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Dark Star: HR Gigers Welt (2014)
An Awful Documentary
Instead of being a joyous celebration of the life and artwork of H.R. Giger, the man who (in 1979) had created "Alien" (SyFy's most hideously awesome monster of all)..... "Dark Star" was truly a sad, pathetic, and oppressively suffocating film documenting the final year of Giger's life as he was obviously deteriorating both physically and, especially, mentally.
It was almost horrifying to see that Giger had become so utterly consumed (in an unbalanced way) by his own artwork and that the stifling interior of his home in Switzerland represented that of the inside of a decrepit crypt of a hording pack-rat.
Yes. I do fully respect Giger as being the gifted illustrator who created "Alien" - But this documentary's uncomfortable ambiance gave me the creeps. From start to finish - It had squalor, oppressiveness, and death clearly written all over it.
And, with that - I totally resent director, Belinda Sallin for presenting Giger in the disrespectful way that she did (as a doddering, old kook) in this truly repulsive presentation.
*Note* - In 2014 - Hans Rudolf Giger (70 at the time) died from a fall sustained in the hospital.
Joe Cocker: The King of the Spaz
Impressively directed by Pierre Adidge - "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" certainly captures the raw intensity of singer, Joe Cocker as he goes into yet another spastic rendition of some great rock, blues, and soul songs (all recorded before a live audience).
Released in 1970 - This live-concert documentary covers Cocker's tour of the US (from Detroit to San Francisco). And we look on as Cocker gets by with a little help from his friends.
IMO - Joe Cocker (gravel-voice, and all) was a unique performer from his generation.
This music-documentary not only looks at touring and backstage life for Joe, but it also includes performances by Leon Russell and Rita Coolidge, as well.
"Note" - In 2014 - Joe Cocker (70 at the time) died of lung cancer. He had been a heavy smoker all his adult life.
Tales of Manhattan (1942)
Cursed Clothing!??... Oh!? Really!??
Are you ready for a 1942 Hollywood fairytale about (get this!) an expensively made, formal tailcoat that's been cursed (by its disgruntled cutter) to bring despair and misfortune to anyone who wears it? (Duh!)
Well, that's exactly what "Tales of Manhattan" is all about and its story is presented to the viewer in 5, 25-minute, interlaced segments that certainly make its point loud and clear.
If nothing else - This b&w "WTF!?" comedy/drama was certainly an expensive production and it sure didn't skimp when it came to jumping on the high-fashion bandwagon.
IMO - This disappointing picture was just another lame excuse for 20th Century Fox to star lots of big-name actors in one cockamamie picture (in hopes of reaping in huge profits, no doubt).
My final analysis - Nothing special here.
Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)
Astaire & Powell Dance Up A Storm
Forget about topnotch tap-dancer, Fred Astaire being teamed up with Ginger Rogers - It's Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell (here in "Broadway Melody of 1940") who were the real, true dancin' dynamic duo of the dance floor. There's no question about it.
And forget about this movie having much of a story to back it up - (Who cares?) - It's the musical numbers and its dancers (who really kick up their heels) that are the real stars of the show in this lavish production.
Yep. If you enjoy movie-musicals from Hollywood's golden era - Then - This is the one for you. Believe me - The dancing doesn't get any better than this, with songs written by Cole Porter, including the sensational "Begin the Beguine".
Here's Lucy (1968)
Lucille Ball And Her Kids Were Awful
OK. I agree. Back in the 1950s - Lucille Ball may have been the funniest woman on television.
But - Hello!?? - In the late-1960s (with her pushing 60) - Lucille Ball (and her predictable hair-brained schtick) was downright stale, irritating, and, yes, an utter bore like you wouldn't believe.
And, to make the matter of comedy worse - In "Here's Lucy" - Ball's 2 real-life children, Desi and Lucie (both in their teens) played key characters in the show.
And, to say that these 2 whippersnappers had no talent as performers in TV comedy would truly be an understatement like no other.
Anyway - "Here's Lucy" is yet another one of those tired, mediocre TV shows whose endurance defies common sense, as it actually lasted for 6 seasons.
Blood and Sand (1941)
Personally speaking here - I found 1941's "Blood and Sand" (that's "B.S." for short) to be nothing but a laughable cinematic curiosity piece. It was all pure Catholic kitsch heavily spiced with the flavour of Spain (and the psychotic passion for bullfighting, thrown in for good measure).
IMO - The sport of bullfighting (like cockfighting) has got to be the absolute, most despicable form of "crowd-mentality" entertainment, imaginable, in the entire world.
Within 15 minutes of watching this picture I was already bored to tears with the whole B.S. of "B.S." - But I patiently stuck with it to the bitter end.
It wasn't until this film's final moment that the meaning behind its title was finally revealed to the viewer.... But - WTF!? - "B.S." was a major disappointment on all counts.... "Ole!"
Decent Superhero Documentary
"Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle" is a 3-hour, 3-part program (plus bonus features) from the PBS network, covering a 70-year retrospective of superhero worship in American pop culture.
Through film clips, stills, and interviews - This well-researched documentary offers the viewer a decade-by-decade overview of a cultural phenomenon that stills prevails to this very day.
From comic books, to action toys, to TV, and movies - If you are at all fascinated by the wide-spread history of modern-day superheroism, then, this intriguing presentation should be of some significant interest to you.
Affair in Trinidad (1952)
Rita Hayworth's Comeback Film
And, the question is - Who killed "nice guy" Neal Emery, and why?... Well - As the story goes in "Affair In Trinidad" - The answer to Neal's untimely murder is a seriously complicated matter (as you'll soon find out).
IMO - This 1952 "Rita Hayworth" come-back film was certainly better than I had thought it would be. But, it was certainly not "Film Noir" as it has been erroneously categorized.
Back in 1952 the movie-going public literally flocked in droves to see this b&w crime/drama (which was shot entirely on sets in the USA at Columbia Studios).
You see - Glamour girl, Rita Hayworth had been away from starring in pictures for 4 years. During that time of absence she had been married to Prince Aly Khan.
To say that their royal, fairy-tale marriage was a messy affair would truly be an understatement - As it ended in accusations (by Hayworth) of cruelty and abuse. (Oh-me! Oh-my!)
"Affair In Trinidad" was produced on a $1 million budget. It made back 7 times that amount in its first year of release.
Al Pacino Stinks
No conflict here. I hate this movie.
Al Pacino's Tony Montana was terrible. Pacino is a grossly over-rated actor whose career has gone on for far too long now. He really should have stuck to playing such roles as a gay-wannabe like he did in Cruising. Yeah. That's the only sort of part that I think Pacino is most suitable for.
For nearly 3 hours (!) this stupid movie did nothing but bask and wallow in a gross excess and unpleasantness and then, in the end, offered no new insights, except that (get this!) "crime doesn't pay" (which isn't any sort of new news at all).
If you honestly want to see an excellent production of Scarface (and some superb acting, as well), then check out the original version, starring Paul Muni, from 1932. It puts everything about this inferior, up-dated film to absolute shame.
Make Mine Music (1946)
Presented by Disney Studios - This 1946 production consists of 9 animated shorts, each having a running time of approximately 6 minutes.
Containing almost no dialogue at all - "Make Mine Music" tells each of its individual stories mainly through the medium of music and song.
Featuring the musical talents of such notable "recording-artists-of-the-day", as - Benny Goodman, Nelson Eddy, and Dinah Shore - This presentation was very enjoyable, especially for someone, like myself, who is always impressed by Hollywood's golden age of animation (pre-CGI).
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
SyFy Garbage, Francois Truffaut-Style
First off - What I'd like to know is this - Why-oh-why are so many SyFy stories that forecast man's future always so annoyingly bleak and the outlook so lousy? Eh? Why? Like - Are we really that doomed even before we get there?
When it comes to this particular sterile and dry vision of man's future where the reading of books is banned by law - It made no sense to me why people were still being taught to read and write. I mean - What the hell for?
Also - I found it hard to believe that what took place in this 1966 movie's storyline was how the law handled the ones who were outed for having books. Like - C'mon! Seriously!!??
And, finally - Speaking about French director, Francois Truffaut's screen adaptation of Ray Bradbury's 1953 novel - IMO - "Fahrenheit 451" played out like a super-cheesy "Made-For-TV" movie. It really did.
This film's drab plotline was as dry as dust. It was intellectually insulting. It was painfully predictable. And, overall, as a production, it came across like something you'd expect from the likes of shlock director, Ed Wood. I ain't kidding.
Lust for Life (1956)
Kirk Douglas Portrays Vincent Van Gogh
(*Favourite movie quote*) - "The pictures come to me as in a dream."
The agony of one man's life.... Vincent Van Gogh painted the way other men breathe.
After Rembrandt, Van Gogh is considered to be the greatest of all the Dutch painters. His obsession with painting, combined with serious mental illness, propelled him through a life full of failures and unrewarding relationships.
Throughout his life, Van Gogh managed to earn some respect from his fellow painters, especially that of Paul Gauguin, but he never, ever got along with any of these men. Surprisingly enough, in his entire lifetime Van Gogh only managed to sell just one of his paintings.
Released in 1956 - "Lust For Life" is a really fine movie-production. Many of the locations used for filming were actual places that Van Gogh had visited during his short life. Actor, Kirk Douglas puts in a dynamite performance as the archetypical tortured artist-genius.
The Nutty Professor (1963)
More Unfunny Junk From Jerry Lewis, The Jerk
This is now the second Jerry Lewis movie that I've recently watched - And I swear that it'll be the last. I refuse to watch another film with this #1 A-Hole in it, ever again.
In one word - I sum up Jerry Lewis as being nothing but AWFUL!!!... AWFUL!!... AWFUL!!
This brain-dead Jekyll & Hyde story from 1963 stank, big-time. With Lewis portraying 2 personae in this picture - He certainly managed to be unbearably irritating as both characters.
It was especially as the infantile Dr. Julius Kelp character (aka. the nutty professor) that Lewis totally grated on my nerves like you wouldn't believe. It was a good thing for subtitles here 'cause otherwise I wouldn't have ever understood WTF!? his character was babbling about most of the time.
I honestly cannot believe that this idiotic doofus (Lewis) was a really popular and well-liked comedian of his generation. ' Cause, as I said earlier - Lewis was AWFUL!! AWFUL!! AWFUL!!
That Certain Age (1938)
She's Got A Crush On An Older Man
What I liked about this 1938 Comedy/Romance/Musical was - (1) The scenes where it was the teens who were the focus of the action. (I wish there had been more of these scenes) - and - (2) The moments when the 17-year-old Deanna Durbin thrilled us all, singing away like a trilling sparrow. Durbin sang a total of 5 songs in this film.
What I didn't like about this light-weight cinematic fluff was all of the emphasis placed on the boring, silly, and predictable crush that Durbin's character (Alice) had on the Vincent Bullitt character, who happened to be twice her age and he was the dullest dullard imaginable.
All-in-all - This was a fairly entertaining vintage "Chick Flick".
By the way - Deanna Durbin's real name was Edna Mae Durbin and she was originally from (are you ready for this?) Winnipeg, Manitoba.
*Note* - In 2013 - Deanna Durbin (91 at the time) died of natural causes.
The Bellboy (1960)
Jerry Lewis So Funny I Forgot To Laugh
Containing no story, or plot, whatsoever - (Just an onslaught of erratic and clumsily inter-weaved sight gags) - "The Bellboy" was written, produced, and directed by Jerry Lewis who, of course, also starred himself as Stanley, the title character.
With its prevailing "Anything-For-A-Laugh" mentality - If "The Bellboy" was really supposed to be Jerry Lewis at his comical best - Then - I'd sure hate to see him at his unfunniest worst.
Set at the luxurious Hotel Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Florida - I could hardly believe that a hotel of this one's high calibre would ever hire such an idiot as Stanley to attend to their guests.
Produced on a $900,000 budget - "The Bellboy" (filmed in b&w) made back 10x that amount upon its initial theatrical release back in 1960.
Crime of Passion (1957)
Hayden & Stanwyck A Terrible On-Screen Couple
Actually - I think that a more appropriate title for this dizzy, 1957, crime-clunker would have been "Crime of Stupidity" - 'Cause, believe me, that's exactly what this idiotic film's storyline amounted to being - pure stupidity (as only Hollywood could possibly deliver it).
You know - I can't imagine how anyone in the cast of this utterly implausible movie-nonsense could've ever kept a straight face, spewing out the totally awful dialogue that they did, and behaving like absolute brain-dead buffoons throughout.
Personally, I think that that big, dull oaf, Sterling Hayden was one of the most insincere and unconvincing character actors of his generation, bar none.
And, finally - Speaking about actress, Barbara Stanwyck - (At 50 years old here) - She was, in my opinion, absolute light years away from being believable, at all, as the irresistibly alluring business woman. She really was.
Lost in Space (1965)
Garbage TV SyFy
(*Robot quote*) - "That does not compute!"
This 1967 SyFy/Family TV show was so bad that it was downright terrible.
Its story of futuristic space travel was set 30 years into the future (1997) - And, now (in 2018) - Its story belongs 20 years in the past.
This truly inept family-drama is definitely for the entertainment of those who have really super-low expectations in their choices of vintage TV programs.
I lost track of how many times the ship's circuitry got fried, yet, as it turned out, everything was fine. It really killed me that there never seemed to be anyone ever manning any controls on the Jupiter 2.
And, finally - Speaking about this show's villain, Dr. Smith - He was an utterly detestable screaming queen. His presence, alone, made this TV show almost unendurable to watch.
V for Vendetta (2005)
V For Vucking Awful!!
C'mon. There's gotta be 2 versions of this film out there. Right? There's the dismal version that I saw. And then there's that other "Wow!" version that so many others have raved about.
I mean, this film having 2 distinctly different versions is the only acceptable reason that I can think of to explain why there's such a divided opinion over this picture. Some people (like me) saw the crap version - While others enjoyed the thrill of viewing the dynamite version. What else could it be?
Anyways - The minute that "V" boasted to Evey that his all-time fave flick was, in fact, "The Count of Monte Cristo", I knew that "V For Vendetta" was gonna suck, big time. (And, I was right) I guess that "V" loved this film with all of his heart 'cause its title character probably reminded him so much of his own deluded image of himself. Like, why else would someone love such a crap movie as "The Count of Monte Cristo"?
I'd say that we (the audience) were all colossally cheated by the director/screenwriters of this disappointing film. For example - The fact that not even once were we ever given even a single glimpse of "V's" face is evidence of that. But, then again, maybe it was all just a cost-saving measure to try to save the producer a few bucks by cutting back on such things as expensive "burn-victim" make-up effects, or something like that.
All in all - "V For Vendetta" was 132 minutes of excruciatingly long and dragged out garbage.
The Blue Dahlia (1946)
A Mediocre 1946 Crime-Drama
1946's "The Blue Dahlia" would be the 3rd (and final) pairing of actors, Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake in a feature film. (This time around Ladd/Lake were clearly a mismatched on-screen couple)
But unlike their 2 previous films together ("This Gun For Hire" & "The Glass Key") - This decidedly mediocre crime/drama just did not measure up to its 2 classic "Noir" predecessors at all.
With its screenplay penned by famed crime-fiction writer, Raymond Chandler - You'd honestly think that "The Blue Dahlia" would have really been charged with super-sizzling excitement.
But, nope - Unfortunately - "The Blue Dahlia" was just a pedestrian-level "whodunnit" that was far too "clean-cut" for its own good.
IMO - This film's overall inadequacy only served to undermine any hope of its story ever building at all into something with a more grittier edge to it.
Walking Tall (1973)
Only In America
For anyone out there who might be thinking about "walking tall" themselves - Here's my advice - (If you carry a big stick) - You sure as hell better know how to use it!
1973's "Walking Tall" (which was a fictionalized account of real-life incidents) was truly something of a novelty for a Hollywood film. Instead of overplaying all of the violence that Sheriff, Buford Pusser encountered in McNairy County, Tennessee - This story actually downplayed it.
Anyway - This intense, hard-hitting drama (whack! whack! whack!) about revenge and cleaning up corruption and lawlessness actually suggests that the only way to do so is through the act of excessive violence. There seems to be no other way around it.
*Note* - After viewing this brutal movie - I definitely urge you to "Google" the real-life Buford Pusser in order to find out what sort of ordeal he really had to go through by taking on the white-trash folks of McNairy County.
And, what's even more interesting than that is what eventually happened to Pusser less than a year after this film was released.
Grand Prix (1966)
(*Movie quote*) - "There's only winning."
I, for one, would certainly like to know what director, John Frankenheimer's justification was for this film's absolutely gruelling 3-hour running time. It certainly made no sense to me why this film needed to be so long. No sense, at all.
I found that the more background and more personal dramas that were revealed to me about the story's characters only served to make me like them even less.
Filmed at various world locations (such as - England, France, Monaco, and the USA) - This $9 million "Gals, Guts & Glory" picture was one of the highest grossing films of 1966.
Yes. There was a lot of really exciting, "hard-driving" action in "Grand Prix" (Indeed) - But - IMO - Had this film been edited down to a reasonable 2-hour running time - I probably would have enjoyed it a whole lot more than I inevitably did.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Yawn Of The Dead!
One of my biggest beefs behind my major disappointment of "Shaun of the Dead" was that, for more than half of the goddamn time, I could not - (I repeat) - I COULD NOT understand WTF!? anyone was saying. I'm not kidding!
Yeah. OK. I know damn-well that everyone was, indeed, speaking English (or, at least, I think they were), but with all of the bloody heavy-duty British accents, and the weird/alien slang, and the annoying way that everyone was always running all their goddamn words together - Well - As you can well-imagine, it was making me so ABSOLUTELY CRAZY!!
Believe me, there were many-many times when I know for sure that I had just missed out on getting the punchline of yet another killer-diller joke. But because my ears just weren't tuned into the incomprehensible way that everyone was speaking the English language - Well - I totally missed out on yet another belly-laugh.
And besides not being able to comprehend the unbelievably garbled lingo of these British boys and girls - I detested the final climax of this film, big time. It was such a blatant rip off from "Night of the Living Dead". It was. And all that I could do while it was happening was just yawn my head off until it was all over. It was really that dreary and dull to me.
I Say "No!" To Clara Bow!
Released in 1927 - This silent-era film (with a story set during WW1) features some great battle scenes both in the air & on land. Its story is somewhat marred by actress Clara Bow who I found to be very annoying with her over-exaggerated facial expressions and cartoonish mannerisms.
None of the other actors in "Wings" carried on in such an affected way as Clara Bow did. I can't figure out why she had a tendency to over-do it so much. It only made her look really silly. But I suspect that she thought that it was cute.
"Wings" is one of the very first mainstream films to show both male and female nudity. Though these scenes are very brief, it is still surprising to see this nakedness in such an early picture as "Wings". This film's real drawing-cards were its realistic battle scenes, which took up a large part of the story. Set in France, it's the aerial dogfight scenes, in particular, that were especially impressive to watch.
"Wings" has a somewhat overlong running time of 144 minutes.
Vera Cruz (1954)
Lancaster Had The Whitest Teeth In The West!
Apparently - (As the story goes) - 1954's "Vera Cruz" was a major influence on Italian director, Sergio Leone when it came to his visual-style and direction (a decade later) of the brutally violent, Spaghetti Western "A Fistful Of Dollars" (1964).
If you have seen both "Vera Cruz" and "A Fistful Of Dollars" - You will, of course, recognize the striking similarities between these 2 films that, literally, glares at you as plain as a day in the hot, searing Mexican sunshine. (I'm not talking here about these film's stories. No. It's all about their overall presentation that's so alike, such as - camera angles, staging of actors, story setting, and so on)
Yep - Mean. Ornery. Cutthroat. Antagonistic. Trigger-Happy. Rough. Tough. (Etc., Etc.) - IMO - It's almost like these 2 films-in-question were, undoubtedly, Siamese twins, joined right at the hip.... (And, in passing - I certainly won't forget to mention Burt Lancaster here, repeatedly showing us all every tooth in his big, grinning mouth).
On the Town (1949)
Singin'... Dancin'... Romancin'
Hot-Diggity-Dog!!.... "On The Town" is (Indeed) a happy-go-lucky singin', dancin', and romancin' Musical/Comedy from 1949. It's a story about 3 gobs, 3 gals, and a 24-hour shore-leave.
If you enjoy watching top-notch musicals from Hollywood's heyday - Then - "On The Town" (filmed in fabulous Technicolour) comes highly recommended from this satisfied viewer.
In this high-energy picture everyone really kicks up their heels (especially Ann Miller) - And - As an added bonus - There is some very impressive outdoor location shooting filmed right in busy downtown Manhattan. Super-Duper!