Sunday, January 29, 2017

Venus in Furs A.K.A. Paroxismus - Può una morta rivivere per amore?, Schwarzer Engel (1969)

An Italian West German erotic thriller directed by Jesus Franco, starring Klaus Kinski and Dennis Price.
A jazz trumpet player meets a woman who is supposed to be dead. Although he is already in a relationship with the female vocalist of his band, he pursues the new woman and finds that she is involved in fetishistic S&M activities.
This was about what I was expecting as a Jesus Franco film. The plot was unclear, seemingly on purpose. It is only at the very end that the truth of what has been happening is revealed. The characters were on the shallow side, but acted pretty decently. Their dialogue reflected the era and culture with correct use of slang terms. The video featured lots of odd and experimental shots and scenes. This started right from the beginning with the motionless actress smoking and some type of tower in a handheld shot. It continued into the ending climax with heavy color manipulation during a chase scene. There was a scene of the main character running on the beach in slow motion that was very jarring, jerky and looked poor quality. As with most of Franco's films, there was some partial female nudity. The actresses were clearly selected for these scenes. The audio was actually not to shabby. The soundtrack was accurate to time and culture and the dialogue was mostly clear and at a good level in the mix. Overall, be prepared to not know what's going on until the end. I rate this o.k. because it tried some groovy techniques, but could have been produced better.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Track 29 (1988)

A British American psychological thriller directed by Nicolas Roeg, starring Theresa Russell, Gary Oldman, Christopher Lloyd, Colleen Camp and Seymour Cassel.
A woman whose husband neglects her meets a stranger in a restaurant and begins a complex relationship with him. The husband spends all of his time with model trains or cheating on his wife with a nurse at the hospital he works at.
This was that type of strange that only Nicolas Roeg can create. The plot was a little on the confusing side. Is this young man real or does the woman have an imaginary friend? Add the inconclusive ending and it's nearly incoherent. The characters were definitely acted very well. Being famous movie stars and all, they lived up to their reputations. The video was mostly straight forward storytelling. There were some odd shots and scenes as well. My favorite was the young man playing with the husband's train set. The audio was shoddy and uneven. This was the standard inaudible dialogue problem. Overall, a weird film by a weird director. I'm giving it the weird pink rating because I think it's his strangest work.

Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller (1988)

A Canadian children's fantasy adventure directed by Michael Rubbo.
A child criminal stamp collector steals his friend's father's rare stamp. When the neighbor girl goes to the store where it was sold, she is given a book of seemingly worthless stamps. The boy whose father's stamp was stolen rips up the book, revealing a hidden message. The message tells how to use magic to travel on a stamp and find his priceless book of stamps. This boy travels on a stamp to China and Australia in search of the stamp book.
I watched this many times with my sister when we were growing up. Unfortunately, I didn't even like it as a child, but decided to re-watch and review it because of how strong my memories of it are. The plot was actually put together quite well. The children have many adventures and face multiple conflicts regarding stamps, postage and the stamp thief. The characters were a little on the shallow side, but not unlikable. The video featured an effect during the stamp magic scenes in which the character turned into a drawing done in colored pencil. This was accomplished very well. There were other scenes of things happening to the stamp that were not done so well. When the dog is licking it, you can see the dish of water that has been placed in front of the camera. The audio was not bad. I could hear all of the dialogue and there was a variety of music. Most of the music was annoying because of child vocalists, but the stamp magic theme was instrumental. Overall, a part of my history that I will always remember. I rate it o.k.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Sure Thing (1985)

An American romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, starring John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga.
After a failed attempt at romance with a female classmate, a male college student finds himself sharing a ride with the girl who turned him down. They are both on their way south to where his friend has arranged a hot date and where her boyfriend is. Not everything works out as planned and they struggle most of the way there.
This was made back when Reiner was earning the reputation that got him hired for his more recent disasters. The plot made sense and held my attention. Never mind that it took me about four tries to get through the whole hour and a half duration. My schedule just turned into a nightmare. We see the characters engaged in multiple types of conflict such as vs. nature, other characters and seemingly, the rest of the world. The characters were developed well. Right from the beginning they are in-character, well acted and demonstrating their personality traits. By the end, the viewer will feel like they actually know these characters personally. I feel that this film was preparatory work for Daphne Zuniga to develop her Princess Vespa personality for a future roll in Spaceballs. The video style was straight forward storytelling, without much b-roll or artsy shots. That ended up working out well and showing the story very clearly. The audio did have some issues. There were some sections of dialogue that were noticeably quieter than the rest. Of course, these contained the most important plot points. Overall, a pretty decent '80s flick that was kind of fun to watch. I rate it adequate.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Magic of Belle Isle (2012)

An American drama directed by Rob Reiner, starring Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen.
A retired writer of western novels moves into a house next door to a single mother with three daughters. The middle daughter wants him to teach her how to write.
Sappy-crappy! It was so sickeningly sweet that it almost made me spew. The plot followed the most sentimental and heart-warming path available. The characters were all basically female, including Morgan Freeman, but not the dog. The dog demonstrated male gender identity by licking it's own penis. Freeman played the kind, crippled, de-sexed and harmless old man who can barely raise an argument, let alone his cock. The video looked like Reiner said "Let's make a chick flick!". Don't get me wrong. Everything looked fine and it was actually done quite well, but in a namby-pamby type of way. Audio followed suit, but very quietly. I wanted Beatrix Kiddo to show up with her Hanzo sword and demonstrate for all of them what a real woman is. Or maybe Lieutenant Ripley in the power loader, wielding a grenade launcher/shotgun/flame-thrower and being chased by swarms of savage Xenomorph XX121s. Overall, cry me a fucking river, you pansies. I rate this bad because I hated it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Barbarians (1987)

An Italian American fantasy adventure directed by Ruggero Deodato, starring Peter and David Paul and Michael Berryman.
A pair of orphaned brothers are captured from a troupe of entertainers by an evil king. They are raised in a prison/work camp to be strong and hate the guards who torment them in masks. Eventually they are caused to fight each other by wearing the masks. They realize the trick, escape and must rescue the entire society of previous entertainers.
This was pretty cheesy. The plot drew a lot form Conan the Barbarian (1982) in the way that the brothers were raised in captivity by their enemy and become strong warriors. The characters were shallow, but the brothers were developed relatively well. We see their trials and tribulations with concise narration. These actors were clearly the main focus of the film and they played side-by-side in every other film they were in as well. They had a running gag of wanting the prop the other was holding and then changing their mind: "I like this one more". Just by faces, they both looked like Brendan Fraser to me. The video looked more '60s than '80s for the amount of grit, blur and over-saturation. It all looked like it came off pretty easily and casually. Nothing looked forced or unnatural. When the brothers kill the dragon was a classic scene that must be viewed to be appreciated. The audio had audible dialogue, heavy narration and an appropriately Conan-esque soundtrack. There was also some '80s pop-rock music. Overall, this is good for low-thought entertainment. I rate it adequate because I like the genre and year.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Story of Us (1999)

An American romance directed by Rob Reiner, starring Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer.
A husband and wife who are having problems with their relationship separate while their children are away at camp.
Not so great standard Hollywood bullshit. The plot was so stale, obvious and predictable that it failed to hold my attention. The characters were just as stale and predictable as the plot. The video was straight forward story telling with no artsy shots of any kind. The audio had audible dialogue, but the soundtrack was stupidly mediocre. What irked me most was flashbacks of the couple's life together being momentarily visited during this troubled time. Actually showing their relationship would have been more effective. The whole thing just seemed fake and poorly written. Castle Rock, Universal and Warner Brothers were banking on star power that only netted them 8 million in the end. For more criticism, please refer to the Wikipedia page. I rate this bad. Do not watch!

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Girl from Rio A.K.A. The Seven Secrets of Sumuru, City Without Men, Sumuru Queen of Femina, Rio 70, Future Women (1968)

A Spanish West German American spy adventure directed by Jesus Franco, starring Shirley Eaton, George Sanders and Walter Rilla.
A militant feminist runs a city with an exclusively female population. She abducts wealthy men and takes their money to fund her nation-building scheme.
Not bad, but not good. Not unique enough to be memorable, but a fine example of the time and genre. The plot was a little murky in sections. It seemed kind of haphazard, as if it were not planned very well. It was also not believable. A city of only women won't continue to exist for long. The setting was also unclear. Is this '60s Brazil or a science fiction future? The characters were not developed at all. At the end, I barely even knew who they were, let alone felt like I knew them personally. They were identifiable though and not easily confused with one another. Costumes were actually done very well. I liked the femina city military uniform most. The video looked very '60s. That gritty oversaturation is difficult to fake. Camera-work did a lot of selective focus, which turned out looking good. The audio was pretty standard of the time. Dialogue was audible and it featured a Russ Meyer/Jesus Franco groovy soundtrack. There were some annoying "science machine" sounds. Overall, easily forgotten. I rate this o.k.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Diabolical Dr. Z A.K.A. Miss Muerte (1965)

A Spanish French horror directed by Jesus Franco.
The daughter of a mad scientist uses a dancer to take revenge of the men who she believes killed her father.
Antiquated and lo-fi. The plot did not hold my attention very well. There were too many characters that were not identifiable enough. Between the scientists/doctors, police/detectives, the women of the Zimmer house and those they murdered, it was just too many people. The video was not bad. The picture is from near the end, when men were fighting on a spiral staircase. The audio was alright except for the science machine sound effects. That got annoying really quickly. Overall, most old horror flicks all blend together to me. I rate this tolerable.

The Bucket List (2007)

An American comedy drama directed by Rob Reiner, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
Two old men meet in a hospital. They share a room and have both been told that they have a very short time left to live. Together they decide to leave and go do things that they've always wanted to do before they die.
Standard Hollywood bullshit. The basic plot seemed like a good idea. Then we add two famous and elderly actors and a famous director. Throw 45 million dollars at it and hope for the best. If you're in Hollywood, the math looks good and it worked out for them to the tune of 175 million. However, it lacks depth entirely. The audio and video looked and sounded fine. Camera-work was not lacking. Even the acting was decent. But that's all it was. Totally superficial and made to fill theater seats and wallets. I tried to watch this before, but ended up turning it off at the car scene because it's stupid. I rate this bad. Do not watch!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Marquis de Sade: Justine A.K.A. Justine ovvero le disavventure della virtù (1969)

An Italian West German sexploitation adventure directed by Jesus Franco, starring Klaus Kinski and Jack Palance.
A pair of sisters who grew up in a convent are forced to leave when their parents die. One sister is adventurous, rebellious and slutty while the other is virtuous and innocent. They are separated at a brothel where one sister decides to work and the other leaves. The virtuous sister then has all kinds of adventures with criminals and perverts, nearly being killed multiple times.
This was pretty epic. The plot was expansive and felt like it contained a world of it's own. There were also lots of characters. Many were under-developed, but all fit the story and were acted appropriately. The video was very clear and straight forward. It showed the story well, but lacked the artsy shots that I've seen in other Franco films. The audio was great. It had audible dialogue and period-appropriate classical music. In the picture, the virtuous main character is being abducted by a pair of homosexuals that she caught rolling around in some bushes. Overall, this is the best of Jesus Franco so far. More than just prurient smut and shocking schlock, but still with a salacious flavor. I still have many pages in the list, so that might change. I rate it good.

Saturday the 14th (1981)

An American horror comedy directed by Howard R. Cohen, starring Jeffrey Tambor.
A family inherits a cursed house and they move in. The son finds and opens a book of evil that the parents have been warned not to open. A pair of vampires have their eyes on the house and are waiting for the family to move out so they can move in and get the book of evil. Everything comes to a head when the family has a party.
This was actually funny. The plot was a little disjointed, but was paced correctly. The characters are not to be noted for good acting, but most of them fit their parts. The only one who seemed out of place was the female vampire. She should have been older to nag the male vampire like she did. The video was clearly made on a budget. The special effects definitely were. That being said, there were some good points that worked. The audio was not too bad. It seemed correctly mixed and I could hear the dialogue. My favorite scene was the father comforting his son after complaints about a monster in the room (picture). Overall, cheap thrills and a quick laugh. I rate this adequate.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Eugenie A.K.A. Eugenia, Eugenia De Sade, De Sade 2000 (1973)

A Liechtenstein sexploitation directed by Jesus Franco.
A young woman lives with her step-father, who is an erotic writer. After she reads some of his books, they decide to murder people together.
This was not too shabby. The plot was simple, but seemed to not make much sense. Why are they killing people? The characters were developed a little bit, but I didn't feel like I knew them personally. The video was actually not too bad. Most of the shots were straight forward narrative style, but clearly showed what was going on. There were some more artsy shots that were in the right places and looked cool to me. The main attraction here is the soundtrack. Although not expansive or varied, it features a catchy theme that reminded me of Cannibal Holocaust. The bittersweet vocal melody is very similar. Overall, a decent piece of lascivious cinema. I rate it o.k.

De Sade 70 A.K.A. Marquis De Sade - Eugenie, Philosophy in the Boudoir, Eugenie... the Story of Her Journey Into Perversion (1970)

A Spanish West German sexploitation directed by Jesus Franco.
A teenage girl spends a weekend at the island house of her father's mistress. There she is drugged, raped and beaten.
For the shock level of the subject matter, the schlock level rose to meet it. The plot was overly simplistic to a crude and boorish level. The characters were shallow and undeveloped. The video was barely decent, with some artsy shots among the straight forward narrative style. The audio featured music of the time mixed louder than the dialogue. What it did have was nudity. If you're looking for boobs, I would recommend Russ Meyer though. Overall, crudely prurient schlock. I rate this poor. It's not that I don't appreciate the female nudity, there are just better things to watch for that.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

An American action film directed by Guy Ritchie, starring Jared Harris and Hugh Grant.
A C.I.A. agent and a K.G.B. agent team up to find a nuclear warhead and protect the daughter of the man who built it. In other words: spies fight spies.
Guy Ritchie's filmography reads like a downward spiral. It started out great with his first two films. Swept Away and Revolver were alright at best and the quality of his work just kept decreasing. The plot in this film was a little jumbled because the viewer doesn't know who is lying or telling the truth to whom and who is on whose side until the end. The characters were typical of a spy action flick. They try to act all cool with weapons, vehicles and violence, but their dialogue lacks substance. The female lead was only female in clothing. She wore dresses, but worked on cars and got violent and arrogant just like the men. The video was more like Ritchie than Swept Away, with many camera angles and lots of fast editing. There was also text on the screen that was animated into the scenes. The audio was like any other action flick: energetic music, guns and explosions. I could hear all of the dialogue, even though a good portion was not in English. This is where that animated text comes in: much of that was stylized subtitles. Overall, I had a hard time believing the same guy who made Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels made this. I rate it tolerable. You might not want to watch it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Swept Away (2002)

An Italian British American romance adventure directed by Guy Ritchie, starring Madonna and Bruce Greenwood.
A pair of rich families go on a cruise from Greece to Italy. While they are out, the meanest "rich bitch" wife gets lost on a dingy with one of the fishermen who work on the boat. They land on a deserted island and she finds that the roles are reversed. The fisherman now has the food, water and shelter that she wants and because of her cruelty to him, is reluctant to share.
I thought this was pretty decent. Guy Ritchie seems to generally make good films and I like role reversals. Then I read Wikipedia. The original film must be phenomenal! I will have to watch it. Anyway, the plot was very clearly presented and took some turns that I did not expect. The characters were acted decently to pretty well. There seemed to be no "out of character" moments or dialogue discrepancies. The video was a little too straight forward and obvious for Guy Ritchie. He generally tends to throw in some more unique and experimental shots that shake things up and hold the viewer's attention. The audio had that stereotypical mixing problem with loud music, quiet dialogue and the more important the dialogue, the quieter it gets. Overall, I'm throwing this into my collection with Castaway and Cast Away. Do I see a desert island folder? I rate this adequate.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Lucky, the Inscrutable A.K.A. Agente speciale L.K.: Operazione Re Mida, Lucky, el intrépido, Lucky M. füllt alle Särge (1967)

A Spanish Italian German comedy spy adventure directed by Jesus Franco.
A charismatic spy is hired by bankers to find a counterfeiting operation.
This is live action Lupin the Third. The plot involved the main character spy/detective hunting down large scale criminals while being debonair with women and daring in conflicts. He collects a buddy along the way to act as his Daisuke Jigen, with a box full of spy tricks and gadgets. Having seen Castle of Cagliostro and some of the anime TV series, I could easily see Lucky and Lupin switching places without anyone noticing. The video was mega-grainy and super-blurry because of the age and the 512x288 format that I found it in. The audio featured an extremely repetitive soundtrack, but I could hear all of the dialogue. Overall, this is for folks who can't get enough Lupin from the anime. I rate it adequate.

Ghoulies IV A.K.A. Ghoulies 4 (1994)

An American horror directed by Jim Wynorski.
A militant witch is looking for a jewel that will turn her cop ex-boyfriend back to his old, evil self.
This was terrible! It had NOTHING to do with the Ghoulies series storyline. The Ghoulies just happened to be there. They weren't even the same Ghoulies from the three previous films, but dwarves in costumes. Different costumes, with different faces (picture). So, we've got the plot not being part of the series and the poor choice of monsters. Human actors didn't do too much better. I thought the three female roles were cast decently. The cop, the hooker and the witch all looked and acted their parts. The video was lack-luster at best. Special effects were confined to editing tricks and lighting that the average student could accomplish, given the correct supplies. The audio was re-dubbed because I could see people's mouths moving separate from their dialogue. If the film is in English and the English dialogue doesn't match the English-speaking actors, that's a major problem. Overall, I want the past hour and fifteen minutes of my life back. I rate this bad. Do not watch!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Arabian Adventure (1979)

A British fantasy adventure directed by Kevin Connor, starring Christopher Lee.
A boy with a pet monkey helps a prince to get a magical rose, defeat the evil caliph and win the princess.
This was alright at best. The plot was rather stereotypical of the genre. The prince, who was supposedly the main character, played a supporting role for the boy who actually conquered all of the obstacles. From what I heard, the boy's name was Machine and his monkey was called Shitty. The special effects were the most disappointing part for me. They went wild with flying carpets, but everything else was lack-luster. Set design was the best part of this film. The palace was expertly crafted with a very good color scheme. The audio was very poorly mixed, with loud music and quiet dialogue. A one point, a woman was giving the boy advice from inside a jewel and I expected him to say something like "Speak up, I can't hear you!". Overall, there are far better fantasy adventure films to watch. I rate this tolerable.

Boogie A.K.A. El Aceitoso (2009)

A Mexican Argentinian crime animation directed by Gustavo Cova.
A violent man who used to be a soldier works for a mafia boss as a hit man. A woman who used to be in a relationship with the boss witnessed a crime and is supposed to testify in court. There is conflict over this witness and a new hit man is hired to fight the original one.
This reminded me of Sin City (2005). I think some of the scenes were direct copies of visual elements from that film. The plot was a little too convoluted for an animation. Who was on whose side and who is working for the mafia boss got confusing. The characters were obviously similar to Sin City, especially Boogie himself. The animation style reminded me of City of Rott (2006) in that it was very computerized and high contrast. There was a psychedelic dream sequence in which a Disney style setting became violent and was labelled "war land". The audio was very good for a film not originally in English. The voices fit and there was appropriate soundtrack music mixed at a correct level. Overall, a very well-made and enjoyable animated film, even if it was not entirely original. I rate this awesome. Watch it!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Ghoulies Go to College A.K.A. Ghoulies III, Ghoulies 3 (1991)

An American horror comedy directed by John Carl Buechler, starring Kevin McCarthy and Matthew Lillard.
The Ghoulies are summoned from the toilet by a college professor who wants to use them to stop fraternities from playing pranks.
This was pretty stupid. That being said, it was perfectly crafted for a low-brow audience of teenagers. It contains all of the stereotypical college ingredients: school, sex, social conflict and booze. The plot was rather simplistic, but got the job done for what was needed. The characters were not very deep or well-developed, but they didn't need to be. It was like a live action cartoon. The security guard gets blown up or electrocuted? He'll be fine in the next scene. The Ghoulies (although small) manage to drink 2001 beers? They never pee. They can also drink drain cleaner. The puppets were comical and spoke in this film, making it the height of their evolution. Their lines seemed to be poorly written intentionally. Overall, lewd, crude and kind of funny. I rate this good because I think that it is exactly what it was intended to be.

Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)

An American science fiction comedy directed by Tom Schiller, starring Zach Galligan, Lauren Tom, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd.
A concert pianist id found to be using a player piano. He returns home to New York City with the goal of becoming an artist, but is given a menial labor job because he is unable to pass an art test. He meets a woman who goes to art shows with him and they begin a relationship. Because of his kindness to a man on the street, he is selected to travel to the moon to find his true love.
This was odd. The plot seemed uneven, which had a lot to do with pacing. The beginning took forever and then the rest of the film was rushed.  I really liked that Billy from Gremlins (1984) was cast as the main character. Murray and Aykroyd played very minor roles though. The hobos/tramps controlling the destiny of everyone on earth was also a unique concept. The video was clearly meant to mimic old science fiction films. It went from black and white to color when a magical area was entered. The audio had far too many songs for a film that is not a musical. Overall, strange and obscure with some positive and negative points. I rate this adequate because oddities get better ratings.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bad Timing (1980)

A British drama directed by Nicolas Roeg, starring Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell and Harvey Keitel.
A man whose girlfriend is in the hospital remembers their relationship together. He is a psychology professor and she is crazy. The cops are questioning him after he brought her in for a drug-induced coma.
Holy non-linear plots, Batman! Everything was all out of sequence, but it ended up only making sense at the very end. All of the scenes came together to produce a relatively coherent whole. The two main characters were developed well and their relationship was shown in great detail. The video was pretty standard, straight forward and run of the mill. There was some nudity and sex, but the most shocking ingredient was the operating room at the hospital. The audio was nothing to get excited about either. Overall, this was about the characters and their relationship. I rate it o.k.

Zardoz (1974)

An Irish American science fiction written, produced and directed by John Boorman, starring Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling.
In a post-apocalyptic future, the elite are immortal and the rest of the population works on farms to supply the elite with food. This social system is enforced by exterminators who kill the farmers and a giant, floating head that orders them to do so. One of the exterminators stows away in the giant head and enters the area of the immortal elite. Although they originally want to kill him, he is permitted to live and learns the secret of their society. He then calls the other exterminators in to destroy their way of life and save them from immortality.
This is one of the films that I vowed never to review when I started this blog. I had tried to watch it before, but did not like it. The plot seemed to meander aimlessly, but did in fact have a point. I think that it brings up questions of authority and social systems that are followed by tradition, but have lost their meaning. The main character was interesting and did develop significantly. That is, if you can get past his absurd costume. The main villain developed some by a role reversal, but was absent for most of the duration. Everyone else was extras. The video was planned quite well. Their set designs were extravagant and colorful. There were also psychedelic altered states of consciousness sequences that entertained me. Some of these were done with careful placement of mirrors and looked really cool. The audio was pretty standard of the time, featuring classical music in the soundtrack. The dialogue was audible and mixed correctly with the music. Overall, this film was more fun to write about than to watch. I rate it o.k.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Mutant War A.K.A. Mutant Men Want Pretty Women (1988)

An American science fiction directed by Brett Piper.
The hero from Galaxy (1986) has continued adventures with human survivors, monsters and mutants. He saves a girl who is looking for her sisters and faces a man who is building a mutant army.
This was almost just like the first film of the series. This one featured more stop-motion alien monsters that were actually done quite well. I really liked the one that chased the man and the two women out of the mutant base. This film also featured a psychedelic dream sequence after the hero was given a mind-altering drink. That being said, those video elements were better, but it was poorer quality in general than the previous film. There's a section in the beginning where the hero is all serious about how bad the earth is doing and he pulls up in his car, smiling and says "yeah!", breaking character. The audio still featured '80s metal, but the other soundtrack music was really repetitive. The version that I got stopped working at an hour 14 minutes, so I didn't get to see the whole ending. Overall, the same as the first one. I rate this adequate as well.

Galaxy A.K.A. Galaxy Destroyer, Battle for the Lost Planet (1986)

An American science fiction directed by Brett Piper.
A man who has stolen a top-secret tape blasts off in a space ship as aliens are invading earth. He returns five years later and enlists the aid of a woman who saves him and the leader of a motorcycle gang to infiltrate an alien base. The base is on top of a weapon that was made before the aliens invaded that could save the human race.
This was really cheesy. The plot was simplistic, but communicated quite well. The characters were not developed very much. The main character was likeable enough though. The video was obviously done on a tight budget. The camera-work looked amateurish and the special effects were not very convincing. The audio was all very quiet, but the sountrack music featured '80s metal that I liked. The dialogue was very, very poorly written. Overall, the type of '80s trash flick that most people dislike. I found it to be so quaint that I kind of liked it. I rate this adequate.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Chappie A.K.A. CHAPPiE (2015)

An American science fiction directed by Neill Blomkamp, starring Watkin Tudor Jones (Ninja), Anri du Toit (Yolandi Visser), Sigourney Weaver and Hugh Jackman.
Ninja and Yolandi owe a crime boss a large sum of money for a botched heist. They kidnap a scientist who has just created a human-like consciousness for police robots and the broken robot that he is about to test it on. In preparation for a larger crime, Ninja and Yolandi try to teach their new robot how to be a criminal, but also moral values. Back at the police robot station, another officer activates his bigger robot and pilots it into a confrontation with the main characters.
This got generally negative reviews, but I really liked it. It came with "pre-loaded" characters (Ninja and Yolandi). Anyone familiar with the duo's music videos knows their characters already, meaning that the lack of character development in the film became a non-issue. The plot was a little bit disjointed, choppy and desultory. It lacked resolution to many of the concepts and events involved. The video was pretty good. The special effects were done very well, meaning the robot looked real and like he was really there. The audio featured some Die Antwoord songs, so no complaints here. I could hear the dialogue too. Some of this dialogue was admittedly poorly written and maybe a little cheesy, but this was not the focus of the film. The real purpose of this thing was that Die Antwoord teach the robot to be like their characters. I think it succeeded here. Overall, pre-loaded characters that I like, good music and good CG. I rate this best. Watch it if you like Die Antwoord.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Puffball A.K.A. Puffball: The Devil's Eyeball (2007)

A British drama directed by Nicolas Roeg, starring Miranda Richardson and Donald Sutherland.
an architect and her boyfriend move into a farmhouse that their new neighbors used to live in. The women in each house are dealing with pregnancy issues and the neighbor grandmother is a witch.
The award for least ability to tell a story in film goes to Nicolas Roeg. The plot of this, as with his other films, doesn't make much sense. There is a surface level where we see the people in locations and hear their dialogue, but the deeper level of meaning is a mystery. This was produced like a horror film. The grandmother was talking to someone or something that was never visible (maybe she was crazy and talking to the dog). There were these close-up shots of the puffball fungus that were so menacing that I thought there would end up being a monster in it. After one of the grandmother's chats with the dog, the screen is engulfed in flames. All of this buildup of horror elements led to the anticlimax where nothing really happened. There was also sex. Lots of loud sex. The video and audio were great though. The composition, framing and camera-work were phenomenal. There were even well-done special effects that looked like something magical. Overall, exactly what I should have expected from Roeg. With Mike Leigh, it seems like nothing is happening when the deep meaning is being presented. With Nicolas Roeg, it seems like deep meaning is being presented when nothing is happening. Crazy Brits. I rate this o.k. because it was such a well-made disappointment.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Mio in the Land of Faraway A.K.A. Mio min Mio, Мио, мой Мио - Mio, moy Mio (1987)

A Swedish Norwegian Russian fantasy directed by Vladimir Grammatikov, starring Christopher Lee, Christian Bale and Susannah York.
A boy who is unhappy with his foster parents is transported to a land of fantasy where he is a prince. He goes on a quest with his best friend (from the real world, who is also in the fantasy land) to defeat the dark knight and save the children of his kingdom.
This is pretty standard, classic fantasy. The plot fits into the standard cliche like a puzzle piece. What I found hilariously cliche was the king approving of his son's quest to evil-land. The characters are shallow and stereotypical, as expected. The duo of main characters reminded me very much of Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings. We also have typical NPC-type characters and a "source of all evil" villain. The video was not too shabby, but nothing to get excited about. The audio also fit this mold. Style is where this film shines. It fits the mold of children's fantasy so well that it almost defines the genre. Everything is wrapped up into such a neat package that it set standards in cohesion. The plot points being repeated in dialogue and each section leading to the next makes it easy to understand for younger audiences. I also thought it was funny how the kite that had been flown earlier became the face of the old man in the sky that transports the main character to the fantasy land. Seeing how I like this genre so much, I thought it was great. Overall, a road map to children's fantasy. I rate this good.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Cat People (1982)

An American horror directed by Paul Schrader, starring Malcolm McDowell, Nastassja Kinski and John Heard.
A woman and her brother are werepanthers that transform after sexual intercourse. The brother gets captured by a zoo in his panther state and the sister goes to work at the gift shop when she begins a romantic relationship with the zoo's curator.
Cat people run: run like the wind! Cat people screw: screw like the wind! The plot was just cheesy enough to be cool for an '80s horror flick. Malcolm as a cat-man was definitely a good casting choice, but I would have liked more dialogue from him. Nastassja, the cat-woman seemed more like a victim of a curse than a villain/monster like her brother was. The video was done very well. Everything looked great for composition and framing. The transformation scenes were a little anticlimactic though. The audio was a tad unlevel, but nowhere near complaint level. Overall, a Babycakes reference that I don't really get. It seemed like a pretty standard '80s B flick to me. Beats me why Brad Neely would rap about it. I rate it adequate.

The Hourglass Sanatorium A.K.A. The Sandglass, Sanatorium pod klepsydrą (1973)

A Polish fantasy directed by Wojciech Jerzy Has.
A man goes to visit his father in a hospital where time has been tampered with. There he meets a strange assortment of characters.
This was nearly incoherent, but I could tell that it was intentional. The viewer is supposed to feel the disorientation of the main character. Trying to write about this in a normal fashion is a lost cause. Some of my favorite sections were the woman in the upstairs apartment, the boy with the stamps and the father's bird scene. The technical aspects, although primitive by today's audio/video quality standards, were done quite well. The use of and lack of color in scenes was interesting to me because it came from the sets, lighting and costumes, rather than technical specifications of equipment. The graveyard scene stands out because of this (picture). Overall, it's a crazy film that would need to be watched at least twice to gain any understanding of it. I rate this adequate.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Once Upon a Girl (1976)

An American animated sexploitation written, directed and produced by Don Jurwich, starring Hal Smith and Frank Welker.
Charged with disturbing the peace, a person claiming to be Mother Goose appears in court and tells the "real" versions of the famous stories.
This was lewd, crude and hilarious. The plots intentionally had trouble getting started, but soon became clear. The humor was all sex jokes and was difficult to misunderstand. The characters were not really all that important, but there were some good ones, like Little Red Riding Hood and Jack (of beanstalk fame). The animation style was classic cartoon drawing. Not since Urotsukidoji have I seen so many cartoon genitals and animated sexual acts. Being x-rated, nothing was really off-limits. The audio featured some really cheesy synthesizer music that I actually liked. Overall, an hour and 20 minutes of cartoon sex jokes is difficult to screw up. I rate this awesome. Watch it!!!

C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979)

An American science fiction comedy directed by Don Chaffey, starring Valerie Bertinelli.
A scientist at a security company makes a robotic dog. Some people want to harm the company and the new invention.
This was silly. The threadbare plot would have been good for about 20 minutes, but an hour and a half was too much. It lacked human drama to work around the robot dog gimmick. The characters were like cardboard cutouts, they were so shallow and static. Everyone was typically what you would see of extras in a TV series. The young couple, the foolish boss, the crooked business men and the mentally impaired crooks. Some of the video tricks were clever, but none of it was convincing in the least bit. At least they got correct focus and exposure, which is more than I can say for movies with better reviews than this. The audio was very annoying. Any time the dog was involved in action scenes, the same, high-pitched theme song was played. Sound effects were also heavily dependent on the treble register. The black dog, Monster had an ending line that I think summarized the film perfectly: "oh shit...". Overall, what seemed like a cool idea was so poorly executed as to become a joke. I'm giving this a weird pink rating because it's so bad it's good.

Eureka (1983)

A British American drama directed by Nicolas Roeg, starring Gene Hackman, Mickey Rourke and Joe Pesci.
A gold miner makes a discovery and becomes rich in 1925. Years later, he fears that his daughter and her boyfriend are trying to get his money. There are also mobsters who actually are out to get his money.
What was that? I have very little idea of what I watched. The plot was not communicated clearly. Scenes would happen and seem to have apparent meaning, but what came after would make it seem like it was a dream or someone telling a story. Far from feeling like I knew the characters personally, frequent costume and acting changes kept me guessing who the characters were. The video was done quite well, once we discount the story-telling aspect. The scenes that looked best were set in 1925 when the man was surrounded by wolves or walking through the cave full of gold. The audio was passable. I could hear everything and it was mixed properly. Overall, this failed to meet one of the primary objectives of film in general: to tell a story. Subsequently, I have to rate it poor.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Rumor Has It A.K.A. Rumor Has It..., Rumour Has It (2005)

An American romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, starring Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo and Richard Jenkins.
An engaged woman finds out the The Graduate was written about her mother and grandmother. She meets with the author and has an affair with him, like her mother and grandmother did before her.
Stupid. I don't like romantic comedy, I don't like Jennifer Aniston and I don't like Rob Reiner. My last post about Reiner's films was pretty derogatory, but I have to make this worse. I knew every move the characters would make before they made it. I saw everything coming a mile away. Jennifer Aniston's bad acting befouled my screen for an hour and a half, with the only respite being Shirley Maclaine as the drunken and jaded grandmother. Beau Burroughs' sexual conquest of the family seemed to be a metaphor for the film as a whole. Reiner was guaranteed success due to celebrity status and just let it happen. Other critics have not had many positive things to say about this either. Overall, crappy. I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)

An American courtroom drama directed by Rob Reiner, starring Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg and James Woods.
A lawyer brings back a case of a black civil rights leader who was killed 27 years before.
I wish I hadn't decided to watch Rob Reiner's directorial filmography. All of his films are very standard and formulaic. This is no exception to that. Anything that I would normally write about can be described with those words. I would like to add a few, just to emphasize my point: stale, boring, predictable, trite, conventional, stock, uninspired, and cliched are just a few that come to mind. The best part was the lawyer's youngest son copying his father's curse word: shit. Overall, I want the last two hours of my life back. I rate this poor for being so mediocre (there's another good word!).

Castaway (1986)

A British drama adventure directed by Nicolas Roeg, starring Oliver Reed.
A man obsessed with the story of Robinson Crusoe decides to live on a deserted island for a year. He finds a woman who is willing to go with him and they spend all of their money to make it happen. Once they get to the island, the man spends his time playing or laying around, while the woman wanders. It ends up being more difficult than they thought.
This was enjoyable to watch. I liked the plot and characters, mostly because I am just finishing reading Robinson Crusoe myself. It turns out that the part about the personals ad is art mirroring life, because that is how Amanda Donohoe got her part in the film. I wondered how they did the malnutrition bodies. Did they actually starve themselves, or have skinny body-doubles? When the characters were portrayed healthy, Amanda Donohoe spent much of her time walking around naked, learning to use a shotgun naked, etc. Unfortunately, the malnutrition scenes were naked too. The video was mostly very bright, despite the depressing situation that the characters were in. The audio was alright. I could hear the dialogue and the soundtrack music stayed very far in the background. Overall, a decent movie with some positive qualities. I rate this adequate.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My Love A.K.A. Moya lyubov (2006)

A Russian animated romance directed by Aleksandr Petrov.
A 16 year old boy begins romantic relationships with a girl who is his friend and a slightly older woman.
My stop-motion and animation senses went gaga over this. Oil paint on glass is something that must be seen and enjoyed. The plot and characters were simple because of the 26 minute duration, but the video was amazing. It's like a series of impressionist paintings that move. That is the best way to describe this marvel. So what if the audio is in Russian? I barely read the English subtitles because I was all googly-eyed about the animation. I rate this best. WATCH IT!!!

Revolver (2005)

A British French crime thriller directed by Guy Ritchie, starring Jason Statham, Ray Liotta and Andre Benjamin.
A con-man gets out of jail and there is conflict over a card game. He goes to work for loan sharks who use him to play a casino owner off against a drug dealer.
Not too shabby. The plot held my attention because it contained non-linear sections and made the viewer question the reality of what was happening. The characters were acted well. I liked the range of characters and how they all fit into their roles. The video was very dark in most places, but not underexposed or unclear. That's a pretty nifty trick to pull off and I've seen it fouled up plenty of times. The special effects were limited to some creative editing, but it worked well. The audio was actually very good. I could hear all of the dialogue and the music was mixed at a correct level. Overall, it checks all my criteria boxes. I rate this good.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Performance (1970)

A British crime drama directed by Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell, starring Mick Jagger.
A mafia tough-guy has some business go awry and must hide until he can escape the country. Fortunately, he overhears a rock star's conversation in a train station that leads him to a hidden apartment. The other tenants of the building are hippies who feed him mushrooms. This sends him on a psychedelic journey of self-discovery until the other mafia hit men show up.
Brilliant! The plot was unique and quite provocative at the time it was released. I thought the characters fit their roles and were acted well. The main character was more interesting because of changes in his identity, world view and thought process. A dynamic character! Who would ever think to have one of those? The video was a little dark and grainy, but pretty good. They didn't try to go way over the top with the mushroom trip, but showed him in strange situations, questioning reality and reacting to the hippies. The audio had audible dialogue, good use of British slang and appropriate soundtrack music for the time and subject matter. Overall, I think this was done properly and checks all my criteria boxes. I rate it good. This is definitely worth watching!

North (1994)

An American comedy adventure directed by Rob Reiner, starring Elijah Wood, Bruce Willis, Jason Alexander, Jon Lovitz, Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, Kathy Bates and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
A boy is unsatisfied with his parents. He is doing well in school, but they don't care. He decides to search for new parents after talking to a mall Easter bunny. The new parents around the world are not to his tastes and everywhere he goes, the mall Easter bunny guy offers helpful advice.
This is a children's film and could be watched by kids quite contentedly. I propose another option for adults: examine the actors, their other roles and their combination. George and Elaine from Seinfeld have given birth to Frodo Baggins, who takes advice from John McClane from the Die Hard films. More fun that way, right? I thought the plot was trite and frivolous, with the main character making his decisions based on fickle and childish reasons. It also involved closed-minded, outdated and idiotic notions of other cultures. The audio and video were fine. I could hear and see everything. Overall, I really just wanted to write about my "Characters In Other Roles Theory" again. I rate this tolerable.

Jennifer 8 (1992)

An American mystery directed by Bruce Robinson, starring Andy Garcia, Uma Thurman, Lance Henriksen, Kathy Baker and John Malkovich.
A cop is trying to catch a serial killer. A blind girl who "witnessed" the man before his last killing is questioned and falls in love with the cop.
Terrible, horrible and atrocious. The plot was desultory in it's mimicry of other cop flicks. The characters were unconvincing and the acting was poor at best. The bald police detective who questions the "loose cannon" cop had a cold in one scene! The video led me to think that this was newer than the date would indicate because of close shots, underexposure and fast editing. We do, however, get a split-second, underexposed glimpse of Uma Thurman's boobs. The audio was even worse. Dialogue volume and importance of the lines delivered had an inverse relationship. That is to say, the more important the dialogue, the lower the volume. Andy Garcia's shouting also became incoherent at times. The soundtrack music seemed to fit well though. Overall, poor production value and lack of originality make this torture to watch. I rate it bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Alex & Emma (2003)

An American romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, starring Kate Hudson and Luke Wilson.
A writer has borrowed money from the Cuban mafia and they will kill him if he does not finish his book and pay them in a month. He hires a woman stenographer to help him write faster and falls in love with her. The main character in the book is torn between the love for two women. When the stenographer finds that this is also the case in real life, her feelings for the writer change.
This started out badly and got worse as it went. The plot was typical of modern romantic comedies, but utilized a slightly different time-frame, with most of the events at the beginning and end. The characters were terrible. The main character was annoying and his acting sucked. The romantic interest was only slightly better. The video was the only good aspect. As the writer dictates his book and discusses it with the stenographer, the viewer sees what they are talking about, complete with changing cast and other video tricks. The audio was pretty standard. I could hear the dialogue and the soundtrack music was correctly mixed. Overall, standard American romantic comedy with some cool video effects. I rate it poor because I hate the genre.