Plot: Piano virtuoso (but only when he plays with his penis) Kiroku attends an Okayama middle school in 1930's Japan. He falls in love with Michiko, the daughter of a Catholic family who lives in the same house. Perhaps to hide his true feelings and his frequent unwanted erections, he focuses on picking fights with gangs and trying his best to break rules at school. He's expelled and moves away where he continues to pine for Michiko's piano.
This is more Seijun Suzuki, but it's such a different Seijun Suzuki that you might not even realize it. There's some flashes of Suzuki flare (most notably, a classroom scene and some shots that really couldn't have been anybody else's). I absolutely loved the comic fight scenes, completely baffling and unrealistic. Apparently, this is a satirical look at the youth of 1930's Japan, but I'm not nearly intelligent enough to "get" all that. This might not be as exciting as the other Suzuki movies I've seen, but it's worth the time.
Plot: Bertram Potts is one of eight professors working on an encyclopedia. Potts, who specializes in language, is working on an article about slang, but he doesn't know anything about it. He ventures out to find experts and comes across a nightclub singer who has ties to the mob. She initially refuses his request to help him with his slang article, but once she finds out the police are after her, she decides to hide out with Potts and his colleagues. She disrupts things.
Cute enough but too old-fashioned. There were times I almost wanted to laugh, but I would have had to laugh so politely that my wife would have suspected that I had become a homosexual. The writing isn't bad at all, but it's more clever than funny. Gary Cooper wasn't believable as the studious nerdy type, and none of the gangsters were very believable either. I did like Stanwyck's character, but during the second half of the movie, she either became a prop or just wasn't around much. This also suffers from having that 30s/40s tendency to tidy everything up, and mostly unrealistically make everything turn out happily. My biggest gripe, however is that if you're going to make an updated version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, you've got to include midgets. There's not a midget to be seen in this one.
This was another Cory recommendation.
Plot: It's a psychedelic eastern western love triangle! With spurts of blood! Dum and Rumpoey are childhood soul mates, but Rumpoey's father, the governor doesn't approve and arranges a marriage with policeman Kumjorn. Captain Kumjorn's got issues with a local gang led by the ruthless Fai. Dum, better known as Black Tiger, happens to be in that gang. Meanwhile, a jealous gunslinger in Fai's gang looks for a way to get rid of the Black Tiger and his stinkin' harmonica.
It's certainly a unique movie, borrowing from Leone and colorful Asian films and apparently Warner Brothers cartoons to create something that is simultaneously touching, action-packed, and cartoonishly goofy. Juggling all that isn't easy though, and the initial awe and novelty wears thin, especially during lengthy flashback scenes. The dizzying action, the use of painted backgrounds (see above), the cornball choreography of the gunfight scenes, and the gorgeous set pieces are terrific. But was it apparently too difficult to maintain. The dialogue is (probably deliberately) hokey, and the characters are (also probably deliberately) nothing more but character types, but this works as both parody and entertainment and is a lot of fun to watch if you've got a high tolerance for cheese. Peckinpah blood in a kaleidoscopic Old West. I'd definitely see it again!
Plot: The Kuroda tribe seeks the wandering assassin's services and sends five representatives to challenge Itto to a fight. Defeated one-by-one, they reveal a piece of information required to accomplish the task and 1/5 of his payment. Then, he goes out and chops some heads off.
With a convoluted plot and a weird and strangely detached subplot involving Itto's son, this one appeared early to be the weakest of the series. It's saved by an absolutely brutal display of sword frenzy at the end as well as the earlier typically-great fight scenes. That climax though. Whoa, Nelly! The over-the-top bloodfest brought out both a laugh and a fist-pump, and that's really all a guy can ask for on Samurai Friday. Some funky camera angles are used in a scene that is otherwise a whole lot like that House of Blue Leaves scene in Kill Bill. A gripe: it seems like these films came out pretty rapidly which on the one hand enables the kid playing Daigoro to play him in each installment but on the other hand makes me wonder what this could have been with a little more time put into it. It's great stuff, but at times, there's some sloppiness. One more of these to go, and from the preview on this dvd, it looks like it can be summed up in two words--ninjas skiing. Booyah!
Plot: Wannabe writer Zorg (?) and his title girlfriend struggle to make their relationship work despite financial troubles and the latter's mental illness. He gropes her and wanders around naked. She gets groped and walks around naked. Their travels take them from a seaside community where Zorg (?) works as a handyman to a town where they work at a pizzeria and finally to a new town where they run a piano store. She goes crazy, probably from all the excessive groping. Zorg!!
The French certainly have no problem with male full-frontal nudity. Maybe they should? I don't know about the theatrical version, but this director's cut seemed endless. The biggest problem for me is that it's like the makers of this couldn't decide what they wanted it to be, and so what it ends up being is whimsically tragic which just comes across as completely artificial. There were definitely things that were well done (I almost Freudian typo'd "well hung"), but overall, this just fails to add up to much of anything. Some beautiful things to look at (Betty Blue's breasts are all over the place!), but so much of the three hours just seemed extraneous. The length of Betty Blue sort of drains the life out of it. It's also that type of movie that actually has an odor. Literally! I never want to see this movie again. And please don't mention it to me.
Plot: Tough guy Jo joins two rival gangs Yojimbo-esquely in order to solve the mystery of the death of a pal and maybe avenge that death. Violence ensues.
This is the first of Suzuki's incomprehensible yakuza films, and it's cool that he came out swinging. It's more comprehensible than Branded or Drifter, but there's still enough flamboyance and visual flare here to make it completely obvious that it came from the mad mind of this one-of-a-kind director. Very 60's and very stylish (almost Bondish), Suzuki's got an eye for color and physical geometry. A final gunfight in a tortured setting, one in which our hero finds himself at an early disadvantage, and a much earlier scene involving a one-way glass and complete silence are so ingeniously shot that it gave me wood. Literally! Shapes within the sets are also used to frame characters or physically display the conflicts. Tricky? Sure. But it makes for a fun and fancy free violent romp that I'm sure Tarantino loves. Oh, and like the main guy in Branded to Kill, it looks as if this one might also have cheek implants. What the hell? I'm adding a cheek implant label in case I see Branded to Kill or Eraserhead or Alvin and the Chipmunks or U-Turn any time soon.
Plot: Ten separate stories, one for each of the Ten Commandments. Narrated by Paul Rudd while struggling with the "adultery" commandment.
Poop! This is nowhere near consistently funny and is probably very close to what the writers of Saturday Night Live would come up with if television could be R-rated after 11:30. Gay jokes, poop jokes, prison rape jokes, ventures into the childishly absurd. There are funny bits, and I'm almost ashamed to say that I did laugh out loud a few times. Now, however, I can't remember what I could have possibly laughed about though. I will say that this will be worth wasting the 90-plus minutes if seeing Winona Ryder have sex with a ventriloquist dummy is something you've always wanted to see. It was definitely on my list! Poop!!! LOL!
Plot: Guy Maddin (the movie's director), summoned by his dying mother, returns to the island on which he grew up in order to paint the lighthouse his parents used as both an orphanage and a laboratory for bizarre experiments with anti-aging treatments. While painting, he reminisces about his childhood on the island--the overbearing mother's suppers, his faceless father's tinkerings, his first love, his sister's first love, the tics and twitches of his friend Neddie, and other bizarre happenings.
A fantastically and grotesquely unique offering from Canadian Guy Maddin. It's like a silent movie that would have driven 1920's audiences completely insane and likely kick-started an even Greater Depression. Vomit-inducing jump cuts, obscene camera angles, general fuzziness. It's a singularly odd effort, an oddness that is difficult to sustain in a movie that might be a little too lengthy for its own good. This thing toured (tours?) with guest narrators (Isabella Rossellini is the default narrator on the dvd, but I couldn't pass up the Crispin "Hellion" Glover option!), sound effects guys, an orchestra, and even a castrato. That'd be a hoot! Too bizarre for most tastes, but I really like this guy's voice. Spazzy montages set the mood; images melt into poetry and struggle to tell a tale or two. The title cards and the narration ("Good for dippin'" and "What's a suicide attempt without a wedding?") are very funny, especially when they completely clash with the imagery. And Katherine Scharhon, who plays young Guy's love interest Wendy and the alter-ego detective Chance Hale, needs to be in every single movie. To date, this is her only role. It's not a movie. It's an experience!
Plot: Philip Marlow's stuck in the 1970's with his cat. After a desperate search for the right cat food, he helps a friend in need get to Mexico. This sets off a chain of events that forces surly Marlow into situations he'd probably rather not be in. Or maybe he doesn't really care all that much.
This is a quirky and misanthropic movie that is more Beat the Devil than The Big Sleep. Seems to be directed by Altman in a bad mood, a guy disgusted by people, 1970's America, Raymond Chandler, movies, and really anything else. It's just got that vibe. Having said that, it's still a really entertaining character study, and Gould does a great job creating that sort-of overblown stock character, almost like a caricature more than a believable actual living and breathing person. It's also a very funny movie. Not funny enough to laugh at though. Not ha-ha funny. I didn't LMAO. Odd, drifting movie with some smallish but really memorable scenes (the bottle, the suicide) and minor characters hovering around the lunatic fringe. It's definitely the type of movie that grows with subsequent watchings which, according to my father, is one thing that makes a movie really great. Along with Gould, I really liked the performance of Sterling Hayden as the writer. A mute Arnold Swarzeneggar is also in this, but I don't think it predates Hercules in New York as his first film role.
If a guy is trying to watch 365 movies in one year and is falling further and further behind, does he get to count a movie that he already watched once this year but was forced to watch again yesterday as it was played at his school to reward the students for their uninspiring mediocrity during the first grading period of the school year?
I think I'm going to have to count it.
Plot: Following an expedition to Venus (which as all you astronomers know is 20 million miles away from earth), astronauts crash land off the coast of Sicily. Some fishermen and an annoying little boy come to the rescue, but all but one of the astronauts perish. That lone survivor manages to escape with only a scratch on his arm. Later, the annoying little boy discovers a giant (plastic?) tube of green slime. He does the smart thing--opens it, plays with it, and sells it to an old man with lots of cages. Havoc ensues when the Venus creature begins to rapidly grow and threaten to destroy Rome. Oh, snap!
Hokey dialogue, very obvious blue/green screen effects, an incomprehensible disregard for science (and common sense), and a plot parallel to King Kong in far too many ways. . .all overshadowed by the awesome stop-motion effects of Harryhausen as the giant lizard thing busts through walls and bridges and wrestles with people and elephants. Sure, I'll continue preaching that special effects can not make a bad movie good. I can live being Mr. Double-Standard. I'll take these stop-animation effects over CGI and other modern tricks any day! My biggest gripe: My hope that the monster would fight Chuck Norris near the end of the movie left me slightly disappointed. Was that a faux-Wilhelm in there? Fun, fun movie.
Plot: Powder-blue suited Tetsu follows his boss into the straight life but meets obstacles everywhere he steps, namely an old rival gang. Oh, snap! He decides to drift, leaving his girlfriend and his father figure of a boss behind. Then things get complicated.
Suzuki was fired by his studio for making "incomprehensible" movies. This incomprehensible movie's got lots of stylized action and a genius eye for color, stuff that could make Tarantino stick his hand down the front of his pants never to be seen again. The soundtrack, which apparently consists of a single song, is oppressive, but with a wry humor and unique vision, this thing's really fun to watch. Loved the loads of goofiness in that climactic dance club scene. I do prefer Branded to Kill though.
Plot: A raunchy movie's foul language corrupts the youth of America. Mothers fight back by putting a series of events in motion that lead to America declaring war on Canada. Meanwhile, Satan and Saddam Hussein await the final sign of the apocalypse so that they can rule the world together. Oh, snap! The South Park children (minus the one that always dies) have to act fast to save the world from Satan. And censorship!
A lot of this is timeless satire although this movie won't ultimately have the staying power of a Duck Soup or Weekend at Bernie's II. I prefer Parker and Stone's Team America, a movie I've yet to find another fan of. There are lots of clever moments and tons of really stupid ones in this, but nobody can deny that the songs are genius. I won't be able to get "Uncle F*cker" out of my head for weeks.
I own this movie. What I really wanted to watch wouldn't work on the laptop. Not that I'm making excuses.
Plot: A lynch mob surrounds an interracial couple and Bob Valdez, a sheriff who is actually attempting to bring the conflict to a resolution via words instead of bullets, ends up shooting the husband in self-defense. After finding out that this black man was wrongly accused anyway, Valdez attempts to gather some funds to give to the widow. Tanner, the cat who wants to marry the woman who was married to the man who was killed by somebody who was not that black guy who Valdez killed (Oh, snap!), rejects Valdez's plea for 100 dollars. Tanner and his men actually humiliate and torture Valdez instead. Our hero find that he must resort to violence and kidnapping to get what he wants.
Burt Lancaster is a real presence in this. Valdez Is Coming is far from perfect, but it is very entertaining and contains a really great (maybe frustratingly great) ending. But it's really Lancaster's movie, and he makes a better Mexican than even Charlton Heston! A bit of an atypical, oddball western, but definitely one worth seeing.
Plot: Dan Freeman becomes the CIA's first black agent by mixing an Uncle Tom 'tude, his natural athletic ability, his intelligence, and more than a little hard work. Little do they-who-sort-of-wanted-integration know, Freeman was simply absorbing the training so that he could train young angry black men and put a little scare into whitey. Oh, snap! It's war!
Well, it's a conversation starter, I guess. Not a very slick production and far too much talking for an action movie, but it's still a fascinating thing to watch. There's such a hostility. I bet this was absolutely terrifying to white American upon its release. I liked the parallels between Freeman's training and his subsequent training of his own "agents," and I did think some of the action scenes were well filmed, especially given what must have been a B-movie budget. Editing was needed though as some of the scenes were superfluous and a lot of the character development completely pointless. If this movie had Dolemite in it, by the way, it would have been one of the best movies of the 70's!
Plot: An ambitious businessman moves into a growing town in the American Northwest with the hopes of opening up his own brothel/gambling facility/eatery. A high-class and business-savvy prostitute comes along and makes him a proposition. Together, they open up and operate the finest house o' whores (The International House of Whores) them parts had ever seen. All's good until Wal-mart sends some of its thugs to buy out McCabe. After they make him a few offers that he can refuse, they move on to Plan B that involves sending a halfbreed in a goatskin coat, a giant, and a kid to kill him. Oh, snap!
Love this movie. The Cohen soundtrack (really, just three repeated songs), the poetic violence, the writing, the acting, the continually evolving set (the town was built as they filmed), the atmosphere. It's all great. There are only a few movies I can think of that have such a consistent tone--the colors, the impending sense of doom, a damp heaviness. I'm reminded of last year's There Will Be Blood actually, both with that consistent tone and the themes involving business, religion, and drinking milkshakes. Both Warren Beatty and Julie Christie were great, but I also love all the typical fringe characters who brought nuances and texture to the little brown town. As expected, Altman drops the American western on its head, and the result is something that left me speechless. Knowing Altman can do no wrong, I think I need to give second chances to Brewster McCloud and maybe Gosford Park.
Plot: Following her release from a prison sentence, lesbian Corky gets a job as a maintenance lesbian in building. She meets lesbian Violet, the wife of a mafia guy. They concoct a plan to steal 2 million dollars in mafia money, but not before they engage in lots and lots of lesbianism.
Wachowski Brothers' first flick certainly has some neat gimmicks but suffers from having the general generic feel and look of an after-school special. A really graphic after-school special. There are moments that are bearable, but the acting of Jennifer Tilly is simply unbearable. Lots of unintentionally funny moments apparently result when you give Jennifer Tilly really bad lines to read. Gina Gershon isn't much better, and I suspect most of the problem is that the dialogue is so terribly written. Joe Pantoliano is pretty Joe Pantolianoish and as entertaining as he usually is, but there's so much dopeyness around him. It doesn't help that the whole thing looks like an excuse to show some cheap lesbian action. It's better than that last Matrix movie though.
Plot: Interviews and career synopsis of Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Some fascinating tidbits and footage, especially the scenes from the "Panic Movement" stuff and the artwork for the abandoned Dune project. The documentary, unfortunately, is a real mess from the get-go and really takes a self-indulgent turn at the 3/4 mark and spirals aimlessly for what seems to be 2 and 1/2 hours before thankfully ending. Any interview/documentary that starts with the subject being asked "Who are you?" is bound to be pretentious although there's a definite fanboy idol worship going on with filmmaker Louis Mouchet. Nothing all that revealing, but it's an ok introduction to Jodorowsky.