Sunday, January 31, 2016

Runaway (1984)

An American science fiction written and directed by Michael Crichton, starring Gene Simmons, Tom Selleck and Kirstie Alley.
A cop who takes care of runaway robots gets a new partner. Together they struggle against a man who is involved with illegal computer chips.
So stereotypical and so predictable! I'm really glad that computers and robots don't speak to us now. The main character was the standard issue "loose cannon" overzealous cop. The female villain was the main adult lead from the Look Who's Talking series, which I found amusing. The male villain was crappily acted by Gene Simmons and had all the "hi tech" tools to fight the cops. Although he looks the part, his dialogue was not up to my standards. Please refer to my previous post that contains a universal plot summary because it applies here. Overall, Hollywood trash. I rate this poor because it had a few amusing aspects amidst it's retro '80s shitstorm.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Rising Sun (1993)

An American crime action film directed by Philip Kaufman, starring Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes, Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi.
A woman has been murdered at a party attended by Japanese businessmen. A young cop and old cop get the case and track down a missing surveillance video to find the murderer.
Standard issue '90s American bullshit. The predictable plot with overdone combination of characters and all-star cast made sure of this. I normally don't watch this type of crap, but I'm going through a list of films associated with Michael Crichton and this was on it. Well, it wasn't painful and I didn't turn it off so I have to rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!

Disclosure (1994)

An American drama thriller directed by Barry Levinson, starring Michael Douglas, Demi Moore and Donald Sutherland with music by Ennio Morricone.
A businessman at a technology company finds that an old girlfriend has been hired as his new boss. They have a meeting that is half sex and half violence and deal with the aftermath of it.
I just started a screenwriting course in school and the professor gave a quick outline of the plot of "every film ever made". I was following along with this and Disclosure did not deviate from it. Here is that outline:

Ordinary World: Heroes at home
Inciting Incident: Something different happens
Big Debate: Should the character act?
New Journey: Action is taken
Fun and Games: Character Development
Bad Guys Close In: Enemies approach the heroes
Big Reversal/Midpoint: plot twist, new story direction
False Victory/Defeat: Seems that the heroes are winning, but not really
Loss of Hope: Things look grim, more problems
New Path to Success: Victory, winning, happy ending

So I was not surprised by anything in the plot. The characters played their roles in it and were acted well. There were a few artsy camera shots thrown in here and there. Of course, being the '90s, we had the mandatory virtual reality sequence. I think that I've said enough to explain a good many things about film, cinema, movies and video here. I'll just rate this o.k. and be done with it.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Coma (1978)

An American thriller by Michael Crichton, starring Genevieve Bujold, Michael Douglas, Richard Widmark and Rip Torn.
A female nurse is having relationship troubles with her doctor boyfriend when her best friend goes into a coma and dies after routine surgery. This sets her on alert for the next death under the same circumstances. She gets in trouble with the administration for looking into the problem, but continues to pursue it anyway.
This was really good. I liked how the plot deepened as it went and the characters were acted convincingly. The main character's growing fear is also reflected in external events. The rising action at the climax got really intense. The style was very much of the time, but that is a good style if you ask me. Camera-work and editing made sense for all of the scenes and they even got in some appropriate extremely wide and extremely close shots. Overall, this seems to be nothing special, just another hospital suspense flick from the late '70s. That is what makes it so cool when the epic plot develops into a crescendo by the end. It goes above and beyond expectations and standards. I will now stop singing it's praises and rate it awesome. Watch this!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Terminal Man (1974)

An American science fiction by Mike Hodges, starring George Segal.
A once peaceful and successful man's personality has changed after a car accident. He has seizures which induce fits of rage and knows that computers and machines are taking over the world. He is released from prison to have experimental surgery of putting electrodes in his brain to stop the seizures.
The premise and head nurse role reminded me of Clockwork Orange and this film brought up some of the same topics, mixed with a little bit of Terminator. What is considered mind control? A character in this film classifies compulsory high school education to be mind control. Is it right to use techniques like this if they may save someone's life? The plot brings up interesting questions and I think that the main character was developed well. I also noticed good camera-work throughout. The intro scene of photos in front of glasses with a shallow depth of field was cool. I also liked the blood going into valleys between tiles on a white floor. Interesting topics brought up and good camera-work? I think I'll rate this good. It's definitely worth watching.

Physical Evidence (1989)

An American crime drama directed by Michael Crichton, starring Burt Reynolds, Theresa Russell and Ned Beatty.
A ex-cop is accused of murder and a young female public defender takes his case. They work together against all odds to find the real killer.
This was so stereotypical. The characters were exactly what you would use if you were making a film to mock late '80s courtroom flicks and the plot was no better. The ending was extremely inconclusive. Style reeked of 1989, with big shoulder pad suit jackets for the female lead and a big reel-to-reel tape recorder for the male. There was nothing interesting to note on camera-work or editing. Overall, it's very mediocre and should only be watched for 1980s nostalgia purposes. I rate it poor.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Looker (1981)

An American science fiction written and directed by Michael Crichton, starring Albert Finney and James Coburn.
A plastic surgeon does specific surgeries on some models who end up dying. He befriends the most recent and only survivor of these, going with her to a research facility with high tech machines that are used to optimize advertisements.
This was alright. The part that I liked most was the title track, "Looker". There was also a scene that I thought was funny in which the surgeon shoots the villain with a looker gun and kicks him in the nuts. The company's hypnotic advertising technique was very true to life and genuinely reflects how things work in the real world, art imitating life. The plot was just interesting enough to pass the time, but there was absolutely zero character development. The audio and video style was very retro '80s, which I liked. Camera-work and editing was decent, fitting the scenes without being amazing. The soundtrack was very limited, with only about 3 pieces of music that were repeated throughout the duration. Overall, it's a mediocre film to watch while passing the time. I rate it o.k.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stereo (1969)

A Canadian science fiction by David Cronenberg.
The causes and effects of telepathy are discussed with video examples in a scientific research environment.
I had to turn this off and you know what that means. The reason is that there was no audio except brief and meaningless fictional scientific jargon about telepathy. No music, no noises of the actors moving, nothing. I consider this to be horrible! I won't put it in the running for worst film ever, but it does get my shit rating for a turn off. DO NOT WATCH!!!!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Spider (2002)

A Canadian British drama directed by David Cronenberg, starring Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson and Gabriel Byrne.
A man is released from a mental hospital to live in a halfway house. While there, he re-experiences traumatic events from his childhood involving his father's infidelity and the death of his mother.
I had to look up that plot on Wikipedia because that is not what I saw in the film. I was under the impression that the crazy adult was the boy's real father and I was not aware of any mental institution, unless that was the halfway house. Whatever the plot may have been and whomever the characters were, it was very stylishly done. It really conveyed the idea of mental instability throughout. There were some good shots of adult crazy walking by a wall in the beginning and the boy setting up his string. The ending got really suspenseful by use of good editing: quicker cuts and such. Overall, I liked how this was made even if the plot did not come through correctly. I rate it adequate. You may want to watch it because it's so crazy that it can't tell it's story.

Shivers A.K.A. Orgy of the Blood Parasites, The Parasite Murders, They Came from Within, Frissons (1975)

A Canadian horror directed by David Cronenberg, starring Barbara Steele.
A doctor has developed a new kind of parasite that supposedly filters human blood to repair damaged kidneys. The man with the parasite in him becomes sick and the parasite exits his body to find and infect others. This parasitic disease spreads like wildfire through a hotel.
This was not good. I was listening to the voice-over on the intro, detailing the benefits of the hotel and expecting this to play into the plot somehow. Nope. There were lots of underexposed shots, the characters mattered less than the setting and the plot was too simple. The only good things were a quick use of forced perspective and female anatomy points. Overall, it sucked. I rate this bad.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rabid (1977)

A Canadian American horror directed by David Cronenberg, starring Marilyn Chambers, Patricia Gage and Susan Roman.
After a motorcycle accident, a woman has experimental skin grafts to heal her wounds. She develops a mutation and starts a zombie epidemic in Canada.
This was not so great a movie, but first a word about the stars. Marilyn Chambers was repeatedly arrested in the '80s while she was an exotic dancer. The arrests were for sexual acts in public that was viewed by police as prostitution. Susan Roman's fame comes from her voice acting in children's cartoons like Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and Sailor Moon. So we've obviously got female anatomy points for the lead role. There were topless scenes as well as a "wet T-shirt writhing on the bathroom floor" scene. The plot was simplistic and generally uninteresting, which allowed me to become distracted by details. In the beginning, there's a man wearing a sports jumpsuit with a shirt that reads "Jogging Kills" on the front. The surgery scene is VERY graphic and almost hurt to watch. When time is elapsing at the hospital, there is a beautiful sunset shot with wonderful reflections in the building's windows. There was also an interesting scene in which zombies at a construction site use a jackhammer to kill the driver of a car without opening the door. If I were to rate for funny details, this would get awesome, but I'm rating the whole film. I have to give it a weird pink rating for being a piece of shit full of awesome little details.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Maps to the Stars (2014)

A Canadian French German American drama directed by David Cronenberg, starring Julianne Moore and John Cusack.
A supposedly insane girl goes to Hollywood to meet a star that she is obsessed with. She gets a job working as a gofer for a female star and meets up with her family, who are all stars and all crazier than her.
The plot was not very clear and how the characters related to each other was not clear either. This was mostly because of unshown back-story that was referred to constantly. The video looked good and made sense as I was watching it and I could hear what everyone was saying. I liked the portrayal of the imperfect lives of movie stars most. The burned girl had the same hairstyle as the doctor woman from Crash, which I find to be a very attractive one. I don't really know what to write, so I'll rate this o.k. It was pretty mediocre and a little confusing.

Crash (1996)

A Canadian British thriller directed and produced by David Cronenberg.
A man gets into a car crash on his way home from work. The other survivor is a woman in the other car who exposes her breast to him. They eventually develop a relationship as well as joining a car crash sex cult. From there, things get out of hand.
This is the Cronenberg that I know and love. I went through the whole film with a WTF feeling and was left with the same. That being said, the plot (as strange as it was) was linear and kind of made sense. The characters were dynamic, developing new fetishes as the film progressed. The cult seems to spend their time smoking joints and jerking off to car crash videos, which seems a little unnerving to me. Although associated with vehicular manslaughter and infidelity, I'm awarding female anatomy points. Overall, it was a controlled kind of crazy. I know I've done this frequently and recently, but I rate it adequate.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Railway Man (2013)

A British Australian war film directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, starring Nicole Kidman.
A radio operator in WWII is forced to work for the Japanese in Singapore building a railroad where they find that he has assembled a receiver from spare parts. He is tortured unmercifully and eventually returns home obsessed with railroads. He meets and marries his wife who prompts him to deal with his traumatic past.
This was pretty good. The plot was non-linear, but made sense and the characters were memorable. Acting was convincing, camera-work made sense and pacing was slow enough to enjoy the moment, but quick enough to keep the story rolling. There were a few moments when I was cheering for violence that did not end up happening. The main character times the cooking of rice to the exact second and from past experience, I don't blame him. That is the most time-sensitive food I know of. As I typed earlier today, WWII is the most overplayed film setting and here I am reviewing another film about it! Overall, I liked the non-linear plot and brutal torture methods. I rate this adequate.

Defiance (2008)

An American war film directed by Edward Zwick.
A group of Jewish refugees hide in a forest during WWII.
WWII is the most overplayed setting ever and I was unable to find subtitles that translated the foreign language sections. This meant that about half of the dialogue was unintelligible. The main character who leads the Jews was identifiable, but everyone else just kind of jumbled like in a mass grave. The plot was simple, but effective and had some action scenes appropriately placed to keep the audience awake. The pacing was a little slow, but that seems to be my speed because I understood everything that was happening, if not everything that was said. Given that, I also liked the length of just over 2 hours. The camera-work was really good (or just to my liking) because they captured many scenes of the forest during different seasons. There was, however, some snow during the wedding which I suspected may have been composited in with After Effects. It just did not float as naturally as I would have liked and there were too many flakes being blown upwards by wind that did not effect the actors. Overall, I dislike war films, but the majestic scenes of natural beauty interspersed with action were to my liking. I rate this adequate.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Dangerous Method (2011)

A German Canadian British drama directed by David Cronenberg, starring Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen.
A doctor in a mental asylum falls in love with one of his patients. She is eventually cured and goes on to be a doctor herself.
At the beginning, I got excited because I thought this would involve crazy people acting loony, but I was mistaken. It was actually quite dry, despite numerous sex/torture scenes. The plot was on the simple side and the characters were identifiable, but I just didn't like them. Pacing was rather slow, camera-work unimpressive and it was generally lacking excitement. The acting was convincing and there were no dark scenes prompting lens cap questions. Overall, it was mediocre. I rate it o.k.

Black Sea (2014)

A British American adventure thriller directed by Kevin Macdonald, starring Jude Law.
A submarine operator is fired by his company meets friends at a bar. There he is told of a sunken WWII U-boat full of gold. He recruits friends and associates including some Russians and together they board a vintage sub to retrieve the gold. There is drama between the men on the sub as well as mechanical problems with their boat.
This threadbare plot is getting pretty stale. I can't tell you how many adventure movies have people seeking treasure, but finding drama and mechanical disasters. The characters were all extras to me: so shallow and stereotypical. Camera-work and editing included lots of fast cutting and many scenes so dark that they may as well have filmed with the lens cap on. Jude Law played Brad Stand in I Heart Huckabees and reprised some of that money-grubbing asshole role here. The high action and tension did hold my attention and it wasn't a bad movie, just not good. I rate this poor. You probably should not watch it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mondo Cane A.K.A. A Dog's World (1962)

An Italian documentary directed by Gualtiero Jacopetti, Paolo Cavara and Franco Prosperi.
A wide variety of scenes from around the world document different ways of life and the differences between cultures.
This suppesedly "shocking" documentary was absolutely awesome! The rich tapestry woven by cameramen and editors contains the very fibers of life on Earth. I know of no other way to describe it. Some highlights included Japanese health spas, animals altered by radiation, a fancy restaurant serving foul food and a German beer house. My personal favorite was an American gymnasium for women that was accompanied by train sounds in a most amusing way. My least favorite scene was the Earthlings-esque sea turtle with no sense of direction. The variety of scenes ranges from compassion to violence and everything in between. Overall, this is what filmmaking is about. I rate it best. WATCH THIS!!!!

A History of Violence (2005)

An American crime drama directed by David Cronenberg, starring Viggo Mortensen.
The owner of a small town diner shoots a robber who is trying to hold the place up. He becomes a local hero and is shown on television. Gangsters see him and recognize a former co-worker. Is the main character a guy with a family and a diner or a ruthless mob boss?
Another Viggo Mortensen flick. It's always interesting for me to imagine an actor whose fame came from another role playing that role in one of their lesser-known films. Here we have Aragorn serving coffee. The plot kept my interest and the characters fit their roles. The acting was good, especially the son's jokes about having a mob father. Pacing felt right all the way through, with just enough side-story/B-roll footage to really set the stage for the main plot. The video was clear, with not too many dark scenes of underexposure and lots of good slow panning in the camera-work. I'm saying all good stuff about this, so I give it one of those solid green ratings that should be the goal of all movies.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Eastern Promises (2007)

A British Canadian American crime drama directed by David Cronenberg, starring Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel.
A young pregnant woman has her baby delivered before she dies. The nurse steals the diary of the dead mother and tries to have it translated from Russian and find her family. It turns out that the dead mother was a sex slave for Russian gangsters.
The plot was very complex and non-linear. The story of the nurse was mixed with parts of the Russian girl's diary and the dealings of gangsters. Characters got a little confusing too. The nurse, driver and mob boss were easy to keep track of, but everyone else just kept piling into the already messy plot. The video style was clear and pacing seemed right, but was too quick for me to absorb the story thoroughly. The camera-work looked appropriate and acting was convincing. Viggo Mortensen was Aragorn in Lord of the Rings and Naomi Watts played secondary female lead in Tank Girl. Overall, it was very well-made confusing mess. I rate it o.k. Watch it if you really want to unravel the plot mystery.

Vampires (1998)

An American horror western directed by John Carpenter, starring James Woods and Daniel Baldwin.
A team of vampires hunters in New Mexico expunge a den of the undead and party afterward. During the party, most of the team is killed by other vampires and the remaining members escape with a bitten prostitute. Through communications with religious leaders, they realize that they are dealing with the original vampire who is 600 years old.
You may recognize Jack, the lead vampire hunter, from when he quit smoking in Cat's Eye. That being said, I hated him in this film. His character was a total asshole. Not like any of the other characters were great... The plot was threadbare and a little murky at some points. More dark video and fast pacing. I'll stop talking shit and just rate this bad. Worse than Elvis (1979) bad. DO NOT WATCH!

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959)

An American comedy directed by Russ Meyer.
A pervert goes through his everyday life looking down women's shirts and up their skirts. When a dentist anesthetizes him, these fantasies increase.
This was the first full-length film featuring full-frontal female nudity and Russ Meyer's first successful film. Obviously, the whole thing is just for female anatomy points. The cheesy music and instructional documentary style of narration added the comedy element to what would otherwise be extremely surreal. Detailed analysis is not necessary for this. I rate it good and just realized that "Female Anatomy Points" is FAP (internet slang for masturbation). I swear it was unintentional. So FAP FAP FAP away to The Immoral Mr. Teas!

Escape From L.A. (1996)

An American action film directed by John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell, Stacy Keach, Steve Buscemi, Peter Fonda, Cliff Robertson and Pam Grier.
In a further dystopian future, Los Angeles has detached from North America in a earthquake and become a deportation zone for criminals. The president's daughter has stolen military technology and is hiding there. The same famous criminal is sent in to retrieve this technology and kill her.
This was better than Escape from New York. I think that better technology and the updated all-star cast led to a better film. There was lots and lots of compositing and visual effects usage. From the earthquake intro to the surfing scene, someone had fun making this. The plot and characters were much clearer this time and the video style was not as dark. It was still dark, but better cameras helped to achieve correct exposure and maintain detail. The pacing was very fast all the way through. I'll rate this adequate. If you like action films, this would be one to watch.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Ward (2010)

An American horror directed by John Carpenter, starring Amber Heard and Jared Harris.
A young woman is institutionalized and finds that there is a previous inmate haunting the hospital.
This was alright I guess. It was supposed to be set in the 1960s, but I didn't believe that for a second. Sure, they used shock therapy and vintage hospital equipment, but it just did not convince me of the date because everything looked "New Movie Too Perfect". The opening credits were a masterpiece of compositing in and of themselves. Old black and white pictures were shown on glass that broke. It was wonderfully executed. The plot was a little muddy and inconclusive, which caused some confusion as to who the characters really were. The video style was not as dark as I expected, which was good. Pacing kept up a pretty good clip and all of the dialogue was audible. Overall, it wasn't bad, but the "NMTP" thing irks me. I rate it o.k.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I'll Ever Make (2002)

An American documentary by Sucker Punch Pictures, starring Popcorn Sutton.
An old moonshine producer makes his last batch for the cameras.
This was actually quite entertaining, even though I was not drinking while watching it (that would have been ideal). Anyway, the main character was awesome and really opened up to the filmmaker. He told stories about his life and went into great detail on the steps and procedures involved in moonshine production. The camera-work was a little amateurish, but it got the point across. I would have used more cuts during the interview sections and edited the artsy B-roll footage more. The plot seemed natural as it followed chronologically through time spent looking for a spot, setting up materials and creating the final product. Towards the end, there were even musical guests. After that, they tore down the operation and that was it. The scene outside the restaurant seemed REALLY unnatural and scripted. Overall, this is what I'm looking for in a documentary. Even though it had a few flaws, the actual substance of it was there. I rate it good. Watch this.

Escape from New York (1981)

An American action film directed by John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes and Harry Dean Stanton.
In the dystopian future (of 1997) New York City has become a walled prison. The president's jet is hijacked and crash landed there. The military police call in a dangerous criminal to rescue the president.
This was pretty cheesy and stereotypical, but not enough to be funny. Some technology jokes include "down view" from the helicopter and one hell of a cell phone. The plot and characters were communicated relatively clearly, but were so stereotypical that I knew everything they were going to do before it happened. Pacing was average/mediocre and the video style was very dark. If you like The Running Man and Rambo, you'll like this. I rate it o.k.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

An American action film directed by John Carpenter.
A gang of criminals is in possession of a large quantity of stolen guns. A death-row inmate of a prison is being transported, along with 2 other inmates, when one of them gets sick. A father is driving with his daughter when he stops to use a pay phone and she approaches an ice cream truck. A rookie cop is spending his first night on the job at a station that is in the process of being relocated.
The many converging plot-lines actually ended up making sense and the characters were alright. I wish they had developed the father character more. As it is, he's like a glowing match that is carelessly thrown on flammable materials. The main secretary seemed like she was about to be developed into the plot all the way through, but to no avail. I would call her a glorified extra. I liked how the action rose through the duration, with only a quick clean-up of an ending. However, 2 minutes and 30 seconds of credits to start the film was a little excessive. Obviously, we've got some pacing issues and uneven character development. The video was extremely dark because of the night setting and the gang cutting off electricity to the building did not help this. Overall, it was a decent flick that is worth watching once. I rate it o.k.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Elvis (1979)

An American made for TV biography directed by John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell.
The story of Elvis Presley's music career is told in a very limited way. From a young white man with a black music sound to the rhinestone jumpsuit shows.
If I was Elvis, this is how I would present my biography. It is put in a very positive light (understatement). Sure, he has disagreements with his wife and neglects her in favor of his career, but what about all the drugs and booze? Oh, he's "tired" from doing too many shows and collapses, but what about railing amphetamines and chasing it with whiskey? We don't see any of that here. The story had so many gaps that it did not make sense and the characters were portrayed falsely. The camera-work and framing was good, but the copy that I got was total crap and froze every so often. They even made the wise choice of not showing Kurt Russell's hands in the piano playing scene. Because the filmmaker was not Elvis and because of lying by omission, I rate this bad. Take that, John Carpenter. Go build a table or a chair. Your woodworking would be better than this.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Hateful Eight (2015)

An American western by Quentin Tarantino, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Tim Roth.
A stagecoach carrying a bounty hunter and his live catch stop to pick up 2 men before a blizzard strikes. They stop at an inn and are greeted by unexpected company because the normal people who run it are not there. As time passes, back-stories develop and things get violent, bloody and shooty.
The dialogue in this exemplifies Tarantino style. The dialogue in all of his films is so excellent that you can almost listen to them without watching the screen and know what is going on. The flashbacks that add back-story are placed at exactly the right time. As with all Tarantino films, there is much gunfire and blood. In this example, extra blood-spray is added by characters who drink poisoned coffee and vomit it forth powerfully. The chapter titles in Kill Bill style are very Tarantino, but do not add to this film. We could actually do without them here. Domergue reminds me very strongly of someone that I used to share a house with: the crack whore, Laura. Missing/damaged teeth and strong chin-line were the attributes they share. You will definitely recognize Samuel L. Jackson, but Ted from Four Rooms being a British guy is a nice touch. The addition of Bud from Kill Bill was alright, but unnecessary. Overall, Tarantino can do no wrong and his shit is flawless. I rate this awesome. Watch it for the dialogue until everyone is dead or covered in blood.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Les tetes interverties A.K.A. La Cravate, The Transposed Heads, The Severed Heads (1957)

A French romantic comedy by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
A man who is lacking in confidence and one who has too much confidence enter a shop together. The shop offers an exchange of heads. The unconfident man tries many heads to win the favor of a woman, but to no avail. After trying the last head, he goes back to find the shop has turned into a hat store instead.
This was Jodorowsky's first film and is a mime piece with no dialogue. At just 20 minutes in length, there was not much to go wrong. That is to say it is perfect. The head transplants were executed by use of good camera framing and some simple editing, but looked convincing enough. The characters were not very dynamic or well-developed, but very memorable. The plot seemed to be based around the editing trick of switching heads, but seemed fine to me. I will not belabor the point anymore. I rate this best. If you can't sit through 20 minutes of this, you shouldn't be watching movies at all.

Fire and Ice (1983)

An American animated fantasy adventure by Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta.
Due to a North/South war between regular folks in the south and ice magicians in the north, a southern princess is captured, rescued, recaptured and re-rescued as southern warriors fight off northern warriors on their way to battle the ice wizards.
Ralph Bakshi is amazing and Frank Frazetta's artwork is awesome. They must have been thinking "If we work together and rotoscope the animation, that would be brilliant!", right? Nope. Mediocre was the outcome. It's like mixing bright yellow and purple paint: each part is great, but they make muddy brown when they get together. Enough talking shit about my favorite artists. What was good? I liked the pencil drawings in the intro and female anatomy points were not at a shortage. Teegra's rotoscoped boobs moved very naturally. There were some monsters like a giant lizard and wild dogs/wolves that I couldn't tell if they were composited and rotoscoped or just plain animated. The music/soundtrack was kind of epic. Don't get me wrong, there were some good elements to this film. However, as a whole, it was sub-par and standard. I rate it o.k. Watch it, but don't expect any magic.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Fando y Lis (1968)

A Mexican adventure written by Fernando Arrabal and directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
A boy is told of a mythical city called "Tar" that is supposedly a paradise that will still exist when all other cities have been destroyed. A girl is abused by theater performers and becomes paralyzed from the waist down. Later in life, these characters are in a relationship and all the cities have been destroyed. The young man pushes his girlfriend on a cart through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, in search of the city of Tar. They encounter various groups of people engaged in strange activities as they travel.
This was Jodorowsky's first full-length film and the least coherent of his work. The characters are clear and very well developed, but the plot is extremely murky. The pacing ranges from way too slow to extremely fast and the style is VERY Jodorowsky. The music is a definite indication of what was to come in his later works, complete with horrible creaking and hight-pitched woodwind/reed instrumentation. There was nudity which included female anatomy points for Lis and no genital mutilation (except of a doll). Overall, I would say it's worth watching if you're into the whole Jodorowsky deal. I rate it awesome because his shit is infallible and he can do no wrong in my eyes.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Cool World (1992)

An American live action and animated comedy noir directed by Ralph Bakshi.
A World War II veteran gets into a motorcycle accident and is transported to a cartoon world. Years later, the creator of the cartoon is transported there as well. Problems arise when the issue of "doodles" (cartoon folks) and "Noids" (real folks) start crossing back and forth between the worlds.
After reading Wikipedia's description, I can see why this is literally Bakshi's worst film. His story got thrown out. That being said, there was plenty of compositing and special effects. Most of the time, this was live actors in front of a green screen with cartoons composited in behind and in front of them. The plot and characters sucked. The animation style had a slight Bakshi flavor, but it wasn't his stuff. Overall, I rate this poor. I was expecting much better.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Santa Sangre (1980)

A Mexican Italian adventure by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Claudio Argento.
A boy is a circus performer whose parents are having issues. The father is an alcoholic and the mother leads a false religion. The boy falls in love with a girl circus performer of his own age, but they are separated when his father cuts off the mother's arms before committing suicide. Later in life, the main character works for his mother as her arms. Fortunately for him, all is not as it seems.
I call this an adventure because it's one of those Jodorowskian mind fuckers that almost fits my label of "psychedelic spiritual journey". Claudio Argento's presence had me worried because of his involvement in his brother, Dario's films. I HATED Suspiria. Fortunately, he was unable to wreck Alejandro's greatness. The plot was all twist, all the time and characters were extremely dynamic. The video style was a little crisper and darker than most A.J. films, but the audio was very much in line with his other work. There were some compositing/layering/editing effects like people disappearing or fading out and lots of blood. Pacing was moderate/appropriate, but generally quick. Overall, not Jodorowsky's best work, but not bad. I would call this one of his moderately cool films in comparison to the rest of his filmography. Of course, it's him so I rate it awesome. Watch this if you've seen Holy Mountain, El Topo, The Dance of Reality, Fando y Lis and Tusk and still want more, but before The Rainbow Thief and La Cravate.

Hey Good Lookin' (1982)

An American animated comedy crime adventure by Ralph Bakshi.
A shady looking man speaks with a woman on a city street at night. He shows her a piece of a leather jacket and tells the story of the jacket's owner. The owner was the leader of a gang called "The Stompers" in 1950s New York City. The gang leader has a goofy friend, falls in love with a young woman and gets his gang into a fight with a hostile black gang from a nearby area. We are then returned to the shady looking guy and the woman and find out their real identities.
As previously stated, "Ralph Bakshi can do no wrong". I have been looking for this film forever and just recently found it. I had seen like 75% of it on youtube, with a missing middle section somewhere, but watching the whole thing is way better. The animation style is classic Bakshi and it makes use of many of his sexual and racial jokes. Apparently, it was toned down before release because of how extreme Coonskin was. The plot and characters were good, but there was some jumping around between scenes and non-linear plot. A good example is Crazy's hallucination that just pops in and leads into the climax scene. Pacing was pretty fast to fit all of this plot into an hour and seventeen minutes. Music and soundtrack fit the setting pretty well, but I would have liked a more instrumental approach than the '50s pop with vocals that seemed to be re-worked '70s style. Overall, it's Bakshi and his shit is infallible, but his other stuff is better. I rate this good. Watch it because of who made it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Dance of Reality A.K.A. La danza de la realidad (2013)

A Chilean French adventure by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
A communist tries to raise his weak son to be a strong man. The father then leaves to assassinate a government official or military leader, but fails. On the way back, he learns the true nature of kindness, compassion and his own identity.
As with all Jodorowsky films, I love this because it's weird and what I call a "Psychedelic Spiritual Journey". The advantage that this one has over Alejandro's other films is the use of modern camera equipment and compositing effects. Don't get me wrong, the old editing and physical effects used in his '70s films were great, but this looks more real when he wants to do something weird visually. There were some scenes in which the current A.J. appeared behind the character playing young him. I don't know if there was compositing used here, but the effect was irreplaceable. The plot was epic, but the pacing seemed to slow down at times. The main characters were the family (father, mother and son) and very well acted and developed. There were also many, MANY smaller roles that worked well. The style was classic Jodorowsky and was obviously his work. There was plenty of nudity (male and female) with the female earning anatomy points for the mother's breasts and the male including genital torture. With good camera-work and an awesome musical score that included a beautiful opera singer, there is not much else to say. I rate this best. Watch it if you like this director's other work.