Monthly Archives: March 2014

Super Troopers 3.5/5

Super Troopers

This isn’t bust a gut funny and there were long stretches where I didn’t laugh at all, but the characters and their shenanigans are charming and fun, and it’s rather enjoyable, and the third act actually improves its score but half a point.

Hitchcock 2.5/5

Hitchcock

Whilst we get great performances from Hopkins, Mirren and Johansen, the story is like a final stage heroin junkie – thin, unfocussed and more than a little frustrating at times. Whole sections seemed to be injected into the main narrative on the slimmest of pretexts, like Hitch interacting with Ed Gein, or scenes like Alma getting cross and going for a swim in the swimming pool – what was that about?

I liked parts well enough, but it really didn’t go anywhere or tell you anything. I did have more fun spotting the homages to Hitchcock movies though. The Birds was an obvious one, but the most interesting to me was Marnie, which is Hitchcock’s underrated movie imo.

The other Hitchock biopic of this year, ‘The Girl’, was considerably tighter and made a point. Watch that one in preference to this.

Destry Rides Again 4.5/5

nullDestry Rides Again

Ridiculously good comedy Western from 1939, with James Stewart as the thoughtful Destry, and Marlene Dietrich showing you why she was such an inspiration for Lilly Von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles. A really well-written, excellently cast and funny oldschool comedy.

Invaders From Mars – Odd One Out 056

Invaders From Mars

A podcast about a nice little time capsule of 50s invasion paranoia, Invaders From Mars.

Shock Corridor 4/5

Shock Corridor

Crazy, fun exploitation flick about a reporter faking insanity to investigate a murder in an asylum, but then finding faking madness and being mad are kind of a bit too close to each other for comfort.

It also actually says things about America at the time it was made, including comments on racism, facing responsibility for one’s actions (or not), and how being different can condemn you.

So sleazy in parts, and cheaply profound in others.

Best line comes when the hero finds himself in a women’s ward: “NYMPHOS!”

Riddick 3.5/5

Riddick

A stripped down Riddick, getting back to basics that works so well, as it did in Pitch Black and was sorely missing in The Chronicles of Riddick. The first half hour was pretty damn good and distinct, with very little dialogue, and a lot of fun watching Riddick surviving brutal conditions and get the measure of the planet he’s been stranded on. It was like watching a decent movie version of the videogame Borderlands.

Eventually two sets of mercenaries/bounty hunters turn up to get him, and we get into territory that’s part retread of Pitch Black, part retread of the first (good) part of Chronicles.

Enjoyable, mindless actioner.

Pontypool – Odd One Out 055

Pontypool

The nicely original horror movie about an unusual form of zombification, Pontypool

Mark of the Vampire 3/5

Mark of the Vampire

This movie reinforces my view that Todd Browning was great at eerie and odd, but pretty terrible at conventional drama. He did it in Dracula, and he does that here. Only his ‘Freaks’ remains a pure masterpiece, because the conventional drama is completely soaked by the odd people, script and final act in that movie.

However, this film does fly when he’s doing spooky/eerie. Lugosi and the woman playing his vampire daughter are terrific, and their scenes, filmed like a silent movie, really work well.

Otherwise the movie is pretty leaden when it’s focussing on more conventional drama scenes.

The ending was fun.

5 Disney Movies 1989 to 1994 – 133

Disney

Mark and Sam cover 5 Disney movies, and a number of other movies and other stuff.

  • Dark Souls 2 (PS3 video game)
  • Dial M For Murder
  • Bleach (anime TV series)
  • Damnation Alley
  • The Tingler
  • Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Rescuers Down Under
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Aladdin
  • Lion King

Aladdin 4.5/5

Aladdin

This is easily the second most funny Disney movie after The Emperor’s New Groove, but it does feel a little dated with some of Robin Williams topical references – I think everyone will recognise Jack Nicholson for years to come, but maybe not Rodney Dangerfield and Scorcese-esque De Niro – but the really good turns from the incidental comedy characters such as Iago, Abu and the carpet keep it cracking along at an excellent pace. There’s also some very creative ideas going on in the fast-paced sequences, such as the escape from the closing treasure-pit or the final fight.

Very enjoyable.

Beauty and the Beast 1991 4/5

Beauty and the Beast

First Watch!

This was a pretty terrific and absorbing Disney, with some great songs/animation combos, and a more resonant story than you often get with Disney.

One downside is it did keep making me think of the far-superior La Belle et La Bete (and giving me an urge to watch that again), which it shares many elements of, but Disney-fied, of course. That’s not a significant fault of this movie though, it does have enough charm of its own to stand up proud.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason 3.5/5

Bridget Jones

Whilst not as good as the first movie, this is still pretty entertaining. Some of the side characters who had more depth in the first, and consigned to bit-parts only. It’s helped by the great central performance by Zellwegger, who I don’t think was ever better than as Bridget Jones. Hugh Grant is also marvellous as the bad boy character, and Firth is good in a very stuffy, stiff role (the role is right, that’s what the character is).

Your enjoyment does hinge on how much you like Zellwegger as Jones though.

The Tingler 3.5/5

The Tingler

A very fun horror movie, and I think in some shots, The Tingler looks pretty good (okay, in others, it looks terrible). I always liked the bath full of bright red blood right in the middle of a black and white movie, and laughed a little about the lengths someone went to within the movie to do that (I have the same problem with Les Diaboliques). Also, Vincent Price drops acid.

A fun, trippy movie.

Star Trek The Original Series Season 2 Episodes 11-20 – Odd One Out 054

The Trouble With Tribbles

Mark talks about Star Trek The Original Series, Season 2, Episodes 11-20

The Little Mermaid 3.5/5

The Little Mermaid

A decent Disney entry, with some pretty good songs, a memorable villainess, and some good comedy sequences. I laughed out loud in the bit where Sebastian is confronted with the horror that is the kitchen of a French chef.

However, not perfect. The whole ‘Ursula as the other woman’ plot was cursory and rushed, but I was kind of thankful it was. Any longer would have dragged the film down. 80 minutes is the right length for this sort of thing.

Damnation Alley 2/5

Damnation Alley

Wow, how can a movie that opens with world war 3, and then features giant scorpions, killer cockroaches, murderous, rapey irradiated hillbillies and a flood be this boring? And it has Jean Michael Vincent and George Peppard!

The only cool thing about it was their land cruiser, and some of the sky special effects.

I saw this movie maybe 30 years ago, and enjoyed it a lot better then. Maybe it’s better suited to young teens. In the 70s.

Dial M For Murder 4/5

Dial M For Murder

Pretty damn good procedural murder/detective story from Hitchcock, where the cool, meticulous planner becomes unravelled by little deviations from the plan.

The only thing that seems unbelievable is what man in his right mind is tired of being married to Grace Kelly?

In the police inspector, I see the spiritual parent of Columbo.

Barbarella – Odd One Out 053

Barbarella

The fun, possible influential, silly Barbarella with the beautiful Jane Fonda.

The Rescuers Down Under 3.5/5

The Rescuers Down Under

Rather charming Disney feature, unusually (at this time) a sequel. The animation seems to be a distinct step up from the late 60s/70s animation style (though many of the Disney’s from this period are classics, despite a basic animation style), and it’s a nice, light tail with a dark central character in the evil poacher, played nicely by George C. Scott.

I didn’t check this out, but the animation style, particularly of the poacher and his monitor lizard, seem very Don Bluth.

Pontypool 4/5

Pontypool

Ferocious and very original, this shows what someone with talent can do with a small cast, a single set, and an idea seen through to the end.

I have to confess I did not follow what was going on in some parts, but I did appreciate the talent on show. All the acting was rather fine, especially Stephen McHattie, who came across as a wrinkled mix of Willem Defoe and Joe Spinell (but was always his own, clear, self).

It didn’t scare me, but it did keep be switched on and intent through the entire time.

Lion King 4/5

Lion King

First watch!

Rather finely paced story, with simple but smooth and pleasing animation, fine comedy characters, and a story that stays simple and effective. They really cast fine vocal talents too.

I can see why this is considered a modern Disney masterpiece.

Barbarella 3/5

Barbarella

This is archetypally 60s goofy fun. There’s a LOT of things wrong with it, such as the constant padding of the story and the absolutely terrible special effects, but you know what? It’s fun, it’s extremely creative in its look, art design and so on, and Jane Fonda is absolutely getting it. It also helps that Fonda is achingly beautiful and sexy, and it’s pretty much her central charismatic performance that allows this movie to deliver at all.

Rather wonderful, inheriting its spirit and art from early Flash Gordon and Planet of the Vampires, and itself becoming the spiritual parent of Battle Beyond the Stars, Starcrash and the 1980 Flash Gordon.

Great theme song too. All together now…’Bar-bar-ella, psy-che-delaaaa’

The Place Beyond the Pines 3.5/5

The Place Beyond the Pines

A rather overambitious movie that actually chops its 3 acts into 3 related, continuous but distinct stories, looking at fatherhood, and how absence and presence of a father (both literally, and absent by not paying attention) can affect the son, in a cycle. It’s a look at the whole ‘the children pay for the sins of the father’ type thing, I guess, but more subtle than that.

I liked it, but I think the first act works the best for me, and I’d’ve liked to have seen that through to a more satisfying conclusion, and the veering off into a new story threw me, but it actually worked well once you adjusted.

The third story, however, suffered from two problems. It really felt like an unresolved solution to what went before for the most part (but not wholly) was the first problem, and the actual personality/behaviour of one of the main characters felt quite hokey and just not earned or authentic to the story. We miss out some necessary dramatic glue, too, informing us about one of the father-son relationships, and how it got to be the way it was.

Having said all that, it was a very well made and acted movie, and I enjoyed it, and am glad I finally got around to watching it.

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels + Snatch – 132

Snatch

Sam and Mark talk about a few movies and games watched/played since last time, and about Guy Ritchie’s first two commercial movies, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch

Land of the Lost 2.5/5

Land of the Lost

Very mildly amusing, and feels like you’re rushing through a much bigger story. Or seeing the edited highlights of a 6 hour miniseries. I guess they wanted to hit the main story points of the original TV series, but that’s just a guess.

However, it was kind of fun, if you have a high tolerance to a plot that snakes about wildly and doesn’t really settle. Also, the beginning and end segments, with Will Ferrell being interviewed as his character in a talk show, seemed more Ron Burgundy than this movie.

Hunter Prey 3/5

Hunter Prey

Rather enjoyable, cheap but competently made that mixes elements of the Star Trek episode Arena, Battlefield Earth (and I mean the story, not the rank filmmaking), and Enemy Mine in a blender and comes up with a pretty satisfying product. Very enjoyable.

Down Periscope 3/5

Down Periscope

Whilst this is a lightweight comedy/drama, I found it a very satisfying and fun watch, and even felt I learned something about crewing in a submarine. The cast was good, in particular the crew – even Rob Schneider was okay in it. Definitely worth a watch.

Stoker – Odd One Out 052

Stoker

The mesmeric, but troubling, Stoker.

Lesbian Vampire Killers 2.5/5

Lesbian Vampire Killers

Passably entertaining and benefitting from some good cinematography and sound design, and some quite great-looking ladies, giving it an old Hammer vibe, it could definitely have been funnier, but James Corden and Paul McGann as a potty-mouthed vicar and a not-too-long running time make it a reasonable, lightweight diversion.

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 4.5/5

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Amazing debut from Guy Ritchie, who combines colourful characters and some dazzling camerawork with funny, highly-stylized dialogue. Even non-actors shine reasonably well in this (Lennie McLean and Vinnie Jones), and it’s cool to see some guys who I still enjoy seeing – specifically Jason Statham and Jason Flemyng – and whilst it does have rough spots and some sections that clearly have non actors in speaking roles, it trundles along nicely, guiding the viewer through the convoluted plot with a confident hand, and borrowing part from Tarantino’s snappy dialogue, part from an old British tradition of loveable rogues that stretch back to The Italian Job and on to old black and white comedy caper movies with Peter Sellers, Alistair Sim and Alec Guinness.

Marvellous.