2017 animated biopic
Plot: Following the death of Van Gogh, a guy who delivered letters to his brother sends his son to get one last letter to Theo. That sends the son on a journey of discovery as he tries to get to the bottom of what happened to the troubled artist in his final days.
With thousands of hand-painted images swirling around my television screen, this really is beautiful to look at much of the time. I especially liked the contrast between the black and white flashback scenes and the impressionistic current day stuff, and there were some gorgeous transitions from one scene to the next. You see a lot of locales and themes that are familiar because Van Gogh immortalized them in his work--his room, a cafe, fields, even some crows. It was cool to see those moving and animated characters interacting within them. I'm not exactly sure how they animated in Van Gogh's style like this, but it was a nice tribute to the artist and appropriate way to tell his story.
Unfortunately, there's not much to that story. There's a mystery here, but I was a little bored with it. At one point, I had convinced myself that I was into the whole thing, but then I said, "Nope, I'm still a little bored." The novelty with the animation style wore off, and after a while, it felt like that style was making the story and the characters a little stiff. All the characters seemed arthritic and oddly expressionless. If that's the sacrifice that needed to be made to tell the story this way, it's probably worth it, but it didn't help create a narrative that was as engaging as it should have been.
Van Gogh himself remains enigmatic. There's nothing wrong with that, and in fact, I might prefer he remain an enigma. But this telling of his story doesn't do anything to make the enigma any more fascinating.
It's easy to appreciate the ambition and the craft and the love that went into this, and it's absolutely worth a watch for anybody even remotely interested in the artist or art in general or animation. I prefer the 1999 watercolor movie version of The Old Man and the Sea to this one although that one's only about twenty minutes. Maybe I prefer it because it's only about twenty minutes actually.
Plot: A beamish boy stumbles his way into a quest to take a manxome foe--the Jabberwocky!
Really great timing with this one. RIP, Terry Gilliam.
I'd seen this as a youngster soon after watching Brazil, Time Bandits, and Munchausen and deciding that Gilliam was probably my favorite director. Always a little more lukewarm with Monty Python, I was disappointed that this was more like Holy Grail or Life of Brian. My memories of the thing were not all that positive, but although there are still some growing pains with Gilliam's first solo work, it's entertaining enough and foreshadows some of Gilliam's later and greater work.
Gilliam's always one of those fervently creative spirits, a guy with no shortage of ideas. Here, that's not necessarily a good thing. You almost wonder if he wasn't sure that he'd get another shot to make his own feature film and decided to try to use every single idea he had. Of course, restraining a mind like Gilliam's would have been foolish because a lot of the times, even the parts of this that fail are a lot of fun. There are really great set pieces featuring hints of that fantastical but grotesque imagery that he'll later be associated with. The whole film looks grimy, and it seems like the actors must have been absolutely filthy for most of the shoot. I always thought that I had watched a bad print of this or something the first time, but the Criterion release doesn't quite get rid of all that grime. It's not a flaw though--it adds a bit of authenticity to the proceedings.
A lot of Gilliam's typically askew humor almost works here:
Palanquin pissing contests
Some of the names of these characters, especially the royalty: Olaf the Loud, Bruno the Questionable, Fishfinger
Conversations like "I ate three toes off my right foot." "That ain't your right foot." "What are you a doctor or something?"
Wad Dabney, inventor of the inverted ferkin
A knight helmet with a ridiculous dog head on top of it
A Rube Goldsberg-esque blacksmith shop destruction
A jousting tournament devolving into a shiny game of hide and seek
That guy who depeditated himself
Multiple scenes where characters urinate on other characters, the kind of thing that's always a crowd pleaser
And the monster itself? Well, Gilliam doesn't show us a monster until the exact moment when he needs to. It's impressively non-impressively, perfectly so in fact. It's a director saying, "Hey, audience! Nobody wants to give me any money for this thing, so here's a monster that might be causing the makers of The Giant Claw to roll their eyes."
The most impressive monster action is right at the beginning, before the title screen if I'm recalling correctly, and that doesn't show the monster at all. Instead, you get a little monster-cam with a thrusting and swooping camera, close-ups of the poor foolish victim's face, and quickly shifting background foliage. It's very reminiscent of the demonic attacks in the woods in Evil Dead, but this movie predates Sam Raimi's work by four years!
I wish the movie had a little more depth. Gilliam pokes fun at both royalty and religious zealots, has some interesting ideas when priests and businessmen are arguing about the possible virtues of having the monster around, and includes some dialogue near the beginning about craftsmanship vs. business that could almost serve as some sort of personal cinematic manifesto. None of the ideas are fully realized though.
All in all, it's a fun debut that doesn't vary enough from the Python stuff or come quite close enough to the peaks of Gilliam's career. Fans will find something to love here.
2013 mushroom movie
Plot: In the midst of a 17th Century Civil War, four men try to find a treasure in a field in England. Things get wacky.
With a unique rhythm and skimpy narrative with unclear character motivations and connections, this was tough sledding at first. Or plowing. I guess you'd plow in a field, not sled. The lovely black and white cinematography kept my interest, but it wasn't until I realized there was a sneaky sense of humor with this thing that I was able to fully invest. Slyly surreal before transforming into more wild psychotronic shenanigans, director Ben Wheatley seems to borrow from a lot of artsy oddball independent things made way before 2013 while ultimately making something that is refreshingly different.
References to human excretion, the literal unearthing of a character, violent palpitations, quirky dialogue, a quirky hypnosis, hallucinogenic drug trips. It's a strange story, but it's appropriately strange in quiet ways. It's unclear exactly what this thing is about. I suspect it's a parable, that each of the four characters represents something and that the treasure is something either very specific or not specific at all. I can't pinpoint exactly what any of those pieces might be though. I thought the performances were very good--Reece Shearsmith as the closest thing we have to a main character, an alchemist's apprentice; Ryan Pope as tough and constipated soldier Cutler; and Peter Ferdinando and Richard Glover who play characters who are either drunk or dopey or maybe both. Eventually, out pops (literally) Michael Smiley who, following a sequence where he gets all dressed up, has a grand moment where he gets himself all gussied up and strikes a pose in the dusty light. It's such a great shot.
There are lots of great shots of this field in England. I like how the characters are shot, especially when they're urinating, but the way the field is shot almost makes it something more than just land with some weeds on it. It almost becomes something living and breathing itself. This is all before things get especially wild during a sequence that contains lovely bits of black and white psychedelia. That made the warning at the beginning of this--of "flashing images" and "stroboscopic sequences"--make sense anyway.
Plot: An investigation into the sinister world of competitive tickling.
Faithful readers might recall that I had this on my "most anticipated movie list" a couple of years ago because it's a movie about competitive endurance tickling. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed in the finished product. A documentary about competitive endurance tickling is maybe the sort of thing that is always going to be better on paper maybe?
Part of the problem was that I didn't like the documentarian David Farrier all that much. I'm sure he's a pleasant individual, and I'm sure I'd get along great with him if he tracked me down to ask me questions about my own experiences appearing in competitive endurance tickling videos. But so much of this movie centered on his detective work here as he tried to unravel the mysterious and possibly nefarious presences lurking in the shadows of these fetish videos, and I just didn't care for his style.
That mystery itself was only somewhat gripping. I think Farrier sets us up for a big revelation that just never really comes. There's a moment later in the documentary that you get a little excited for, but when it happens, it's kind of a dud, like a firecracker that you thought would go BANG but instead just kind of sat there and looked smug. I felt like I had been strapped down on a table to be tickled before being told that the tickler had forgotten to bring his fingers.
This is one of those documentaries that would have been great fun as a 30-minute installment of a television series, the sort of thing I think Farrier does in New Zealand. Stretched into a feature-length documentary, the novelty of the idea wore off quickly and the investigation just wasn't as intriguing as Farrier wanted us to believe.
Plot: A retelling of the mass murder at the University of Texas in 1966 when a gunman started shooting people from a tower.
This might be the most vibrant narrative documentary I've seen since Man on Wire. I'm not sure if it should be as vibrant as that one since it deals with tragedy and horror instead of a whimsical Frenchman, but with an original style and structure, Keith Maitland managed to create something vibrant.
This doesn't focus on the shooter at all. I think his name was used a single time actually. Instead, it focuses on some of the victims, some of the witnesses who did nothing but observe and try to keep as safe as possible, and some people who risked their lives to either comfort or save people who have been shot. And of course the pair of cops and the deputized civilian who ended up on the tower with that gunman. Even if you would have told me what had happened to all of these characters, I think it still would have been edge-of-the-seat drama throughout. This unfolds almost in real time, telling the story chronologically except with one Donovan-aided flashback that gives a little backstory for a pair of characters. Going in, you know how many people were killed and how many were injured. You know what happens to the gunman. And you still find that you're eagerly waiting to see what happens next. It's great storytelling.
What makes it vibrant, however, is the style. Maitland uses interviews, real news bulletins from the day, pictures and video footage from 1966, and animated recreations, all mashed together into one unique documentary soup. The rotoscopic animation--sometimes mixed right in with real settings and people so that we sometimes see an animated car driving along a road with real cars--gives the whole thing an otherworldly feel. I'm not sure if that was the intent although I'm sure this whole thing had to feel otherworldly to anybody on that campus that day. My fear would be that it would almost take away from the real characters, somehow make them seem less real, but I don't think that was the case. In fact, there's one animated sequence (that flashback I mentioned up there) that nearly brought a tear to my eye because of how human it made the victims. Maybe it was just the Donovan "Colours" that does it for me.
That tower is a beautiful structure, by the way, but I can't imagine what it must symbolize for people who experienced this. It's haunting seeing it here, whether it's in modern day shots, an animated version, or from 1966 footage.
Plot: Problems escalate for the curator of a modern art museum after his wallet and cellphone are stolen.
Another 2017 look at empathy, this time while skewering the art world and all its pretensions and hypocrisies. I was surprised at two things here: 1) That the movie was so funny. 2) That the guy featured on most of the posters I'm finding of this (the shirtless one standing on a table) isn't in all that much of the movie.
I enjoyed this movie a lot, and it was the same part of my brain that enjoys The Big Lebowski. Especially with the first half, I thought it had a less-wacky Lebowski vibe. It wasn't the dialogue or all the bowling or anything especially Coen-esque. It was just a vibe, the way the story flowed. The movie's arguably too long, especially since some scenes don't really seem to impact the characters or the narrative, but I can't think of a single scene I'd want to lose. I mean, how are you going to take out that powerful and intense and darkly humorous scene with that shirtless guy on the table? Or the scene with the random chimpanzee? Or the scene where a guy with Tourette's blurts out "Show us your boobs!" and "Camel Toe!" during an interview with a pompous artist? Or the scene where the main character and a love interest are arguing over a prophylactic? Or a later scene when the two are discussing the meaning of their lovemaking beside a noisy art installation and a nosy museum guard lady? Or a scene where the main character and his partner-in-intimidation are jamming to a raucous electronic song on the way to do something dangerous, setting up a great bit of irony? Or a hilarious "Pick out the onions yourself" scene that you could almost argue is the heart of this movie?
There's great humor, but there's also a great, timely message at the center of this. In a way, it's a nice European companion to Three Billboards even though they're entirely different sorts of movies. Or maybe not entirely.
I can't compare this to any of the other Best Foreign Picture nominees because I haven't seen any of the other ones.
2015 French cartoon
Plot: In an alternate reality of 20th Century Paris, a girl looks for her missing parents and grandfather who, like a lot of scientists, have been kidnapped by lizard people.
The world-building, this imagining of a steampunk Paris with talking cats but no real technological advancements past the turn of the century, is much more impressive than the storytelling here. The story and the action get a little too goofy although I did like the characters and at least one theme that I pulled out of this.
I wish this felt a little more French. Is that a valid criticism?
1958 boat movie
Plot: It's the same as James Cameron's movie about Titanic except Kate Winslet isn't naked in it. There isn't a Kate Winslet in the movie!
You might assume that I'd be in the "No Leo = Bad Titanic Movie" camp, but it's totally not true. Sure, it might not feel like a Titanic movie without that idiot standing on the prow and screaming, "I'm king of the world!" But this movie, without the bloat of a distracting love story and framing device about some stupid necklace, is the superior film about the tragedy.
The best Titanic movie will treat the ship like a microcosm of humanity dealing with the stresses of the apocalypse. This almost does that. It hits all the beats you might expect if you've seen other Titanic movies or documentaries--the Unsinkable Molly Brown, the guy dressing up as a woman in order to have first crack at a lifeboat, the captain's lonely despair, the band playing as the ship sinks--but it keeps its head above cliched waters and manages to be very human and real. The constructed sets help that realism as there aren't many moments here where I didn't think these people were actually on the Titanic. The camera moves a little too flamboyantly to fool anybody into thinking this is documentary footage, but it's not as far off as you would imagine. The acting is good because it's natural. You understand the fears and the loves and the sacrifices of these people, and you understand the impudence of these people, their belief that they are really more powerful than icebergs, without the points being hammered into your head.
Despite how well the human stuff works in this, my favorite two moments aren't human related. One is a great shot of a rocking horse as the boat starts to tip. The rocking horse swoops toward the camera in a menacing way. I was really rooting for that horse, and I was happy to see that it was floating in a final shot right before the "The End" appeared on the screen.
The second was an obvious dummy being used in a scene where they're pulling a child out of the water. I love obvious dummies in movies as much as I love naked Kate Winslets.
Plot: At a gym, a young girl transitions from spending time training for boxing to practicing with a dance team. Suddenly, the girls on the team start having seizures, and nobody knows why.
This is a thrilling debut from Anna Rose Holmer. It's also an impressive debut for the young actress at the center of the story--Royalty Hightower. Just watching her gradually--realistically and gradually--evolve as a dancer would be enough to win me over, but she's great throughout this. I loved watching the transformation of her dance-punching the most. There's a confidence to the performance, but there's also a fragility to the character that comes out in the performance. It's strong.
The direction is equally confident. Holmer is a director who knows exactly how she wants to tell her story and then tells her story exactly that way. The narrative is economical, not wasting any dialogue or shots at all. There's really not much dialogue at all in this, but the words that are used, especially in teh first half of this, really feel like they matter. Holmer isn't interested in giving all the answers here, and she's not really interested in the details of these characters outside of their experiences in the gym or community center or whatever it is. She utilizes space impressively, really knows how to shoot young Hightower, and even throws in a little magical realism at a time when it really works.
I really liked the score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans. It's haunting, even more haunting because its whining ambiance doesn't always match the action.
Plot: A writer and his wife, following a tragedy, decide to separate for a while, mostly because she won't let him put in a swimming pool. A young intern comes along and starts masturbating all over the place.
This was recommended by my friend Josh. Even though it was a while ago, I'm pretty sure that he told me it was funny. It's based on a John Irving book with a hilarious-sounding title--A Widow for One Year. And it's a movie about how stories are capable of keeping not only people alive but also trauma and tragedy. Sounds like uproariously funny material, right?
The strange thing is that this does have humor. Jeff Bridges' character, more than a little full of himself, is the kind of comic character you might find in a Noah Baumbach movie. He gets to talk about his penis with a child. He gets to act like a guy who is acting like an artist. The fruits of his labors, when we finally get to see them, made me laugh out loud, by the way. He gets lines like "For a child, I imagine seeing it done doggishly must seem especially animalistic." He gets a chance to be angry, screaming "Leave it!" when his intern/driver tries to turn off a hip hop song about licking pussies and cracks that he says he loves. And he gets to wear a ridiculous floppy hat. Bridges is so good here playing this character who you kind of want to hate right from the beginning. And I'm telling you--nobody drinks like Jeff Bridges, that rapid wrist flicking tip. You know the move I'm talking about, right?
Basinger's performance is a little more one dimensional. She plays somebody who is grieving, and while I guess that's believable, I wish there was a little more going on with the character. She spends most of the movie being breathy and lifeless, occasionally tossing in some sultriness.
Four standout moments for me:
1) A mention of Air Jordans. It fits thematically, but it also feels like it could be the most inappropriate product placement in movie history.
2) A masturbation scene where the intern, after covering up children's exposed feet in a photograph of Basinger, is nearly busted.
3) A piece of Bridges' character's artwork finding its way to a windshield.
4) The final shot which may or may not involve an actual door in a floor.
A question, without getting too spoilery: Bridges makes a reference to the intern looking like one of the sons. What's the point of that? Should I have been less disturbed than I was?
2018 sci-fi fantasy
Plot: I don't feel like talking about it.
Well, there goes Oprah's chances of being president. Nothing Trump has done is more embarrassing than being in A Wrinkle in Time.
Poorly directed, aurally offensive, and frequently ugly, this is wrong on almost every level. I can't think of a movie with this kind of star power and this kind of Mickey Mouse money behind it that ended up this wrong. During some particularly painful early moments that show unrealistic school dynamics and the kind of bullying that can only happen in a big glossy movie like this, I thought, "Well, Ava DuVernay isn't nailing the human elements of this, but surely she'll get the fantasy stuff right." But when the fantasy stuff rolled in, it was clear that this was going to be a tedious and agonizing experience.
Oprah's exactly what you'd expect her to be here only more special-effecty. I like Mindy Kaling from her television work, but the character quirk they give her is obnoxious, and it doesn't seem like she's got the hang of working with so many special effects assaulting her. Reese Witherspoon, the other Mrs., is terrible. Chris Pine is OK, and Storm Reid, who plays the girl, probably has a future in this business. I wish Zach Galifianakis would find something better to do with his time. Most offensive was this Deric McCabe kid who played Charles Wallace, the little brother who for whatever reason had to be called "Charles Wallace" every single time anybody speaks to him. I don't typically feel the urge to take swings at children, but Deric McCabe almost got me there.
I'm embarrassed that I typed that, and a less honest reviewer would probably delete the whole thing and pretend it didn't happen.
Don't be fooled by previews which promise cool CGI imagery and imagination. There are moments when that's definitely in there, but it's a mere distraction from the swarming and eventually enveloping suckiness that is A Wrinkle in Time.
I saw this movie Saturday night and ended up having to call in sick both Monday and Tuesday. That can't be a coincidence.
1971 crappy horror movie
Plot: A doctor and nurse, who decide that detective work is more important than their doctor and nurse work, try to find out what's behind an epidemic of feline violence.
I'm working on my masters in Bad Movies, but watching The Corpse Grinders shows how much I have to learn. It's not that it's not quality good-bad movie fun or anything. No, it's that I watched this as a continuation of my Ray Dennis Steckler Fest, but Steckler has nothing to do with it. Whoops!
This was directed by Ted V. Mikels from an Arch Hall Sr. script. Or maybe calling it a "script" would be more accurate for the guy responsible for Eegah. I'll have to check one of my Bad Movie textbooks.
Despite the lack of Steckler, I'm not disappointed that I watched this. Persistent cats, cat attacks featuring the special effect known in inner-circles as "hurling a cat at an actress," the really gross output from the grinding machine, a gravedigger who looks a little like Rupert from Survivor (who I know as the reality show contestant who ran for office here in Indiana), the gravedigger's wife who looks like she stumbled out of a John Waters' movie and who carries a doll around with her for reasons that are never explained, a laughing mortician, a deaf woman who appears to be using nothing even close to real sign language, the wooden creaking sound that accompanied the opening of an iron gate, and a doctor and nurse who can apparently leave the hospital at any time to investigate potential criminal activity and who also have books about cats at their workplace.
My favorite acting in this was from Charles Fox. I've seen all of Charles Fox's credited roles, but unfortunately that's just this and The Undertaker and His Pals. Here, he's Charles "Foxy" Fox, a decision that likely didn't help his chances of winning an Academy Award.
2016 comedic drama
Plot: After his dog dies, a guy who really loves wearing fake teeth and a wig and playing jokes tries to reconnect with his workaholic daughter.
This could have used a shorter running time, but I liked it as a dual character study. I don't think the relationship evolves quite as realistically as it should for a movie this long, but there's one moment that's great because it's strange, one moment that's great because it's really touching and strange, and several moments that are great because they're humorous.
Peter Simonischek's performance as the dad is really good, and it does feel natural. He never does anything exceptionally wacky, and his emotions never feel as false as the teeth and wig he puts on when he's in character as Toni Erdmann. Speaking of those teeth, it's really amazing how much a set of fake chompers can completely transform the appearance of a human being.
This movie has a little to say about the guises we put on to interact with various people in our lives, but I've got a terrible cold and don't feel like putting any thought into it.
This, by the way, is being remade with Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig. I believe Will Ferrell is somehow involved, too. Although it'll be nice to give Nicholson a chance at one more great character and performance, I don't have high hopes that Hollywood will get the sentiments of this one right.
Edit: I forgot to mention my favorite scene, a rendition of a Whitney Houston song that managed to be both really silly and poignant at the same time.
2012 plundercinematic experience
Plot: It's a love story, the same one you've seen many, many times before.
Any plot synopsis is going to make this sound like something you've seen hundreds of times. And that's because you've seen this story played out hundreds of times. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they get married, and they deal with conflicts that potentially disrupt their chances of a happy ending. I'm pretty sure, however, that that's part of the point as Hungarian director Gyorgy Palfi--the guy behind Hukkle and Taxidermia, two of my favorite films from a few years ago--assembled this movie by splicing together clips of 450 or so films. Some of those are blockbusters (it begins with a shot from Avatar), some of them are Hungarian movies I've probably never heard of, and some of them are classics you'd find on any cinephile's greatest films list.
Part of the fun is just in the recognition. You see these familiar film clips featuring everybody from Chaplin to Kinski to Nicolas Cage used in completely new contexts. The film opens with that Avatar guy waking up, and then we're given variations of that same guy-waking-up theme. He shifts form and showers, shifts form and continues showering, and shifts form to shower some more. Then, he shaves and shaves and shaves. You get the idea. Eventually, the dozens of variations of this male protagonist meets the dozens of variations of the female protagonist, and hundreds of clips show their courtship and eventually marriage.
It's a movie lover's playground. The juxtapositions are frequently hilarious, and I did laugh out loud a few times at the absurdity of the whole thing. Especially revealing are how similar a lot of the shots are. It's not just what's happening; it's similar camera angles and cinematic cliches that are shown in quick succession. At the same time, it's fascinating to see how different eras, directors' styles, and technological advancements shape these moments--both the really mundane ones and the life-altering ones--differently. Not that you have much time to think about any grand statements Palfi is trying to make about the evolution of movies or human life. The cuts are quick ones, and there's just not much space to contemplate much of anything. But boy, it sure is a good time.
The visuals worked better than the audio for me. Final Cut lifts music from various films, most very recognizable snippets of score, and they're usually launched by a scene from the films they come from. So a shot of John Travolta gets "Boogie Shoes" started. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But seeing Chaplin dance to a disco hit seems like the type of idea that Palfi had that got this whole project off the ground. Palfi was probably sitting around thinking, "It would be hilarious to see Charlie Chaplin dancing to the Bee Gees," but knew just mashing those together for no reason wouldn't make sense. So plundering and juxtaposing shots from 450 movies was just the excuse he needed to make it happen.
My favorite part, as you might expect, was a wild sex scene. You know, because I'm a pervert. Honorable mention goes to a surprising appearance by Yoda. I'm not sure if it was the best choice aesthetically or artistically to include Yoda and the blue Avatar guy, but the laugh Yoda got from me certainly makes it seem like a good choice.
Highly recommended. And you can find this on YouTube although one of the uploads was without sound at all and the other didn't have subtitles for the non-English movies in there. So I had to play them both simultaneously and watch the one that had the subtitles, pausing every once in a while to try to get them better aligned.
1987 action movie
Bad Movie Rating: 3/5 (Josh: 3/5; Fred: 2/5; J.D.: 3/5)
Plot: A cop in LA teams up with a Japanese fellow to bring down the yakuza.
I've seen the name Ulli Lommel a few times when researching for Bad Movie Club, but this is our first dip into his filmography. The best-worst thing about this movie is the editing. I can't believe how poorly this thing was edited. There's a scene early on that makes it clear that Lommel or whoever put all this together doesn't have any idea how to tell a story visually. The hero, a guy with a mustache who apparently doesn't own any shirts, and his girlfriend are in a pool where I figured she was about to get shot and end up naked and face down in the pool like in a Neil Breen movie. And then it cuts to the two of them in a kitchen where they talk about having intercourse. The hero really seems to want to do it right there in the kitchen. And she says that they should do it in the pool instead, so it cuts to them in the pool once again. Why the hell did we need to go to the kitchen?
The jumpy editing keeps things largely incoherent throughout, but the action sequences give them some competition for the most inept thing about Overkill. Body parts are lopped off, bloody bullet wounds look incredibly fake, and lots of people fall in pools. There's a big climactic shoot-out near what I thought was the end of the movie, and I had trouble figuring out who was shooting at whom and why they were doing it. There's a random masked character who is decapitated (oh, spoiler alert), and I didn't have a clue who that was even supposed to be or what side he was on.
A dope 80's score, a shocking twist, and a touching scene involving a guy and a horse nearly save the day.