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Ogenki Clinic Adventures (1991)
Pretty Decent...Just Don't Take It Too Seriously
A lot of people knock this video, claiming it's one of the worst experiences you could have next to being water-boarded.
I completely disagree.
Yes, the animation is not up to otaku standards, but then again, if you're even considering this, you're probably not true otaku anyways.
Yes, it's incredibly bizarre, but in a cartoony Mad-Magazine-by-way-of-Penthouse kinda way. And that's not a bad thing.
Yes, the dialog is incredibly bad, but that's the entire point. It's just like a porno, just animated. Besides, how many movies do you get where the Doctor threatens to put something (remember, it's a hentai video, so you can guess what it was) into a patient's mouth, only to be reminded by his nurse that he already did that? Or the Doctor's landlord demanding he live up to his sex-for-rent arrangement and pay all 61 days in arrears in one night--and subsequently offering him the opportunity to pay the next month's "rent" in advance? Or a non-orgasmic patient lamenting that the only sexual practices left for her are those that are "legally prohibited?"
The sight gags alone are worth the price of admission. The Doctor crying and hugging his penis (which is also crying) when he can't get it up. Nurse Tatase braying like a horse, followed by a real horse with the Doctor's voice in a porno version of "Freaky Friday." A graphic illustration of the nurse's technique for bringing a patient to orgasm for the first time. The same patient finally achieving orgasm and yelling "Japanese Fireman"! (You have to know a little bit about Japanese firemen to get that last sight gag.) And my personal favorite, the Doctor and his nurse trying to help the aforementioned non-orgasmic patient using increasingly bizarre methods (including some of the previously mentioned "legally prohibited" practices, here wisely "censored.")
So, in short, I highly recommend "Ogenki Clinic Adventures." Just be aware that this is not a realistic depiction of sex.
Si Fulano fuese Mengano (1971)
Mistaken Identity can be Deadly Sometimes...
Nobody likes Raul Arevalo. His servants either want to quit or kill him, depending on what day it is. The maid answers the door with a shotgun. People want to blow him up. The father of a girl he slept with and impregnated wants to beat him to a pulp if he doesn't marry her. What's a swinging playboy/amateur race car driver/pop star to do? Find someone to take his place, of course.
Enter Miguel Miguel Garcia, a regular Joe who won a Raul Arevalo look-alike contest a few years back. Raul dispatches his "con-boy" (pronounced manservant) Reboyo to find Miguel and offer him a good chunk of money to take Raul's place for a while--just long enough for one of the aforementioned parties to knock him off. Miguel accepts, but he soon begins to wonder if it's really worth it--especially when he discovers that among the people trying to do away with him is none other than Raul himself! Add to the mix a bumbling police inspector with short-term memory issues, an acid-wielding jilted girlfriend, and a shipment of drugs, and you have one of the most entertaining films in any language.
Hollywood would do well to look towards movies like this as opposed to remaking mediocre television fare.
Not as Bad as you might think...
This movie was my first introduction into the non-cute side of anime. Previous to that, I thought all anime was stuff like "Urusei Yatsura" and "Ranma." A lot of people have called this a bad "Alien" knock-off, but you know what? That's not such a bad thing to be. Besides, how can you basically tell the story well when you're limited to 45 minutes? If anything, if the producers were to make this a longer feature, it would definitely help.
I also found the "God-as-avenging-angel" aspect to be interesting, and I really wish they had gone into that angle more, but again, when you're limited to less than an hour, some things just have to go by the wayside.
I also would have liked to find out more about the private sins each character was hiding. We only had a vague idea in some cases (the station commander betrayed a friend, Norman left his friend behind to be eaten by some galactic space slug, etc.), but a little more information wouldn't hurt--especially when they didn't even go into why the creature spared Buzz.
Even so, with all its flaws, "Roots Search" is at worst an average anime feature, certainly not the "Ishtar" of anime that people make it out to be. There are live-action films with longer running times with even less thoughtfulness.
Normal, Ohio (2000)
A Good Idea Spoiled by Corporate Stupidity
First of all, I agree with most of the posters that say that Fox should have been shot for the way they handled "Normal, Ohio." That being said, a good amount of the blame should also be laid at the feet of John Goodman himself, who seemed to base his response to interviewers who asked about the show on its original title: "Don't Ask."
As good an actor as he is, John Goodman was the wrong actor to choose, in that he did everything but sabotage the show himself. He seemed very uncomfortable--almost to the point of hostility--that there was some small contingent of the gay community that might find him desirable, and that doesn't go over so well when you're playing a gay man on a gay-themed comedy. I didn't expect him to be anything like Richard Karn (who is aware of his gay following and is cool with it), but he definitely didn't handle it well.
But most of all, I miss this show because of the possibilities that would have been opened up had Fox not pulled the plug and showed a bit more moxie. If it had continued, Butch would have gotten a love interest--none other than Dan Aykroyd! This was a show that could have finally broken the "Will and Grace" stereotype of gay men that seems to have a complete stranglehold on the media. Only one other show has come close, and that was the two "Wings" episodes with "Men in Trees'" Abraham Benrubi (another straight-but-not-narrow actor who actually appeared on "Roseanne" as a younger version of Goodman's character). Sadly, like most potentially daring ideas on TV nowadays, they were forced to sacrifice their higher concept for survivability.
A Hidden Gem...
I remember when this movie came out in '86. I wanted to see it mainly because it was shot fairly near where I used to live in Chicago. I ended up wandering into this after seeing another movie (Pretty in Pink, I think), and was pleasantly surprised.
I really think that "Lucas" could have been much more popular than it ended up being if Fox had decided to concentrate its ad campaign less on the Kerri Green/Charlie Sheen love story and more on Lucas himself. The only commercial that I ever saw that had Lucas in it was the clip where he and Maggie are sitting underneath Ravinia listening to the concert.
The other reason that it didn't do quite as well was that it was different from the teen comedies of the day, which you could more or less split into two groups--John Hughes movies and "naked horny teen" movies. "Lucas" was far too intelligent to be a naked horny teen movie, but not quite funny enough to be in the same league as a John Hughes movie. I always thought that the movie veered unnecessarily into melodrama after Lucas got sacked, and you found out that his dad was an alcoholic--especially considering that the plot point was never used again and didn't seem to change things.
So many good actors came out of this movie (Winona Ryder, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Charlie Sheen--even Corey Haim), and it works on so many different levels. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see a warm, relatively inoffensive coming-of-age movie. Just fast-forward through the shower scene where Lucas thoroughly takes out one of his tormentors. True, he gets some Liquid Heat in a very not-cool place, but it's still worth it.
So Bad...It's Pretty Good...
Despite all the bad things many have said about "Lifeforce," this is (in my mind, anyways) in the same "guilty pleasures" "category as "Showgirls" and other such films.
Out of all of the movies that came out of Tobe Hooper's Cannon period, this was my favorite. I've never really been a fan of Hooper, but I think he was a good choice for this film.
I liked this movie for the following reasons: --The visual effects are some of the best of the 80's, especially the animation of the lightning between the vampires and their victims.
--Patrick Stewart, who is actually pretty good.
--And finally, Mathilda May, who totally carries this movie. How can you not like a movie in which one of the main characters is a woman who spends the majority of her movie walking around London completely starkers?
Difficult, but Talented
First off, let's get a few things out of the way:
Yes, "Brainstorm" is marred by uneven acting and the death of its lead actress, Natalie Wood, under circumstances that to this day are still the stuff of speculation.
Yes, Louise Fletcher's death scene is overacted to the point of parody.
Yes, it's not easy to accept Christoper Walken in a role of a semi-normal person.
Yes, "Brainstorm" was only Douglas Trumbull's second film as a director, and some might argue that it was little better than "Silent Running."
But, even despite all of that, the story is incredibly engaging, the visuals are striking (what else would you expect from the wizard responsible for "2001" and "Blade Runner"?), James Horner's music is absolutely divine, and the film is quite enjoyable.
Also, in its favor, a great deal of the credit (or blame, as many would say) for the final result lies squarely with MGM/UA. Still dealing with United Artists' financial baggage after their merger, the company all but took the film away from Trumbull after Wood's death--not to mention the studio's lack of support for Trumbull's plan to film the "helmet" sequences in his ultra-realistic Showscan process.
So, in point, I highly recommend this movie, but just be aware of what you're getting into...
Solar Crisis (1990)
Ack! What were they thinking!
I remember first hearing about this movie while stationed in Japan. I saw a book detailing the career of visual effects company Boss Film Co. and Richard Edlund, and it featured images from "Solar Crisis" (or as it was called in Japan, "Solar Crisis 2050"
So I figured I'd go check out the movie and see how it was.
The movie, while visually flawless (for the most part), was jumbled and annoying. I didn't really find any of the characters especially convincing--especially Peter Boyle--and the entire project seemed to have that "the concept behind the film is better than the actual film itself" quality (the concept-in-question being the collaboration between Japanese media giant Towa [?] and Boss Films.)
Apparently, when Trimark released the laserdisc and DVD in this country, they didn't think anyone would care since it was so awful it never got a domestic release, so they released the film in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio--despite the fact that the film was filmed anaorphically in 2.35:1 (according to cinematographer Russell Carpenter). In this case, nobody did--which means that Trimark--or Lion's Gate (?)--won't correct their mistake anytime soon.
At least there's no doubt where the film's budget went--directly into the visuals. It would've been nice if there had been some left over for the screenplay.
Hardly The Disaster Everyone Claims It Is
I originally rented this movie in order to see Kirstie Alley (I'm a big fan), but I ended up liking just about everything about it--with the exception of Tom Selleck, of whom I'm *not* a fan.
I have a feeling that given Crichton's technophile background, TriStar probably balked at making "Runaway" any more intelligent than it ended up being for fear that they'd lose their audience.
The soundtrack (which is equally vilified and sought after) is one of my fave Jerry Goldsmith albums, and I have been looking for another copy of the CD ever since.
All in all, this is one of the more enjoyable projects Crichton's been involved with--certainly no worse than "Congo" or "The 13th Warrior."