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Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Good parts, muddled whole
Shadow of the Vampire is a fictional account of the behind the scenes
events surrounding the making of the silent film Nosferatu. There are
some interesting parallels in the plots of the two movies, mainly
because Shadow of the Vampire treats Nosferatu as if it were filmed
sequentially. The intermittent scenes from Nosferatu in the frame of
Murnau's camera play off the action going on just outside the frame.
Any five minute clip of this film would be interesting and well done.
Still the film as a whole falls short. I think that some of this may be
due to the mixture the film was going for. There is the horror comedy
mix, which is pretty well done, there is the historical background,
which starts to loose coherence, and then there are little bits like the
vampire talking about why he didn't like the novel Dracula (it didn't
mirror his own life, so he found it horribly inaccurate) which try to
introduce a bit of philosophy. So you get these bits where the vampire
is being deep, and then he hisses at someone for comic relief. This is
OK in little parts, but overall it was instances like these which lost
the film it's footing. In the end it gave me the impression of a very
Still, any short segment of the film that I can think of was pretty
good, including the opening credits with a lot of moody zooms on celtic
style drawings. These credits were so long that the end credits started
with the main actor's stand-ins or something. Anyway we're talking
really long opening credits, so the fact that they were decent to watch
says a lot. Anyhow the details are good. I particularly liked the
scenes with Murnau yelling at the actors or telling them something odd
to get the proper reaction because the only other places I get to see
silent film type directing like this is on MTV's Making the Video. (only
prerecorded sound in a music video) The bits with the vampire are also
great with lots of very overdone very funny hissing going on.
It's a toss up as to whether or not this film is worth seeing, mainly
because it doesn't hold together well. If you are a fan of the horror
genre or it sounds interesting to you then you might like it for the
parts. Seeing Nosferatu first would be a good idea, since this movie
plays off it quite a bit, (there is also the possibility of it giving
away the plot to Nosferatu) and since Nosferatu is pretty good.
Extremely well done horror-comedy
Horror and comedy make a great mix, and this film mixes them pretty
well, although some of the transition between the two was a bit choppy.
The film grabbed my attention from the start, with the bit where the
split dog comes back to life. Seeing half a dog trying to run and
whimpering is something that you have to see. Also as scenes progress
and the nervous warehouse supervisor realizes things are bad, the sweat
pools under his arms and on his back get progressively bigger and
bigger. I guess between takes they were hitting the actor with a wet
sponge. Little jokes like these made the first part of the film one of
the funniest sequences I have seen.
The element of comedy is carried through the film, but in the second
half toned down and mixed with a much more horrific tone. I felt let
down by something about the shift, like the movie changed pace and left
me behind for about twenty minutes. I think that some of this may have
been to make fun of the death obsessed punks getting a taste of what
they were interested in. Remember Trash's talk about death - pretty
ironic considering what happens to her later. The fast paced comedic
element held through the film though, as each time some even more
horrible mistake was made wild music played.
The title might suggest that this film is a parody of Night of the
Living Dead. I have seen it represented as such, and I feel that it
isn't a parody, but there way be some intentional connection. Perhaps
the shift to serious violence and horror was part of working toward a
connection. Both films follow a progression of increasing seriousness,
with a slight relief then downer ending. Intentional connection may
have been part of what contributed to the choppy shift from comedy to
horror. On the other hand Return of the Living Dead felt complete at
the end, so overall the pacing was good.
I definitely recommend this movie to everyone. The whole thing was very
well done. This film plays up the kitsch value for parody effect, and
unlike many comedies doesn't feel weak at the end.
Pretty good, but too homogenous
Money Bone was a decent watch, but I think that at some levels it
tried too hard to be zany and original and just came out cluttered. The
plot deals with the cartoonist Stu Miley and his alter ego creation
Monkey Bone, and takes place in the real world, and in the worlds of
sleep and death. By the way Sleep is the brother of Death. I
particularly liked the theme of voyage into and return from the land of
death, because this sets up sort of a classical framework, and gave the
movie a good level of restraint and balance.
As for the visual effects, which I feel have been the main
marketing appeal of the film so far, they are consistently done, which
flaws the film. The effects in the land of sleep are extremely well
done. What might otherwise be a meaningless clutter of eye candy works
here because it adds to the sense of unreality and disorientation. In
the world of sleep the well done eye candy enhances the film on more
than a purely visual level. The problem is that the eye candy, and
constant activity are carried over to scenes in the real world. This
decreases some of the effect of having different worlds in the first
place. If people in the real world don't obey all the laws of physics,
dress in matching colors, or act rationally then what exactly is
disorienting about the sleep world in the first place?
In summary the dream and death world sequences were very well and
appropriately done, and had the whole movie been as well done I would
definitely recommend it. However carrying the visual clutter, that's
clutter - not richness, into the real normal world degenerated the movie
into more of a decorative eye candy type work. I do recommend watching
this film for the good parts, but it doesn't carry through, so don't get
your hopes up.
Dika: Murder City (1995)
Documentary with pretty good subject matter
This documentary starts out with people walking around saying things like, "Oh noooo. Oh my Godddd. Here's another body." and, "Look at the blood all over." Their voice intonations were appropriately whiny, but it was all very casual. From here the documentary plunges into footage of Dika, a 75 year old night club singer, who tends to do off key versions of Elvis songs, and who used to be a university professor. The subject material is interesting. Interspersed with the footage of singing are the usual interviews and such. Some of the people interviewed wore somewhat odd clothing. I don't recommend seeing this film. It is an interesting subject, but the singing - good lord.
Lola rennt (1998)
Like a really long music video that makes you want to run
I saw the German version with English subtitles. Just so you know a
little about the version that I saw.
This is a very energetic film. Most of it consists of footage of Lola
running with music playing in the background, hence the title. In this
respect it reminds me a great deal of Tetsuo: Iron Man, except no blood
spraying everywhere. Plotwise the film deals with parallel universes,
as referred to with the promotional slogan, `Jeden Tag, jede Sekunde
triffst Du eine Entscheidung, die Dein Leben verändern kann.' This
doesn't bog the film down with metaphysical debate, and is shown only
through plot. It comes up as Lola passes people in the street and a
series of images of their future lives strobe across the screen. In
each of the three scenarios the flashing images change slightly.
Parallel universes is a good way of dealing with the movie being
substantially longer than the amount of time the drug dealers give
Lola's boyfriend to get the money. Basically this allows the incident
of Lola trying to get money to be shown in real time multiple times.
This was a good film, because the philosophical content was not
delivered in the form of a melodramatic monologue and hence cannot be
edited out and doesn't seem crammed in. It was also easy to watch,
although I think that it maybe shortened my attention span.
I recommend this film to everyone. It has a meaning but isn't preachy
or dull. It will make you want to run.
La sirène (1904)
Pretty trick show
I watched this as one of the shorts on The magic of Melies video cassette released by Kino on Video, 1994. Image quality was good. Music matched the mood of the film. No color was added. Cropping did not appear to interfere with the film. Frame speed appeared to be adjusted. This should give an idea of the technical quality of the release I watched.
This film was pretty. Some of the special effects in it are extremely good. I could'nt pick out exactly where the editing was done when the clown pulls rabbits from a hat. If it did'nt go so quickly I think that many of the effects would come off as cheesy and played out, given that they have been used in so many films since. As it is the dizzying pace keeps things interesting. I think that an interesting aspect of the film is Melies experience as a magician. He directs eye movement away from the effect much as a magician distracts the eye to perform a trick.
I recommend watching this. It has an intriguing feel. I don't know that one should go to a great deal of trouble to find this film, but it's worth a look.
Not that wonderful
The Dune miniseries is adequate as a book adaptation, and adequate taken alone, just not remarkable in any aspect. Its main weakness is losing much of the feel of the story. Water doesn't seem all that important, because characters rarely wear stil suits, and there aren't seals on doors or windows. This makes certain rituals surrounding water seem much more trivial than they should be.
Costume design gets in the way in many cases. The strict regulation of color reminds me of the Destiny's Child video, in which the band members are all dressed in clothing the same color as the room and the sofa they are sitting in slides through other monochromatic rooms in various colors. In many cases the costumes seemed like overdone versions of what someone thought sci-fi clothing should be, without much creativity. Also there are a lot of cat in the hat style velvet hats and suits. The main exception to this is the costumes of the emperor and his entourage, which are well done with a distinct Japanese influence. The computer graphics are somewhat fakey, given that almost all the sand is computer generated. Large expanses of desert don't look so powerful when they are obviously blue screened. So visually it's not that good.
The acting is pretty good, although I feel that casting is flawed. Case in point; casting a 26 year old as Paul makes him seem more like a whiney mama's-boy than a prodigy. Also a lot of the dialogue is a little awkward, from trying to clarify concepts without a narrator.
Possibly if they had made Irulan a narrator rather than a character...
My advice is not to see this. Six hours (with commercials) of your life is a lot to waste. If you are interested in a good film adaptation of the book, then see the 1984 version. It preserves much of the feel of the book, and doesn't alter the plot any more than this version. If you are looking for a good film in the sort of genre as Dune, then this miniseries isn't for you. As I said earlier poor visual feel and cheesy costuming interferes with the flow.
Quest of the Delta Knights (1993)
A serious attempt, but marred by half-assedness throughout
This actually isnÕt all that bad of a movie. There are parts in which any particular aspect of the production is good, but then most of the
time they are mediocre.
My favorite part is where the busty bar tending waitress keeps hinting to Tee that she is available for prostitution. She spends about
five minutes asking and being ignored. Ordinarily this would just be moderately amusing in a crude way, but given that Tee is about
nine years old it is hilarious.
My advice is to steer clear of this. If you watch MST3K it is worth watching because you are probably a fan of the show and arenÕt
watching for the movies. DonÕt spend money on seeing this.
Visions of Light (1992)
Very general introduction with good time divisions
I watched this to hopefully get some ideas on what movies would be interesting to watch. From this point of view I was disappointed.
The movies used as illustration are fairly mainstream. I had heard of almost all of them even though I hadn't seen them all.
One thing that I very much have a problem with is that I think that the frame speed was accelerated on some of the silent film clips. The alternative would have been to repeat some frames so that events would play at the intended speed, but would have a slight skipping irregular pace. (24 frames per second was not a standard film speed during the silent period, so many films were done in 16, 18 or even occasionally 12 frames per second) I believe that the latter solution to the frames problem is preferable to comically fast pacing.
Also the silent period was some what gypped in that it got the same amount of time and focus as each subsequent decade. It should have gotten twice as much time as a decade, because it includes 1910's and 1920's and all prior movie history. Other than this minor disparity, the amount of time spent on each decade is about equal. This is good because the documentary isn't skewed toward any era.
Even bias is a prerequisite for a film documentary, and this documentary has it.
Keep in mind that this documentary is very general. It would be impossible to go into a great deal of depth in only 1 1/2 hours. It is not for an extreme film buff. The film is not going to be a revelation, but if you are looking for a very general introduction to cinema this is a good documentary to watch.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988)
Good show with poor social results
I have very mixed feelings about this show. It was very very funny when Joel was the host, but towards the end it degenerated into less entertaining than most of the films would be by themselves. Still this is a pretty good concept, and I think that part of the problem that came up with the later episodes was choosing films which wouldn't be worth watching to begin with. I. e. I might independently watch some of the films sampled, and yes I'd make fun of them but their flaws would be mixed in with enough substance to be endearing, but I would never bother taking the time to watch Hobgoblins and there isn't even any sport in making fun of it.
So good concept, but it degraded from inside over time.
The reason that I have mixed feelings about this show is that I think many of the fans cannot accept that a film can be good and still good material for jokes. From reading reviews of movies which have been MST3Ked, it appears that the ratings and comments on these films are determined mainly by the fact that 'Oh that was on MST3K, so it must be utter worthless crap.' On the one hand most of these films are lucky to be getting air time at all, but on the other they seem to be getting a shallow unthoughtful audience.
I don't recommend this show, except that watching it a few times will give you a pretty good idea of what the show is, and the show has been an influence on how the public views B-movies. Keep in mind that the true spirit of MST3K comes with staying up until the really bad movies come on at 3 in the morning, and making fun of them.