zustifer: (Amitabh Bachchan)
Well, last year we started out strong, but soon slipped from our proper moviewatching ways onto the HBO series path. You can tell when this happened: September and October. I may have to make a bar graph, if only because it's almost the exact opposite of 2007's pattern. Overall the count is 89 movies for 2008, which is somewhat better than the 50-something we managed last year. Hooray!


January: 12 movies
Solaris (2002) Jan 1 and 2
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007) Jan 1
Blade Runner, Final Cut (2007, originally 1982) Jan 6
The Fisher King (1991) Jan 12
Ratatouille (2007) Jan 13
Marriage Is a Crazy Thing (2002) Jan 18
Persepolis (2007) Jan 20
Death Note (2006) Jan 21
Cloverfield (2008) Jan 24
There Will Be Blood (2007) Jan 26
El Espinazo del diablo (2001) Jan 27

February: 7 movies
Cabaret (1972) Feb 1
Helvetica (2007) Feb 3
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) Feb 5
Cracked Actor (1975) Feb 6
Solyaris (1972) Feb 22
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) Feb 23
The Fountain (2006) Feb 24

March: 14 movies
Beetle Juice (1988) Mar 2
The 400 Blows (1959) Mar 8
Stalker (1979) Mar 9
Brick (2005) Mar 15
Touch of Evil (1958) Mar 16
Paranoid Park (2007) Mar 17
In a Lonely Place (1950) Mar 19
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) Mar 20
Sunset Blvd. (1950) Mar 21
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Mar 22
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Mar 23
The Big Heat (1953) Mar 25
Ido zero daisakusen (aka Latitude Zero) (1969) Mar 27
The Blue Dahlia (1946) Mar 30

April: 7 movies
The Butterfly Effect (2004) Apr 4
The Big Sleep (1946) Apr 7
Wilde (1997) Apr 18
The Asphalt Jungle (1950) Apr 20
The Nomi Song (2004) Apr 26
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) Apr 27
Tôkyô nagaremono (1966) (aka Tokyo Drifter) Apr 29

May: 10 movies
Dai-Nipponjin (AKA 'Big Man Japan') (2007) May 2
Rope (1948) May 4
Mildred Pierce (1945) May 9
Murder, My Sweet (1944) May 11
The Third Man (1949) May 12
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) May 14
Soy Cuba (aka I Am Cuba)(1964) May 17
Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) May 23
Hard Target (1993) May 26
TekWar (1994) May 30

June: 16 movies
TekWar: TekLords (1994) Jun 1
The Killing (1956) Jun 1
Death and the Compass (1992) Jun 4
RoboCop (1987) Jun 6
Iron Man (2008) Jun 13
Hellraiser (1987) Jun 14
Hellraiser II: Hellbound (1988)" Jun 15
Kyo Kii... Main Jhuth Nahin Bolta (2001) Jun 17
Dead Man (1995) Jun 18
Stranger Than Paradise (1984) Jun 18
Ghost Dog (1999) Jun 18
Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) Jun 19
Permanent Vacation (1980) Jun 20
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) Jun 20
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) Jun 21
Wall-E (2008) Jun 29

July: 3 movies
Hellboy II (2008) Jul 12
The Dark Knight (2008) Jul 21, 27

August: 5 movies
S.P.L. (2005) Aug 2
The Killer (1989) Aug 3
Beetle Juice (1988) Aug 8
Labyrinth (1986) Aug 10
Runaway (1984) Aug 16

September: 1 movie
Day Watch (aka Dnevnoy dozor) (2006) Sep 13

October: 2 movies
Odd Couple (aka Bo ming chan dao duo ming qiang) (1979) Oct 4
Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) Oct 18

November: 6 movies
This Filthy World (2006) Nov 11
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978) Nov 11
Futurama: Bender's Game (2008) Nov 12
Låt den rätte komma in (AKA Let The Right One In) (2008) Nov 16
Muthu (1995) Nov 22
Mitchell(MST3K version, of course) (1975) Nov 27

December: 6 movies
Django (1966) Dec 6
Inland Empire (2006) Dec 9
Muthu (1995) Dec 24
Aankhen (2002) Dec 25
The Muppet Movie (1979) Dec 25
RoboCop (1987) Dec 31
zustifer: (comics: Griffy as Wolverine)
RoboCop (1987), Paul Verhoeven. Dec. 31, 10:20pm. View count: about eight for this (Criterion) version.
The Wrestler (2008), Darren Aronofsky. Jan 1, 6:40pm. View count: One.
Doctor Who (1996), Geoffrey Sax. Jan 2, 4pm. View count: One.

Robocop is the best way to ring in the new year. It was wrapping up around the year turnover moment, maybe about the 'Murphy, I'm a mess' point. Start as you mean to go.

The Wrestler is sort of surprising from Aronofsky, but a good piece of work. I understand its release is very limited, but it's definitely worth checking out. Charming performances from nearly everyone, especially all the various hilariously-named wrestlers, who are polite to a fault.

Also called Doctor Who: Enemy Within, this is the worst thing I can remember watching recently. It's terrible in that particular mid-90s way that reminds me of Forever Knight, but that's where the fun part ends. It's all very sad. Also boring.
zustifer: (Robocop: SUX dino)
Muthu (1995), K.S. Ravikumar. Dec. 24, 7pm. View count: Two.
Aankhen (2002), Vipul Amrutlal Shah. Dec. 25, 2pm. View count: Three.
The Muppet Movie (1979), James Frawley. Dec. 25, 8pm. View count: Four?

Muthu! Still hilarious.

Aankhen! Also still hilarious. Amitabh Bachchan speaks english really well and likes to say 'A dangerous game is about to begin.'

The Muppet Movie! It had been a while, but I still remembered that 'fork in the road' gag. Also, SO MANY CAMEOS.
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: Enter Lydia (with camera))
Django (1966), Sergio Corbucci. December 6, 7pm. View count: One.

Inland Empire (2006), David Lynch. December 9, 7pm. View count: One.

Ohhh, I guess I should actually post these.

Django was much better than Miike's remix, although I feel a little more apt to cut the guy some slack now. But still. This one made the protagonist seem a lot more clever and dogged, and the violence somehow was much more fun.

Inland Empire was weirdly accessible! It's got all the hoary Lynchy bits you love, with a pretty simple premise (movie inside a movie) and lots of good acting. I'm not surprised that people paid attention to it. Bonus: a couple of included shorts that Lynch shot in 2002, that consist of people in great rabbit suits doing banal things in a living-room set, with an inappropriate laugh track. I'm a fan.
zustifer: (comics: mucilage cake)
Muthu (1995), K.S. Ravikumar. Nov 22, 6pm. View count: One.

Mitchell(MST3K version, of course) (1975), Andrew V. McLaglen. Nov 27, 7pm. View count: four?

Muthu is a terrific Bollywood movie, with everyone's favorite cliches. Muthu is sort of the Pootie Tang of this movie's universe, endowed with semi-explained, heavily SFXed powers. The whole thing goes on a little long, but it's mostly harmless (wander off for a cup of tea, everything's fine), and it does include the only hiccup-based dance number I'm currently aware of.

Mitchell is a fine old MST3K classic, but that doesn't really make the movie itself okay. Even through the MSTing it's still pretty bad. Mitchell is a crummy cop, who isn't really all that competent, but he seems to try to make up for this with persistence. It's not very appealing. The movie also doesn't seem to care about following its own plot, which is probably for the best, since it seems to involve guys being shot from behind a wooden screen thing of some sort, and... drug trade? Somehow? And a hooker who likes pot.

To-ma-to!

Nov. 17th, 2008 12:13 pm
zustifer: (nick and lacroix)
This Filthy World (2006), Jeff Garlin. November 11, 6pm. View count: One.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978), John De Bello. November 11, 7:30pm. View count: six or seven?

Futurama: Bender's Game (2008), Dwayne Carey-Hill. November 12, 9pm. View count: One.

Låt den rätte komma in (AKA Let The Right One In) (2008), Tomas Alfredson. November 16, 7pm. View count: One.


Um, right, haven't done this in a while. We finished watching The Wire (for which maybe I should do a writeup), tried to watch the first episode of Life on Mars (CHRIST, what are these people smoking? No one should edit like that. Or probably write like that) and sat through a couple of episodes of Ruri No Shima, which is a J-drama about a slightly hard-bitten Tokyo street kid who is taken to live on a tiny Okinawan island. It's such a Mom-Friendly Touching Story that I don't know if I can make it through any more.

Anyhow. This Filthy World is essentially John Waters doing a semi-comedic talk about films he's worked on, and general chit-chat. It's pretty darn enjoyable, at least for people like me who love John Waters almost regardless of what he does. It's also got the best DVD cover I've seen in recent memory.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! with exclamation point! is another of the movies I used to watch in high school. It holds up plenty fine, with hilarity and goofiness comparable to early Zuckers, but less polished and more flailingly weird. I respect that. Among the things I love about this movie are: the silly noise the tomatoes make, the totally brilliant 'Puberty Love' song, and the Mischievous Dude in the Cafeteria shiftily looking around him before grinning slyly and pronouncing ToMAto!

Bender's Game: Kinda stupid and halfassed, but, you know. Straight to video.

Let The Right One In is the Swedish child-vampire movie you may or may not have heard about. A couple of ladies behind us (loudly) congratulated one another for the cosmopolitan cred they were about to receive by watching the movie, only to walk out (loudly) not at the first drop of blood, but at the first indication of impending blood. I don't know what kind of vampire movies they are used to, but the ones I watch usually have blood.
I quite enjoyed this one; it has a matter-of-fact quality to it that definitely helps to sell the vampires-among-us business. Tonally it's sort of a cross between Paranoid Park and Night Watch. Fairly pleasing, I thought.
zustifer: (comics: zippy ha ha incongruous)
Sukiyaki Western Django, Takashi Miike. October 18, 7pm. View count: One.

Well, to be right up front, I hated this movie a little. It had a cameo by Quentin Tarantino, and the whole movie felt in a way like his presence twisted the movie into a Tarantino Thing, all pastiche (in both senses of the word) and collage-like elements from other movies, with not much there underneath.

[Later] Now that it's a couple of days later, I feel like it's grown on me a little, and I'm pretty sure that it was specifically Tarantino's presence that soured me on the film. Conceptually, Miike's weirdness is really only separated from Tarantino's by their opposite cultural vectors, and maybe it's wrong of me, but my own cultural perspective makes me strongly predisposed to hate this wanna-be thing that Tarantino does. Also, I've never seen the original 'Django' (1966), so this may have been a big portion of the problem.

The western/japanese thing has pre-existing referents in, for example, Trigun, so it's not quite the surprising iconography-soup-pot that some people seem to be calling it. I also had problems with the tonal normalizing; maybe it's just me as A Lady, but I find a large gap between what amounts to 'cartoon-like violence' and very straight-faced things like rape. Dark humor is one thing, but just plain darkness with no leavening aspect is difficult to reconcile with the otherwise lighter tone. Again, had there been no Tarantino, I would have accepted this better, but his presence made me apply the template of his work, which is often all about dark violence and stupid humor.

Twitchfilm's review makes much of the many elements, but none of these is developed well or interestingly. Seriously, for real, who cares if one of the heads-of-clans is really into Shakespeare, when it's barely relevant? It's a possibility that this fixation could be a reference to another film where it is relevant, but lacking that putative context, it washes out into nothing. The many references were cute when I recognized them, but not really interesting. Wow, you're dressed up like Clint Eastwood. Wow, you worked in elements from other westerns. Wow, Quentin Tarantino does a good Brent Spiner impression (okay, not really, but he may as well have been trying to. I will try to refer to him as Old Often-Wrong from now on).

Oh man, and I forgot about the biggest drag: the phonetic spoken english. So intensive to parse, and so goofy. This is my largest indicator that the overall tone was supposed to be light, but to me it felt clashy and drew far too much attention to itself.

I'm willing to assume that had I been better versed in the relevant westerns, that I would have enjoyed this a lot more.
zustifer: (nick and lacroix)
Odd Couple (aka Bo ming chan dao duo ming qiang) (1979), Chia Yung Liu. October 4, 8pm. View count: One.

This is a pretty cute movie wherein a couple of kung fu badasses wear hilarious fake beards and eyebrows, and each actor additionally plays the part of the other's student. The fighting is not excessively thrilling, but there are entertainingly translated lines and lots of aggressively wacky characters and situations (this includes a fellow called 'Potato' who looks like a member of Devo in buck teeth with weird patchy fake fur glued to his scalp).

One of the masters, Sammo Hung, burns down the house of his prospective student (gleefully) so that he won't have any reason not to put himself under his (Hung's) tutelage. This is especially impressive when you consider that the only reason the masters decided to take students at all was explicitly to fight in their stead.


I forget who this guy was supposed to be, but he ended up with a large proportion of his body in a cast.
zustifer: (why can't monsters get along)
Day Watch (aka Dnevnoy dozor) (2006), Timur Bekmambetov. September 13, 11pm. View count: two.

We've been contenting ourselves with television series lately (we just finished Deadwood and have gone on to The Wire, long after probably everyone has stopped caring), but I found this DVD used at Rasputin a couple of weeks ago, and we decided to check it out again, with commentary. Sadly, the commentary is kinda sporadic, although interesting when present. The language barrier is not a problem, it just seems that the director does not wish to talk much unless prompted by an interviewer. Much lamer is the exclusion of the beautiful animated subtitles, which were a large part of the fun of the movie. Thanks, FOX. Admittedly, they probably couldn't print the subtitles as-is directly to DVD, since their size is a little different relative to the frame size on the big screen vs the small one. But... it should have been an option. The region 2 special edition of Night Watch apparently had two sides, one with animated subtitles and one with plain normal ones, and that would seem to be a decent compromise.

Among the things learned from the commentary (which would only play over the english dub, more's the pity) were: the cast was crammed full of famous russian actors. The boy who played Yegor was adversely affected by his brief time in The Movies, and became a more arrogant jerk between the two he appeared in ('not good for his personality' was how the director put it). The foil yo-yo is made from the foil that packages a famous brand of cheese. The apartment decor (all sets, no real locations indoors) is exemplary high soviet kitsch. The girlfriend of Zavulon who looks like I-no is actually a pop star. The in-jokes are many. Oh, also it was 30 below during the shooting of several of the outdoor scenes.

Anyhow, I still enjoyed this, even though the subtitles were bare-minimum (no environmental signage, etc; maybe what we really need is a full-on fansub, complete with explanations of what products' advertising is being parodied in the intro sequence). What rankled the most was having to listen to the dub, which, while not terrible, was still kind of off-putting in that particular way that russian accents can have.

I'm going to do a little research and imdb-surfing so as to find some more interesting russian movies, I think.
zustifer: (Robocop: Dick Jones)
Runaway (1984), Michael Crichton. August 16, 8pm. View count: One.

Well! This is a winner. Tom Selleck and his moustache are a cop specializing in shooting the hell out of rogue robots, which are called 'runaways' for no good reason. They usually have claws. It's the 80s, and nothing makes much sense (least of all the technology), but Gene Simmons is the bad guy, and Kirstie Alley is the, uh, Kirstie Alley.
It's pretty amazing if you're in the right frame of mind, don't mind taking in some serious cliches, and are okay with the fact that Westworld is a lot better, really.

Also Watched a lot of Dragnet episodes I got for 99c at a Cracker Barrel. You know what? That shit is dark. Threatened, molested, and dead kids. Con men who prey on the recently bereaved. Downtrodden old filmmakers who just want the glory days of studio westerns back, but instead peddle dirty magazines to junior high schoolers. Long, unflinching shots of grieving parents. And Joe Friday gutshoots a guy who's a chronic escapee from prison. I think he's an android who has a perfectly binary view of humanity.
zustifer: (blue scoff)
Beetle Juice (1988), Tim Burton. August 8, 9:45pm. View count: One more than last time. Shall we say seventeen?

Labyrinth (1986), Jim Henson. August 10, 8pm. View count: Probably around seven or eight?

We had the beautiful and ephemeral chance to see Beetlejuice at the Castro on friday, so we seized upon it and wrestled it to the ground and stepped on its windpipe. This was a thing I had to do. Hell, man, I could see the arm of Adam's LL Bean-plaid shirt through his sheet. I could see that Delia's hairdo in the dinner scene involved three weird little ponytails in the back, one on top of the other. I could read the headlines of the papers that the hanged functionary was carrying around in the netherworld. I could make out the carousel-creatures on Beetlejuice's hat better than I'd ever been able to. It was good.

Also showing at the Castro this weekend was Labyrinth, but we felt less like slogging back out, so we watched it at home. Todd Alcott recently thoroughly slagged this, which I think is fair to some extent, but I don't agree with the whole of it. Part of the reason for this is that I grew up on the Muppets, so I'm pretty completely familiar with the whole human/puppet dynamic. Secondly, though, and this is more important, Labyrinth is A Child's Garden of Movie. Its plot is comprehensible and straightforward. Intent lies behind everything, and all obstacles can be surmounted. The script is dull and clunky to the point of tears (even though Terry Jones worked on it?), but all the talking is just to get across simple ideas about attitude and intention. The beautiful, imaginative visuals (RON MUECK worked on and puppeteered Ludo!) are there to give the viewer something to think about, not the script. (Admittedly, though, as chmmr noted, Dark Crystal does each of these better, but it's tonally so different as to be meant for entirely another age group; Labyrinth wouldn't even think of including the concept of death, and makes a goofy song about dismemberment. All punches are pulled.) It's like a safe little world with small challenges and beautiful scenery. I think that this is an okay thing to have. I would have preferred to have it work on multiple levels, but muppety straightforwardness has its place as well.
zustifer: (gaping pseudorca crassidens)
S.P.L. (2005), Wilson Yip. August 2, sometime in the evening. View count: One.
The Killer (1989), John Woo. August 3, 10pm. View count: Two.

(Both of these movies were sent us by n0wak, who is a nice fellow who had too many movies weighing him down.)

S.P.L. is a pretty canonical Unethical Cops vs Slightly Worse Gangsters story, with some hilarious crap about halfassed attempts to be a parent thrown in. But there are some rocking fight scenes, with proper stunts and a precious few long shots of pure action. Still not anything like you used to get in the times of Bruce Lee; this genre has a cancer, and that cancer is choppy editing. It must be cut out before we, uh, make more unintelligible fight scenes. Anyhow, there's some great stuff in there.

The Killer! I'd been in college when I'd seen this last, and although it wasn't the totally groundbreaking thing it was then, it still was a lot of fun (this was my introduction to John Woo, and I was like nineteen. I had no idea this kind of thing existed). A cop has to track down Chow Yun Fat and arrest him, because he is a killer! But the cop secretly thinks Chow Yun Fat is awesome, as must all people! Oh noes, what will happen? I'll tell you right now: they discover the true meaning of friendship. Gun-based friendship. It's so adorable.
zustifer: (comics: Nivlem says See Here)
The Dark Knight (2008), Christopher Nolan. July 27, 9:50 pm. View count: Two.

So! We saw this again, to see if it cleared up any of the issues we had with it, and it did make some of the plot machinations and such clearer. Gary Oldman's performance stood out better as excellent, as did his part in the proceedings. He seemed similarly important to Batman this time around, and certainly easier to understand. Heath Ledger also was improved; his rendition of his part was really quite clever and unusual.
Some plot stuff didn't make sense still, though, and I had to be told why Harvey's nickname made sense pre-transformation. Ah well.
zustifer: (comics: Nivlem says See Here)
The Dark Knight (2008), Christopher Nolan. July 21, 4:35 pm. View count: One.

It having been a few days since watching this, I think some things have sunk in. Chmmr wants to see it again, to sort out what's good and what's phoned in, and I think I'm beginning to agree with this idea. Heath Ledger acquitted himself admirably, as did Gary Oldman, of course.
I guess cut for spoilers. )
Oh, and Christian Bale needs to stop it with his Dr. Girlfriend impression. It does not put the fear into criminals, I suspect.
zustifer: (beans beans)
Hellboy II (2008), Guillermo del Toro. July 12, 8:15pm. View count: One.

Instant review version: Beautiful monsters, obnoxious most other things.

Longer version: This movie had more sheer visual glee moments than any in recent memory (mostly monster-based, mostly Doug Jones in fact), but it also was sadly predictable and just kind of sloppy in a lot of ways. The fightin' team was poorly formed (having two or more team members stand around nervously while Hellboy fights is just a sad state of affairs), the dialog semi-humiliating, and the Big Bad Threat mostly unreadably messy and stupidly incomprehensible.
This is very sad, because, seriously, many of the monsters were primo. And I'd watch Doug Jones eat a sandwich, honestly. But... yes, a mixed bag.
zustifer: (Keep your teeth clean)
Wall-E (2008), Andrew Stanton. June 29, 7pm. View count: One.

I was weirdly annoyed with this movie. Firstly, it pulled its pessimistic human-nature punch, in several ways. Secondly, the protagonist(s) were made to share the spotlight with the humans such that it felt to me like their day-saving was pretty hollow.

I mean, obviously it was beautiful in appearance (except for the humans and their environment), and the lesson that characters don't need a mouth or skin to be expressive is one that Hollywood probably needs to learn. Also the relatively minimal dialog (also ruined by the humans).
But I will cut for the spoiliness. )
zustifer: (comics: decapitated jughead)
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Alan Smithee. June 21, 9pm. View count: Two.

Oh right, we sat through Hellraiser IV. Sigh. Well, it's not as awful as III, so there's that. It's not terribly interesting, though, even though some of it does in fact take place in space. There's a lot of junk going on, but somehow all of it manages to be pretty halfassed, which I'm sure contributed to the Alan Smithee credit choice.

I remember checking out the photos of the new cenobites in Fangoria while this was in production (I KNOW, I am a gigantic doofus) and being excited for them, but they get a surprisingly small amount of screen time. The rather sad terror-dog thing, which is usually a puppet, undeservedly gets a lot more. The protagonist's wigs get a lot of screen time too.

Doug Bradley is definitely starting to show his age in this one; ten years on (nearly) from Hellraiser I. It's time to start feeling sorry for the poor man, because he's going to appear in all of the remaining four Hellraisers. They are all straight to video. Probably for the best.

Verdict: Snoo-zers.
zustifer: (Jim Jarmusch)
Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), Jim Jarmusch. June 19, 12pm. View count: 1.5.
Permanent Vacation (1980), Jim Jarmusch. June 20, 2pm. View count: One.
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), Anthony Hickox. June 20, 8pm. View count: Two.

Coffee and Cigarettes I watched so as to vet it for Rone, but too late I realized that my taste is different from his. I found it to be not Jarmusch's best work; the shorts that make up this film are cute, but seldom more than that. There is no time for more complex plots or any serious character development, which is what I like about Jarmusch. I watch his movies for their leisureliness and subtlety, neither of which really compresses down to shorts a few minutes long. Strange character traits, condensed, become merely gimmicky; rambly conversations, in the choppy context of a series of shorts, feel bloaty and pointless. Probably the most fun I had was spotting actors from other works.

Permanent Vacation I enjoyed rather more, for the above reasons. The protagonist, a friend of Jarmusch's when he was at film school, almost played himself, which made the sometimes stilted dialog delivery more acceptable (since he was pretty at-home in the role otherwise). He's a rootless kid who just kind of walks around New York most of the time; very low-key and harmless. One of the best character details was his propensity for asking people if he would like something, which was a clever little abdication of responsibility. It's definitely got the earmarks of a student film, but it's not inaccessible.

Hellraiser III is pretty horrible. I remember in high school we reviled it for being disrespectful to Pinhead, which it is, but it's worse than that: it's an almost totally soulless cash-in. It's got the set-'em-up-and-knock-'em-down attitude that the third X-Men movie adopted (introducing a bunch of new characters merely so they can be killed off), which is bad enough, but it's also totally devoid of likable characters, interesting gore, or dignity. The lady who plays Jadzia Dax in DS9 is the protagonist, and she plays the role not dissimilarly (this isn't a mark in the movie's favor because her character is so blandly goody-goody that she just kind of washes out of one's head).
This movie makes the second Hellraiser look decent, much as the second one makes the first one look better than it is. It's all very sad (although sadder is the fact that there are now EIGHT of these damn movies, and I'll probably have to watch them all now). I think the only place for the franchise to go at this point is to Bollywood.
zustifer: (Jim Jarmusch)
Kyo Kii... Main Jhuth Nahin Bolta (2001), David Dhawan. June 17, 3pm. View count: One.
Dead Man (1995), Jim Jarmusch. June 18, 11am. View count: four?
Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Jim Jarmusch. June 18, 4pm. View count: One.
Ghost Dog (1999), Jim Jarmusch. June 18, 7:30pm. View count: four?

Kyo Kii... is 'inspired by' that presumably horrible Jim Carrey movie Liar Liar. It's about a lawyer in Mumbai who lies on essentially every occasion, but eventually (like 3/4 through the movie) his child makes a wish that he should only speak truth, and for a day or so he must speak his mind. This mostly means that he insults everyone he knows, and they are sort of touchingly hurt by this, bursting into tears and running out of rooms. Then he learns the meaning of integrity or something, blah blah. Sushmita Sen is the only actor I knew; she was in Aankhen (the story of Amitabh Bachchan paying blind guys to rob a bank) and Biwi #1 (one of my favorites, and a very iconic bollywood example). This was probably better than the original movie, but it wasn't anywhere near the best bollywood remake I've seen.

I decided to hit the Jarmusch today because I am not feeling well, but I am equal to the task of lying semisensate on the couch and watching meandering character pieces with natural dialog and little bits of humor. I love Jim Jarmusch, my one avatar of his cameo in Straight to Hell notwithstanding (I will use it!). I just finished a book of interviews with him, and I learned that his process is a terrific one; invent characters first, and then build around them situations to be in and react to, and then a plot around that (if any). I relate to this pretty strongly, which is probably why I like his work so much. Sadly I had to return the book to the library, or I would quote the passage about him taking the idea of killers wearing white cotton editors' gloves from some older well-respected director, and using it in Ghost Dog.
His use of black leader between scenes is consistent through all three of these movies; it only makes sense. To have scenes butting right up against one another with no breathing room would be so inappropriate. Jarmusch's work always has such a calm pace, with lots of the process of getting from point A to point B; exciting things are all the more surprising in such a structure. His writing has always been a little more than is needed; although it seems as if he insists on realistic delivery, sometimes the lines walk the edge between believable and silly (f'rinstance, the Flava Flav afficionado was pushing it in Ghost Dog). This is usually okay. The man has a sense of humor, and while I like best the dry (Nobody flapping his mouth like a white guy while wearing Blake's hat in Dead Man) and absurd for no reason (Iggy pop wearing a bonnet), the more broad has its place as well.
Jarmusch doesn't move the camera around a lot, and prefers medium-long shots with multiple people in them. It's hard to get a feeling for characters reacting to one another and their environment in nothing but closeups. He's a fellow after my own heart. Not to mention that he's always careful to get private and overseas funding, so as not to be trapped in the american studio horror (and have editing approval and similar rights taken from him). The man does good work. I wish to be just like him when I grow up.
zustifer: (Dr. Phibes)
Hellraiser (1987), Clive Barker. June 14, 10pm. View count: between six and ten? I used to watch this in high school.
Hellraiser II: Hellbound (1988), Tony Randel. June 15, 10pm. View count: similar to Hellraiser I?

In high school, these were a couple of our favorite movies (along with The Abominable Dr. Phibes, A Clockwork Orange, and whatever the hell else we watched all the time). They don't exactly hold up as shining examples of the medium, but it's nice to be able to say that (all skeletal dragons aside) the first one is not bad. To me it feels like some of Clive Barker's body horror leaks through into the movie, and I respect the idea of pretty much everyone in a horror movie being a small-scale grotesque (Julia's too-white makeup, Andrew Robinson's incessant sweatiness, Frank's everything). The characters are all pretty broad, but they do have definable arcs. This is a movie that starts from no-horror (except the generalized british humanity kind) and ramps up to significant horror. (This escalation (at least) surpasses the second one, which starts in second gear, lurches into third or a listless fourth, and just kind of sits there.) The effects are up and down, but the Frank-reconstitution scenes especially are clever and inventively gooky. (On the bad side, this time I noticed the little cart that the Engineer was mounted on. Hoo boy.)

The second one is worse, but more gory. The good parts are not many, really, but Dr Channard chewing the scenery (and being chewed by it) is usually good for a laugh. However, all the rules that held true (or seemed to) in the first movie are not necessarily in play in the second, so if you're, you know, me, and you care about the rules of the Hellraiser universe, you will be annoyed with this movie. And probably all of the subsequent ones, but, hey, who isn't. This one is significantly more brain-dead horror than the first one, which is a shame. And if anything, the effects are worse, although there is a second skinless-suit. There is also a girl named Tiffany (1988, everybody) who looks like a thirteen-year-old female Brad Pitt, if you can imagine that. All of the characters are flattened out, though, into normal horror tropes (except for maybe Pinhead?), and it's really barely worth sitting through as a result. Hellraiser III, however, is SO much worse than II that I'm going to watch it again soon to see if it wraps back around to hilarious. All I can really remember about it is that there is a cenobite that spits CDs (in a deadly fashion, I assure you), and that we thought it was a travesty in high school. WE'LL SEE!

BONUS! The Hellraiser Song, by Entombed, with liberal samples from Hellraiser I!

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Karla Z

February 2012

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