Saturday, December 31, 2016

Insignificance (1985)

A British comedy drama directed by Nicolas Roeg, starring Tony Curtis and Gary Busey.
Joseph McCarthy visits Albert Einstein at a hotel room with threats of preventing his speech the next day. During the night, Marilyn Monroe visits to discuss relativity, but is interrupted by her husband, Joe DiMaggio.
This was all "WTF?" moment, nothing else. The plot made sense on a very shallow level of people in the hotel room, but there were flashbacks and hallucinations mixed in as well. The characters were played convincingly. The video looked really good for 1985 and the special effects were expertly done. The audio was not so hot. It was overall a little quiet and some of the dialogue and music got lost, but other sections were normal volume. I rate this adequate because it was expertly crafted, but not quite coherent.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Don't Look Now (1973)

A British Italian thriller directed by Nicolas Roeg, starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland.
The daughter of a married couple drowns in a pond. The husband is then working on restoring a church in Italy when the wife meets a mysterious duo of older women. One of the women seems to have psychic powers and is predicting disaster in the family. The wife is called away back to England where her son in school has had an accident. The husband thinks that he sees the wife still in Italy, with the old women and goes to the police.
The pros outweigh the cons on this one, making it worth watching. The plot was a little confusing and choppy. There were some sections that were unclear, like the daughter's death. The characters were memorable and acted their roles very well. The dialogue seemed poorly written, though because it led to some of the plot confusion. An example of this is the Husband calling his wife at the school in England. It seemed like she was lying to him or evading his questions, but it turned out that she was being honest. Video is where this shines. The shot compositions, framing and editing were amazingly artsy. Everything from the English countryside with the pond to the ancient labyrinth of Italy looked good because of proper lighting and exposures. They used steady tripod shots and rough, handheld shots in all the right places and there was some compositing. The daughter appearing in the waters of Italian canals was done very tastefully. There was an extended sex scene which was interspersed with footage of the couple putting their clothes on. I know that it makes a bold statement, but am at a loss for what that statement is. The audio was another good point. I could hear all of the dialogue. Even though some was in Italian, it did more to establish the setting than drive the plot. The all-classical music soundtrack worked wonderfully to set the mood. Overall, watch this for the video aspect. I rate it good.

And So It Goes (2014)

An American romance directed by Rob Reiner, starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton.
A mean, old real estate salesman is forced to take care of his granddaughter and a stray dog. This initiates a wave of kindness in which he falls in love with his neighbor.
This was more like a failed sequel to As Good as It Gets (1997) than it was anything else. The same asshole neighbor is forced to care for something besides himself and it opens his heart. The plot has obviously already been done, rendering it stale and lifeless. The characters played the exact same roles as Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. My favorite characters were the two little boys that ran around shouting "Too much noise!". The video was decent, but relatively straight forward and obvious. There was good use of seamless editing because it all flowed together naturally. The audio was pretty standard. I could hear most of the dialogue and the music was almost at a good mix level. I would have raised the vocals and lowered the music. Overall, pretty standard and stale. When I can point to another movie that is almost identical, the filmmakers have not done their job correctly. I rate this poor. You really should not watch it.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

An American action noir film directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, starring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis and Christopher Lloyd.
Various characters from the original Sin City film have continued story lines that branch out. They gamble, drink, have sex and kill each other.
Compared with the original, this was a steaming pile of waste. The filmmakers must have been like: "Sin City was really cool. What if we removed all the style, flavor and magic? Would we be able to sell another one?" No is the answer. The 30 million dollar loss shows that quite clearly. The plot was more desultory than the first, rendering it inconsequential, irrelevant and incoherent. The characters were forgettable extras and the story was constantly switching between them, not letting the viewer settle into a section. The video looked like the original in many ways, but upon comparison, one may notice subtle differences. These would mostly be in shot composition, lighting, sets, physical effects, the stuff that really makes a difference. The CG in this version is cranked up to 11, but it does fuck all to make it a better movie. Sure, it looks like the comic book, but that doesn't make it good. The audio is similar to the other aspects. Similar to the original, but lacking that undefinable flair for the debonair. Overall, a total disappointment. I rate this bad. Watch the original again if you are ever tempted to view this.

A Few Good Men (1992)

An American courtroom drama directed by Rob Reiner, starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Kiefer Sutherland.
A soldier at a military base may have been murdered. A team of three lawyers tries to defend the two soldiers who supposedly killed the other.
This was a pretty standard courtroom flick. The plot followed standard procedure like it was a military order. We had rain and night during difficult times and sunny days when things were going well. The characters fit into the Hollywood mold created for them like G.I. boots. The lawyers drank at the right times in the plot, the people in court got angry at the right times.  The video... You get the idea. Everything was G.I., fit the mold and followed stereotypes carved in stone. I'm not saying that it was all bad, just extremely predictable. This was one of a pandemic of movies made in the late '80s and early '90s that are all courtroom dramas that color inside the lines, so to speak. Overall, yet another game of Lawyers & Lawsuits. I rate it tolerable because it didn't hurt to watch, but there was no originality.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The American President (1995)

An American propaganda film directed by Rob Reiner, starring Michael Douglas, Martin Sheen, David Paymer and Michael J. Fox.
The president has a romantic relationship with an environmental lobbyist while trying to pass a bill about guns or crime.
This was so unrealistic that I almost called it a fantasy film. Although technically well-made, the plot and characters were absurd to the point of comedy. Happy and innocent-looking Michael J. Fox cast as a heartless reptilian Rothschild? HAHAHAHAHA! All of the people working at the White House acted like voting mattered and nothing was predetermined. The president made decisions about his speeches. NO TELEPROMPTERS! That one blew me away! Everything was an example of what the American people have been duped into believing was the case in politics. I just read Wikipedia and found out why this film is the way it is. Aaron Sorkin, the writer, was high on crack. So much for the war on drugs! Overall, this gave me something to write about and is funny if you know what's actually going on in the world. I rate it o.k. because I would never watch it again.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Faculty (1998)

An American science fiction horror directed by Robert Rodriguez, starring Elijah Wood and Clea DuVall.
Little fish aliens are infecting people at a school, primarily teachers. A small group of students try to fight them.
This was pretty standard of the time and genre. The plot was a typical teen horror; including elements such as social groupings or statuses, drugs, romantic interests and interactions with parents and other authority figures. I liked how the alien activity escalated as the film progressed. The characters were also typical high school stereotypes, but the roles were played convincingly. The main video element to mention is the special effects on the aliens. They did a great job on the little fish and tentacles. The larger aliens looked a little faker and less convincing to me. The editing on the football game scene was spot-on, capturing the heightened action. The coach smiled as his team infected the other players and fireworks went off in the background. The audio was hit and miss. I could hear all of the dialogue and the subtitles were very good. The music was terrible though. It mainly featured covers of '70s rock songs that had been overplayed. Overall, a standard teen sci-fi horror with some decent production value. I rate this o.k.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

A British American action film directed by Guy Ritchie, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Mark Strong and Eddie Marsan.
Holmes and Watson are against Lord Henry Blackwood, who is trying to make a grab for political power by devious means.
This was terrible. The plot got lost in special effects and "faster than the speed of light" editing cuts. The characters were played alright, but this didn't amount to much with all of the obvious flaws present. Again, we see Holmes portrayed as a warrior/fighter instead of a detective. I think most of the video was done in Adobe After Effects and with other CG editing software. Most of the time, I could tell the characters had been recorded in a green room and placed upon digital environments. The sets were just too big to be real and items of immense size flew through the air in choreographed motions. The audio was also horrid. It featured terrible music (not quite as bad as the chap hop in Game of Shadows though) and whispered dialogue that was inaudible. Overall, I wish I had turned it off and want those two hours of my life back. Please refer to my post about Game of Shadows (2011) for more trash talk. I rate this shit. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

A British American action film directed by Guy Ritchie, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.
Holmes and Watson foil the plans of bad guys. Watson gets married and there is an evil doctor.
Sherlock Holmes does not know kung fu. That's just to start. The plot was desultory, choppy and nearly incoherent. The characters didn't make much sense. Sherlock Holmes was developed a little bit, Watson a little less and everyone else: zero character development. The video was atrocious! It must have taken hours just to shoot and edit one gunshot with all the different camera angles showing the blast in slow motion, following the bullet's path and then spinning around where it hits. Sifu Holmes demonstrates Shaolin kung fu techniques that he could not possibly have known in that place and time, in much the same manner as shooting a gun was just described. The audio was actually not as bad as I thought it might be. I could hear all of the dialogue and the soundtrack music was mixed at a correct level. The fact that the music sounded like chap hop to me is inconsequential at this point. Overall, totally inappropriate for the subject matter. Sherlock Holmes was a detective, not a warrior. I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Machete Kills (2013)

An American action comedy directed by Robert Rodriguez, starring Danny Trejo, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Mel Gibson.
Machete is recruited by the U.S. president for a special mission. He goes to Mexico to stop a revolutionary with a missile pointed at Washington D.C. When he meets the man, it is revealed that the launcher is linked to the man's heart. Machete takes the revolutionary back to America to find the man who made the technology and have him disarm it. Turns out this guy is psycho too and conflict ensues.
Way over the top in every way. The plot is standard of '80s Schwarzenegger and Stalone flicks, hinging on the conflict of one hero against limitless, expendable enemies. There were a very large number of characters, but the main ones were pretty clearly defined. They were not, however, developed well. Everyone fit into a stereotype, but played their role well. The video was full of tricks and CG that added to the action. The level of overkill on this is most of what added the comedic element. Some of the dialogue helped to make it funny, but the humor was mostly visual. The fictional weapons, dismemberment and El Camaleon's costume changes were some of my favorites. The audio was pretty good. I could hear all of the dialogue and it was accompanied by appropriate soundtrack music. Overall, I thought it was fun to watch and would recommend it. I rate this good.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)

A British comedic tragedy written and directed by Bruce Robinson, starring Richard E. Grant.
An advertising writer is stressing out over an ad for pimples. He has a nervous breakdown, questions the ethics of advertising and grows a boil on his shoulder. The boil comes to life and starts talking.
This went downhill fast. The plot started off like a prequel to Branded (2012), but then the boil spoke and the rest was like a toilet flushing. I really liked the main character and he freaked out so well when he was against advertising. I wish the wife had watched his re-edited video. All the other characters were extras. The video was pretty standard of the time. The boil speaking was annoying and there was a quick scene of cartoon birds that came out of nowhere and had no impact on the plot. The audio was standard of the time as well. I could hear most of the dialogue and soundtrack music kept to the background. Overall, they screwed it up around 27 minutes in. I rate this poor because it started out so well before turning into shit.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

El Mariachi (1992)

An American adventure written, directed and produced by Robert Rodriguez.
A cartel mobster is attacked in jail, but overpowers his attackers and gets free. The mob boss puts out a hit on him, hiring men who don't know what this guy looks like. The hit men are told that their mark wears black and has a guitar case full of weapons. A guitarist enters the same town where the hit men are looking for the mobster and tries to find work as a musician in bars. He is mistaken for the mobster and then the guitar cases get switched.
This was pretty cool. The plot kept developing at a steady pace throughout the duration, with a quicker up-turn at the end. The characters were not extremely well developed, but they were acted well and fit their roles. The video featured a few absurdly experimental camera angles, but was mostly done very well. One scene that stood out was the hotel manager dialing the phone in high speed after he books the musician into a room. "I came across a turtle" was amazing.
The musician waking up on the floor with the dog over him was good too. The audio was generally decent. Non-diegetic music stayed in the background, but the musician's diegetic guitar playing was appropriately loud. I watched a version in Spanish, with English subtitles so I can't really attest to the dialogue. Most of it sounded about right to me though. Long time readers will know what I mean by the undefinable something that I call style. This movie has it. It all just seems to work together so well. All the elements combine to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. I rate this awesome. As a bonus, the version that I watched came with a director's commentary that I will definitely be listening to.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sexy Beast (2000)

A British Spanish crime film directed by Jonathan Glazer, starring Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane and James Fox.
A retired mobster is contacted by an aggressive ex-co-worker who wants him to be part of a new plan and won't take no for an answer. The retired man has to figure out how to deal with this guy and the job.
This was not so great. The plot was non-linear and included dreams/hallucinations. The characters were not extremely well developed, besides the main two. The video was actually pretty cool. They had a lot of different shots and used creative camera angles well. The audio was terrible. Whispered audio and blasting music were beyond Russ Meyer un-levels. I would say they learned to mix audio by watching Dario Argento flicks. Overall, not really what I like to watch. I'm rating this poor for audio and because I just did not like it.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mean Machine (2001)

A British American sports action film directed by Barry Skolnick, starring Vinnie Jones, David Hemmings, Ralph Brown, Jason Flemyng and Jason Statham.
A former soccer player is jailed for assaulting police. The prison governor and an inmate mobster pressure him into playing a soccer game of guards against convicts.
I usually don't like sports films, but a British one set in prison with guys from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000) is a different story. The plot was relatively standard of the genre, but held my attention. There was a wide array of characters, with various inmates and guards falling into stereotypes that, although typical, were amusing nonetheless. I really liked Jason Statham's character of the crazy kung fu master because it fit with his role in The Transporter series. The video featured clear visibility, correct exposures and lots of fast editing cuts. The audio was terrible. All of the dialogue was whispered and the music was at least three times as loud as it needed to be. They must have learned to mix audio by watching Russ Meyer flicks. Overall, this is all about the actors from other British crime films reprising their character roles. I rate it adequate.

Flipped (2010)

An American romance drama directed by Rob Reiner, starring Anthony Edwards, Penelope Ann Miller and Adrian Quinn.
The tense relationship between two young people in the 1960s is told from both perspectives. The boy lives a vacant life, obsessed with the girl. The girl raises chickens and repairs the dilapidated yard of her house, with the help of the boy's grandfather.
This was different because of the dual perspective storytelling, but everything else was standard American teen romance. The plot was divided into sections of male and female narration, with differing opinions about how and why things happened. The characters did develop, as the story followed them from childhood into high school. There were many extras, but the main characters were all dynamic by either changing something in the world or changing themselves. The video was all very clear and straight forward. It relied on good, clean shots and seamless editing. I would have liked to see differing video styles based on who was narrating. The audio was mostly voice-overs of narration, but dialogue was spread evenly throughout and I could hear everything that was said. The soundtrack was a very minor element and stayed in the background. Overall, A unique storytelling/plot style with nothing else to offer. I rate it o.k.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Being Charlie (2015)

An American drama directed by Rob Reiner.
A politician's son is always in and out of rehab centers. He has a friend who partys all the time, but never seems to get in trouble. He meets a girl at an inpatient program and they have a shaky romance. The father is more worried about his political campaign than about his son and does anything he can to push him away.
It wasn't bad. Didn't hurt to watch, but hit a little too close to home in some sections. The plot seemed to go nowhere. Nothing really changed from the beginning to the end. The characters were a little shallow. The relationship between son and father developed a little bit, but mostly characters left and were forgotten. The video was mostly good in a standard "I can see what's going on" type of way. There were some underexposed scenes in which important events could not be discerned. Landscapes and backgrounds sometimes looked great at the expense of characters and foreground elements. The audio had audible dialogue and a wide range of soundtrack music. The parts of the film that hit too close to home were the rehab facilities with their serenity prayer and vapid counselors. Fortunately, I have never been to inpatient. Overall, a standard American drama with various pros and cons like any other film. I rate this o.k.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Petey Wheatstraw A.K.A. Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil's Son-In-Law (1977)

An American blaxploitation directed by Cliff Roquemore, starring Rudy Ray Moore.
An overly developed child is born to poor, black parents. After being picked on as a child, he trains with a kung fu master, but chooses to pursue a career as a comedian instead of martial artist. A rival comedy act who owe him money try to waylay the grand opening of his new show, eventually shooting him. He then makes a deal with Lucifer to marry the devil's daughter and father a grandson for old scratch. He is given a magic cane and attempts to fool Lucifer and get out of marrying the daughter.
Not too bad for '70s blaxploitation. The plot was a little desultory, but held my interest. The characters were funny to me and I got most of the humor that was used. There were some good video effects used. The shooting scene went backwards, there were plenty of jump-cut magical transformations and video speed changes added some comedic effect. The scene that I didn't understand was Petey making money fall from the sky, with unnecessary jump cuts for no reason. The audio featured mostly '70s funk by Nat Dove and Mary Love and mostly audible dialogue. Overall, a rare flick that was worth watching. I rate it adequate.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Miami Connection (1987)

An American kung fu crime film by Y.K. Kim.
A new band takes over the spot held by a previous group at the local night club. The old band turns to a gang involved with ninjas and cocaine to get rid of the competition. One of the band member's brother is in the gang and the band all practice Taekwondo.
This was an initial flop that turned into a cult classic. I found out about it by watching the Vice documentary on it. The plot was a little hit and miss. Some parts were really cool while others were not done very well and it seemed like the order of events was weird. The pacing may have contributed to this because it didn't follow smooth transitions of building action: it just jumped right in. Depicted above, the man being carried has just received a letter that his father has been found. This scene just jumps into sentimental music, slow motion and dramatic lighting out of nowhere. The characters were quite shallow and underdeveloped. Not to say that the stereotypes depicted were bad, just that they were all static characters. Video was much like the plot. There were some really cool shots mixed in with stuff that was alright, or even bad. The audio was as good as could be expected. I could hear all of the dialogue and the soundtrack featured '80s rock/metal with a glammy flavor. The lead guitarist of the fictional band in the film wrote the songs and is actually playing guitar on-screen. Everyone else is faking. Overall, '80s cheese turned up to 11. If you like what some people dislike about '80s cinema (as I do), this is for you. I rate it good.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Birth (2004)

An American drama directed by Jonathan Glazer, starring Nicole Kidman, Danny Huston and Lauren Bacall.
A 10 year old boy claims to be the dead husband of a woman who is about to get re-married.
This definitely made more sense than the previous Glazer film. It had a relatively coherent plot and the characters were developed more. The video is still not to my liking. There were too many handheld shots and some of it seemed unnecessary. The audio was not so great either. Most of the dialogue was whispered inaudibly. This obviously had a negative impact on my understanding of the plot. Overall, this does not score high in areas that matter most to me. I think too much was implied and not shown. I rate this tolerable.

Under the Skin (2013)

A British Swiss American science fiction directed by Jonathan Glazer, starring Scarlett Johansson.
An alien being in female human skin lures men into a black pool.
Totally incoherent. The little plot that there was was poorly communicated. The only identifiable character was the alien woman and she barely spoke. The dialogue of the men was such a jumble of heavy Euro-trash accents that it was unintelligible. The video was some of the worst I've ever seen and it looked intentional. Proper exposure? No. Focus? No. We don't even need anything identifiable on-screen most of the time. Varg Vikernes of Burzum invented necro-sound with a similar procedure, so this must be necro-sight. I've been over the dialogue audio and the soundtrack was not much better. It contained long silences, diegetic sound and a repeated piece played when the men enter the black area. This won a total of 41 awards. This mirrors the "less is more" aesthetic going on in art these days. It makes me want to intentionally make the worst movie I can to see if it will get positive feedback. I wouldn't even need 13 million dollars to do it. Overall, an incoherent bunch of nonsense. I rate this bad.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Meantime (1983)

A British drama written and directed by Mike Leigh, starring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman.
A young man lives with his parents and older brother. The brother is a little bit controlling and none of them have worked in a long time. The main character is romantically interested in a woman whom he sees at the pub and laundry-mat. He visits her apartment with his skinhead friend. He is asked by his aunt to help her paint inside her house, but the controlling brother arrives and talks him out of it.
This is one of Leigh's most famous films and it fits his style very well. Never one for clearly defined plots, Leigh made sure that it seemed like the viewer was following some Brits around for no real reason. Characters were what this was about and their personalities and interactions were expanded upon to a deep and meaningful level. The video was basic and standard of the time. The brothers sitting together for a cathartic conversation at the end reminded me of Life is Sweet (1990) with sisters doing the same thing. I'm sure that there are other similarities between the two films, but don't really feel like doing that research right now. The audio featured a piano piece that was repeated in multiple scenes and some very British punk rock. Some of the dialogue was unclear because of heavy accents and cockney slang. Fortunately for me, the version I got came with Spanish subtitles, so I got the general idea of what was being said. As an interesting side note, this film featured both of the lead actors from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1990). On first watching, this film seems like all of Mike Leigh's other work: what just happened (if anything)? I am sure, though, that upon further viewing, it's secret beauty will be revealed like other Mike Leigh films. I have to give it a weird pink rating because my opinion of it will change with time.

Jennifer's Body (2009)

An American horror directed by Karyn Kusama.
After a fire at a local bar, a rock band try to sacrifice a girl to Satan. Unfortunately for them, she turned out to not be a virgin and gained supernatural powers instead of dying. Her friend is the first to realize what has happened and tries to warn her boyfriend. The girl with powers begins killing boys at the school and the conflict reaches a climax at the school dance.
This was made very well in the video aspect. The plot was pretty standard for American horror. The characters were acted quite well and showed some depth and dynamics. I looked up a few of the slang terms that the students used and their dialogue is spot-on and convincing. Very well-written. The audio featured mostly alternative rock, which was on time with the video in the sense of pacing, but bad music in general. Now the video. This was planned by an expert and the camera-work was amazing. The after effects modification of the puke in Needy's kitchen was the first high point. Jennifer's swimming scene in slow motion was a masterpiece. The shot of Jennifer, all hungry and falling apart, looking in the mirror with a picture of her pre-possession right next to it was very powerful. Overall, watch this for the video. I rate it good.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Troy (2004)

An American British Maltese peplum war film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, starring Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom.
Greeks, led by Achilles, invade Troy, defended by Hector. They fight, mostly over one woman.
This film was just like the armies depicted in it: astronomical number of cast members, slow moving, impersonal and only concentrated on war. There was an effort to give the plot a personal dimension by the conflict between Hector and Achilles and the multiple love affairs of Briseis. The characters were pretty shallow, probably because there were so many of them. The video all looked fine, except for where I saw the CG and live action separating (picture). We all know that shit ain't real! It was all very high contrast. The audio was actually good. Audible dialogue with appropriate music that was mixed well. Pacing is where we run into serious problems. The old Italian hour and a half peplum flicks were bad enough. This was THREE HOURS! I remember trying to watch it before and turning it off half way through because I got so bored. Overall, a modern sword and sandal peplum. I rate it bad for military and duration issues.

Monday, December 12, 2016

What About Bob? (1991)

An American comedy directed by Frank Oz, starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss.
A psychologist gets a new patient who follows him on vacation against his will. Everyone except the psychologist ends up liking the patient.
Pretty standard American comedy. The plot was very basic, relying on one character disliking another that everyone else likes. The characters were not very developed. I found it interesting that the psychologist's son learns to dive by teaching the patient. The scene that I found funniest was Bill Murray giving Richard Dreyfuss the heimlich maneuver and jumping up and down on his back. The video and audio were what I have come to expect from the genre and time period. Nothing much to say there. Overall, mediocrity has effectively lowered my rating for this film. I rate this tolerable.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gor (1988)

A South African American science fiction adventure directed by Fritz Kiersch, starring Oliver Reed.
A dorky college professor finds a magic ring and knows that it will transport him to another world. When he crashes his car, the ring activates. He finds himself in a desert, is trained as a warrior and becomes a hero.
This tried to be Conan so hard. The plot was stale, stale, stale. Mad Max, Conan, Army of Darkness, you get the idea. The characters were not developed. Even the main character slips into his new role far too easily and quickly. I think all of the funding for this film went into sets and costumes. I didn't count the golden bikinis, but there were lots of them. The video was way too grainy for 1988 and also always over or under exposed. The outdoor desert shots were too bright and the indoor cave/castle shots were too dark. The audio was not so great. The dialogue was not at an even volume level. The music was appropriate, but sounded like Pirates of Dark Water meets Conan. It should have been good, but was not. I think that statement can be applied for my "overall" conclusion as well. I rate this poor. You probably should not watch it. The illustrations on the book covers are amazing. Look at those instead.

The Seven Minutes (1971)

An American courtroom drama directed by Russ Meyer.
A young woman has been murdered and a college student is framed for killing her by the actual murderer. A book sold at a local store is deemed obscene. Because the student owned a copy of the book, the cases are joined in court in an effort to prove that the obscene book drove him to rape and murder the woman.
This was not like Meyer at all! There was only implied nudity and sex how mainstream films would show obvious clues to it. The plot was interesting and well-developed. It included a very good plot twist at the end, upsetting everything that the viewer had been told and shown before. Unfortunately, a real conclusion never happens. The characters were varied, but not very dynamic. The video style is the only clue that indicates this as a Russ Meyer film. The quick cuts and bold composition and framing of shots were very much of his style. The audio was close. The dialogue was more audible than his other films and the music downplayed slightly, but the mix was still a little music-heavy. Overall, a unique take on courtroom drama done in a Russ Meyer manner. I rate it o.k. Watch this if you think Meyer only makes films about sex.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)

An American fantasy directed by Frank Oz, starring Richard Jenkins, Steve Coogan and David Keith.
A boy receives an antique cupboard and a toy Indian for his birthday. When he puts the Indian into the cupboard, closes and re-opens the door, the Indian is alive.
Standard, classic kids' flick. The simple premise of the plot was expanded a little bit by the interactions of the child, Indian and other characters. The characters themselves did not develop very much. The boy supposedly learned respect and responsibility by the misuse of his magic cupboard. The video had good special effects. It looked like forced perspective and compositing combined with creative framing and editing to me. I was unable to easily find an explanation of how the small and large characters were combined. The audio was not so great. I could hear all of the dialogue, but the soundtrack music was way over the top. The gigantic symphonic piece that plays when the Indian first comes to life was too early for such "magical" music to be used. This theme continued throughout the duration. The pacing was way too fast, with hardly any setup time before the cupboard is opened on a living toy character. It almost left nowhere to go. They built it up too quickly and made the rest of the film seem inconsequential. I know it was based on the book and that's how the story was written. The theme that disturbed me most was theft. This kid is a kleptomaniac, stealing anything and everything to give to his little friend. Overall, a little too hokey and lacking in plot development. I rate it tolerable.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Getaway (1972)

An American crime adventure directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Steve McQueen.
A group of criminals plan and execute a bank robbery, but each tries to claim the money for themself.
Not too shabby. The plot kept me interested and the characters showed a little bit of depth. There were some general good camera angles and shot composition, but what really impressed me was the foreshadowing swimming scene in the park at the beginning. The audio was alright. I could hear all of the dialogue, but the music was limited to a few repeated pieces. The "action scene" music was a synthesizer number that sounded a little bit like farts. Overall, it passes the test of being mildly amusing. I rate this adequate.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Ugly Dachshund (1966)

An American Disney comedy directed by Norman Tokar, starring Dean Jones.
A man whose wife is obsessed with her dachshunds adopts a great dane.
I remember watching this countless times when I was younger. My sister always wanted to watch Disney stuff and I think this was one of her favorites. The plot was really simple and the characters showed absolutely no development at all. The video was optimized for the situational comedy of the plot. It featured way too much dachshund footage, but tended to portray them in a negative light. They were always making messes to leave the great dane in the middle of and accept blame. The audio was filled with cheesy music and wacky foley sound effects. Overall, this is a good example of a bad movie. There was nothing subtle or deep about it. I rate it poor because I've seen much worse.

The Deadly Companions (1961)

An American western directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Maureen O'Hara and Chill Wills.
A trio of cowboys enter a small town, intent on robbing the bank. They are beaten to the punch by other bank robbers and a local woman's son is accidentally killed in the ensuing gunfight. The cowboy who shot the boy accompanies the mother to the boy's father's hometown, with bank robbers in tow. They cross Apache country to the deserted town where a final conflict takes place.
This was a pretty standard western. The plot was just complex enough to hold my attention. The characters were stereotypical, but fit the genre and roles quite well. The video was rather straight forward, without much to really comment on. There were some nice sunset scenes, but there were also bad scenes where the screen turned almost completely black because of low light and underexposure. The audio was appropriate. I could hear all of the dialogue well and the music stayed out of the way. Overall, regular western. I rate it o.k.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shattered (1991)

An American mystery thriller directed by Wolfgang Petersen, starring Tom Berenger, Bob Hoskins and Greta Scacchi.
A man wakes up from a coma after a car accident. He has no memory of his personal life and his wife cares for him, reteaching him his past. As this happens, he slowly finds out that he was involved in a murder. He hires a detective to help him figure out what happened.
Pretty standard issue. The plot developed quite well, filling the duration with twists and reveals. The characters were not very deep, but very early '90s. The video was very much of the times and very standard. The audio was actually pretty good. It was mixed correctly, I could hear the dialogue and there was appropriate music. Overall, a regular movie. I rate it o.k.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It's Murder! (1977)

An American mystery comedy directed by Sam Raimi, starring Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi.
A detective goes to investigate a murder and finds that the dead man's will is disputed. The man's brother is crazy and wants to prevent the real will from being found. The son is sane and trying to find the real will.
It was blatantly obvious that this was Raimi's first film. It reminded me of TROMA flicks because it was so bad as to be funny. The characters were not developed very well and most of the acting was terrible. The crazy brother and detective were not too bad. The plot was simplistic and the humor was hokey. Being shot on a super 8, the video was some of the worst I've ever seen. Correct exposure was a foreign concept. I did like the sequences with altered speed though. The audio was atrocious. It was poorly mixed, distorted, had sudden stops and starts and I could hear them punching in for missed lines of dialogue. Overall, amateurish. I rate this poor.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Straw Dogs (1971)

A British American thriller directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George.
A Mathematician rents a farmhouse in his wife's hometown of Cornwall. He is tricked into a hunting trip by men working on his garage. They leave him sitting in a field while they rape his wife. Later, the couple attend a social at a church. A mentally handicapped man accidentally strangles a girl, enraging the locals (including the men who were working on the garage and wife). The mathematician hits this man with his car on the way home and brings him in to wait for a doctor. The locals show up and escalating violence begins.
This was pretty cool. The plot was slow to develop, but once it got started, it really took off. The character development was more implied than stated clearly. This is where video and editing come in. The wife has graphic flashbacks while at the church social of the men raping her. She gets female anatomy points. Everything was shot very '70s style, which I like quite a bit. The audio was pretty good for the time. Non-diegetic music was kept minimal and in the background. The diegetic bagpipe record, however, was blasted appropriately. Most of the dialogue was clear, but there were some heavy accents involved. Overall, I like Dustin Hoffman in this more than his later films. The ending violence scene is also amazing. When the workmen hung the bear trap on the wall, I just KNEW it would be used! I rate this good. Solid green rating for dynamics and overall quality.

Lorna (1964)

An American sexploitation directed by Russ Meyer.
A man goes to work in a salt mine on the day of his wedding anniversary. His co-workers make fun of him and say that his wife is sleeping around, causing them to get into a fight. Meanwhile, the wife is unhappy with her husband's sexual performance and thinks that he has forgotten the date. She meets an escaped criminal and has a short, but lustful relationship with him.
This was pretty tame for a Russ Meyer flick. The plot was simple, but used the simultaneous scenes that are part of his style. The characters were not developed very well, but better than some Meyer films I've seen. It turns out that the female lead was three months pregnant during the filming. On another related note, this whole film took a total of 13 days to make. That includes writing and filming. The video was all in black and white 4:3 aspect ratio. I think they got some good shots. The ending fight was not planned well. Here we have two men with the same hairstyle, body-type and clothing fighting. The audio was standard of Meyer's work: music too loud, dialogue too quiet. Overall, there are much better examples of Russ Meyer films. I rate this poor.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Up! (1976)

An American sexploitation directed by Russ Meyer.
A man who thinks he is Hitler is murdered by an unseen person. A young woman is seen by the sheriff running on a nearby road. She is later picked up by a man in a pickup truck, whom she kills. The sheriff lets her bribe him with sex and she gets a job at a local restaurant.
Typical Russ Meyer. I think this one showed a little bit more, though. The plot was a little unclear and the characters were mostly under-developed. Obviously lots of female anatomy points. The video was a little grainy and blurry. The audio was not mixed correctly (another Meyer staple). The dialogue was too low and the music was too loud. Overall, I got what I expected: boobs. I rate this o.k.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Ride the High Country A.K.A. Guns in the Afternoon (1962)

An American western directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Randolph Scott.
A small group of cowboys take a job transporting gold from a mining town. On the way there, they encounter a girl who is engaged to one of the miners. Her father disapproves of any man his daughter is interested in, so she sneaks out with the cowboys when they leave. When they get to the mining town and find the groom, the two are wed. Unfortunately, the groom's two brothers think that they have also married the girl and begin to abuse her. The cowboys step in to save her.
This was pretty standard for a western. The plot got more complex as it progressed and the characters developed more. It wasn't a peplum style western. Peplum being "sword and sandal", I guess the western equivalent would be "six-gun and saddle". It was more personal, dealing with a small number of main characters. The video looked '70s to me, but differentiating '60s from '70s video can be tricky. The audio was actually good. The dialogue was all very clear and it featured unique and identifiable theme music in some sections. The version that I watched may have had the very end chopped off. It ended with the end of the last gun fight. The picture is of a scene in which the two older cowboys are discussing the ventilation system of a pair of custom made boots. Overall, it's better than o.k. I rate this adequate.

Poseidon (2006)

An American disaster action thriller directed by Wolfgang Petersen, starring Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss.
A remake of the 1972 film. A large ship is sinking because it has capsized. People try to make their way out through the bottom of the upside down boat.
This was very much like the 2005 remake of the same, but worse in all the ways that the 2005 version was worse than the 1972 original. The plot was simplistic: get out of the boat or drown. The characters were not developed at all because so much time was devoted to building tension and having action scenes. The video was choppy and fast. It featured close, underexposed shots that were edited with quick cuts. There were a few special effects with fire and water. The audio was mostly screaming and shouting with building symphonic music. The intro featured a white woman singing like she was black. Is that a reverse oreo? Overall, not worth the time it took to watch. Luckily, there were 10 minutes of credits at the end. I rate it bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Outbreak (1995)

An American disaster thriller directed by Wolfgang Petersen, starring Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Donald Sutherland and Kevin Spacey.
A military medical research team goes to Africa to investigate a new disease. It turns out that a monkey carrying the disease has been illegally shipped to America and has infected people. The disease mutates to spread more rapidly and tensions rise.
This is pretty standard of the disaster thriller genre. I would say even exemplary! The plot follows the rising action, showing people getting sick and military leaders freaking out about the disaster. Dustin Hoffman plays his psychotherapist role. Amidst the chaos, he is the rock of reason with Cuba Gooding Jr. as his sidekick. Even though Hoffman's character's own life is in the middle of a messy divorce, he remains steady. The video was very active. There was lots of camera movement and lots of quick editing cuts between simultaneous scenes and even angles within a scene. The audio was basically good. I could hear all of the dialogue and the music didn't get in the way. Overall, not bad. I rate it adequate. It would get a better rating if I liked disaster thriller flicks.

Monday, November 21, 2016

In the Line of Fire (1993)

An American action thriller directed by Wolfgang Petersen, starring Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich.
A secret service agent is on the case of a man who threatens to kill the president.
This was the beginning of the end for Clint Eastwood's acting career. He plays the "loose cannon" cop/detective. The only other character worth mentioning is his (way too young for him) romantic interest. They both piss each other off and end up liking it. The plot was boring to me and drawn out over two hours made it seem like it would last forever. Video was of good quality, but the camera-work and editing were nothing to brag about. The audio was similar. I could hear everything and it was mixed well. It just didn't float my boat. I turned it off at about 45 minutes because I had watched it about 7 or 8 years ago and didn't need to see it again to remember how bad it was. In accordance with my turn off policy, I rate this shit. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Simple Plan (1998)

An American thriller directed by Sam Raimi, starring Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton and Bridget Fonda.
A trio of friends accidentally crash their truck near a forest. Their dog jumps out of the back to chase the fox that caused the accident and they follow into the woods. There they find a crashed airplane with a bag full of money. They decide to hide the money in one of their homes and if nothing happens, they will split it. The man who holds the money has a wife who gives him bad advice that turns the men against each other.
So, Sam Raimi can do wrong after all. Very few directors are flawless. The plot bored me to tears with lies and taking sides. The characters were dull as well. Even Billy Bob Thornton played a quiet, dorky guy. The video was recorded well, but was generally uninteresting to watch. After watching the whole thing, I restarted and got the foreshadowing about the fox in the hen house. The audio was not to my liking the music was as slow and boring as the plot and the dialogue featured way too much whispering. Overall, a piece of crap. I rate this bad.

Crimewave (1986)

An American comedy directed by Sam Raimi, starring Paul L. Smith and Bruce Campbell.
A dorky security system installer is chasing after a girl he met when the head of the company that he works for is murdered. When one of the killers hides in his apartment and a body is placed in the girl's car, the main character and romantic interest are drawn into the violence.
This was pretty good. Sam Raimi is on his way into my list of "Those Who Can Do No Wrong". The plot was just complex enough to be interesting, but still easy to follow. There were really only four main characters acting through the whole film: The dork, the romantic interest woman and the two killers. The video used physical effects, camera tricks and good editing to communicate the absurd humor. My favorite effect was the fat killer pulling a wall-to-wall carpet towards him. My favorite scene, though, was the security store's hallway of doors. The audio was adequate. I could hear the dialogue and music, but the quality was a little low from being made on a lower budget in the '80s. Overall, pretty cool. I rate it adequate.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

An American fantasy directed by Sam Raimi, starring James Franco, Rachel Weisz, Bill Cobbs and Tony Cox.
In early 1900s Kansas, a con-man magician has unrequited dreams of greatness. After a failed show, he is swept off by a tornado to the magical land of Oz. There he is confused by three witch sisters who all claim to be the good one. When the truth is revealed, he meets the ordinary inhabitants of the land and they form a plan to take back the emerald city.
Not bad for Disney. The plot was pretty much what you would find in most Disney flicks. Underdogs overcoming unbelievable odds in an overly dramatic fashion. The characters were well acted, except for the flying monkey. He reminded me of the "main character's buddy" from too many previous films. Video featured heavy use of compositing and special effects. I mean HEAVY. When you composite within an already effected montage scene, that's just too much. The audio was top quality. Everything was very clear. The music and dialogue were mixed well. I caught Oz (James Franco) giving the devil horns sign at least once. I don't even want to think about what other Luciferian symbols might be hidden in the dizzying array of computerized landscapes and effects. Overall, it's fun to watch. A modern Mary Poppins. I rate it good because I like digital video trickery.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Convoy (1978)

An American British action adventure directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Kris Kristofferson, Ernest Borgnine and Burt Young.
After disagreements with police, a group of truckers set out from a truck stop restaurant. They are joined by many others.
This is one of my favorite movies. The plot is simple and has few main characters. These characters are easily differentiated and memorable. The main character reminds me of a friend from my warehouse job. The video is very clear. Things were shot in a logical fashion that included enough variety to keep it interesting. Even though it's just about people driving trucks together, they milked those trucks for all they were worth. Inside shots, outside shots, different settings and formations. The audio featured a sufficient array of music. The country theme song was contrasted by Godzilla style music in the dirt road action scene. I could hear everything that all of the actors were saying. Basically, this film checks all the boxes on my list of criteria and it does so with style. I rate it awesome for going above and beyond set standards.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia A.K.A. Tráiganme la cabeza de Alfredo García (1974)

An American action film directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Warren Oates.
A piano player in a bar is contracted to kill a man and return with his head in exchange for a million dollars. He begins his quest with a prostitute girlfriend who also knows the target.
It was alright. Pretty standard for the '70s. The plot was easy to follow and held my attention relatively well. The main character was stereotypical of a sleazy '70s gangster/detective type of half-criminal. He wore a light colored suit, had a mustache and chugged liquor like it was his job. The piano playing gig and prostitute girlfriend were the icing on his sleazy cake. All of the other characters were extras. The video was typical of the times. A little bit of grain, longer shot range and duration, you know the deal. There were some female anatomy points awarded to the girl in the intro and outro whose father was the target and the girlfriend on at least two occasions. Audio was normal as well. I could hear what people were saying and they hid the girlfriend's guitar playing enough so I couldn't tell if she was actually the one playing it. Overall, a regular movie. I rate it o.k.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Air Force One (1997)

An American action film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman and Paul Guilfoyle.
The president's airplane takes off from Russia and terrorists posing as a news video crew start using guns. The president is supposedly ejected in an escape pod, but stays on the plane to begin a sequence of events to save the hostages from the terrorists.
Propaganda, pure and simple. They didn't even try to make it believable. The U.S. has rarely had physically fit presidents and the only terrorists are the ones hired by our government. So the plot is all shot to shit. The characters were anonymous and shallow like extras. All of them. Even Harrison Ford as the president was underdeveloped. He's way better off as Indiana Jones. The video featured heavy and obvious use of special effects, compositing and CG to achieve the outside airplane scenes. The audio was actually pretty cool. It had a triumphant "America always wins" main theme in the soundtrack and I could hear what everyone was saying. When the only positive thing I can say about a film is about the audio, that qualifies as a bad rating. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Swiss Army Man (2016)

An American comedy drama horror directed by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe.
A man stranded on a desert island is about to hang himself when he sees a body wash up on the shore. The corpse turns out to have special powers and almost be alive. The two have many adventures together as the corpse uses it's special powers to get the man home and the man explains life to the corpse that is becoming more alive as it learns.
This started out super-gross. I was ready for the worst, but then it turned into a heart-touching tale of learning to live. Obviously, the plot and characters are top notch. The video is absolutely amazing. They used every effect I know without overdoing it. Physical and digital effects combined with master camera-work to produce a spectacle for the eyes. The soundtrack was a little on the post-alt rock side, but that was the only point that was less than perfect. I won't spoil the ending other than to say I liked it. Films of this caliber come along so infrequently these days. I rate it best. WATCH IT!!!

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Killer Robots! Crash and Burn (2016)

An American science fiction by Sam Gaffin.
A team of four robots escape from a death arena, only to be destroyed. They are reconstructed for a mission to save a planet from a computer virus.
Oh, man! So bad! Like not even worth making fun of bad. The plot was very basic. The characters were literally Adobe After Effects cutouts. The video seemed all the same. It was all explosions on bluish-grey mechanical backgrounds. The audio was probably the best part, featuring music from the band, The Killer Robots! I imagine that one of their shows would be really fun because they involve the audience and give you foam weapons to attack their fake robots with. The movie didn't work out so great. I was reminded of The Storm Riders and The Storm Warriors. They overused special effects and it would have been cool as a short, but the feature length film format was like telling the same joke over and over. Overall, it got old really quick. I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Wild Bunch (1969)

An American western directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates and Ben Johnson.
A former member of an outlaw gang has gone against them and has an inept crew to fight them with. The gang flees to Mexico after a bank robbery, where they also encounter military resistance.
Shootouts, peplum-style men on horses and gangs/armies fighting was all I saw. There were a few drinking scenes to break up the monotony of violence, but it was mostly physical conflict. Hence, the plot did not interest me and there were too many characters to get to know any of them. The video tried so hard to be spaghetti like Sergio Leone, but could not reach his level of intimacy by using so many dudes fighting. The audio was actually very good. I could hear all of the dialogue and it contained appropriate music, including diagetic sources. Overall, a peplum western trying to be spaghetti in America. I rate it poor for being something that it should not be and trying to be something that it cannot be.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Before Midnight (2013)

An American romantic drama directed by Richard Linklater, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
The same couple from the previous films is living in Europe and have twin daughters. However, the man's son from his previous marriage is living in the U.S.A. with his mother. The couple drive to their friend's house and go to stay at a hotel.
Why is this so interesting to me? I don't even like romance flicks. Anyway, this time the couple are arguing more. A sign of the times. The characters are accompanied by a group at dinner and have a very deep discussion about life, love and relationships. They get along really well while walking to the hotel, but once there, they start arguing. The video was similar to the previous films in that it featured long double shots of the couple talking. It differed by cutting more frequently and featuring other people more than the second film and much more than the first. In the first, it was almost all them. The second introduced some other scenes and this one prominently featured other people. The editing is the same. From the first to the last, we see an increased frequency of scene cuts. This film featured a good few minutes of visibility on the female lead's breasts. Female anatomy points there. Overall, I would rate the series as good, but this film falls in with the second as adequate. It was not as good as the first, but still plenty watchable.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Before Sunset (2004)

An American romance directed by Richard Linklater, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
The couple from Before Sunrise (1995) meet nine years later in Paris. The man is the author of a book detailing the events of the first film and the woman is an environmental activist. They meet at his book signing and try to spend time together before he has to catch an airplane flight.
I was disappointed. The first one was so good that anything else is a let-down. The plot took place over a shorter period of time and had lost it's magic. The characters were the same, but they were trying to rekindle old sparks of romance and catch up on lost time. It seemed sad. The video featured lots of moving shots with the actors walking and talking. They did a good job on that. The audio blended seamlessly as the original and featured a song played by the female lead on guitar and vocals. Actually played live with no faking, a rarity. Overall, not as good as the first one, but still as well-made and "soundly" designed. I rate it adequate.