Queue Total

284 MOVIES (released titles only)

Note: Real spoilers are in black text on a black background. Highlight the black areas to read the spoilers.

Queue Numbers

#50- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

#100- Black Swan

#200- Mysteries of Lisbon

Last- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Monday, August 30, 2010

Black Dynamite

Black Dynamite (2009)
Written by Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, Scott Sanders
Directed by Scott Sanders
Starring Michael Jai White, Obba Babatunde, Tommy Davidson, numerous B and C list black actors.  Oh, and Captain Kangaroo Pimp

When he's not satisfying multiple bitches simultaneously, Black Dynamite saves his community from drugs sold by his own people as well as a nefarious plot by outside elements.

totally awesome. it was waaaaayyy subtler than i expected it to be. not being a blaxploitation expert (i think my roster only includes mahogany, and coffee and a black militant gang in switchblade sisters) i think with a few edits here and there it could pass for real. i laughed out loud several times, and the names of the characters were almost the best part i.e. cream corn, nefarious dr. wu, and my personal favorite, captain kangaroo pimp. although totally different it made me crave pootie tang. heyyyy pootie!

This was a good time.  It was smart satire; it didn't delve into the depths of idiocy occupied by those responsible for the likes of Dance Movie.  (i.e. it was actual satire.)  It was evident that everybody involved in making this was having a blast.

What the filmmakers did so well was to start with a respect and love for their source material and develop that into something with just the right level of send-up.  The film looked and felt like a blaxploitation piece but it was evident that the black people were in charge.  From the brown color palette through the shag carpets, beaded curtains, and gigantic afros little on the surface betrays the notion that this isn't actually a movie from that time.  The car chases and other action pieces were just over the top enough.  Good choices begat good choices.

Acting was right there with everything else, with White giving us a perfect Dynamite.  His line-reads when he chides his aunt for interrupting his kung fu are exactly what you'd want to see, and that scene is just one example of where the producers could have taken things to the stupid place but didn't.  While the female characters weren't treated much better than they were in the source material the female actors sold their parts with just enough of a wink that we knew it was all OK.

By no means was this high art; but it was art, and I think it would have stirred some shit if it had been made 25 years ago.  You should totally watch this movie.


Audition  (1999) [Photo not included due to spoiler.]
Directed by Takashi Miike
Written by Daisuke Tengan, Ryu Murakami (book)
Starring Ryo Ishibashi, Ehi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki

seven years after his wife dies, a man decides to start looking for another wife. his friend, who is in television, comes up with the smarmy idea of creating a fake movie for women to audition for. enter chicky poo who seemingly is the perfect match. da, da, DA!

I don't envy my woman writing the synopsis on this one because it's hard to know what to say without giving important things away.  And with that in mind if you do choose to watch this move I advise you to skip the director's and star's introductions because they were the worst part of this experience for me.

The ascent to the precipice is barely noticeable at first but the path becomes more difficult to climb at exactly the right time.  To the last frame it was difficult to predict what would come next.  It was also difficult to process what had just occured.  Dark production and skillful yet unpretentious cameras helped the actors  to bring their characters to life.  Facial expressions conveyed volumes.

This movie is not easy to watch, so if you're faint of heart I advise you to steer clear.  But if you think you can handle it then you should.

this movie was very subtly disturbing. there was not much gore, but fucked up situations, and sound effects were pretty skin crawling. and the way the torture goes down is done really well. the way the actress speaks, and what is done....gagagaga. my muscles twitch just thinking about it. the best part about this movie to me is the simple fact that there is really no motive behind what this chick does. she just crazy. the guy, despite going about it in a sketchy way had good intentions toward this girl.

the ending was a little hard to grasp because there were so many visions and hallucinations you couldn't tell what was real. like that kids in the hall sketch with the pear......but i think that was the point. and it all does makes sense at the end. it isn't just weird vision ending. good movie.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Body of Lies

Body of Lies (2008)
Written by William Monahan, David Ignatius (book)
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Leonardo DeCaprio, Russell Crowe, Archie from RocknRolla

Synopsis Up-and-coming Middle East field agent engages in various operations while supported / sabotaged by his handler.  As he  advances in The Agency he starts to run his own stuff and becomes friends with the head of Jordanian intelligence.  There's a kind of a love interest and more shit happens.  Then the movie ends.

The Woman
yeeeeaaah. i labored over putting this on the queue, and i specifically remember not putting it on intentionally and then something changed my mind. i wish that something never existed. this movie was stooooopid, convoluted, and uninteresting. my viewpoint is not surprising to me since that is how i've felt about every ridley scott movie since blade runner. why, oh why, did i put this on our queue. two hours of BOOM! gunshots! terrorist! boring plot! jeebus we have another hour!?! i think mr. scott may have a talent for making me not care about the characters he puts on screen. "gladiator" was one of the worst, uninspiring movies i've ever seen, and i will never understand the "best picture" it received. this was a close second. it's like you can feel the swollen ego of both crowe and scott oozing from the screen. leonardo dicaprio is a good actor. i've seen proof of this fact in other movies. in this, however, it was almost as bad as a huge budgeted cable access movie. i think everybody involved in this has, undeservedly, gotten a little too big for their britches and pooped out this movie. this could have easily been replaced with "kingdom of heaven" "black hawk down" or "gladiator" and i wouldn't have noticed a difference.

I took a ton of notes while we watched this and I don't really know why because it was pretty dumb.  I was disappointed that (spoiler alert) nobody dies because the lame political points would have been stronger if there were some actual consequences.I suppose everything else seemed realistic enough but the story wasn't engaging on any level.  Scott usually has a way of communicating an aesthetic point of view, but everything here muddies together.  There are a few tricks which he uses once which shouldn't have been used at all (e.g. shakicam, staticy credits) but everything else is just flat.  Other production elements are also flat and uninspiring.

Except for the acting, which inspired me to take a dump.  Crowe is doing some sort of generic Texas affect thingy (because he's playing an American) but Leonardo appears to be channeling W.  Each of their accents is coached well enough to not be an outright distraction, but only just, and when we get to the few scenes where the DiCaprio character is supposedly expressing personal (read: romantic) interest in the unattainable chick of the day it really feels like he's doing a broad-strokes impression, replete with sidelong glances and wide eyes.

This movie is over two hours long (as Leila says, "It's Ridley Scott.  Of course it's two hours long!") and I think it was just as much of a waste as Lie with MeAt least there were blowjobs in that one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lie with Me

Lie With Me (2005)
Directed by Clement Virgo (proudly)
Written by Clement Virgo, Tamara Berger (book and movie)
Starring Lauren Lee Smith, Eric Balfour

girl likes to have sex. girl likes to have sex with a particular dude. dude's father dies. girl can't handle his grief. girl leaves like the next day. they miss having sex together. they go crazy not having sex together. they have sex together.

I've decided to call it ironic rather than intentional that as the characters' relationship moves from casual to serious the sex on screen moves from hot to tepid in this needlessly pretentious pile of mid-core porn.  Leila starts off as a free-spirit, fucking who and when she chooses and ends up devoted to David despite his skeeviness in both action and appearance.  Each of them has a personal trial from which their sadness is understandable but for which the other is emotionally unavailable; and that's just one of the reasons why it's completely unbelievable that they would end up with such a strong desire to be together. They share maybe one scene which doesn't end with them fucking and we don't have enough background on the characters to believe that such a relationship would be enough to inspire such devotion.  In fact, what little background we do see is antithetical to developing the kind of state of mind required.

There is no chemistry at all between them as characters or actors even though his dick is actually in her mouth something like every ten minutes (*my* Leila was timing it).  They each play their roles as marionettes, animated by a wizard who hasn't worked out all the details of the spell just yet and very likely never will.  The movie is full of things that are intended to make us believe that we're watching a true master at work.  But we're watching the worst kind of un-self aware hackery.  Ooh, did you see that handheld shot to see how nervous she is?  Isn't it neat how the picture is grainier when the characters are in an unclear or seedy situation?  Don't you agree that it's a beautiful shot of her bicycling down the street with her hair flowing?  How risquee!  That's some possibly-explicit oral sex.  The answers are: Who cares? So? Not really; and Did you see The Brown Bunny? [Note: I'm not exactly endorsing that movie either.]

This movie started as a two and a half or so, slid down into the two range pretty quickly, and ended right on a 1 as I wished for nothing more than at least one of the leads to just fucking die.

The Woman
totally pointless movie. this chick acts like a whore and gets upset when the dude calls her on it. literally all they do is have sex. the minute they have a conversation things fall apart. she gets totally freaked out and leaves when dude's father dies because he's sad, and she gets upset that he can't understand the intense loss she's feeling because....wait for it... her parents are separating and selling their house. this is totally logical thinking. these two events are soooo similar and comparable. you would think that the whole point to the movie is that they don't really have a relationship at all, but it's not because after they "break up" for lack of a better word, they go crazy because neither of them can get off. so they, of course, go back to fucking one another in this intense, can't live with out each other, this point they should have just cut out each others tongues because obviously she's an ass, and he's just totally sketchy. did i mention the second after she left he started hooking up with his ex, that he made an ex because he just had to have sex with whorey asshole chick? yeah. they are totally star crossed lovers with a never ending relationship of love.

this movie was  romantic comedy plot A, only there was no romance, and no comedy. it was just chock full o' penis and stupid.

p.s. eric balfour looks like a total sketch ball, and not in a good way, in a i'll steal your wallet for some heroin way, and i could have lived my entire life with out seeing his penis....20 skabillion times. i sort of felt like a doctor at life drawing class towards the end of the movie. completely desensitized to genitals.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prodigal Sons

Prodigal Sons (2008)

Director: Kimberly Reed

a documentary about a trans-gendered woman going back home to montana for her high school reunion. though it becomes more about her accepting her past as a male, and her relationship with her older brother who has not really accepted her, who also, due to a severe head trauma, turns out to be mentally ill.

The Woman
i always hesitate watching documentaries (though i am kind of obsessed with them) because i know they are always never happy-go-lucky. this was no exception. it was good, and i really enjoyed taking the journey into this woman's life and familial relationships, but it was in no way happy. dealing with the mentally ill is never an enjoyable process and this portrayed it perfectly. as the documentary progresses it becomes less and less about kim, and more about her adopted older brother marc who clings to the past, and his perceived glory days, while she wants to put the past behind her. if you're into documentaries this was a good one. i hope moster didn't put this on the queue. given the subject matter i'm not so sure... i apologize if i watched this out from underneath you mah poops.


Choke (2008)
Written by Clark Gregg, Chuck Palanhiuk (book)
Directed by Clark Gregg
Starring Sam Rockwell, Kelly Macdonald, Angelica Houston, Brad William Henke

Dealing with a shitty job and a mother with dementia, a sex addict (who's about as on the wagon as I am with food right now) scams extra cash by legitimately choking and letting people "adopt " him after they've saved him.  He meets a new doctor at his mother's home and some interesting, atypical things happen.

i am an enormous palahniuk fan, and sometimes when you've read a book it's hard to see a movie adaptation for what it is instead of what it's missing. this isn't to say i didn't like this movie. i'm just not sure how i objectively i can critique it. i have a hard time unblending what i know about the plot and what was actually portrayed in the movie. sam rockwell was indeed the perfect cast in this role. he did phenomenal. it was also wonderful to watch a plot i haven't seen reenacted 2.3 gajillion times before. that's why i love palahniuk so much. his stories are dark, and funny, full of unanticipated plot movement, and almost all are despicable characters. i would definitely recommend.

This was good and entertaining. I found myself literally on the edge of my seat for the last 15 minutes or so because not having read the book I had no idea how things were going to turn out.  The story on screen was tight and well paced.  There were few scenes or shots that did nothing to advance the plot or the character development.  This truly is a story of a person developing and it does a good job of showing how difficult that development is and how the relatively small changes he makes end up having a positive impact on his life.

The tightness of the story translates through to the process of bringing the production to the screen.  Direction was clear, showing different types of actions in slightly-varied ways.  I especially liked the way his imaginings of the women with their shirts off were integrated seamlessly into the longer shots of them with their clothes on.  Blah blah MOster blah everything was pretty and looked like it fit in the same universe.  Another interesting thing about this movie is that while it's about sex I think the sex itself was largely PG-13 while the language is what made it an R. 

Casting here was perfect for the story.  Sam Rockwell did very well in both acting and emoting, to the point where his usually-grating smirk and sometimes-annoying voice made Victor a three-dimensional character.  I've had a love for Kelly Macdonald since Trainspotting and she didn't disappoint me here, either.  She plays the calm, reserved doctor very well and she's just so damn CUTE (but in a very sexy way).  Angelica Houston doesn't need critiquing by the likes of me; and the dude who played the best friend was another fully-realized character with whom it was easy to empathize despite his particular sex addiction.

This is a solid four, and we see far too few of those.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Did You Hear About the Morgans?

Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)

Director:Marc Lawrence
Writer: Marc Lawrence
Starring: Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sam Elliot, Mary Steenburgen

separated new york power couple witness a murder somehow involving gun running(?) not important. they are relocated to wyoming, where they make constant fish-out-of-water jokes. with no distractions they shockingly work through their differences.

The Woman
there is nothing creative or new, or even funny involving this movie. i don't know why i put myself through these dime a dozen romantic comedies. it must be something in the female dna. this could have seriously, with a few minor details changed, been "the proposal", or....i can't think of another one because they're all blending together in my brain. there were maybe one or two occurances where the corner of my lips upturned 3 degrees from their original state, but it's now fifteen minutes after the end of my viewing and i can't recall the instances so what does that tell you. i could tell where it was supposed to be funny, and that just made me more dissatisfied. stupid and shallow, uninteresting and unoriginal. not even wiford brimley could save this, i'm going to go get a chai latte from starbucks.

Annie Get Your Gun

Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
Directed by George Sidney (some storyboards and other things held over from Busbee Berkeley)
Written by Sidney Sheldon, Herbert and Dorothy Fields (book), Irving Berlin (music and lyrics), R&H (stage play)
Starring Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Louis Calhern, J. Carrol Nash, a bunch of brownface extras

"plain talkin'" annie oakley wins a shoot out with frank butler. he's a dick. she loves him. he's a douche. she shows him a new awesome shooting trick he could never do. he such a dick he leaves. she pines. they tour in different wild west shows. they meet up at a ball. she realizes what a dick he is."anything you can do i can do better"  shoot out contest to settle their score.

I have a soft spot for things like this, and I liked it a lot.  I don't know how true the story is, but that really doesn't matter.  As long as you can get over the "injun" stuff you can get a lot from this one.  There was plenty of other humor, sexual and not, which came across really well.

The songs and the musical numbers were by and large well above average.  Many of them are "standards," and the reason is clear.  "Anything You Can Do" is really funny (e.g. "Can you bake a pie?" "No." "Neither can I.") and it doesn't stop there.  Production is also really great across the board.  A couple of shots and numbers were obviously lifted from Berkeley's notes but that's certainly not a bad thing, and the rest were just a lot of fun.  I could have done without a couple of the duets/solos but that says more about my attention span than anything else.  The ratio of musical to drama was really good as well, and the production was just as good in those pieces.

Acting was just fine all around.  It must have been extremely difficult to follow Ethel Merman, but Hutton did as much of a good one as she could and as far as I can tell she sang it herself which is no mean feat.  The rest of the players appeared to be emoting and expressing more like they were on the stage rather than a soundstage.  While that was probably more direction than acting I think it served the story well.  You have to get over some of the racism of the age to accept some of the characters.

So, yeah.  This one totally gets a four from me.  I had a blast.

it's musical week here in casa del orient-o. this one was funny and good. it's unfortunate that frank butler is portrayed as such a dick face douche. it put a dark cloud over my opinion of this movie. the notion that he gets so childish and macho about his title being taken away by a woman, and she just pines after him... rabbles. dude. she's annie oakley, nobody could out shoot her because she's that good. dick. the ending had to happen the way it did because god forbid a guy deflate his head a little to admit he likes a kick ass girl, but if you can't tell, it bothers me.

great introduction by a ms. susan lucci too. it had me laughing for awhile. if you're into musicals, and haven't seen this one yet totally do it up.  it's worth watching just for "anything you can do i can do better" because that shit is funny!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Director: Robert Wise
Writer: Edmund H. North (screenplay), Harry Bates (story)
Starring: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal

Alien ship comes to Earth amidst a huge fanfare.  One dude gets out and is immediately shot by some stupid kid in a tank.  Labeled a fugitive for escaping the hospital, he goes on the lam and rents a room at a boarding house where he meets a bunch of people, including a kid and his single mother.  His goal is to tell everybody to cut the shit with the nukes or the interplanetary community will blow up the planet.

The Woman
this was ok for a moldy oldie. nothing much has changed in humanity since it was made. people are still assholes, and i think we would still shoot first ask questions later. we're prejudice against aliens man, ever since independence day.... those jerks.

solid three starrer on netflix. it wasn't amazing, but it was well done, and the story was good. MESSAGE!

I appreciated this.  It's telling how even though we understand that nuclear holocaust is bad the smaller parts of the message (e.g. persecution without understanding) are just as relevant today.  There were a couple of twists in the story, even though the climax is aided by a fairly lazy deus ex machina.  I'm also not sure I buy that NO high level people would be there when the saucer landed nor that there wouldn't have been some explicit orders handed down to the troops, but it's not worth going on about.

Acting was pretty good, I guess.  The dude who played the alien was really good as a cool customer, and while the kid was pretty shitty the grownups were fine.  The douchy boyfriend dude did a good job of slowly becoming douchier as time went on.

Leila credits at least some of the technical stuff to remastering, but I couldn't find any information to support that.  Much like Sunrise, I thought that there were some really cool tricks for the period.  While here they're more evident when it comes to the alien tech stuff such as the flying saucer over Washington, I don't think that really makes a difference.  It was nice to see what must have been some real innovation... even if some kids on a computer cleaned up the edges a bit.

I don't need to give this movie more than a 3 but I do recommend it.  It will be interesting to see how it compares to the new one when we watch it in another month or so.

The Pajama Game

The Pajama Game (1957)

Director: George Abbott, Stanley Donen
Writer: George Abbott (book and screenplay), Richard Bissell
Starring: Doris Day, John Raitt, and a bunch of other people

a musical set around a pajama factory, the people who work there, and their union fight over a 7.5¢ raise. bob fosse choreography

This is the sort of musical I'd been expecting.  Plenty of big numbers and dancing and singing and harmonies and humor.  The notion of this pajama factory owner pinching on such a small raise seems ridiculous, but $2.80 was a lot of money 60 years ago.  There were some interesting internal things with the superintendent dude uncovering an important secret, but at the end of the day that just played into the standard storyline.

But the standard storyline was fun, and the actors were all above average.  I like how Doris Day is cute--but not hot--and gets the guy because she's also actually smart and independent.  Speaking of "unlike Funny Face," the musical numbers were really cool here with good ensemble work balancing out the duets and plenty of tricksy work on all sides of the camera.  More of the lines were funnier and the comedy was the good kind of risque.  

I had a good time watching this movie.  Again it's not high art or anything, and of course by the end of the day we learn that one plus one does in fact equal two.  But so what?

The Woman
this was way better than any of the 3 or four movies we've watched in the past couple of weeks. it was everything a musical should be which is campy and lots of ensemble and funny supporting cast numbers. the plot was a little fast, but hey, you gotta fit a musical in an hour and a half right? so they fall in love in twenty, and then relationship drama, until everything works out great at the end. yeah for musicals.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)
Written by Peter Straughton, Jon Ronson (book)
Directed by Grant Heslov
Starring Mark Renton, Doug Ross, Jeffrey Lebowski, (spoiler alert!) Keyser Söze

Reporter goes to the Middle East to cover the Iraq war.  There he meets a man who claims to be a retired (and later, re-activated) member of an army psi-ops division.  Jinks ensue.

i can't figure out what this movie was missing, but it was something. it just didn't have that extra umpf to make it really good. i still don't really know what it was about. maybe a lack of direction to something. maybe psi-powers just aren't enough to carry the whole plot. i thought the flashbacks were really the meat of the movie, but there was a lot of focus on ewan and his deal with clooney in the present. i really wanted to like this movie but it just fell short. all the good parts were in the preview and they were just glued together with uninteresting gobbledygook.

i do believe that most of this movie is true. i can see the military competing with the ridiculous rumors of the cold war in the 80's, and the bureaucratic ridiculousness of our involvement in the middle east in the present.

good concept, good cast, shmeh movie.

This movie had almost all the right ingredients, starting with a stellar cast.  Ewan does a pretty good American accent (as usual) and he's opposite Clooney, who I tend to really enjoy in comedies.  And then you have Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey, complimented by some other great supporters including a neat little bit by Robert Patrick.

The film includes a series of flashbacks, and the standpoint of the viewer shifts seamlessly through each time period and voiceover-or-not in each of those periods.  The few action sequences took on various styles which really helped to bring the satire to the fore, but only where it made sense; and the other scenes felt both specific to their needs and general to the movie. 

But the production was better than the material.  While the outline of the plot was really good, the script was only mediocre.  There were some good jokes and we actually laughed maybe a handful of times.  I'm not sure if I hope that the Star Wars jokes were written with Ewan McGregor in mind or not; but while they're funnier with him they are--with the exception of the most-circuitous one--not funny enough.  The jokes could have hit harder, and while the end of the film was  fine (and it probably shouldn't have been funny) the resolution of the actual story was neither all the way there nor particularly funny.

Finally, and apropos of nothing, fuck you George Lucas.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday (1953)
Directed by William Wyler
Written by Ian McLellan Hunter, John Dighton
Starring Audrey Hepburn, young hot Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert, a whole host of actually Italian people

A princess from an unnamed European country (which was probably a joke 50 years ago that I don't get today) gets pissed off at all the bullshit and runs away.  She intends to go for a couple of hours, but since her handlers drugged her she ends up being away for a full day.  She meets a reporter and he takes her around the city, starting as a bottom feeder (promising the story to his editor and a piece of the dough to his photographer friend) they end up falling in love.  (spoiler alert?) Bittersweet ending.

i have seen this before and i disliked it then, aaaaaand i still dislike it. i grrrrrred and pouted when moster put it on the queue, and i grrrred and pouted when it came to the house. i don't know why. i just find it stupid. they fall in love in less than a day. eye roll. she has a taste of life, wonderful life. then she, boo-hoo, goes back to her life of obligation not as a child, but as a woman. somebody please hand her a cross. slumming it is so attractive.

I don't know why Leila hates this movie so much.  I thought it was very nice and actually bittersweet.  The story is simple, but that doesn't matter.  The little things they do and the sights they see make for a bunch of fun scenes in a row.  While it's unlikely that they would have a nice long life together if they had even tried, I buy that they felt the love that they showed, and I really liked the looks in the last couple of scenes.

Hepburn here does a great job as little more than "herself," Gregory Peck just smolders, and Eddie Albert has fun as the photographer, getting what little  "zany" there is to be had.  The ass-sticks in the castle really come off as they should, and the little bit of local flavor also does a good job... especially since for many of them English isn't necessarily their first language.

The directing here was competent, if not mind-bending; but it doesn't have to be mind-bending.  There were some really cool shots in a couple of spots, with the best sequence being the party-on-a-barge which turns into an all-out brawl.  The rest of the production was also admirable, and again I appreciate how much of this was filmed in Italy with Italians.

I think this was a fine move and I do recommend it.  It would make a good date movie with 95% of the female population, I think.

I will fight for the 3 on this one.

Funny Face

Funny Face (1957)
Written by Leonard Gershe
Directed by Stanley Donen
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, you don't care about anybody else.

sketchy old photographer for a fashion magazine comes up with a plan to rejuvenate the image of said fashion magazine ( ha. the irony) booky chicky poo becomes the new "smart" model. makeover. paris. love.

I think I should have liked this movie more than I did.  This is one of two movies this week where I think we were witnessing an early iteration of a formula which has played out hundreds of times.  That part of it was fine for me, I guess.

The acting was just fine here.  Astaire and Hepburn are cast into types which they created, and while the supporting cast did their jobs pretty well they didn't make much of a difference at all.  The woman who played the editor of the magazine was fine.

This is a Stanley Donen movie, and I absolutely loved Charade and I appreciated the similar tricks that he used both in the standard action and in the musical pieces. The area where this fell apart for me was in the musical interludes, however.  I don't know that there were quite enough numbers to count as full on "musical," and with the exception of the first one in the darkroom (which was really cool) they all ran too long for me.  Maybe they weren't actually too long.  Maybe they just got boring.  Maybe we were both in crappy moods.  I don't know.

The rest of the production was pretty good, though some of the shots of Paris appeared to be in front of screens or on soundstages, but there were definitely some location shots as well.  Costuming, by Edith Head, was first rate as always; and everything else looked as it should.

I'm not sure how strongly I recommend this one, and I think I'll give up on the 2 vs. 3 argument when we have it at 10:00.

admittedly i slept through most of this, but only because i was so disinterested and unimpressed by the first half an hour. i woke up intermittently throughout and tried to give it a chance, but sleep won every time. look, fred astaire may be fred astaire, but he ain't no looker. he was smarmy and old enough to be audrey hepburn's father, maybe even grandfather.  the whole point to this movie was to get a model with brains, and hepburn's character was smart and philosophical, but everybody treated her like a child. especially her gross geriatric love interest. she, too, was no great shakes. it seemed, through my semi-conscious state,  she wanted to be a model secretly, but then she was using the photo shoot in paris as an excuse to go philosophize with beatniks, and completely disrespected the fashion magazine editor by not showing up anywhere for anything. so maybe she deserved to be treated like a toddler, and marry a man who is apt to die before she got to the end of the church aisle. production numbers were too long and boring too. boo. i'm not a musical hater,usually i'm quite the opposite, but this was so eh. GROSS. boring.

Return to Sleepaway Camp

Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008)
Written by  Robert Hiltzik
Directed by Robert Hiltzik
Starring Big Pussy from the Sopranos (seriously), The most interesting counselor from the first movie, Michael Gibney, Isaac Hayes, who it appears died during production, spoiler

20 years (or something) after the events of the first movie, the camp is back in operation with a similar name.  See Leila's synopsis of the first movie, because the same shit happens except that this one doesn't have the two awesome setup scenes from the first one. 

this just shows how awesome the first one is, and how difficult it is to recreate genius. the production value of this was like a disney channel sitcom. very strange. also, the gore effects of the one from twenty years ago were soooo much better. they tried too hard. it was obvious whoever made it [who was the same guy as the person who made the first one... and the second one... and the third one. - MOster] was obsessed with the first one, but instead of paying homage to the god of sleepaway camp, they just ended up pissing on the altar of gold that is sleepaway camp version 1.

the shorts were not short enough, the acting was bad, but not 'hey look guys i found this camera on the side of the road, let's make a movie with it', and the kid that everyone picked on was not sympathetic in any way. i was kind of hoping he would die too. poor and unfortunate.

Leila can complain about me critiquing this movie if she wants.  I don't care.  However, I won't spend nearly as much time as I did on the first one because this just isn't worth it.

I'm not sure what the intent was for this movie, and neither am I sure that they had an intent.  If the idea was to recreate the creepiness and atmosphere of the first one they failed miserably.  If the idea was to trade on the camp and make a farce of the first one one might say they succeeded but they did so in a totally unappealing manner.  I also sincerely hope that they failed to make any kind of money.

The kid in the first movie had an appealing backstory and was generally creepy; and while I don't want to say that the kid in this movie deserved the shit he took from the over-the-top "cool kids" he was a completely spoiled asshole who did deserve some of what happened to him.  None of these characters would even make it into a modern "parody movie" (e.g. Not Another Teen Movie).  If anything here betrayed any element of actual skill or craft it would be the production, but the glaring mistake in one character's makeup eliminates that chance completely.

We really did have fun watching the first one, and the first one actually made sense.  This is apparently the fourth in the series and it has not made us Sleepaway Camp completists.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sleepaway Camp

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Written by Robert Hiltzik
Directed by Robert Hiltzik
Starring Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, the dude from "The Manhattan Project," extremely short shorts, ridiculous cutoff muscle shirts, a couple of phalluses, a very large, 3-foot deep pond

boat accident involving father and two kids occurs. eight(?) years later surviving child goes to summer camp with the cousin she's been living with. short shorts, pedophiles, bitchy early teen ho bags, and a psycho killer on the loose. fun, fun fun!
Just like we can't come to a conclusion as to whether this movie should get a 1 or a 5 (though by the time you read this we will have), I'm not quite sure how to approach this review. 

This was a seriously flawed venture which still had a decent reveal/twist at the end; and Leila pegged it only a couple of minutes before it hit the screen.  The opening scene sets the stage for the rest of the movie, and the expectations are neither exceeded nor squandered.  I didn't understand how two people were killed and the murders hushed so poorly that (in a throwaway line which I didn't actually hear) parents were pulling their kids out of the camp at an alarming rate, but the number of extras never changed.  I didn't understand how the owner of the camp could let slide some things such as ten-camper brawls that happened literally under his nose.  However, in slaloming through the shit posts, I did come to understand the direct and oblique motives of the killer and that's what makes it difficult to decide how to take the experience.

Because the experience was joyfully entertaining for both of us.  I was serious about the opening scene setting the stage.  It was just too over the top for me believe that it came from humorous intent and that made it all the more awesome.  The screaming and the stupidity and the acting and the production had us giggling even though we weren't exactly sure who died and who didn't.  But if there was any doubt after the first scene, the second one just took it the rest of the way.  The mother of the two children was flamboyantly nonsensical. The utter impossibility of any serious approach to the role is so like the utter impossibility of (e.g.) Pat Robertson taking himself seriously that I'm forced to believe that there was no irony whatsoever.

Once we get to the camp, things can only go downhill; but they do so in such a waterslide-fun manner.  For example, how is it that nobody picks up the fact that the "head chef" is a pedophile?  How do the counselors (who were not really apparently counselors for another half-hour of screen time) look to be exactly the same age as the campers and why does it make sense that they take campers down to the lake in the middle of the night?  How does a team of apparent 12-year-olds defeat a team of apparent 17-year-olds at slow-pitch softball?  Who the fuck decided to wrap a single layer of bright red fabric so tightly around a giant whang that you can practically see the hole?  The answer to all but the last question is: who cares?

Therefore, much like, "American Ninja 4," I wholeheartedly recommend that you watch this movie solely for the gratuitous penis. Everything else is a bonus, but much like AN4 it's a 400% bonus at the end of a very successful year.

holy crap, this movie is awesome! i loved every minute of it. from the tight short shorts, so short and tight there was a question whether they were underwear or not, to the bad acting, to the special effects, to the most awesome plot and end. i'm kind of sad we sent it back today and i can't watch it again. sigh. seriously, this movie is amazingly bad and awesome and wonderful. it is everything a horror movie should be.

moster takes things far too seriously. this is not a movie to dissect and think about plot points. just swallow and enjoy. it's called fun.

i also think it's interesting that we watched this on friday the 13th......mmmm camp movies......

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monty Python Conquers America (aka Monty Python: The Other British Invasion)

Monty Python Conquers America (2000?)
Directed by Somebody
Starring Monty Python, various comedy giants, This assy narrator dude

(Seriously, I can find almost no background information on this thing, probably because it was included in the MPFS boxed set.)

Synopsis Following Monty Python from the beginning of their popularity in Britain through their Hollywood Bowl performance, talking heads and archival footage (more of news stories, etc. than actual sketches) are woven together by extremely grating thread of the narration.

"In the way the Beatles changed music in America, Monty Python changed comedy forever."

The closing of the movie is a statement which I think many people take for granted, but I also believe it. I really learned a lot about the Pythons and who they influenced, from Carl Reiner talking about how their edginess shaped American television, to Hank Azaria who was inspired as a teen by the notion that grownups "could be so silly," to Trey Parker and Matt Stone lovingly admitting to ripping off Terry Gilliam all the time.  This discussion was great to hear but it only reinforced my opinions.  It was great to hear these (and many other) big names gush about the influence of the Pythons, but what this part did more than anything was to make me wish there were hours upon hours of extras on this DVD.

The part that really threw me and really pulled me in was the actual history.  From the number of attempts, through all the appearances they had to make, and peaking with a trial over the right to retain your artistic intent this part really kept me glued to the screen.  The pinnacle of their direct involvement in the US was the Hollywood Bowl show, where they sold out four nights.

The film astutely ends shortly after that bit of history, with a few of the most glowing compliments followed by the quote above.  But this is the first documentary I've seen--granted, my documentary experience isn't nearly as extensive as my woman's--which was both extremely interesting and not very good. It was really difficult to like this because of the way the narrator handled himself and the way the narration was actually written.  But I don't think you'd get the same impact from a Wikipedia page.  If you can make it through the first fifteen minutes then you can do the whole thing... and you probably won't be disappointed.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

House of Suns (Book)

House of Suns (2009)
Written by Alastiar Reynolds

Purslane and Campion, two of a thousand "shatterlings," or clones, who were engineered to survive the millenia involved in interstellar travel are of a small number who survive an attack on their "line."  Working with the remaining survivors, they strive to uncover and punish the perpetrators but end up revealing something much deeper and more sinister.

I enjoyed this book very much.  The story was interesting and compelling, and the ways Reynolds has evolved humanity into different types of creatures are innovative and thorough.  The story kept me speculating, and while I figured out some of the high level points of the end before the characters, I did not expect the finale at all.  The writing works well to bring the reader into the minds of the characters.  I do have a small gripe with the structure of the book, but I think this is more of an editorial error than an authorial one.  The way the story flows in the prequels which act as prologues for each of eight sections doesn't quite match the way it flows in the "present."

"House of Suns" differs from Reynolds's past works in that it's a smaller scope of characters operating in a much larger area both time and space.  The approach allows for a self-contained novel rather than a four volume undertaking, and while he has only two main characters / narrators (who could be considered three... or one) rather than a dozen, each of the host of secondary players is given a distinct voice and personality.  While it helps to filter through the eyes of another character, this is more difficult in written fiction than filmed fiction; and I appreciate that attention to detail.

I've read Reynolds's work in the past, and was quite excited to see that he brought a new story from a new universe (though the way his things work it could just be the same universe at a different point in history).  Where he excelled in the past was in conveying the isolation and tedium of interstellar travel; and he does so to equal but different effect in this outing.  The underlying elements of the universe have matured in that he has pushed to the background the deus ex machina crutch of immensely powerful found objects.

Taking into account that there are unexplainable items, this work blurs the line between true science fiction and "hard SF."  The most important aspect here is in the rigid limit of the speed of light.  Reyonlds discusses using magnetic fields, stasis devices, and similar theoretical technologies--it's important that they are all based in scientific *theories* of our age--to allow for (e.g.) acceleration in excess of a thousand G, but at the end of the day the ships just keep tacking 9s onto the end of .9c, allowing him to leverage relativity in interesting ways rather than just having people travel hundreds of billions of miles in a day and a half.

Reynolds has expanded the main volumes of the "Revelation Space" series into substories and prequels.  I didn't read many of those because 1,500 pages of one universe is generally enough for me these days.  But I'd love it if he took a similar approach to this universe.  I would gladly pay another $9 to learn more about this newest world of his creation.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer:  Lynn Shelton
Starring: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore

adventuring friend from college shows up at married guy's house. distracts married guy from married life. they decide to make a porno of the two of them. they play a sort of gay chicken with one another. awkardness ensues.

The Woman
this was ok. i wasn't on board until halfway through though. it seemed to me the marriage was really weird, and the guys were pretty homo-erotic before they decided to do a porno. the married couple seemed to reassure each other a lot, which to me indicates discomfort, and artificialness. but i think that was the point. because halfway through it started to get more honest. the whole making a porno of two straight guys together as a kind of arty porn sailed way over my head. but it was also admitted to be stupid towards the end. all the problems i had with this movie were pointed out and discussed by the end, which is why i kind of liked it. but only a comme ci, comme ca like. it was a typical indy movie with an indy ending. of course it's indy, it has mark duplass in it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Real Young Girl

A Real Young Girl (1976)

Director:Catharine Breillat
Writer: Catharine Breillat
Starring: Charlotte Alexandra

This girl comes home from school, having apparently discovered the orgasm.  She proceeds to try things out and fluster her parents as well as others.  There are a couple of guys she wants to screw her, but circumstances intervene.  There is explicit vagina and Alice has really nice boobies.

The Woman
this movie was entirely about what this chick would insert into her vagina. spoons, worms, a suntan lotion glass bottle. it became a game in our viewing. mom's slaughtering a stop....vagina! that's pretty much all this was good for. that, and the realization that french teenagers from the 70's were totally weird.

OK.  This kind of gets a "whatever" from me.  I've consumed more pornography than average by about ninety billion percent (and that's not hyperbole), but I've never seen a woman diddle herself with a spoon and then stir her soup with it, and I've never seen anything having to do with earthworms, in whole or in part.

I don't know anything about this writer/director; and I really don't have the inclination to look her up.  There was obviously some intent here, but again I think we're looking at student intent.  Strange cuts and close shots and weird music cues tried to evoke more than, "oh, is she rouging her pussy?"  But they failed.

Alice is dissatisfied, full of ennui, listless.  She does some dirty things to get reactions either from herself or from others.  Rinse, repeat.  She's still unhappy at the end.  Being a teenage girl (in France in the 70s or anywhere at any time) is not fun.  This movie was fun to watch, but it was not good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Happiness Runs

Happiness Runs (2010)
Director: Adam Sherman
Writer: Adam Sherman
Starring: Hannah Hall, Mark L. Young
the children of a hippie commune are all grown up and totally messed up from lack of parenting. they're all drug addicts, nymphos, and/or cutters

The Woman
i didn't get it. if it was supposed to be shocking, it wasn't. all of these children, save one, were messed up asses. there was no character backstory, no growth. the parents were never explained. why is andy macdowell in bed all the time? was she sick? i don't know. nor was it explained. the main character, victor, whined throughout the whole movie about how he was going to leave, and it took him until the end of the movie to do it, even though he had no worthwhile  relationship. the only person he cared about was this chick who was sleeping with every other guy in the commune. eh. bad. at least most of them died before the movie was over.

Assault on Precinct 13

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Written by John Carpenter
Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Martin West

this gang kills this little girl because she's in the wrong place (the ice cream truck) at the wrong time. the father kills one of the gang members and runs to a police station that's 90% shut down. the gang assaults precinct 13.
I enjoyed most of these 90 minutes, though given the extended setup I think the movie comes from an era when there was a minimum time for such things.  Once the pieces were in place, Carpenter did a great job of building the tension and keeping it at a good pace.  I also really appreciated how the story ended.  That part rang true to me.  However, the motivation for the "bad guys" wasn't very clear to us or to many of the "good guy" characters on the screen.  It seems an awfully long way to go to kill one witness.

This was filled with bad-assery.  Carpenter's music set the tone really well and the tough guys all came off as tough.  Some of the supporters were a little weak, but that's OK.  The photography and the camera placement worked well with the other directorial elements to generate a good atmosphere.

While the movie could feel more like an exercise than a film, per se, I still think it was worty of an hour and a half of my existence; we've seen a lot worse recently.  In closing I must mention that the woman who decided to put the actresses (of which she was one) into those sweaters did an excellent, 1975 job.

The Woman
i thought this was pretty lame. there was a lot of set up for not much pay off, and the next time i looked up, it was over. i had to ask moster if was really over. lame. the actual assault on precinct 13 should have been longer, and more violent or suspenseful. the gang should have tortured the people inside the station a little more. i should have seen brains or something. intestines? i can always appreciate intestines. i like over the top better than underwhelming. boring. lame.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Battle in Heaven

Battle in Heaven (2005)
Written by Carlos Reygadas
Directed by Carlos Reygadas
Starring Marcos Hernández, Anapola Mushkadiz, Bertha Ruiz

Synopsis (such as it is)
Marcos, a Chauffer for a general's daughter, and his wife kidnap a baby and the baby dies.  The daughter works at least part time in a brothel, and Marcos is secretly (or, not so) in love with her.  Catholic guilt takes over, but to say much more about it would give things away.


i think that there are sometimes foreign movies that are made that should not be subtitled and sent out for the world to view. not because they are terrible, but because they are too culturally based and don't really make any sense to anyone from a different place. this was totally one of those movies. i din't understand any of it. maybe if i were a devout catholic it would have made a little bit more sense, but then i would probably be greatly offended by the extremely sexually explicit scenes. there wasn't a lot of dialog in this either. lots of  long silent panning shots, and an unemotional quiet mexican. no action taken in this movie was explained. there was no explanation why this guy and his hefty wife kidnapped their friends baby, or why the dude killed that chick or why he died. i know plot points like that sound exciting, but with no explanation... it was like wandering around someone else's dream. if i didn't read the description on the netflix sleeve i would have been even more lost, which is hard to grasp.

don't watch this unless you are mexican. if you are, then please tell me what the heck this movie was about. beside this dude's catholic immortal soul.

It's difficult to critique the plot of this, because I didn't really get the Catholic / Mexican undertones of the movie so I didn't understand the motivations of any of the primary characters.  I think I did get the very end, though.

Acting varied widely.  I think that Hernandez did a great job as Marcos, and I think that Mushkadiz was passable as the daughter.  But most of the rest of the cast was pretty weak to me.

The film was shot quite deliberately and with great care, though it wasn't always successful.  Slow, lingering shots on blowjobs can linger too long but I do give some points for effort.  I don't know if I can say quite the same thing for the camera work itself as I don't think the sloppiness was always intentional.  The sex was certainly real, though.

This one definitely doesn't get a recommendation to me.  Its components did not overcome the twin barriers of culture and language.