Thursday, July 11, 2019

Film List 2019 Part 1 (The Wilderness Months)

  1. The cars that Ate Paris - My choice for an evening-in double-bill with 16 year old Daughter Number One (herinafter refered to as D#1)
  2. In Bruges - D#1's choice. She is a bit of a fan of Martin McDonagh. I loved it. True to my long-held belief that good movies affect the way you move and talk immediately after seeing them every other word we said for the rest of the night was "fecking this" and "fecking that"!
  3. Aliens -
  4. The Thing - D#1 and I continue knocking off scary movies from the 1001 Movies you Should Watch Before You Die list while the rest of the family are away.
  5. The Odd Couple - our nightly double bill becomes truncated when we both realise that we've enjoyed this so much we don't want to watch anything else.
  6. Monkey Business
  7. The Blood of Ghastly Horror
  8. 100 Years of Evil (2010) - low budget comedy about a Swedish academic convinced Adolf Hitler didn't commit suicide and had managed to escape to America where he invented Fast Food, Soap Opera, tried to reshape the figures on Mount Rushmore to show Richard Wagner and Napoleon, and was was behind the Joe McCarthy witch-hunt and the Cuban Missile Crisis. It almost works.
  9. Boccaccio 70 - 1962 Italian portmanteau movie with four sections, one of which was directed by Fellini between La Dolce Vita and I like Fellini.
  10. Thérèse Desqueyroux - French, slow, rather beautiful.
  11. Hotel Paradiso - Pretty fucking dreadful.
  12. Ocean's Thirteen - disappointing threequel. I really liked thie first two but this one was just unfocused and well, boring.
  13. Kissing Jessica Stein - Indy Gay/bi rom com with a Hollywood gloss. Genuinely funny and touching.
  14. How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer - rather dull Indy.
  15. Exit Through the Gift Shop - excellent! Very funny too.
  16. Election - a rewatch, and better than I remember.
  17. Atlantis - Amazingly dreadful British bash at a sword and sorcery flick with a cast of tens and the budget of an average village Christmas panto. Midbogglingly awful. So much so that - for the first time in ages - I had managed to find a film that apparently no one had ever watched before. At least if anyone had watched it no one had thought it worthwhile reviewing the thing on IMDb. So I did. This is, by any standard, a terrible film. technically shoddy in every respect from the set design: wrinkly sheets, plastered and painted with emulsion by the look of it standing in for 'rock' and 'cave walls', to painted cardboard boxes stacked to play the part of 'Stone Walls' and flesh crushing rollers made from carpet roll tubes. The music is endlessly the same three chords on a organ with a drum being beaten seemingly at random. The acting is amateur - with only a few of the cast trying to do anything other than get their words out without messing them up. A truly awful experience. The 'restored' version currently available on Amazon Prime contains 20 seconds where the screen goes blank for no obvious reason. The one star I did give it is for a weird little coda when (SPOILER) the high priest we have just seen vaporised in the distant past as Atlantis sinks beneath the sea, turns up in modern day London. It's so weirdly out of nowhere and nonsensical that it almost works.
  18. Visitors of the Night - tedious alien abduction TVM. During the watching of which I worked out another of my Inviolable Rules of Science Fiction Movies. Rule 8 (or possibly 9 I've lost count) All children abducted by aliens from their own home will have a rocking horse in their bedroom. And possibly some form of clockwork monkey.
  19. Conan the Barbarian - the Jason Momoa one. Jeso it was boring. Endless fight sequence after endless fight sequence with the music getting faster when we were supposed to find it exciting. Momoa is a lot cuter than Schwarzenegger, but if he hadn't been doing the "hey.... I know I'm a hunk!" eye-candy moody hooded-eyelid, as near straight into the camera look thing at every opportunity I doubt if I would have got to the end of it.
  20. Iron Man 2 - noisy stupid fun
  21. Doomsday - Ultra-violent post apocalyptic crap assembled from bits of other, better films.
  22. The 100 Year Old man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared - That was fun.
  23. Lost and Delirious - There's lots of love for this girl/girl romance/tragedy in the IMDb reviews - love which I want to share but just can't. It was all a bit too TV Movie for me. Beautifully shot in places with some really nice emotional acting, I would guess the three main actors got some good mileage out of their performances here in their showreels, but I'm afraid it just didn't work for me. I'm a real sucker for unrequited love stories. Romeo and Juliet makes me cry every time I see a production - and 'Rom and Jule' was heavily referenced and paralleled in this film but it just didn't connect. Part of the film's problem for me was that it was obviously based on a novel. Too much voice-over and speeches with language that sounded like they had come straight out of the book.
  24. Volver - I love Almadovar's movies I really do.
  25. Whisky - A very long 90 minutes."A delight... it would be a tough soul that didn't warm to this terrific little movie... It's wonderful stuff" says The Times on the back of the box. I must have a heart of flint then because I thought it was a plodding, repetitive, unimaginative bore.
  26. Blast From the Past - Funny.  Brendan Fraser doing what Brendan Fraser does best being big and cute and gormless.  The perfect manboy.
  27. The Hound of the Baskervilles - Just as Tom Baker is my Doctor Who, Basil Rathbone is my Sherlock Holmes even though the films were made 20 or so years before I was born.
  28. 101 Reykjavik -
  1. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time - Friday night popcorn with the kids.
  2. The Belles of St Trinians - which was a lot of fun. Though I did get slightly distracted by the utter hotness of one of the minor players and wondering where I had seen her before:


    A few minutes on IMDB and it turns out she's called Andree Melly and she was in Brides of Dracula (1960)


    which I haven't watched in years but is now on my Must See Again list.
  3. Lady of Burlesque - not as good as I remembered. though I was hampered by watching a bloody awful copy on the long defunct AG Plate label - a precursor, I believe, to the notoriously awful quasi-legal 23rd Century label. I wouldn't have bought it if I had known but the packaging of the disc had no indication that it was on the AG label. Only when the logo appeared on screen did my heart sink. I presume somewhere a pile of discs surfaced in a warehouse somewhere and been rebadged.
  4. John Carter - not as bad as people make out (and better on a second viewing) but I still wish they had not buggered about quite so much (and confusingly) with the original story.
  5. Escape from Tomorrow - strange little black and white film in which a man, on holiday at Disneyworld with his family, is fired from his job, has some kind of psychotic episode, and dies on the toilet. I'm not sure it entirely works - the first half feels very draggy and padded - but the fact that it exists at all is incredible. The film was shot guerilla style in Disneyworld (without permission from the Disney corporation) on video mode of domestic digital cameras with the sound recorded on iPhones.
  6. Jumanji (2017) - Much fun with the younger two of my kids.
  7. La Strada -
  8. Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror - this and the Hound of the Baskervilles I watched the other day both in versions restored by UCLA and bloody lovely they were too. The Voice of Terror had some realy groovy noir lighting going on it.
  9. Ink (2009) - low budget overly-ambitious foray into Inception / Adjustment Bureau / Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind territory. A heartfelt labour of love with some great imagery but too long and laboured. A quick poke on IMDb and it turns out that I have seen the director's previous feature, The Frame, which I described on watching as; "A great idea played out far too slowly. Some ruthless editing (I guess this film could stand to lose 20 - 30 minutes without breaking sweat) and you'd have an interesting little mind-bender. As it is, it becomes a bit of a chore to watch." The same applies to Ink. The director Jamin Winans, needs to step back from the editing and let someone kill his babies and tighten up the show.
  10. Kung Fu Panda - I fell asleep about ten minutes in and then I woke up about ten minutes from the end. I don't think I missed much. I asked my daughter who was with me whether I should go back and try again. She said it was "no Penguins of Madagascar" so I guess I won't bother.
  11. Cherry, Harry & Raquel - one of Russ Meyer's lesser films. It might have been less of a lesser film if the lab hadn't irretrievably ruined half of the film while developing it but we'll never know.
  12. Elysium - I spent most of the film wondering what the hell had happened to Jodie Foster's voice. I've now seen two of Blomkamp's films. This and District 9. I didn't like either of them.
  13. Bloodrayne - Ewe Boll bollocks.
  14. Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! - Jeeso that was fun! I now have shitload of films I'd never heard of added to my my Must See List.
  15. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! - Almadova
  16. The Relic - Alien in a museum.
  17. Outlander - Beowulf with aliens.
  18. Underworld - It's Sophia Myles a go-go on the JunkMonkey moviebox this week. She was in Outlander (and the best thing in it) which I watched last night. And Underworld, I realised as I watched the end credits, provides me with the shortest route I've yet come across for me in the Game of Warwick Davis. The Game of Warwick Davis is a game that my daughters and I play in which we connect all that is Geek by circuitous routes to the the wonderful Mr D. It's like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon but with Warwick Davis in the middle and a tacit understanding that the starting point for any chain is SF / Geeky / Comic related. Warwick Davis is singularly well connected for this kind of nerdy dominoes game in that he is one of the few actors who has been in The Star Wars franchise,Harry Potter, Doctor Who, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He is the Nexus of Geek. Anyway, the route between me and Mr D: I worked as an assistant editor on a film called Wild Side - the first (released) cut of which was edited by Martin Hunter - who edited Underworld - Sophia Myles was in Underworld and the The Girl in the Fireplace episode of Doctor Who - Doctor Who - Warwick Davis. It keeps us amused.
  19. Argo - oh! For a change that was impressively as good as I was lead to believe by the review.
Fillums Abandoned in February:
  1. Tarnation - arty wank
  2. Scream of the Banshee - I gave up when a character did one of those bullshit plot corralling lines:"We've got to keep this thing under wraps till we can figure out what's going on." For NO REASON other than to keep the cast numbers down and keep the plot moving forward. No reason at all.
  1. The Addams Family
  2. Mystery Men - one of my go to movies when I just want to flop. Shared with Number 2 daughter.
  3. Evilspeak - one of those 'horror' film you only thought existed on VHS but someone thought it worthwhile releasing it on DVD. (I suspect only because it was one of the Video Nasties prosecuted for obscenity by the DPP.) . Hard to see what the fuss was about - especially as the DVD I saw is obviously a cut version.
  4. The Flame and the Arrow - Burt Lancaster - for whom I have a lot of time - at his athletic swashbuckling best. It's years since I have seen this and I didn't realise it was directed by Jacques Tourneur most famous I guess for his work with Val Lewton at RKO on low budget atmospheric classics Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie. The directorial style here is pretty mundane apart from one wonderful moment that could have come from one of the earlier chillers when the hero and villain fight in a darkened room. The villain trapped by fear in the only patch of illumination as the hero prowls the darkness taunting him. Great stuff.
  5. Addams Family Values -
  6. Zatoich at the Blood Fest -
  7. A Prairie Home Companion - Robert Altman's last film and a wonderful sweet elegiac movie. I loved it.
  8. Planet of the Vampires - I finally get Number One Daughter to watch it with me - her verdict? "That was pretty groovy." Which it is.
  9. Top Fighter 2: Deadly China Dolls - pretty shoddy 'documentary' about female Hong Kong action actresses. I guess if you were a connoisseur of the genre this might act as greatest hits collection (ho! ho! did you see what I did there?). For the rest of us it was all a bit relentlessly repetitive. Endless fight sequences - sometimes from really battered prints - with no indication which film, when it was made, or other context at all - intercut with badly-framed, low res interviews with the star in question. (One interview, obviously shot in a noisy bar or restaurant and probably on the director's phone, was spectacularly inaudible. I had no idea what the poor woman was saying over the background hubbub of other patrons. I could tell she was speaking English but that was it.) The inclusion of a clip of a naked woman beating the chopsocky crap out of a bunch of ninjas was a highlight. Naked Kung Fu. Another 25 pence not quite wasted from my local charity shop's '4 DVDs for a Pound' shelf.
  10. De Palma
  11. Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau
  12. I think I Do - amiable low budget LGBTQ rom com.
  13. Franklyn - Another British Dud from the days when Lottery Funding and great costume and production design couldn't quite get movies over the hump of the script just... not... being... quite... good... enough.
  14. Sobrevivire - Spanish soap opera.
  15. Cannibal: the Musical
  1. Hollow Man 2 - which was, surprisingly enough, a hell of a lot better than I was expecting.
  2. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)
  3. Plunkett & MacCleane -
  4. The Ladykillers
  5. The Martian - which I thought was pretty damn terrific. But then I am a sucker for movies in which smart people solve problems.
  6. Warrior Queen (1987) - Pretty dreadful cheapo Italian swords and tits movie.
  7. Valarian
  8. Peggy Sue Got Married
  9. Pina - I know nothing about contemporary dance and understand less but WOW!
  10. AD Project (2006) - Someone, somewhere wondered what an 1970s Italian UFO film ( I found myself reminded of the bloody awful Occhi dalle stelle (1978) more than once) directed by David Lynch would look like - if he only had about 150 euros to spend on the whole show. There are a few nice edits and interesting shots but they are far outweighed by the number of failed attempts at nice edits and interesting shots. Very little in this movie is shot straight. Everything is funky angles and ultra-bold, in your face framing. The main trouble is that all the funky shots add up to very little. There's an impressive bit of steady cam at one point that starts at the bottom of a liftshaft/staircase. As the lift starts to ascend we steadycam up the stairs, around the shaft, and arrive at the first floor just as the lift arrives and a girl gets into it. (This must have taken more than a few takes to get the timing right.) This shot is followed by a cut to inside the lift - as the girl descends alone to where we started from - and that's it. There's no-one down there. It's not a POV. Doesn't advance the story, or do anything much other than impress. It's just a 'wouldn't it be great if...? shot. There's a lot of that in this film. In the end all the mysterious revisiting the events that may have happened, or may be about to happen, or are happening right now, looping time stuff just becomes hopelessly confused and pointless till, in the end, everyone just stands still in the middle of a field and big lights descend from the sky and everyone looks at them till the film is over. Leaving us none the wiser about anyone's motives for anything.
  11. Dazed and Confused - which I had seen before and liked better the last time I think. What a bunch of abusive, self-satified, middle-class wankers.
  12. The History of Time Travel (2014) - smart (but not unflawed) mocumentary about the fictional history of the US wartime time travel program which suddenly has a jarring WTF? moment in the middle of it. Just as you are starting to think you've missed something (like a reel of the movie) it becomes obvious that the 'reality' of the events being discussed by the various talking heads are, in fact, being altered by the uses to which the time travel device was put. The version of history they were talking about a few screen minutes ago no longer exists as far as they're concerned. I LIKED it.
  13. The Beast With a Million Eyes (1955) - low budget McCarthy era alien-invasion cheapo that had an alien mind taking over birds and other animals and attacking humans some 8 years before Alfred Hitcock's The Birds. Some clunking dialogue, histrionic acting, long VERY static shots of not a lot happening, and the implication that God helps out in the end - but there were moments of cheapo inventiveness.
  14. Sky Blue - Korean anime for me an uneasy mix of live action footage 3D and 2D animation which spent more time in beauty shots than it did in plot before ending in a big dumb lightshow that happyendinged everything.
  15. All About Eve -
  16. La Cité des enfants perdus -
Abandoned in April:

Les amants réguliers (Regular Lovers) after about an hour, after a particularly tedious set of shots in which we watched the back of some characters standing about in grainy black and white while something happened somewhere else - presumably wherever the characters we were staring at were staring - I switched on the on-screen display to discover I had only been watching for some 20 minutes... and the film was 3 hours long. Three hours of staring at grainy French people staring at things I wasn't allowed to see? f**k that.


  1. Ashes of Time Redux - ooooh I liked that. I liked that a lot.
  2. Dolls - rewatch of a strange, slow, rather beautiful film.
  3. All About my Mother (Todos sobre mi madre) _ I introduce D#1 to Almadova - she gets it!
  4. Asterix and Obelix: Mansion of the Gods (2014) - Number One Son is a bit of a Asterix fan and this is a genuinely funny movie. The best adaptation of an Asterix book. The 3D animation catches the original flavour of the books and some of the gags are perfectly timed - funny even when you know what's going to happen.
  5. The Happiest Days of your Life - One of the greatest 'Sunday Afternoon Movies' ever. Watched in the company of two of my kids (the 10 and 17 year old ones).
  6. Hitchcock - The book was better though this had its moments
  7. Coherence - a rewatch with #1D.
  1. Malena - I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did. It was almost like a caricature of an Italian Coming of Age movie. A short story stretched out far beyond the length the material could support. Monica Bellucci was ravishing as usual but didn't have to do much apart from look good, get naked, and be abused. I hope she was paid a lot. The music was wonderful but Enio Morricone can do no wrong in my book even when it sounds like he's (deliberately) channelling Nino Rota's wastepaper basket.
  2. La Jetée - D#1 wants to watch a movie and lights upon 12 Monkeys on the shelves. I make her watch the original first. She LIKES it.
  3. 12 Monkeys
  4. So, I Married an Ax Murderer - Which turned out to be even less funny than I remembered. Not very funny at all apart from a wee subplot with Alan Arkin which was basically one gag.
  5. Zelig - I laughed a couple of times.
  6. Hercules - Dwayne Johnson and Rufus Sewell in one movie! I may have to go lie down for a bit.
  7. West Side Story - for the first time. Loved it.
  8. Les Parapluises de Cherbourge - *****
  9. The Avengers - not the Bish! Bash! Kapow! superhero one, but the benighted update of the iconic 60s TV series. And it's as awful a misfire as I remember it. No idea why. There are some really nice elements in there and some nice understated touches (Mother's handbrake turn wheelchair entrance for a climatic showdown being one, and the oddly touchy-feely relationship between him and his assistant being another) but the witty repartee just wasn't witty and the odd quirkiness of the original just wasn't there. (Giant Teddy Bears excepted.) it was just flat where it should have been fizzy. Didn't work
  10. Brainstorm - Not the 1983 Douglass Trumbull one, or the 2002 Jeremy Northam one (aka Cypher) but the not at all bad low budget SF film which was called Listening when released in the States. Not bad but a little overlong in the setup.
  11. Almost Human - Another low budget (4 speaking parts and the only other two people in shot may well have not been aware they were being filmed) SF film that went slightly off the rails for me when I saw through the artifice at the 30 minute mark and spent the next 60 minutes spotting the obvious 'clues' . But not bad.
  12. Passengers - I liked it once I had got past my teeth-grinding at the the usual, "Why is everywhere on this ENORMOUS space ship fully pressurised and kept at an ambient living temperature - when there is not going to be used for 150 odd years?!" It would have been a much better film if the leads had been gender reversed and played by Steve Buscemi and Kathy Bates. But then, as Daughter #1 pointed out, most Hollywood films would be better if the leads' genders were reversed and played by Steve Buscemi and Kathy Bates.
  13. The 5th Wave - The first half of which is pretty good but, somehow, by the end I felt I was watching a pilot episode for a TV series that never got made. Pity.
  14. Circuitry Man - with Daughter #1.
  15. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - the 2013 Ben Stiller one. Which I liked... but.... and Kirsten Wiig was wonderful.
  16. Cloud Atlas - I remember liking the book though very little about it other than its interesting nested structure and a couple of "wait that doesn't work" moments that stuck in my head. One involving the nailing shut of a door and the other concerning the geography of Hull a city where I used to live. The film is interesting but didn't capture me. I also got a bit thrown out of the picture when I recognised a couple of the locations (local to me now) and the back alleys of inner-city Glasgow that were doubling for American inner-city alleys (as they often do). Interesting though.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I have just spent the last two days resisting buying this:

A French comic from the 1980s featuring underwater Kung Fu on Shark Attack action!  I mean how brilliant IS that on a scale of zero to 25?  About a 23 I reckon.

Sadly the interior art looks less than stellar

so I won't be buying "Steel Punch".  But it is nice to know (in some way I'm not sure I can define) that, while franco-belge comics are frequently things of utter beauty and the best comic art in the world, there were still people churning out badly drawn crap like this.

EDIT: Looking at it again I suspect the artist here is Italian.  There's something about the sloppy style that just says fumetti.  

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