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Graveyard Shift (1990)
Slow and Rushed at the same time
Truthfully, the production isn't so bad (no worse than most King adaptations) and the direction is rather passable. The bug, like in most bad films, is the script.
With such a strong cast and good production values, this should have been a great film.
But somehow the story bogs down at the beginning, more interested in the terrible management of an old mill than the giant monster in the basement. The story makes a play at being true to the source while making a statement but by the last 30 minutes it suddenly remembers that it's a horror movie and tries to stuff the denouement and everything else into a few rushed scenes. The monster, which was actually quite good, doesn't even get time to breathe.
Brad Dourif does his best to save the movie, playing a creepy exterminator with a Jeffery Combs style mania (if the two of them were ever in a movie, the world would explode from the awesome).
But in the end this film had everything, from a giant bat to a good cast, and it still sucked.
Honestly, most B-Movies are terrible. The sudden, sad trend among movie fans to purposefully exalt crap films just for a laugh has become a "lowering of the tone" for snobs such as my self. Is Troll 2 unintentionally hilarious? Yeah. Does that mean it's "Brilliant"? No, it sucks and for many B-Movie fans, the line between satire and reality has been blurred. Face it, the joke is over. The vast majority of the B-films or Direct to DVDers are awful and unwatchable.
But every now and then, you find a B-movie that has enough heart and soul to transcend that. Every now and then you see a movie that has enough gumption to spit in the eye of their low budget and no big name. Crossworlds is one of those movies, it shows a panache you don't normally find on late night cable and plays the hand it's dealt.
The budget is so low you'd expect the sets to be made of duct tape, the plot is a bit out there, and the names of the characters are out right weird and yet...you find yourself realizing that if this had a bigger budget it would be a hit film. If this had some studio support, a slightly tighter story, and better SFX, it would be a modest box office coup.
The film is, dare I say it, rather fun and compared to Transformers or Avatar or some other over indulgent crap masquerading as a blockbuster.
In a just world, this film would've been a real movie instead of a cult classic but then again, it probably would've have been as good if had been made at a major studio.
Jamaica Inn (1939)
This long forgotten corner of the Hitchcock universe has occasionally been called "Hitchcock's Lemon" but I personally feel that title is undeserved.
Sure it's not perfect (a sentence I never thought I'd write about a Hitchcock film) but a bad Hitchcock movie is pretty damned good by everybody else's standards.
The tension and push-pull of criminal behavior meeting it's inevitable end at the noose has long built some damn good dramas but some how Charles Laughton's performance elevates this to near madness. His version of Sir Humphrey turns an average movie villain into a fascinating character, a repulsive yet lovable nut who elevates himself yet pushes down the little guy. When confronted by a "lesser person" about how similar they are and how he's no better then anything else, Laughton nearly foams at the mouth. When the hero unwittingly insult's Laughton's manhood and social status there's a definite moment where Sir Humphrey nearly plugs the unsuspecting protagonist right in the back.
All in all, good but not great film. A must for Hitchcock fanatics.
The Prisoner (2009)
Yes, like everyone else, I too yelled and screamed at the TV when I saw the promo.
And yet, so far, it's not too bad and does indeed maintain the surreal depth of the original series.
It's not the original and Caviezel is nothing like the tough, single minded 6 of the Original (Patrick, where for art thou?) But the disjointed and sad new Six works for the disjointed and sad new series. These people don't know a real world, they only know this...illusion. Or is it an illusion? Or is it real? Or...what the hell is it? Is there a Number One? Are we all Prisoners? Are they Prisoners? Is there even a prison? That's the kind of question this show raises in your mind and it's the same set of questions we asked during the original show.
Part of the problem people seem to have with this show is less about what the old show was and more about what the old show was to THEM and that's a sad trap to fall into, always. For instance, the commentators keep bringing up the whole 'Danger Man' myth, a long debunked rumor, and using it as a nit pick. Why are they doing that? Because that's the way THEY want to remember it.
Go into this with an open mind, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Cling cultishly to the old and you'll hate it.
Yes remakes are a terrible idea and I'm going to hunt down the original Prisoner on DVD but honestly, of all the ways they might've screwed this up...this does not suck.
2012: Startling New Secrets (2009)
Madness, stupidity, and greedy fools
Bad science, cheap book plugs, and sad money grabs abound in this most pseudo of pseudo science documentaries by the "SyFy" Network (The really have taken the sci out, haven't they?) They interview pseudo scientists and fools across the world, searching through the piles of misinformation and misinterpretation that surround the world of Doomsday predictors. Truthfully, 2012 is NOT a reoccurring date in the doomsday myths around the world, just like the year 2000 is not "predicted in the bible" (got a chuckle every time Jack Van Impe spouted that one). But never let good sense stop insane fools, as the SyFy Channel gives every prominent crank their day in the sun.
Then there's the creepy footage of a pudgy, sweaty man who plans to build a massive underground bunker where he and dozens of others plan to convert a missile silo into a super bunker. You shake your head and bit your lip when the man picks up his kid and claims that this is the reason he's trying to become a paranoid mole man. I almost dialed social services when the child looked over at her dad, frozen with an odd fear. Yeah kid, that's right, your Dad's a nut job and you are gonna need therapy.
The best part? Richard C. Hoagland, a non-scientist who achieved sci fi notoriety in the early part of the 90s by advertising pure madness and paranoia over and over again on the old Sci-Fi Network (the bad old days, pre-Farscape, when all they showed was Lost in Space). Hoagland has conjured up a magical science called Torsion Field Physics (don't reach for your textbook, it's not in there.) He claimed that this is the stuff that the US Government has been using to predict the end of the world. He then PROVES his theory using an out of date kinetic battery watch. Thankfully the producers include a short sound bite from one of the editor of Skeptic magazine who, in one ten second sound bite, calls all of these fools out with real science.
All of this is slipped in between subtle references to the 2012 movie that opens soon. Basically...THEY'RE CONVINCING PEOPLE THAT THE WORLD IS ENDING TO SELL A MOVIE DIRECTED BY THE GUY WHO REMADE GODZILLA! Yeah, Marketing people have no soul.
Strange Wilderness (2008)
A simple comment for a simple film.
Will it win an award? No.
Is it the dumbest god damn thing ever put to celluloid? Probably.
Is it also insanely funny? Hell yes.
Does it achieve it's goal of making you laugh/killing time while you wait for a pizza to arrive before you watch The Bicycle Thieves or The Third Man? Yeah, and that's how I started watching this movie. My friends and I rented about eight of the best films ever made, then picked this one up because our local video store didn't have a copy of Miller's Crossing.
It...rocked. In a night of the greatest movies ever made, we still loved this film for actually accomplishing it's only goal: making you cry with laughter.
The French Connection (1971)
This the film that will make you want to be a cop.
Friedkin hasn't made a good movie in a while, or at least not one as good as this one but that doesn't matter. For making this film and the Exorcist, William Friedkin gets a lifetime pass. As far as I'm concerned, he can make as many CSI episodes as he wants.
Every single shot, every single line, every thing was pitch perfect. While some people point to Roy Schnieder's smart guy sidekick as the best acting in the film it's Hackman's hardcore bad-assery that makes the film the legend it is today.
The best part? The film's gritty texture, where you can feel every hard gravel sidewalk and smell every sewer grate. New York City is alive in this film, a living entity and there's a point in the movie where it seems that not only is Popeye fighting every single drug dealer on two continents but the city itself.
Even the film's downer ending leaves a good taste in your mouth. Popeye wins (sort of) but he doesn't feel like he wins, instead he's doing exactly what he's done his entire career: chasing some unknown dirt bag down a dark hallway.
The very notion that this film realistically fictionalizes a series of actual events also blows my mind. There was a real French Connection, an actual car chase, a real set of rocker panels.
But that's why it's so much fun and that's why this is one of the best cop movies of all time. So go ahead Bill, make as many Ashley Judd mind twisters as you want, this movie means I'll still respect you.
The Cotton Club (1984)
Excellent...if slightly flawed....masterpiece.
There aren't many films around that chronicle America's Teens and Twenties with the same pizazz as this film. It's a stirring, jarring ensemble piece where Dutch Schultz and Lucky Luciano stand side by side with fictional but realistic characters in a kind of side door universe. A strange yet focused glimpse into the hypocrisy and violence of the early 20th century.
Obviously it's a Coppala film and shows the technical brilliance of FFC's well used brain.
It's like an alternate take on Godfather 2, a different version where we focus on the smaller, less organized criminals. The cast is capable and seem to genuinely enjoy their roles. Gregory Hines showcases both his dancing brilliance as well as his acting chops, playing a man caught between mainstream fame and backstreet love. Richard Gere's tormented wannabe feels genuine while a very young Diane Lane and not yet famous Nicholas Cage pull off pretty admirable performances of their own.
But the film's ensemble strength is also it's weakness, it goes off in too many directions, never quite settling on one narrative to make you fully give a damn. Sure it's nice to see what's going on in every single character's life but honestly the film would benefit from a little less detail just to let the plot breath. Lucky Luciano's presence at the tale end felt more like a Deus Ex Machina. All of a sudden the greatest gangster in New York history walks in and solves the problem? Really?
All in all, good but not great.
Tries Hard, Falls flat
I tried pretty hard to love this show.
At first it would be easy, I loved Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. I own a Serenity poster and I hang on Whedon's every word.
But Dollhouse is kind of where he lost me. The premise, while fascinating, felt tired by episode 3. Eliza's acting skills, while impressive, are not always up to the chameleon-like requirements her character requires.
This often feels like a mash up of previous series, like it's made out of spare parts of Joss' other shows. Grab some Buffy feminism, add a little Firefly anti government paranoia, insert some of Angel's brooding self analysis. It had a "Xander", a character that should've been left out upon final analysis and it leaves a sour taste in your mouth when you realize that Wheadon needs to put a Xander in every show. Learn to grow, man. People keep telling me it's not the same has his previous shows, then why all the retreading?
It should feel fresh but it doesn't. Then there's the Season Finale which was hailed as the saving episode. Really it wasn't. Instead of the gutsy punch of previous Wheadon finales, this was a plodding and meandering discussion of Decartes and Satre using turgid dialogue and a rather limp Obama fist pump. Call me a neanderthal but philosophy on TV is just more effective when it's mixed in sugar and spoon fed instead of pounded into your skull.
At times it didn't feel like a Wheadon show, it felt like a parody of one.
On HBO, this show would've flourished but on Fox, where the viewers are sold an action show, you end up with a slightly confusing genre mix up that felt like it needed that one special ingredient to be something great. That's not Wheadon's fault of course but perhaps the blame needs to be spread around none the less.
There are bright points, solid ones. The FBI sub-plot was both fun and interesting. The revelations surrounding Alpha, Whiskey, and "The Girl Next Door" were all worth a good look and I was glad to see the direction they headed in.
Shoot 'Em Up (2007)
Insanely, stupidly, strange fun
Okay, so this film has one of the dumbest plots I've ever seen. The characterization is so shallow, you think the script was written by Jung. The action is about as realistic as a Spagetthi Western directed by a ten year old. There's more gore then a Tom Savini test reel.
This is one of those movies that in theory I should hate on principle. This film represents every thing wrong with Hollywood. Puerile crap for fans of puerile crap just for the money.
There's something about the way it's pulled off that makes it worth watching. It's got style, it's got (dare I say it?) class. Well not exactly "class" in the strictest sense, but there feels like some kind of substance in there somewhere between all that visual junk food.
This is a movie that's bad ON PURPOSE and unlike those stupid Meet the Spartans or Disaster Movie flicks...this bad movie is semi entertaining.
It's enjoyable but not perfect (Monica Bellucci does NOT show her breasts, which is like a first) Watch it with an open mind...without your brain.
Best Sci-Fi Action Movie Ever!
Yes, if the filmmakers had put this tripe forward as a summer blockbuster they would have real pot boiler on their hands: paranoia, deadly conspiracies, pain and panic.
But what we have instead is a series of retread anti-establishment slogans boiled down into a nice simmering stew of misplaced anger. To the makers of this film: reality is a lie but that's okay because we know the truth and that gives all the things that go wrong in the world their own inherent meaning.
I've always found it funny that this film and Loose Change try to present their claims as an attempt to "ask the questions no one else does" then the directors get all upset when some one provides perfectly logical and reasonable evidence for why nobody bothered to ask such questions.
The fresh air in this Indy Media atrocity is religion, where the "shocking" info is actually pretty old news to anyone who cracked a theology or archeology book in the past twenty years.
The editing is good and it's slickly produced but when you really look at the film in context you begin to see it as either a sad grab at fame using other people's insecurities, an attempt to one day earn a little coin from a book tour, or a genuinely crazy diatribe urging a social revolution that isn't needed or welcomed by the general public.
So many people have said this movie changed their lives but if that's true, I shudder to think how bad your life must have been before you saw this.
If you have more then four IQ points, don't bother watching it.