Harry and Tonto

1974 dramatic comedy

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Harry is a retired public educator and widower living in New York City with his cat Tonto. After he's mugged for the fourth time in a year and his apartment building is torn down, he moves in with one of his sons. It doesn't work out well, so he travels across the country with his cat, stopping every once in a while to meet random people or engage in disturbing acts of bestiality with Tonto.

Chief Dan George is the best thing about any movie that he is in. Harry meets him in prison, and I laughed twice during their encounter. "What are you in for?" "Peeing." "Oh. I once was ticketed for shitting." And also when Chief Dan George's character exchanges a medicine man cure for bursitis for Harry's underpants.

This meandering episodic movie doesn't really deliver humorously, dramatically, or philosophically and seems very much a product of 1974. There's nothing wrong with it, and I like movies where people (even really old people) embark on pointless excursions, but this just sort of starts, bubbles a little bit, festers, grows mold, palpitates, and then ends. None of the characters he meets really seem interesting enough to pay attention to. The acting is ok in this, but it's interesting to me that Art Carney beat out Nicholson, Pacino, and Hoffman (Chinatown, Godfather II, and Lenny, the latter which I have not seen) for best actor. I wasn't thinking "best actor" while watching this. Admittedly, I might be biased. I don't like cats. If Harry had a pet monkey or traveled around the country with a midget, I think I would have liked it a lot better.

Here I am watching Harry and Tonto:

Wicked City

1992 Japanese sci-fi romance

Rating: 4/20

Plot: I have no idea. There's some kind of war between monsters and people, and there's a Romeo/Juliet type relationship between a female monster and a member of the anti-monster squad. Tentacles and trippiness. There's a liquid monster and a woman who can turn into an elevator and a motorcycle and a man/monster who seems to be making love to a pinball machine. The monsters are trying to get everybody addicted to a drug called Happiness, and the world is blue tinted.

This was a really painful movie-watching experience. Wall-to-wall special effects mayhem, unhinged and bizarre. Obviously, this is the product of a disturbed mind. Either that or direct from the mind of an autistic child. I couldn't stop wondering if I was watching an episode of the Power Rangers or something slightly worse and more obnoxious than the Power Rangers. This movie was so ugly and loud. It was also 90 minutes of a pattern--bizarre action sequence that doesn't make sense followed by dialogue that supposedly explains the plot but that actually doesn't make sense followed by another bizarre action sequence that doesn't make sense followed by more dialogue that supposedly explains the plot but that actually doesn't make sense, etc. I would like to meet somebody who likes this movie just so I can rip off one of their nipples. It should also be noted that this movie made my dog extremely uncomfortable. Based on a comic book that should probably be burned.

Here I am enjoying Wicked City:

The Proposition

2005 cowboy movie

Rating: 12/20

Plot: A portly English guy captures half of the Burns brothers, a gang that has been terrorizing a community somewhere in Australia. That English gentleman, Captain Stanley, is going to civilize this land if it kills him! Aborigines, outlaws, and lawmen shoot at each other in hell. Nick Cave moans and fondles himself as characters show off his big big words. Stanley gives the best looking of the brothers the proposition the film is named after--he has until Christmas to capture his other two brothers or his younger brother will be hanged by the neck until dead in a festive celebration that all good Christians would surely enjoy. Charlie goes off on his horse to find the brother.

This isn't nearly as good as the films it imitates although it's entertaining, savagely violent, and bleak enough to be a serviceable western. The characters lacked character, and the plot wandered a little too pointlessly. I did appreciate the stark landscape and sets filmed beautifully and the violent effects were very well done, especially the gunfight at the very beginning and the scene with a spear going through a guy seconds before another guy gets half his head blown off. Nick Cave's screenplay is heavy stuff, but his only memorable line is probably the very last one of the movie. The score (Cave along with one of the Dirty Three) is silly. If there was one thing this movie needed a little more of, it's people urinating.

I urinated twice while watching The Proposition:


2005 comedic "horror"

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Jean is returning from a journey in which he has buried his mother, a woman who spent the last few years of her life in an asylum. Jean himself is haunted by nightmares of being institutionalized by bulbous bald men who grunt and approach him with a straightjacket. He befriends a marquis after destroying his room at an inn and is taken to the marquis' extravagant home. There, he eavesdrops on some kind of blasphemous orgy and is the butt of many practical jokes executed by the marquis and his tongue-less henchman. Following another nightmare, he agrees to stay at an asylum run by a friend of the marquis because he has hopes of saving a woman he believes is in trouble. Chickens abound, and Jean has to make choices about who can be trusted.

Ostensibly, this is a story Jan Svankmajer adapted from stories by De Sade and Poe. There's a lack of animation in the actual storytelling--only a shirt and a cupboard, I believe, both in dream sequences. There are stop motion animated scenes, all involving meat and/or chickens (which, I guess, are also meat) that work as interludes between scenes. Those, accompanied by this insane carnivalesque music, are brilliant as always. The live action stuff is just as brilliant, at times threatening to unravel into nonsensical surrealism but always retaining a central story line. The anachronistic scenery outside a carriage ride with the marquis, the marquis' "prayer" while he hammers nails into a plaster Christ, the "art therapy" at the sanotarium, the tarred-and-feathered doctors gathering up patients after their escape, the marquis and his friend positioning the inmates to make a tableau of Delacroix's "liberty" painting, the marquis' friend's collection of faux facial hair. . .great, memorable splashes of chaos. And of course all that animated meat. Really, can a movie with animated meat be bad? More grotesque than the director's promised horrific, and really more comical than anything else. Atmosphere + humor = the absurd = insane brilliance. Not as consistently great as Faust or Alice or, my personal favorite Conspirators of Pleasure, but great nonetheless. Long live Svankmajer!
Note: Svankmajer isn't dead yet. He has, however, announced that his next film will be his last. I did read that his son is now making movies though.

I'm made of meat:

The Pornographers

1966 Japanese drama

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A maker of erotic films lives with a woman and her two children. He occasionally sleeps with the woman although she becomes increasingly paranoid when her late husband, reincarnated as a large fish she keeps in a tank beside her bed, gets antsy. The son's a jerk, and the fifteen-year-old daughter, who could somehow be the protagonist's daughter as well, is a whore with a drinking problem. Or a drinker with a whoring problem. Regardless, he develops sexual feelings for her. The mother gets sick, and then everybody in the world gets sick.

Interesting imagery--scenes shot through water and fish and odd-angled cinematography--keep this visually interesting even when the plot gets bloated and overly complex and really pretty dull. A large number of scenes are shot from the outside through cracks in the doors or windows. That got annoying after a while, but it does make the experience more voyeuristic and uncomfortable. Conversations between off-screen characters starting to watch a movie at the beginning (they ask, "What's that fish doing there?") and finishing at the end bookend the film. Like a perverse soap opera at times, this was filled with interesting moments but at times tried my patience. I wonder how shocking this would have been to Japanese audiences in '66 though? Good final scene.

In a former life, I was a pornographic fish:

The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story

2003 documentary

Rating: 13/20

Plot: This is the story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd. Syd takes a lot of drugs, gets all crazy, and starts living someplace entirely different from where the rest of us live. The rest of Pink Floyd fall in love with lasers.

Ehhh. Some interesting archival footage, including video from Barrett's first LSD experience (?), some concert footage, and Robyn Hitchcock simultaneously making the audience uncomfortable (it's the blinking) and nailing "It Is Obvious." There's nothing enlightening here, and there's very little emotional pull. Instead, the story just plugs along monotonously, mostly through the memories of the other Pink Floyd members and a female narrator. I guess I didn't ever figure that Barrett played that backwards guitar on "Dominoes," and that makes that particular bit of that song just a little bit cooler. I've always been convinced that Barrett faked a lot of his mental illness to avoid the stresses involved with being a rock star, and this does nothing to change my mind.
Here I am, faking mental illness to avoid the stresses involved with being anything at all:

Don't Look Now

1973 psychological thriller

Rating: 18/20

Plot: Donald Sutherland and his wife are having difficulty getting over the death of their daughter. She drowned because they were too busy being pretentious. They get away to Venice, Italy, a place where they won't have any water to bring up memories or anything, and Donald takes on an ambitious church remodeling project. They meet weird sisters while dining, and the blind one claims to have seen the daughter and gives the couple a warning. Meanwhile, Donald Sutherland sees flashes of a red raincoat in the twists and turns of Venice's alleyways.

Profoundly creepy and thick with symbolism and strangely recurrent details, this based-on-Du-Marier movie is brilliantly executed. Creepy pacing, creepy imagery, creepy flashbacks, creepy Donald Sutherland's ass, creepy artistic shots, and most of all a creepy (and oddly vacant) Venice (seriously. . .doesn't anybody live there?) contribute to piece together something that sucks you in and then takes a bite out of you. A genuinely shocking ending. This seems less dated to me than other 70's horror classics, dated only, I think, by some of the music. I thought the acting was very good as the characterization (good) was mostly via gestures, glances, half-conversations. Roeg's virtuosic direction and meandering mystery make this required second viewing to spot the spots not originally spotted. Seemingly extraneous scenes morph into things sinister and profound thirty-seven minutes after the movie's ended. Such a simple, thick movie--a stylish toying of the spine. Dumb title though.

Note: This makes the tenth "midget" movie of the year. One out of every nine movies I watch has a midget? That seems either too high or too low. My wife thinks I watch movies for nudity. Maybe I watch for midgets!

Here I am wishing I had Donald Sutherland's hair:

Black Cat, White Cat

1998 cheerfully absurd fable

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Matko lives with his son Zare, and plots nefariously to get ahead financially. After some deal involving oil and a train goes horribly wrong, he owes money to the wrong person--big time gangster Dadan who sort of looks like a cross between Burt Reynolds and John C. Reilly. To pay his debt, he agrees to force his son to marry Dadan's last unmarried sister, a "grumpy midget" named Afrodita. Zare isn't happy. He has fallen in love with mischievous Ida and doesn't really want to marry a midget.

There's a completely out-of-place pop song in this with a gigantic beat, a male vocal that grunts "Pit bull!" and female vocals chanting "Terrier." The music is used almost like the theme song for the "bad guy" in this, and every single time it came on, I thought, "This is the best moment in movie history!" I pumped my fist thrice.

This is a sprawling and out of control and chaotic romantic comedy/gangster flick. So much absurd fun--a character obsessively watching, rewinding, and watching again the final minute of Casablanca; midget escape; love amongst the sunflowers; Matko trying to retrieve his briefcase from a murdered man (see below); a gypsy band tied to a tree; scenes showing a huge pig eating an automobile; a singer who can pull nails out of wood with her buttocks; lots and lots of animal love; fecal matter. The soundtrack is filled with wonderful traditional gypsy music, more than background music and nearly making this a musical. Unhinged gypsy comedy!

Here's a picture of the soundtrack and probably my favorite scene:

And here's a picture of me:

The Science of Sleep

2006 romantic fantasy

Rating: 13/20

Plot: Stephane, a mentally-challenged artist who frequently mixes up reality with his dreams and vice versa, returns to live with his mother in France after the death of his father in Mexico. He gets a job which he finds suffocating and falls in love with his neighbor. Life in the real world and Stephane's subconscious tangle, and the world is filled with puppets and cotton balls.

I really wanted to fall in love with this, but there was so much about it that was frustrating. It's a little too similar in feel and pace to writer/director Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but a lot more difficult to connect with, mostly because the main character is really annoying. There is fantastic stop-motion plushy and cardboard animation that gives the dream sequences an otherworldly (dreamy?) feel; otherwise, too much of this seems rambling and artsy-fartsy and way too cute to really like. The multilingual script was clever at times but also made things a little difficult for my tired mind to follow. I probably need to see it when I'm not sick. My views also might lack accuracy because I watched this with my eyes open and my heart closed.

Here I am, sick:

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

1947 romantic drama

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Mrs. Muir, a widow, moves into a pretty house on the shore despite the pleas of her befuddled in-laws. The former owner and soul currently residing in the house, the ghost of a saucy seaman, visits frequently to boss her around and growl saucy nothings into her ear. There's more sauciness (piles and piles of sauciness!) as she ghost writes an autobiographical novel. Then a real flesh 'n' blood jackass who, like L.L. Cool J. and Sir Mix Alot likes his women with big ole butts, comes along and steals Mrs. Muir's heart. The ensuing nutty love triangle is something that neither the Fat Boys or Salt 'n' Peppa would be able to adequately explain.

Melodramatism and 1940's acting got in the way here although this was certainly a pretty film--very crisp photography with some nice shadows and birds and landscape. The storytelling was clunky where it should have been soft, and too much artificial and soapy dialogue distracted from the poetic visuals. The repeated use of a golden phallic symbol (a telescope) offended me.

Here I am, as corporeal as I get:

Facing the Giants

2006 family football movie

Rating: 1/20

Plot: A struggling high school football program faces yet another losing season, much to the disappointment of the players, their parents, the administration, and the coach--a loser in his sixth year. He's not just a loser of a coach either. He drives crap, lives in crap, and, due to a problem with his junk, can't get his wife pregnant. His team, the Eagles, drop their first three games, and he finds out that people are conspiring to replace him. Rightfully so. He's a loser. However, when a soccer player with a crippled father and Jesus Christ Himself join the squad, everything changes.

When I found out that this was financed entirely by a Baptist church somewhere in George, I almost wanted to bump it up a few rating points. Then I remembered that I had just watched one of the most offensive movies I have ever seen in my entire life and kept the 1. This is so over-the-top religious (the central message seems to be that if you love Jesus and pray, you will get improbable football victories, brand new trucks, raises, and pregnancies) that it nearly seemed like a parody. Predictable, trite, sappy, sticky, cliched, and agonizing, this treats the viewer like an idiot and takes no prisoners in the war on common sense. There's a terrible script, acting that makes the script look even worse, and a feel that makes it seem like you're not only watching an after-school special but actually living one. There are twists and turns, but it's sort of like somebody saying, "I'm going to hit you in the head with a rolling pin," and then telling you that he was only kidding and won't hit you and then hitting you ten seconds later. The movie's plot twists aren't like that though. . .they are more like the 57th time when you know that you're going to get hit with the rolling pin even though he told you he wasn't going to hit you all because of what happened the previous 56 times. I did laugh a few times--once inappropriately (spoiler alert! nevermind. . . if you actually see this, you will know what is coming) when the kid with the crippled father gets ready to do exactly what you knew he would from the first moment his character was introduced while his father (are you ready?) stands up to cheer on his son. Simultaneously, God makes the wind stop blowing to make a field goal attempt a little easier. Nearly simultaneously, Jesus gets the coach's wife pregnant. Miracles, man! Actually, the true miracle is that God allowed this movie to be finished. God Himself would surely be offended at how his message has been bastardized. Seriously, if I see a movie this year that is worse than this one, I will take my own life before it's over. And if I ever get the opportunity to meet anybody involved in the production of this movie, I will spit on him relentlessly.

I was forced to watch this at school, so there isn't a real picture. I would have looked something like this though. (Special note: I have worn this tie 15 straight school days.)

Heaven and Earth Magic

1962 (?) animated dada

Rating: 17/20

Plot: Surrealistic and almost entirely plotless unless I'm completely missing something. Any plot this might have revolves around a guy having his gigantic watermelon stolen by a dog and becoming so distraught over the loss that he attacks the world with a hammer.

All black and white cut-up stop-motion and bizarre sound effects here--partly trippy, partly dreamy, partly minimalistic, partly dark and partly humorous. This Harry Smith, by the way, IS the folklorist Harry Smith, and I'm now completely fascinated by the guy. Apparently, Heaven and Earth Magic (really titled #12) was completed in 1957 as a six-hour film and then toyed around with until '62. Six hours of this? Seemingly nonsensical and completely random both with visuals and off-kilter sound effects, there are recurring images and ideas that sort of hold the thing together. Never fear though! There's mostly chaos--flying hammers, spinning torsos, wandering cows, dancing skeletal horses, disembodied faces, whirling gears, edible sheep. This has to be one of the most colorful black and white films I've ever seen. This is very Lynchian, and my mind was racing! Check it:

This was on my television!

Here I am, almost completely mesmerized:

Fast Food Nation

2006 drama

Rating: 10/20 (Jen: 7/20)

Plot: Greg Kinnear is a marketing guy for a fictional fast food chain. He's actually responsible for ideas leading to the invention of their best seller--The Big One. I should sue for copyright infringement actually since that's what I call what I got in my pants. Greg Kinnear finds out that there is cattle defecate in The Big One and travels to processing plant to check things out. Then he abruptly disappears from the movie and several subplots struggle to the surface and try to become main plots. Mexicans have sexual intercourse in a truck. Some cows die. Finally, a hero emerges, and nobody eats another cheeseburger from a fast food chain ever again.

Shocking stuff here. Fast food is apparently not very good for you or for anybody else. That's an important message that I'm sure everybody will listen to. Watching this was like being slapped repeatedly with cow parts. And that's not just because of one particularly brutal scene in the plant's "kill floor" either (a scene during which Jen had to avert her eyes). No, it was more heavy-handedness that was bludgeoning. This movie was really messy; we actually felt like we were watching a series of deleted scenes instead of an actual movie. The lack of central story or main characters (ensemble cast here) made this seem more like bad propaganda documentary making.

Jen and I lovin' it:

The Dinner Game

1998 French comedy

Rating: 13/20

Plot: A group of snobbish friends each bring a guest to a weekly dinner party/contest. The objective? To see who can bring the biggest idiot. Pierre thinks he's found himself a guaranteed victory with Francois, an accountant who enjoys making sculptures out of matchsticks and endlessly talking about them. Haughty Pierre throws his back out and ends up spending the evening with the bumbling Francois alone. The results are disastrous.

As funny as an above-average sitcom of Frasier with a well-constructed script that you at laugh at with a silent nodding of the noggin. I think I would have liked to see more idiots, but without that exposition, this made a nice and tidy mostly single setting farce. The jokes in this actually should have probably been more predictable, but this unfolded well enough and was an enjoyable 80 minutes. I liked the actor who played the idiot accountant.

Coincidentally, my name is French for "snotty jackass". Here I am:

Six-String Samurai

1998 neo-samurai spaghetti western comedy

Rating: 11/20 (Abbey, who's sick, watched a large chunk of this but refused to give it a rating. "I don't like it, and I don't want to watch it.")

Plot: Forty years after the Russians have taken over all of America with the exception of Las Vegas (that would be 1957 for those of you interested in history), a suave and calm and collected 50's throwback with busted glasses, a suit, a guitar, and a sword travels to take over the kingdom from none other than Elvis Presley. He stumbles upon an orphan (as he's being orphaned actually) who refuses to leave his side. They meet critters, fiends, cannibals, dirty astronauts, bowlers, Death and his posse, more rockabilly bands than you can shake a samurai sword at, and a large chunk of the Russian army along the way. Buddy is forced to fight and fight again as his relationship with the child grows in a way that makes everybody a little sick to their stomach.

This was Johnny Suede meets Kill Bill (both volumes!) meets a Tom and Jerry cartoon meets El Topo (kid + desert + umbrella) meets Mad Max meets Dr. Strangelove meets Fistful of Dollars meets Evil Dead II meets a strange Seventh Seal/"Devil Went down to Georgia" hybrid meets The Wizard of Oz meets Rambo meets an episode of the Power Rangers in a darkly comic rockabilly circus. So it should have totally worked! The reasons I didn't like it much (although I was entertained for 3/4 of the time; the rest of the time I was just wanting scenes to end) are the same reasons I didn't like Bubba Ho-Tep. There's just too much stupid here, along with too much of an effort to create a cult classic and a cult icon along the lines of an Ash in Evil Dead. He even had one-word one-liners very close to Bruce Campbell's "Groovy." Another midget appearance in this. If Leonard Cohen were a midget, this would make four in a row, I think. There were cool scenes and I did like the stark desert (another desert movie!) cinematography and some of the action sequences. The latter, however, did get a little monotonous. Buddy gets an angry look and jumps up in the air with his sword above his head. Buddy chops a bunch of people up. They don't bleed. Wild stuff here, but it just doesn't completely work.

Here I am, apparently ticking off Lucyfer because I'm in her spot:

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man

2005 documentary/tribute

Rating: 10/20

Plot: Leonard Cohen is lured from Mt. Baldy to hear praises sung from the lips of the likes of Bono and The Edge and Beth Orton and Antony (without his Johnsons?) and Jarvis Cocker and seemingly every single person who Rufus Wainwright is related to (except for Loudon). Hal Willner is at least partially responsible. Snippets of the legend's life are intertwined with live performances in which those inspired read his lyrics and make extraneous hand gestures. Leonard Cohen takes the microphone and, with the help of U2, runs through one of his biggest hits--"My $*#@ Got a Tasty @*$, Mr. Freezy" (censored for sensitive computers)--and is then allowed to return to Mt. Baldy so that he can reread the Bhagavad Gita, feed bits of sausage to injured birds, and start planning for his next record release (2012 or thereabouts).

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of a Leonard Cohen documentary, but this was pure reverence. Sure he deserves the praise, but I don't want to watch two hours of gushing. There was a shocking lack of anything even close to revolutionary. There was also far too much style--experiments with different cameras (I guess), an overuse of red bubble things, echoing. Considering the subject's lyrics, which to me have this wonderful complexity because they are so simple, the documentary style seemed out of place. The music wasn't bad, but it was tiring watching the performers reading the lyrics from a music stand. There was also a lack of variety in the performances, and Martha Wainwright makes me uncomfortable. Watching Cohen himself sing "Tower of Song" (even with Bono and The Edge) and talk was good. The fuzzy explanation of "Suzanne" and his line about no longer working on your own masterpiece and just living in the masterpiece we're in were interesting. Lack of details made this whole thing seem a little pointless. However, if you've been looking for a chance to watch Bono jizz all over his copy of Death of a Ladies Man, this is your shot.

No picture.

Rescue Dawn

2006 Vietnam War prison camp escape movie

Rating: 11/20

Plot: One of the Batmen has his plane shot down over Vietnam while on a top secret bombing run. Despite his brilliance in hiding beneath giant leaves, he's captured and tortured and sent to a prison camp. With Charles Manson and a few other scrawny, shaggy prisoners, he plots his escape.

The best thing about this was the foliage. There are some beautiful soft greens and jagged greens in this, and Herzog once again shows off an ability to shoot landscape that it's easy to take for granted. Unfortunately, this bloated piece of Hollywood drivel is atypical of Herzog and really disappointing because of it. It's got the music, the big name, the action, the humor, the dialogue, and everything else you can expect from a larger budget American war picture. Christian Bale gives what is probably the worst performance I have seen this year. All things considered. He made the dog who played Underdog look pretty good anyway. His stumbling performance and the uncharacteristic stumbling direction made this one a real disappointment. Werner Herzog needs to stick to movies that end with animals. This one has an animal doing a trick (scene with a dog) but it's in the middle of the movie. Previously, he made a documentary called Little Dieter Needs to Fly, so apparently Herzog feels a connection to this true-ish story. Either that or there was the promise of a big paycheck. These war prison escape flicks have been done so much before with much better results.

Note: Werner Herzog has apparently found himself a new midget.

Here's a picture of me being disappointed in this film:


2007 superhero movie

Rating: 3/20 (Dylan: 11/20; Emma: 20/20; Abbey: 19/20)

Plot: A disgraced police dog, fired from his bomb-sniffing job, winds up with superpowers (strength of elephants, speed of cheetahs, flight of eagles, digging abilities of whatever animal digs well, etc.) after a midget's lab experiment goes wrong. Or maybe the lab experiment works. He's adopted by a broken family and soon saves both the world and the relationship of the mega-talented Jim Belushi and his son.

There's no need to to see it. . .Underdog is shee-it.

Predictable jokes (seriously, you could have written this), lame effects (especially a scene involving a midget imitating the Attack of the Clones version of Yoda), a barrage of puns, the pillaging of cliches and concepts from every superhero movie imaginable, and a complete lack of anything even remotely clever transforms what was a fun enough cartoon into something obscenely glossy and completely offensive. This references Superman so much that it bordered on plagiarism. I seriously thought Underdog would have to fly around the world really fast to turn back time at some point in the movie. (Note: He does fly around the world once to catch a frisbee [Ha ha! Hilarious!] and leaves the earth's atmosphere during another scene.) Working as parody, this wouldn't have been a problem, but it's all pretty straight. The CG doggies couldn't act, and some of the humans were arguably worse. Characters were cardboard cut-outs--the hero who is a little unsure of himself and what to do with his powers (see: Spiderman), a father figure/ex-cop with a fractured ego, an evil scientist (a midget), a bumbling sidekick (Seinfeld's Puddy), love interests for both the dog and the kid (love interests who, of course, have to be incredibly stupid to not realize that Sunspot or whatever the hell the dog's name is just coincidentally looks a little like the dog flying around saving people), bullies. Of course, the whole thing ends with a bang during the credits (right after the hilarious bloopers. . .that's not overdone or anything) with an Underdog rap song. When movies are this bad, I generally say that people's careers should have ended. People's lives should have ended with the release of this one.

Note: Talking animals (real ones...not puppets or animated animals) movies. Never been a good one and never will.

Note: One huge problem was Jason Lee, both voicing the title character and narrating his story. I couldn't stop thinking of what is fast becoming the worst sitcom currently on television.

Here I am:

Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?

2006 documentary

Rating: 11/20 (Jen: 11/20)

Plot: A 73-year-old truck drivin' moron buys a giant "ugly" painting at a thrift store to give to a friend. It wasn't clear, but I believe it was some sort of joke. She pays five bucks. While trying to sell said painting at a yard sale, a high school art teacher suggests that it could be a Jackson Pollock painting. Teri Horton and her son desperately look for somebody in the art world to help prove it's a Pollock while art historians and critics get all smarmy.

Apparently, this is an attempt by the filmmakers to prove that everybody involved with this is stupid. Well, a CSI-type art investigator seemed pretty bright. I liked him so much that I could pinch him! The art experts, especially Teri Horton, her broke son, their idiot drinkin' buddies, and the other art experts were all morons though. This documentary felt more like one of those Dateline shows. There was oppressive narration, sketchy information, and sort of a pointless meandering narrative that ends up unresolved. Too much seemed staged, and it was clear that those art experts had only pulled their heads out their own asses long enough to sound important. My very favorite staged moment was when one of the drinkin' buddies sang a country song, "The Ballad of Teri Horton and Jackson Pollock," that had to be 25 minutes long. There was also this attempt to cast a sentimental light on Teri Horton that I am far too cold to appreciate. Too much of her colorful character became grating, but this was interesting enough as a glimpse into the assholery of the art world.

Not to give anything away, but decisions made by this woman really make me want this not to be a Pollock. In fact, I really hope it was one of the paintings done in the Pollock biopic with Ed Harris from a few years ago.

Jen and I watching Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?:

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

1964 romantic musical

Rating: 16/20 (Jen: 17/20)

Plot: A poor mechanic from Cherbourg, apparently a magical land where everybody sings every word they utter, is in love with a 17-year-old slut who works with her mother at a shop that sells umbrellas. It rains a lot, but the mother and daughter are still faced with financial problems. The mechanic, Guy, has problems of his own as he worries about his dying godmother and tries to get in Genevieve's pants. He succeeds but subsequently gets word that he has to go away with the army for two years. Genevieve, pregnant, catches the eye of a wealthy man with a moustache, and even though she's damaged goods, he also wants to get in her pants. Her mother encourages it. Time passes, and more umbrellas are purchased.

Not for every taste. Indeed, every line in the movie is sung. (Quick The People's Tongue reference: Music is by Michael Legrand who TPT sample on Sonny Bono's Favorites. The Tiny Tim song, I think.) Having to read everything that is sung almost becomes too much, and the story starts out so melodramatically dull. Turns out there's enough interesting edges to the plot, at least in an adult way. The best thing about the movie, however, is the vibrant colors and lovely shots. There are a lot of umbrellas, too. In fact, there are probably more umbrellas in this hour and a half film than there are f-words or variations of the f-word in The Big Lebowski. The worst thing about this movie is that it's an inspiration for Down with Love (8/20) and Across the Universe (9/20). Almost overly peachy and cheesy and ultra-lively (swooning camera and gaudy wallpapers and mad walk-on choreography), this one stays in the "good" range by remaining completely original and, I'll admit it, moving. Jen and I took turns singing the subtitles and the trivialities that make their way into the lyrics do seem funny at times, but there's at least one of those trivialities that really grabbed me.

Special note: After I finish writing and directing my sequel to The Diary of Anne Frank, I may tackle a sequel to this one in which Francois and Francois meet in college, fall in love, and birth mutants.

Jen and I are in love. Here we are watching one of her picks:

Eyes Wide Shut

1999 drama

Rating: 37/20

Plot: A well-known scientologists attempts to convince the world that he is not a homosexual. Everybody ends up naked. Masks are worn. Furniture is abused.

Ok. First off, I have to make it clear that this one doesn't actually count toward the 365. The host of a weekly poker game inexplicably put it on while we played, and even though I was facing the right direction and watched quite a bit of it between hands, it didn't have enough of my attention to really give it a fair rating. It's as mysterious and creepy and sensual and audacious and beautifully shot as I remember it. It also still seems unfinished though, like Kubrick never got a chance to edit the thing. When I saw this the first time, it was a little before I had started obsessively rating movies. I'll have to watch it within the next couple years to give it a number. Or maybe six or seven times.

Special note: This is a weird movie for me to sort of watch with a bunch of guys. All my attempts to discuss the cinematic value of Eyes Wide Shut were met with comments like "Nicole Kidman's got a nice tail" and "Look at him pound that one". To be completely honest, however, that guy was really pounding that one.

There is not a picture of me watching this artsy-fartsy parade of flesh.

The Hills Have Eyes

1977 horror

Rating: 6/20

Plot: A family of idiots take their dogs and blue jean shorts on vacation to the desert. They befriend cavemen and have a squelching contest. The little guy wins, and a rudimentary medal is fashioned out of tin foil and stickers in the shape of stars. Everybody gets confused when they wake up on the seventh day and find a fax machine inside of shopping cart inside of a giant leather box inside of a shack. The family and cavemen decide to go to family counseling to work on some of their problems.

At least I laughed twice. This is a poor excuse for a cult classic. I expected creepiness (or something!), but the only thing scary was how bad the acting was. Well, that and the whiny guy's short shorts. I thought the performance of one of the dogs (Beast) was really good. In fact, this should have been more like a Lassie rip-off and centered on the dog. Woof! Woof! "What's that, Beast? Pa's being crucified by some dirty inbreds? Lead the way, boy!" Credit has to be given to this for a couple scenes which very obviously inspired the Home Alone movies. Not the first one though. Not even the second one. We're talking the third movie. I think it was called Home Alone III. The guy on the poster, by the way, has nipples that are at least three times the size of my nipples. He puts my nipples to shame! He's not the same guy who was in Goonies. I looked it up. He was in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest before he played Caveman 2 in this movie. He also played the devil in Highway to Heaven (Satan has big nipples. That's Biblical.)and was in an episode of Alf. Alf should have been in this movie as a matter of fact. Actually, the whole film would have benefited by having puppets. I know there was already a remake of this recently, but I'd like to see a remake with an all-puppet cast. Maybe the Muppets? Beaker and that bald scientist, Gonzo, that weird eagle guy, Animal (of course!), and Dr. Teeth can be the cannibal cavemen. The other Muppets can be the vacationing family. Kermit can sing a reflective song called "It's Not Easy Having Your Dog Eaten" and there can be a brutal scene where Miss Piggy is raped by Animal while Dr. Teeth bites the head off the family bird.

Replace these two with those two and you've got a movie!

Here I am wondering what a baby would taste like:

Buffalo 66

1998 dramatic comedy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Billy Brown, an exceptional bowler with a pair of fancy red shoes, makes an ill-advised bet on a Superbowl game and loses money he doesn't actually have. To pay off the debt, he pleads guilty to a crime he didn't commit and spends five years in the slammer. Upon his release, he decides to see his folks, and he kidnaps a young dance student to pose as his wife to take to their house. They're impressed! His real plans for the evening, however, involve murder-suicide as he plots to shoot the field goal kicker who ruined his life.

With only one exception, movies with bowling can't be bad. Another one-man show (Gallo stars, scores, and directs), at least partially autobiographical. Not sure which part that would be though. I was surprised at how emotionally connected I was despite really hating the protagonist for the first half of the movie. That protagonist turned out to be such a complex figure, however, and in the end was almost impossible not to like. I especially liked Christina Ricci in this (especially in a scene involving one of those novelty picture-taking booths), and I don't normally like her too much. To me, this had a Jarmusch feel, especially in the dialogue and in the unnatural ways that almost all of the characters (all but the doughnut guy) act, but that might just be because of similar budgets. Nearly teared up.

Note: 2nd best 1998 movie that Ben Gazzara acted in.

Here I am, reminiscing about the time when I nearly bowled a perfect game but ended up with a score of 136 instead:

Rocket Science

2007 dramatic comedy

Rating: 6/20

Plot: As a really unlikable narrator explains, the fairly unlikable protagonist, stuttering Hal Hefner, has self-esteem and social problems because of his speech impediment. And, tragically, it is impossible for him to order pizza at his school cafeteria. His home life, due to the unlikable characters who make up his little family, also stinks. He meets an even less likable character who recruits him for the debate team. He's reluctant but likes her butt and therefore joins the team. She quickly becomes even more unlikable, even making Hal more difficult to like at the same time. Some other things happen, all in sequential order. The movie begins to morph into a full-fledged after-school special, and the viewer (this one at least) felt threatened. Then Hal has to find another really unlikable character to help him out. Then the movie thankfully ends.

Angst! Angst! Angst! I just had angst thrown at my face! Rocket Science works hard to be Noah Baumbach and fails miserable. Every line falls flat, although I will admit that I did almost laugh out loud during a scene involving a cello and smiled during a scene involving the kama sutra), and the story, instead of wandering artistically, sort of (pun intended!) stutters along and never gets anywhere at all. It's a movie that seems completely unsure of itself. It doesn't congeal thematically either, but that only amounts to a small percentage of the frustration. There's the oppressive soundtrack, terrible acting, desperate reaching for quirk to make up for lack of actual good writing (or maybe to have something to hide all the cliches behind), and the teen angst theme that just seems overcooked. The soundtrack featured two songs by the Violent Femmes for God's sake, probably because nothing says teen angst like "Blister in the Sun". When you factor in a main character who is not only in every single scene but stutters and a plot that has a lot to do with debating, it all adds up to something pretty terrible.

Here I am, offended by this pointless crap: