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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cameraperson (2016)

An American documentary directed by Kirsten Johnson.
Clips from other documentaries of a filmmaker's career are shown.
This was alright and desultory. The individual pieces were fine, but they were strung together in a chaotic sequence that didn't make any sense. The camera-work was expertly done and there were some revealing interviews. The audio was very low for most of it and some was in foreign languages. The subtitles were not made very visible, but seemed to be correct. Overall, a pretty mess. I rate it o.k.

Citizenfour (2014)

A German American documentary directed by Laura Poitras.
The American government is spying on citizens and this information gets leaked out.
This was boring. The subject matter did not hold my interest because I already knew that the government is spying on everything everyone does. The whispered dialogue did not help this fact. There were inexpertly done interviews like when the fire alarm goes off in a hotel and they keep filming. These were intercut with news footage from TV. Overall, not worth watching. I turned it off at the hour mark, which is half way through the duration. I rate this shit. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

A British art documentary directed by Banksy.
A man who is obsessed with recording videos gets into street art.
This was interesting and fun. The subject matter was lively. These people were putting art on walls illegally, so there was a sense of danger and freedom vs. authority. The interviews were done very well and including the videos that the main character made was the best decision of the film. The video was varied, but the audio was mixed well in post-production. There was a lot of handheld camera, but it ended up working out well. Overall, a cool documentary about street art. I rate this good. Watch it!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

She Killed in Ecstasy A.K.A. Sie tötete in Ekstase, Mrs. Hyde (1971)

A West German Spanish slasher directed by Jesus Franco.
A scientist doctor is ostracized for his research and kills himself. His wife takes revenge on the co-workers who condemned him.
I feel like I've seen this before. The plot was pretty stale, even for Franco. What separates this from the other film with the same plot is that the wife stabs guys' dicks off with scissors. The characters completely lacked development. The video was artsy enough to hold my attention a little bit. Some female nudity helped there too. The audio was in German and I found good English subtitles. The music was even staler than the plot. I could swear it was recycled from another Franco flick. Overall, very tired, mediocre and lackluster. I rate this tolerable.

Weiner (2016)

An American documentary directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg.
A New York City politician is having trouble running for an election because he sent sexual messages to a woman online.
This was alright at best. The subject matter was mildly amusing, but not very engaging or thought provoking. The footage that the camera crew got of the politician and his wife was actually good. It seemed like they planned the shots well and didn't just go and shoot junk. There weren't really interviews because this was done in "fly on the wall" style, just documenting what happened. Morals and ethics come into question here. He only sent digital messages. He was never even in the same room as the woman/women he was talking with. I have a hard time seeing how that should be such a big issue. This goes along with my indiscriminate looking without touching rule. Overall, a pretty mediocre documentary. I rate it o.k.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stories We Tell (2012)

A Canadian documentary directed by Sarah Polley.
A young woman makes a documentary about her deceased mother's life and finds her real father.
This was alright. The subject matter was very personal to the filmmaker and the interviewees. The audio and video were expertly done and technically sound. There were some sections that should have been edited out like asking people to repeat a line. There were old home movies included in which the video was not so great, but they helped to tell the story. The story of the mother's life held more intrigue than one would initially expect. Overall, a very personal narrative to release for the general public. I rate this tolerable because I don't really care about their family, but the technical aspect was done quite well.

This Is Not a Film (2011)

An Iranian documentary directed by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb.
An Iranian filmmaker has just served a 6 year jail term and has a 20 year hold placed on his film career. He invites a friend over to film him explaining his script, but they get distracted.
It's right, this is not a film. There was no plot and one of the three characters was the camera operator who wouldn't cut when the director told him to. The garbage man was my favorite character. OH! I forgot the iguana! Four characters then. And the dog, that's five. The video was not really the best I've seen. Sure, it was good quality, but lacking in substance and material. The audio was in Persian, with accurate English subtitles. Overall, this would be something for the director to share with his friends, not for public release. I rate this poor. You really shouldn't watch it.

20 Feet from Stardom (2013)

An American music documentary directed by Morgan Neville.
The lives and careers of female black background singers are examined.
This was not really to my liking. The interviews were good and I think that they covered the subject pretty well. There were plenty of examples of the music that these women worked on. The video was done quite well and even included a little bit of special effects. The scene that I'm thinking of involved multiple copies of one woman singing around a microphone (picture). The audio was of excellent quality and the dialogue and music were mixed correctly. What I did not like was the subject matter. I'm really just not interested in background singers. Overall, a well-made documentary about a subject that does not interest me. I rate it tolerable.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders A.K.A. Valerie a týden divů (1970)

A Czechoslovakian fantasy directed by Jaromil Jires.
A 13 year old girl is dreaming about being accosted by her grandmother and a monster man named Polecat. She also falls in love with a guy who might be her brother.
This was totally incoherent, but totally awesome. The plot was so disjointed and muddy as to make almost no sense at all. The characters were identifiable, but lacked development in most cases. The video was absolutely amazing. The sets and costumes combined with composition, framing, creative camera angles and good camera-work to create a beautiful viewing experience. The audio was in Czech, but there were accurate English subtitles. The dialogue and music were mixed correctly as well. Overall, complete and utter chaos magic. I rate this awesome. Watch it even though it doesn't make sense.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Night of the Living Dead (1990)

An American horror directed by Tom Savini, starring Tony Todd.
A brother and sister go to the graveyard to see their mother's grave. Dead people become zombies.
Evaluating a remake of a classic movie happens sometimes. I think the casting was done well and everything was just played by the book. Let's set this as medium ok.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kedi (2016)

A Turkish documentary directed by Ceyda Torun.
Stray cats in Istanbul interact with people.
This was all about B-roll. The plot was sparse and simplistic, illustrating certain cats and relationships between cats and humans. The interviews were on topic. The video was done very well and consisted mainly of cats in this city. The audio was in Turkish and the version that I watched had accurate English subtitles. There really isn't much more to say. Overall, it's a movie about cats. Watch it if you want to stare at cats for an hour and 17 minutes. I rate this adequate because the video looked good.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fire at Sea A.K.A. Fuocoammare (2016)

An Italian film directed by Gianfranco Rosi.
There is a little boy who likes to play with his slingshot. There is a doctor. There are African refugees on a boat.
What did I just watch? Wikipedia says it's a documentary and that people liked it. It's supposed to illustrate a political problem. It also said that there were interviews. There was no coherent plot and no rhyme or reason to any of it. Gianfranco Rosi must be kissing asses when he's not filming incoherent trash. This was a horrid waste of time and I want the past hour and 54 minutes of my life back. I rate this shit. DO NOT WATCH!!!!!!!

Amy (2015)

A British music documentary directed by Asif Kapadia, starring Amy Winehouse.
A biography of the pop star jazz singer.
This was interesting. I actually saw the beginning in one of my classes at school and it just happened to come up on my list. The subject matter held my attention because of the drug addiction, eating disorders and this British girl singing like an old black woman. The found footage style was carried through the duration and ended up working out well. Having lyrics displayed on screen was another good idea. The audio was mostly good and only low quality phone call style in a few isolated spots. Although I don't like pop stars, I do like jazz and stories of troubled times in general. I'm rating this adequate. It's worth watching.

Monday, August 7, 2017

You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008)

An American comedy directed by Dennis Dugan, starring Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Lainie Kazan and Rob Schneider.
An Israeli counter-terrorist moves to New York City to be a hairdresser.
This is why I don't watch comedy. The plot was trite and vapid trash. The characters were living, breathing stereotypes and the main character was a white man playing Middle Eastern. There were some interesting video effects like hacky sack with a cat. The audio was good quality technically, but the content was annoying. The whole deal seemed like a cheap ploy to make Americans like Middle Eastern people. Overall, a steaming heap of new Hollywood bullshit (haven't used that one in a while). I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Central Park Five (2012)

An American documentary directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon.
Five boys are coerced by the police to confess to the rape of a woman that they did not commit. They are later sentenced to maximum jail terms for it before the guilty man admits to it.
This was not like Ken Burns at all. I didn't see any zooms in or out on still photos taking up most of the duration. The subject matter dealt with racism and police abusing their power, children forced to give false confessions and a total failure of the criminal justice system. The interviews were done very well and the interviewees showed lots of emotion. The B-roll was relevant and there were some still photos and news footage. I think that the most powerful scene was the men (not boys anymore) standing still and describing how this affected their lives as people walked past in the background. Overall, a pretty decent documentary. I rate this adequate.

A Serbian Film (2010)

A Serbian horror directed by Srđan Spasojević.
A retired porn star is hired by a director to make a new film. The actor is initially put off by the nature of the material that is being created and things only get stranger.
This was wild! There is subject matter depicted in this film that mixes sex and gore. The plot follows the actor as he is hired and filming begins. He eventually blacks out and has to watch tapes to remember what happened and then there is an almost foreseen surprise at the end. The characters were slightly developed. I think that the casting was done very well. The director fit his role best in my view. One of the disturbing sections to me is the actor's son talking about "little wheels". The video was chaotic to say the least. However, correct exposure seems to have been kept in mind. The audio got lost in the shuffle. There was just too much going on to notice volume levels and dialogue/music mixing. The version that I saw was in Serbian, with English subtitles. Overall, not something to share with the family, but very well-made. I rate this awesome. Watch it if you can deal with seeing sex and death simultaneously.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Wolf Creek (2005)

An Australian American horror directed by Greg McLean, starring John Jarratt.
A trio of young people are abducted and tortured by a man in the Australian outback.
This had its pros and cons. The plot was revealed as soon as the protagonists got in their car and drove into a rural area. I knew they would be abducted and tortured and that one of them would escape. The only character that I thought was cast well and did a good job of acting was the psycho killer. He was also the only one with any back-story. The video was mostly dark, but correct lighting was used and there were no significant cases of underexposure. The audio was too dynamic. The whispered dialogue was too quiet and the screams were too loud. Overall, exactly what I expected. I rate this o.k.

The Puppet Monster Massacre (2010)

An American horror by Dustin Mills.
A mad scientist invites teenagers to his haunted mansion with the promise of a million dollars so his monster can eat them.
This is a lesson in what can be done with very little. The plot was standard science fiction horror and the characters fit stereotypical roles for the genre. What made it good to start with was the writing. Relationships between characters were explained throughout the duration and the dialogue was just amazing. I liked how they combined puppets and CG for most of it and then had a more traditional looking, 2 dimensional cartoon flashback. To make the video, they had puppets, a green screen and a computer. That was it. The audio was what actually told the story. In order to synch the puppets, they would have had the voice actors and sound effects go first. Overall, I like this for the production and the writing. I rate this good.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dollman vs. Demonic Toys A.K.A. Dollman vs. the Demonic Toys (1993)

An American science fiction fantasy directed by Charles Band, starring Tim Thomerson.
Characters from Dollman and Bad Channels fight characters from Demonic Toys.
What a cluster-fuck spinoff! It wasn't even an hour long! The plot was pretty straight forward, but seemed to work just fine. Using characters from three previous films is kind of in bad taste, but ties the films together to create a mythology better than each could have alone. I watched Bad Channels before I started this blog, so like over seven years ago. The video was mostly big sets and creative editing. They didn't even bother with forced perspective or compositing. The audio was mostly fine, but the baby and the clown were making some horrible noises that bothered me. Overall, only worth watching if you've seen the previous films. I think I actually like this more than the others because it just goes straight in and gets the job done. I rate it adequate.

Dollman (1991)

An American science fiction directed by Albert Pyun, starring Tim Thomerson and Nicholas Guest.
A loose-cannon cop chases an intergalactic villain through a portal in space and lands in a world of giants. His ship crash lands in the inner city where gangs run the streets. A woman who is an enemy of the gangs and is on the neighborhood watch picks him up.
This was not as good as I expected from Full Moon. The plot was pretty standard for a science fiction/urban gang violence film of the time. The characters were even more so. The video was the best part. The camera-work and editing were definitely Full Moon style and the special effects were nice and cheesy. Selective framing, compositing and forced perspective were definitely used enough. The audio featured a horrid soundtrack, but sound quality and mixing were done quite well. Overall, stick with Puppet Master and Subspecies for your Full Moon fix. I rate this o.k.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

An American crime adventure directed by Charles Laughton, starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish.
The father of a boy and girl steals money and hides it in his daughter's doll, swearing both children to secrecy. He is arrested and dies in jail. His prison buddy found out about the money, but not the hiding place and marries the widow when he gets out. He tries to get the children to tell him and they eventually tell after he has killed their mother. The children then take their father's old boat down the river and are found by a woman who adopts orphan children. When the man who is after the money comes into town, conflict continues.
This was all about plot and characters, but had some good video. The plot held my attention even though it was an older film than I usually watch. The characters were cast excellently and the acting was top notch. They didn't have fancy Hollywood tricks to hide behind back then. Some of the best shots were the man's hands (picture), B-roll while the children were in the boat and a symbolic B-roll scene of an owl catching a rabbit. The audio featured some very mournful music and all audible dialogue. Overall, a film that got the basics so right that it deserves a high rating. I'll give it good. Watch it if you're not against old, black and white movies.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Dinosaur Island (1994)

An American fantasy directed by Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski, starring Michelle Bauer and Peter Spellos.
A group of American soldiers land on an island populated by dinosaurs and beautiful women. The women sacrifice virgins to a Tyrannosaur and have a prophecy that gods will come to save them from it.
This is the opposite of Jurassic Park (1993). Jurassic Park had a good plot and this had a bad plot. Same goes for all the criteria by which I judge films: writing, acting, camera-work, editing... All the opposite. I haven't seen dinosaurs this bad since the '60s films I watched! They even invented new species! The only positive opposite was nudity and sex. Jurassic park did not have them, this had plenty of nudity and sex. Boobs in the first 3 seconds! Overall, a movie so bad that it actually is pretty funny. I give this a weird pink rating.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

An American science fiction comedy directed by Stephen Chiodo, starring Royal Dano and John Vernon.
Like the title says, alien clowns land on Earth and kill people. A young man, his girlfriend, a good police officer (there's some comedy element) and their friends (brothers who drive an ice cream truck) have to save the town.
This is good for some cheap and cheesy entertainment. The plot had logistical holes. Why did the cotton candy kill people wrapped in it, but not harm those who touched it? Same with the clown ice cream/whipped cream/pies. The characters were exactly what I would expect from such an '80s flick, with the ice cream truck driving brothers serving as comic relief. Video effects need to be mentioned. The sets and costumes were awesome in a Full Moon or Tim Burton kind of way. We had clowns flying down the road like they were driving a car, jumping straight up off screen and putting on one hell of a shadow puppet show. Even the seemingly innocuous balloon dog was manipulated by unseen means. The audio was a little on the quiet side at times, but generally decent. Overall, good for fans of '80s science fiction, fantasy and horror. Nobody else. I rate this adequate. It would have gotten a better rating with good plot and characters.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

An American documentary directed by Errol Morris.
Two guys in a car shot a cop. Everyone argues over which one did it.
This was pretty standard of court and crime docs. None of the interviews were very impressive and the B-roll was so cheesy and stereotypical that it hurt to watch. The plot followed the timeline of the night of the murder and the duration of the court case. I could instantly tell who was lying just by looking at them. The video looked really high quality for 1988. It's a shame they didn't do anything better with it. Great product placement, by the way. The audio was all great because it was mostly single interviews. Overall, an unimpressive and mediocre film. I rate it tolerable.

The Overnighters (2014)

An American documentary directed by Jesse Moss.
Multitudes of men are arriving in North Dakota, looking for work in the fracking business. With nowhere to stay, they turn to a pastor who opens the doors of his church to them. He gives them a place to sleep inside or they can park and sleep in the church parking lot. He even brings some of them to live at his house. Unfortunately, the local government is against allowing these people to stay anywhere. Then begins a tale of loss.
This was amazing and tragic. Again, we have a plot that centers on the conflict of freedom vs authority. There is an additional element at the end that I won't spoil. The characters are great. The pastor is really trying to help people and there are the standard drifters. There were a few interviews scattered throughout, but they were not the main focus. The video is really raw and revealing, but decently produced. The audio is where this runs into problems. It's one that I wish I could reposition the microphones for them, run their recorder and remix their audio. The highs and lows had too much dynamics to the point that I couldn't hear much of it if I didn't want to be blown away by the rest. Overall, a truly emotion and thought provoking film with bad audio. I rate this good. Watch it!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)

An American documentary directed by Errol Morris.
Robert S. McNamara speaks about his life in business, politics and war.
Let's get this out of the way first: McNamara was in Skull and Bones and the Trilateral Commission, so yes, he is Illuminati and a Freemason. Given the fact that nobody without a full list of secret society memberships could ever be president of the World Bank. I found the subject matter to be very boring because I have no interest in business, economics, politics or war. The interview footage was actually really good. A device called an Interrotron was used so that the interviewee appears to be speaking directly to the viewer, instead of looking at the interviewer or elsewhere. My video professor at school would disagree, but I think it worked fine. She would also criticize the jump cuts in the interview footage. The B-roll was all very professional looking. One type of scene that I liked most was of a busy street recorded twice. The recordings were layered, with one going very fast and the other very slow. An artsy touch. There were also, obviously, stock videos from television used. The audio was all very good because it was mostly just one man speaking in a room. Overall, the interesting video production made a long and dry interview slightly interesting. I rate this poor because I just didn't like it.

Over the Edge (1979)

An American crime directed by Jonathan Kaplan, starring Harry Northup and Matt Dillon.
Strict parents, rebellious teenagers and an asshole cop combine to cause a volatile situation in a small town.
This is a classic that I watched before starting this blog and just re-watched. The plot follows the main character as he has fun with his friends, gets a girlfriend and gets in fights with his parents and the cop. It obviously held my interest the whole time. The characters are typical of a '70s or '80s teen "coming of age" film. The video was actually very good for the time it was made. Good camera angles and punctual editing helped this. The audio was a little quiet, but the dialogue and music were mixed well. This music, of course, includes some of the best and most energetic of '70s rock like The Ramones and Van Halen. Overall, another one of those "freedom vs authority" films that I like so much. I rate this awesome. Watch it!!!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Northville Cemetery Massacre (1976)

An American crime directed by William Dear and Thomas L. Dyke.
A group of motorcyclists are passing through a town and hold a wedding on a farm. A young couple go to the barn to have sex. When cops show up, the bikers leave. The cops find the couple and rape the girl, who is the daughter of a town politician. The cop tells the father that the bikers raped his daughter and conflict begins.
This is a keeper. The plot held my interest well with lots of violence and bikers on the road. I was cheering for the bikers and hating the cops the whole time. The head cop has a douche bag face and was cast well. I also liked the casting of the young couple. Video was grainy and gritty, but properly exposed and used plenty of creative camera angles. Some of the editing was just a little off though. The audio was full of '70s psychedelic rock, but the dialogue was mixed too low. Overall, an extremely memorable film. I rate this good. Watch it!!!

Maniac (1980)

An American slasher directed by William Lustig, starring Joe Spinell.
A murderer kills women and puts their hair on mannequins to decorate his apartment.
This was not exactly pleasant to watch, but the ending made it worth while. The plot doesn't have ups and downs, just all up. This made the pacing seem extremely slow at first. The main character looked like Ron Jeremy, of pornography fame. The video was a little dark and grainy, but not underexposed. There is blood, gore and nudity. The audio was very quiet, which was my main difficulty. Overall, it's standard until the end. I rate it o.k.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Life, Animated (2016)

An American documentary directed by Roger Ross Williams.
A man has autism and relates to the world through Disney films.
The plot was terrible. The guy loses his girlfriend, breaking up retard love right after he moves into his own apartment. That's all that happened. The characters were static, but the main character's back-story was developed. The video was great. They had lots of good shots with good exposure, composition, etc... There were also animated sequences, without which this film would have gotten "torn a new one". The audio was better than one would expect from a documentary on a special education student. There weren't as many groans, moans and incoherent speech sections as might be expected. Yes, I do hate retards. The Spartans had it right by killing defective babies at birth. If it's going to take a team of people just to take care of this one person, just end it as soon as you can.Overall, a well made documentary about a guy with autism that lacks content. I rate this tolerable because it was alright to watch, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets A.K.A. Valérian et la Cité des mille planètes (2017)

A French science fiction directed by Luc Besson.
A peaceful planet is destroyed by a war in space. A few survivors escape in a ship. An animal that duplicates pearls is taken from a black market crime boss by a government detective. The detective and his girlfriend have to get the animal back to the people from the planet.
I saw this in the theater in 3D (thanks Thomas) and it looked really good. The plot was incredibly complex and if you looked away or missed a line, you're lost. The actors were not chosen very well. They lacked emotion. Deadpan delivery is o.k. in Chinese comedy, but science fiction needs strong feelings. The video was beyond anything I had ever seen before. If you're going to see a movie in 3D, science fiction is a good choice. The aliens all looked really cool and the sets and costumes were very well designed. The special effects must have taken a year to program with a team of specialists sitting in front of computers. The audio was theater quality. I was at the fucking theater itself. Overall, a very well made film with bad actors or acting. I rate it good because I've never seen a movie in 3D before.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

An American French Belgian Swiss documentary directed by Raoul Peck, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.
The history of racism in America is examined.
This was alright. It reminded me of the work of my advisor at school, Professor Eison because it used narration over images with camera movement programmed in a computer. The subject matter is relatively of interest to me because I'm interested in how groups that don't fit into "normal" society interact with the world. The video relied too heavily on still photos and not enough actual moving video. There was also a lack of interviews. If your only interview is from the 1950s, your documentary has problems. Some newer interviews with people about race relations would have helped tremendously. The audio was very good. Although Samuel L. Jackson used a low and soft tone of voice, I could hear him well and the music was mixed at the correct levels. Overall, a decent documentary that could easily have been improved. I rate this o.k.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hoop Dreams (1994)

An American documentary directed by Steve James.
Two high school basketball players try to begin their sports careers.
I have no interest in basketball. That is what made watching basically three hours of this difficult. The plot did not hold my attention. They're having problems because they come from black, poor, inner-city families and then one of them gets hurt. The characters were stereotypical to say the least. The camera-work and editing was done very well. Even the audio was expertly produced. I just did not give a flying fuck about the content. Overall, a basketball flick for folks who like the sport. I rate it tolerable because it was made so well but did not interest me.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Killer A.K.A. dip6 hyut3 soeng1 hung4, Diéxuè shuāngxióng (1989)

A Hong Kong action film directed by John Woo, starring Chow Yun-fat.
Chinese gangsters and cops have guns. They use them.
Oh, man! What a steaming pile! The plot was muddy and not communicated well. The characters were difficult to differentiate. I'm not being racist here. Simple fact is that tons of guys from the same country look the same when they all wear business suits and have the same hairstyle. The video was over-dramatized and so '80s cheesy that it hurt to watch. The slow motion and freeze frame was the worst part. The audio was in Chinese with accurate English subtitles. The soundtrack was like the video: how '80s cheesy can we make it? Overall, you're better off staring at a wall in silence than watching this crap. Apparently, '80s China's film industry was similar to that of Italy in the '60s. They just cranked out crap. I rate this bad because I've seen much worse. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Blood and Black Lace A.K.A. Sei donne per l'assassino, Six Women for the Murderer (1964)

An Italian French West German thriller directed by Mario Bava, starring Cameron Mitchell.
A murderer is killing beautiful women from a fashion house.
This is why I hate watching '60s Italian horror. The plot was not communicated well and did not hold my interest. The characters included some good looking women, but none were developed at all. I haven't mentioned pacing in quite some time, but the slow pacing of this film made it nearly unbearable to watch. The video was actually the best part. They had creative camera angles and lighting, but it failed to show what was going on in a coherent manner. The audio was in Italian with English subtitles that were a little bit late. The soundtrack was very much of the time and genre and very annoying. Overall, this would be a good one to skip. Nay, a good genre, country and time period to skip because they're all like this. Same with those accursed peplums. I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

An American Japanese documentary directed by David Gelb.
An 85 year old sushi chef and his sons are interviewed.
This was pretty cool. It reminded me of watching an episode of No Reservations without Tony's snarky comments. The plot was a little on the sparse side. Really, how long can you talk about sushi? There were interviews with the father and both of his sons, fish market scenes, the rice dealer shows up and then some kind of family reunion thing. The characters were developed to as much depth as sushi chefs possess. The video was good. They had lots of good shots. My only issue was that they used very shallow depth of field sometimes to bokeh levels where not even the whole piece of sushi was in focus. The audio was in Japanese with good English subtitles. The dialogue may have been a little loud, but I can forgive that. I do like sushi, but I like the roll kind and not nigiri. These guys were making nigiri that would never pass my lips. Overall, a well made documentary with a small shortage of content. I rate this adequate. If you find it, why not watch it?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Harlan County, USA (1976)

An American documentary directed by Barbara Kopple.
Coal miners in a small town strike for better wages, healthcare and conditions.
This was immersive. The plot followed the strike chronologically, showing meetings and picket lines. The characters were not extremely well developed, but the combination of all of the speaking in the same manner left a lasting impression. The video was amazingly well done, considering the conditions in which filming took place. How steady could you hold the camera and how nicely could you frame things when miners are trying to block the road against scabs? The audio is what made this. Everyone in it was sporting the same Southern accent and it really created a space for the film to exist in. It let the viewer know context and environment immediately. The solo vocal music added to this effect. The songs and dialogue worked so well together to define a place. Overall, a quality documentary that covered the event well. I rate this good.

Gleason (2016)

An American documentary directed by Clay Tweel.
Steve Gleason was a football player who gets ALS. As the disease progresses, he loses control of his muscles, is confined to a wheel chair and gets  a Steven Hawking style computer to speak with.
This was pretty depressing. The plot follows time chronologically. There are interviews with Steve's father and wife and with members of Pearl Jam, though I don't know why. The video was technically good, but the content was extremely depressing. Same with audio. What was most unsettling was when his speech was becoming labored and he didn't have the computer yet. Overall, this is tough stuff to watch. It was made well, but I can't say I would recommend it. I rate this poor.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bill Cunningham New York (2010)

An American documentary directed by Richard Press.
A man is a street photographer who focuses on women's fashion and publishes an article in a magazine.
This was pretty straight forward. Dude rides a bicycle and takes pictures with his camera.. He knows the right way to do it. Nothing beats 26s and a camera. The plot was a little sparse, but the main character was illustrated very well. The video all looked good, predictable and standard. The audio was the same. There was a section in French that had subtitles. Overall, unimpressive, but accurate. I rate this o.k. because it's a fine film with no problems, but nothing really special.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

How to Survive a Plague (2012)

An American documentary directed by David France.
The story follows a group of AIDS activists who want the government to supply better drugs to save patients.
This was not really all that watchable. I don't care about the problem presented because I know that the government released the AIDS virus for the purpose of killing people. Asking them for help would seem useless, but apparently, something worked. I don't fully understand the issue being discussed, but I think that the government was not directly responsible for solving the problem that they created. Most of the film was shouting mobs and people shouting in front of mobs. I think that it lacked the in depth interviews that would make a viewer like myself care about the individual people. It was all about the group. The video was on the alright side. There was lots of hand holding going on on-screen as well as by the camera operators. The audio levels were not bad, but shouting, arguing and complaining are not my favorite content. Overall, this is a film for those who are involved in the AIDS issue. I would recommend it to them because they would actually care. I rate it poor. If you don't have AIDS, don't watch it.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The American Hobo (2003)

An American documentary directed by Bobb Hopkins, starring Merle Haggard and Ernest Borgnine.
A history of train riding hobos is presented, with interviews from old and new hobos.
This shit is classic! The plot follows a rough timeline and subject matter presentation that really makes sense. The interviews are short, sweet and revealing. It seems like the clips were taken from much longer, in depth interviews to get this quality of material. Voice-over narration is done by Ernest Borgnine and his voice is perfect for the job. The video was in full screen and looked like it came from the 1980s, but I won't hold that against it when the content is this good. The audio was impeccable. Dialogue, voice-overs, music and train sound foley were all perfectly mixed. Basically, the production was PHENOMENAL! Overall, just gritty and raw enough to satisfy rougher audiences, but presented with style and class to suit finer tastes. My only complaint is that 87 minutes is just not long enough and I wanted more. I rate this awesome. WATCH IT!!!

American Nomads (2011)

A British American documentary by Richard Grant.
The filmmaker travels around America, interviewing people who live traveling. He speaks with hitchhikers, gutter punks, senior citizens with RVs, rodeo cowboys, Slab City residents and plain old homeless folks.
This was alright. There was a vast range of people interviewed, but the interviews lacked depth. Voice-over narration was pleasant in a British tea time sort of way and mildly informative. The video was done very well. There were many camera angles and some hand held shots. It showed what was going on and captured the environment of the interviewees. The audio was extremely well produced. All of it was pretty much level, I could hear what everyone said and there was some background music. Overall, a "safe" alternative to some of the more raw and gritty docs on this subject. I rate it o.k. because playing it safe doesn't get you high ratings here. It's worth watching, but not amazing.

Friday, July 7, 2017

A Better Tomorrow A.K.A. Jing1 hung4 bun2 sik1 (1986)

A Hong Kong crime film directed by John Woo, starring Ti Lung, Leslie Cheung, Cow Yun-fat, Waise Lee and Tien Feng.
Two brothers and a friend have disputes because one brother and the friend are criminals and the other brother is a cop. One of them goes to jail, gets out and meets with the others. Shooting, "You're working too hard on this case!", "I just want to be the one to arrest him". Stupid shit like that.
This was terrible, lame and so un-Chinese. I expect more from China than fucking cops, robbers and shootouts. It's so American and so stereotypical! The plot was nearly incoherent and may have been lost in translation. The characters reminded me of cardboard cutouts from a cheesy American crime flick from the '70s or '90s. Take your pick, they're the same. The video was not too shabby. I could see what was happening, but it used stereotypical shots in all the same places and did not seem creative or unique in any way. The audio on the version that I watched was dubbed into English. The music and sound effects were ahead of their time, being more cheesy American '90s crime flick than '70s. Wikipedia SINGS THE PRAISES of this horrid and lifeless flick like it was groundbreaking shit, but this had been done to death in America in the '70s. Overall, a stereotypical and unoriginal film that was just like thousands of those from a decade earlier in another country. I rate this bad because I've seen much worse. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Goodnight Mommy A.K.A. Ich Seh, Ich Seh, Goodnight Mummy (2014)

An Austrian horror directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala.
A pair of twins are being treated badly after their mother has surgery on her face. They think that this is not their mother and torture her back, even worse than she treats them.
This was alright. The plot developed slowly, but the twins' torture methods were extreme and entertaining. The characters seemed a little shallow to me because there was a lack of back-story to get the audience to know them. The video was amazingly done. The camera-work and editing transitions were so good that it was like watching this as it happened. The audio was in German with good subtitles. There was a little lack of background music, but I think that worked relatively well. Overall, it's good for the torture scenes. I rate it adequate. You might want to check it out.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

An American documentary by Kurt Kuenne.
A filmmaker travels the country, interviewing everyone who knew his friend. The friend had been murdered by a woman he had started dating and was pregnant with his son.
This was pretty cool. I think that Kuenne did a great job of putting it together. There were sappy scenes about how much people loved each other mixed in with murder and hatred. The video was mostly the interviews that were conducted while making this, but it also included clips of the two boys making early videos and some home movies and still photos. The audio was done very well. All of the dialogue in the interviews sounded fine and there was appropriate background music. Out of the entire duration, my favorite moment was the grandfather saying "that fucking bitch!". Overall, a little too sappy for a documentary about murder. I rate it adequate. You might want to check it out.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

An American documentary directed by Brett Morgen.
The life of Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame is presented in retrospective.
I was thinking Gus Van Sant's last days, but got a doc that made Cobain look good. There were too many childhood home movies to start with. Then there was stuff about him being rebellious, which was good. Then he played in bands, which was bad because it was mostly his music (gag, choke). Then he made out with Courtney Love, they had a kid and showed their baby videos. The variety of videos with newer interviews and old home movies worked well. Do we really need to see animations on his notebooks though? The music was too much Nirvana for me because I hate the band. I got to the two hour mark and freaked out because there were only 12 minutes left for him to collapse into drug addiction, depression and death. Besides those being my favorite things in the world, I want to see them happen to someone whose music I hate. Overall, the editing was good, but it was far too positive. I rate this adequate because it was made well, but the content was not to my liking. You might like Nirvana and want to watch it, but I don't.

Black Christmas (1974)

A Canadian horror directed by Bob Clark, starring Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder and John Saxon.
A psycho killer is making obscene phone calls to a sorority house right after he murders anyone.
This was another film based on the Canadian urban legend of "The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs". It reminded me of When a Stranger Calls (1979) because they are basically the same story. So there go any points the plot could have earned. There was a unique twist at the end, but I won't spoil that. The characters were all pretty drab and dull except two of the cops who served as comic relief and the Housemother, Mrs. Mac. The video was mostly good, but crept toward that horror cliche of hand held camera in total darkness at some points. The audio was mostly rotary phones ringing, but somehow did not get annoying. Overall, a passable take on the urban legend with decent production quality. I rate it o.k.

Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

An American documentary directed by Andrew Jarecki.
The story of a father and son accused of sexually abusing young boys is told. They were hosting computer classes at their house in the 1980s when the father was caught mailing a child pornography magazine.
This was certainly good enough to watch twice. The interviews were all excellent and there was home movie footage from the accused family. The plot was a little inconclusive because the audience is never told for sure whether the two main characters were actually guilty. The video was extremely varied in style and quality because of the multiple sources of footage. It was, however, all edited and handled very well. The audio was very good. I could hear everything and there were no annoying sounds. Overall, the subject matter may not be for everyone, but it is a very well made film that tells a compelling story. I rate this good. Watch it!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Three... Extremes A.K.A. Sāngēng 2, Sseuli Monseuteo, Utsukushī Yoru, Zankokuna Asa (2004)

A Hong Kong Japanese South Korean horror directed by Fruit Chan, Park Chan-wook and Takashi Miike.
Three short story films are presented. See my post on Dumplings for the first. The second involves an acting extra who has conflict with the film director. The third is about performing sisters who have a conflict over incestual fatherly love that leads one to kill the other.
Far-Eastern films always have something special, don't they? The plots of these three stories definitely held my attention. The characters were just deep enough to fill the length and not seem like dull people. The video was extremely varied with many techniques and the audio all sounded good. It was in the original languages and had good subtitles. I would go on a little bit more, but I don't want to spoil it. Overall, this is very much worth watching. I rate it good. Watch it!

The Strangers (2008)

An American horror directed by Bryan Bertino, starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman.
A couple are terrorized by masked attackers all night. Jehovah's Witnesses find them in the morning.
This is exactly what I don't like about newer horror films. The hand held camera shooting into total darkness and terrible audio production are all I need to say here. I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!