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 ҆vankmajer 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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