Friday, 30 September 2011

You got on the wrong train, Tarzan

Snakes on a Train (2006)
Chosen by Greg Todd who had this to say: 'Snakes on a train was bought for me by Phil as a joke for a pound and was just about worth it. 4 of us, slightly drunk, found it very funny, but watched sober and alone it may appear to be just crap. It contains some genuine surprise twists, but only be being completely nonsensical. I thought it just made in to being "so bad it's good". My friend preferred it over Snakes On A Plane because it had "more tits and dead kids".'

I think Greg's friend may be wrong about this having more tits, unless I blanked a bit, but it does have quite an extraordinary sequence of a young child being eaten by one of the magically size changing Aztec Curse snakes.
One of Asylum's lazy cash in movies (the company that bring out a Transmorphers film on dvd in time for Transformers at the cinema amongst many many others), more thought goes into their titles than anything that actually happens in the film.
As ever with films like this it's far too dull to be fun, though it manages a couple of moments of sheer lunacy to wake you up from your slumber (I honestly don't know if I drifted off or the film doesn't actually tell you why or how the woman was cursed with coughing up supernatural snakes).
The ending makes no sense what so ever.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A lust for blood! A lust that has grown with the years! And one that I spend my entire life trying to satisfy.

Bloodlust/Spooks Run Wild (1961/1941)

Bloodlust is a 'Most Dangerous Game' adaptation (though uncredited) and a pretty poor one at that. Very dull, the hunting of the characters is pedestrian (though faintly ridiculous as the old cast are supposedly teenagers) but there is a small amount of fun hamminess from the villain.

Spooks Run Wild is a Bowery Boys film (which doesn't really mean much to me to be honest) and despite some odd racial issues (hey they have a friend who is an African American! but the jokes based around him are pretty bad) is a generally boring quickie with Bela Lugosi doing his schtick as background to Boys Own running around a 'haunted house' stuff.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

I was born into the Hebrew persuasion, but when I got older I converted to narcissism

Scoop (2006)
Chosen by me when I was at my parents for the weekend. I scanned through the teevee listings and chose the first film about to start that i hadn't seen.

One of the many rather rubbish films from Allen in the last ten years.
We get a couple of great one liners for sure, but the whole thing is slackly paced, charmless and non-sensical.
Johansson is hidiously miscast (early Kate Winslet may have been able to pull it off) but no-one else really comes out of this looking good (Ian Mcshane is barely in it so suffers least).

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

There's a mole, right at the top of the Circus. And he's been there for years.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot.

This is a curious one. A very strong film, with a great cast, compelling eye (and ear - some of the song choices are terrific) for detail, distinctive, well paced and fascinating.
But is has a huge central problem. It's just a problem that doesn't especially bother me.
It is massively underwhelmed by it's own mystery. Everyone keeps talking about it but the film itself doesn't seem to care who the mole is. When the solution comes it is very arbitrary (there are no real clues, it could be any of the suspects and the movie wouldn't change at all) and has some leaps in logic that seem confusing (Smiley approaches one of the suspects because he knows it's not him, but the movie never explains how he knows it's not him), the actual moles motives are tossed away in a line that on examination actually tells us nothing.
Perhaps because the film is so confidant in it's cast and tone this manages not to annoy me in the slightest but I could understand if people came out of this one unsatisfied.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Do I look like a maniac who goes around killing girls?

Virus/The Brain That Wouldn't Die/Diary of a Nudist (1980/1962/1961)
Triple Bill of Public Domain movies.

Virus was not the film I thought it was going to be. For good and bad. Starting with a silhouette of a lone dishevelled figure framed by the sun, it felt like it was going to be a post apocalyptic movie ala Mad Max 2 and the pulpy opening bore that feeling out. But it shifted into a politically minded take on how the end of the world might go down (though a terribly simplistic version, I liked Glenn Ford and Robert Vaughn as upstanding politicians - the military are the villains here).
It then shifts again to focus on a handful of the last 800 people presumed alive, and dodgy sexual politics (1 woman per 100 causes an interesting discussion that seems settled far too quickly) and science aside manages to be an unusual take on the disaster film format popular in the 1970s (this has a big name international cast).

The Brain that Wouldn't Die is mostly a cool hook looking for a movie but has some unsettling ideas (it opens on blackness with just a female voice asking to "let me die, please let me die".

Diary of a Nudist is just terrible. A dull, badly filmed attempt to titillate. About as sexy as a dung beetle. But a curious time capsule and features (possibly originated? - i'm not too up on the naturist oeuvre I'm afraid) the great naked volleyball cliche.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

No novocaine. It dulls the senses.

The Fast and The Furious/Little Shop of Horrors (1955/1960)
Chosen by me from a list of public domain movies online.

A double bill of Roger Corman goodness.
Fast and the Furious is not particularly great but features some neat looking cars (I'm not really a gearhead but the main car - a jag - is gorgeous), a main character of a female racing car driver and some ropey plot mechanics (i'm still not clear why the escaped prisoner feels the need to go through with the race). I especially enjoyed the reveal of a nebulous truckers union being the real villains (none of them are in it, which makes for some strange dramatic beats).
Little Shop of Horrors is pretty darn terrific. Off beat, irreverant, very funny with a couple of great performances (Jack Nicholson and Dick Miller are a hoot).

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Do you think Michael Moore gave up after the first try?

The Troll Hunter (2010)
Chosen by me because I like to go to the cinema a lot.

A fun, fresh 'found footage' movie and delightful monster romp.
It suffers the usual kinks and cliches inherent in this type of film (at what point would you not just drop the camera?) but makes up for it with a verve and wit (this is more Spinal Tap than Blair Witch) especially when dealing with the bureaucracy of Troll Hunting.
It suffers a little in a rushed climax that has a baffingly pointless character turning up out of nowhere - unless I missed something (he answers the question who are you? with 'a seismologist') but pulls it back with a funny punchline involving footage of a Norwegian politician.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Never forget where you came from.

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

Fairly dreadful. A lazy, slipshod, ramshackle movie combining elements of a hundred better films.
The perfunctory, non-sensical romance (how did they hook up exactly?) the least of it's problems.
The whole plot hinges on the main character being a careless, stupid selfish idiot but asks us not to care she's this way and indeed to cheer on her pointless acts of murder to reach a pointless revenge endgame.
Utterly pointless. Unlike Saldana's nipples that remain distractingly perky throughout.

Friday, 9 September 2011

If this be a natural thing where do it come from, where do it go?

The Ghost Train/ Mystery Liner (1941/1934)

Chosen fairly randomly a few interesting connections link these two films.
Both offer (one way more than the other granted) a mystery of sorts that may have a supernatural cause (well Mystery Liner only really throws this up once whereas it is naturally The Ghost Train's main thrust), both don't make a huge amount of sense when the conundrum is solved (especially Ghost Train).
But Ghost Train is a generally agreeable, sometimes funny (one scene, a very simple pratting about outside a train compartments window is even funnier after revealing the secret of one of the idiots messing around) and reasonably engaging (it also helps that most of the characters find Askey's vaudeville act as annoying as I did).
Mystery Liner was pretty terrible. Dull plot mechanics about a remote control device for a ship, and irritating characters doing a whole lot of nothing.

It does however feature one of the most awkward kisses I've seen put to film (alongside the fat mob boss going for Jodie Foster at the end of Bugsy Malone)

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

It's not the end of the world, it's just the end of the day.

Fright Night/Kill List/Pontypool (2011/2011/2008)
Chosen by me because I like going to the cinema a lot and i asked someone to lend me Pontypool.

Fright Night is a mostly fun but ever, ever so slight fancy. Farrell is pretty good but the film has a distinct lack of ambition not really offering up anything new or interesting (there is one nasty moment involving a rescue attempt that I don't know if was in the original or not - too long since I've seen it, that is an effective shock but never seems to play into anything that happens after).
Tennant is mostly pointless (the early trailers sidelined him completely and it's not hard to see why), a sub par Russel Brand impersonation never really finds the hook it needs to be clever.

Kill List is pretty astonishing. Starting like a dirty kitchen sink drama about a family disintegrating merging with a Lynchian nightmarish left of center universe (where signing a deal in blood seems perfectly acceptable to one of the characters) before finishing up in a particularly British mode of horror film. The cast are superb, the film challenging and horrifying (a bit with a hammer is very hard to take in). Brilliant, interesting stuff.

Pontypool is a fascinating, sometimes frustrating movie. It has a very clever hook and takes a long steady time getting there. Set almost exclusively in one location it is claustrophobic (there are various points where characters see outside but the camera looks at them not from their viewpoint) and haunting, though never particularly scary.

Monday, 5 September 2011

It Needs Monsters.

Spy Kids/Spy Kids 2/Spy Kids 3 (2001/2002/2003)
Chosen by Lauren Parker who had this to say: 'The Spy Kids films aren't exactly life changing but they are entertaining, even to us grown ups! You have to respect Rodriguez's efforts in making a film that Hispanic children can relate to, he's always been vocal in his intention to make these films for his children, it's just a bonus they've made millions along the way! They are just fun little movies, great Sunday afternoon fodder with very interesting casts ranging from Antonio Banderas, to Danny trejo and even Stallone himself. I don't have much to say about them, they are just fun films that never take themselves too seriously and I still love the skeleton fight in the second installment! Kids seem to love them and adults can enjoy them too, I still want to see the fourth!'

Rodriguez is a film maker whose films I always admire more than actually like. I love his approach in many ways, his boundless enthusiasm and sheer get out there and do it spirit carries across. But often they are pretty shoddy affairs. Writing is certainly not his strong suit (no one talks in a Rodriguez movie, they just spout horrid catchphrases at each other) but he normally has an interesting cast and an easy going effortless charm.
This is true for most of the Spy Kids flicks. Full of silly incidents designed to make undemanding children smile. There is a lot of fun to them.
Except the third one.
Which is mostly fucking awful.
The more talented of the two Spy Kids is mostly sidelined, Stallone is unfathomably bad and the dumb computer game plotline an excuse for dull 3D visuals and pointless non-sequiturs. Acting against all that green screen also seems to bring the worst out of Banderas, who tolerable in the first two gives a performance so bad it's hard to believe I just saw him in The Skin I live In (he's still better than Stallone though).

Thursday, 1 September 2011

That was some pretty good sex last night, huh?

Eagle vs Shark (2007)
Chosen by me because it looked interesting.

Films like this are always tricky to play tonally. At their worst they become exaggerated exercises in taking the piss out of pathetic people. Even when the film clearly loves it's characters (as this one does) it's hard not to feel a mean, misanthropic spirit at play.
This film avoids it slightly by setting it in a world where all the characters are left of centre rather than just the main ones. Though they are picked on and clearly looked down on by some they fit in the universe and function, more or less.
Strong performances help avoid some of the pitfalls and it has a strong sense of setting and assured, relaxed direction.
Interesting but slight.