Monday, 29 September 2008

Direct to DVD Movies

It's a strange area. I don't see many of them because most look pretty awful. I actually think I've only seen about six or seven (and some Highlander sequels on TV, where you mean to watch five minutes and laugh at it then see the entire thing for reasons that make no sense)

I do see a lot of films on DVD first but these were release in the cinema and were old films or hard to find foreign films. Or films I just missed due to laziness or bad distribution.

So I do end up seeing a few way later after initial release (with one exception). Thing is, even though none of them rank up as great films, some do have nice moments and pass as B-movie entertainments, easier to watch and enjoy than over-produced, character-less dreck such as the Mummy films, Exorcist: The Beginning or Ghost Rider.

So I'll admit to what I've seen and what I thought. Only one of them made me want to wish the director die a horrible death.

So let's get to that one first.

It was one of the two Crow direct to DVD films. The Crow Salvation (will Terminator Salvation be better or worse?) This one has Fred Ward and Kirsten Dunst in supporting parts (as villain and heroine), is partially set in a strip bar and manages to be unwatchable. Now I'm fairly forgiving of the Crow films. None are terrific but the first one had style and another one I saw Wicked Prayer had nice character moments. But this one has a truly awful, whiny lead as the crow that you wish would stop looking soulful and do something that's not a fifteen year old goth reaction, as well as wish he was less stupid at every possible moment (or develop acting skills). There are no scenes where the dialogue is not atrocious and make you want to be physically sick. Every shot is Gothic to a horrendous degree. Its a film that you actually develop insane hatred of the director with every passing moment, in way that reminds me of my first viewing of Battlefield Earth. And yet the next Crow film, Wicked Prayer, has far less money and does a lot more with the material, being forced by lack of funds to cut down the action and goth stuff and have a non-action type lead who can act, react to grief and have dialogue scenes (Edward Furlong), have villains with an actual agenda, an interesting back-drop (Indian reservation going under) and some ambiguity in relationships. It falters with the action and some atmosphere due to lack of funds but is a very good example of a solid b-movie type film. Its the kind of film direct to DVD should be. Use the lack of funds to hire proper actors. Essentially, Wicked Prayer is a lot more fun than Die Hard 4.0

Another film I saw, My Name is Modesty, was produced by Tarantino and is a lot of fun. It was directed by Scott Speigel, who directed another film on my list. Its based on the Modesty Blaise novels and despite a weak lead actress is a lot of pulpy fun. Its a film that actually has a story, the growth of a young girl to be the heroine Modesty Blaise, through eastern European wars, as well as having a central thriller plot-line and a solid heroine-villain interaction. Like Wicked Prayer it doesn't over-spend what it doesn't have, sticks to character, does a solid turn that puts a few blockbusters to shame in character level (I'm calling out The Incredible Hulk and its awful script on this one.)

From Dusk Til Dawn 2 and 3.- Another fun Scott Speigel film. Again no budgets but fun movies. Number 3 has the advantage in originality that its set in the old west and has vampires and lots of frauds and sexual repression but number 2 has a more fun set of central characters and sticks them in an explosive situation before the vampires show up. Part 2 has Robert Patrick, another solid under-used actor, doing a nice job and not slumming despite being in a vampire sequel. Part 3 is less distinctive in cast, but Michael Parks is fun. Trust me. Its way better than Terminator 3.

Starship Troopers 2 and 3- These are sequels to a film I love and come out fine. Part 2 has mood, clean direction by effects guru Phil Tippet, is self-contained, is a fun b-movie that has an interesting biological subtext in regard to fascism. Number 3, directed by Ed Nueminer, who wrote all the films, is trickier. It has the weakest direction of the three, shots not flowing into one another, has some very bad acting that's vague and not funny like the first film, as well as clunky pacing. But it does have a lot of ideas, some sci-fi scenes that have real pulp beauty, and an interesting and ambiguous take on religion. It's a difficult one to judge as I like a lot of it but the weak points are very difficult to ignore. Still worth a look and more interesting than Hollow Man.

As I leave with my dignity and any respect for anyone reading this in shambles, let's make one thing clear as I finish. I may have seen the above films but I'm not watching Lost Boys 2. I really have to have liked the original a lot to give a direct to DVD a chance. I'm also not going to watch Transformers 2. I have some self-respect. Honest.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

The Wire Season 5

It was amazing.

I'll be writing on it in the next few days as I think about it, which I'm doing at the moment, but essentially, it's stunning. It's a real subtle epic coming to a close, with some humane, tragic and cynical endings interacting, creating something that's very dramatic, realistic and very moving.


So I have written four novels, have sent out two of them to publishers. Got nowhere with the first two but some replies were pretty good, saying its well crafted but not for us. The third was put away after completion as I was working on the film so I never had much time to post it around. Am about to send third and fourth novels around. So the first two I'm going to self-publish through Lulu, as I like them and want a copy of them bound for myself, see if anyone else will like them.

First novel is called Siege. Its central narrative is about a young drug dealer who sets up an operation in Sheffield, is unseen, laundering money, blackmailing police and banks, targeting people he dislikes to addict to product. He is a dysfunctional sociopath, has deep-seated hatred of everyday people while seemingly being a citizen. Most of the novel takes place in the final days of his operation, as his people break down into paranoid civil war that goes to violence at an instant rate, situation being centralised in a tower block, many decisions made being insane. The failing situation is studied through the eyes of most of the paranoid characters causing the destruction. The central character's girlfriend, a manipulator, is also tied into the problems, causes a lot of problems.

The Study is my second novel. It, at the start, is about blackmail, a mother and daughter making the father of the family go mad and commit suicide through a blackmail scheme they concocted. Following the success of the scheme, the women are alone, work on their guilt, become paranoid, suspicious of one another, with reason, thinking on why for the forced suicide. The novel develops, focusing on their paranoia, communication with one another, and on outside threats. Its very much a character piece, propelled by the first, dark action, studying their reactions.

Corporate Wars was completed a few years ago, was the one I never sent as I was making a film. It is a thriller set in Japan, is a manhunt novel, a gun-runner and assassin loose in Japan, killing lots of important Japanese businessmen. Starts out with a typical genre idea, and has many foreign agents taking interest, but is about a failing economy, is set as Japan's economy continues to collapse, which it has been going on for years, with businessmen committing suicide due to debt, ex-ceo's. now homeless. The corporate wars of the title is in regards to the fighting of failing Japanese corporate interests, as well as outside predators, using the mess for their own gain.

The final novel, just completed, is titled The Latino Ghost. It is centred around a man and his life around the development of AI, how this new technology affects his decisions. The central character is a white man with light Latino past, who has ties to developing business interests in America, beginning to manipulate things to develop AI and the country the way he thinks it should be developed. The story shows how technology develops through time through-out the world, in ways that are useful for the future and in other, fascistic focuses. This novel has a time structure that is non-linear, everything developed to focus the decisions what this character makes, spans about fifteen years. There are thriller elements within the time-lines, in regards the some tough actions to develop the AI technology and its funding, and its development while established, as well as economic pressurisation of third world countries, but as with a lot of my writing, its interest is in character.

So that's my novels. First two will be available on Lulu soon hopefully, as I finish up the prep for them.

Monday, 22 September 2008


So I've submitted to Slamdance and it costs a fortune. I bring this up as I'm submitting my film to a few festivals and they all cost a lot. Therefore I can end up only affording to submit the film to one festival a month. It's pretty horrible, especially as you pay a lot for the chance to get one of a few spots. So you want to send the film to many places while it's new but you can't afford to. There's already some film festivals that look promising to submit to but I'll have to wait until next year, due to cost.

So that's the fun life of a film-maker.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

New Film Short Posted

The short film, Water, can be seen going to the Arubian Nostalgic link. It's on the same link.

New film short coming soon

I'm just completed a nine-minute short Water, that should be up soon on Youtube and the blog. Am having a few uploading difficulties but hopefully should be soon sorted out.

It's an atmospheric film, very much about mood. It's in black and white, shot and completed fast, a nice change from the feature length film. I'm very happy with it.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Changing Your Mind On A film

This is about initially hating a film then seeing it later and thinking its not so bad, or is actually good.

I've had the experience a few times recently. It does take a few years for me to give a film another chance as I can keep up a vendetta pretty good if I find something lacking or objectionable in some way. My first recent change was Alexander, which I saw again on DVD last year. Saw it in the cinema, hated it, wanted to see Oliver Stone killed. Saw it cheap on DVD, a pound or two, wanted to hear his explanation on commentary, left it in my collection for a year then finally took a look at it. It was the re-edited directors cut, which is viewed as stronger. Now I won't say its a good film but it is an ambitious but very flawed one. Kind of likable, even in its excesses (all the acting is pretty ropey, the dialogue cheesy). But everything that bugged me when I wanted to see a great serious film on Alexander The Great now isn't horrific, as its just an eccentric director's view of Alexander. It failed but at least it was ambitious. Its now a film I feel warmly towards, even though I can't say that it ever really works.

Next was Master And Commander. This was the one that hurt the most on first viewing, as I like Peter Weir a lot. I thought the script was cliched, the acting dull. The film was pretty but had no focus. Same pound or two buy, a sudden curiosity to see it again. It's probably the most sudden change as I now really like the film. What I saw as first as cliches in incident and dialogue seemed right for the world, seemed to be how the characters expressed themselves and saw their world, had more subtleties. The slow pace seemed correct for the story and the build, as they carefully hunted their prey, their existence very fragile, with small errors causing catastrophe, their job insanely difficult. The interludes felt pure Peter Weir. This is the one where I have no idea why I so hated it first time around. I simply don't.

This week it was The Departed. I hated this the first time. Again saw it cheap, got curious. Was I too hard on it? First time I thought Nicholson was awful, DiCaprio worse, the direction dull, only Matt Damon being any good. I essentially viewed it as Scorsese tracing his way to an Oscar. I love the original film series and still think they are all superior to this one. So I like it a lot better now but its still pretty flawed. Damon is the villain but is so much more interesting than DiCaprio, is weirder, funnier. Is oddly more tragic because he is smart enough to see what he's done to himself, has been ruined by what he's done. DiCaprio is working with a character that isn't that fleshed out. He looks too nervous and obviously undercover, doesn't feel like someone who could pull it off. He's the weak point in the film. Some of its writing, as he's the good tragic guy but that's really all. There isn't much elaboration beyond that, weird character touches. He gets close to Nicholson too easily, never seems to be truly tested. He's with murderous thugs but doesn't kill anyone, ever. He was a cop, the mob knows this so they don't do that to get him compromised. It's weak writing. Nicholson makes more sense second time around but is still a bit broad for what he plays. The direction is better on rewatch but still a bit flabby. It doesn't have details in frame, something I think Scorsese has been weak for a while. Casino and Kundun the last films where this was distinctive.

So it's interesting watching films you had problems with. Sometimes its a nice surprise. Of course, I also rewatched Exorcist The Beginning and still thought it was awful so its rare change. (Why did I rewatch a Renny Harlin film. In a word, syphilis.)

Monday, 15 September 2008

Women In Prison Movies And Inglorious Basterds

Yes the misspelling was intentional. That's the way the script spells it.

Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds script is going around the web unchecked, as did the Kill Bill script years ago. I don't think its much of a problem as whoever reads the script is gonna go see the film. Quite a few major websites have ran reviews. You can find it if you look for an entire five minutes.

Its a pretty good script. Hard to tell how the film will come out as so much is geared toward visual, even in dialogue scenes, so there's no real way to get an idea how it will look. It has the potential to be a mess or to be a brilliantly funny and twisted take on world war 2 heroic propaganda and characters. It has some good stuff such as the Basterds being Jews who scalp nazi's, has a terrific villain, the Jew Hunter, who's nasty and cynical. The film is very obsessed with the idea of German produced war movies and propaganda stars. The funny thing is, the Basterds are not the protagonists. They are chief supporting players to someone they never meet, a Jewish resistance fighter, hiding her identity to fit in, who runs a cinema. (Tarantino must have been either thrilled or appalled by Black Book, as he has a similar heroine). She drives the story, wanting to kill nazi's even though she has to deal with them daily. The basterds are like the psycho dwarfs to her Snow White.

The script has the same fantasy feel as an animated tale, gleefully has sick fun with historical accuracy. So much of it is open to what Tarantino does visually. Some bits seem ripe for a DePalma shot, some bits very Sam Fuller (the Basterds themselves seem to be Fuller influenced), a lot seems open to do some Fritz Lang sudden violence in a respectable setting.

Now the women in prison films influence. Jack Hill made women in prison films in the early seventies, starring Pam Grier. Two of which I have seen, The Big Doll's House and The Big Bird Cage. Now I know Tarantino loves these films and the influence made its way into the script. These films are focused upon women stuck in prison in what seems to be South America, with fascist dictatorships. The women are not innocent, are cruel to one another. The only thing that unites them is hatred of the guards and society that puts them there. It's all about the set-up then the tension between the characters, the waiting, the character events within a pulp landscape. Of course there is brief nudity. Of course there are cat-fights (I'd want my pound back if there wasn't). Despite what seems cheesy, these are great b-movies. They move at a pace, have focused characters and incident. They have build to situations, have central characters having to prove themselves under very harsh conditions. People have moments of weaknesses and selfishness. The villains are focused and interesting. They deliver far more than the genre usually demands. The first hour is them under stress and the last section is all hell breaking loose, where sympathetic characters die horribly and few escape. But it really works in the films as you do get affected when people die. People who you think would survive don't. Things don't go to plan and get complicated. The deaths are interesting within the situation.

This relates to Inglorious Basterds as it has a similar structure. There's the character intro's, like a prison movie. How did they get here. Then we have the meat of the story, the characters in action, coiled, under pressure, being pushed in directions that they don't expect. It starts to resemble the Hill films, with people waiting, unsure of one another and situations that are getting warped by strange people and their expectations, that others react to violently, all getting on each other's nerves for various reasons. Everyone is waiting for the big moment but things get insane up until then, when you see much more of the characters than expected, intelligent people making mistakes, some dying, some villains far more professional than suggested earlier in story. It's all about the weird character moments dominating within strict pulp that the Hill films also have. But the structure and inter-changes make it feel very similar in tone to the women in prison movies. So when the action finale comes, and all hell is breaking loose, characters splitting up to achieve their goal, everything is very dicey as people have gotten odd and there are many agenda's at play. So the final section is a mix of tension and surprise, similar to Hill's film, where things get odd, many characters getting butchered for strange reasons. There's an explosion at the end that's weirdly similar to the big bird cage burning in The Big Bird Cage, fascists getting what they deserve. While the script owes some plot elements to The Dirty Dozen (and The Next Mission, a duff sequel) the tone is much more like the exploitation films. Including the female protagonist. And darkness in the ending. Both take themes into exploitation genre but not in a simplistic way.

So this will be interesting in how Tarantino pulls it off. The film seems to be a world war 2 film but has so many elements from German propaganda, resistance films and exploitation that it could become something very unique or very messy. Actually it'll be unique whatever happens. Here's hoping it turns out well.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

What Happens When You Watch Too Many Omen Films

This is something I did in June and its coming into my head now. Essentially, following completion of my film I was in the mood for some low-brow trash as was prepared to go full-on and not stop watching. As my film is about as far from these as possible, its seemed the perfect choice.

So what happens when you watch four Omen films in a weekend? Do you go mad and start killing people? No, and I have to say, that was disappointing. Do you develop a fear of the anti-Christ? Not really. I find the idea absurd. (The best treatment of this is Good Omens by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaimen, an Omen parody that does not take the situation seriously but is very inventive in all sorts of way, especially by the idea that this end of the world thing isn't a very good or sensible idea, what's the point, isn't it silly, something the films don't look into.) Do you watch them in the proper order? Nah. Didn't even manage that. I'll do a quick view on the films in order of being watched.

Now, is this a cry for help? Perhaps. Perhaps its a cry for sanity. For while I love a good Ozu or Bresson (this is the defensive bit here), this isn't anywhere near my pit of atrociousness that I've seen. but I ain't saying what the other stuff is.

So, the Omen films I bought in that HMV sale, where they almost give them away.

So started with number 3: the Final Conflict, as I hadn't seen that one. It's got Sam Neill as Damien, who gets killed in this one. The first half where Neill dominates is fun, because you kinda like the guy, despite his ethnic origins (this is either a dig at hell or New Zealand. It could be taken as rather suggestive of New Zealand's place but that's being silly) Then they start killing babies, which is kinda fun but not interesting in story, and the final section is them trying to kill the bugger. Evil is punished blah blah blah. For laughs you kinda want him to win but they don't have a sense of humour about that sort of thing. And apparently the anti-christ is a serious threat. So he dies. Still a fun stupid movie that I'll give a look in the future. It gets three decapitations out of five.

Then to number 4: the tv movie. It's another I hadn't seen and its awful. Its a little girl demon this time, who apparently has a very bad aura, who likes torturing new age types. Apparently that's bad or something. The lead actress was from V and she's fine, does her best with the awful script but the whole thing is funny in scary scenes and has a ton of plot twists at the end, which you can't be arsed figuring out because you're bored. Even an ex-nun being bitten by lots of snakes in a circus faith show gone wrong doesn't do much for the interest. Best bit is a death scene where possessed homeless killers start singing the Omen tune during a stalk and slash on a tv budget. This gets one decapitation and a skull exposure showing an unprotected throbbing brain (one and a half stars, the half for the weird stuff in concept)

Now to the best one. Number 2. The something. I think. No real plot. Damien in Military school, with his uncle. Lots and lots of inventive death scenes. Even minor characters get brutalised. This is the only time Damien is actually sympathetic, as a young man finding his destiny, who ends up killing his cousin, the one person who he cares about. There's also a subtext about corporate exploitation. But loads and loads of nasty deaths. So many. Its wonderful. Women get killed by birds, doctors are killed by elevators. William Holden is in it but doesn't care. In Omen terms this gets five decapitations (but in normal terms its about a three)

Now the Omen remake. Its okay. I didn't hate it. Its directed pretty badly but Liev Shreiver is a good lead. He gives the film a lot of focus and emotion. And this little Damien resembles a friend of mine (with different hair colour.) Which is worrying. Don't have anything to say except its a pretty hacky remake. Its two and a half decapitations.

So that was the weekend. Watched the original Omen later but had seen it a year before. Its kind of pompous. It works but takes a dumb idea with uninteresting realism and somberness. So its not about anything but acts like it is, something I kinda hate. It three decapitations but Peck is insanely dull in the film.

So that's my weekend of shame. For anyone who knows me, don't mock me too much next time you see me. We all have these lapses. I just admit to it.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Lady In the Water (longer rant)

This is basically an email sent to others that I know that I sent after Watching Lady In the Water. What the hell. I'll post it.

I watched a film today that summed up everything you do not do in a film. A should-be career killer, in the what in the hell were they thinking, a film made for a ton of money where no-one seemed to be paying attention to how terrible the script and ideas actually were. Lady In The Water by M Night Shamylan was stunning in every wrong decision made.

The worst part of the film is the dialogue. People speak exposition forever, also discussed yesterday in regards to this man, respect whatever insane garbage that comes into their heads, not questions asked. most of the story is told through bad exposition, simply talking about plot points that make no sense seemingly forever, but plot movements are said as if they are the most normal actions in the world, in a how could you not believe any of this. People just start spouting gibberish, believe in it all. Everyone does it. every character is really stupid and talks like a robot. It's lets do this, lets do that. No actor should deliver this dialogue.

It may surprise you to know that all the acting in this film is atrocious. There's actually no story. There's a mermaid (yep, a mermaid) who's here to trigger the emotions of a writer, who is to write the greatest story ever, that will inspire mankind to everlasting peace, who is played by one M. Night Shamylan (I wish I were making this up). Once inspiring him she must return to the water but can't because these imaginary monsters are stalking her. We have an hour of characters being scared by mythical characters (who are killed in a few seconds at the end by killer trees, again not making this up). This guy (played by Paul Giamatti, good actor giving an absolute stinker of a performance) has to round up people who live in the same apartment block that he does, find their special powers, so they can protect her from imaginary creatures. And they say, okay. For no reason. She even has an E.T. moment, where she is killed by said imaginary creatures but finds out that Giamatti has the power to heal, because of some past trauma. So she lives.

Oh yeah, the imaginary creatures kill a snobby film critic, who has lost the power to believe, and who makes comments on story-telling that are stunning in their awfulness.Yet this is not the worst part of the film. even worse than this, believe it or not.... ...mermaid is named Story and Giamatti is called Healy (as in healer). Which kind of ruins the entire film, especially the duff E.T. moment. But you know, its so bad I'm glad I saw it. sometimes seeing a film of that level, by the halfway point you're willing it to get dumber. and boy does it ever. Anyway, hope this was enjoyable to read, a warning to you about this film.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Hated Or Unpopular Films That I Love And Films That Make Me Rage.

Essentially its a list of hated films that I happen to like or love, and films that I despise. At the moment its a list but I'll add reasons to them as time passes.

Much Loved Films of Low Repute List (some are linked in some way so count as one)
1) Exorcist 2: the Heretic & Dominion: Prequel To the Exorcist - Boorman's Exorcist 2 is seen as some some of abomination. As a plot its a mess but the images throughout are beautiful, the ideas within it are progressive, and it just has this wonderful, personal quality that's missing from many films of a certain budget. Dominion was famously shelved and remade horribly with mainly the same cast. It's a lovely, imperfect film, has terrific use of sculptures, of people talking, has great odd moments - cattle attack hyena's, the northern lights appearing as a redemptive moment during an exorcism.
2) Speed Racer & The Matrix Revolutions - Two apparent disappointments. The Matrix Revolutions went away from what was seen as the focus of the series, did have some annoying characters. The wonders it had was an underground city under siege, suggesting Bosch if he had drawn giant robots, a machine city and infra-structure that was genuinely alien, a beautiful, visually arresting final fight that's about how useless the fighting is. It was a very ambiguous, under-rated film. Speed Racer is a cheerful, split-screen crazy family film, with silly kid gags and fun chases. It also has a great sense of its own childish world, can slip in and out of character fantasies with ease - done as crude visuals they way a child would imagine, has a villain who's cartoon nasty and over-the-top.
3) The Black Dahlia & Mission To Mars - Two Brian DePalma films, both odd, eccentric, neither of them getting much respect. Black Dahlia is a wonderfully baroque version of a terrific book, which highlights the twisted humour and darkness below Ellroy and DePalma. Mission To Mars is an optimistic, almost naive space film, which is unusual in this cynical time. It has an amazing space death scene. Neither are perfect but have moments of great beauty.
4) Marie Antoinette & One From The Heart - The two Coppola apparent messes that are very similar, attempting to act out against the genre worked within. Marie Antoinette is a biopic that sticks to an interior view of the central character, modernisms throughout creating a mood to explain character, emerging from the energy of people interacted with, as well as central character. It ignores the stodgy elements of a typical biopic that insists that it knows everything about the subject. A very inventive film. One From The Heart is a downbeat musical, a visual style that is part early eighties excess, part impressionistic 30's style film. Its a blue collar love story done on a massive budget. It has a distinctive world.
5) Hulk, Batman Returns & Superman Returns - Hulk and Batman Returns are easily my favourite comic book films. Hulk's use of split-screen to suggest emotion is wonderful, displayed against quiet, tortured performances and wonderful 50's style backdrops. The moment when Banner finally remembers the death of his mother and turns into Hulk is a stunner. A beautiful film. Batman Returns is full-on Gothic melodrama, every character tortured, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There are wonderful moments throughout, from character -any time Keaten and Pfieffer are together- to imagery -an army of Penguins attacking the city. The end is wonderful, tragic but not over-done. Superman Returns is a lovely film. It's mood is quiet yet genuinely pulpy, is essentially about a god trying to interact with people. Its not perfect but does have interesting images and mood throughout.
6) Interview With The Vampire & Cat People remake - Interview With the Vampire is a film that has no real story, save a depressed vampire telling the episodic story of his life. But the atmosphere is stunning, the characters odd and twisted, the tragedy slowly developing, so its an unusual success. It really shouldn't work, is based on a bad novel. Schrader's Cat People remake is more flawed, does not have a real narrative drive that keeps you engaged but does have wonderful red images, a truly strange romance (like Vampire) and the longing of damned creatures. It also has a very twisted ending that no studio will allow for now.
7) Heaven's Gate & Alien 3: Extended Cut - Heaven's Gate is a long, long notorious film. It can be quite boring at times. It destroyed a studio. It is also beautiful, has doomed characters in a situation that they cannot win. It's about the poor being taken apart methodically by the rich. It's a very stately film that many may find claustrophobic. Alien 3 was also a disaster when released. The DVD extended cut is clearer, has pace focused on images creating a world through framing, the world placed in front of the viewer very specific and old, almost dead in people's eyes before the Alien comes to finish them off. This is about a group of madmen within a doomed world. It's not at all scary in a conventional sense but is a beautiful horror film.
8) Sorcerer & To Live And Die In LA - Two Friedken films. One is a remake of the masterpiece Wages Of Fear. It's not as good as that but does have a great sense of men on a doomed mission in a trapped, awful world. has a great bridge sequence and a terrific Roy Schieder performance. To Live And Die In LA is about secret service agents hunting down money forgers. It's all mood, nasty characters, intense chases and horrific twists. Both of these films are about their worlds more than character as Friedken is want to do. But they're great despite what critics say.
9) Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (sequel to the original) & The Keep - Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a very funny film. The Keep is a very serious film. Both are very strange. Texas 2 essentially has Dennis Hopper fighting Leatherface with a chainsaw, is a parody of the food industry, is a parody of love stories (Leatherface falls in love), is essentially a parody of everything. Its really excessive and is wonderful. The Keep is a Michael Mann fascist allegory from the eighties, with Ian McKellen as an elderly Jewish scholar and Gabriel Byrne as a nazi. Its got a monster made out of light, lots of stunning atmosphere shots, is out of its mind as a narrative. But its just so beautiful and odd that it's irresistible.
10) Pistol Whipped, Belly Of the Beast & Into The Sun - I love late era Seagal movies. So sue me. I need something to double-bill with Bela Tarr. Honestly, they are a lot of fun.

Hateful films for me, whose idiocies anger me even at the thought of them. I could rant about any of these films for a very long time. So that's a warning to you all.
1) A Very Long Engagement & Alien Resurrection - Of all the films, these two annoy me most. A Very Long Engagement makes World War 1 trench warfare look pretty (which is immoral) then uses it for a thriller plotline (which is pretty suspect when you know the reality) and romance (yes, trench warfare). One of the most offensive films ever made. Alien Resurrection is really stupid. A film so bad and devoid of ideas, tension, taste, pacing, acting, that I actually prefer those tacky Alien V Predator films to it. Obviously, not a good sign.
2) Meet Joe Black, Night And The City & Assault On Precinct 13 remakes -Three remakes. All are dull. Meet Joe Black is utterly awful, lasting for three hours of dripping torture. Yep. I saw this in the cinema. Night And The City has the same problems but is shorter but has the first really lifeless DeNiro performance, an omen of things to come (so it counts for a lot of late era DeNiro films). Assault remakes one of my favourite films, taking out all the character & tension, replacing it with lots of action, a needlessly complicated plot and not one moment of visual grace. Shameful. (Note, after this one I have avoided the other remakes of John Carpenter films)
3) The Lady In The Water , The Fountain & A Life Less Ordinary- These are films that should have some merit, have an idea that could make a good film but just are stupid in plot, character and in basic development. The Fountain is the most annoying in that it has some good visuals but seems written by a learning disabled twelve year old.
4) Transformers & Robocop 3 - Its essentially the same stupid film but one has a budget and one doesn't. You'll feel like slitting the wrists of the person sitting next to you after viewing.
5) The Lover - Chief crime, beyond pacelessness, is shooting sex really badly. When I'm praying for a sex scene to be over, it's not good. A film that will inspire the thought, the hell with this, I'm off to watch Showgirls. Yes, Showgirls actually has better acting and story. (You may need to read that sentence a few times)
6) The Great Escape- Just kidding. I love that movie. But I hated The Passion Of The Christ, which is the real entry. What's that one got to do with Jesus? I simply saw nothing uplifting about it. Hence The Great Escape. Now that's a film to lift your spirits.
7) The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen & Entrapment - The obligatory Sean Connery "oh god shoot me now" entry. Could make a much longer list but these two are really stupid, utterly lacking in any entertainment value.
8) Spawn & Ghost Rider - Comic book films where the assumption is that you're such a complete moron that you won't notice the same effect move again and again (like seventies sci-fi but without the retro charm), or that no cut really matches, even in simple two-shots. Or you are fighting a losing battle working out if there's a plot. Essentially I recommend vomiting after viewing. If there was a way to make your eyes vomit after watching these two, I would make an attempt, simply to kill the pus-filled infection that probably lies below my lids following viewing.
9) The Hills Have Eyes 2 (Sequel to the original. Yes its confusing. Haven't seen the remake's sequel.) & Saw - They're stupid, sadistic, terrible. Enough said, except they're worse that all others of their kind.
10) Be Cool and Battlefield Earth - The obligatory Travolta entry. Left the worst for last. Battlefield Earth is stupefying. A film with so many plot insanities that your jaw is askew for over two hours. A film that killed the career of most cast members. Not one thing makes sense in this film. I haven't seen a Uwe Boll film but I'd be surprised if he can top this mess. Be Cool is no day at the beach either.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Is Die Another Day The Worst Movie Ever Made?

Just watched Die Another Day tonight, as a brainless Saturday night thing (Yes. I had nothing better to do this Saturday night). Well this is going to be brief. As a person who likes a good action film, this was unforgivable.

A plot that wasn't interesting, that led to lots of set-pieces that were frequently stupid (Bond spends a lot of time out-running a satellite ray that should kill him with no problem, for minutes, that makes you realise how dumb it is, and then drives through a base that is being burned by the power of the sun, yet takes minutes to collapse, leaving everyone alive inside) The action simply had no drive nor effective linkages to set up tension or surprise, the way the early films did, had moments going on for minutes of one guy being chased monotonously, no wit used nor character to keep you focused, over-staying its welcome so long that you see how dodgy the effects are. It's a film about dull effects that makes Moonraker look good.

The film was also so dumb with character in set-up so had no fun interactions, which is really the point of a Bond movie. Even a suggestion that the villainess had lesbian tendencies did not get me interested, which is a bad sign. Worst of all, the dialogue was simply continuous bad and obvious one-liners, done for minutes on end. Also there were very obvious thought-bubble comments. Compared to early Connery or top-camp Moore, this was deadly stuff. (Confession time, I have a seriously embarrassing number of Bond films on DVD. It goes nice with Ozu and Bresson, especially the Roger Moore stuff) It's hard to believe the same team came up with Casino Royale a few years later, because it goes from such utter, insulting dreck like this to a proper movie, Casino Royale being one of the best bonds you could ever want.

As a person who loves a bad film, this was even worse, was joyless. Even though it was awful it was deadly dull. It had no train-wreck qualities that make up Batman & Robin, Speed 2, Wild Wild West, films that make you swear that hell is on earth.

Brosnan looked like he was getting on a bit, ready to enter late Roger Moore era-looks, when you wondered how the hell can that old guy do that. Basically, Indy 4 seems more realistic than this in aging leading man stakes. Its not hard to see why he was replaced. Also he was so dull in this film, was working by rote. The only fun bit is where someone put Michael Madsen and Judi Dench in the same frame. That's the highpoint of this thing.

In fact, one film that is worse is xxx 2, directed by the same guy as this one. (You make a bond film then make an Ice Cube film that was turned down by Vin Deisel. This is russian roulette style movie-making from a guy who once had respect as a director)

I hope no-one was expecting real depth to this complaint. I'm simply shocked at how awful it was on rewatching.