Sunday, 31 July 2011

What if a human bean saw you?

Arrietty (2010)
Chosen by me because I like going to the cinema a lot.

Absolutely adorable. One of the most purely joyous films of the year.
Terrific animation (the cat has more character than most human characters in any movies) and a contagious love for exploration but also doesn't shy away from more complicated ideas like death and loss.
It's ending is a little bittersweet (the kid still has a dicky ticker after all no matter what 'courage' he says he has been given) but it achieves genuine sentiment through solid storytelling and a compelling, brilliantly realised female character (I believe Joss Whedon once said something along the lines of the only place he used to be able to see strong woman in cinema was James Cameron and Studio Ghibli).


Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Chosen by Blogalongabond

And so we enter the dark days of the 1970s.

Bond's Intro:This plays the hide the face game again but Connery's reveal is sloppy and lazy feeling this time round, an atmosphere that carries over into his acting and the film as a whole. We get no reference to the traumatizing events of the last film but Bond does at least project some angriness that could be read into. Unfortunately the 'dispatching' of Blofeld so campy (a problem it will have again at the end of this film and then once again at the beginning of For Your Eyes Only) it undermines any tension or aggression. Bond is at least very competent here, following his leads and taking out villains on his own very capably.

Theme Song and Credits: A pretty terrific though very rude Bassey number pick things up, though the perky nippled silhouettes are a little tiresome now.

The Ladies: Jill St. John is ok but Tiffany Case suffers from a severe case of stupidity (we will see this arc almost verbatim in a couple of movies time but with a less interesting actress in Britt Ekland) and pointless demeaning of women. Lana Wood is a delight but again horribly written and after one scene, her death has all the impact of a wet tissue hitting a window.

The Baddies: Oh Blofeld! You really are a shitty super villain. His plan doesn't really make a huge amount of sense but at least he's consistent in his approach to women (you really think he would have learnt his lesson from Tracy though and just shot Tiffany). I like to believe that Irma Bunt has gone through the same miraculous plastic surgery procedure as Blofeld and is Bambi. Or maybe Thumper. Either is fine.
Charles Gray is not a very imposing bad guy and dressed up as an old woman even less so.
License to Kill: He's pretty vicious in this one, throwing scapels accurately (with some Hammer Horror style blood letting) and using Blofeld as a wrecking ball (though that bit is so slow and clunky I can't imagine Ernst got much more than slightly travel sick). However all marginal notion of him as a secret agent is right out. There is a bizarre conversation with Case where they both talk about having killed James Bond (continuing the series' obsession with his death - also seen later here where he is almost cremated) as if he were a famous celebrity.

Bond hates foreigners: He's pretty much a dick to everyone no matter nationality.

Bond hates women: Throttles a woman with her own bikini top, lets O'Toole be thrown out of a window, slaps Case around and calls her a twit because she tries to save the world.

Bond's crazy knowledge: Shows M up over his amazing knowledge of Claret but to his bosses delight knows little about diamonds.

Bond's a big fat snob: Once again catches a villain out because of alcohol. 

00's killed: The only 'important' death is dealt with so off-handly as to barely even register. Poor Plenty O'Toole.

Mini overview: A fairly miserable effort, one of the worst (two Moore starrers are in the running too) with wit replaced with overt camp, a bored looking Connery and terribly written females. Even it's action sequences feel lazy (a moon buggy chase so poor and pointless it almost makes me feel fondly over the Hover Gondola to come), uninspired and dreary.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

I'd like to bend her over a barrel and show her the fifty states.

Horrible Bosses (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

It doesn't help itself by modelling it's first few minutes on the Arrested Development pilot with a narration over Bateman thinking he is going to get a promotion but is a mostly amusing and fast paced hour and a half or so.
Colin Farrell is very funny as a complete 'tool' and Spacey seems to be having a blast though it is not as complete a role as his character in Swimming With Sharks.
Aniston is the weakest link here, it's a constant bafflement how someone with such a bad sense of comic timing keeps getting lead roles in comedies.

Friday, 29 July 2011

I have an official certificate proving I'm not crazy. Do you?

The Mad Butcher (1971)
Chosen by Sam Dale who had this to say about it: ' Dubbed Italian horror/black humour from the 70's. Picked this up in a pound shop in Whitby as it looked horrendous enough it might be unintentionally funny. Turns out it's a lot more watchable and droll than we gave it credit from the cover and price.'

A peculiar pantomine take on a Sweeney Todd-esque tale. Most of the comedy is broad farce but well played by Victor Buono, it does manage some pretty smart gags.
Despite only running 80 mins it drags a fair bit (spending a lot of time, a lot of time, on just watching Buono chop up meat).

Thursday, 28 July 2011

It's a nest

The Last Dragon (2004) 
Supplied by Victoria Charvill from a bunch of dvds she was getting rid of

In the vein of those Walking with Dinosaurs documentary's, which I have always found very annoying. Adding an anthropomorphic tale onto animal documentaries is bad enough when it is actual footage but becomes unbearable to me when created around fictional CGI creations (though the effects work is often very good).
This adds another layer of bullshit with the storyline of a scientist attempting to prove dragon's existed and performing an autopsy on a miraculous find.
The acting and voice over are far shoddier than the special effects.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

You're like A Beautiful Mind.

Hall Pass (2011)
Chosen by me from a short list of films I hadn't seen on the plane.

Fairly terrible. A demeaning, largely laugh free comedy.
Broadly played, no one comes out looking good.

Monday, 25 July 2011

♫It's a game♫

The Game (2011)
Chosen by me from a selection on the plane. Also I hated wearing the earphones for The Lincoln Lawyer so I choose a foreign movie that I could just watch without sound and read the sub-titles.

A very stylish, smart looking film filled with gorgeous people shot like they were in a Michael Mann film.
Unfortunately the plot is sub-par Agatha Christie nonesense filled with twins, hidden agendas, and all sorts of silliness but it's never any fun.
We are told by one character that the game is about to begin but there's no Saw like shenanigans here. No game at all really. Somebody talks bullshit to a bunch of people and there's a couple of fights. Bit like scrabble.

One is small and one is big, I guess.

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
Chosen by me from a selection of films on the plane to San Diego.

A thouroughly forgettable courtroom drama featuring a lawyer doing his best to get his client off the hook so he can quit. The usual justice bollocks prevails, every cliched 'objection' and the most hideous 'i'll allow it' and all. Waste's Macy and Tomei, McConaughey is fine but Phillipe not interesting enough here to satisfy the demands of the plot.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

if you need help the time to ask is now

Control Alt Delete (2008)
Chosen by me from a list of free movies

Very little in the way of jokes for a comedy and not solid enough to be a compelling look at an unusual sexual kink, it's all a bit of nothing really.
Alisen Down excels in her role as the boss of a company helping the Y2K transition for computers, all of the laughs come from her performance.

What comes around, goes around.

Amos and Andrew (1993)
Chosen by me from a list of free movies online

A mismatched buddy movie of a type seen five hundred times before and since (though they don't seem quite so prevalent these days). It's mostly pretty slick and occassionally funny (given an extra charge from the racial element) but fairly dull.

Friday, 22 July 2011

He will be the first in a new breed of super-soldier.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot and I was in the States so it seemed appropriate.

A fun retro romp. Chris Evans is very good (though the skinny body version is a bit off putting) and is surrounded by some interesting actors (always love seeing Toby Jones). It features a few in jokes for the fans (Jones first appearance is a subtle reference to how is character actually appears in the comic books) and some ties to the Thor movie (though not nessecary viewing at all).
The action, whilst never spectacular is pleasingly old school for the most part, things feel practical rather than cg (until an assault on a train that stands out from the rest).
It ends on a very odd note (discounting the seemingly obligatory end credits sequence - a fun look at next year's team up film The Avengers) that deflates rather than builds excitement as we are forced to consider the implications of one of the characters 70 years on.

a noble bug embiggens the smallest man

Mushi-shi (2006)
Chosen by Beckeh Lee who had this to say; 'Very pretty, also very boring - because I watched it not too long ago andcan't remember anything about it.'

At times startling beautiful but oh so very very slow and dull.
It features some nonsense about 'bugs' - spirits that attach themselves to things and has a convoluted back story doled out periodically through the episodic plot.
But mostly this just serves as an excuse to offer up odd, often breathtaking imagery but it all feels so inconsequential (maybe that's just 'cos I couldn't follow the plot though).

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

You're thinking there's a horcrux in Bellatrix's vault?

Harry Potter and the deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

Probably the only half decent Potter film (alongside the third).
This benefits from finally having some kind of pace tot it as it needs to actually fucking finish now.
But too many things just don't make any sense and dramtically it's all over the place (supposedly important characters die off screen and are barely mentioned).
Still it maintains some pretty visuals and the use of sound is generally very good.
The 19 years later coda is just terrible.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

aka twitch of the death nerve, bloodbath, chain reaction, last house on the left part 2,

Bay of Blood (1971)
Chosen by me from a list of freeview movies.

An odd proto-slasher.
There is some sort of plot nonsense about inheritance and property development but mostly it's a string of random pointless killings (it spends a lot of time with a bunch of partying kids - who have no relevance to the story at all) right up to it's baffling out of nowhere ending.
There's a little style and a lot of gore but it's mostly just a bit dull. do this thing... it's so cute I wanna kill myself.

The Perfect Catch a.k.a. Fever Pitch (2005)
Chosen by Phoebe Lau who had this to say about it: 'I can't remember why I like it, sorry, I can't really remember what made me watch it in the first place but it's a bittersweet romantic comedy that definitely makes good use of Jimmy Fallon's charming take on the remake as a Red Sox fan and the amazing break of the curse of the Bambino that every Red Sox fan knows about. I suppose it's a film that balances out both a baseball fan's love and how to love women I guess. :/
It's also got great scenes and tech used to make it look really real'.

The UK dvd cover is even more than this believe it or not
A mostly fun Rom-Com it suffers from my usual issue with the male lead being a complete jerk for most of the running time (and indeed rewarded at the end for it).
Barrymore is endearing as ever though she could do this role in her sleep.
There is some ok comedy support (Willie Garson is great here) and some good lines well delivered.
The Farrelly's make good use of Boston but don't quite bring out it's mythic qualities in a way, say, Ben Affleck does (like this film his The Town makes extensive use of Fenway Park).

Monday, 18 July 2011

The world's biggest film nerd

Dead Snow (2009)
Chosen by Sam Dale who had this to say: 'It's spam in a cabin plus Nazi zombies. In Norwegian. It's a great little film. Many nods to classic horror films, lots of black humour, some very silly gore. Like it a lot.'

Nazi zombies in the snow. That's as much thought as went into this film and is probably enough for most people who are watching this.
But even Evil Dead laid out why it's craziness was happening with more care than this slapdash effort (which wastes a viewpoint filmnerd character too early - though he does get to fuck the pretty lady i guess) which seems happy to make reference to a few movies but never really does anything clever with this.
The gore is mostly imaginative (second time this year I have seen intestines used as rope) but it's all rather mean spirited and pointless.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Visibility at any cost

The Celluloid Closet (1995)
Chosen by me from a list of free movies online.

A mostly fascinating look at the portrayal of homosexuality in cinema over the years. But more interesting is the way 'straight' films could be read as gay by an audience (often but not always intended by the film makers) desperate for sympathetic identification and whether bad representation is better than no representation.
Carefully selected clips can take on a different skew placed in this context (I am a great believer in art leaving the creator and forming a second life in the mind of the consumer - ask me sometime what I think Predator is really all about).
It takes a narrow focus on a simple straight/homosexual mode (a more modern update would maybe start to consider more transgender and asexual readings as sex is far more complicated than even this film would have).
It keeps things breezy and hopeful and is all the better for it but it does seem a little naive at the end.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

And the thing about romantics is, we never give up.

Blood & Chocolate (2007)
Chosen by Brian Marshall who had this to say: 'you know how much i hate writing these things, but i suppose it's only fair for making you watch the films. Blood and chocolate is a fairly harmless film about werewolves. Not so much a blood and guts killer thriller, more a romance story.'

A fairly dull take on Werewolves, very much in the Twilight vein (though without the horrid sexual politics).
Nothing really works here, it sets up a few dangling plot threads (it keeps having characters tells us it was the lead's fault for her parents dying but I don't see why?) but it's world building is mostly modish decoration for a  plodding, familiar love story.

Friday, 15 July 2011

If you live any longer than that, I'll give you a refund on this appointment

Diagnosis Death (2010)

Pretty poor. Neither especially funny or scary, mostly it's just kind of dull. There are a couple of interesting ideas but the whole film doesn't seem to follow a logical course of cause and effect.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Hari Kari is also suicide

Tokyo Gore Police (2008)
Chosen by Beckeh Lee (who wrote it on delightful Domo themed paper - but also uses full circles rather than dots above the letter 'i') who had this to say: 'Thanks to this being one of Seymour's [her partner's] favourite films, there's now several hours of my life I won't get back. Fetish-wise it's everything you'd expect from Japan - fucking weird. Seymour sees the serious story behind it, and the issues with privitising the police.

Made before the recent filmaday entry Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl this is a similar exercise in excess, though it's satire is more obvious to me (I still don't get half of the school stuff in that previous movie) and comes across as a Japanese Robocop - down to fake adverts (one for 'cutesy' knives to cut yourself with a rather unsettling trend he has in both films) and focus on a privitised police force.
Again it starts to actually bore with it's shock tactics as they are so relentlessly cartoonish (though I did turn away squeemishly at the main character slicing at her wrists and a guy getting a drill put through his ankle). I may have used this line before - but when everything is turned up to 11, 11 isn't that special anymore.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Lucky for you, I come with my own air bags!

Elvira's Hidden Hills (2001)
Chosen by me from a list of free movies online.

Much the same as the last Elvira filmaday entry (though set over 150 years ago making the forced pop culture references even less funny).
Again it's all a bit too twee and soft to be that bothered by but within about 5 minutes we've already seen people accidentally fall into our star's heaving bosom and grope her breasts in oh so comical ways.
Richard O'Brian is just as awful as everybody else (at least Cassandra Peterson appears to be having fun).
It's best gag has a studly servant's voice very badly dubbed (though they over egg the joke by referring to it).

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (2002)
Chosen by me from a selection of free films online (and it was mentioned by Kim Newman in his excellent book Nightmare Movies)

As if a ballet version of Dracula wasn't distancing enough, Maddin films the whole thing as though a silent movie (mostly - there are a couple of disconcerting sound effects).
Hauntingly beautiful but off beat (Van Helsing is an odd pervert who keeps the torn off skirt of Mina Murray) it plays Dracula out as an invasion story by an immigrant impressing himself into English social and sexual society.
It pays much more attention to Lucy Westernra (starting the story with her and showing Jonathan Harker's travails are shown later in a super fast precis) who is brilliantly performed by Tara Birtwhistle. Highlighting a character's sexuality through dance may not be exactly a groundbreaking idea but Birtwhistle handles the change in personality brilliantly creating a genuine tragedy out of her death (sympathy is not only with her but also Dracula at the end who seems bullied in his own home by a bunch of toffs).

Monday, 11 July 2011

They just keep growing and growing and there's nothing we can do about it

Mega Piranha (2010)
Chosen by me from the 'fine' selection at Poundworld.

Starring "80's Pop Sensation Tiffany" this is about as rubbish as I've come to expect from knock off studio The Asylum.
Not nearly clever enough to excuse it's cheapness (compare to cheap knock off Piranha from Joe Dante and it's flaws become even more unbearable), a couple of moments suggest a knowing pastiche but performances and direction are so bad (one actor starts to say another's line before realising he's got it wrong) and script so risible nothing works - not as spoof, not as serious horror, not as silly action film.
This lacks even the over the top set pieces seen on countless youtube clips of other films of it's ilk.
Not worth the pound I spent on it.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it.

Tree of Life (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

Willfully almost perversely obtuse The Tree of Life is a fascinating but frustrating experience.
A hushed sombre voice-over intones meaningless platitudes over images that seem unrelated to anything.
We are often giving scenes lacking vital information (I was unclear until checking the credits which kid was meant to be Sean Penn, the film's dialogue is largely irrelvant and I can't recall if anyone is ever mentioned by name) leaving fleeting sometimes haunting snatches of life.
It is, as ever with Malick, achingly beautiful. Tying a families grief and life into the very birth of the world itself may seem a stretch to far (the screening I was at had a few walk outs, that's for sure) but it allows for a poetic, off-kilter experience unlike anything else you're liable to see at the cinema this year.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

all you need is a ball and an open space

The Game of their Lives (2005)
Chosen by me by selecting some of Poundworld's fine wares.

Football remains ever so dull to watch on screen and the off pitch machinations barely register as interesting here either.
It's all so terribly pat (it makes out that their game against England was the first one played but they had already lost a match a day or two earlier) and the performances generally pretty bad (even Patrick Stewart is less than his usual watchable self).

Friday, 8 July 2011

you put blood in the chocolate. not love.

Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl (2009)
Chosen by me as it was free online and mentioned briefly in Kim Newman's new edition of the excellent Nightmare Movies.

Utterly bonkers.
An incredibly offensive movie in many ways (set at a high school it has cliques of girls who love cutting themselves and enter school sanctioned competitions for it and a group who go 'blackface') yet too silly and cartoonish to actually get bothered by.
It spends a lot of time on essentially inconsequential characters (the two groups above are only in the film so that the 'Frankenstein Girl' has strong arms and legs) with bizarre non-sequiturs and overt winking at the audience (the Frankenstein of the story gets an odd dance sequence with a latex clad nurse where they look directly at the camera).
Incredibly gory, heads explode, people are cut in half but apart from one image of the Vampire Girl dancing in  a shower of blood whilst being photographed by a pervert teacher none of it really sticks.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

I'm not doing Spider-man

Love and Distrust (2010)
Chosen by me from a fine selection at Poundworld. Oh yes.

Nothing even remotely like this is in the movie. My dvd case was different but no less mendacious.
A pretty ramshackle collection of short film, mostly dull though the Amy Adams one is rather annoying.
The only one that really stands out doesn't particularly fit the collections theme (it is in fact much more concerned about automobiles really) but is itself a collection of short(er) films and is breezy and funny, with a host of Hollywood in jokes (the quoted line is said by James Cameron) performed by some great actors (the wonderful Melissa Mccarthy graces the filmaday screens again)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

you'll never see your daughter again

Butterfly on a Wheel (2007)
Chosen by Lauren Parker who had this to say 'I don't remember all that much about the film to be honest, Gerard Butler is handsome like always but for once he's not in a romcom or beating someone up. Despite the fact it has a interesting premise and a half decent twist it's only average at best but I must continue to impose Gerard Butler on you and the world!'

A rather dull, plodding thriller whose moderately interesting premise is scuppered by an overly obvious 'hidden' villain (it's certain the very moment someone gets handed a phone the only question is why? and that's answered in as moribund a way as possible) which negates any tension what-so-ever.
X-Files fans - Nicholas Lea pops up for a pointless one scene cameo (as the perpetrator is so clear his red herring function is almost of zero value).

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

This one night changes everything for me

The House of the Devil (2009)
Chosen by me from as I saw it at Poundworld

A conceptually clever and well observed film (more than just a period piece it wants to be seen as though it was actually made in the early '80s), it's rather neat but lacking.
It has an incredibly slow build with very little, save a somewhat abrupt death scene happening in it's first hour. It achieve some tension out of the sense of impending doom (it is called house of the devil after all and those repeated references to a lunar eclipse have not gone unnoticed) but it's last ten minutes feel rushed and underwhelming.
Tom Noonan is splendid bringing an interesting mix of excitement and worry (there's the slightest hint that he's not fully on board with the plan) that plays to his oddball strengths and creates a genuinely weird character.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Today we take the battle to them!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

Though in most respects a significant step up from the second Transformers movie, and after an interesting, clever opening re-framing the 1969 Moon landing, it is still almost completely worthless.
It spends a whole movie length of running time setting up a pointlessly complicated plot, running horrid 'comedy' bits with Witwicky's family (seriously why the hell are they in this?) and dropping zingers on a missing cast member (I'm no Megan Fox fan but her replacement could be a blow up sex doll for all Bay cares about females).
The action is marginally clearer than the last efforts but again the set pieces only really work in isolated five second moments. Strung together they become non-sensical and at times whole scenes seem missing (we go from Bumblebee rescuing two humans to suddenly having been captured with no linking material at all) despite the fact the film is fucking two and a half hours long.
It also seems intent on hiring people from shows and movies I really, really love (Alan Tudyk and Ken Jeong have extended but pointless roles, Scott Krinsky from Chuck pops up for a single gag) so I fully expect Simon Pegg to be in the next one.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

If I wasn't a cop anymore, I would still go out with a gun and shoot people.

Bridesmaids (2011)
Chosen by me as I like to go to the cinema a lot.

A great cast do a lot to makes this a mostly fun, very bad mouthed comedy.
It is a touch too long and the redemptive arc of the main character doesn't really work (what exactly does she do except realise she's an arsehole?) but they are all very funny women and it's generally not far between good gags.
Melissa McCarthy, almost unrecognisable but last seen round the filmaday halls in Nine, is the stand-out but everyone gets their moment (if not exactly full arcs as Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey are basically forgotten about).

Saturday, 2 July 2011

This is the survival mentality that drives the monster

Big man Japan (2007)
Chosen by me as it was offered free online

An odd, melancholy movie. This did the internet rounds a few years back for it's bizarre CGI fight sequences and baffling obtuse monsters (a head on a leg bounces around for some reason).
Shot for the most part in docu style and not immediately obvious as to what it is about (we hear the lead talk a lot about liking things that grow big on command before seeing his power).
It may stretch it's point of the main character being a sad pathetic loner a little too much but is an affecting and interesting take on Godzilla tropes.
It's ending (after the 'hero' kills his Grandad whilst running away from a bizarre Demon thing) is utterly mind boggling. Switching from CGI to trad. man in suit trashing cardboard city shenanigans it may have a political point to score (something about North Korea and the USA maybe?) but fucked if I know. It plays out  strange Ultraman pastiche that highlights the casual brutality of a lot of children's entertainment (they really lay into the poor monster/man in suit) that is clever and both funny and horrifying at the same time.
There's not much else out there quite like it - that's for sure.

Friday, 1 July 2011


Mutants (2009)
Chosen from a list of DVDs Victoria Charvill was giving away.

I have a horrid fear of people standing in or near roads in the movies. I get convinced they will be hit by a car. It doesn't matter what type of film it is. A comedy, a drama, a horror. It can sometimes be so distracting to me I can't concentrate on the scene, as I tense up and expect doom on wheels to come any second (it's also why I can't watch the Final Destination films now which play this feeling out to anything in shot). The way film controls the screen, with no peripheral vision just drives me crazy.
Mutants begins with a similar thing I find annoying - the survivor of a horrid event being hit by a suddenly appearing vehicle. A lazy nihilistic joke, that serves little purpose.
But once the film gets going it has a low key, quiet approach to the zombie apocalypse focussing on one couple until it's last act plays with the usual dull running around screaming and shooting for the most part.
Far better than a lot of it's ilk but still a bit second hand.