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.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Before Sunrise (1995)

A Swiss Austrian American romance directed by Richard Linklater, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
A young man meets a young woman on a train across Europe. They become interested in each other and at the man's stop, he asks the woman to wander through the city with him all night before he leaves on a plane and she leaves on the train. She agrees and they fall in love.
Pretty well made. For such a simple plot, it held my attention quite well. This is one of those films where two people talking can be interesting. The two main characters reminded me of Wesley and Buttercup from The Princess Bride (1987), but more modern. The video was planned and executed flawlessly. It all seemed to be one long conversation as the pair walk through scene after scene. The audio featured audible dialogue and a soundtrack that I didn't even notice was there. The music was so appropriate that it just blended into the plot and video seamlessly. Now that I'm through singing it's technical praises, there are only two points on which I disagree. Romance is not my favorite genre and the woman was begging for sex beginning around 1:14 without receiving any positive feedback until around 1:20. It started with a "let's see if the glass slipper fits" remark atop a stone stairway and was not resolved until 2 or 3 scenes later in the park. As a side-note, this couple was featured in Waking Life (2001) in bed, having a conversation about dreams. Overall, a technical masterpiece that was fun to watch, but not my favorite genre. I'm rating it good for these exact reasons.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Good Morning and... Goodbye! (1967)

An American sexploitation film directed by Russ Meyer.
A group of seemingly unrelated characters living in a valley are united by sexual infidelity.
So Russ Meyer. Who is sleeping with whom is not a valid plot. The characters seemed to boil down to three: husbands, adulterers and women. The video was alright, but just a little more creative editing would have made a huge difference. For example, the old husband is driving and the witch is everywhere. Putting her more places for shorter times and making her seem to disappear and reappear would have been very easy. The intro scene of the naked woman running got my hopes up about nudity, but the rest of the film did not deliver what was promised. The audio let me know that they were inexperienced at mixing dialogue and music. The dialogue was too quiet and the music was too loud. I have very sensitive ears though. Overall, not worth watching at all. Russ Meyer has made much better films with more nudity and more plot than this. I rate it poor.

Major Dundee (1965)

An American war western directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Charlton Heston, Richard Harris and James Coburn.
A notorious group of Native American Indians are resisting being conquered by white men in a violent manner. A military leader forms an unlikely group of soldiers to deal with the threat.
Boring. Military stuff involving large groups of cavalry do not interest me in the least. Be it a sword and sandal peplum of an American western, I care not. The plot obviously did not even begin to catch my attention and I could not discern many unique characters. The horse thief was the only one who stood out in my view. I noticed unreasonable amounts of underexposure in the video. I could hear all of the dialogue and the music seemed appropriate. I turned this off at 0:43 of 2:10. I'm rating it shit in accordance with my turn off policy.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Junior Bonner (1972)

An American western directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Steve McQueen, Robert Preston, Ida Lupino and Ben Johnson.
A rodeo rider returns to his hometown to find that things have changed. His family are all selling their land and no longer get along with each other. He rides in the rodeo with his father, with the main event of trying to ride a difficult bull.
This was not interesting to me. The plot seemed desultory and unimportant. It was also largely inconclusive. The characters seemed to all be the same: cowboys and their families. This may be because all of the stars began their careers in the 1930s. The video element to mention was during a few action scenes. Plowing the house, rodeo riding and the bar fight had a little bit of creative editing. The music was appropriate, although the "live" band's bassist had clearly never seen a bass played before. Overall, not so great. I rate it poor.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Common Law Cabin (1967)

An American crime film directed by Russ Meyer.
A crusty old sailor lures three people from a fancy resort to spend the day at a rural retreat. The venue is owned by a man, his daughter and new wife. The visitors are a married couple of a doctor and nurse as well as a man who passes out hundred dollar bills to everyone. Things take a turn for the worse and true identities and motives are revealed.
Not bad. The plot had some shaky sections that didn't make sense and the acting did not seem natural. The characters were totally Russ Meyeresque though. Strangely, there was not enough nudity for my tastes. If you're going that route, at least do it right. The video was pretty standard otherwise. There was a wavy effect when a young man passed out and the ending screen got tinted green. Some of the dialogue audio was not very clear, but it featured the standard '60s groovy soundtrack. Overall, nothing special and not really worthwhile. I rate it tolerable.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

An American musical science fiction comedy directed by Frank Oz, starring Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, Jim Belushi, John Candy, Christopher Guest and Bill Murray.
A man who works at a flower shop buys a mysterious plant that eats people. His female co-worker has an abusive boyfriend.
This was better than the original. Usually, I don't like musicals, but this one worked out alright. I think that increased production value was the main element that worked in it's favor. The plot was similar to the original, but I think they added the romance element. The bad boyfriend being a dentist who thrives on causing pain was hilarious. Bill Murray being a masochist who visits this dentist was not as funny as it should have been. The characters were cast well, but I think the female lead had a drag queen face. The video element to mention is special effects and animation of the plant. It all looked pretty convincing to me. The mouth articulation was excellent when the plant spoke and sang. Audio was pretty standard for a musical. Not great and with a Broadway feel. Overall, it was actually fun to watch. I rate it adequate.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Housesitter (1992)

An American romantic comedy directed by Frank Oz, starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn.
An architect designs a house and has it built to propose to his High School sweetheart. She turns him down and he tells the story to a waitress who moves into the house. When the architect is about to sell the house, he finds the waitress living there with a fictional story spread around town that they are married.
More lies! Does anyone make movies about telling the truth? The plot held my interest, but I think the characters were very shallow. They were cast relatively well, but some of the dialogue didn't seem as natural as it should have. The video was very bright and clear all the way through. The soundtrack was basically like you hear when playing The Sims. Fake plot, fake characters, overexpose the video and add happy music. That's what I saw. I rate this tolerable because it was alright to watch, but not a very dynamic film.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

An American comedy directed by Frank Oz, starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine.
A man who cons women out of money meets another who does it better.
Dirty rotten movie. The plot was all about lies and it made me hate the characters. I usually think Steve Martin is funny, but he came off like a total jerk in this. The pacing is what bothered me most. It was painfully slow. The video and sound production seemed fine, but the soundtrack was definitely trite. I turned it off at 1:14 of 1:50. In accordance with my turn off policy, I rate this shit because it is.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bowfinger (1999)

An American comedy directed by Frank Oz, starring Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham, Terence Stamp and Robert Downey Jr.
A failing film producer gathers the rag-tag bunch that he calls his crew to film a movie featuring a famous movie star who doesn't know he is in the film.
This was actually funny from a filmmaker's view. Anyone making films who is not in the Hollywood elite has faced similar problems at some point. From film students like myself to independent filmmakers, we know this territory. The plot made sense to me, although I think that Eddie Murphy's character would rather have just acted in their movie than think he was going insane because of being ambushed by the team. The characters were mostly cast well. The brother of the star actually being the star acting a different part is the only thing I objected to. The video was decent and I think the fictional Mexican crew did a good job on their shots too. The sound was seamless. I could hear the dialogue and the music was appropriate. Overall, a regular American comedy that is well-made, but how many of those do we need? Superfluous is the word I'm looking for. I rate it adequate.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mudhoney A.K.A. Mud Honey (1965)

An American drama directed by Russ Meyer.
A man gets a job working for an evil farmer. The farmer's wife and her father work there and are good people. The man falls in love with the farmer's wife and conflict arises.
This is not what I think of when Russ Meyer is mentioned. It was dramatic and plot-driven instead of violent and sexual. There was some nudity, but it fit into the plot so well that it didn't become a focal point. The plot was actually good and the characters were played very well. It reminded me of some of the older westerns I've seen. The video was in black and white, but managed to show things quite clearly. This is where Russ Meyer's style came in the most. Good shot compositions and appropriate editing made strong statements in many of the scenes. The audio was mostly without music, which I don't like and the actors' voices had a piercing quality. Overall, this would be a better film if it was a western, rather than being set during the American great depression. I rate it o.k.

The Score (2001)

An American crime film directed by Frank Oz, starring Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando.
A professional safe-cracker who runs a jazz club is contacted by a fellow criminal about a big job. The "inside man" works as a cleaner at the location and pretends to be retarded. Together, they work out a plan to get past a very complex security system and steal a priceless artifact.
This was pretty standard, "stock". The plot was typical of crime-heist genre films of the time. I thought the characters were cast well and their acting was convincing. The video was good quality and the editing was dynamic, changing pace with the on-screen action. The soundtrack was actually so good that I didn't notice it. Everything sounded correct at the right times and the club scenes featured decent jazz. Overall, not too shabby. I rate it adequate because it's "good enough" without going for any extra credit.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Deathgasm (2015)

A New Zealand comedy horror directed by Jason Lei Howden.
A high school metalhead boy moves to a new town where he befriends the dungeons and dragons dorks as well as a local miscreant, fellow metalhead. They form a band and shortly after, break into the house of a heavy metal cult celebrity in hiding. He gives them a record with papers in in before a mysterious man arrives to kill him. This man is tied into an organization looking for the papers because of their occult content. The band learns and plays the song written on the papers and all hell breaks loose.
Not too shabby, but not very consistent. High School drama just doesn't fit with the metal elements exactly right. One minute kids are getting beaten up for being nerds or worrying about teen romance, the next someone is imagining mountain top metal god status or mutilating zombies with a chainsaw. I liked the good parts and there were plenty of them to like. Some sections just did not fit into the cohesive whole. Plot was pretty standard for comedy horror, but with teen drama characters. The video varied as I described above. The soundtrack, however, was one of the best I've heard in a while. The only audio that was unclear to me were the demons' dialogue. I'm pretty used to black and death metal lyrics, but what they were saying was incoherent. Subtitles would have really helped there. Overall, Pretty cool. Despite the irregularities, I liked it and rate it good. Just so you know, Haxansword is a fictional band.

In & Out (1997)

An American romantic comedy directed by Frank Oz, starring Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, Debbie Reynolds and Wilford Brimley.
An English teacher's former student announces that the teacher is gay on national TV. The teacher is supposed to be getting married that week. News crews show up and cause chaos initially, but one reporter stays for a whole week to cause extra problems.
This was not a good movie. American romantic comedies are generally bad and this is no exception. The trite plot featured poorly cast characters that I just plain didn't like. The production quality was of course impeccable. Everything looked and sounded fine and made sense. However, this too lacked creativity and originality. It looked and sounded just like every other major Hollywood film of the era. Overall, standard issue Hollywood trash. I rate it poor.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

An American musical comedy directed by Frank Oz, starring Jim Henson, Dave Goelz and Steve Whitmire.
The Muppets put on a musical show at their college graduation. Because the audience likes it so much, they go to New York City and try to get it on Broadway. After some initial difficulties, they split up and Kermit keeps trying to get a producer for the musical while working at a cafe.
This is EXACTLY as expected. The plot and characters were decent. I think that they were all acted very well and the dialogue seemed natural. The Greek cafe owner was hilarious with his nonsense lectures/pep-talks. I also liked the massive Sesame Street cameo in the wedding scene. The video was very good. It looked like it was carefully planned and everything worked right. There were some interesting scenes of Muppets interacting with human actors in unique ways. I imagine that the puppeteers had to get creative in these situations, but it all worked. The soundtrack was alright. I'm not really big on Broadway style musicals, so the music was not exactly what I would choose to listen to. The dialogue was very clearly audible and the foley sound effects were appropriate for the situation. Overall, you know what you're getting when you watch The Muppets. I rate this adequate.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Motorpsycho A.K.A. Motor Psycho (1965)

An American action film directed by Russ Meyer, starring Alex Rocco.
Three miscreants on motorcycles cause big problems in a small town. The local veterinarian decides to deal with this criminal element.
Not so great. The basic plot seemed contrived and not believable. The characters were cast well, but their dialogue didn't seem natural. My overall impression of the story was that it seemed forced. The black and white video was all correctly exposed, even in night shots. However, it seemed a little too jumpy. Maybe there was too much camera movement or the editing was too quick. The soundtrack featured groovy '60s music that I actually liked. Overall, not really worth watching, but not terrible. I rate it tolerable.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers! (1968)

An American sexploitation crime film written, produced and directed by Russ Meyer.
At a strip club, men are waiting to rob the safe while the owner is on the phone being lured to a brothel. The prostitutes try to keep the bar owner busy while the robbers steal his money, but he has to be kicked out of the whore house and his wife goes to dance at the strip club.
This is what I think of when I see or hear Russ Meyer's name. The plot was a little more complex on this one, with all of the characters interlocking in some way. The video was pretty well done. My favorite scenes for creativity were the credits being on liquor bottles and pool sex cutting to a destruction derby. The audio featured clearly audible dialogue and a very '60s soundtrack. Overall, I think this is one of Russ' better films. I rate it good for sex and violence.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

An American action film directed by Russ Meyer.
A trio of women driving sports cars challenge a young man to a race. When he loses control of his car, they kill him and kidnap his girlfriend. They then proceed to a desert ranch where an old man lives with his two sons.
I think that this is one of the films that may have influenced Quentin Tarantino's work. The plot was just "GO GO GO" all the time. The characters were unevenly and sparsely developed. I liked the camera-work, but am unable to cite a specific reason. It just seemed to show what was going on very clearly. The audio was a little treble-biased, but not bad. Most of the soundtrack seemed appropriate as well. Overall, not amazing, but pretty cool. I rate it adequate.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Fanny Hill (1964)

An American romantic comedy directed by Russ Meyer, starring Miriam Hopkins and Ulli Lommel.
A lost young woman goes to an employment agency where she is picked up by the owner of a brothel. She meets and falls in love with a sailor accidentally. When he goes to sea, his ship sinks and he is believed to be dead.
This is not Russ Meyer's usual fare. There was no nudity. It featured a more complex plot than the few other films by him that I have seen and more developed characters. The storytelling elements were all in order and functional. The production is where we run into trouble. It was all in black and white to indicate the victorian date of the setting. The costumes were all like 16th century and the dialogue followed suit. The amount of characters, comedic element, absurdity and general chaos reminded me of Cheech & Chong. The audio on the version that I watched was really sketchy and unstable. Same with video. There were pixelations and tracking lines going across the screen. "London Bridge is Falling Down" got really old after like the 3478956th repetition. Overall, it has merits and flaws like most films. It didn't really hold my attention. I rate this tolerable.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Me and Orson Welles (2008)

A British American romantic drama directed by Richard Linklater, starring Claire Danes.
A young man joins a theater troupe led by Orson Welles. Welles is a jerk of a boss, but the main character meets an actress and they begin a romantic relationship. He also has a romantic interest in a writer girl whom he meets in a music shop.
Pretty decent. The plot held my interest because things were happening. Stuff was changing. The characters were very static, but their personalities were revealed with greater depth as time passed. The video all looked good quality. The only thing I really noticed were a few crane shots and general good composition. The audio was great. I could hear all of the dialogue and it was accompanied by an appropriate soundtrack. One thing I couldn't help but notice were the GIGANTIC ukuleles. These things are like 4-string acoustic guitars! Overall, this fills in like 95% of the check-boxes on my criteria list. I rate it good, mostly on production value.

Eve and the Handyman (1961)

An American sexploitation comedy by Russ Meyer.
A woman is pursuing a janitor. She says that she is trying to find his weak point to achieve her goal. Throughout the day, the man sees beautiful women who are sometimes naked.
This was kind of funny. The plot was helped by the woman's heavy narration and the handyman character was developed some. Foley sounds is what made most of the jokes funny. There were also a few art jokes toward the end. The soundtrack was decent, but a bit on the annoying side. It sounded a lot like Looney Tunes. What dismayed me most was the handyman's cleaning skills. He isn't exactly thorough. Overall, a decent, yet vapid film. I rate it adequate.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (1988)

An American film by Richard Linklater, starring Daniel Johnston.
A young man travels to meet people he knows.
This was totally pointless. No plot, only one main character and very little dialogue. The video was mostly underexposed and shaky from hand holding shots. The audio was a cross between muffled and shouting into a garbage can trashy echo. Daniel Johnston was the only good part of the film. He asks the main character about his shirt and gives him a tape. The parts that irked me most were sections of radio and TV channel surfing. Seriously? Come on! With all of the 7-up product placement, he could have gotten a Star Wars size budget and made a better film. Overall, a movie about nothing. It would have been better off not being made at all. I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1970)

An American sexpoitation directed by Russ Meyer, starring Charles Napier.
A small-town sheriff works for a local politician in a cannabis smuggling operation while his girlfriend tries to meet a local prostitute.
I got an incomplete and damaged version of this. Hence, I am unable to comment on how I thought the plot was presented. The characters were stereotypical, as always. The video featured cut-away scenes of a naked woman in the desert for seemingly no plot-driven reason. It also featured quick back and forth cuts between sets of characters engaged in different activities. A prime example is the women together in the hospital while men are fighting. The audio was not so great. There were a few occasions on which I wished that an annoying noise would stop. Overall, as expected. I rate it o.k.