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14 December 2002
is this flick not good. i had read elsewhere that it was boring, tedious and unrewarding, but i usually have more stamina for "boring" things than most. that just usually means someone was expecting something different. so i was expecting just long periods of inactivity while the band waited around to play, and not much music--but you know, with some point, or method of entertaining me. and it even failed with these expectations! it's horribly shot on black and white gunky-looking video. when someone does mutter something it's often hard to hear. this could all be forgiven, but...mike mills, who shows creativity with the videos he did for air--thankfully included--has no instincts or ideas for a music doc. periods of watching the air guys sitting saying little or nothing are broken up by banal man-on-the-street interviews about what music means to people, etc. i have seen a doc he did about paperboys which also failed to elicit much from his interviews that was not trivial and uninteresting. it just isn't his forte (the interviews in one of the air music videos did manage to get by with the charm of their banality, somehow). oh yeah, his other idea is to rip off godard's stones doc ("sympathy for the devil") by slowly panning around in a circle a lot. while this works pretty well onstage (as it did with the stones' sessions), it is just retarded during interviews. the camera drifts off to the side and stays there, recording nothing of visual interest, while part of the subject remains on the edge. it's just pretentious and pointless. at least he cops to the ripoff by duplicating a scenario from the godard film to show it's quite intentional. but what was the point? he seems like an extremely creative and talented guy, esp. with graphics. but i do not think he is at all good with documentaries, and this movie is the calling card for that idea. fanatics only! (the casual fan will be better served with the dvd magazine circuit, one issue of which--i think #6--features air and can be rented. it doesn't offer a lot, but it's a handful more than this.)
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Great little movie, worth finding if you can!
14 December 2002
I bought a dub of the english-language version of this rather obscure movie to see the footage over Six Flags over Georgia. While the film is Italian, it was shot in north Georgia, and it's a good visual record of the area. But I was surprised to find a very entertaining movie as well. It's a silly romp starring the action star Bud Spencer and the little kid from Close Encounters, a few years older than he was then. They are a perfect match, clearly enjoying each other, even as the Spencer character is being driven crazy by his pint-size friend. Basically the kid is an alien and Bud is a sheriff (this is a sequel to The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid, which I now also have gotten from ebay on the strength of this) who is protecting the kid from the government. Bad aliens set up shop in the same small town our heros wind up in, and it is up to these two to bust some heads. The violence can be a bit extreme, but in a cartoony way. The movie is colorful and fun (with a fantastic theme song), and sweet without being at all saccharine. It seems loopier and less facile than an American production probably would have been. The small dusty town has several maraudering gangs (like cowboys who throw dynamite around and bikers who wear silly costumes) and the aforementioned themepark is shot as though it were simply a section of town. A very endearing film that adults will watch and wish they had seen as kids.
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Hell High (1989)
Embarrassing to see with your mom
29 August 2002
But that's what i did. We were at the mall, having just come from my orthodontic appointment, and I was supposed to go back to school. However, once the title "Hell High" caught our eye, we had to see it. I remember a goofily inane, low-budget horror movie that featured a scene of a beautiful teacher becoming vocally aroused just taking a shower (because when women soap up their breasts, they are helplessly turned on.) And that's almost all I remember. But I guess I fared better than a friend who, a few years previous, had seen Revenge of the Nerds with his little, old grandmother. And, thinking on it now, I saw Clash of the Titans when I was like eight or something with my grandfather. A chaste shot of a woman leaving a bath was pretty exciting then. Later on, at dinner, my sister yelled out that I had told her there was a "tushie" in the movie. I was mortified. I could hardly deny I had said it, after all, as her knowledge of said tushie was proof enough. A shadow fell over my grandfather's face and not another word was said for a long time. A horrible memory.
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The Unholy Triumvirate
4 March 2001
It blows my mind that the box for this movie makes no mention of the fact that it stars not one, not two, but three Lesser Siblings to the Stars! The ever-excruciating Jennifer Tilly had not yet eclipsed her more tolerable sister in 1985, the year this movie squatted its haunches in theaters across the nation. James Keach could be his brother's twin (and get this--his wife was Judy Collins' sister! A tangled web of shadows cast by stars and hacks alike over their siblings, exploding through Hollywood, with this movie as the flash point). But most astonishing of all is John Murray, Bill's younger brother, who appears to be so desperate for a career and so starved for attention that he is willing to do a completely pathetic impression of Bill through the entire film. It is worth renting this film just to witness this surreal approximation of his infinitely more charming brother. I imagine that this film is the Murray family Dark Secret, of the sort that always seems to top off a Tennessee Williams play, except that in this case you can rent it.

In general, everyone in this movie is either terrible or simply perfect for the material, which is almost worse, because this is the kind of movie where "Oh S**t!" is considered such a hilarious line that it becomes the movie's running gag. Anything so innocently juvenile is of course amusing, and if you want a stupid eighties comedy that manages not to ever flag, I can't recommend this enough.
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strangely pointless but charming
31 October 2000
this movie looks, sounds and plays like an industrial travelogue from the 70s. possibly as innocuous as a horror film could be. if that isn't recommendation enough, it also features joe dallesandro with a dazzling verbal prowess not seen since the warhol films (it's a little scary when he is just as zonked when out of a drug context). almost completely devoid of horror, it consists mainly of bored, rich people having stilted dialogue while they lounge about their tropical island homes. the score helps this along with swell cocktail themes running throughout, with the occasional diversion into cheesy horror. it's actually quite an enjoyable score. there is a great deal of suspense in place of horror, as you are kept on the edge of your seat wondering what the point to all this is. you needn't wonder, because there is none. the climax, while not elucidating, adds to the ridiculousness of the whole story. i mean, really adds. why does joe take jobs as a gardener just to ensure the randomly disconnected deaths of the ladies of the house? um...because he is a tree? i'm not spoiling anything here; this is detailed lovingly on the video box. if you rent horror movies to see women raped or brutalized, skip this (and skip your next 200 meals too). but if you enjoy old 70s horror films for their artifact quality, with their distinctive film stock and wide range of charms, go ahead and rent this. it will get a little boring by the end, but it's worth it.
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The Hobbit (1977 TV Movie)
It's a Freaking Kid's Movie
22 August 2000
this is actually pretty good as a kid's movie. there is no reason why plot should not be truncated. the animation is actually great--it may not have the movie-like qualities of current disney, but then, why should it? it's actually quite attractive, with beautifully detailed line drawings and sumptuous texture via watercolor. and as far as the renderings go--they are superb! gollem and the goblins have stayed with me ever since i first saw this as a six-year old, and they seem deservedly classic when i watched it again today. these are indelibly articulated images, and gollem's vocals are great too. his character, and other elements of the film, are standouts in my childhood memories. any reasonable child will like this, and they will have plenty of time to grow up and forget what is worth appreciating about a thing, especially when they compare it against their precious knowledge of how it really should be. (and yes i have read the book.)
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