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The Beach Bum (2019)
LIke a Cheech and Chong movie written by Jim Thompson.
Yes, I'm talking about BEACH BUM the second MM ocean side loser movie of the year, the first being Serenity.
This is a stoner comedy only it's not funny. Cheech and Chong knew how to do these and few others have ever figured it out, and nobody involved in this does, that 's for damn sure.
This movie is epically immoral, MM is, as is often the case, totally irritating and this movie is gonna' kill more people than any movie since NATURAL BORN KILLERS.
It's a total amoral celebration of being high your whole life killing people accidentally and getting away with it all. It's ineptly directed and virtually laughless featuring a supporting cast of known actors most of whom seem to be disguised so as to escape being recognized as being in this train wreck.
I have no idea what they were thinking though that I guess is part of its epically bad charm.
If you ever feel your wasting your life--this movie will prove you're not by comparison. How or why this got made is incredible enough, but at least it's not a super hero movie.
The scene with the severed foot was the only genuine laugh I got, adding to the "fun" is frequent out of shape women shaking their lumpy butts and boobs around in the background of many scenes. Is this the point? Like pretty much everything in this film it's a mystery as to what they were thinking why they were thinking it and why they are wasting your time showing it to you.
Snoop Dog and what's his name, his fans are called parrot heads, appear in many scenes, and there is a hilariously giant joint in many scenes.
It's gonzo gone to hell a celebration of being high and drunk and that being the reason to live.
Now this could be seen as one, of too many, movies showing tragically messed up "artists" who are great artists so we are to forgive the fact they are awful human beings. In this case MM's character is supposed to be a great poet, but the brief bits of poems we hear from him are awful. So again is this the point?
So what's not to like? Bad movie fans rejoice this is epically awful throw back to the wild uneven 70's films.
Omega Doom (1996)
incredibly cheap talkfest struggles to reach 70 min
Now plenty of people attack movies for being cheap but let me tell you this is cheap. Also let me say Albert Pyun had, at times, some style and energy to his movies, but ultimately it was movies like this that kept him in the lower and lower depths of low budget science fiction action movies with no action and retread science fiction.
This is cheap even compared to similar films by say Cannon or Charles Band. It does feature a taking head, like Pyun's film Dollman, which is a better bigger film.
This entire film takes place in one European town square and a few dark interiors of stone or concrete lined basements. There is no action virtually every scene is two people talking. The cyborgs are all silly looking, actors pretending, badly, to be robots while loud mechanical noises sound with their every move. Make up and special effects--a few glowing lights and the talking head effect are all unconvincing when not distractingly bad.
Rutger Hauer is starting to show the ravages of his life-and career style and starting also to put on weight. He seems to take this seriously enough to escape much blame for how poor this film is.
Though made in 1996 it feels more like 1987, the few actual robot heads you see look like ok Halloween costume parts.
The movie moves as slowly as possible because it's not really feature length--though you'll struggle to put up with it until the end credits start--70 minutes into the movie.
The story is a low rent terminator thing and even features the early shot of a bunch of skeletons with a foot crushing a skull.
The talking head character gives the most fun performance, twitching around crazily when attached to a body, oh and the movie is in focus. Those are really it's only virtues.
Don't confuse this with Nemesis, or Trancers, or ever American Cyborg those are all bigger and better films than this. Really bottom of the barrel, like footage you'd cut out of an actual movie--and coming from Largo Entertainment you can see whatever they spent didn't go on screen.
Second Act (2018)
2 plots that don't go together
This film is sold as one thing but tries to be two which about ruins both. The story the film was sold on is about women in a dead end job who is given a chance at a big league job by a faked resume. But it's also got a very melodramatic/ soap opera story about the woman and her long lost daughter.
The movie also is rather cheap and video-looking, neither Lopez or Remini look particularly good, though Lopez is still playing a character ten years younger than she is--which she pulls off, I only mention this as it has the feel of a 90's cable tv movie.
Interactions with Remini and Lopez are good, probably the best thing about the movie actually, then again the focus of the film shifts to the melodrama lost child thing, of which Remini is virtually abscent from.
The director was well cast to direct this kind of film but his earlier films are much better and have a sense of being a complete movie that this one lacks.
Supporting characters are most cartoons and, in the faked resume portion of the film are funny enough.
Of course Lopez is a big glamorous star, so for her to pull off this 'working class' act is not easy, but she manages to do it--it's mostly free of star moments--she doesn't sing, isn't shot to show off her famous bottom, she does have one dance scene with friends but it seems realistic enough.
Treat Williams does well in the roll of a basically unconvincing 'good guy' mega corporation owner.
The whole idea of cramming a old hat and unconvincing mother/lost daughter movie into this one is a bad one. This is a film sold as one thing because what they aren't selling doesn't work.
Sad to say it on many levels is a LIFETIME level movie.
unconvincing, overlong, ineptly directed, pretenious
It's certainly fine for directors to get a chance to make different types of films but that doesn't mean they will be good at every genre, and McQueen proves that here.
Neither the drama, nor the heist are convincing, there is no sense of suspense to what feels like a very very long movie.
It paints a totally ugly picture of Chicago--that might even be considered a plus factor as at least that's part of what it intends to do.
There are so many elements to this, you'd need a master to possible pull it off, though you'd need a better script as well, what Don Siegel might have done with this. Some of the angles don't cut together very well and a key flashback is almost handled confusingly. There are some self consciously over long shots and moments, a very film school-like close up of a cigarette is practically a parody of a film student making a noir film.
The actors try hard but that's not enough to connect the dots of the plot, but the reasons these widows join up never makes total sense to start with so you never have much to build upon right from the start and the ending leaves a lot of loose ends.
Everyone is pretty nasty and nasty to each other, leaves no reason to root for anybody, though the film just seems to be going nowhere as slowly as possible.
One good plot twist has little or no impact and the various political points I guess the film would like to make take up enough time to leave out any time to develop the heist segment.
Very sparse sort of Morriconesque music score by Zimmer.
The whole thing is a let down.
The Old Man & the Gun (2018)
episodic surface barely scratched
The director has mostly worked in short form and doesn't know how to handle a feature. The whole thing is an ambling affair avoiding violence of excitement in exchange for art house scenery and whisper level performances. Various time and date stamps just make us more aware of how long things are going on and how much we aren't showing between events.
Robert and Sissy make a good romantic couple and it could have been about a career criminal finding love but, we cut away to the quiet cop at home life and the totally undeveloped roles of Redford's gang of oldster criminal pals, or to yet another non-event robbery or non-event police chase.
In the 70's the anti establishment movement was so strong that anyone who opposed the system could be viewed and heroes no matter how anti social and immoral their behavior--a shading of that is at work here, or hopes to be playing off of Redford's image--which was never really a bad boy.
Redford has never played a bad guy the closest he will get is playing someone who is an enigma--maybe he's good maybe he's bad--we just don't really know. That's pretty much the case here, there is never a dark flicker to his crimes in this film.
I guess he's just a rogue who we love and since he does what he loves who are we to judge him?
Doesn't work for me, many scene look like those you'd cut out of a movie that's really about career criminals or about something where people speak in a full voice.
It's kind of charming in it's art house pacing or the small romantic moments between characters. Casey Affleck is ok but mostly slacks back into his just sitting around earlier performances.
Photography is pretty well done and has a bit of a 70's warm grain feel to it, the music I guess is telling us what we know that we're on a slow ride to not much of anywhere.
If the script and director had more point and purpose it could have amounted to more.
A Simple Favor (2018)
Sold as a thriller, but doesn't really work regardless
Paul Feig's career has been on a steady decline since his first two films, but studio's don't seem to understand his films and perhaps misunderstand this one more than ever.
The trailers and promotions sell this as a sort of GONE GIRL thriller with incredible twists and drama--ok, none of that is true. Right from the retro title sequence with goofy French pop music you know this is, well, off beat I guess is the word.
So if you go into this knowing it ain't what it's sold as, and if you are a fan of Feig or of that much maligned genre of the Black Comedy you could have a chance at enjoying this.
Sadly for me, Kendrick is what I call aggressively perky, urged to be so by the director. I like her but here she is all twitchy shrugs and almost mugging--she's just trying to hard.
No scene ever develops with any serious intent for long enough to engage you or with any real cleverness. Offbeat music constantly reminds you this isn't to be taken seriously but can't give it the balance.
It'd like to be a lighter weight Hitchcock type comedy though it mixes in darker elements, though not successfully as Feig can do at his best.
Ultimately it doesn't make any sense and the ending is outright goofy. It reminds me more of a failed Joe Dante type film--again Dante hit some home runs and struck out just as often. I'm just trying to give you some frame to possibly enjoy this film more than I did.
Unlike Kendrick. Black Lively comes off well and in one part I won't spoil gets to do one of every actor's dream roles.
It's all not funny enough nor serious enough to work, so the studio choose to sell it as a dark thriller, which it ain't.
Supporting performers are all over the map in tone and quality of performance. It will be interesting to see how they sell the film for it's life outside of theatres, though they will probably just dump it. This may help fans of the director see it as unjustly ignored. I have to say it just doesn't work.
Being sold as the goriest film ever, I have to say, no. It's a Puppet Master film if you've never seen any of those it's hard to say you MUST see this one as you probably don't have to. But if you have seen them you'll see this as one of the better ones, it drops the annoying Gremlins sounds that, for me, pretty much ruined the first film, and for the most part the rest were all down hill in budget and quality with part 3 being probably the best of them. Like Part 3 in a way this deals with the Nazi backstory of the Puppets and even this time deals with the Holocaust and Nazi agenda the puppets are carrying on. There is humor but it's played straight which helps, the main humor being from several super gorey show stopping moments--though most of the gore is pretty routine--within the context of gore done in say the 1980's way--practical effects as they call it now.
The downsides to this film is that is has virtually no visual style at all and is dingy looking, the actors all look old and haggard most of the time, and for some of the old actors in particular this does them no favors as it makes them look really old. The old horror name actors all do well, aside from looking kind of dreadful, but be warned UDO KIER has very little to do. Crampton is quite good.
They story does stop for awhile when the movie turns into a series of gore scenes, but the story is frankly pretty good.
The Puppets are seen rarely for much of the film, and often are used the way MUPPETS are--there is sadly no, from what I can tell, animated Puppets in the film---the brief stop-motion moments in the original films were all highlights and you'd hope a done real, not CGI, reboot would take the time to do some stop motion animation--but strangely they don't--which mostly keeps the puppets from doing much that is new, or even as good as, the best moments from the original series.
Music score, by another Horror name, is too sparse as the film feels very flat for much of the first 30 minutes.
But the film does build well and has a great post credit scene, so be sure to stay turned for that. It's a reboot in mostly a good way and certainly, though low budget in look, done better than original producer Charles Band is able to do these days.
So a decent start for what hopes to be a new series of films by a also rebooted brand name Fangoria. This film is also better than the previous attempts at film production done under the Fango banner in the early 1990s.
The Eyes of Annie Jones (1964)
Annis shows star potential but too much talk
The scenes which should be good are, in terms of suspense or supernatural but they are few and far between and the rest has the always good Richard Conte showing off how badly miscast he is here as a "stud" who has gotten himself into trouble with too many women. Yes Conte is a bit too old for the part but he's miscast anyway--typical of an American name being crammed into a story they don't fit into in an UK production.
I didn't know who Francesca Annis was as I watched this film but soon she stood out at the best thing in the movie and, looking her up, I had indeed seen her in much film work and she's still working.
The best non supernatural scene is sort of a Lolita scene with Conte--if all the sexual tension scenes worked like this one this would be a better movie.
Buxton Orr contributes a good score, but they should have let him score the dialogue scenes. He's an unusual modern composer and his choices of instruments is effective.
The direction is flat much of the time, though the séance type sequences work well, helped by Annis and by the music.
The main fault must be the script way way too much talking and the talk is either romantic bickering or police procedural---both movie killer filler.
The structure is one of suspense not mystery but the story is all talk and not enough actual suspence scenes--there is really one longish set piece scene which is a highlight. There needed to be more such scenes.
This would be a good 30 minute episode for Twilight Zone or Hitchcock's show and feels like a padded version of a TV idea. In fact the story source Henry Sleasar who did write for Hitchcock's TV series.
Final "chase" sequence is flatly and cheaply done.
So when it's good it's good but you should probably fast forward through any 3 plus minute long dialogue scene which far out number the supernatural ones.
And if you don't know why I say that you need to see some films directed by Italian writer director Lucio Fulci. Not that you have to know that to enjoy=be scared by it.
Now you should be warned going in that crazy and illogical behavior and a sullen grieving family are hard to "warm" up to, but thanks to good performances, I and I think, you'll stay with it and much will be explained if you are patient enough to go along for the scary crazy ride that follows.
Yes maybe it goes on a little too long but it does build well and though at times it could go off the rails and become silly it stays just this side to remain horror.
An audience helps it, as I saw it with a pretty full house of people who were definitely into the movie reacting nervously and in dread in the right spots.
This doesn't transcend the genre, I would stop short of saying the film has much to say outside the usual, but unusually effective, supernatural playing field the film remains within.
There are however some mother, child, tensions that resonate--if also test reality. The son character in particular could get silly but works thanks to acting and atmosphere.
Certainly a significant horror film because it know how to play by the rules and make them work--lessons many pretender horror films fail to do.
Effective music and ironic use of a semi famous ballad for the end credits help a lot. Two lead females characters hold it all together along with the photography and direction. Does get gorey at times--nothing wrong with that CGI elements are well done when they need to be.
Ocean's Eight (2018)
smooth as and about as exciting as clockwork until illogical twists occur
Neither the story or characters are very interesting or convincing. A few cameos from previous films don't add much.
Pancake makeup plus digital skin smoothing is also pretty obvious on the two leads.
And why Ocean's Eight they couldn't come up with 3 more women to round up the number? I don't care about that aspect really but everything about this movie is sort of a who cares affair.
Wall to wall music tries and sometimes succeeds in keeping things moving along but it's all pretty mild on every level.
It's also pretty straight forward until some mild, small twists which make zero sense at all.
What little drama or melodrama that exists has to be bolstered by an awkward flashback.
So okay none of the previous Ocean films have been masterpieces let's face it, but the ones that work do so because the actors, these films are more about star turns than anyone actually playing a character, interact and play off each other in hip cool ways. Certainly this cast of women could do that, they just don't or aren't allowed to in this film.
Bullock, distracting "de-aging" makeup and DIGITAL skin smoothing and wrinkle removing aside-is game enough as the lead, but there is little real interaction with the rest of the cast. Blanchet feels like she's wasting her time and realizes it, the buddy elements with Bullock come off like they were or could be lovers--or something?, None of the rest of the cast has much to do and don't do much with each other. And that's what puts this into the dull zone.
Director Ross continues to mostly be an under whelmer as a director, he is highly regarded as a writer in Hollywood for no reason that is demonstrated here.
These movies need either cool plot twists or super style or suspense to really make an impact and none of those elements exist here.
A few funny bits keep it from being a bomb but it's just not much of a movie.
Miscast misguided and once too often to the well.
Robert Wise is a rare filmmaker who didn't make many losers--commercially or artistically but ever dog has it's day as they say.
Julie Andrews could easily de described as a national treasure, but this role shows her limits. There is a lot of prat falling in this film and she's not a natural at this. The role calls for LUCILLE BALL type or any number of other musical comedy specialists and Julie's not up to it, nor is her personality the one she tries to play here.
This movie has no kid appeal and probably even by the last 1960's the whole era of Gertrude Lawrence and that life style and career were alien and dead to the world. You just don't care about her fate or really e get past the stagey/campy nature of too much of it's long long running time.
The first half hour is mostly nearly identical staged, meaning on stage--this is a musical where all the musical numbers are presented as a filmed play--even the opening shot of a film shows a whole stage with curtains and orchestra in the pit playing the overture to the film--while on the screen are Lawrence's biggest hits written out while the colors shift--it's a totally stagey redux of the opening of Wise's WEST SIDE STORY. Also none of the songs are good in that opening section and the framing device of Lawrence watching some kind of newsreel on her whole life and the film stopping for her to comment on it--well you're off to a bad start.
The stages and theatres where most of the film takes place all look the same and the gargantuan and Wise-like framing of a few characters surrounded by massive walls and buildings feels stagey too and keeps you a distance from the characters. Though there are probably too many songs most of these staged scenes don't offer much spectacle usually just a small number.
Andrews comes off as a jerky self absorbed character. It's hard to tell when her attempts at physical comedy are supposed to be a natural clumsiness and when they are supposed to be her acting funny on purpose. There are moments when characters tell her to stop acting--so some of this is supposed to be part of the point.
The best scenes are those with Andres by herself just singing which nobody can do better than she. The final big show stopper number is also good and really the only epic sized musical number in the film, here instead of trying to make her "act" funny she shows great dancing ability and also is allowed to be sexy--something most directors other than her own husband and Hitchcock never allowed her to do, and she does it well.
Basically the movie rarely works, it all feels a bit campy--look fast for Roy Scheider as a director in one scene. Robert Reed and Richard Crenna give the best performances. The scene with Reed and Andrews doing a commercial photo shoot while arguing is probably the best non musical scene in the film.
Massey as Noel Coward at least plays his part with a single arch approach--though there is so much of him that you almost wonder if this is a story about Lawrence of Coward--as you never really crack the surface of either.
There is a book called THE STUDIO which is a year in the life of 20th Century Fox and one of the films being made and covered is STAR. Director Wise is portrayed as being a bit bored and irritated during the production telling the writer, "This is the only kind of film they will let me do now." Though Wise during the rest of his life always talked of being proud of the film and puzzled that it never found an audience, the film he made will leave you feeling bored and irritated too.
It doesn't matter now that the film was an expensive bomb at the time, as at a distance films are either good or bad and bit hits can age very badly. But this film remains an overblown misfire, you feel kept at a distance watching bits of various stage musicals most of which aren't very good.
lack of chemisty and clunky flashback structure hurt
In order to avoid a slow build to the disaster that results in 2 people being adrift the movie decides to start mid story and then jump around in time. This is a mistake as we are in a film that is a race against time and this flashbacking robs us from having a sense of urgency.
Woodley is better on her own than in scenes with her co star and either neither is that good or they just aren't that good together--there is no chemistry between them.
I'm a sucker for this kind of alone against the sea story so I gave it more of a chance than my wife, who was bored through most of it.
Nicely but not memorably shot by Robert Richardson mostly know for his work with Oliver Stone and now Quentin Tarantino. A forgettable music score doesn't help things either. Special effects are pretty seemless which helps you believe you are alone in the ocean so that's a plus and something that can't be said for THE PERFECT STORM which was loaded with fake looking ocean waves and Impossible to believe action.
Sort of silly disclaimer at the end about tobacco products in the film--for the record nobody actually smokes the tobacco products briefly depicted.
The movie is better than the Robert Redford alone in a boat movie--which was NOT based on a true story.
This movie just feels padded and lifeless for too much of it's run time and I sense the actors lack of chemistry doesn't help though the writing and amount of flashbacks may be to blame.
There is no visual plan to this film which also doesn't help, the screws never tighten and there is also sort of a story gimic that works and is true to life but still isn't totally believable.
It's not a bad movie but never really takes off.
The Terror (2018)
Dwindles instead of develops
Based on a massively long and detailed--sometimes overly detailed--novel the limited series format is/was probably the best home for this though that means less money and less locations could be used.
It throws away the structure of the novel in ways which make it more linear and Jared Harris is great as the lead. Not so great is the CGI bear monster the occasionally shows up--the monster only occasionally shows up in the novel as well.
So it's like a really well done Sy Fy channel movie with the same old mediocre Sy Fy channel special effects and not many of them.
But even at this length the story gets rushed and choppy and key moments seem to pop up out of thing air--perhaps streamlining the novel reveals some of the weaknesses.
Some beautiful shots of sun briefly appearing in the almost eternal artic night and generally excellent performances--hurt by a rush to the finish line approach to the final 3 episodes. Major motivations for characters actions just aren't clear even as it wraps up.
What's also true is the real life story is so dramatic that the "faked" elements of monster bear seem distracting almost. Sort of like if you decided when you made THE PERFFECT STORM that a giant monster actually explains what we don't know about the real life events the film is based on. This is a problem with the novel as well.
Still about half of this series episodes are excellent, then again half of them aren't and with gaps coming in the last half of the show a less than satisfying experience.
Harris is so up to the task it's too bad the show rushes to a conclusion that is most a "what the?".
The strange disinterest in forward movement
The film is loaded and overloaded with visual ideas. Two directors, perhaps too many ideas? Or too little story or interest in telling a story. There is very little talk in the film so don't let the fact that it's subtitled distract you as everything else will eventually.
It has a David Lynch vibe to it at times in both a good and bad way though this is hyper paced rather the leaden though strangely it eventually proves to be going nowhere fast.
Though it's easy to say the film is beautiful looking--it borrows heavily from several films in particular that fans will know. The thing is though the photography doesn't make the people look good--they all seem wrinkled and loaded with bumps and warts that the way the film is shot emphasizes, is this on purpose? Hard to say but the film's interest isn't exactly in people so it may just be an oversight, or some jacked up director idea to make everyone non-glamorous.
There is a story at least suggested here in the first half hour but the movie is overlong and has a number of repeated little visual gags. almost like a highlight reel---as it to say, hey we really thought this one scene we did five minutes ago was cool, what if we show it to you again. And fast cutting gets just as boring as no cutting when the same style is used to edit every scene. The movie repeats it's best bits so much you start to hate them.
Then it has a final baffling ten minutes--that feels like 20--that really make no sense whatsoever. You lose all sense of who any of the characters are by that point, you won't even know who's story it is by then.
Use of authentic Giallo music is effective--and mostly used as source music--I guess the character's like to listen to Giallo music as you seen them start LP's at a number of points.
It's a movie that doesn't know when to quit doing anything, it's almost like scenes cut out off a "real" giallo film or alternate edits.
Of interest or distraction is the overuse of extreme close ups and split screen. if you're interested in unusual styles or shooting this will be of interest and show what works and what sure doesn't.
If you're just a gore and giallo exploitation fan you'll likely get pissed off multiple times.
A film worth a look but not really worth watching all of. What you'd call an interesting failure.
Have rope will travel
This episode works well and is well written creating a good jeopardy situation and has some things you won't see coming.
It does however sort of muff the ending, well almost the ending.
I won't give it away but there is a bit of a rushed climax which fades out quickly avoiding a scene that probably wouldn't have been convincing. Or it ran long or something.
Then it has a well done wrap up scene that could have been perfunctory but makes the story.
Directed without much style by TV vet Lamont Johnson.
Well done, scripted by Gene Roddenberry
Fast paced episode with a good script and performances. It shows how much story and character you can pack into a half hour--with commercials- show. The supporting characters all work and avoid the cliché. There is even a moral center to the episode.
Some have said that this series was a warm up toe Star Trek in terms of a Kirk like character being sent from situation to situation as an outsider and making or helping those involved to either resolve or make moral decisions. If you want to see Star Trek origins in an episode like this you can, but it's a solid show on it's own, proving that Roddenberry was a skilled writer.
A Quiet Place (2018)
effective scares nonsensical ideas work against it
Essentially this is an excuse for a bunch of SHOCKINGLY LOUD sound effects. Which will make you jump. On the whole Krasinski shows himself to be a better director than writer, and or the multiple writers added enough elements that the follow through doesn't work out.
As I left the theatre I could already hear people complaining about things that didn't make sense in the film.
It does involve you in the family's plight, but a key main plot point doesn't really make sense and keeps not making sense as it creates various suspense scenes.
There are both questions that aren't answered and answers that don't make sense and raise more questions that are better left not asked. Once you are done being shocked by some enormous noise and mostly effective set pieces--sort of like those in Jurassic Park, you keep getting distracted by the nonsense.
Technically and from a craftsmanship point of view the movie is slick in a good sense with the needed good sound design and with a better than average Beltrami music score that helps the scares and connects the family love elements.
Creatures are all CG but for the most part well done, they get a little less interesting the more we see of them and for creatures that have sensitive hearing they make an awful lot of noise, an awful lot--just one of the movies logic problems. By the end SPAWN fans will wonder what he's doing running around in this film.
You could say this movie has that Hollywood weakness of wanted an effect more than a reason for those effects. And in this case there is drama and melodrama the film is wanting to create and does.
There is very little dialogue in the film though a bit too much subtitling--as they family uses sign language to communicate, the few real dialogue scenes are ok with one poor exception being a phony father son talk with the kid talks like 70 year old worldly woman.
You'll be on the edge of your seat until you aren't and then it all starts to fall apart, too bad.
Let me put it to you this way what's the first thing you'd do with your wife in a world where silence is key to survival?
Yeah, well, you're answer won't be what these parents do. Never.
Traffic Stop (2017)
before vs after
Most of this film is made of footage of our victim and what a normal helpful person she is, by the end when you have her and young kids frolicking in slow motion you know you are in the land of Hollywood fantasy.
There have been cases of police brutality which lead to people being killed where the victims did less to the police than our victim does here. And I had a friend get arrested for behaving in a lesser manor than our victim does here after a traffic stop.
They do show the video of the incident--it seems they show it mostly without editing though you can't tell for sure. The officer is shown explaining what happened after we see it for ourselves and his account matches what we saw--unlike our victim saying "he's lying."
The question here is why does this seemingly nice normal woman--who has a relative who is a police officer--immediately rudely question and disobey the cop from the very start. There is nothing shown here to indicate that because she is black she immediately, maybe even just and valid reasons for behaving this way and being in a state of fear and distrust of police from the start. It's also worth noting that though she swears and continues to fight and kick even when put in the car on her own, while non of the police ever raise their voices or use any racial slurs--even while talking to themselves.. There seems to be nothing in her own past to show police racially mistreating her or her family or friends or that there is any thread of violence or crime that affects her.
The best scene in the film is a conversation she has--from police video--with another officer who takes her in to be arrested. It's a fascinating conversation more so than anything in the after-the-fact interviews with her or any point the film is trying to make. In the conversation it's clear that both, her and the cop, have racial bias and lack information about the other side.
It just seems like the filmmaker wants to portray our victim as saintly almost, but she does so without ever having out victim explain her own illogical actions when confronted. If she has a relative who is a cop it's especially baffling the way she behaves and that she doesn't at some point say, hey my relative is in your shoes.
There could be another point here or one the film accidentally makes, she complains that if you google her all that comes up is video of the incident and this case, though she still has her normal job and life, so how much real impact has it had on her life other than, as she says, photos of her when she was a model no longer pop up first.
There is no talk about if she spent any time in jail for this incident--I assume she didn't as otherwise they'd certainly mention it as it would ad to their case of cop vs. regular citizen who just happens to be black.
So she is to be pitied because her old modeling pictures don't come up now? Is that tragic? I suppose this could or may work best as a film showing how not to behave when you encounter a cop as even a relatively minor incident like this will haunt you through the media and internet long after whatever happened matters to you anymore.
The Door with Seven Locks (1940)
State of the art 1928
Yes that's what I said this movie feels like a movie made 12 years before it was. Good and great movies always seem new and fresh poor ones always seem older and staler than they are.
The sound of the film Is thin with an even thinner occasional music score that sounds like someone forgot to turn the radio off in a room next door. The camera never moves and the actors rarely do either.
There is no mystery here for starters mostly talk. We know who the bad guys are all the time and what the keys are for and since none of it leads to any suspense set pieces....
There seems rarely any point to it and it's a very long short movie, if you know what I mean.
The few shootings and two fights are mostly done in a stagey fashion but would not be convincing on stage either. The one fight scene near the end is pretty good.
Actors Palmer and Banks don't have much to do the rest of the cast isn't terrible but aren't very memorable either. There is a lame sinister butler character, lamely executed. Banks doesn't get much screen time but the movie is at its best when he's on screen.
Yes there is a chamber of horrors but it has little to do with the story. It does lead to one pretty good scene with Banks being tortured--the best scene in the film thanks mostly to his acting.
Wallace movies can be loaded with outlandish jeopardy and suspense of horror elements--this one doesn't feel much like Wallace though as it lacks most of these elements. There is one locked room mystery scene but it's not followed up on.
Yes this is a low budget film which may forgive some of it's lack of flavor but the script is a talk fest and the direction dull and a film with a talky.
The film was released on blu ray, one assumes the best the film is ever going to look, and it looks flat and grainy with some sound drop outs and almost blown out whites.
Much of this may have more to do with crude post production to start with.
So what's left is you like actors Banks and Palmer and HAVE to see everything they are in you'll be satisfied to feel you've done your duty in sitting through this one, but you'll need some coffee or sugar to keep you going
Murphy's Law (1986)
Gentler Bronson film of the era but has no style obnoxious sidekick
J. Lee Thompson and Bronson's later career and career declines are connected at the hip, though Thompson's Bronson films at least have style and pace while still giving sometimes inappropriate doses of violence and nastiness. Critic's hated all of them, I sort of like about half of them two of them I'd even argue are almost great movies--this one not being great of even good.
There is almost no style to this movie, no tension, it could be an episode of TV show from the time. Though it boasts some good supporting actors none of them have much to do. The spunky young thief is probably one of the most obnoxious in any film ever made making you wish Bronson was just on screen alone. It's a wise cracking sidekick with a series of the stupidest foul insults ever assembled--it's probably the most memorable element of this film--memorably bad.
You'll kind of wish the writer of this film and the singer/actress playing the sidekick would never work again after this--however both went on from this dud to long careers--go figure.
Carrie Snodgrass is actually pretty terrible as the psycho--and it takes a lot to make an actress as good as she come off as poorly as she does here.
There are a number of murder and occasional action scenes all of them shot with little interest and a degree of sloppiness you usually don't find in a Thompson film. One corpse is obviously blinking in the only shot it's in--there is no excuse for this it's a simple important shot--the thing is almost no shot is treated as important it's all just blandly shot and let's move on type approach.
There is almost no story for awhile as the plot--such as it is, it set up. The movie moves around Los Angeles quite a bit, the only location that really has any impact is the Bradbury building. That's where the climax takes place and it's the only part of the movie which really works--though there is a stupid section with a bad guy shooting up an empty room for no reason at all. Otherwise the sequence has some suspense and the location is used well--it has a film noir feel that's lacking, and needed, earlier in the film. Crappy electronic music, now also very dated, doesn't help add any style of luster that is lacking in general.
So with the only good and effective sequence being the last ten minutes you leave the film feeling that not all it lost--but in fact most of it is.
Another new low for FULL MOON
The idea of rude humor and purposefully sexist comedy is fine--but you have to actually be funny. And you have to make something that holds together as a movie--I mean to sit through a feature length mess is not a good time.
The standards for this series as far as something that looks like a movie are low but this one is a new low. A Lousy sound job with obvious and much post production dubbing of voices is probably the shoddiest element. The sound dubbing is no bad it almost sounds like a commentary track playing over the actual film sound--and mostly sounds are just missing.
Director Butler doesn't show an understanding of how to shoot a movie it almost looks like it's shot and edited live--frequently the shots jump from one to another from a real location to poor sets.
The editing struggles to cut from one camera angle to another without it looking like each show was done at a different location. The original footage is badly shot so I'll give the editor a bit of a break--one of these "you can't make chicken soup from chicken sh**, still there is no pace to the movie.
The movie boast out of focus shots right in the first couple of minutes during a shoddy Silence of the Lambs parody--the kind of bad sketch comedy that would be editing out of any other movie.
There are also ,crappy Digital and practical effects and acting that is elementary school talent show rejection level. Most of this can be blamed on Butler and, I'm sure, a super short shooting schedule. Then again this was made in Los Angeles where there are more actors than anywhere else on the planet so why you'd pick these people? Even for no money there are so many to choose from.
Only possible note is that unlike the totally lazy films that Charlie Band directs himself, Butler actually has some ambition--to actually shoot in a real roller rink for a day or two and actually have some digital effects.
If you liked the previous films I guess you can add one star to my review but still not something worth your time.
Full Moon films seem stuck in many ways to what wasn't so great in the 1990's. Only back then they had, per film, budgets that now represent an entire years worth of movies. Sad.
Cosa avete fatto a Solange? (1972)
But do you care?
This film has many strengths, it's well photographed and has a very good score by Morricone. The plot twists get a little to twisty--though that's part of the fun of giallo's and the final answer as to what happened to Solange is memorably nasty. It's also well produced, the dubbing is pretty good and much of it looks or at least feels like it's really taking place in England--though the cast doesn't look very British.
So what's wrong with this picture? Well the lead character is a lecherous teacher and the movie itself seems to wallow a bit in scenes of naked school girls in the shower. Though you can get a exploitation thrill from this you don't really identify with any of the characters. The detective gets more screen time but isn't interesting and doesn't have any emotional involvement in solving the crimes.
So you'd expect our lech lead "wrong man" character to learn or get more involved in solving all this--and he sort of does but mostly doesn't. Some of this can be actor Testi's though he's less stiff here than in other films.
The film also doesn't build as well as it should and as it starts to explain what's going on it slows down and gets convoluted--in other words it has a slow middle.
There is one silly scene with an over the top witness to a crime and lot's of Catholic hatred and confusion to liven things up.
Film has some style, helped by the music, but the style neither overcomes nor expresses all the elements of the film. It's an interesting film that isn't all that compelling.
The Shape of Water (2017)
A deranged low budget Spielberg movie
The movie has no sense of balance. It tries to do too much and doesn't do enough of what it does very well.
Del Toro seems to always insist on R ratings--which so far sunk his Lovecraft adaptation AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS from happening. He likes to mix ugly and fantasy--sometimes this works, this time it doesn't.
In this case you have rather graphic nudity and violence mixed in with Spielberg type elements. Or maybe it's just that the design and performance of the fishman looks like skinny guy in a Ok monster suit.
Mix this up with Cold War crisis and artificial period ambience and a frustrated gay sub plot and what do you have, I guess like water is has no shape and pardon the pun but a snail-like pace.
Other problem is the villain is overdone, it'd be more interesting if the villain wasn't one dimensional.
Oh and did I mention the musical scene? It's a bold idea executed in a flat fashion that is unintentionally funny--or like too much of the film it wants to have it both ways, be funny but true in spirit, ugly but fantastical.
Del Toro's English films often suffer from clunky dialogue, this one does too and mixes in too much modern foul language for the period story.
Yeah what are all these things doing in one movie? Adding up to a movie that doesn't work.
The Snake Woman (1961)
silly dialogue and performances but rarely dull
Yes for a snake woman movie don't expect to see any transformation scenes. If you go into this with these appropriately lowered expectations you'll find a fast moving movie with an engaging music score by Buxton Orr centered around a snake charmer's theme and various serial music technique's, the score is the most worthwhile element.
Mainly if you look up the writer's credits and see he later gave us THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE you'll know you're in for, silly but fast paced nonsense and overheated under thought dialogue. It's a bit shocking to see dialogue this bad in a British film and the performers are either encouraged or allowed to play it loud and big. Without fake special effects to drag the story down you have instead fake acting--from the supporting players. Should make you appreciate LEE and CUSHING who could sell this type of thing--none of these actors can. It's the type of thing where evil becomes a three syllable word.
The snake woman herself, Travers, isn't allowed to do much which is too bad as she sees alluring and has a spooky music theme augmented by bells.
The director doesn't show much promise--something you could argue his whole career fails to do, but in fairness this moves along at a fast pace. There is a nice shot of a shake slithering out of a skull's mouth and a couple of shots behind or through foreground objects--something he became briefly famous for after THE IPCRESS FILE. It all cuts together and seems like a movie, if only he could have controlled the actors--he may have had no control over the script.
The abandoned farm location is rather impressive. This movie is fun because it's never dull. Snake attack scenes aren't very good but there is a good lab fire sequence early on. Despite budget limits the plot just lurches from one unlikely premise you have to accept to ultimately come to an equally unlikely ending. Final scene adds a, ahead of its time, government conspiracy angle.
It's like but better than The Giant Leeches or Leach Woman--so I give it credit for that. I prefer the same director's other early horror film Dr. Blood's Coffin.
Five Gates to Hell (1959)
true war feelings win out amid low budget surroundings.
So what do you have to "get over" to like this movie? The fact that standing sets and one American are used to be Vietnam. Those are small faults in a tightly put together potential exploitation film that instead manages to actually be dramatic and yes it's nasty in a war that's realistic to war in general and Vietnam in particular.
Due to a fast pace and tight dialogue this one won me over very quickly. It's well acted and there are things you won't see coming. The faith elements--both of the nuns and the doctors--are changed and broken realistically.
Unlike other Vietnam films--those made while the war was still being fought--this one presents the war in a way that time has supported, not torn down. There is no flag waving here. Also given good context and excitement to it all is a good musical score by Paul Dunlap.
James Clavell--as he proved with his novel turned movie KING RAT and with his later last film as director, THE LAST VALLEY, doesn't shy away from rape and death and nastiness in war but manages to make it about characters and drama not cheap exploitation. Which isn't to say that fans of just that wouldn't find this enjoyable and maybe even a little bit educational as well.
It's a good movie with limited production values--but makes the most of itself.