Thursday, December 17, 2020

October November Film Diary


  1. The Addams Family - with kids 2 & 3.
  2. Demolition Man - Stupid comic book fun, never seen it before. I enjoyed it. A lot smarter and funnier than I was expecting.
  3. Addams Family Values - with kids 2 & 3. One of those rare films that is better than the original - or at least funnier. Number 2 Daughter agrees that Values funnier but maintains that the first one is a better film.
  4. The Magnificent Ambersons - which, despite my love for Orson Welles, I had never seen before. I was bowled over. Loved it.

    Got slightly thrown out of the movie when the thought, "where the hell have I seen that staircase before?" crashed into my head...

    ... it took me a few minutes to work out it was used in The Cat People and then settle back into the film.
    Hate when that happens.

  5. Valentin - Argentinian film set firmly in Cinema Paradiso / Amalie feelgoodland (it said so on the case) - and it just didn't quite work for me. To much talking and every sequence seemed to end in a fade out, or a cross-fade. Fades to black (or should that be 'fade to blacks'?) and crossfades are useful useful tools but at the end of every scene?
  6. Men in Black 3 - it was a Men in Black movie.
  7. Inkheart - I wanted to like this so much more than I did. It was okay but seriously lacking something (and had too much of something else). I wish I knew what. All the pieces were there for a Sunday afternoon escapist movie but it just didn't work for me.
  8. Dune (1984) - Dr. David Lynch then...
  9. Dune (1984) - Dir. Alan Smithee. Back to back, with only a break for a pee and a stretch of the legs, I watch two different versions of the staggering work of genius that is Dune. The 130 minute cinema release, and the 183 minute TV edit from which Lynch had his name removed. Five hours of my life well spent. The Longer TV edit has a lot more exposition. Some of it clunkingly bad. The opening is different instead of Virginia Madsen's face filling the screen we are straight into the opening titles followed by a shot of the book Dune by Frank Herbert followed by what seems an eternity of badly painted, not so badly painted, and downright shoddy artworks (pre production design studies?) under a rostrum camera. While we are looking at this lot - as male voice over gives us a quick history of the known universe and the current situation - sometimes going over the same points several times and giving every character their full title each time they are mentioned, before sliding into the same 'secret report from inside the guild' that the shorter version opens with.... And then we're back into the film proper. Some scenes are longer some neatly explain what is going on some you can see why they were excised. A few shots are used well out of context - the arrival of any ship anywhere that wasn't in the cinema cut is signalled by the use of a shot of a ship arriving in Arrakis very late in the movie, and the brief 3 shot insert of Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam nipping off planet to examine Paul is achieved by using a close up of Sian Philips sitting in a chair taken from a scene set in her character's destination and a couple of shots of ship's crew taken from the much later James Bond villain's fatal error "stupidly not killing your enemies straight away while you've got them helpless" sequence. What really clunks things up is that every time a new character is introduced on screen a voice over tells us who they are and what they do. This really shows when Piter De Vries, Thufir Hawat, and Gurney Halleck all walk into Paul's room together and things just stop for a couple of minutes as we get a line up of close ups and voice over - only for Paul (as a character point) to immediately tell us who they are all over again. The fade to black at commercial break slots are a bit obvious too. And because this was originally aired on TV the pretty boy, heartplug murder sequence was cut. That scene ends with the Baron getting his black oily shower. Not the only cut but the most obvious. It's not all bad. More Jack Nance for one thing and a few other characters get to do a bit more than than just appear on screen and get their names in the credits. Virginia Madsen as Irulan still only gets the one line right at the start and then gets to stand around looking decorative a couple of times. Linda Hunt's screen time doubles and Sian Philips gets to do some more grade A nostril flaring - but, on the down side, there is more Sting. I don't think I'll be doing that again.
Abandoned in October Jesus' Son - "an edgy and often excruciatingly funny story of a young man's journey through Seventies American Drug culture"... I guess all the edginess and excruciatingly funny stuff comes later on, after the 15 minute mark because that's all I could stand. I find stupid, self-indulgent, drug-using arseholes a pain in the arse in real life I don't need to wallow in their squalor in my fiction.

  1. The First Great Train Robbery - RIP Sean Connery.
  2. Les bronzés 3: amis pour la vie (aka French Fried Vacation 3: Friends Forever) - As part of my ad hoc teach myself French by immersion (or at least 'by sticking my toe in') method I buy DVDs of French films with no English subtitles and watch them with the French subtitles on. Les bronzés 3: (as the '3' in the title might suggest) is a threequel (un troiquel ?). The previous film in the series was made 27 years before. It wasn't good. Apparently the people in it are famous - one of those angry young comedy groups that changed the face of French Comedy before going their own way and getting old, fat and unfunny like most angry young comedy groups the world over. From what I can gather the film was critically roasted in France. No one liked it. But it made a shitload of money because everyone went to see it. Whether the enjoyed it or not when they got there I don't know. I know I didn't.
  3. Highlander - I finally convinced number two daughter to sit down and watch Highlander with me. The open-mouthed What the F&*K is going on? expression she wore for the whole show and whimpers of "What? What? I'm confused..." made my night. Number One Son (aged 11) who joined us said, "This is going to give me nightmares for years... all that head chopping off - and snogging!"
  4. National Lampoon's Vacation - I was surprised at how unfunny this was. Painfully slow and laboured and was Chevy Chase ever funny? I guess some people must have thought so but this hasn't aged well.
  5. Who was that Lady? - Tony Curtis, Dean Martin and Janet Leigh in a farce that started out being almost mildly amusing but soon sank under its own weight. Another one of those films bought for 50p from a charity shop because I had never heard of it and watched in the hope that I would discover some forgotten gem. Ah well. One of these days.
  6. Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (2003) - Holy crap that was a lot of fun. Insanely violent. sometimes very slow and beautiful and funny - and it ended in a tap dance routine!
  7. The Joneses -
  8. You'll Never Get Rich - Heaven is watching Rita Hayworth dance.
  9. Paris When it Sizzles - Bingo! "One of those films bought for 50p from a charity shop because I had never heard of it and watched in the hope that I would discover some forgotten gem..." (see Who was that Lady? four movies up this list) and this is it, paydirt! William Holden is a scriptwriter with a deadline and Audrey Hepburn is the typist he hires to type the script he hasn't written. Holed up in a swanky Parisian hotel room they hammer out, re write, tear up, and start again a dozen or so scripts which play out as we watch the scripts getting everso more absurd and overwrought and funny as they go along - in the end it gets very metafictional and Pirandellolike with one character starting to speak but being told he's "only the Third Policeman and shouldn't even have any lines - shut up!". Coincidentally this also has Tony Curtis in it, hamming up it wonderfully in one version and then later in another,critiquing his own acting, and, co co incidentally, the second film this month in which characters read pages which contain what we see on screen. I had the most fun with it I have had with a film in ages. Definitely on the rewatch with the kids list.
  10. The Caine Mutiny - it seemed an appropriate film to watch with the American Election fiasco finally grinding towards its obvious from weeks ago conclusion. I was surprised to see it was in colour. I've seen it before but that must have been back in the days when I only had a black and white TV. Which is a LOOOONG time ago now. I met the director once. He signed a book for me.
  11. The Fantastic Mister Fox - Number 2 Daughter refused to watch anything with me ever again! (after I conned her into watching Highlander) unless I watched this with her first. So I did.
  12. The Importance of Being Ernest - second film in a WEEK which I would have sworn was in Black and White but is in reality in colour. Very funny and probably one of the most perfectly cast films in history.
  13. Lucy - D#2 get our movie watching back on an even keel. Both of us liked the ideas in the first half but thought Besson ran out of ideas and just filled the screen with SFX (and second-hand car stunts from Taxi) till it was time to go home.

Abandoned in November:
The Very Brady Sequel - Don't tell anyone but I really like the Brady Bunch Movie. It's one of my guilty-pleasure, feelgood movies. It's just silly. So I've been kind of looking forward to the sequel for a while now. I lasted about 30 minutes.
The Passionate Stranger - 1950's British film in which a terribly respectable writer leaves the manuscript of her racy romance novel (which bears an uncanny resemblance to real life as a starting point) where her chauffeur can read it. He reads the fictionalised account of a romantically repressed woman falling in love with her chauffeur as a roman à clef and tries to seduce her. I never found out what complications ensued because I was bored rigid by the time they hove into sight. There was a nice idea in here. The central section, where the novel comes to life as the chauffeur reads it, is in colour while the 'real life' is in black and white. The opening section is light and whimsical - no more or less than any number of British 'Comedies' of the day - but the central section is so bloody DULL. It's played, and filmed, too straight. It just looks like a bad British movie instead of the parody of a bad romantic novel that it supposed to be. It would have worked better if they had cranked everything up to eleven and really gone for it. Piled on the cliche, turned up the acting to the kind of sweaty overwrought levels that would make Gainsborough films look like Noel Coward and had FUN with it. The best bit of the whole film was Patricia Dainton's dual role as timid Scottish maid in the Black and white sections to sultry 'no better than she aught to be' seductive English maid in the book sequence. If they had taken that performance as a benchmark and ramped it up from there...
  1. Jonah Hex - well that was s**t.
  2. Money Monster - engaging, tense thriller that pushed all the right buttons for me - pulled a few convenient magic plot rabbits out of the hats the end right enough, but for 90% of it's running time had me hooked.
  3. The Maltese Falcon.
  4. A Man Called Ove -
  5. Black Coal Thin Ice - overlong Chinese cop noir which I wanted to like a lot more than I did - which is to say 'at all'. The atmosphere was great, cold, nasty, cheap and very real looking but the pace of it was sooo slow and the fact that our hero was a total misogynistic dick didn't warm me to the film at all.
  6. Barbarella - for the umpteenth time. I just needed to watch something I didn't have to think about and as I know this film inside out and backwards - not that that takes a lot of doing - I pulled it down from the shelf.
  7. X-Men - I finally convince Number 2 Daughter (MCU fan that she is) that she had better catch up with the whole X-Men saga (12 films) before they get (possibly) integrated into it pretty soon. And so it begins...
  8. Daughter Number One is home for the Christmas Holiday - so we get in the Christmas Groove by watching Die! Die! My Darling! (aka Fanatic) which was great OTT camp fun. It starred Tallulah Bankhead (in her last film) and the stunningly gorgeous Stefanie Powers (just before her Girl from U.N.C.L.E. gig). Donald Sutherland was in there too as the lumbering village idiot. The star of the show though was the production designer the sets were beyond great.
  9. Six Degrees of Separation - I introduce #1D to one of my favourite Donald Southerland films - she gets it and likes it and has a minor revelation in discovering that Will Smith can act.
  10. 28 Days Later - One of those films I have not been watching for ages because I don't like zombie movies. I don't get them. Number One Daughter keeps telling me I'm wrong and this was one of the films she has been trying to share with me for the past year of so to try and prove it despite me ducking out of watching it with her every time it has been mooted. She cornered me tonight and.... she wins. I was wrong. It's a pretty darn clever movie. If she'd mentioned that Alex Garland had written it I might have given in sooner. Damn! I hate finding out I've been wrong.

Abandoned in December
Frenemy - Got 15 minutes in and thought, 'I can't stand these arseholes any longer'.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

I Love French Comics

One of the great annoyances of life as a comic book fan  are those moments when you are enthusing about a page to someone.  You have the book open in front of them.  You're waffling on about how much Mike Royer's inks work so well on Jack Kirby's pencils when you realise that the person you are showing the amazingly brilliantly composed and drafted page of art is more interested in the full-page advert for sea monkeys on the page opposite.

Lots of people are like that.

Turns out I'm a bit like that.  Because, yesterday, reading this 1974 Pilote Mensuel

I found myself totally captivated by this advert in the back pages:

Nothing in the hands

Nothing in the pockets 

Everything in the HOLSTER!

It's a teeny-weeny handbag - BUT MACHO!

The most wonderfully 70s thing ever.  I want one.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Part Two...


  1. Siren (2010) - three horrible people, played by actors you've never heard of, go on a boat trip somewhere in the Adriatic(?) You can work out the rest given you know the title of the film - and then, once you have, take out all the interesting stuff you came up with and add an evil lesbian because....erm... just because.... Ho hum. Another straight out of the DvD player and into the bin job.
  2. Ator: The Fighting Eagle (1982) - deadly dull Italian barbarian movie which contained the obligatory tribe of Amazons, the obligatory nude bathing scene and more pointless wandering about past the same three bits of vaguely ancient architecture than most films. Like all films of the type the villains wore an interesting selection of face covering helmets with pointy bits on, the women wore their clothing slit to the thigh and the hero had a mullet the size of Bristol Zoo. Half way through I realised I had seen (and own on VHS) the sequel Ator the Invincible (1982)... that was boring too.
  3. The Incredible Melting Man (MST3K)
  4. The Leopard Fist Ninja - More incomprehensible chop-socky from Godfrey Ho
  5.  Revenge of the Drunken Master - which I think has surfeited me on Godfrey Ho WTFery for a while. The moment where our - I want to say 'hero' but he's a mercenary rapist so it's a bit hard to think of him as that - sticks his finger in the other (slightly more heroic) protagonist's belly button for an extended period of time during the prolonged 'climatic' fight with our villain has to be one of the weirdest things I have seen for a while. I really have no idea what kind of Monkey Magic was supposed to be going on but it was fecking surreal. 
  6. French Kiss - an amusing piece of fluff. 
  7. Orange County - after a bizarre and surreal start to the evening - the first film I put in the DVD player was a brand new, still sealed copy of minor Ealing comedy Champagne Charlie. I sat back... only to find the animated French feature Asterix and Cleopatra appeared on the screen. I made sure the TV input was pointing at the player I had put the disc in. (There's a Blu Ray player a DVD, a Firestick, a VHS and several games consoles all capable of playing movies it can choose from.) Yep, Blu-ray player. I took the disk out. Looked at it. It said Champagne Charlie. I put it back in. Asterix and Cleopatra. I took it out again and made sure there wasn't another disc under the one I had just put in. There wasn't. Very odd. So, not really wanting to watch an animated Asterix adventure, I shoved in the first thing from my unwatched pile that didn't have chainsaws, a spooky house, or Will Smith on the front cover. Orange County - one rich kid's struggle with minor adversity which teetered on the edge of being naff with just enough nice moments to keep us interested - until, at the last moment, it fell right off the branch into a deep pool of mawkish sentimentality. In the end our rich kid hero decides that, after all, he doesn't want to go to the prestigious collage he has been frantically desperately disastrously trying to get into for the whole movie and, instead, is going to stay home because he has found that the true meaning of happiness is in the bosom of his family.... at which point Daughter Number One (who is leaving home to go to college next week) snorted "What a total f***&^ing idiot!". And I have to agree with her. It was an MTV production. There was lots of totally unmemorable music shoehorned in at regular intervals. I'd guess they got at least two soundtrack albums out of it. Coincidentally the second Kevin Kline movie in a row. 
  8. Serial Mom - D#1 has been wanting to see this for ages. She's a big John Waters fan. I'd seen it before and was less than enamoured. But I got her a copy. A bit of a dud I thought - the scrappy, endearing amateurism of his earlier movies just got weighed down by the budget. 
  9. Journey to the Seventh Planet - My third or fourth watching of a film that always surprises me by its sheer bloody weirdness. It starts off conventionally enough with a shedload of stock footage as, in the far flung future of 2001AD, the UN world government (who know how to avoid people sniggering at its space program) send a mission to 'Uraahnus' to discover the source of strange pulsating radiation. When the crew arrive they find a lush green environment populated by beautiful women plucked from their memories. An alien being, capable of manipulating their environment by thought alone, is planning on hitching a ride back with them and conquering earth. Unless....
    Its an odd one. Strangely eerie and dreamlike. I'm a great fan of the writer/directors Ib Melchior and Sid Pink who among other delights were responsible in part or whole for Deathrace 2000, Bava's Planet of the Vampires, the very odd Angry Red Planet, The Time Travellers, Robinson Crusoe on Mars and - jings! the IMDb is a dangerous place to poke about in - The Man from O.R.G.Y. a 1970 Man from U.N.C.L.E. sex comedy spoof which I didn't know existed till three minutes ago but now need to see with some urgency. 
  10. The Incinerators (1973) - Holy cow! What a dreadful film. The screenplay-writer of It Came From Outer Space and Creature of the Black Lagoon takes less interesting bits of both of them, using a story that previously served as an episode of early 50s TV show Tales of Tomorrow, and decides he's going to direct with zero budget actors and a really dodgy day for night filter. From what ended up on screen I would guess our director would have been hard put to direct a toothpaste commercial without fucking it up. One of those movies which endless showed you the same shot of the full moon to tell you it was night again - after only a three shot sequence of someone getting into a car in daylight since the last time it was night. It always puzzles me in movies how it can get to be full moon for so long. The Moon only looks really full for one night - three if you push it and don't look too hard - so when a film shows you yet another full moon shot are you supposed to assume it's the next night? or a month later? (That is if the script doesn't explicitly tell you - "The almanac, Watson. Yes! tomorrow night! The moon is full. I shall meet you on the moors and we shall track the beast to its lair!" I have NO idea how long the action of this movie was supposed to have taken.
    11. Journey to the Seventh Planet - again. Twice in one day. This time with Number Two daughter who is sold. 
  11. Time Travelers (1964). Another Ib Melchior - he directed this time too. I watched it with Number One Daughter - me for the umpteenth time and, for her, the first. She liked it. I'd agree (so did she) that the 'comedy' bits were forced and really could have been done away with. The film looks dated but, for the time it was made, it was pretty forward-looking stuff - compared with the run of the mill SF films that had preceded it. One thing I really noticed on this viewing (possibly because I was watching it with my butch, non-girly, teenage daughter) was the positivity of the female characters. The running-away sequence when our hero scientists are escaping the mutants; the only woman in the group out-paces the men. IN HEELS! None of this lagging behind, and tripping over a twig, twisting her ankle and getting rescued crap. When she's threatened by the mutants in the lab she doesn't scream or shrink away but grabs a fire extinguisher and blasts them in the face. When the girl from the future (the one making the eyes played by Playboy model Delores Wells) invites the comedy relief to her cubicle (presumably for a good old shag - given the later dialogue in the nude bathing scene about how she's looking forward to the mini baby boom they will have to create on 'New Earth'). That's incredibly liberated for 1964. The interstellar ship propulsion system is explained to our time travellers (two Ls- we spell it differently in Britain) by the chief female scientist. Thinking about it, there was very little sex differentiation in the jobs people were doing in the future.

    And I still think beating Arthur C Clarke to the realisation that Advanced Tech would be Indistinguishable from Magic by a decade is pretty impressive - you got to admit some of the sleight of hand stuff was fun. I went frame by frame over the moment where the kids picks the instantly-growing orange and passes it to our hero scientist, who then peels it and passes the segments around, a fair few times before I finally got it worked out how that gag was done.

    I like this film - Ib Melchior (the writer director) is one of those guys whose works needs rediscovered.
  12. UP!, a late (1976) Russ Meyer movie with all the usual elements: huge-breasted women, rape, murder, lots and lots of energetic improbable sex and some seriously demented sound editing. The first Russ Meyer movie in which I think he finally got the line of action sorted out in his head and didn't criss-cross it all the time. It was a bit boring. I think I've seen too many of his films. The novelty has worn off. 
  13. The Woman in the Fifth - elliptical French / Polish / British produced arthouse with an American star... and I really no wiser about anything at the end of it. The director seems like an interesting bloke. I watched an interview with him afterwards, the only extra on the disc, in the hope of finding out what it was I was supposed to have got from the film other than, "well that was all very 'arthousey' wasn't it?". I didn't come away any wiser apart from noting his observation that arthouse films have become as stylised as Hollywood films. There are arthouse conventions. "If a character enters the frame you can't cut away until he has left it" being one that I shall watch out for from now on.

  14. Sisters Grimm - another masochistic wallow in the oeuvre of Robbie Moffat who, along with Richard Driscoll, ranks high among the worst directors working in Britain today. Sisters Grimm (not to be confused with the series of kids books by Michael Buckley) is the strangely unengaging tale of two women pirates returning to their ancestral home sometime in the vaguely, ill-defined, early 19th century-ish sort of era ("Ye Olden Days"!) - who find themselves the subjects of a vastly uncomplicated plot by other claimants to scare them off. Plodding and flatly written, delivered with some enthusiasm but not much conviction by Moffat's stock company - the most fun to be had watching this bore was counting the times the director flip flopped his camera across the line of action - even in straightforward, one on one, conversations where both characters stood stock still - and spotting the anachronisms - the close up of the zip on the back of one of the girls' dresses was a classic. As were the speed limit sign in the village street, a tractor in a field in the background, a chain link fence, and the inevitable fitted carpets and electric light switches in the interiors (at least he managed not to shoot any of the hire vans this which he managed to do in one film). My favourite though was the surprised cry of "Gordon Bennett!" that one of the sisters let out at one point. I suppose Moffat (who also writes his tedious films) thought 'Gordon Bennett' sounded a bit Jane Austenish.
  15. Happy is the Bride - Ye Gods! the British cinema-going public were easily amused in 1958. A middle class family have some minor inconveniences planning a wedding before everything is made to turn out all right because the judge, in the final minor inconvenience, turns out to be a friend of the family - the old boys network and all that! - so everyone is jolly nice and English it all gets sorted out.
    All the standard tropes of this sort of piffle are trotted out. Bolshy working class characters who drop tools and go on strike at the drop of a hat, the family cook who's always threatening to leave, the bumbling vicar, the slow, plodding country policeman....

    The film is full of setups for gags, situations, or plot complications that never arrive. For example: Our entitled hero twit's only source of income comes from writing record reviews under a pseudonym (we are told this - we never see him actually do it or indeed see him listen to any records or show ANY interest in music whatsoever). Another character - a flighty young hepcat swingin' chick is dumped into the mix and name drops the twit's pseudonym. "But I am he!" says he. "Man! that's the grooviest!", says she.... and that's the end of that pointless diversion. The film is full of go nowhere moments like that. The other driving force behind the plot is everyone's ability to instantly come to the wrong conclusion or willingness to accept the word of someone who has. So we get the groom's father turning up at the wedding just as some minor crisis is being sorted and because he doesn't get a word in edgeways for a few minutes goes and sits down till things are a bit calmer - this by the way is the only recognisably sensible thing anyone does in the entire film - once the crisis is sorted there is a long painfully unfunny sequence where everyone tries to work out who he is. No one thinks to ASK him. Oh the hilarity.

    The only funny moment that I could find comes near the end when, in the court scene, the policeman dutifully reads out the inane blabberings of our hero from his notes. He's reading them out in a pedantic monotone with pauses as he turns the pages of his note book. It come s across as near incomprehensible rubbish. There's a long pause as the judge tries to digest this information before he turns to the constable and says, "Would you mind repeating that please!" for a moment there was a bit of genuine comedy on screen.
  16. Frank - I like!
  17. Historias Minimas - after spending 20 odd minutes flipping through my 300+ pile of unwatched DVDs and finding dozens and dozens of films I wasn't in the mood for I did the obvious and pulled out the first film I came across I knew absolutely nothing about (and therefore had no preconceived opinions on*) and watched that. It turned out that I was in the mood to watch a gentle Argentinian road movie in which an old man sneaks away from home and hitchhikes 200 miles to see if his dog will forgive him, while a girl from the same town goes to the same city to take part in the cheapest game show ever produced, and a travelling salesman has a continuing anxiety attack about a cake her has bought. Most of the cast had never appeared in a film before. It was slow, and As the title suggests) not a lot happened but it was lovely.

    *Other than I had obviously, at some point in the last 5 or so years, considered it worth buying.
  18. Space Captain: Captain of Space! (2014) - my second zero budget sf comedy in a row (after the abandoned Time Lord - see below). This one was genuinely funny. It had the advantage in that it wasn't an original story but a parody - a very affectionate one - of the Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers serials of the 30s. Easy targets yes, but these guys came up with some new and funny twists to well mined material. And used their incredibly limited budget with wit and invention. Some of the jokes you could see coming a mile off but they still ended up making me laugh because this film had what Time Lord didn't. Timing. Space captain Captain of Space is based on a produced play - I don't know how long it ran for however far off Broadway it ran, but playing gags in front of a live paying, audience is THE best way of finding out what works and what doesn't and allows you to tweak things and get them right. I would guess Time Lord went from screenplay to camera without a lot of rehearsal. No one told them how bored they were getting by twitching and shuffling around in their seats and NOT LAUGHING till it was out of the editing suite.
  19. The Hawk and the Dove (2002) - another tedious piece of s**t from the tone dead brain of Robbie Moffat. I really can't understand how anyone could make a film as bas as this and not want to bury it. Let alone claim it had a budget of a million quid.
  20. Die Welt der Wunderlichs (2016) - as part of my 'Teaching myself French by just doing it' thing I watched a German film with French subtitles and, given that my German is totally non-existent and my French has been learned from reading comic books in one hand and a dictionary in the other, I managed pretty well. I'm sure I missed some of the jokes - well, no, I KNOW I missed some of the jokes (unless Germans are prone to fits of mass spontaneous laughter for no reason, which I doubt) but I did get some and I never felt lost. The film was okay: a single mother struggles with her VERY dysfunctional family and takes part in an X-Factor type talent contest. A bit twee and convenient in places but not saccharine. I didn't know any of the faces involved which is always nice. Katharina Schüttler as Mimi - the protagonist mother was wonderful!
  21. Taxi 3 - in French with French subtitles.
  22. Bon Voyage - with #2Daughter and English subtitles! I had no option really the disc only had English subtitles and they weren't switchoffable. Fun film. A straight farce.
  23. North by North West
  24. Event Horizon - oh. boy. That was considerably stinkier than I remember - though I seem to remember I baled out of this one about halfway through the first time I tried to watch it may years ago. The Soundtrack CD (Michael Kamen + Orbital) is pretty good has had a lot of play round JunkMonkey Mansions over the years. But having spent 33p of the sucker in a charity shop's "3 for a quid" DVD shelf the other day (the other two were Maiwenn's Polisse and the two disc, second half of Kieslowski's Dekalog - kaching! Best pound I spent all week!) I felt it was time I gave it another go. Stinky but, f nothing else, watching it confirmed a resolution I made many years ago that, if I ever got to make a bad film, I would avoid including any overt references to other films. Twice during this sucker I was presented with very blatant references to SF movie classics - Forbidden Planet and Solaris - and both times I thought: 1: "Yeah, OK, right thank you, mister director, we know you've watched some films before you got a chance to make make one." and 2: "Why am I watching this s**t when I could be watching Forbidden Planet - or Solaris?". Some of the set design is pretty groovy.
  25. Charade - with Number Two daughter. Now Number One Daughter has left home my movie watching habits have had to change. Things like Tokyo Gore Police and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are just going to have to wait on the TBW pile till she comes home on holiday as Number Two just likes 'nicer' films.
  26. Thor: Ragnarok - Number Two Daughter gets to chose a movie. I've not seen it before - I think this was her third time. And it was a blast. I loved it. I'm pretty much done with Superhero movies (about two thirds the way through Guardians of the Galaxy 2 at the cinema I thought, 'That's it. I'm fed up with this bollocks') but this was just so funny!
  27. L'appartement - A rewatch. On a second viewing after a gap of several years I'm not sure I am as impressed as I was the first time. The first half of the movie is great: intriguing, romantic, sexy, complex... but as it went on layering more and more intrigue, romance, sex, and complexity on top it just got too much. Too artificial. In the end I just didn't care.
  28. Excalibur - Another off my long-term Need to See list. I loved it.
  29. Fun With Dick and Jane - the original. I have no desire to see the remake.
  30. Alice
  31. The Trip -1967 written by Jack Nicholson directed by Roger Corman. There is somewhere, I'm sure, a list of films that claim to have the largest number of cuts. This must be well up there. There are great chunks of this film that must have been 90% splicing tape. The neg cutter on this must have had a hell of a job. Though as I typed that I realised there is no way that great chunks of this could have been cut on negative. There are dozens if not hundreds of one, two, or three frame edits in some sequences. My guess is they made a negative from the edited workprint and cut that into the more conventionally edited main footage. Trite story with some groovy visuals - a lot of them done in-camera.

Abandoned in September: Time Lord (2011) unrelenting, semi-amateur, all green screen SF Comedy with a just-out-of-school cast which might have made a funny little short but at the 60 minute mark and with another 40 to go finally became too tedious to bother with. Too much yadda yadda yadda and none of it funny enough to be worth listening too.


2020 movies part the first


  1. Shaolin Drunkard - A 1983 chopsocky 'comedy' of high octain WTF?ery which had Number One Daughter and I in hysterics for its entire running time.
  2. Highlander : The Source - Holy fucking CRAP! What an amazingly awful film! I was in hiccup inducing uncontrollable giggles for its entire length. Number One Daughter walked through the room during one of the Fight Sequences - she's two movies behind and doesn't want to spoil things so didn't watch it with me - "That," she said after watching a few cuts and moving on, "looks like a trailer for a PS1 Game." She was so right. Oh dear gods, my sides hurt.
  3. Side Effects - A neat enough pretty intelligent thriller from Steven Soderbergh that was doing great guns till the final twist [SPOILERS, Sweety] in which it turns out that it was all an evil lesbian plot by evil lesbians. Oh... great. More mainstream evil lesbian plottery. Just what I need.
  4. The Independent - A rewatch of a favourite with #2 Daughter who was less than impressed. Ah well.
  5. 36 - Le Sweeny.
  6. Spice World: The Spice Girls Movie- I have no shame in admitting that this has been on my Must Watch List for the longest time and I finally found a copy yesterday in a charity shop for a quid.

    The Daughters and I watched it tonight while the wife ran away - Number One has a thing for Richard E Grant and I have a thing for Scary Spice - Number Two daughter who WASN'T WATCHING IT snuck in when she realised Naoko Mori (Tosh from Torchwood) was in it - and you know what? We had the most fun we've had with a film for ages. It's stupid. It's badly acted. It makes absolutely NO sense. If I was uncharitable I could say it's just a full colour remake of A Hard Day's Night with tits - but it works. There were times when I was both laughing both at and with the movie at the same time - which is a neat trick if you think about it.

    I'm sorry to say I nearly had a bladder-related accident when one of the girls dived into a phone box wearing a silver spandex catsuit, span round to the classic TV Wonder Woman music, and transmogrified into.... Bob Hoskins! That kind of stupid. I loved it.

  1. Alexander Nevsky - Prompted by hearing Prokofiev's rather terrific music for The Battle on the Ice on the radio
    and next day noticing I had a copy of the movie in my unwatched pile. For a film buff I'm woefully ignorant about Eisenstein's work. I must say that for a film made in 1938 it looked very primitive. Like a silent with breaks for locked-off camera speeches about defending Russia from invaders. Ok, it was the Stalin era, and WW2 was heaving into view but, compared with what was being produced elsewhere in the world, it must have looked very old fashioned even then. Having said that there were moments of WOW! during the battle sequences - I remember thinking, I bet Kurosawa watched the hell out of this movie - and some very dramatic use of hand held camera which I'm not sure was in the average DP's repertoire back then.
  2. Justice League - I fell asleep. I've not seen Man of Steel or Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice so had little or no idea what was going on for the first half - apart from the bits featuring the Amazons because I have seen Wonder Woman - I haven't read a Flash comic since the 1960s and had no idea who the bloke with the glowing eyeball and all the CGI bionic stuff was. My ears pricked up at the words 'Mother Box' before I realised this had very little to do with the Mother Boxes I remembered from the New Gods/ 4th World books that I loved as a kid. Ping! ping! By the time the story finally got going I didn't care. I fell asleep. By the time I woke up again Superman wasn't dead any more and the same people were still hitting each other (and Superman) so I went back to sleep again.
  3. Mr. Holmes - Half way through I had the thought that I had seen this film before. It reminded me so much of something else. Then I realised it was reminding me of Gods and Monsters which also starred Ian McKellen as a once famous talent living in isolated retirement. Reading the credits afterwards I found both were directed by Bill Condon.
  4. I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With - Mild rambling American indy film which was better than I was expecting.
  5. La Dolce Vita - In a beautifully restored print in a cinema. The best way to any movie.
  6. The Darwin Awards - Intermittently very funny, occasionally really not good 50p well spent in CEX
  7. The Gorgon - Mid-period (i.e. pre 'let's fill the screen with vampire lesbians and tits!") Hammer horror.
  8. Paul - Funnier than I remembered.
  9. The Truth about Cats and Dogs - I was too tired to think
  10. The Comic (1985) - I introduce Number One Daughter to the deliriously dreadful films of Richard Driscoll. (Who, I discovered tonight, appears to be out of jail and is making films again - hurrah!) This is my IMDb review of The Comic:
  11. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) - a biopic about the creator of Wonder Woman and the women in his life. A beautifully romantic polyamorous love story.
  12. The Killer Nun (1979) - I'm sure The Killer Nun made sense to someone somewhere at some point during its production but by the time it got to my eyeballs it was an incoherent, bonkers mess. Though there was just enough to keep me watching - some really oddly edited sequences during the drug-addicted, central character's morphine trips - and the astonishingly beautiful Paulo Morra...​

    Wow! It's really hard to find an online
    picture of this woman with her clothes on! the lesbian killer nun. Another one ticked off the Video Nasties list.​
  13. At the Earth's Core - the Doug McClure, Peter Cushing one. Watched with my Number One Son aged 10 who lapped it up. The next day he said, "Dad, I just realised. That film we watched last night. I didn't have any songs in it." which is one of the odder things I've ever heard about a film with exploding dinosaurs and Caroline Munro's cleavage.


  1. The Handmaiden - A rewatch and not as wonderful as I remember but then I have just read the book it was 'inspired by' and I was very conscious of the way the film wandered well away from (and simplified) the complicated revelation-filled latter third of the novel. Still a damn fine piece of film making though.
  2. Cat Women of the Moon - Stupendously awful entry in the First Mission to the Moon encounters an All Female Society genre which I have watched far too often for my own good. Watched with #1 Daughter and we had the most ridiculous fun. She's very good at the MST3K type one liners. I'd never noticed, before, the sheer ludicrous suggestiveness of the line delivered by one of the seductive cat women to her venal male victim. She wants the low-down on how his space ship operates; he wants the gold she say lies in abundance not far from where they are sitting. " "I'll make a bargain with you," she purrs. "You take me to your rocket ship; I'll show you the cave of gold!" - pure Freudian smut that's what it is. Filth!
  3. The Notebook - long, overly sentimental, slushily romantic guff which - had I known what is was - I doubt I would have put in my DVD player but as I didn't (I found the disc in a pile of unsorted rubbish and wondered what it was) I watched it and was weeping like a baby at the end of it.
  4. Dragonheart - I'm working my way through a stack of back issues of Empire magazine I bought a few years ago - my collection is taller than Tom Cruise - . Dragonheart is a lead story in the one I'm currently reading. I noticed today I had a copy near the top of my To Be Watched pile. Empire was right. It's not good.
  5. The Exterminator -
  6. Lair of the White Worm (1988) - seriously bonkers Ken Russell 'Horror' film with the best Kilted Bagpiper Vs Snake vampire policeman battle ever put on screen. And Amanda Donohoe wearing a giant sacrificial dildo.
  7. Ghost in the Shell - the live action remake which left me wondering "Why did they bother?". It's not that it was bad and the casting issues didn't bother me but it felt like a shot for shot remake of the original (I'm sure it wasn't but that's the impression I came away with). The original is just an amazing piece of art. This was just another CGI heavy movie without the stillness of the original - OR the bloody brilliant music. Bizarrely they included some of the original music over the end titles just to remind you what you could have been watching instead.
  8. The Knack - "a British movie that has 'Sixties' written all over it ".
  9. Potiche (2010) -
Unwatchable dross of the month club:
Voodoo Academy - Would-be homoerotic horror which fails on both counts. I lasted 20 minutes.


  1. Empire of Ash - a seriously dreadful American post-apocalyptic effort that spent

    80% of its running time filling the screen with people firing semi-automatic weapons at each other in a quarry (which was pretending to be several different places).

    10% of its time showing us hairy leather-clad biker types riding around in trucks shouting "Get the mother f*8kers!" at each other.

    5% of its time in close ups of 'actors' muffling ump their lnes an mbbling guff tht th wrtrs tht ws a plot. (The main bad guy was brilliant. You could barely understand him when he was on screen and could see his lips sort of moving a bit. When he was delivering dialogue off camera he was incomprehensible!)

    And finally the film spent 5% of its time getting the two Victoria's Secrets models that hung around in this quarry for no apparent reason to get their tits out. Hint to future movie makers of the world. You cannot make a nude bathing scene interesting (or even credible) if you have only 6 inches of water in a rocky stream to play with. Can't be done.
  2. Kiss Me, Monster - I introduce #1D to the incomprehensible film making of Jesus Franco. Many WTF?s were generated.
  3. Blue Gate Crossing - sweet little Chinese film about two girls and a boy who, within that triangle, each love someone unobtainable.
  4. Diva - with #2 daughter - "What did you think?" I asked her. "... It was... very French."
  5. Hundra - My favourite 1980s barbarian movie which just gets better each time I see it. This time was the first time I have watched it with anyone (#1D). I was a little nervous at the start that it was going to be one of those films which divided rather than bought us closer - it starts with a prolonged sequence in which Hundra's (our heroine's) peaceful, all-female tribe are wiped out, brutally murdered and raped by hairy barbarians. I needn't have worried. As soon as Hundra started on the path of revenge and whacking the bad guys, and fomenting female emancipation while trying to get pregnant, she was right there with it. The film is a lot funnier than I remembered. Having someone there to share the jokes heightened the humour. She now has a printout of the poster stuck up in her room.
  6. The Mummy - the Brendan Fraser one. I like Brendan Fraser. Got a bit of a crush on him. But this one was just generic. meh! Too much running around and SFX. I didn't believe a word of it. The most fun I had while watching it was listening to John Hahhah's accent wobbling about. And I had one of those moments when I idly rewrote one of the sight gags in my head ( I was that engaged) and turned it into something I don't think I've seen anywhere - so it's going in the notebook for possible future use.
  7. Little Ashes - Fictionalised account of the (possible) real life romance between Salvidor Dali and Frederico Garcia Lorca - in which Dali was portrayed as the obnoxious wanker (literally) that I always thought him as being. Looked great but... I dunno. There was something missing. I wasn't convinced.
  8. Carry on Screaming - with #2D
  9. Strangers on a Train - with #1D who was on the edge of her seat. Another off the 1001 list. I've seen it before but was gripped too but managed to slip in the odd analytical thought. I'd never noticed before what a significant part staircases play in Hitchcock's films. He uses staircases well.
  10. Nightcrawler -
  11. Two Faces of January - and another rule of thumb is born. Anything based on a book by Patricia Highsmith is worth a watch.
  12. Scanners - with #1D
  13. How to Get Ahead in Advertising -
  14. Ignition - Routine by the numbers actioner which had some nice camera angles. Doubt if I will remember any of it in a week's time. But I do need to see one of the director's earlier movies
    Pourquoi l'étrange Monsieur Zolock s'intéressait-il tant à la bande dessinée? (1983)
  15. Mrs Henderson Presents - Bob Hoskins NUDE!
  16. Summer Things - mercifully short (by French standards) 103 minutes spent in the company of a bunch of unpleasant bourgeoisie on holiday. It was billed as a comedy. Hmm...
unfinished in April:

Promethus never seen it before. I lasted just shy of an hour before turning it off. I didn't believe a word of it. I nearly turned off at the five minute mark when our archaeologist dated the cave paintings she had just discovered within seconds. And I'm just so fed up of people doing stupid stupid things just to keep the plot going especially when they are supposed to be intelligent scientists. Dumb movie. And an expensive dumb movie which somehow makes it worse.

Infini - Read a good review of it in an old Empire magazine I was flicking through the other day and saw it on Amazon Prime as I was scrolling through the availables. Gave up after 25 minutes of low budget Aliens meets Event Horizon. I am done with watching sweaty people being terrified up and down the same three dark corridors.


  1. Flashman - Rubbish day so I watch some shite with Number One Daughter. Flashman is a seriously awful Italian superhero movie which had #1D and I in stitches for its whole running time. And then we watched:
  2. Future Women (aka The Girl from Rio) - seriously WTF Jess Franco lesbian utopia SF dross We both felt a lot better afterwards. Number One Daughter especially I suspect because she exorcised a mini demon of hers. The box set which had Future Women in has a menu screen with a loop of clips from many of the films in the set. One of the shots in this loop has haunted her for years. It's a weird moment where a man in a hat, with his back to the camera, turns round as a couple approach him to reveal:

    It's an utterly bonkers shot and she finally got to see in its very odd context - though not in as good a print as that still was taken from.
  3. Diner de cons -
  4. Better than Chocolate (1999) -
  5. Billy Liar -
  6. Head - The Monkees movie. And what a weird treat. #1D and I had more WTF?!s per minute during this one than we usually generate in a month's worth of movie watching. And a movie that is going to play a pivotal role in our endless game of 'Warwick Davis' in that it's a quick shortcut from Ed Wood's films (Tor Johnson) to Mel Brooks and Star Trek (Terri Garr) to Kubrick (Jack Nicholson) and all sorts of other blink and you missed it delights.
  7. Downsizing -
  8. Elvira -Mistress of the Dark - which just gets funnier each time I see it.
  9. Queen of the Amazons - I needed cheering up so I spent the afternoon watching s**t with my Number One Daughter.
  10. The Manster - A Japanese American mad scientist monster movie from the 50s which alternated between being hilariously awful and actually really very good... without breaking step between the two which is remarkable achievement. Watching crap films with #1Dis great fun. DIY MST3K fun.
  11. Earth Girls are Easy - Gods! I'm evil. "Fancy watching an early Jeff Goldblum film?" I asked Daughter Number One who is a bit of a fan." "Ok!" she said, settling down. "Wait!... Wait!... It's not Earth Girls are Easy is it?!" But by then it was too late. The disc was in the player and she was doomed. Afterwards she said she probably invented several new emotions while watching it. The feeling of, "Thank you for sharing that - I hate you." being one of them, "I have a headache now." Half-way through she asked if we could watch Voyage of the Rock Aliens as a palette cleanser. Mwahahahaha!
  12. Eating Raoul - D#1's turn and we get to giggle our way through what has to be one of the most amoral films I have ever seen. Utterly reprehensible - the entire plot is that a married couple lure 'degenerate swingers' to their apartment and kill them for the money without the slightest qualm - and it's insanely funny.
  13. Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) - well that was pretty boring.
  14. Taxi 2 - and that was silly fun.
  15. Drôle de Félix - low budget, French gay road movie which had its moments.
  16. Starship Invasions -
  17. Carry-on Doctor
  18. Le Bossu - #2D and and I. She likes films with subtitles I like French movies.
  19. Curse of the Golden Flower
  20. Ikarie XB1 - for the umpteeth time. It gets better each time I see it.
  21. Breaking In - written by John Sayles and directed by Bill Forsyth. Both did sterling work but it just didn't quite work for me.
Abandoned in May:
- alien killer car garbage which out wore its welcome after about 10 minutes.

  1. Razorback - Giant mutant killer pig in the outback with #1D.
  2. Casablanca - with #2D.
  3. Solar Crisis - Hoooo boy! Why do I do this to myself.
  4. Footlight Parade - one of THE greatest films of all time.
  5. Paprika - One of the better Anime that D#1 has tried to enthuse me with. She likes Anime and thinks I should too.
  6. Candyman - She also likes horror films.
  7. The Dish
  8. Paris, je t'aime -
  9. Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome - D#1 gets to hear what Boris Karlof sounds like! "You go, we stay we belong dead!" from Bride of Frankenstein doesn't count.
  10. I'm a Cyborg but That's OK -
  11. I Walked with a Zombie - Val Lewton classic
  12. The Legend of Boggy Creek 2(MST3K) - again. I'm a sad bugger.
  13. Carnival of Souls - I've been meaning to take another look at this for ages and I shared with #1D (who loved it).
  14. The Shape of Things to Come (1979) -
  15. Gold Diggers of 1933 - We're in the money! Not as great as Footlight Parade but still pretty darn good and....I really found myself very affected by the My Forgotten Man Number. I almost cried.
  16. Bugsy Malone
  17. Phantom of the Paradise (1974) - Daughter Number one and I have a Paul Williams double bill.
  1. Adventures of a Taxi Driver (1976) - I really don't know why I do this to myself but every now and then I go poke about on the Firestick till I find a 1970s British 'Sex Comedy' (which are always from my experience neither) and watch it through to the bitter end. Someone on IMDb described this film as 'Dismal'. That's the perfect word. Watching these things is a horrible. soul-destroying experience but I'll tell you what. It really makes anything you watch after it for several months look a hell of a lot better. Even crap like...
  2. Space Amoeba (aka Yog: Monster from Space) - an Ishirô Honda double bill! Space Amoeba is from late in his carreer and, from the look of it, he just didn't give a s**t any more as long as it was in focus.
  3. Mantango (aka Attack of the Mushroom People) - from a decade earlier is (even in a horribly dubbed version) a far superior film. Atmospheric, creepy, slow, almost decedant. I really liked it. I suspect I would have liked it more in a subtitled version.
  4. Battle Beyond the Stars - Roger Corman's SF reworking of The Seven Samuri.
  5. Spider Baby - peculiar (and funny) horror.
  6. The Velvet Touch - Hollywood hookum of the first water that couldn't make its mind up if it was a Noir, a 'woman's picture', a Freudian psychological guilt movie or a Columbo-like 'we know who dunnit but how does our detective prove it' movie. I rather enjoyed it.
  7. Les Hommes libres - fictionalised account of the role played by Moroccan Muslims in the French resistance and the saving of Jews from the Nazi occupation. A chunk of history of which I was totally ignorant.
  8. Dracula's Daughter (1936) - the first (mainstream) lesbian vampire movie?
  9. Theatre of Blood - A 1973 film in which Vincent Price has a whale of a time as a ham Shakespearean actor bumping off - in true Shakespearean manner - all the critics he blamed for ruining his career ably aided by Diana Rigg in drag. It's a bonkers, camp hoot.
  10. The Prestige - I liked that. I liked that a lot.
  11. I, Tonya - which left me less than overwhelmed.
  12. Tekkonkinkreet -
  13. Warlock - to celebrate the fact that my VHS player does work after all (long story) I make D#1 (Richard E Grant fan that she is) watch him putting on a very variable Scottish accent, Connor McCloud hair and cossy, and run around modern day America trying to over out overact Julian Sands as the titular warlock. She may never forgive me.
  14. Man in Outer Space (aka Man From the First Century 1962) a slight Czech SF comedy with a few amusing moments and some seriously groovy art design. I first came across it on Youtube where it was used as the imagery for this earworm of 80s Czech electronica.
  15. Let the Right One In - D#1's been wanting to see this for ages and sat me down tonight to watch it with her. What a great wee film! I have NO intention of ever watching the remake.
  16. Gwendoline (aka The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak) - OMG. I was expecting bad (it's based after all on a comic strip in John Willie's 1950's leather / bondage fetish magazine Bizarre - how good could it be?) but when it got to the point where our heroine rescues our hero by riding off in a chariot pulled by three leather clad pony girls - only then to be chased by another three similar chariots... and I realise I'm am more interested in the location it was filmed in than in the action you have to question the quality. Just how bad does a film have to be to make a salt mine (?) more interesting than 20+ semi-naked women in leather fetishwear running around in the foreground?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

2019 Movie Diary Part the second...


  1. Bula Quo - Dear mother of God! That was painful. For some unfathomable reason someone in 2013 thought that what the world needed was a comedy thriller starring the band Status Quo (as themselves) getting mixed up with gangsters who harvest the organs of people they force to play Russian Roulette. Like a hard Days Night written and directed by someone who saw a couple of Guy Ritchie movies and armed with a budget of tens. It's as unfunny as it is distasteful, and equally as badly acted, paced, and scripted. Awful. Easily the worst film I've watched all year. It is (I realised the next day) the sort of movie you threaten people with.
  2. The Usual Suspects -
  3. Peeping Tom -
  4. An American Werewolf in London - the third of our 1001 movies project of the week for #1D and I. And much better (funnier) than I remember.
  5. Witchfinder General -
  6. Pink Floyd: The Wall - 17 yr old D#1 loved it. I thought it was a pile of self-indulgent juvenile wank.
  7. Body Heat - (1001 project)
  8. Horse Feathers - pretty unmemorable - apart from the speakeasy password routine early Marx Bros.
  9. Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine (2017) - renamed Galaxy Raiders to try and con the gullible into thinking it was some sort of Guardians of the Galaxy knock-off, this is a pretty crappy home movie with a bit of a budget - well, enough to hire Casper van Dien for a week and Cynthia Rothrock for a couple of hours. (She's on the cover equal billing as Casper Van Dien but only onscreen for a couple of minutes as a static 'hologramic' image delivering lines she's probably been handed three minutes beofore shooting.) It's crap. But with some virtuoso masked villain acting to liven things up. Masked villain acting is a subtle art. When strapped into a costume that totally obscures his features the average bad actor will start to exaggerate his hand and body gestures to compensate for the lack of expression he would usually convey with his face. As most bad actors don't know what to do with their hands most of the time anyway (been there, done that, and cashed the cheques) this leads to bad actor movie villains delivering bad movie villain lines while alternating between clenched their leather gloved fists ("I will destroy them!") and pointing ("You are powerless to stop me!") clench point clench point clench point clench point.... Raise hands to ceiling ("Mwahahahaha!"). Cut to heroes wandering around the same piece of woodland every other low budget, shot on digital, straight to DVD film made over the last 20 years was shot in. That good. The same few names appeared many times in the end credits; sometimes the same name is on screen several times at the same time performing different tasks. And there was a whole slew of Kickstarter backers who presumably didn't get their money back. A very long 83 minutes.
  10. Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool - which, once I had got past the strange digital quality of the camerawork which gave the thing a TV quality, and some strangely too big, or obviously green screened set design, I slowly fell deeply in love with. A couple of great central performances telling a simple but wonderful story. I was (as with most films that use Romeo and Juliet as a touchstone) in tears at the end.
  11. Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian - oh gods! they made a third one...!
  12. House on Haunted Hill - silly little William Castle chiller which made no sense whatsoever but Vincent Price was having such a good time....
  13. Starsky and Hutch - meh
  14. I, Robot - which I know I've seen before but remembered nothing about. I suspect I may well be typing the same thing in a couple of years. I liked Alex Proyas' earlier funnier films. Though, having said that, I may well remember it because I spotted Aaron Douglas in a non-speaking, standing behind someone else, blink and you miss it role. He went on to play Chief Tyrol in Battlestar Galactica, and other stuff. Another useful link in the Game of Warwick Davis.
  15. Hudson Hawk -
  16. Apollo 18 - well that was pretty pointless. A 'found footage' movie purporting to tell the story of a secret mission to the moon. A couple of nicely set up jump scares but in the end it was all a bit 'so what'?

For some reason (that I cannot remember or fathom) I told myself that this week I was only going to watch films in which the 'First Manned Mission to Mars Goes Horribly Wrong':

  1. Red Planet - First of two big budget 'First Manned Mission to Mars Goes Horribly Wrong' movies released in 2000. This is the one with Val Kilmer fighting off exploding killer 'nemotoads' and launching himself into orbit in an obsolete Russian lander after jump starting it with the battery he ripped out of a killer robot.
  2. Mission to Mars - The second big budget 'First Manned Mission to Mars Goes Horribly Wrong' movie released in 2000. This is the one where Tim Robbins, Gary Sinese, Queen Hippolyta, and that bloke from Sliders space conga from their crippled ship to another handily passing piece of NASA technology with landing capabilities. Of the two I preferred Mission to Mars. The tech looks more credible, the science (though still ultra iffy in places) was more credible and the ending - though a bit Disney icky in places - had a hopeful upbeat looking to the future quality which many people have likened to Kubric's 2001 but reminded me more of the optimistic, looking forward to the future endings that Soviet era Russian, Czech, and East German SF films used to have. Red Planet ends with the usual Hollywood bullshit heterosexual romance conquering all ending ('all', in this case, being the laws of chance, physics, medicine, and common sense).
  3. Satyricon -
  4. Grosse Point Blank - one of those 'something wants me to watch this' moments. I picked out this film as I was sorting my To Be Watched pile yesterday ('sorting' being a euphemism for 'shovelling into a slightly less untidy pile') and I thought "I must get round to this soon" and then, 20 minutes later, found myself reading a glowing review of it in my current selected read as I work though my HUGE pile of unread Empire and Total Film Magazines (it's taller than Tom Cruise). Not sure my review would be as glowing as Empire's but it's a funny, odd little film. I'm developing another rule of thumb for selecting movies. Anything with Alan Arkin in it has to be worth watching at least once.
  5. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid - nowhere near as funny as I remember.
  6. The Arena - Women in Prison film set in Ancient Rome (ok, Ancient Brundisium).
  7. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) - There were several Hansel and Gretel movies made in 2013. This was probably the most expensive one and, I would guess, the one the others were knockbustering. I've seen two this one and the one starring BooBoo Stewart. I don't think I would want to watch either of them again unless money changed hands. A sequel (to this one) appears to be in development hell - or just shelved. Who can tell? (My money is on the latter.)
  8. Kung Fu Hustle -
  9. All The Queen's Men - Matt Le Blanc in drag behind enemy lines in WW2. Surprisingly not as awful as it sounds but still not good. Far too long for one thing. a ninety minute movie stretched out to two hours with enough amazing strokes of luck and coincidences helping the plot along to keep three other movies afloat as well.
  10. My Forgotten Man (aka Flynn) - supposed biopic of Errol Flynn's early years that is - even from my minimal knowledge of the man - such obviously fictional bollocks to make you wonder. Again, far too long for the material (even at 95 minutes), and padded with numerous overlong montages of not a lot happening.
  11. William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet - with #2D who was watching for the first time (my 4th I think). She loved it. I still do.
  12. Maverick - fun.
  13. Frequencies - interesting low budget British SF. A Romeo and Juliet story set in a world (not that far from the here and now) in which people's unchangeable 'frequency' determines their luck.
  14. The Great Gatsby (1974) - with D#2 who is greatly enamoured of the book, and the Baz Lurman version. It's many many years since I saw this and I was bowled over. What a great film.
  1. The Double Life of Veronique
  2. Raising Arizona
  3. Thor the Conqueror - cheap Italian barbarian crap. Really really awful (even by Italian movie standards). But all my fever dream-state ManFlu brain can cope with at the moment
  1. The Double Life of Veronique
  2. Raising Arizona
  3. Thor the Conqueror - cheap Italian barbarian crap. Really really awful (even by Italian movie standards). But all my fever dream-state ManFlu brain can cope with at the moment
  4. Clash of the Warlords - more feverdream stuff this time a Phillipino Max Max knock off.
  5. Nurse (aka Nurse 3D) - pretty shitting awful lesbian psycho-nurse slasher shite.
  6. Night of the Hunter - darling Daughter Number One continues to amaze and astound me with how wonderful her movie tastes are by wanting to watch what is one of the oddest Hollywood films of the fifties with me - she wants to watch Hellraiser next... she's eclectic. I'll give her that.
  7. Replicant (2001) - Jean Claud van Damme as a serial killer bought to justice (in a shot to death in a soon to explode cellar sort of way) by a retired cop and a super-secret government black ops clone of the killer with enhanced telepathic powers and genetic memory of the killer's actions. As bollocks as that all sounds (why, ferinstance, didn't the black ops guys just sit their duplicate down in front of the sooper-dooper facial recognition software that the cop had to pull strings and sneak his way into his old office to get to? Software that identifies the villain in seconds - case solved! Except this being a stupid, Avi Lerner produced action movie the hero ex cop has to get personal, force an illegal entry, and trip a HUGE explosion by tampering with the evidence). There was very little plot that wasn't 90% hole, and what there was was punctuated by long, incoherent fist fights - in which van Damme gets to beat himself up a few times. This film provided more grist to my theory that any film produced by Avi Lerner will have a helicopter in it... by having a helicopter in it.
  8. Godzilla (1998) - the Roland Emmerich version. Meh. I missed the music. That Godzilla theme is just the most brilliant piece of film music. I'm sure the music here did it's job but 20 minutes later I can't remember a note. And someone really ought to tell Roland Emmerich that helicopters can go UP as well as along and from side to side. As in his earlier Moon 44 Emmerich stages a long pointless chase sequence when he has helicopters pointlessly careering through twisty turny canyons when they could have escaped the threatened danger by just going... up.
  9. Prospect (2018) - I like! This is what low budget SF movie making should be like.
  10. Catwoman - rewatch is as not good as I remember and it's reputation.
  11. Hundra - another rewatch.
  12. Constantine - Keanu Reeves was wrong for the role but there was a slow weirdness about this adaptation of the Hellblazer comic books that almost made up for it.
  13. La belle saison - slow, lyrical (French) lesbian romance.
  1. Chance (2002) - today, in one of my favourite second-hand DVD / CD hunting grounds (they're four for a quid, it's off the beaten track, and I'm not telling you where it is) my eye was caught by a DVD spine. It stood out because it had no BBFC classification logo. Not on the spine, nor anywhere else on the box. My curiosity buttons are well and truly pushed by things like this. Chance, it turned out, was a pretty dire 'romantic comedy' (it was neither) starring a couple of regulars from later seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (insert your own jokes about the movie sucking here). Very low budget and full of endless, self-indulgent, fourth wall breaking, yadda yadda yadda dialogue that needed cutting by a good 50% (though doing that would have forced the writer / director / lead to come up with something visually interesting to fill the gaps and I didn't see much evidence of her ability to do that on show) all badly delivered in that snarky and heavy sigh laden style known and loved by Youth Theatre groups the world over. Daughter Number One (a member of her local Youth Theatre Group and ardent critic of the eyeball roll, heavy sigh, and sulky gesture school of acting was in fits of giggles at what she saw on screen.
  2. 3:10 to Yuma - the original.
  3. Bon Voyage - le deuxieme film de Jean-Paul Rappeneau j'ai vu, et comme l'autre, Cyrano de Bergerac, je l'ai aimé. [/pretentious tosser mode]. But seriously; I loved it.
  4. Supergirl - a near 2 hour cut. Why?
  5. La Cite des enfants perdu -
  6. Young Sherlock Holmes - A good choice for Friday Night Movie with my two younger kids.
  7. B.E.I.N.G - why there isn't a full stop after the G in the title on the box is the most disturbing thing in the film. Very Shot on Video. For the first 20 minutes I had absolutely no idea what was going on apart from the fact that a bunch of really bad actors were beating each other up, down back alleys in LA . One of them appeared to be force-feeding the other hard-boiled eggs which made them explode green goo. By the time I had worked out what was going on - which was s**t (a serial killer is let loose to hunt down and kill alien beings who can only survive by inhabiting human bodies) - I didn't care. There's a 'twist' ending too! From the end credits it's obvious that the film makers thought the film was called Choker. I wonder why they changed it. Apart from the fact that Choker is a s**t name for a film. IMDb tells me it's also called Disturbance in the US and was shot in 12 days. Looks like it.
  8. Shotgun - !!!! He's a cop! His sister is a hooker! There's a maniac on the loose beating up prostitutes! Guess what happens! - seriously AWFUL. Cops so stupid they can't catch a killer who keeps beating people up in the SAME hotel room (a hotel room incidentally that the shill, who suckers the girls for his boss to beat up, rents from the unsuspecting desk clerk - despite the fact that his boss is already in it). Luckily the DVD I was watching started to fall apart about 3/4 the way through. I mean that literally.The sound stopped working and when I ejected the disc to see what was up it had developed a huge crack from the centre to about 1/2 way to the edge. I was never so happy to not to have to watch the end of a movie. Our hero cop had a ponytail too. Lots of the men in this movie (well the middle-aged white ones) had ponytails. That kind of movie.
  9. The Cloverfield Paradox - oooh! Gugu Mbatha-Raw is rather lovely isn't she?! Didn't notice much about the rest of the film, to be honest.
  10. Gigli - ow!
  11. Tomorrowland: a World Beyond - and I got mugged. Knackered after a long day and not really wanting to watch anything demanding I pulled Tomorrowland: a World Beyond from the To Be Watched Pile and shoved it into the DVD player. Not seen it before. Disney movie. George Clooney. Harmless bit of CGI heavy escapism - that'll do me, I thought.

    I was totally wrong footed. Tomorrowland turned out to be a pretty terrific film that had glued to the screen and in tears at the end of it. My only regret is I wish I'd watched it with my kids.
  12. Interview - Steve Buscemi and Sienna Miller do acting! Based on (essentially a remake of) a Dutch two hander shot in 5 days. Filmed with three cameras simultaneously on a conveniently huge apartment Miller and Buscemi had a lot of creative freedom and a lot of fun with this. Not sure I was convinced by all the twists, turns, and about faces of the plot but it was fun watching two very good professionals playing them out.
  13. Vantage Point (2008) - this must have sounded so good as a pitch: A Secret Service agent with PTSD foils a terrorist attempt to assassinate the US President - but told in multiple flashback storyines - like Mission Impossible mashed up with Inception. It starts off pretty well. The workaday newroom tensions as they cover the open-air event (while having newsmen conveniently info-dump all the background, character-identifying exposition we need) are well done but it's pretty hard NOT to do that sort of thing so it sells - especially at the start of the film when people are still settling into the story. But it soon goes wrong. A flashback within a flashback early in the film didn't help. (A personal hate of mine.) A good cast, who obviously signed up before they got the final script, including Sigourney Weaver, Forest Whittaker, & William Hurt) sleepwalk though paper-thin parts, and the start again/rewind gimmick gets tired very fast as each retelling adds little to the story that we hadn't worked out already a couple of iterations before. The plot finally comes crashing (literally) to a halt when the ruthless, kill-everyone-who-moves-that-is-possibly-in-their-way (including bound hostages, innocent bystanders, and minor members of their own organisation) bastard evil terrorists go and crash their stolen ambulance to avoid hitting a young girl crossing the road. (Thus allowing our multiple car crash survivor, plank-faced hero to catch up with them on foot.) Boll-ocks!
  14. The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes - An extraordinary film from The Brothers Quay which looks like something David Lynch and Jan Švankmajer would have come up with as a backstory to one of the later Myst games. And yet again - despite my bestest efforts - I fell asleep. I have never managed to watch this film without falling asleep. It's not that it's boring (though it is slowly paced) but it is so dreamlike and opaque that it manages somehow to convince my subconscious to take charge. I'm starting to think the film doesn't actually exist - it's a figment of my imagination that I only dream I'm trying to watch in the first place.
  15. Vampire Lovers - Late Hammer Lesbian Vampire nonsense which WAS boring.
  16. Four Just Men - 1939 Ealing film based on a novel by Edgar Wallace in which four terribly terribly English chaps - well, three terribly terribly English chaps and an almost funny Frenchman - are a mysterious gang of vigilantes who foil a dastardly attempt by an unnamed foreign power (cue very tacked-on looking coda made up of newsreel footage of the Nazi war machine and Adolf Hitler) to bring down the Holy British Empire. Their methods include, theft, blackmail, burglary, kidnap, and murder (electrocuting an elected representative in his bath because they've decided he's a wrong 'un). But it's all all right because they're English and good chaps so the ends justify the means and all that, pip! pip!
  17. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) - that was... odd.
  1. Force Majeure (2014)
  2. Just Visiting - ok that was a bit of a mistake. I thought I was watching Les Visiteurs starring Jean Reno and Christian Clavier - by the time I had realised I was watching the crappy American remake starring Jean reno and Christian Clavier I was too fucked to get out my chair and find something else to be brain dead in front of for 90 minutes.
  3. The Big Lebowski
  1. Faster Pussycat... Kill! Kill!
  2. Bram Stoker's Shadowbuilder - adequate, straight to video gun-toting priest vs demon nonsense with the odd flash of decent writing and a few nice camera moves.
  3. The Crimson Pirate - jolly Sunday afternoon fun.
  4. Virus - The end of the world... or is it? movie in which a secret American developed military virus gets loose and kills off the entire population of the world unlucky enough not to be living in Antarctica. Once you've swallowed the dodgy science that gets the whole thing going (and the tremendous amount of stock newsreel footage taken to get the plot really rolling) - and Chuck Connors playing a British naval officer! - there is not a bad movie in here. Pretty grim and depressing stuff. All the way through it, though, I kept thinking 'there's far too much material here, too many sketched in plotlines, too many characters, this is like a miniseries that someone has chopped down to a movie'. I was almost right. What I had watched was an edited down, American version of a much longer Japanese film which had employed lots of American actors. The original is supposed to be far far better and make a lot more sense. I'll find out soon enough. I just bought a copy on eBay.
  5. Zero Theorem - um... ok...?
  6. Informant! - Another Rule of Thumb developing: If George Clooney has a producer credit; it's worth checking out. I liked this. A little lightweight maybe but interesting and well done. Coincidentally the second randomly selected Matt Damon movie in a row.
  7. Creation of the Humanoids - Daughter Number One and I had one of our You Chose One and Then I'll Chose One double bills. First up was my choice - a 1960 (filmed in 1960 but released in 1962) science fiction film which for the most part consisted of people standing in a line giving each other lectures about things they would have already known purely for the audience's benefit. It's a weirdly wonderful little film that has a central character who is a robot though he doesn't know it (this is 7 years before PK Dick wrote Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep) who hates robots and is incensed when his sister shacks up with one. It's incredibly endlessly talky and obvious metaphors for racial tolerance are nailed to the audience's foreheads every other scene. I saw a full frame crappy VHS copy 10 years ago (I just checked my Film Diary) but last week managed to get a DVD letter-boxed to something like the cinema release. It was, apparently, Andy Warhol's favourite movie.
  8. Under the Skin (her turn) a 2013 film which she had not seen but has been sat in her to Be Watched Pile for a while. In a way it was almost a perfect companion piece to Creation of the Humanoids. Both are heavily heavy metaphorical movies - that's what SF is FOR! - but unlike Humanoids, there was very little dialogue in Skin - and what there was of it was mostly unscripted and/or of little importance to the plot which was about an alien creature assuming an understanding of her own possible humanity, and was mostly conveyed through some seriously stunning visuals. Creation was entirely studio-bound flat-set artificiality; Skin was hidden-cameras on the street real life - and accurate too. Great chunks of it were filmed in Glasgow, the nearest city to where I live. And some of the Highlands sequences were shot on roads I drive to get there. It's odd seeing a shop you were in a couple of weeks ago with your kids turning up in a movie with an A-Lister movie star in it. And apparently - and this was news to me - you can show erections in film classified 15 in the UK.
  9. The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) - entertaining enough piece of fluff.
  10. Possible Worlds (2000) - Arty Canadian parallel universe weirdness which I will watch again.
  11. Wonder Woman (2017)- with Daughter #2 who likes Wonder Woman, Xena and all such female ass kickers. It was a lot better than I was expecting.
  12. Earth vs the Flying Saucers -

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