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"Zenimation" is beautiful, relaxing, and very enjoyable. It shows clips from many Disney animated films like "Zootopia" and "Aladdin", but without dialogue and music. Well, there *is* a clip of the "Frozen" character Elsa saying, "Ow! Ow!" However, does that even count as dialogue? There are plenty of sounds that you hear like birds chirping and rain.
Maybe this show will be boring to some people, but I didn't find it boring. The episodes are pretty short. Each of them are less than 10 minutes, which is fine with me. A lot of the animation is great to look at, even though I don't think there's new footage from any upcoming Disney films. This show also has humorous moments. I laughed when I heard the noise the "Hercules" character Pegasus makes while sleeping.
So far, there are 10 episodes of "Zenimation". I don't know if there will be more, but I wouldn't mind seeing more. If you've had a stressful day, this show might be nice to watch. It certainly makes me appreciate gorgeous animation.
The Mascot (2020)
Hoo boy... "The Mascot" is bad. Really, really bad. When you think it's over, it keeps going... and then it *finally* ends. What makes it so bad? Well, it's poorly acted, it's poorly written, it's not scary, it's boring, it's infuriating, and it often looks terrible. You know what? I can't think of a feature film I've seen that has cinematography that's worse than this. "Ben & Arthur" is a film that also looks bad, but at least that film is kinda entertainingly bad. This movie? No. I mean I did laugh a little at times, but I would rather watch "The Room" (2003) again, instead of this. That movie is a lot funnier and a lot more enjoyable.
OK, so "The Mascot" is about a high school tiger mascot who kills a few people who are hanging out at an apartment. The mascot uses a knife that, to me, doesn't look like a real knife. At one point, the mascot cuts off a guy's fingers, except his fingers definitely don't look real. They look like they're made of plastic or something. I did kinda laugh at this part, but I don't know if it's intentionally funny or not. This movie is mostly unfunny and I simply didn't care about the characters. They don't say anything interesting or amusing.
Why is this movie's cinematography so bad? Well, it's at least partly because the camera shots are often out of focus. It's completely amateurish to do this. Did Sean McGann, the director and cinematographer, not know what he was doing? Did he not care? Well, I don't know, but these shots are distracting. I could probably write a lot about the camerawork, but I don't feel like it.
There are times when I think there should be sound in the film, but there isn't. There's a scene where a guy is outside by himself smoking something, but there's no sound. It cuts to the mascot looking at him and there *is* sound, but then it cuts to the guy who was smoking and again, there's no sound. It then cuts to the mascot and again, there *is* sound. What's up with this? Luckily, this doesn't happen often, but it's still distracting and amateurish. I'll say this, though. When the mascot is looking at this guy, it's a bit creepy (in a good way) and at least it looks adequate.
You eventually find out who the mascot is and, admittedly, it's surprising, not to mention weird. There's what I think is a dream sequence and it's weird, as well. It contains footage of the mascot repeatedly smacking a wall with a pillow. Um... OK. As bad as this movie is, this dream sequence is a *little* interesting. I certainly wasn't expecting it.
Watching "The Mascot" is like watching a terrible feature-length student film. I don't think it *is* a student film, but if it is, I can just picture a teacher giving it a bad or failing grade. However, I don't wanna discourage the filmmakers from making other films or the actors from acting in other films, as long as those films are much better than this one. They could certainly have better cinematography.
There's only a small amount of things that I liked or somewhat liked in this film. The music is good. It seems that most, if not all, of the music is by Nine Inch Nails, which is a band I really like. I'm not sure if the filmmakers got permission to use their music, though. Anyway, there's no way I would recommend this film. It's just awful.
The Nostalgia Critic: The Wall (2019)
Currently on YouTube, this episode has more dislikes than likes. While I'm someone who gave it a dislike, I don't think it's one of the worst YouTube videos I've ever seen. This episode seems to be a tribute (I'm not entirely sure) to the film "Pink Floyd: The Wall", which I enjoyed, although it's been a long time since I've seen it. I used to watch "The Nostalgia Critic" a lot, but I lost interest in the show. I watched this episode to see what all the fuss is about and... well, I didn't like it, but it's not godawful. It has parodies of songs from the film. For example, there's a parody of "Comfortably Numb" called "Comfortably Dumb". Hardy har har. The songs aren't funny and I wouldn't care to listen to them again, but I don't think they're atrocious. Doug Walker's singing voice isn't terrible.
This episode is admittedly somewhat amateurish and cheap looking. The animation in it ranges from being bad to OK. When it's trying to be horrifying, it does look kinda horrifying. I remember "Pink Floyd: The Wall" being weird and so is this episode, but the songs and the animation in the film are definitely better. Corey Taylor from the metal band Slipknot is in this episode and at the end, he performs a cover of the "SpongeBob SquarePants" theme with cast members. It has nothing to do with "Pink Floyd: The Wall" and, unfortunately, it's not that good of a cover, but at least it's short.
There's a bizarre commercial with Doug Walker for something called Honey. I don't really know what it is, but it's not actual honey that bees make. For some reason, Doug is really hyperactive in the commercial. I guess he's just trying to be funny, but he's not. It's weird watching him act like a crazy cartoon character without being funny. Also, the commercial goes on for too long.
Even though the show is called "The Nostalgia *Critic*", there doesn't seem to be much criticism of "Pink Floyd: The Wall". The Nostalgia Critic does say that he likes the film, but this episode is obviously different than other episodes where he sits in front of a camera and reviews a film. Again, I'm not quite sure if this episode is a tribute to "Pink Floyd: The Wall". Maybe it's a spoof? Maybe both? Well, unfortunately, it's not funny and entertaining. At times, it reminds me of this crappy low budget film called "The Amazing Bulk". Both that film and this episode have bad animation and actors who definitely look like they're in front of a green screen. "The Amazing Bulk" is actually funnier, but to be fair to this episode, some of its animation *is* better than that film.
The acting is OK, I guess. It's like other episodes of "The Nostalgia Critic" that I've seen. I don't watch this show much, anymore, so I don't know what other recent episodes are like. This one could've been a lot better... or maybe Doug Walker should have left "Pink Floyd: The Wall" alone.
Entertaining, but often not spectacular
My favourite film is "Koyaanisqatsi", which is a documentary about nature and urban life. It's probably not a well-known film, but that doesn't matter to me. I absolutely love it and it made me cry the first time I saw it. When I went to see "Aquarela", I was hoping it would be like "Koyaanisqatsi" and I guess you could say it's kinda similar, but it didn't blow me away. I feel a bit disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high? I dunno, but I still enjoyed it.
"Aquarela" is basically a documentary about water and ice. Like "Koyaanisqatsi", there's no narration. We're just shown footage of water and ice, among other things, like people boating and people getting cars out of water and ice. There's a scene where I think people are trying to rescue someone who may be drowning. You don't see them successfully rescue that person or recover a body. Did the person die? Maybe the filmmakers know, but you don't, at least just by watching the film. Is it fair to criticize the fact that you don't find out? Granted, you don't know anything about this person, but after the film is over, you might still be thinking about him or her. I don't know if there's a message or a dedication in the end credits.
I feel disappointed that you don't hear that much music to go along with the footage, but when you do hear music, it's pretty good. The footage itself is nice to look at. You see waves of water, ice falling, etc. There were only a few times when I thought the footage looked utterly amazing, though. There is one part that I had trouble watching because it was quite overwhelming for my eyes and not in a good way, but I'm not sure how to distinguish that part from other footage in the film.
Does "Aquarela" have anything to do with climate change? I'm not sure. You can think about that yourself if you see the film. This is probably one of those films that isn't for everyone. Maybe you'll be really bored watching it, but I wasn't. I liked it. Some of the footage is really quite breathtaking and when there's music, it suits the footage. I think I might've liked the film more if there was a lot more music.
My Dead Dad's Porno Tapes (2018)
Pretty good, but the weird title is kinda misleading
When you see the title, "My Dead Dad's Porno Tapes", you might think this short documentary is about... well, someone's deceased father's pornography tapes. However, that's hardly what this film is about. It *is* about a deceased father, though. Specifically the director's deceased father. I kinda wonder why the title was chosen. To get people's attention? If that's the case, I think it will certainly get people's attention.
The film is narrated by David Wain, who wrote and directed "Role Models" and "Wet Hot American Summer". His narration is pretty calm and nice to listen to. We're shown old home movies, photographs, and animation. We also sometimes hear family members talking with subtitles. I don't think there had to be subtitles, but since we only hear them talking, maybe the subtitles are there to just give us something to read/look at while they talk.
"My Dead Dad's Porno Tapes" is definitely a well-made film. Even though the home movie footage doesn't look good, that's OK with me. You may be able to relate if you have old home movies that look similar. The film is interesting and seems to be very personal. We do kinda get to know the director's father, but he seems somewhat mysterious. At least he (apparently) wasn't abusive. I like how the film ends and I like the title, even though it is sorta misleading. Maybe I don't get it? Anyway, the director, Charlie Tyrell, made another good short documentary called "I Thought I Told You to Shut Up!!" (Yes, that's what it's called.) I think both these films are worth watching, although "My Dead Dad's Porno Tapes" is probably really personal for the director and I don't know how much the other film is.
Twisted Pair (2018)
Oh... my... God
Where do I begin with this... film? What the hell did I watch? This movie is just... *what*? Even though I've seen it, I don't think I can tell you what it's about. Well, OK, it's about a man who has a twin brother and they're both played by Neil Breen. One of them has a fake beard and a fake moustache. I think he's a... drug addict? The other brother... works for the government? And I think he's in love with... a woman he's related to? Yeah, I don't know. There are three or four men who are kidnapped by one of the brothers and they're tortured. Why? Because they're... corrupt businessmen or politicians? There's a man who talks with a deep modified voice, like someone being interviewed on camera who's identity is being protected. Why the hell is that guy talking like that? I think he's intended to be evil because... actually, I don't think I can explain.
"Twisted Pair" is just baffling, not to mention amateurish. There are explosions in the film, but they're just really bad special effects and it never looks like an explosion is actually happening. I could've probably made those explosion effects if I didn't care. I mentioned the fake beard and the fake moustache. (They look really fake.) There are times when Breen jumps from one place to another like he has a superpower for that. Guess what? His jumping also looks really fake. I *can* say legitimately positive things about the film. There's a scene with a moving painting and the painting looks great, although I don't know if it was made for this movie. Breen made the movie. Did he get that painting from somewhere else? Did he also get the film score from somewhere else? Well, whether he did or didn't, the music sounds very good. It sounds like music you hear in a Hollywood movie.
Scenes just come and go in this film. There will be a scene and then it ends. There will be another scene and then it ends. How's the acting? Well, it's mostly pretty bad. (Big shock.) A lot of the actors are like aliens who are trying to act like they're humans. The only other Neil Breen film I've seen is "Fateful Findings". His acting in that movie is very similar to his acting in "Twisted Pair". By the way, "Fateful Findings" is a more coherent film than this one. Yeah.
So... did I enjoy "Twisted Pair"? Actually, yes. I absolutely loved it. I was laughing *a lot*. I saw the film in a theatre with many other people and they were also laughing a lot. Some people at the end even gave it a standing ovation, including me. This movie might actually be funnier than "The Room" (2003). I dunno. Both movies are so bad they're great. I also really like "Fateful Findings". I think "Twisted Pair" is perfect for a bad movie night with friends. If you see it, you'll probably be left feeling very confused, but hopefully you'll be entertained.
Waiting for Ishtar (2017)
A so-so documentary about a bad movie
"Ishtar" is a comedic adventure film starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman. It came out in '87 and it notoriously bombed at the box office. I'm not sure if many people have seen it or have even heard of it. I don't think I saw it until last year, which just so happened to be the film's 30th anniversary. I'm definitely not a fan of it. There are a few funny moments, but it's mostly unfunny and dull. However, I wouldn't call it one of the worst films I've ever seen. Plus, one person's trash is another person's treasure.
The star of this documentary is a man who loves "Ishtar". He wants to borrow the sole copy of the film from the Toronto Public Library, but he's on a long waiting list and he wants to meet other people on the list. Yes, that's partly what this documentary is about. Maybe I'm biased because I don't like "Ishtar", but so what? You have to wait because there's just one copy and others want to borrow it... so what? I didn't really care because this documentary didn't give me much of a reason to care. We don't even get much of a reason as to why this guy likes it so much. After watching this documentary, I don't feel like giving "Ishtar" another chance by watching it again. There are plenty of other movies I can watch.
This documentary is just... meh. The clips of "Ishtar" that are shown actually look better than the documentary footage that's shown, which, for the most part, looks OK. There are interviews with people like actor/filmmaker Don McKellar and actress Carol Kane, who's in "Ishtar". The interviews are fine, although the footage of Kane looks somewhat out of focus, for some reason. Like "Ishtar", this documentary does have some funny moments. When someone off-screen says the film was apparently the most expensive comedy at the time, a man on-screen says, "It's considered a comedy?" I dunno, I think that's funny.
Maybe if you're a fan of "Ishtar", you'll like "Waiting for Ishtar" more than I did. It's decently made, but I just found it to be a bit boring and not *that* insightful. It has its moments, though, and at least it's fairly short. I kinda wish "Ishtar" was as short as this or even shorter. I probably would've enjoyed it a lot more.
The first time I watched "Ellie", I didn't really know what was going on. I thought it was pretty strange. After watching it again, *I think* I have a better idea of what's going on. A man seems to be holding a young man and probably a young woman (we never see her) captive in a house. Apparently, someone else was murdered in the house and the woman knew her. I'm not 100% sure. At one point, the man is chained and he looks outside and sees a dog named Ellie. Is the film named after the dog? What does the dog have to do with the story? Is there something I missed even after watching it twice? I dunno. There are also extreme close-up shots in the scene with the dog. What's up with that?
Despite being weird and dark, "Ellie" is well-made. The actor playing the man being held captive is good, although when he speaks, his acting is a bit weak. The actor playing the captor gives the best performance in the film. Also, the actress that we never see is good. "Ellie" is apparently a student film, but it seems like it was made by professionals. It's well-shot and well-edited. It reminds me *a bit* of "Hard Candy", which is a shocking film that I enjoyed. Anyway, "Ellie" is worth watching.
What... the... hell?!
"Kuso" is probably unlike any film I've ever seen. How do I even describe it? Well, it's repulsive, surreal, bizarre, unpredictable, and kinda fascinating, but also kinda tedious. I didn't really like how gross it was, but I was able to get through the whole thing. There's at least one scene where it looks like a small rod had been inserted into a penis and I looked away because it was just too unpleasant to look at.
I think the film is trying to be funny, but I wasn't laughing. I did laugh after it ended, though. I guess you could call it an anthology film that contains both animation and live action. The animation is particularly strange. I really don't know how to describe it, but a whole lot of effort was probably put into it. One of the stories is about a boy/man soiling himself during a class that's in a forest. His classmates laugh at him and he leaves. He then feeds a giant rock or something that looks like it has an anus. What does he feed it? Feces, apparently. Another story involves a woman choking a man while he masturbates in bed. He later has oral sex with a talking boil on her body. Do I need to write more about the film's stories?
"Kuso" is something you dare a friend of yours to watch. I'm not sure if it's the grossest film I've ever seen. "Dead Alive" might be grosser. "Kuso" seems like it's weird and disgusting for the sake of being weird and disgusting. I can't say that I like it, but I admire it at least to some degree.
"Milkman" is a film that might make you wonder why it was made. Did its creator, David Firth, just want to shock you? Was he mentally ill when he made it? I don't know, but I think the film's really good. It's only about two minutes long, although I wouldn't be surprised if there are viewers who aren't able to watch the whole thing.
The film's about a milkman doing his job, but he's decapitated in a house or an alley by a madman. He doesn't just decapitate him, though. He eats him, sodomizes his corpse, and then attacks and kills other people, including the milkman's wife. While all this is happening, you hear the electronic song "Milkman" by Aphex Twin. Great choice.
The animation isn't fantastic, but it's good. There probably isn't a point to the film, but that's fine with me. One of my favourite films is "Gummo" and there probably isn't a point to that film. If you're into David Firth's other work, like his strange web series "Salad Fingers", then I *guess* this is worth checking out, as long as you have a strong stomach.
"Minor" is a movie that I came across on iTunes. As I was watching it, I felt kinda bored. When it ended, I was just like "Um, OK." The movie is sorta like "The Brown Bunny" meets "Frank" (2014), except without the quirkiness in "Frank" and the explicit sex in "The Brown Bunny". Luckily, "Minor" is only about 70 minutes. I think it might've been much better if it was a short film.
The film is about two young female musicians who travel from Niagara Falls to Nevada in a stolen limousine. I'm not sure why they had to travel in a limo. Because it's a unique way to go on a long road trip? The limo isn't some kinda metaphor, is it? Regarding these two girls, I felt pretty indifferent to them. They just travel, perform, argue a bit, etc. Like "The Brown Bunny", there isn't much dialogue in the film. At one point, the two of them are on foot in a desert and I was reminded of "Gerry" (2002). There are a few times when they mention people's names, but I didn't know who they were talking about. For example, while they're in the limo, one of them yells, "F**k you, David!" Who's David? Well, according to the end credits, there *is* a character named David and he's played by the film's writer/director, but I don't remember that character being in the film. Was he the one they stole the limo from? Near the end, someone else steals the limo and then one of the girls is suddenly on a beach and goes swimming. Blood apparently comes out of her vagina and I think she becomes devastated. What happened? Was she menstruating?
There's a decent amount of music in "Minor" and it's... OK. There's nothing memorable. Some of the shots in the film look pretty nice. There are times when the video and the sound aren't very good, but mostly, the film looks and sounds fine. The acting is passable, but the characters are forgettable. The film is dedicated to "all of the nobodies". So... people like me? If so... thanks?
Weird and entertaining
I'm not sure if "Cream" is supposed to be a dark comedy or a drama. Maybe both? Well, it certainly is strange. It's about three people in a waiting room. One is a man who urinates on a plant in the room, one is a pregnant woman, and the other is a man who's possibly the woman's husband or something. For some reason, this man turns into what I guess is a floating ball of human flesh and the woman gives birth in the room without anyone assisting her. There's also no dialogue.
The film's stop-motion animation is pretty good. The characters look kind of ugly, but that might be intentional. It didn't really bother me. The film is unpredictable and, like I wrote, weird. Why the hell did that guy turn into a floating ball? Is it metaphorical? Anyway, you may find "Cream" to be off-putting, but I liked it. I should mention that it's apparently a student film. I think it's a good one.
Power Rangers (2017)
Go go mediocrity
When I was a kid, I was into "Power Rangers", like probably many other kids in the '90s. I eventually lost interest in it, though. I only saw this film because a friend emailed me free passes to an advanced screening. Many people in the audience seemed to be enjoying it. There was laughing, cheering, and applauding, which is fine, but I simply wasn't one of those people. I don't think I laughed once while watching the film. It's not really boring, but it's not really engaging. The two scenes I enjoyed the most are when the villain Rita is in a jewellery store being weird and the big fight scene with Rita's giant gold monster, which is, of course, near the end.
What's the story? Well, I don't feel like writing about the story because I don't care... but I'll write about it, anyway. A bunch of teenagers discover a spaceship or something hidden underground. Inside is Alpha 5, a comical robot who looks kinda like an alien, and Zordon, who appears as a big pixelated face... at least I think it's pixelated. The teenagers have superpowers and have to morph into Power Rangers so they can stop Rita from taking over the world or some crap. It takes awhile until they're all able to morph and you don't see them in their Power Ranger costumes a lot. The Rangers each have their own giant robot creature that they can control while they're inside of them. These creatures are used for the big fight scene and when combined, they become an even bigger robot that's reminiscent of a Michael Bay Transformer. Do the Rangers defeat Rita and her giant gold monster? Duh.
The effects are pretty good and the acting is OK, but like I wrote earlier, I didn't care about the story. I also didn't care about the characters. None of them are interesting. Krispy Kreme is involved with the plot, by the way. To me, it's superfluous product placement. I don't know if you'll enjoy this film if you're a Power Rangers fan. It only made me want to rewatch the short film "Power/Rangers".
It's watchable, but it's also confusing
"Jane" takes place in the Toronto subway system. It starts with a young woman named Haley travelling on a subway train. Next to her is a young woman named Jane that Haley doesn't know. Jane gets off at Broadview station, but she's dropped her notebook without realizing it. Haley gets off and returns it to her. I can tell that they're not at Broadview station. They're apparently at Jane station, which isn't even close to Broadview. For some reason, they *both* get on another train and travel. Why did Jane get on the train? Was Broadview/Jane station not the station she wanted to go to? As they travel, they sit and talk, but for some reason, they sit somewhere else, and then they sit somewhere else *again*. What the hell? Why would they do that? And then they're back at Broadview station. Huh? Jane gets off, but Haley apparently gets off too.
We see that Haley is on a platform and Jane is on the opposite platform. This time it's easier to tell that they're at Jane station and not Broadview. I should point out that you don't know what the characters' names are until the end. Anyway, they're suddenly both on a train... again. I guess Haley is attracted to Jane because she puts her hand on Jane's hand, but Jane doesn't like that. Haley gets off at a station, embarrassed, I guess. The train leaves and Haley gets on another train that goes to Jane station and it just so happens that the character Jane is there. Haley gets off at the station and Jane apologizes to her. They introduce themselves to each other and go get coffee. The end.
Man, this film is confusing. Is it all supposed to be taking place on the same day? How come the characters are at Jane station when they get off at Broadview? Is Jane station supposed to be symbolic? I dunno. The film is only about four minutes long, which is a good thing. If it was a feature length film and it was made like this, it would probably become really frustrating. The acting and dialogue are OK. The cinematography is so-so. There's a shot of the notebook on the floor that looks slightly out of focus. There's also a bright shot of the characters on a train when it's outside. It's a shot that looks rather dull. In the end credits, it says, "Creating in conjunction with Ryerson University and the School of Image Arts 2016", so I'm guessing this is a student film. Also, I think it should say "Created" instead of "Creating".
Despite being about four minutes, "Jane" is not something you absolutely have to see. Student film or not, it's just OK. I don't think the film needed to be confusing, though.
From Sea to Shining Sea (2014)
Are we there yet?
"From Sea to Shining Sea" is a very simple documentary. The whole film is shown from a camera facing the windshield of a motor vehicle, which travels from the east side of the United States to the west side. The footage plays in fast motion, a map of the country is frequently shown, and you hear people talking (mostly from the radio) and music. That's the movie.
Is it entertaining? Well, to me, it's kinda entertaining, but it's also kinda boring. Luckily, I wasn't incredibly bored throughout, although I imagine that at least some people will be. Not much happens, but to me, that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Gerry" (2002) and "The Brown Bunny" are movies I really like and there isn't much that happens in them. I don't think I can explain why those movies work and why "From Sea to Shining Sea" only kinda does.
I will say that I like the music. It's nice to listen to. I also didn't mind listening to the radio. After awhile, I wanted the film to end, but it just kept going. Maybe it would've been a lot better if it was about 40 or 50 minutes long. 107 minutes is just too long. Thank God it's not over four hours. That would be crazy.
Dangerous Men (2005)
Has to be seen to be believed
I didn't know about this movie until I came across a negative review of it on rogerebert.com. I read the review and became curious. Well, I've now seen the movie twice. "Dangerous Men" is one of those movies that's so bad it's good, like "The Room" (2003) and "Troll 2". It's a movie that you watch with your friends and talk. Maybe get some snacks, some booze, and some weed.
The movie was made by Jahangir Salehi, but I guess he preferred to use the pseudonym John Rad. Yes, Rad. John Rad is almost the only name in the opening credits and it amusingly appears multiple times along with music that might get stuck in your head. What's the movie about? Good question. It's partly about a woman who's fiancé is murdered by a biker on a beach. She goes with the biker to a motel to have sex, I guess, but she literally pulls a knife out of her ass and kills him. I am not kidding. While in a desert, she hitchhikes with a man who happens to have a gun in his vehicle. He drives off-road and attempts to rape her, but she ends up stealing his vehicle and leaving him in the desert naked. Now, for some reason, the movie keeps following him and, for some reason, he talks to his penis and, for some reason, he sings and dances. Again, I am not kidding. The woman becomes a serial killer who kills men. I guess these men are dangerous, but I'm not entirely sure.
The movie's quite a mess. It jumps around a lot and it's not well edited. There are moments when the movie will just cut to something else, but the editing can be funny. There's a scene with a man talking on the phone and the movie just cuts to him making out with a woman who I think he was talking to on the phone. It's just so odd and surprising that you might as well laugh. There are jump cuts during a sex scene with a man named Black Pepper that I just don't understand. Why is the scene edited this way? It's not stylish. It's amateurish. Well, the whole movie is amateurish. The acting is pretty bad. The fight scenes are incredibly unconvincing. "Miami Connection" has better fighting. Someone in "Dangerous Men" says that Black Pepper has killed more people than the Vietnam War. Um, what? He's killed more people than the people who died in the Vietnam War? Apparently, over a million people died in that war. It would be incredible (and horrible) if someone single-handedly killed over a million people. You might be thinking that the guy who said that is exaggerating, but with this movie, I'm not so sure. When I first saw the movie, the ending confused me. The movie ends abruptly on a rather awkward freeze frame. Not a good way to end your movie.
"Dangerous Men" is entertaining trash. I enjoyed it when I saw it on my own and I enjoyed it more when I saw it with a couple of friends. It's quite amusing. The fighting's amusing, the music's amusing, the naked man in the desert's amusing, etc. I wanna see it again and again.
Hardcore Henry (2015)
It could be that I wasn't in the right type of mood to watch "Hardcore Henry", but I was curious about it. A first person action film? Sure, I'll give it a shot. Well, after watching it, I feel that it might work as a video game, but as a film, it doesn't work. It's hollow, it's kinda boring, and its first person gimmick gets old.
Most if not all of the film is shown through the POV of a man named Henry. He wakes up in a laboratory, but he's amnesic and unable to speak. He's also a cyborg, I guess. What follows are numerous action scenes. A woman who claims to be Henry's wife gets kidnapped, so he has to rescue her and defeat the villain named Akan, a somewhat eccentric man with telekinetic abilities. I honestly didn't remember what the villain's name is, but thankfully I can use the Internet for info like that.
Admittedly, the action scenes are pretty convincing. You see Henry running, fighting, climbing, and such, but there's little reason to care. There's so much action and camera movement that it becomes overwhelming. The camera work is also a bit irritating. It didn't make me feel sick, although I wouldn't be surprised if it made other viewers feel sick.
Sharlto Copley's in this, playing different versions of the same character. (It's kinda weird.) Apparently, this film was very challenging for him. He gives a solid performance, though. The other actors are good. There are a few funny moments, like when Henry attempts to ride a horse. The film seems to be mostly concerned about action scenes and I just didn't give a sh*t about them. I'm also not a big fan of the way they were filmed.
Watching "Hardcore Henry" is like watching a video game you can't play, which is a bit frustrating. If you've seen the film and you enjoyed it, that's perfectly fine. Again, maybe I wasn't in the right kind of mood to watch it, even though I was interested in watching it. I dunno. I think if I had to choose between watching "Hardcore Henry" or "The Raid 2", I would choose "The Raid 2". Now *there's* a good action film.
The Neon Demon (2016)
Not for everyone
"The Neon Demon" is an art film that at least some people will probably find boring. It's not heavy on story or character development and it's not fast-paced. Personally, I loved it. It's visually spectacular and weird. I wasn't expecting to see lesbian necrophilia, but this film shows it. I'm not kidding. I don't understand *why* there's lesbian necrophilia. Weirdness for the sake of weirdness, maybe? I guess I was a bit shocked by it. Thankfully, it's only in the film briefly. Plus, I'm not against weirdness for the sake of weirdness.
The film's about a teenage girl named Jesse, played by Elle Fanning. Jesse is an aspiring model who moved to L.A. She lives in a motel room by herself. Somehow, a cougar gets inside the room. Did someone put it there? I have no idea. It's never explained. Artistically speaking, is that good or bad? Well, I like ambiguity when it's done right and I think this film did it right. The cougar is probably meant to be symbolic. If that's the case, I'm not sure what it's symbolic of.
Writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn previously directed "Drive", which is really good, in my opinion. It's well-acted, it looks great, and the music's great. Same with "The Neon Demon". However, if you're expecting this movie to be like "Drive", you'll probably be disappointed. They're pretty different.
"The Neon Demon" is kind of like a beautiful dream. If you like art films and you don't mind a noncomprehensive story and a lack of character development, you might enjoy this one. What I didn't like about it is that it felt *a bit* too long and the eye that someone regurgitates at the end (yes, that happens) looked fake. Nevertheless, the film was quite an experience.
An experimental... coming of age film
To me, describing a film that way is kinda odd, but that *is* what "Boyhood" is. Filmed from 2002 to 2013, it tells the story of Mason from childhood to adulthood. He's played by the same actor, Ellar Coltrane. Other characters are, indeed, played by the same people. I don't think I've seen a film quite like this. In fact, I'm not really sure why it was filmed over such a long time, other than maybe to help make it seem real and... maybe be different. I dunno, but "Boyhood" is definitely entertaining and is a benchmark for filmmaking.
Mason lives in Texas with his mother and his sister Samantha. Mason and Samantha's father lives separately and he occasionally spends time with them in the film, such as taking them bowling and taking Mason on a camping trip. The father is played excellently by Ethan Hawke, who's in several other films of writer/director Richard Linklater. Mason moves from place to place with his sister and mother, including the home of a particular man named Bill Welbrock, who marries Mason's mother. Bill's strict, abusive, and an alcoholic. Though he's not complex, I think he's one of the film's best supporting characters. "Boyhood" is a lengthy film with a lot of story, characters, and dialogue. When I think back on the film, Bill's someone who stands out. I guess it's because of the type of character that he is, as well as the terrific acting. In one of the film's best scenes, Bill becomes physically abusive during dinner, which shocked me. After that, Mason, Samantha, and their mother move out. I was wondering if Bill would show up again, but he doesn't.
"Boyhood" does succeed at being realistic. I honestly can't think of a phony scene or a phony character. The film is kinda like a documentary of someone's life. Mason's a pretty likable character, except maybe for a brief scene at the beginning where him and another kid are spraying graffiti on a wall somewhere. It annoys me a little. However, there are things that we've done in life, whether they're big or small, that we regret, so I shouldn't be too annoyed over it. Anyway, Ellar Coltrane's performance is very strong. In fact, all of the actors and actresses give solid performances. Assuming that there's little to no improvisation, the writing is also really good.
I mentioned that "Boyhood" is lengthy. It is roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes, making it longer than films like "Apocalypse Now" and "The Dark Knight". Is "Boyhood" too long? People might disagree with me, but I think it is. Probably at least 15 minutes could've been cut from Mason's scenes as a teenager. Not the early teenage years, but afterwards. This is where the film just kinda goes on and on. I doubt that making it somewhat shorter would ruin it.
Is there a point to "Boyhood"? Well, when I think back on my life over the last 12 years, I'm not sure if there's really a point to it. I'm also not sure if this film has one, but if you think it does, that's fine with me. Although I don't think "Boyhood" is a masterpiece, I'm glad I saw it and I admire the way it was filmed.
I noticed something peculiar about the dozens of theatre audience members I saw "Samsara" with. During the end credits, most of them didn't leave right away. Some people left, but when the credits were over, there were still a lot of people, including me, of course. Is this normal? Isn't it usually the opposite where many people leave a theatre during a film's end credits with maybe some people staying until the credits are over? My best guess is that these people who saw "Samsara" with me were deeply moved by the film like I was. Maybe the people who left during the credits were moved, too. Whatever people generally thought of the film for that screening, their behaviour at the end was unusual.
"Samsara" is a perfect example of how powerful a film can be without words. There almost aren't any here. It relies on camera shots, editing, and music. They go together like bread and wine. Ron Fricke documents various countries on the planet like China, Jordan, and Brazil. There's lots to see. Factory workers, dancing prisoners, marchers, big cities, custom-made coffins, etc. People sometimes look at the camera like in my all-time favourite film "Koyaanisqatsi", another documentary which is similar to "Samsara". Ron Fricke also had a big hand in it.
What does the title mean? According to the Free Dictionary website, it means, "The eternal cycle of birth, suffering, death, and rebirth." I see how it ties into the film, such as the scene of children being baptized and the aforementioned coffins. One of the coffins looks like a friggin' gun and is used for a funeral. Guns and bullets are shown in the film, as well, which is also connected to the title. However, if we take away the title, would I still be able to identify themes from the film? Probably. Before writing this review, I admittedly didn't have much of an idea as to what the film is trying to say and I didn't know what the title meant. Maybe the film is trying to represent this planet. I like that idea.
It goes without saying that I watched "Samsara" in awe. My eyes were open wide. I nearly cried not near the end, but near the beginning. I wanted to reach out to the screen. Hell, I wanted to be in the film. I really don't think it's heavy-handed. It's rather subtle. As I wrote in my review of "The Tree of Life", I don't often have an extremely mesmerizing cinematic experience. Well, I'm incredibly thankful I got to have it again.
It's like if David Lynch made a film with a bedtime story
The most striking aspects of "Telly" are its surrealism and animation. I don't think I've seen a film, short or long, that looks quite like this. Maybe someone else could draw a comparison, but I can't. The story, although kind of hard to describe, has to do with a little girl living with her father. The girl builds this television and... I guess she becomes possessed by it? Try watching the film and figuring the story out.
I financially supported "Telly" (just a bit) on the website Kickstarter before its release. I apparently forgot that it's completely digitally animated as opposed to handmade. It looks pretty handmade, though. As it turns out, this look is what the maker Evan Mather was going for. A strong testament to his skill as an animator. "Telly" may not be extremely heartfelt, but it still does a solid job of telling a weird story with weird animation.
A Tom Six out of a ten-person centipede (Get it?)
You might be taken aback by my comedic summary regarding my vote to "The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)". I guess it's my way of dealing with this horrifying and utterly bleak film, which must be at least partly related to why black comedy exists; people need to amuse themselves and others to cope when it comes to something like this film. It could easily be why the first one is parodied on "South Park" in the enjoyable episode "HUMANCENTiPAD". In the New York Times interview "A More Perfect Union", writer and director Tom Six himself indicated this film has humour, like maybe when there's thunder and lightning when Martin, the main character, gives an angry facial expression to someone. I admit I kind of laughed at that, but I don't think I laughed at anything else. However, I did say things out loud a few times, like probably "Oh God" in a dismaying manner. More appropriate, I think.
Martin is a demented, obese, and non-speaking man, played very well by newcomer Laurence R. Harvey. Martin works as a security guard in an underground parking garage and has a sexual obsession with the first film. Yup, the first film, which Tom Six also wrote and directed. However, whereas that one has three people sewn together ass to mouth, Martin sets out to have *twelve* for his human centipede. Why? For his own entertainment and sexual pleasure. Talk about an unusual sequel. He violently kidnaps some people in the parking garage. There's not a single bystander around, for whatever reason. I'm not sure if I buy that, but then again, I don't know how much realism Tom Six was going for. Martin keeps his centipede victims in a warehouse and eventually combines ten of them together, which makes my summary even more suitable.
"The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)" is in black and white. If it was in colour, especially with little or even no altering, the film would've still been bleak, of course, but as it is, boy, is it bleak. In a good way, nonetheless. It *sort of* reminds me of "Eraserhead", a David Lynch film I really admire. Both are eerie, weird, in black and white, don't have much dialogue, involve an infant or two, and have each main character living in an apartment. "Eraserhead" is weirder and definitely not as violent, though. If David Lynch saw this film, I wonder what he would think about it.
If I look away when watching a film, it's usually because the film doesn't have me interested and not because there's something way too repulsive happening on the screen for me to even look at. With "The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)", I never looked away, though I almost did because it did get a bit too boring. Nonetheless, it's mostly effective with its unorthodox storytelling, grungy and downbeat look, and the acting. (I had a bit of trouble believing the couple at the beginning, but that's a nitpick.)
There's a lot of human suffering and it largely comes from the victims in the warehouse. Even though they seriously lack characterization, I did care about them, at least somewhat. No sane person wants to go through their ordeal. I should mention I really enjoyed the first film. Even though the victims also lack characterization, they have more going for them and I strangely felt more sorry and supportive for them. It's probably because their pain wasn't overwhelming, they're main characters, and there's more focus on them potentially escaping. Here, the story is told mostly from Martin's perspective. He's definitely not somebody to root for. Why is he twisted? What's wrong with his sexuality? His sexual abuse by his father, whom we don't see in person, probably has something to do with those questions. Probably abuse by his mother, as well, whom he lives with. Yeah, this film hardly explores his past.
How come we never see Martin talk? I don't know. I actually don't consider it a flaw, however. I'm so used to main characters talking in films and with the different way it's done here, I didn't mind. He's implicitly characterized, but at the same time, his behaviour is pretty unsurprising. I don't think main characters necessarily have to be likable as if they're a close friend, but they should be interesting, one way or another. It actually seems like we're suppose to feel sorry for him at times, like when his mother lays blame on him to an angry neighbour over something *she* did. I guess Martin deserves some pity there, but when it comes to the film as a whole, you'd probably be wishing him death or having him locked away in a mental institution. I pick the latter. Maybe it'd be interesting if his past was explored and if he used to normally talk, what his dialogue was like, but as the film is, I'm okay with him *as a character*.
I didn't like or dislike "The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)". It's well shot, even though shots are depressing as hell, especially in black and white. I doubt the film is trying to say anything about someone who's inspired by violence in films to use violence in real life. I don't think the film absolutely should, either. In the aforementioned New York Times interview, Tom Six said that such a person is already insane. He's probably right. In an interesting way, this film ends ambiguously, which I won't spoil how, but the third and final film that's in the works will apparently begin with this film's ending, just like how this one begins with the ending of the first. This trilogy is Mr. Six's film centipede. What the heck is he gonna do with the last one? Maybe it should be a musical.
Akin to "Speed Racer" on acid? Maybe even acid on acid? I don't know, but this film sure is incredible
Those comparisons actually aren't mine. I saw "Redline" courtesy of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival and the presenter used those comparisons. A video presentation was also shown of writer Katsuhito Ishii when he was in the city not too long ago. If he attended the screening and did a Q&A, I bet there would've been a question on drug use for coming up with the story or making the film. It's f**king crazy and bizarre. It's also f**king well-made.
What's it about? My story depiction probably won't exactly tell you the madness you'll be getting into, unfortunately. You'd really have to see it for yourself. Anyway, it's an anime set in a futuristic universe involving people and anthropomorphic creatures racing in vehicles on different planets. I can't really describe any of the anthropomorphic creatures in the film. Maybe some are aliens and some are animals or animal-like? Those are my best guesses. Our protagonist is JP, a male racer with funky-looking hair who tends to be laid-back when he's not racing. After losing a race called the Yellowline, a precursor to the famous no holds barred Redline, it seems like it's over for him. However, he qualifies for the Redline, anyway, which is being held on a planet where its government violently opposes the race. I can hear "The Imperial March" playing in my head when it comes to them. JP, being the daredevil that he is, participates in the big race that's the final scene for the film. Yeah, it's a cliché, but it feels minor to me, especially for this particular film. Added to the story is a nice relationship with JP and Sonoshee, a female racer.
"Redline" was in the works for seven years, as I've recently learned. Wow. I, for one, certainly don't think those years went to waste. The heavily detailed animation is sweet eye candy. Unlike the live action "Speed Racer" film, "Redline" was never overwhelming to look at. In fact, because I had to read its English subtitles, I wish I could've understood Japanese so I could've focused more on the animation. I admittedly had some trouble following the film. There's so much going on and sometimes the subtitles went too fast for me to read. There were a few times where audience members were laughing and I didn't get what was funny. Nonetheless, I did laugh with the audience at times, like when one of the racers on TV is talking with a puppy. Even films that are hard to follow, such as "Inception", can be highly entertaining. On the way home, I laughed to myself over what I just watched. The audience even cheered at least twice. The action is thrilling and that includes the beginning with the Yellowline race despite the lack of characterization. As the film goes on, we do get to know the main characters to a certain extent. JP is likable and down-to-Earth, if you will. There are flashbacks to him as a child, which may also be clichéd, but again, no biggie. Watching the film, I didn't even think of the flashbacks that way.
Looking past the craziness and the animation, does "Redline" have anything meaningful for us to take away? I'm not sure. There could be a moral on leaving a profitable criminal lifestyle, for one. If there's meaning, it's subtle. I can't believe that word comes to mind when this film has a racing vehicle with two breast-shaped windows. "Redline" is probably just utter escapism. Director Takeshi Koike, Katsuhito Ishii, and so on have definitely crafted something memorably wacky. I've never done acid, but I have to wonder what watching this film would be like on that drug. That should probably be best left a mystery.
The Tree of Life (2011)
Life: an odyssey
What a film. It isn't often that I get to have such a spellbinding cinematic experience. The best two examples of films that are at least somewhat similar are "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Koyaanisqatsi". Neither those films and "The Tree of Life" are perfect, but then I don't think any film is. At the same time, I think they come somewhat close. However, these films have something very particular in common: they really bore certain people. I saw "The Tree of Life" with three guys I know. Two seemed to be unsure what to think of it, but one said it's among the worst films he's seen. It obviously wouldn't be fair for me to judge him on that and I showed respect to him. He asked, along these lines, why would the film spend over two hours for messages on loving one another and whatnot when they're things we already know? I didn't have an answer, but maybe it's to embed them into you, regardless if you already know.
I know little about what a tree of life is. It isn't explained in the film and I don't feel like extensively researching it. Nonetheless, according to Wikipedia, it is "a many-branched tree illustrating the idea that all life on earth is related". This is probably why there is the beginning scene of the dinosaurs and the ending scene of the various people on the beach. The main story focuses on a nuclear family living in a suburban neighbourhood during the 1950s. Brad Pitt plays the father, a strict and hard-boiled man who *can* also be caring and loving. Sean Penn only has little screen time as Jack, a grown-up man of one of the boys in the family who now seems lost in his life and reflects on it. The family in the '50s have their share of ups and downs. There's the occasional and gentle voice-over from a few of them about things like loving, nature, and grace. One particular thing I don't understand is the father(?) and one of the sons in the attic. Even so, I find it interesting and that goes for the other things I don't understand.
The film feels very dream-like with its visuals, music, and voice-overs. Loads of precision must've gone in to make it. It's completely embracing. The characters are believable and I cared about them. To me, the film never drags on. Probably my absolute favourite shot is the spiral of the church glass, even though it's less than a few seconds long. This film will probably be nominated for a few, if not many, Oscars, like Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Picture. Mark my words.
This is a film that has to be watched differently than Hollywood blockbusters. It requires relaxation. You have to experience the film's unusual artistry, even if it can sometimes qualify as art for the sake of art. To me, there's nothing wrong with that, as long as it's engaging. Even though at least a few of the messages are admittedly clichéd, I don't care. The film actually got me thinking about my life, like the joy of hanging out with other guys I really know on the same day before I saw the film. I don't remember the last film that did that, though it was probably "127 Hours". Still, it happens rarely.
I unfortunately haven't seen any of Terrence Malick's other films, but with making "The Tree of Life", it's like he was channeling Stanley Kubrick in a way. Malick must've had a lot of passion. Only time will tell if this film becomes a classic, but I hope it does. I look forward to repeated viewings.
South Park: Royal Pudding (2011)
Is it clichéd to say that I'm Canadian and I enjoyed it?
Yes, "Royal Pudding" is another Canadian related episode for the show and *it is funny*. The recently televised wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, which I only briefly watched, is parodied with a televised royal Canadian wedding that involves pudding, which is, of course, tradition. The deadpan narrator of the wedding frequently uses that word. However, the wedding is interrupted when a seemingly extraterrestrial being kidnaps the princess and wrecks havoc. Even so, the narrator continues his deadpan delivery and usage of the word "tradition". It's a kind of memorable opening, to be honest. The kidnapping upsets Ike and he travels to Canada after a call to arms is issued to Canadians. Ike, therefore, forgoes playing Tooth Decay in Mr. Mackey's kindergarten play about dental hygiene, which provides a second story line to the episode.
Those who want to see an episode that focuses on all four boys, particularly Cartman, will be disappointed. Cartman is a great character, but I can perfectly manage with a break of him. As is tradition with the show, the animation and voicework are well done. Both story lines interested me and, as I mentioned, the episode's funny. Mr. Mackey frequently gets angry with his play and curses at the young kids, which works because what kind of school staff member does that, in real life? Luckily, there's only a rare amount of Canadian stereotypes and I liked the one involving Kraft Dinner. This may not be a stereotype, but I thought the makers were gonna make fun of the gruesome beheading and cannibalization of Tim McLean for the bus scene. They didn't, unless there's an allegory at the end, which, by the way, is darkly funny and is traditional humour for the show. One quibble comes to mind and that's watching the kindergarteners rehearse a part in the play three times. If it's suppose to be funny, I didn't really see it.
Is there a point to this episode? Maybe it's that tooth decay is bad (m'kay) and Canada isn't important to America, though I'm probably overanalysing. After watching this episode, I convinced my brother and my dad to watch it. My dad later said he had never seen a complete "South Park" episode. They enjoyed it and I even watched most of it with them.