Thursday, June 07, 2012

May's Movie Milestones
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Maverick (1994) - Enjoyable nonsense.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!.

  7. 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.

  8. 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."

  9. Liar (1997) - interesting.

  10. 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.

  11. 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 they are.)

  12. 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).

  13. 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 edit.)
    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.

  14. Mystery Men (1999) - Umpteenth watching.

  15. 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.

  16. Barbarella ( 1968 ) - again. I like Barberella.

  17. 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.).

  18. 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.

  19. Centurion (2010) - Deliverance with Romans.

  20. My Darling Clementine (1946) - Great film. (apart from that producer added shitty studio insert shot right at the end).

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