Thursday, June 30, 2016

School Daze (1988)

An American musical written, directed and produced by Spike Lee, starring Laurence Fishburne and Giancarlo Esposito.
A racist activist's brother is pledging to a college fraternity that he disapproves of. The activist and fraternity leader have a long-standing grudge.
Pointless. The plot went nowhere and the characters were stereotypical. The video style was good, but I don't like musicals and the soundtrack was annoying. Overall, a well-filmed and edited piece of crap. I rate this bad. Racist cowboy says it's a pickaninny picture.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Secrets & Lies (1996)

A British drama written and directed by Mike Leigh, starring Timothy Spall, Brenda Blethyn and Phyllis Logan.
An adopted daughter finds her birth mother. The mother's brother runs a photography business and has a run-in with his old boss. The identity of the adopted daughter is revealed at a family gathering. But seriously, Brits sit around and have tea.
More slice of life from Mike Leigh and Timothy Spall. They have really grown on me. The plot (as always) was minimalist and uneventful. The characters were developed quite well, as usual. It was interesting that black characters were included this time. The video and audio were good. Everyone knows I can't get enough of British accents. This was all about the mother of the adopted daughter and her emotions. Overall, not too shabby and as expected. I rate it o.k.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Schlock (1973)

An American comedy horror written, directed and starring John Landis.
A prehistoric ape-man is running amuck. He kills people, plays piano and falls in love with a blind girl.
This was bad on purpose. They contrived every shot to be shitty because it's a joke about monster movies. The plot was threadbare and characters were like cardboard cutouts. The video sucked and the audio was worse. That's what makes it cool. They intentionally made a bad movie as a joke about bad movies. I give this a weird pink rating. Only watch this if you get the meta-joke.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Red Hook Summer (2012)

An American drama written, directed and produced by Spike Lee.
A young man goes to stay with his grandfather in New York City for the summer. The grandfather is a preacher and forces the boy into the church. There he meets a girl his own age who he eventually befriends and the drunken deacon. Although initially unhappy in the situation, he gets used to things and comes to enjoy it more. There is conflict with a local gang of drug dealers and the preacher grandfather is accused of raping a boy at his previous church.
This was actually alright. It took a while to become so though. The beginning was a reinforcement of racial stereotypes, but then it got interesting. The plot twist was worthwhile and made it a better film. The main characters were actually all dynamic. They changed. Whether it was from scene to scene or over the course of the film, they changed. The video was really cool. There was a variety of styles and techniques employed to rival anything out there. The audio was mostly black music, as with most Spike Lee joints. It's a shame that he doesn't use black metal. What? It has the word "black" in it! I met a deacon at a local church who had a cannabis bong in the non-functional clock tower. Overall, this is almost as good as Do the Right Thing. I rate it good because it is, but not marvelous or wonderful. Just good. I would recommend watching it.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)

A British fantasy adventure directed by Gordon Hessler, starring John Phillip Law, written, produced and with special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
Sinbad finds a golden amulet and encounters a vizier who wears a mask that also has one. After having a vision of a woman with an eye tattoo on her hand, he agrees to employ a man's lazy son and bring the man's slave girl with the tattoo. They search for the third golden amulet, but an evil magician is also looking for it.
This was fine. It had a fairly simple premise that expanded into a long plot. The characters were memorable, although slightly stereotypical. I was reminded of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) because of the three people/groups and three pieces of a magical item. Video featured Harryhausen's famous compositing and stop motion monsters. My favorite was the little homunuculus created by the evil magician. I could hear all of the dialogue and the soundtrack was appropriate. Overall, exactly as expected. I think I've watched this before. I rate it adequate. It's a good addition to my collection of similar films.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Mysterious Island A.K.A. Jules Verne's Mysterious Island (1961)

A British Spanish science fiction adventure directed by Cy Endfield with special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
A group of men crash their balloon on an island with giant animals. They find shipwrecked women there and make a life for themselves until pirates show up. They have a mysterious and hidden friend there who reveals himself after the pirate attack.
The plot was awesome. Lots of stuff happened and secrets were revealed. The characters were really bad though. They were all very generic. The video special effects were on par with the Flying Saucers flick that I reviewed recently. Lazy and half-assed, but still Harryhausen. The best one was the guy riding the stop motion giant bird. The audio was a little on the annoying side. I don't know if it was the inappropriate soundtrack or the honky sounding audio in general. The editing was very fast all the way through, lending an extreme sense of tension. Overall not something that I would recommend to anyone for any reason. I rate this poor.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

A British American fantasy adventure directed by Don Chaffey, starring Honor Blackman with special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
A young man is on a quest to steal the golden fleece. He is aided by the goddess, Hera and a team of sailors. Together, they face great peril and have epic adventures.
The plot was a little shaky in spots. It didn't really seem to form a coherent whole. Everything made sense, but it seemed more like an unconnected series of adventures, rather than a single quest. The characters were poor. I had trouble telling them apart and many seemed to be "Nameless Sailor #1" etc... The video was a true masterpiece. I was impressed by stop motion miniatures being on-screen with live actors before, but here they fight! I even saw a man steal a spear from a skeleton! Yes, the famous skeleton fight scene. I also liked the harpies and the hydra. We've also got some composited forced perspective with giant gods interacting with normal size humans. The audio was not the best, but I heard what everyone said and the soundtrack was relatively appropriate. Overall, watch it for Harryhausen's many monsters. Then watch Clash of the Titans (1981) for more of the same, but with a better plot. I rate this adequate.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Three Worlds of Gulliver A.K.A. The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960)

An American fantasy adventure directed by Jack Sher with special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
A man from England departs on a ship with his girlfriend. He is thrown overboard during a storm and lands on an island full of small people with problems. He tries to help them, but fails and sets forth in a boat again. He then lands on an island of large people and the same thing happens, but his girlfriend is there to greet him. Together, they make their way back to England.
This is a classic of compositing. The plot held my attention and the main character was well-acted. He's a normal dude with some intelligence going into stupid situations. The video compositing was amazing for the time. We have people of different sizes occupying any part of the screen they need to. We also have a stop motion alligator fighting a live action human. My praises to Ray Harryhausen on this. His work was an integral part of the plot and it worked out amazingly. Overall, watch this if you can understand what it takes to make these things happen. I rate it awesome.

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)

An American science fiction directed by Robert Gordon with special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
A radioactive, giant octopus is sinking ships. A team of scientists are called in to analyze a piece of it that was stuck to a nuclear submarine.
Standard, boring, mediocre. The plot was sub-par and featured the standard giant monster attack characters. The video that I saw was a colorized version of unknown date. Why did I watch this? Harryhausen's monster, of course! Turns out the monster only had six tentacles. There was some good compositing with live action people running past a stop motion animated tentacle that was breaking a wall. I think the pictured scene inspired the giant octopus in Katamari Damacy (PS2). Overall, sub-par. Don't even bother watching it for the octopus. I rate this poor.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers A.K.A. Invasion of the Flying Saucers, Flying Saucers from Outer Space (1956)

An American science fiction directed by Fred F Sears with special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
UFOs appear, but because of miscommunication, they become a threat and the military fights them.
Stupid! The plot was typical of the time and genre: peaceful aliens are greeted by violent humans and turn to violence. The solution to the problem was absolutely brilliant too: Using magnets to crash the saucers right down on your stupid heads. The characters were so shallow they were like cardboard cutouts. There were some visual effects, but Harryhausen is known for doing much better things than this. The audio was horrendous! The flying saucer and death ray sounds got annoying very quickly. Overall, a piece of crap. I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!

20 Million Miles to Earth A.K.A. The Beast from Space (1957/2007)

An American science fiction directed by Nathan H. Juran, starring William Hopper, with special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
A space ship from Earth crashes in Italy on it's return from Venus. A boat of fishermen save two men and a boy finds a strange item that he sells to a biologist. The item turns out to be a creature from Venus that grows rapidly. Beset on all sides by violence, it counterattacks.
This was an early masterpiece of compositing by Harryhausen. The plot was extremely simple and the characters stereotypical, but it's all about the monster. I watched the 2007 colorized version, so the video that I saw was pretty good quality. The audio was probably cleaned up as well. A quick note about compositing: The actual monster model would have been only a few inches tall and animated by stop motion, yet we see it on-screen with people, fighting an elephant, etc. I know that would be easy to do in After Effects now, but they didn't have Adobe software in 1957. A wonder of visual effects, but a crappy movie otherwise. Weird pink rating.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Rembrandt (1936)

A British biographical drama directed and produced by Alexander Korda, starring Charles Laughton.
The turbulent later life of the artist, Rembrandt is shown. He goes through a few wives and has constant financial troubles.
This was boring. Although historically accurate, the plot had too many filler scenes and there was really only one character. He was a static character. It was actually shot quite well. Everything was clearly visible and it featured some decent editing. The audio had some dead air hiss and crackle, but the dialogue was clear and the soundtrack was appropriate. Overall, it's just plain old. I rate this poor. It could have earned a better rating with a plot that was written better.

Mo' Better Blues (1990)

An American musical drama written, directed and produced by Spike Lee, starring Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Giancarlo Esposito and John Turturro.
A young man in New York City grows up to be a famous trumpet player. He has problems with his manager, women and band members until someone smacks him in the face with his own trumpet. With his musical career ended, he settles down with one woman and starts a family.
I'll call this a melanzana movie. The plot was typical of Spike Lee's films. Same with characters. The video was good, but a little on the dark side. The soundtrack featured mostly jazz and I even identified "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat". The part that I really liked were the bookend intro and outro scenes being similar. I didn't understand the scene where the main character was laying on the floor (picture). Although previously absolved of all crimes of cinema, that doesn't stop me from giving an honest review. You seriously need dark skin to fully appreciate this film. I rate this tolerable.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Oscar (1991)

An American comedy directed by John Landis, starring Sylvester Stallone, Marisa Tomei, Ornella Muti, Tim Curry and Chazz Palminteri.
A mobster promises his dying father that he will "go straight" and find a legal job. On the day that he will be accepting a banking position, the police and another gang are watching his house. There are multiple mix-ups with suitcases and people who want to marry each other. This prompts the cops and other mobsters into action.
I normally don't like comedies, but this was alright. Maybe I've been watching too much overly-serious stuff recently. The plot was repetitive, but the humor was decent. The characters were stereotypical and shallow, but Stallone played a good gangster. Tim Curry's English teacher role was amazing! I also liked the tailors. The audio and video style was of the times. I liked the thug emptying weapons from his pocket and how the underwear bag always appeared at the correct times. Overall, a standard comedy that made me laugh a little. I rate it adequate.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

An Italian American crime drama directed by Sergio Leone, starring Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Burt Young and Treat Williams.
A group of boys in New York City start an organized crime gang. After a conflict with a rival gang, one of them goes to jail for many years. When he gets out, he finds that he has an aversion to this type of work.
I watched the super-long four hour version and liked it. The plot held my interest and the variety of characters was good. I thought that relatively few of them showed much depth or development. The phone ringing in the beginning was maddening. There must have been some other way to do that scene. I found the rape scene in the car disturbing to watch. The version that I got had some inconsistencies in the video for some reason. It could have been a bad copy, could have been intended that way or those could be the deleted scenes edited in without color correction. The video style and acting are what impressed me the most. Everything was shown so clearly with such convincing characters that it didn't feel like watching a staged movie. Overall, exceptional. For a four hour film to hold my attention attests to it's greatness. I rate this awesome.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mr. Turner (2014)

A British French German biographical drama written and directed by Mike Leigh, starring Timothy Spall.
The later life of the painter, Joseph Mallord William Turner is depicted.
I thought this was pretty cool. I like the work of Mike Leigh and Timothy Spall in most cases. They have grown on me as I've been watching through these films. The plot was sparse. It's a Mike Leigh kind of thing, but there were some definitive events. There was a scene in the art gallery that I found unbelievable. The artists were working on pictures that should have been done already. The characters were all very British and Mr. Spall took the lead of Mr. Turner admirably. He starts out old and only gets older. The video was good. I liked how some of the wide shots of landscapes looked like Turner's paintings. The audio was a little hit and miss. Some of the dialogue had too much dynamic range. The lower end of that range was lost on me and the thick accents did not help this. Overall, a contemplative, beautiful and well-acted film. I rate it good.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Lion Has Wings (1939)

A British war documentary by Alexander Korda.
The British response to Nazi Germany's actions in World War II is shown.
HORRIBLE! I lost interest around 15 minutes into this. The plot was simplistic and there were no actual characters. The black and white video was unstimulating to say the least. Even the close-ups of bullet making machines rubbed me the wrong way. The honky, midrange-biased audio was extremely annoying. In fact, there was nothing to like about this. I turned it off after half-watching, totally distracted around the 50 minute mark. I rate this shit and it IS shit. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Life Is Sweet (1990)

A British comedy drama written and directed by Mike Leigh, starring Jim Broadbent and Timothy Spall.
A family has their two adult daughters living at home with them. The father buys a trailer snack shop that is in poor condition. One daughter fucks her boyfriend during the day and wallows in bulimia at night. A friend of the family opens a restaurant. He gets drunk, as does the father (separately) and the next day, the father falls at work, breaking his leg.
Ah, more "slice of life" from Mike Leigh. The plot was minimalistic, but the characters were entertaining when they weren't crying or puking. I was shocked to find that the daughters were both daughters and adult. One looks like a boy and the other looks like she's about 11 or 12 years old. I was wondering "who lets these little kids smoke and drink?". Video looked really good. I saw lots of correct exposure with the shots clearly showing what was going on. The audio was decent. I seriously can't get enough of those British accents and slang terms like "taking the piss" and "innit?". Overall, not too shabby, but I like more to happen in a movie. Sorry for all the spoilers, but it's not like there's much there to spoil! I rate this adequate. It's worth watching if you have nothing else to do.

Legend of the Mountain (1979)

A Taiwanese horror fantasy written and directed by King Hu, starring Sylvia Chang and Tien Feng.
A scholar goes to a remote and supposedly vacant building to copy a manuscript, but is accosted by ghosts who pretend to be his friends. They are actually all seeking the copy of the document that he is creating.
This was unique. A memorable plot expanded from the simple premise. The characters were decent, but there were some differentiation issues that became part of the plot later. The young women characters were very similar on purpose. The video all looked good, except one scene involving filming someone outdoors from inside a building. The white balance got all messed up there. The audio was clear, but treble-biased and there were some musical performances. The special effects were basic through most of the duration, but got more prominent at the end. Yes, this is where flying happens and explosions. The general atmosphere created reminded me of older kung fu flicks, but combining that with a clear plot helped immensely. Overall, a cool film if you're into King Hu's work. I rate it good.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Jungle Fever (1991)

An American romance drama written, directed and produced by Spike Lee, starring Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro, Frank Vincent and Anthony Quinn.
Everyone has problems when black people get into romantic relationships with Italians.
Spike Lee is one of the most discriminatory racists that ever lived. In many films, you could substitute a black character for a white one (or the other way around) without disrupting the plot very much. Not in Spike's movies. The premise was simple, but the plot became very complex. There were too many characters that were not part of the main story. The video was all very good, but the audio had some issues. Music and dialogue sometimes clashed into a cacophony of noise. He used the same "gliding down the street" type of scene as in Malcolm X and I think that it was done with a green screen composite. Overall, not good and not bad. I rate it o.k.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Into the Night (1985)

An American adventure directed by John Landis, starring Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Pfeiffer, Richard Farnsworth, David Bowie and Dan Aykroyd.
A man cannot sleep and hates his job. He goes home early one day to find his wife in bed with another man. On the advice of a friend, he goes to the airport on his way to Las Vegas, but encounters a woman there who is in trouble and saves her life. She keeps asking him to help her and he ends up going along for an exciting adventure.
This was pretty cool. It started off as Office Space (1999) and turned into After Hours (1985) before becoming it's own thing. The complex plot was very clear. The characters were not developed very much, but good anyway. The main character's stoicism seemed to melt away as the plot progressed. The video had lots of very dark sections, as Landis has done with his other films. The audio was decent. The dialogue was all audible, but the music seemed inappropriate at times. There were some high quality female anatomy points earned by the woman on the boat (picture). Overall, it held my interest and I liked it. I rate this good.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Innocent Blood A.K.A. A French Vampire in America (1992)

An American crime comedy horror directed by John Landis, starring Robert Loggia and Anthony LaPaglia.
A female vampire runs into a gang of mobsters who are chased by a detective. We end up with vampire mobsters.
This was not bad, but not good. The premise is entertaining, but the slow moving plot took too long to get there. The characters were decent. I really liked the female vampire and the mob leader. The video was terrible! The correctly exposed shots were few and far between, with black screen to fill the gaps. The audio was decent, but nothing special. Overall, a lackluster flick that should have been funnier. I rate it tolerable.

He Got Game (1998)

An American drama written and directed by Spike Lee, starring Denzel Washington and Mila Jovovich.
The father of a famous high school basketball player is in jail. He is let out for a week to convince his son to go to a certain college. If he succeeds, he will be set free.
This was not really my style, but generally well-made. The premise was implausible, but it made an interesting plot. The characters were stereotypical, but well-acted. The dialogue was believable and written in character. The video featured extremes of light and dark scenes that I found unsettling. There was a small amount of compositing and creative editing. I liked the scene where the rich guy in the car is telling the basketball player about temptations that come with fame. The visual representations of these amused me, as did the verbal description. The audio was good. The soundtrack featured a wide range of music that was appropriate for the scenes and I could hear all of the actors when they spoke. Overall, good production value, but not my style. I rate it o.k.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

A West German comedy written, directed and produced by Werner Herzog.
A gang of inmate dwarves in some type of criminal/physical/mental institution go on strike. The head dwarf has locked himself inside the building with one prisoner. The dwarves outside go crazy, destroying things until the leader inside goes crazy as well.
Sorry, I gave away the whole plot, but there wasn't much to give away. See that picture? That is how it ends: laughing boy laughing at a camel. It seems like they settled into the "fun & games" section of the UPO and didn't want any other part of it. The characters were literally all the same: dwarves gone crazy. There was some variety with laughing boy and the driver. The video was in black and white and featured way too much footage of chickens. The audio was horrendous. It opened with a Spanish Flamenco piece with screeching vocals that repeated multiple times throughout the duration. All of the actors' voices were very similar to this and high pitched. Overall, this is not something to be proud of having made. I would deny ownership if I had created it. I rate this bad. Only watch this to mock and poke fun at it.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Once Upon a Time in the West A.K.A. C'era una volta il West (1968)

An Italian American Spanish spaghetti western directed by Sergio Leone, starring Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson and Gabriele Ferzetti.
A woman is on her way from New Orleans to a rural area to meet her new husband, but bandits kill him and his family before she gets there. There is a railroad baron leading the bandits and the dead family have purchased land that will soon have a railroad in it. A stranger playing a harmonica shows up to oppose the bandits.
Too long! The simple plot unfolded over almost three hours. The characters were typical of a standard western We had the lone wolf stranger, fancy lady, gentlemanly super-villain and his bandits. The audio was not up to par for Ennio this time. His music was extremely sparse and simple. There was also an Alejandro Jodorowsky style high pitched squeaking noise like in El Topo in the intro that bugged the hell out of me. The video was similar. The eye-line matching close-ups weren't as close and the pulling out crane shots were so predictable. Overall, not really worth the three hours. I rate this o.k. because it wasn't up to par for this team, but not bad enough to talk shit about.

High Hopes (1988)

A British drama directed by Mike Leigh, starring Philip Davis.
A hippie couple live together. The man is a motorcycle delivery man. His sister is married to a jerk and his mother is old and losing her mental facilities.
This was cool, but didn't really seem to go anywhere. The plot was obviously not the best, but the characters were good. They were all well-acted and the dialogue was written very well. I am glad that there were subtitles because they used lots of British slang that I would have missed without reading it. The video style was very dreary. It really looked '80s and was very similar to Mike Leigh's other films. I've already pointed out the dialogue audio, but the sparse use of music was appropriate for the atmosphere. When I reviewed Spike Lee's Crooklyn, I said "niggers are niggers". In this film, brits are brits. Overall, a nice slice of life flick without much plot. I rate it adequate.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

For a Few Dollars More A.K.A. Per qualche dollaro in più (1965)

An Italian Spanish West German spaghetti western directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volonte and  Klaus Kinski.
A pair of bounty hunters form a partnership to defeat a gang of bandits who rob a bank.
This was somewhat less than wonderful. The plot did not hold my attention. I thought most of it was filler that buried the real story. The characters were fine, but not exactly original. I've seen Clint Eastwood play that same role in that same costume too many times. The video was very Leone, featuring eye line matching on extreme close-ups and pull-back crane shots. The soundtrack was probably my favorite part. Ennio Morricone always does a great job in a predictable style. Overall, just another spaghetti western. I rate this adequate. It was decent, but nothing special.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Do the Right Thing (1989)

An American drama directed by Spike Lee, starring Danny Aiello, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, John Turturro and John Savage.
A young black man delivers pizzas for an Italian restaurant. Racial tension rises in the neighborhood on a hot day.
This is amazing. Such style, such grace. It flows so smooth. The plot is simple and worth paying attention to. There are lots of characters and they are stereotypical, but that's what makes them great. The video is seamless. It looks like you're there with these people and know them. The audio featured a repeating song, but I think that adds to the atmosphere of the film. The plot calls for hot and it looks and sounds hot. Setting is in an urban neighborhood and we feel like we're there. The variety of characters with dialogue written so well. I could sing the praises of this film forever. I know I've turned on "Racist Cowboy Mode" and said that Spike Lee makes "Nigger Movies", but this absolves him of any and all crimes of cinema. Overall, WONDERFUL! I rate this best! WATCH IT!!!!!

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014)

An American horror drama directed by Spike Lee.
An African art collector witnesses his friend committing suicide and drinks his blood. Later, the friend's wife shows up and expresses her displeasure with her deceased husband. They then fall in love.
Crazy. Black christian vampires? The plot was interesting, but the pacing was so slow that it failed to hold my attention. The characters were unique, but stereotypical at the same time. The black christian vampires acted like normal actors of color. You follow? The video style was great. They definitely knew how to use a camera to tell a story. The audio was not so much to my liking. It featured mostly new black music and mostly R&B and rap. There were some definite Female Anatomy Points earned! I was wondering how far they would go with the lesbian scene. Overall, it was definitely something to behold. I rate it adequate because it was unique, but not exactly what I wanted. Let your curiosity draw you into watching this.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Crooklyn (1994)

An American drama directed by Spike Lee, starring Alfre Woodard and Delroy Lindo.
A black family with many children lives in New York City. The first daughter goes to stay with relatives in the south and comes back to find her mother sick.
Niggers are niggers. The plot was pointless and the characters strived to enforce racist stereotypes. Basically, it was a nigger movie about niggers being niggers. There was some very good compositing though. One scene showed glue sniffing teens walking upside down through a street. Another showed the main character cleaning the kitchen with copies of herself fading out as she began new tasks. The soundtrack was entirely black music of the 1970s. Overall, BLACK! African-American, pickaninny, negro, colored darkies showing the flaws of their race. I rate this bad for lack of plot.

Coming to America (1988)

An American romantic comedy directed by John Landis, starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and James Earl Jones, with a cameo by Samuel L. Jackson.
An African prince is tired of being pampered and doesn't like the woman he is arranged to marry. The king lets him leave for a little while and he goes to New York City with his assistant. They get a ghetto apartment and menial labor jobs where the prince falls in love with the boss' daughter.
Standard late '80s romantic comedy. The plot was relatively uninteresting and the characters were extremely stereotypical. Video style was clear and the audio was appropriate. There were some interesting things that I must mention. The prince's female servants scored Female Anatomy Points within the first five minutes. I believe the quote was "The royal penis is clean". Also, nobody can drop an "F bomb" like Samuel L. Jackson. Overall, just a regular movie. I rate it o.k.

Clockers (1995)

An American crime film directed by Spike Lee, starring Harvey Keitel, John Turturro, Delroy Lindo and Keith David.
A drug dealer murders another man on his boss' orders and the dealer's brother is framed for the murder.
This was alright. The plot was complex and held my attention. The characters were mostly stereotypical. I think the main character was a little unbelievable. A real drug dealer would have been very different from this role. The technical aspects were fine. I noticed some high viewpoint shots of "The Benches" that showed when the cops arrived. There was also a good moving close-up of the dealer's chocolate milk as he walked across the scene. I know that the Gangsta video game the boy plays is fiction and a video made just for this film, but the portable system that he uses eludes my research. Was there a Sega Genesis that was worn on the body and had glasses as a display? Overall, a decent flick. I rate it o.k.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Captain Ron (1992)

An American comedy directed by Thom Eberhardt, starring Kurt Russell, Martin Short and Mary Kay Place.
A business man who is bored with his life inherits a boat. He takes his family to pick it up and hires a captain to pilot it. The captain turns out to be more interesting than they expected and they have adventures together.
This is one of the movies that I grew up watching on TV. The plot is simple, but effective. The characters are stereotypical, yet entertaining. The audio and video reek of the time period. Upon my re-watch, I noticed that there is a continuity error in the scene with the argument over the guns. The father is shown holding them when they should be on the table. Whoops! Overall, sentimental value over actual quality. I rate this good.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe A.K.A. Un genio, due compari, un pollo, Nobody's the Greatest (1975)

An Italian French West German spaghetti  western comedy directed by Damiano Damiani and Sergio Leone, starring Terence Hill, Miou-Miou and Klaus Kinski.
A conman is joined by a woman and a half-indian on a seemingly disastrous adventure. The ultimate goal is to steal money from a Major in the cavalry and prevent him from stealing Indian land.
This is pretty much what I expected. The combination of Sergio Leone, Terence Hill and Ennio Morricone makes for a great film all around. The plot seemed unguided, but ended up working in the end. The main character was really good and was accompanied by some other unique folks. The humor in this was so cool. It starts with a trick in which Terence ties a string to a man's gun, manipulates cards in the game being played and then disarms the man from across the room. The video was standard of Leone's style, with lots of extreme close-ups of eyes and rising crane shots. The soundtrack was as expected as well: positively jubilant. Now I've said everything was as expected, but that is a positive trait here. It's like ordering food at your favorite restaurant and being totally unsurprised when it tastes good. Overall, a classic spaghetti western by the best team who made them. I rate it awesome.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Fistful of Dollars A.K.A. Fistful of Dollars, Per un pugno di dollari (1964)

An Italian West German Spanish spaghetti western directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood and Gian Maria Volonte.
A lone cowboy enters a town controlled by two rival gangs. By working for both of them, he plays them against one another to their ultimate destruction.
This is Yojimbo (1961) with cowboys instead of samurais. The greatest appreciation of this can be gained by watching both films. Same goes for Seven Samurai (1954) and The Magnificent Seven (1960). They are all so good and the mirror images across the world are so similar that I can't decide if I like cowboys or samurais. The plot was good enough for a famous director to steal and get sued for, so it's good enough for me. The characters were stereotypical and undeveloped, except the main character. He was undeveloped, but showed more depth and was less stereotypical than the others. There was mystery surrounding him and his motives for his actions. The visual style featured extreme close-ups and long crane shots, which is common for Leone. The soundtrack for this is very memorable, like most of the spaghetti western genre. Being written by Ennio Morricone obviously played a large role in this. Overall, we've got a quality western with lots to type about. I rate it good.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Burke & Hare (2010)

A British black comedy directed by John Landis, starring Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis and Tom Wilkinson.
A duo of poor men are looking for opportunities to make money when their neighbor dies. They overhear a rumor that the local anatomy schools are paying for corpses and go into business. The doctor they are selling to is working on an anatomy book and one of the corpse salesmen funds the career of a local prostitute who wants to put on a play.
This was pretty cool. The plot was just complex enough and held my interest quite well. The characters were acted well, but fell into some typical stereotypes. Simon Pegg is, of course, a very skilled actor. The "humor" was mostly funny to me. I also liked the intro and outro narration by the executioner. The video was well-done. I could see everything that was going on clearly, but didn't notice any amazing camera-work. The audio was great. Traditional music of the area and good accents all aroond. Overall, professionally executed and interesting. It reminded me of I Sell the Dead (2008). I rate this good.

Naked (1993)

A British black comedy directed by Mike Leigh, starring David Thewlis.
This film follows the adventures of Johnny, the smart-ass vagrant, his ex-girlfriend and her current roommate.
Wonderful! The plot was a little desultory, but that worked out for the best. The characters were absolutely priceless! Johnny had a Malcolm McDowell style personality that just lit up the screen. The dialogue was all amazingly well written. The video had that gloomy Dolores Claiborne look of decreased saturation. All of this was put together to create a film that made me want to watch it again right after it was over. In order to fully understand how amazing this is, you should watch it. I have to rate this best.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Another Year (2010)

A British drama directed by Mike Leigh, starring Lesley Manville and Jim Broadbent.
A rich and stable old married couple have friends with problems.
This was like watching nothing. There was almost no action, just dialogue. The plot somehow held my attention, although it was just the friends complaining to the main characters about what had happened to them. The characters were shite. The friends were all alcoholics with problems and the rich couple were feeding them booze and listening to the stories. All static characters. There was one woman whose mood worsened as life shit on her throughout the duration, but I don't call that a dynamic character. And what happened to the woman who couldn't sleep? The audio was better than any of Leigh's other films. I could actually hear what people were saying! I've decided that Mike Leigh is a nervous, fidgeting Brit who drinks tea and smoke cigarettes while having meaningless conversations that he can't hear with people he doesn't really like. Overall, this is worthless. I rate it bad because I could hear what the actors were saying and that's a step up from most of Leigh's other shit.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)

An American musical comedy directed by John Landis, starring Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and B.B. King.
Elwood gets out of jail to find Jake dead and puts the band back together again.
STUPID! Let's start with the title: 2 years too early, dumb-fucks. Adding the kid? Total moron move, shit-for-brains. It would have been better with just Aykroyd and Goodman. Aretha performing Respect when her husband wants to leave AGAIN? COME ON! I turned this bullshit off at 1:14/2:03. Even that gave it way too much of a chance. The most simplistic and limited form of music, famous for it's black originators and performers headed by white guys in tuxedos? The original was bad enough, but this is off the charts shitty. NOBODY SHOULD EVER WATCH THIS! DESTROY ANY COPIES YOU FIND! I wish I could invent a worse rating than shit just for this. It has won WORST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!!

The Swordsman A.K.A. Swordsman (1990)

A Chinese wuxia directed by King Hu, Ching Siu-tung, Ann Hui, Andrew Kam and Tsui Hark, starring Cecilia Yip and Sharla Cheung.
An important manuscript scroll has been stolen from a government administration building. The leader finds the house of the man who took it and posts guards, preparing to kill the thief. The thief also has guards, but inside the house with him. As the standoff tension rises, a pair of messengers burst in and accidentally cause the house to explode. They flee the scene with one of the other participants and stow away on a boat, where they meet this man's friend. The two old men perform a song and after the ship is destroyed in an attack, escape with the messengers. The old men are mortally wounded and pass their instruments and song to the messengers. The search for the missing scroll continues with plots of intrigue, lies and deception.
Pretty nice. The plot was a little too much for me, but that's pretty standard in most wuxia films. Obviously, we've got tons of characters too and I was unable to keep track of who was on what side and who was lying. The video looked VERY early '90s wuxia (that's a good thing). This included lots of fast paced editing in fight scenes and blue-lit night scenes. All of the lighting was excellent. It seemed correct for the scenes and I could see everything that was happening. There were lots of special effects. This was mostly flying characters, projectile weapons of exaggerated power and break-away sets. The soundtrack was good and I liked the plot song, but knew that the actors were not actually playing their instruments. Overall, I liked the flying fights, but would have liked a simpler plot. I rate this adequate. This is only for the most hardcore wuxia fans.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bleak Moments (1971)

A British drama directed by Mike Leigh, starring Donald Sumpter and Liz Smith.
Sylvia works in an office with Pat and takes care of her mute sister, Hilda. She tries to hook Peter up with Hilda, but to no avail. Norman moves into Sylvia's garage to print magazines and play hippy songs on his guitar. Both Sylvia and Hilda love Norman and invite him over to jam, but Peter and Pat show up to wreck their party. Sylvia tries to date Peter and they have trouble ordering Chinese food. Back at Sylvia's place, Sylvia tries to seduce Peter, but he ejaculates in his pants when they kiss and he leaves. Then Norman moves out and Sylvia begins learning to play piano to please Hilda, who liked Norman's guitar playing.
I interpreted this plot from what I saw, with very little audio information. Most of the duration was spent in locked tripod shots with the actors nervously fidgeting, sipping tea and smoking cigarettes. So, the plot was minimal and slow-moving. The only character that developed at all was Sylvia (trying to seduce the party-pooper and learn to play piano). The video was very static and the audio was literally the worst ever. I've heard better audio on old kung fu flicks. To put this in perspective, I would have to put lots of hard work into making audio this bad, even with recording devices of the 1960s or '50s. "Dialogue? Fuck that! We need noise!" The static of dead air was the loudest, followed shortly by quiet noises like the clinking of silverware or striking a match. They boomed and resounded to shake the firmament. I was only able to discern a few lines of spoken dialogue, but Norman's hippy songs were heard loud and clear. When the actors were not whispering or mumbling, they were shouting into the microphones to cause distortion. Hilda's reaction to Norman's music made me quite jealous. I wish someone would like my stuff that much! Well, that sucked, but certainly gave me something to write about. Apparently, other movie critics love it (fools! morons!). I rate it bad. It would have been shit, but I actually watched the whole thing and had fun writing, so I'll raise it one grade. ONLY WATCH TO MOCK!!!

Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)

An American crime comedy directed by John Landis, starring Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold and Hector Elizondo.
A "loose cannon" cop from detroit follows a gang of criminals to Beverly Hills, where they have set up an operation at a theme park.
This was pretty standard for a '90s cop comedy. The plot was relatively simple, but contained some things that didn't make sense to me. Normally, cops don't tend to kill ALL the criminals. They usually want to lock some up to feed the jail system. The few main characters were stereotypical and there were literally armies of extras. I was impressed by the setting in the fictional theme park. It must have taken lots of work to convert the Paramount park into Wonder World, complete with a Disney-esque "Uncle Dave" and cast of fictional cartoon characters. The technical aspects were also pretty standard for the time. I could hear and see everything clearly, but the soundtrack was really annoying. The intro dance scene in the chop-shop was just totally uncalled for. Overall, standard fare for the genre and time. I rate it o.k.