Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It's Murder! (1977)

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

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Straw Dogs (1971)

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

Lorna (1964)

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Up! (1976)

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

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

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

Poseidon (2006)

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Outbreak (1995)

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

In the Line of Fire (1993)

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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Simple Plan (1998)

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

Crimewave (1986)

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

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Convoy (1978)

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

Monday, November 7, 2016

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

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

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Air Force One (1997)

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