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Ben_Cheshire

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380 reviews in total 
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1001 Penises and some moments of true wonder., 21 May 2015
5/10

There's a lot of potential moral quandaries associated with this movie: real animals getting killed, disturbingly young actors engaging in simulated sex acts, some unsettling adult themes and the general feeling of heat and stench conveyed by the flies and sweat. Then there's Pasolini's signature shaky camera-work and rough acting from non-actors.

If you can get past the thirty minute mark, and a few boring sequences, you may find yourself like I was charmed enough by its incidents that you keep watching to the end, waiting to see what surprise lay in store next.

It features some wonderful moments that suit the mythical source material, and as plentiful supply of penises there ever was, certainly if you count unique penises, I reckon this could beat most pornos, if that's your cup of tea. They're normally just sitting there, bear in mind, but often they're doing other things.

Not exactly family fare, but for those seeking a bit of weirdness, this may just hit the right spot. It would probably be hilarious if dubbed over Kung Pow style. (Or What's Up Tigerlilly style if you prefer).

5/10 for me.

Bad Words (2013)
The words were the only thing that wasn't bad., 20 May 2015
1/10

Well, they've finally done it. They've taken Jason Bateman's Sarcastic Man persona to the limit of being likable and broke it completely. This is pure insult comedy. There is no justification given for why the character tries to shame and humiliate every individual he meets, or why we should give a toss about him and his ridiculous quest to win a Spelling Bee against a bunch of kids.

The bad news is this: Yep, I'm that guy. I have a line, and that line involves saying horrible things about rape and racial slurs to a kid. Poor Rohan Chand was badly parented on screen and off. The kid's a good actor and I want him to get parts, but this is too much. He shouldn't have had to hear this stuff. And where were the kids' parents on screen? He basically could have been raped or murdered and they'd have no idea. Ridiculous. And there he was with Jason Bateman's character. This guy would absolutely be put on a list of people not allowed to spend time around children. Everything this guy says to these juveniles is a form of child abuse. You take this movie and love it.

Having said all that, the only true value in this movie is the words. There are some wonderful, obscure and ridiculously long words in the spelling bee portions which are great fun as they crop up. Its just a shame that the character and movie surrounding these words is so barren of any comedy or drive to keep watching. The words were all that kept me watching, and I regret it.

Sunshine (2007)
A mediocre space movie is absolutely not worth seeing in 2015., 20 May 2015
1/10

Its set in a massive space station like in Alien, but without any of the good stuff like good characters, dialogue and acting.

Its all so mechanical. There's nowhere near enough time spent on non-plot stuff which might make us care about these people. There's no personal stakes involved. We aren't invested in Cillian Murphy's message home, we don't see anyone's home life, and the acting is all so wooden that we just don't really care what happens. Awkward dialogue, delivered in a stilted way; both screenwriter and director are to blame. Sadly, part of the problem stems from actors who don't speak English natively or smoothly, and struggle to create a realistic dynamic on set.

Rose Byrne is the only exception to this. She's good, but she's not given much to do.

1/10 Overrated. A mediocre space movie is absolutely not worth seeing.

Hitchcock's Pirate Picture, 20 May 2015
7/10

Jamaica Inn begins with a gang of pirates wrecking a ship, killing the survivors, and looting the booty. We cut to Charles Laughton and a false nose and eyebrows, taking a lady in who is looking for her sister at the infamous Jamaica Inn.

The picture is not really about the Jamaica Inn so much as about the pirates who operate out of there. There are a few cool twists, and some attractive leads, but the tone is Dickensian and theatrical, not what you might expect from a Hitchcock. Its a period piece, and some of the costuming and acting contributes to the hokey tone.

That was initially what turned me off it, along with the VHS-like quality of that first public domain release I saw. Don't bother unless you're watching the high definition version. This is a public domain piece so is quite common in horrible versions with fuzzy picture and audio so bad you can hardly understand it. The 2015 Cohan Blu Ray is the only way to watch.

Overall its a good news bad news situation. At times, the dialogue is wooden and the framing boring mid-shots like in the worst Hitchcock movies. At other times, it has a nice flair for a dramatic twist, like the best Hitchcock. I'd call it non-essential viewing.

3 Women (1977)
Nothing happened that I predicted, except that I loved the film!, 19 May 2015
10/10

Millie is always walking behind people talking at them, and she thinks everyone likes her, but most people just ignore her or make fun of her behind her back. Pinky thinks she's just about the best person she's ever met.

I thought I would just put this on for a minute to see what it was like, but I literally couldn't turn it off. People say this, but its hardly ever happened to me. This movie cast a spell over me.

Altman is a fascinating filmmaker and this is probably my favourite movie of his so far. Its beautifully shot, with a dreamlike quality, and the characters Shelley and Cissy play are so adorable they just draw you in. Actors own their parts because of just how much free rein Altman gives them, and it happens to really gel with these actors.

The film is ambiguous, and I'm not entirely sure what happened in the second half, but its not what I expected to happen. There is a sinister undercurrent to the film which is highlighted by the music, but doesn't manifest in the particular kind of plot developments you might guess. So its unpredictable and mysterious, which I loved, but your mileage may vary.

10/10

A lot of meaningful glances signifying nothing., 18 May 2015
1/10

The scenario is promising: a manipulative crippled daughter, estranged parents and their new lovers, the promise of a game of Chinese roulette, potentially sinister or magical caretakers of a mansion... There were so many interesting things that might have happened... Perhaps with a mid-script overhaul this could have been a cool horror movie.

But the finished product is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. The cast are like a bunch of stilted marionettes staring at each other, saying abstract things.

People behave like directionless props; there's no tension or drama, and nobody cares. I believe there may have been some kind of master plan at work here, but something got sucked out of it between concept and page and the whole thing is just empty and pointless.

A movie with great potential, but it needed about 12 more rewrites than Fassbinder gave it.

Enemy (2013)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Like Antonioni passed off as Hitchcock, 18 May 2015
2/10

A bunch of weird dark scenes happen, you think you spy Jake Gyllenhall, and the ghost of a mistaken identity caper, but it couldn't be because its too slow and dark.

OK, so straight off the bat, the cinematography here is too dark. The opening 10 minutes is virtually indecipherable. And another problem I had right away in the dialogue scenes is that its got that awkwardness of a script that's been written in another language (Spanish) and translated into English.

Then the darkness comes back; this low-light cinematography really doesn't look good in less than HD resolution. Maybe on film, but I can't speak to that. When the movie does finally get to some daylight, it is watchable, but then you have the problem of speed.

It has a slow deliberate pace of an art-house film, with the subject matter of a Hitchcock caper. Antonioni did actually make a few movies like this, one called The Passenger, and another called Identification of a Woman. Since Antonioni is not most people's cup of tea, I'll guess this movie also may not appeal to most.

Dirty Work (1933)
Belly laughs still provided in 2015., 17 May 2015
10/10

It should have been a simple job. Sweep the chimney, they said? How hard could it be? Mr. Noodle is hard at work on God only knows what, while his butler gives the boys lip and Stan and Ollie do the absolute reverse of cleaning a chimney. One thing I learned from this short was that not all Chimney Sweeps were as chipper as Dick van Dyke, and for good reason. This truly was one of the dirtiest jobs of the 20th Century.

Stan and Ollie are in top form in this classic short, with belly laughs still provided in 2015. on much of it: The sight of Ollie in the garden with the sprinklers. The bricks falling from chimney. The moment when Stan realises he deserves a bonk on the head. That ending.

There is a unity and perfection to shorts like this that provide this many laughs and have such a unity of plot and situation. One of the greats.

A commentary on whether Jean Harlow is disrobed, and a meh review., 17 May 2015
2/10

Apparently Jean Harlow is in this, but she didn't' stand out to me. After reading about it, I watched the potion back and yes a small piece of her dress appears to come off as part of a gag, but her legs are entirely covered by stockings and without a 4K resolution remaster, there's nothing about her that looks remotely disrobed. Anyone who thinks this is raunchy for 1929 is just plain wrong. There's actual nudity in silent movies. Anything prior to 1934 has a huge chance of being absolutely filthy, the Hays Code put a stop to that from 34-54. My favourite is probably in Buster Keaton's One Week, where the girl is having a bath and you see the line of the top of her breast, but she drops something, and has to reach it outside the bath, so a hand comes over the camera while she does and she smiles this amazing smile that acknowledges the audience. Great stuff.

Back to this though. What did stand out was an Erich von Stroheim pastiche. The Prince is absolutely a Stroheim reference. He's got the monocle, the hair, the outfit from say Foolish Wives.

Sadly I didn't find any of Double Whoopee particularly funny or fun compared to the other shorts I've seen, or say Buster Keaton. So my review is "meh," and a meh comedy is not worth your time.

Terrific short, all set pieces reviewed below., 17 May 2015
8/10

The short is bookended by lovely titles with a saw rolling across, gorgeous. Any comedy short is only as good as its set pieces, so I break them up thusly:

* The car, with its special radio, is great and reminds me of a story I heard about John Lennon who apparently had a record player in his fancy car, but you can only use it when you're stopped for a picnic for example, not while you're driving.

* The sawmill, with wood everywhere you walk. Belly laughs.

* The boys fight quite a bit, in the way the Three Stooges became famous for later.

* The window. Goes a bit long.

* The chute. Incredible.

* Sawing a (something) in half. Brilliant. This gag: 10/10

A great first short to see from my new 21-disc set.

8/10


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