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!!!