounding Lunar mountains onto the painted sky behind them. And I swear the 'rays' the aliens robots shoot out were made by scratching the emulsion off the negative. This looked crappy in the 1930s when Buster Crabbe zapped people with hand scratched zap rays in Flash Gordon serials. Deserves a closer, more detailed viewing. Watch this space - if you dare. Or watch it here if you dare. (It starts about 5 minutes in after a long montage of bits of other better films which you can easily skip without loosing anything.)

  8. Werewolf (1996)
    - Archaeologists (hah!) discover the skeleton of a werewolf in the Arizona desert. The film crew has no budget - though they did have at least on an arc lamp with a switch on it so lots of lightning but never any rain. The leading actors are both Germans pretending to be American; for both of them this is their 'other' movie (I have an IMDb listing longer than either star of this turkey). Highlights (and most of the on-screen budget) include:
    • An ancient Italian American security guard turning into a werewolf - while driving slowly past the same petrol station several times - before crashing into a sudden outbreak of middle of the highway, randomly placed oil drums full of explosives.
    • A lead actress who, struggling with her insufficient English, cannot say the word 'werewolf' the same way twice - even in the same sentence. The ability to say 'werewolf' convincingly should, I would have thought, been an prime asset in a film which is, for the most part, about wherevulfs. Whurwolfs? Wharwulfs? Worewolvs...?
    • A lead actor who presented with the task of transforming from vaguely symmetrical human being (as far as I could tell his only qualification for the part) to hideous hell beast (or at least the hairy teethy glove puppet shown in close ups) without the use of make up, choosing to writhe around and gurn on a bed like a constipated porn actor being told to fill in while his co-star goes for a pee. First year drama school stuff. "Now class, I want you to imagine you are bacon frying ... "

    And there's a 'twist' ending too! - pity it doesn't make any sense and its obvious from a mile away what it's going to be.

  9. The Thief of Bagdad (1927)
    - not The Thief of Bagdad (1940) which we had been expecting - damn Blockbusters! but both daughters, having got themselves into the frame of mind to watch an Arabian Nightish adventure, chose to watch a black an white silent epic with actors spending half of the time pointing wildly at the corners of the screen than something else more modern, in colour and with dialogue they didn't have to read off the screen. None of us realised it was two and a half hours long. One fell asleep, the other was hooked. Stunning sets - and Anna May Wong was lovely. "I think she is beautiful," as number one daughter kept saying. Mind you, she also said of some black actors: "I think they are African people, but I can't tell because it is in black and white."

  10. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
    - What a quiet, restrained little movie this is. After watching far too many hysterical 1950s SF movies in which the 'World Communistic Threat' was thinly disguised as Aliens From Another Planet, either worming their invidious way into the vital bodily fluids of right thinking Americans, or rampaging, destroying and plundering property before being vanquished by the gallant Army, Navy, and Air Force - or assorted white coat wearing scientists - it was a pleasure to watch to see the other side of the coin for a change as a human like alien with a Message for all Mankind ("Stop with the bombs already or face certain annihilation from Higher Powers") is pursued and persecuted by the paranoia of the age. The Christian Allegory subtext isn't very far beneath the surface (the visiting alien calls himself 'Carpenter', is killed and resurrected before delivering his message, and then ascending to the heavens) but doesn't intrude.

  11. Bedtime Stories ( 2008 )
    - Meh Disney Family Movie which I watched with my family in a family way and we are all happy... I think I did laugh - once. Afterwards, as I thought about it, the movie really started to annoy me. Disney pride themselves on presenting a Family Values package. Good wholesome films that the whole family can enjoy together. Common values. So what do we learn about what Disney thinks America thinks it's okay to do in a family film? What do we learn from Bedtime Stories? The mother of the kids in this film is a hard working, single mom school principle who has to leave her two children in the care of her feckless brother for a few days while she attends an out of State job interview.
    We learn that's okay to ignore peoples' wishes when it comes to bringing up their kids. Especially when they are single mothers 'unable' to keep a husband. After all she doesn't really believe in what she's preaching does she? Even she doesn't like the healthy cake she made for the birthday party. All kids really need, according to this film, is to be fed hamburgers and watch TV - both things she is trying to avoid bringing into her children's lives. How cruel of her. How dare she upset the natural order of things by denying her children the God given right of every American child to be an unthinking overweight drone like all the others? How dare she not bring them up to be good Disney consumers? When the mother finds out about her brother breaking the house rules is she bothered? No. She's only upset that he told them there were no 'happy endings' in real life - the one thing that her brother did with which her character would have the least problem.
    We learn that it's okay to be rude to total strangers who not unreasonably are a bit miffed with you selfishly taking up two parking spaces for no good reason other than you're crap at parking.
    We learn that it's okay to steal. Our 'hero' steals, then trashes, a motorbike in the contrived and illogical climactic ending.
    We learn that it is okay to destroy other people's property and endanger their lives - our hero deliberately knocks over an advertising billboard onto an occupied car (driven by an innocent bystander*) while driving the stolen bike.
    We learn that education (past elementary school level) is a waste of time. The most highly educated character here is consistently the least happy, and the self-confessed illiterate ends up marrying an heiress.
    We learn that single parent families don't work and that as soon as there is a heterosexual couple within miles, children will go and live with them rather than their hard working, over educated, single mother.
    We learn that debilitating mental illness can be cured with a hug. One hug from Adam Sandler and Misophobic people rush off to become school nurses. Truly he is the chosen one! (Incidentally, what's a nice Jewish boy like Sandler doing promoting bacon?)
    We learn that Guinea Pigs are really carnivores. Even small South American rodents cannot resist the lure of Hamburgers apparently.

    * I know, if he was driving he couldn't be a bystander ... but you know what I mean.

  12. Succubus ( 1968 )
    - My first Jess Franco film. I'm really not sure what to make of it. Sort of like Federico Fellini crossed with Luis Buñuel with great dollops of Ken Russell thrown in for good measure. I adore Fellini, I'm new to the wonders of Buñuel, and I loathe Russell. I hope I learn to like Franco for no other reason than he has directed some 190 movies. Some great titles too: Vampyros Lesbos, Killer Barbys vs. Dracula, Naked Super Witches of the Rio Amore, and the immortal Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties. No idea what the films are like, but the titles are great.

  13. Fun With Dick and Jane (1977)
    - I've been wanting to see this again for years. I have fond memories of it. And for the last few of years I have been repeatedly disappointed as I keep thinking I have found it when all I have found is the remake with Jim Carrey. Today - Tad Dah! Morrison's cheapo bin rewards my diligence by turning up the George Segal, Jane Fonda original. And what a fun little movie it is.

  14. The Anderson Tapes (1971)
    - inevitably there is a remake in the pipeline.

  15. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    - A second viewing for me. Not a Potter fan to start with I was less than bowled over on a second viewing. I got a bit of entertainment from watching the editing and spotting blunders (Harry P is at one point is - if his POV under the Cloak of Invisibility is to be believed - as tall as Professor Snape. Which he patently isn't.) and wondering why the owls in the movie were so damn loud! Owls are silent flyers. They have to be. They hunt small animals by swooping down on them unheard and, as my local National Trust naturalist pointed out - I do research this shit you know, they also rely on their hearing to locate their prey in the first place. The reason the owls in this movie were so noisy is that pigeons had been dubbed in over the top of them every time they spread a wing.

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