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10/10
So good its good: a B-movie masterpiece.
2 November 2015
Look, I was blown away by this movie. Your expectations should be set pretty low and cheesy according to the title, so I couldn't believe how much exploitation fun this delivered. This goes way above the "so bad its good" films, this is clearly satire, intentionally satirical, and it delivers Chainsaws, Hookers and a hard-boiled Hollywood crime reporter. Plenty of boobs and blood, excellent picture quality on the blu ray from the Slasher Classics Collection in the UK that has clearly not been monkeyed with because some flaws in the print can be seen, which is terrific. Audio is a bit disappointing, probably because of the low budget production conditions, but its pretty muddy and difficult to hear. There's a rockin' soundtrack that still sounds good though. Overall amazing. A+++
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Dead House (2014)
1/10
If you can get past the opening home invasion scene, the next one drags into oblivion...
28 October 2015
A group of foul thugs pick the wrong house (I guess) to do their second home invasion on in this film. I mean, I wouldn't know because I had enough after 30 minutes. Most people switch off after ten, so I can help you more than them I suppose.

So what's wrong with this movie? Well, the situation is as harrowing as Funny Games, which it is clearly "inspired" by, but the acting and writing here are so painfully stilted and poor that there is no reason to keep watching. Sure the thugs say horrible things to these poor people, but during the twenty minutes of intimidation tactics that come after the opening credits, there's just no way to keep going unless the bone in your head the perceives truth and reality is broken. I'm not sure if its a language-barrier thing, because I heard some thick accents, but the performances are equally bad from the Father as from the Cockney Home Invader, who gives some of the worst line-readings this side of Samurai Cop.

I would not recommend this movie to even the most eager gorehounds, and that is the only crowd who will get past the brutal opening ten minutes. Oh, this is also one of those movies where they show you a monster during the opening credits because they aren't planning on showing it to you for another very slow hour, or what feels like an hour. I watched half of it, but life's too short. And bear in mind that I've seen A Serbian Film and Martyrs, so if the writing and acting is good enough I can stomach some strong horror, but there's no redeeming features in the first half so I'm out.
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8/10
Tropic Thunder is a movie about a movie playing another movie
3 September 2015
Apparently, Ben Stiller met actors who were in Platoon and talked about it like they'd been to war, and that struck him as ridiculous and many years later, he helped turn that thought into a war movie.

Tropic Thunder is basically a self-aware action-comedy, a satire on the vanity of movie actors. Its easy to misjudge it, I've found. On first viewing, I just didn't think there were enough jokes. Its a strange animal because it has its feet equally in the action and comedy camps. Its almost as much about becoming the thing, as it is about satirising it. The movie I think is interesting in the way it pushes through the meta stuff to get to some kind of reality. It would make a good introductory text for a class on the nature of truth and reality, if not for how easily misunderstood its dialogue about race and disability groups are. While its clear to me that the intention is to make fun of movie actors at all times, I can understand how some people might have felt the movie was irresponsible in its messages with the "Simple Jack" storyline and the blackface storyline.

I know Downey Jr. was conflicted about accepting the role of a method actor who gets so immersed in his role as a black seargent that he can't drop character, but I'm glad he did accept it, because he's hilarious. He steals every scene he's in. As does Tom Cruise, who many didn't recognise until the closing credits, back in the day. Some of the team players get forgotten. Jay Baruschel is an excellent straight-man. He's the character we relate to, the one actor who hasn't been swallowed up by vanity. Jack Black also has a bit of a thankless job. He's unpleasant as the Fatties star, unpleasant as the drug addict, and has one hilarious scene when he's tied up to the tree. Steve Coogan also has an important part, and he plays it well.

Back in 2008, I was expecting maybe Zoolander or Anchorman, which have maybe 50% more jokes. Tropic Thunder is a different animal. Its a bit more measured, but its way more exciting and immersive than any of the other over the top comedies it gets lumped along with.
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Trainwreck (2015)
6/10
Risky title for a Judd "35 mins too long" Apatow movie.
3 September 2015
Amy is in her 30's, still living like she's 21, and wild even for that. She's not actually that likable here (this coming from a massive fan of her sketch show) but is joined by the completely affable Bill Hader and the adorable Brie Larson, so it balances out. Oh, and LeBron James is in there for some reason. For what feels like forty-five minutes.

Trainwreck is hilarious, and that's all you need to know before going in. However, as a companion piece to Amy's sketch show, or a movie in its own right, its pretty disappointing. It lacks the structural and cultural anarchy of the sketch show, and is pretty bloated and conventional for an Apatow comedy. There are about 50 terrific laughs, more than worth the price of admission, but considering the fact that Schumer's show has set a new standard for sketch comedy, I'm going to suggest that she can do better than "Trainwreck."

In romantic comedies, protagonists need to be likable, and her persona here is a selfish brat with no redeeming features. That's fine for a regular old comedy, but here there's no reason to care whether she ends up happy or not, therefore its easy to get bored between the jokes. There's a serious lack of coherence to the plotting. There's no progression, it just plays like a series of moments, far too many of which don't feature Amy Schumer, they instead feature LeBron James (for some reason) or Amy's father in an unnecessary nursing home plot. So many characters, so much unnecessary subplot.

Her character is also not quite deep and nuanced enough to justify the length of this movie. But then again, no earthly human can justify the way Apatow movies outstay their welcome. I liked Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin, but in general the man doesn't seem to have an entertainer's sense of when to get offstage. Next time, more sketch comedy, or a movie with one of her TV directors please.
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First Knight (1995)
3/10
Lancelot and Guinnevere: The Disneyland Version
1 September 2015
First Knight is an odd duck. Pretty much everyone is miscast. Julia Ormond overdoes pretty much everything, just relentlessly acting, and completely lacking the grace and subtlety required to play a noble. Richard Gere clearly was having a laugh: he doesn't bother hiding his American accent most of the time, and plays Lancelot as a one-note ladies' man, instead of as the charismatic character of legend. Connery possesses the gravitas to play Arthur, and plays him sincerely, but he brings far too much baggage from being "Sean Connery," to make him believable.

The whole thing feels about as authentic as Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride. This is truly a prime example of Hollywood's excesses getting in the way of a good time. Yes, its fun if Richard Gere tosses his hair and acts all seductive, and yes I suppose its fun if there's a Wipeout-style obstacle course inserted into the Arthurian legend, but if there isn't a certain basic realism or internal logic to the characters, then a non-parodic narrative film like this is pretty well doomed. These aren't people, they're a bunch of cardboard cut-outs, play-acting around a round table.
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1/10
Makes American Pie look like Citizen Kane
29 August 2015
The year after American Pie, both Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan signed on for the worst script either of them had ever read. My guess is that they had absolutely no better offers that year, because this is a pretty cynical cash-grab. Its just falls flat in every way.

They both play minor characters, which further adds to my theory that this film was a preexisting "make lovers from friends" script featuring Forlani and Prinze Jr's characters that was forced into the old pie-tin once American Pie became a huge hit.

The acting is stilted, the dialogue is horrid, Claire Forlani is miscast as anything but an ice queen and Prinze and Biggs seem like they did a last minute switcheroo in an attempt for both to play against type, but Biggs can't play confident and Prinze is too good looking to be believably shy. I've seen worse movies, but I strongly recommend you don't see this one.

its just not good in any way.
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Predator (1987)
8/10
When I was like 10 a friend told me there was a movie where this alien hunts down dudes and kills them one by one...
26 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Predator is an epic, primal adventure; a fight between man and beast, hunter and prey, a tale of survival of the fittest. The Predator is a creature with neon green blood, thermal vision, an invisibility cloak. Its prey are a bunch of bros with guns, including classic parts for Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarznegger. If not for all of his other career-making role in The Terminator, this would be my first exposure to Arnie, as we called him then. He represented, in this movie, the absolute best a man can be. He's good-looking, strong, makes decisions, and says things like "get to the chopper" without a shred of irony. He also says "if it bleeds, we can kill it," and "Do it, do it now!" which are just fun to drop into any dinner party.

The movie is a masterclass in pacing for action films. It works equally well as an action and horror film. In fact, it is the originator of a structure that I have come to think of as the Predator Structure, where people are hunted down and die one by one until only one remains. Its standard blu ray release has incredible sound quality, but just a passable picture. The film was shot with a lot of low lighting, and that doesn't tend to pop on in definition. Its murky and grainy, but still looks better than the previous DVD release.

The only thing that has not aged well are the special effects related to the alien technology: the Predator's heat vision and invisibility cloak always looked bad, but they look positively silly in high def. Once you're used to them, you can easily look past.

Who am I kidding, my love for Predator and Arnie in this movies goes way beyond the measured art of reviewing. This was a childhood favourite of mine and yes I had an awesome childhood. I first heard about it on the handball courts in primary school from this description "an alien hunts down a bunch of marines and kills them one by one, its awesome." I instantly wanted to watch that movie as soon as I could, and I loved it then and have loved it ever since.
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The Net (1995)
8/10
Gripping thriller or goofy time capsule?
23 August 2015
I like "The Net." I first saw it back in 1996, on VHS probably. We probably didn't have the Internet yet, or it was very new to us. So this was all very exciting, but scary too. There was a great sense of fear around identity theft. In 2015, we are such internexhibitionists with social media and twitter that people become lax and then their private sex-text photos get shared with billions of people.

The Net is a good thriller with an excellent title that is elevated by the charisma of star Sandra Bullock (still a star in 2015, amazing). Bullock is an incredible role model as a female hero: she is smart, funny, feminine and likable. The main issue for The Net over the years has been the march of time itself. Thrillers require a certain immediacy and immersion, and the mentioning of goofy out of date technological jargon risks dragging you out of the moment. As a period piece, or a time capsule, The Net is perfect, but does it still work as it did for audiences in 1995?

Luckily, the Net is not really about technology, its about the nature of identity in a bureaucracy, explored through the lens of technology, with the interweb as a weapon, and those issues are still relatable, and a movie like The Net serves as a good reminder of how trusting we have become of our internet privacy.
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4/10
Unlawful Entry: yes, double meaning.
23 August 2015
All you need to know about Unlawful Entry is that its title is a pun. Ray Liotta is typecast as the creepy weirdo who has designs on somebody else's Madaleine Stowe.

This might have played as a twist if not for the fact that Ray Liotta is physically incapable of playing a good guy. The only real question is what he wants: does he want the money or the wife? Kurt Russell's character is completely blind about it though. I was shouting at my Laserdisc player at one point: anyone who tells Ray Liotta their security password has clearly never seen a Ray Liotta movie before.

The only other thing worth talking about here is the audacity of the title. It has two meanings. There's a house break-in. There's also a sexual assault. I honestly can't believe that passed quality control. Its just an icky title.

Movie is totally tepid and predictable. Do not recommend.
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Body Heat (1981)
7/10
Hot weather, hot suspense, cool moustache.
23 August 2015
Its hot, temperature-wise. William Hurt and Kathleen Turner are passing the time by having an affair, when Bill gets a very bad idea: why not do away with her husband?

Had I known there was a neo-noir element in this movie, I might have watched it sooner. I pretty much expected a non-stop smut-fest. Well, there was hardly any of that, actually. This is not your explicit sex-drama like Last Tango in Paris; there's a lot of sweating, hot breath, horniness, but enough of a thriller element to keep all that from getting too awkward.

Speaking of awkward, I kept getting swept up by Body Heat, when suddenly William Hurt's moustache would creep up and spoil it. Bill just didn't do it for me, and I never really got why he would do it for Kathleen, but I just ignored that personal reaction and found an enjoyable thriller, of the hot-breathed variety.
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Flatliners (1990)
7/10
Don't try this at home, kids.
23 August 2015
Is it possible to die just a little bit and come back without getting hurt by any evil spirits? Is it smart to monkey with death? These medical students decide its worth the risk. I mean, its only a movie. Of all the movies I've ever seen, this one should absolutely have a disclaimer to not try this at home.

Of course the movie also deals with this in the course of its narrative: one doesn't simply watch Flatliners and think "wow, yes, please, hand me a barrel of near-death experience." To the right individual, Flatliners is a fun movie with a gripping central premise, an excellent sense of momentum. So how come its not heralded as one of the best movies of all time?

Well, its by Joel Schumacher so everything is ratcheted up to 11. There's wind machines indoors, everyone speaks corny dialogue in elevated tones, lit by extreme primary colours that give an air of alternate reality.

Some movies are about whether two incredibly good people can stay together, or whether a suburban Barbershop can be funny. Flatliners is about something truly important: we are built to die, everyone does it; what are we put on earth for and what happens afterwards? Flatliners is highly original and unique, and though it may not quite live up to the lofty questions it raises, this is a really cool and watchable movie, recommended.
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Congo (1995)
3/10
Jurassic Park III with Gorillas
17 August 2015
Congo is like Michael Christon remade Jurassic Park but with Gorillas being violent and testing the perimeter and killing people and such

Your first hurdle here is that for most of the running time, a gorilla is very clearly being played by a man in a suit. And everyone acts like its a real Gorilla. Then there's the wristband that interprets its gestures into a Stephen Hawking voice and says things a baby would want. Then there's the irresponsible stuff: Gorilla is given a martini, his carer says "she's allowed one." Gorilla is given a cigarette, against her carer's wishes, so he tells her "Don't inhale!" I hope nobody uses this movie as a guide to good Gorilla management because who-ee... Then there's the dialogue. Like, there's a sort of heavy type played by Ernie Hudson, who tells the heroes "I'm your great white hope, I just happen to be black." Just non-stop relentlessly bad writing. Dylan Walsh is a complete absence. He is a massive black hole. He's like that character in The Mighty Boosh where people look at him and don't see a face. I'd say the movie suffers 50% total quality degradation because of this guy. Laura Linney is Laura Linney: you're either in camp Laura Linney or you're most moviegoers and would rather it wasn't Laura Linney. I personally would rather it had been Renee Zellweger or Adrienne Barbeau or some dude. Laura Linney is again more minus value. From my perspective, there's nobody in this who is worth watching.

If this were a movie by the Wayans brothers, I'd probably be giggling. Congo definitely falls into that "so bad its good" category, because its made with slick Hollywood filmmaking, and just happens to feature a string of situations and dialogue so ridiculous they provide a good laugh.

Well, I think I've made my point. This is not good.
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Swordfish (2001)
6/10
Kubrick was wrong: 2001 was a pretty forgettable year for technology.
16 August 2015
2001, the year of Kubrick's very unprophetic Space Odyssey, (:p) turned out to be a cynical and sleazy time, where movie companies were happily cashing in on the idea of Matrix-like techno thrillers. In "Swordfish" (2001), John Travolta stars as a man with a terrible hairpiece who is weirdly self-conscious about the fact that he is in a movie and basically goes about being a total arrogant jerk. Hugh Jackman stars as the poor foil for all of Travolta's hijinks, some of which are laughably sexual. Check the Parents Guide for those details. Halle Berry and John Travolta spend most of the time patronising Hugh Jackman. There's a lot of raised eyebrows, knowing glances. Its all very schoolyard and not very sophisticated. Halle Berry is weird in this. She's got her boobs out, which is nice. Worth the infamous paycheck? Dunno. She gives this weird kind of serpentine performance that is just upsetting, almost to the level of Elizabeth "Showgirls" Berkley.

Still, the movie is slick and fun, even in 2015. It's mainly saved by Hugh Jackman, who is, as always, eminently likable. The overall tone of "Swordfish" I put somewhere between smarmy and patronising. Its got that cocky assurance that comes from being a self-aware techno-thriller that came out just before the bubble of The Matrix was burst by all those revolutions. Yes it was a hit, but it was so cynically designed to be a hit that time has forgotten about it, now that computer hacking is more a nuisance than a source of novelty and excitement.

Enjoyable as a time capsule, and an example of a hit movie made without superheroes. And for that awkward topless scene that only sort of makes sense in context. Fans of Hugh Jackman will not be disappointed, of course. He is in it, after all.
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3/10
Guess where Jason doesn't go in this movie?
15 August 2015
They had one job. Well, he sort of goes. One character says "go to hell" to him at one point. They missed a better title in my opinion: Jason Is Dead. Pretty catchy huh? You're welcome America. So, if you read the title as Jason dying they sort of pay that off. The Jason character supposedly dies in the beginning of the movie, and even gets a gross-out autopsy. Problem is, turns out he has some black goo in his heart which must have been causing all those issues he'd been having earlier, what with murdering folks and such. This black goo is basically used to completely rewrite the Jason origin story, throwing out all of the psychological motives he and his mother might have had, and basically turning him into a bloodborne disease, a Voorhees Zombie Virus if you will, except here there's only ever one Jason, and it just sort of jumps between hosts willy-nilly. Okay, so the Friday the 13th movies have never been great, and they've never been quite as ridiculous and funny as the Elm Street movies, but the audacity of what they attempt here really takes the cake: completely disregarding every bit of lore ever established on the character and pretending he can just morph about like some kind of sci-fi virus. So there's that issue. Then, of course, the acting and dialogue is garbage, there's not really any good kills to recommend, and the whole thing is just one of the most pathetic things I've ever seen. Not one of the worst of all time, probably, I've seen worse, which is why I give it a 3/10. There's some amusement to be had in the total incongruity with the other movies, and its enjoyable enough for your horror buff like myself who will watch absolutely anything in the genre. Others should stay away, miles away.
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The Killing (2011–2014)
7/10
Cop drama turns into an exhibition for bad acting (excepting Joel Kinneman)
14 August 2015
Finally got through all four seasons of The Killing, a sometimes frustrating often engaging police procedural series featuring the cold and awkward acting of Mireille Enos and the true star of the piece Joel Kinneman as her sidekick. The main drawbacks of this series were the fact that Mireille Enos was always in such a hurry to get through her sentences, even forgetting to say the final word sometimes, and the fact that it sometimes spent two seasons on one crime and then half a season on another. I would have preferred a different crime each episode, maybe, Law & Order style. I absolutely got sick of the Rosie Larson case by the time it wrapped up. The character of Darren Richmond was also quite naueseating, the actor refusing to ever speak without whispering. I was waiting for someone to say "What?" "We can't hear you, Darren." Its the kind of show that is inspired by better-quality modern-day mystery fare from the Baltic, but lathered with enough good ol' American Jack cheddar that you end up having to grit your teeth through much of it. Rosie Larson's mum is also incredibly frustrating to watch. Just a lot of acting not up to par, the writing was pretty good, but this is a conventional police procedural, so your mileage may vary according to how many of those you've seen.
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True Detective (2014– )
5/10
2014's masterpiece is 2015's hot garbage.
14 August 2015
2014's masterpiece appointment viewing is 2015's mess of hot garbage, coming to you from the exact same creator and writer, via different directors and actors. The main issue here appears to come from the over-confidence after the rave reviews for Season 1: writer Nic Pizzolato has indulged his every whim, spouting such a stream of pretentious nonsense, with about 20 characters too many and enough incomprehensible exposition to sink a James Bond movie. Season 1 had a moody brilliance, a perfect unity, with every episode directed by the same man who managed to get the kind of performance from McConnaghey that makes you forget his "persona" and see him in a brand new light. The story was also a riveting mystery. In season 2 there's no emerging scene of a single thing we're supposed to care about. The moment the season definitively jumped the shark for me was when they pulled a complete cheat, threatening to kill a character, then just doubling back completely. Just a total lack of bravado, this season. I'd say fingers crossed for next year but Idon't know if I'd bother again. Gave up after like 5 episodes, couldn't take all the mock philosophical trash.

So my 5/10 is a 10/10 for season 1 and a 0/10 for season 2.

Stick with S1.
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Showgirls (1995)
5/10
Sex as warfare.
7 August 2015
Nomi's a girl with hooker makeup and a leather jacket, and nearly everything makes her angry. You won't fall in love with her, you may not be titillated by her, but... Hey, let's be honest, your mileage may vary in general with Showgirls. But anyway, its about her trying to make it dancing in Las Vegas, and her All About Eve relationship with Gina Gershon's character.

There's definitely something strange and sinister going on here that has nothing to do with titillation. The problem is, it comes across as tawdry exhibitionism. You have to look beyond the boobs and into the cold and spiky performance from lead actress Elizabeth Berkley. Its a strange one: when she's not angry, she's bratty and entitled. The narrative, such as it is, buckles badly 50 minutes in under its massive lack of stakes or anything interesting happening. So I can understand the Razzies and the hatred.

When I was younger, Showgirls was always a guilty pleasure for me because of the nudity. Looking at it now, I'm baffled as to why. In Showgirls, sex is almost warfare. Its an open act of aggression. The strippers are openly hostile towards the clientele the entire time, and in general have this mutually abusive relationship. There's always violent thrusting or swearing. Its actually pretty interesting, but you have to see it enough times so you're not titillated any more to get to the message, which is a pretty obvious one about the abusiveness of the sex industry that nevertheless didn't earn the film any respect. But how can you blame us when it was marketed as softcore porn. Well, a lesson for next time I guess.
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3/10
Apparently, Howard Hawks is only as good as his script.
1 August 2015
I'll give you three for Rita Hayworth, who lights up the screen as usual. Cary Grant gets none, his usual charm is replaced by a silly sombrero. I'm sorry, this one was just boring. Not funny like Hawks' own His Girl Friday or Ball of Fire or engrossing like say Curtiz's Casablanca.

Some vague plot where people fly planes and such. Apparently Howard Hawks is only as good as his script. This one, based on his story, has not aged well. Its all surface: sets and costumes and props and movie stars play acting.

Disappointing.

3/10
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Youngblood (1986)
3/10
Rob Lowe may act many things, but not tough. Never tough.
31 July 2015
Pretty tiresome dreck with a super young Rob Lowe playing at the ol' Ice Hockey picture. Actually, its not a very old genre. You never saw John Wayne hockeying on ice, nor James Dean. Rob Lowe is actually pretty good, and the film is made with the absolute maximum amount of seriousness available, which seems to be a lot. Everyone seems to be into Ice Hockey, its just that also assume their audience is too. There's not a single bit of effort put into making us like or appreciate the sport. Its more played as a human drama, with the sport and its coaches providing tension for the protagonist. Its like the real bad guy is the sport itself. Its pretty funny. I know I said Rob Lowe was pretty good, but the other funny thing about this movie is when Rob Lowe is called upon to act tough. Rob Lowe can be privileged, a pretty-boy, a flirt, witty, charming, maybe creepy or dangerous... But tough? I had to laugh. There's not a tough bone in his body, yet here he is getting physical with some dudes, and the second half of the movie is mainly concerned with him winning a physical fight. I just, you know, don't get it. Also, the movie is pretty of its time, very 80's soundtrack, so if that's what you're after, help yourself.
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Proof (1991)
5/10
I appreciated that it wasn't terrible, but found such a profound problem with its scenario.
31 July 2015
This little movie won AFI awards back in the day, yet I'd never heard of it, its become quite obscure. I found a VHS copy at my local good will and was pleased to find that it was not in any way terrible. Russell Crowe stands out, supremely likable; Hugo Weaving is kind of odd, a bit more creepy than perhaps he needed to be. Maybe a bit too much of the old Agent Smith, and not enough of the Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It is not, however, a great slice of life, and that comes down to the plot: allow me...

Hugo Weaving plays a blind man with a penchant for taking photos and having people describe them to him. Now, he uses the photos as "proof" that what he sensed in the room was really there. Yet, he can't see the photos, so he's relying on the accuracy of people's descriptions of them. The concept is a bit fiddly. It reminds me a lot of Memento, I believe that character used polaroids as mementos, because he had a short-term memory problem. Its kind of strange here, because the photos I guess are some kind of weird truth contract for this guy. My issue is that there is never any way for Hugo Weaving's character to verify what is in the photos, so what is the point of them?

This kind of far-fetched concept reminds me of a lot of the old arty novels I used to read about lonely people who find some strange way to connect with one special friend, in this case a lovable rascal played by Russell Crowe. The production style of the film has aged fairly well, and it contains some well written scenes, but I just think the basic concept is pretty flawed and silly. I guess if it was released with a descriptive audio track and rang true for blind audiences I'd be happy to admit I was wrong, but it rang fairly false to me, in a logical sense. As mentioned, I also found Hugo Weaving to be unnecessarily creepy.

A strange one. I appreciated that it wasn't terrible, but found such a profound problem with its scenario. I don't know, 5/10?
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Dead Scared (2004)
1/10
Unfortunately I can't unsee this movie, or I absolutely would.
31 July 2015
I suppose I can detect the intended beats for laughter, but this movie plays more like the worst movie ever than a smart satire of horror movies like Scary Movie (2001) or Scream (1996). How can I describe what I just witnessed. Well, it was like they took all the horror movie clichés and dialed them up to 99, put the girls in gaudy costumes and had them say dumb stuff, hired Brad Dourif (Child's Play) to be a creepy scientist who has some kind of faux Necronomicon and some other weird stuff happens. OK, I was half paying attention. This was dreadful. There was nothing discernibly funny about it and I wished I was somewhere else. Unfortunately, I can't unsee this movie, or I absolutely would. 1/10.
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Fear (1990)
1/10
Forget Plan 9 from Outer Space, this is probably actually truly the worst movie I've ever seen.
31 July 2015
Avoid. Cringe-worthy turn with Ally Sheedy who was nowhere near up to the task of playing a psychic who helps cops solve cases. The plot basically predicts the plot of Medium (TV). I don't remember what Ally was like in the brat pack movies, but she's completely outdone by the material here, which calls for her to constantly know everything about everybody. She's like the most powerful and annoying psychic you could imagine: mostly the movie consists of excuses to have her character smart-alecky telling people what they had for breakfast, why they have a cut on their hand, etc. As in life, its all in how you do it, and they do it so ham-fistedly here its absolutely painful to watch. This is without a doubt one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Can not believe this got a theatrical release. Avoid at all costs. Oh, and hi Ally Sheedy fans and thanks for the unhelpfuls.

1/10 No redeeming features whatsoever, I'm a worse person from having watched it.
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Distant Drums (1951)
You might need those eyelid-holders from A Clockwork Orange for this one.
27 July 2015
For the life of me I couldn't figure out how to pay attention to it. Its just a thick slice of old Hollywood hokum, the like of which I haven't seen for a loooong time. I found it in my late grandpa's old VHS collection, which might explain something. And check my other reviews, I'm not one of these Avatar the Last Airbender kiddies who expects an Avenger every half- second or I rage quit, I can be a patient and respectful sort, through about the only cheese this cheesy I tend to like is John Ford brand.

This picture was directed by the great Raoul Walsh, and you've either come here for him or Gary Cooper. Neither one of who really impresses here. It looks OK, with some decent technicolor photography.

I guess I might be giving up on westerns unless they're supposed to be the absolute creme of the crop. Its just not my genre.
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Nashville (1975)
8/10
Tone-deaf rough-as-guts dog-eared bona-fide classic.
27 July 2015
More than any other film, Nashville will play better the more tone-deaf you are. It features plenty of long scenes where actors portraying professional singers sing dreadfully, over- singing, forcing every. single. note. As someone who sings myself, this aspect really pulls me out of Nashville.

For a movie that is famously about Nashville, it finds more joy in soul and folk music than in country. The film's heart is a scene which contrasts a sincere and moving folk performance by Keith Carradine with a terrific and sad scene where Gwen Welles' realises she had been hired to strip instead of for her singing ability. The song featured in this scene "It Don't Worry Me" became a hit apparently. There's also the opening scene which contrasts a pair of recording sessions: a lively gospel one + bad singing by the charming Lily Tomlin with a cold propagandistic country session with Henry Gibson.

Its rough as guts, with some scenes set-pieces such as the airport scene early on seeming carefully choreographed, but all the acting has the loose improvisational style common to both Altman and Cassavetes films, which you either love or hate. I tend to find the actors higher calibre in Cassavetes, so Altman sometimes grates on me.

Nashville is famous as a trope-originator for Altman's sprawling long films that are broader than they are deep, sort of like Love Actually, where you don't get a full Sleepless in Seattle thing, you get a bunch of tiny versions of it. Here, you get a bunch of musical bio-pics in one, but here there's no attempt to give each the same arc like in Love Actually, its more in Altman's slice of life style. Its absolutely a landmark film, there's not many others like it, and it is entertaining. Your mileage may vary with how picky you are about actors being cast as singers and having several protracted singing scenes that are often squirm-inducing, yet you get the feeling they weren't supposed to be.

I've got it on VHS and don't love it enough to upgrade. I've watched my VHS copy twice and have grown attached to its pan and scan ugliness. For me its a picture I like and find fascinating, plus an extra point for being so unique, so 8/10.
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Under the Skin (I) (2013)
5/10
Abstract and vague, but there's boobs!
26 July 2015
Under the Skin may be intriguing, interesting, fascinating, words like that, rather than fun, engaging, likable. Its a frosty little picture. Weirdly, it might help to read spoilers about it because it only ever express itself obliquely. You may have heard there's an alien in the movie? Yeah, I guess so, but its pretty abstract. The way it was made is the most interesting thing about it, I think. Scarlett Johannsson plays a nameless girl who appears to be hunting lonely men in Glasgow, and most of the film was shot with hidden cameras and improvised, so these are genuine encounters she's having. In this sense, Under the Skin has interest on an anthropological level, and to film students, as a comment on the nature of fiction vs documentary. But you can also get that in Borat, with a few more laffs. The only other populist appeal in Under the Skin is the pleasure of looking at Scarlett Johannsson. Everything else about the movie is formless and amorphous. Well, compared to some of the dream-like movies of Apichapong Weerasethakul or David Lynch its positively sensible, but this is still a movie I feel myself constantly struggling to like, even though on second viewing I'm at peace with what even was actually happening in it.

In short, abstract arty film with incredible musical soundscape and the appeal of Johannsson, but too distant and vague for most. I got it on blu ray because I conveniently forgot how frustrating I found it and wanted to look at Scarlett again. After all she's naked twice in it.

Bear in mind I do like some abstract and arty movies, just not this one. And I really wanted to like it too. All those real people. I'd love to see outtakes but couldn't find any on the blu ray.
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