Saturday, December 31, 2016

Insignificance (1985)

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

Friday, December 30, 2016

Don't Look Now (1973)

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

And So It Goes (2014)

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

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

A Few Good Men (1992)

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The American President (1995)

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Faculty (1998)

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

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

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

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

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

Friday, December 23, 2016

Machete Kills (2013)

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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

El Mariachi (1992)

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sexy Beast (2000)

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mean Machine (2001)

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

Flipped (2010)

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

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Being Charlie (2015)

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

Saturday, December 17, 2016

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

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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Miami Connection (1987)

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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Birth (2004)

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

Under the Skin (2013)

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Meantime (1983)

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

Jennifer's Body (2009)

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Troy (2004)

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

What About Bob? (1991)

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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gor (1988)

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

The Seven Minutes (1971)

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

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)

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

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Getaway (1972)

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Ugly Dachshund (1966)

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

The Deadly Companions (1961)

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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shattered (1991)

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