Plot: Ari can't remember much about his experiences in the 1982 Lebanon War. He finds various friends and combat peers and interviews them, gradually piecing together enough memories to complete a picture of his dark past.
This is a stunning animated documentary. The quiet, reflective narration of director Ari Folman combines with apocalyptic, hallucinatory imagery so well here. I imagine what I felt as I watched the memories unfold is close to what Ari Folman felt as he lived the experiences, and that in itself is impressive. It takes a little while to get used to the unique animation style (a conglomeration actually with mostly cut-outs), but once I did, I had no problem feeling the pictures. It's like watching a series of somebody else's nightmares. There are tiny details (shadows, slight gestures, subtle movements) that make the scenes incredibly poignant. The use of animation freeing up the director to explore his memories in such a visually unique way succeeds in making it all look exactly like dreamy, half-forgotten memories should look. There's really some unforgettable stuff throughout this; the frightening beginning and haunting ending that bookend are especially powerful. I also liked the soundtrack by Max Richter who, after hearing The Blue Notebook a few years ago, I decided would be good at just this sort of thing. Waltz with Bashir definitely isn't an easy watching experience (as a matter of fact, it's pretty devastating), but it's an artistic triumph and well worth checking out.
Recommended by Cory.
Plot: Some archaeologists digging around in the desert sands of Arizona discover an odd half-man/half-something-else skeleton. Immediately, they start brawling. One of the men scrapes his leg on the skull of their discovery, and while recuperating in the hospital, he transforms into a werewolf. Later, other characters who already sort of look like werewolves being to show signs of lycanthropy. An evil archaeologist might be responsible.
False advertising! I was so ready to watch Joe Estevez in another award-worthy performance, but he only a minor character in the first quarter of the movie. Oh well. This still qualifies as a really good bad movie. I was really confused by the nationalities of some of these people. What I initially thought was just extremely awkward, stilted acting turned out to be the result of casting the inhabitants of some unidentifiable foreign land, most likely a land where emoting or facial expressions have been outlawed. The woman archaeologist seems either bored out of her mind or confused throughout the movie, and, like Jimmy Stewart or Vincent Price, the simplest tasks seem difficult for her to pull off in a way that makes her look like a normal person. The evil archaeologist not only has a thick accent but also has this strange intensity that makes nearly everything he says laughable. My favorite character is a Santa Claus militia man who gets all the best lines and nearly steals the movie. The wolfman special effects range from mildly humorous to uproariously abysmal. The wolves sometimes look like tiny Sasquatch, sometimes like bears, and sometimes like dollar store Halloween masks fashioned into a kind of filthy puppet. There's also a really weird soundtrack, odd cello music that never really seems to fit right. It's all awfully silly stuff. Just don't watch it expecting to see a lot of Joe Estevez.
Rating: 11/20 (Jen: 7/20)
Plot: Poor Lane Meyer. His girlfriend Beth has dumped him for his skiing rival. He's left with one choice--to kill himself. Unfortunately for him, he's not very good at it. Unfortunately for us, it's not very funny. Things start turning around for him when he meets a French exchange student and gets a chance to race against his rival.
There's a lot of quirkiness here. There are crazy paperboys, Asian drag racers, stop-animated hamburgers. Although these bits actually might make the movie more entertaining, they also distract, almost as if they were thrown into the movie so that the audience won't notice how bad it is. This is definitely stuck in the mid-80's. A few clever ideas (the failed suicide attempts not really being one of them) don't add up to much here, probably because they have to peak their heads out from underneath a predictable, cliched story and predictable, cliched characters. I don't know why I watched this. I was going to give this a bonus point because Curtis "Booger" Armstrong was in it, but I had already deducted a point during the opening credits because the director's name is Savage Steve Holland. Then, I looked up Savage Steve Holland and noticed that his breakthrough was animating the Whammy on the game show Press Your Luck and gave the bonus point right back.
Rating: 17/20 (Jen: 13/20)
Plot: A couple guys who would later go on to make a little movie called King Kong film jungle inhabitants (Kru and his family) in Siam. Their struggle for survival is threatened by leopards, tigers, and thousands of elephants. Luckily, mankind is smart and therefore always comes out on top in conflicts with nature.
Chang has a lot in common with Nanook. They're both adventure/survival documentaries taking place in lands the audiences would have no chance of visiting. They're both anthropological studies. They both contain some stunning footage of what man has to do in order to survive in the wild. However, there are some key differences. For one, Chang is made by actual filmmakers, so the shots, especially of the animals, are a lot better. There's really some excellent footage of jungle life in this, some which looks like it might have even been dangerous to capture. There are also more characters in Chang and, from the middle point on, more of a story. The way we see the animals is also completely different. In Nanook, the animals are nothing more than potential food. When the animals are on the screen, the focus is still on the human characters and what they're doing. In Chang, the animals are shown being animals, and it's amazing how some of them (monkeys mostly) even have some personality. I also think Chang is more entertaining than Nanook. Not a moment in this one drags and the scenes in which jungle folk tackle every day tasks don't get boring because not every single minute of those every day tasks are shown. I especially liked watching them construct booby traps. This probably can't be considered a true documentary because a large percentage of the scenes were obviously staged. It's almost like hours and hours of footage was shot and then reassembled as a story. But it's very well done and definitely worth seeing as both an early documentary and a prelude to King Kong.
Jen laughed uproariously several times while watching this and seemed especially entertained by a monkey. She also rooted for the elephants during the climactic elephant stampede scene. She didn't seem to like this very much but told me she had to bump it up a few points because it was really good for the 1950s. I'm not sure, but she might have been drunk again.
Plot: An evil undertaker transforms corpses into dwarfish slaves. Brothers Mike and Jody, along with a friendly ice cream truck driver, try to unravel the mysteries surrounding the mortuary and its very tall mortician.
I wasn't aware that that many people had sex in graveyards. I like movies that can teach you stuff. I expected to laugh my way through this and then write a review similar to Troll 2's. Even though I did laugh quite a bit at some really silly dialogue and no-budget effects and it does have an ending a lot like Troll 2's, there was a style and coolness to this that I couldn't ignore. Honestly, there were times when I thought this could have been the work of Kubrick. Thing is, writer/director Don Coscarelli does a whole lot with the nothing he's got to make this movie. There are some genuinely horrifying moments, admittedly more than a few of those figures-popping-onto-the-screen shockers that became so cliched but also a lot of moments that are scary because ominous and unsettling atmospheres are created. Nightmarish imagery and some creepy, though pretty amateurish music, set quite a tone here. And the lurching, omnipresent Tall Man played by Angus Scrimm (What a name!) is just as intimidating as any Jason or Freddy. Growling robed little people, twitching disembodied fingers, flying metallic spike balls, ice cream trucks, uncontrollable urination, illogical explosions. There's so much to love here! Now I've got to see about getting my hands on a copy of Phantasms II-XVII!
Note: This blog no longer uses the words midget, midget-esque, midgety, midgetacular, midgetry, extreme midget action, midget-cinema, midgetabulous, midgetploitation, or especially midget funk as the m-word apparently offends. I will still seek out movies with midgets and be entertained by midget funk but will, from this point on, use the words little people. I apologize for the inconvenience.
Plot: The secret Red Lotus Flower Society want nothing more than to get rid of the evil emperor. A tough guy is sent out to locate a list of the society's members, a list that includes the name of local kung-fu hero Fong Sai Yuk's dad. Fong Sai Yuk enters a kung-fu contest in which the prize is the daughter of a rich dude. Later, his mother, disguised as a man, fights the rich dude's wife in the same contest and the latter is smitten by her. Somehow, I'm making this sound more confusing than it actually is.
Oddly, the plot of this bit of tongue-in-cheek kung-fu mayhem isn't difficult to follow at all despite a variety of madcap goings-on. The plot doesn't matter much as there is enough wall-to-wall action to make you want to turn off the old mind anyway. High-flying wire work combines with a creative use of setting and props to make some sparkling fight choreography. It's violent, but until the climax, the violence isn't serious. You've got opponents balancing on the heads of the spectators, the superhuman abilities, some wacky gravity-defying nonsense. It's fun stuff. I also like the rapport between Jet Li and the woman playing his mother. An argument could be made that there was too much comedy in the beginning or that it got too serious in the end, but changing either side would have ruined the fun. A couple good fight scenes between Jet Li and the guy hunting down the list.
Plot: Old pious Morten had a farm. E-I-E-I-O. And on this farm, he had three sons. E-I-E-I-O. Agnostic Mikkel lives on the farm with his pregnant wife Inger and two daughters. Johannes is nuts, frequently wandering to the fields and announcing that he is the Messiah. And youngest son Anders wants to marry Anne, the daughter of a tailor who Morten doesn't like very much because of differences in their religious faiths. So they cluck cluck there, and they cluck cluck here. Here a cluck cluck. There a cluck cluck. Everywhere a cluck cluck.
Ordet (The Word) is a sneakily dense, slow-moving but intense look at religion, specifically the issue of faith. I didn't completely understand it. I really wish the differences between Peter the tailor and Morten's religious ideas were made a little clearer. Morten was a happy Christian while Peter was more of a depressed worshipper, but what does that mean exactly? This builds so slowly that I initially thought I was bored out of my mind. The camera moves slowly, the characters talk and move slowly, and the backgrounds are static and too gray even for a black and white film. But gradually, I was hypnotized by the thing, drawn into the characters' lives, so that when the pair of climaxes came, they were deep and meaningful whereas they might seem trite and meaningless if I just told you what they were. There's not a lot of camera movement, but when it happens, the movements seem so important. Really, there's something seemingly important about the lack of movements too, I guess. There's a focus on the characters, no setting distractions except for maybe the occasional lamp or picture, and almost nothing that can be described as action. It's that minimal quality that give the relationships and conversations the characters have this quiet intensity. The ending is powerful, but, at least for me, thematically perplexing. I was pretty sure I knew what the film was trying to say (again, re: faith), but the more I thought about it, the more I was confused about why the movie ended like it did. That ending was very well handled, however, with the same dreamy rhythm of the rest of the film, sans music, extraneous movements, or wasted emoting. I look forward to watching this again in another format (I had a vhs copy, so a Criterion release of this would be nice upgrade) to uncover some of the mysteries and symbols (a bird cage? candles and lamps? Johannes stick? the relationship of Anders and Anne as a marriage of religious ideas?) tucked inside it.
Recommended by Cory. And if you're reading this, R.D., I'd be interesting in hearing what you think about this one.
Rating: 14/20 (Jen: 10/20)
Plot: Earthlings discover Planet X, a new planet that seems dangerously close to Jupiter. They travel there, seemingly in a few days, to investigate and plant a goofy-looking flag. They meet the inhabitants of Planet X, underground mole people who speak in an eerie monotone that should have probably given away the fact that they were up to no good all along. They also, oddly enough, call their planet Planet X. Turns out that Planet X has a few problems. There's not enough water and a flying three-headed Ghidarah won't leave them alone. They ask the earthlings to lend them Godzilla and Rodan in exchange for a special medicine that can cure anything. But can the inhabitants of Planet X be trusted?
My expertise in Godzilla flicks is next-to-nothing, but this is definitely an enjoyable movie. I really thought about boosting the rating by five just because of that little victory dance Godzilla does on Planet X. That's one of my favorite movie moments of the year! I would have liked to see more of the monsters, just like when I watch kung-fu movies and want to see more fighting. The special effects are great for the 1950's which, since this movie was made in the mid-60's, gives this a sort of childish naivete. I saw strings attached to Ghidorah, but I still really liked the effects involved to make that monster work. He's flying, he's flapping, he's gesticulating with his tail, and he's waving all of his heads around. I had my brained turned completely off, so I didn't even try to figure out how he worked. Stop-animation? Puppetry? A three-armed man in a suit? Nick Adams has some great lines as the astronaut who is smart enough to figure out that things aren't what they seem but not smart enough to do anything about it. Aside from certain aspects of the holey story (this screenplay was obviously written by a team of scientists), I did have a couple questions: 1) Why is the rocket ship flying through clouds on its way to Planet X? 2) What's with the footprints they find on Planet X? The X-ers seem to walk normally, but those footprints look like a flamboyant drunkard's footprints. Regardless of its many flaws, you've got giant monsters pushing each other around, giant explosions, cool aliens, model destruction. And that funky dance! What's not to love?
This was watched in honor of Cory's birthday.
Plot: Roy "Don't Call Me Mad Dog" Earle is pardoned from prison. An old dying friend, the friend who helped him get released, needs him to help with the robbery of a hotel. He drives west to meet the pair of amateurs and the woman who will be working with him. Along the way, he meets some old people and their club-footed grand-daughter, and he becomes enamoured with the young girl. Things don't go as planned.
High Sierra needed to dive a bit deeper. There are depths that are approached or at least are approachable, but the filmmakers never quite get there. It's like a kid who dog-paddles around in the shallow end of the pool while continually peeking over at the big kids jumping off the diving board into the deep end. Maybe he even tiptoes over to where he can just barely keep his head above water, but then he hurries back. Bogart's character was stockish when he should have had some real emotional depth and layers. The pair of romances comes across as silly and naive instead of painting the picture of a man who desperately wants to be loved and settle down into something that resembles an honest life. There's a lot of build-up to the heist scene, and when it happens, it's one of those "That's it?" lame situations. Nothing happens that would require any heist expertise, and then it's filmed in such a static style, that it's nowhere near the climactic point it should be. And there's something about watching Bogart cuddle with a dog that is just wrong. This also contains what may be the worst bit of acting in Bogart's career--a scene in which he is having some kind of nightmare and sleeptalks. Seems like director Raoul Walsh should have yelled, "Cut! Alright, let's try that again without all the unnatural twitching." This isn't a terrible movie--Bogart's got some cool moments, the girls are pretty, the story's ok--but it should have been so much better.
Rating: 18/20 (Jen: 17/20)
Plot: Two theater guys who haven't seen each other in a few years meet at a restaurant. They order food and talk for almost two hours.
It's amazing enough that a conversation between two theater guys can keep me entertained for this long. I don't think there's a dull moment in this. The conversations starts rambunctiously with Andre talking ceaselessly for about 45 minutes, detailing his adventures abroad, his encounters with half-men/half-goats in churches, being buried alive, his desire to have a flag, his experiences with beehives. I'm not sure if it's Andre Gregory's voice, his slight mannerisms, his diction, or what, but his stories are completely captivating. And occasionally very funny. I think I could have listened just to him for twice the amount of time. It seems silly to use the word action-packed, but that's really exactly what it is. Then, conflict is introduced when Wallace Shawn's "character" replies and we realize he doesn't quite buy all this mysticism and experimentation in Andre's new way of living. As the core of their conversation develops, the issues become clearer--science vs. religion, experiencing life vs. living life, the importance of letting things go haywire, the dangers of comfort and electric blankets, etc. There's nothing flamboyant about My Dinner with Andre, almost no style. Director Malle uses a mirror to sometimes show the faces of both men while they're talking, some close-ups, and minimal music (just the beginning and the end) but that's about it. The focus is on the words the men exchange which for whatever reason are so easy to digest, to picture, and to connect with. I think this is a movie that people have heard of more than they've seen, and that should change. It's such an enjoyable experience, and a film that sticks with you for days.
Two questions: What's with all the references to the Holocaust? And what does Andre's last line mean? Everything else he says is pretty clear, but the last line about his son being a baby and then picking him up is strange.
Hell yeah! Anybody want to buy this for me?
Rating: 18/20 (Jen: 13/20; Emma: 7/20; Abbey: 15/20)
Plot: A lonely puppeteer, who perhaps is the dumbest man alive, makes a puppet out of pine. After teasing the cat with it, he makes a wish upon a star or something and goes to bed. A star fairy visits and turns the wooden puppet into a wooden boy. She instructs him to make good decisions and be brave in order to turn into a real boy, one not made of wood. A horny cricket is given the job of the puppet's conscience. When Gestapo the toy maker wakes up, he's happy to have a wooden son, and they dance around in a way that can only be described as gay. Pinocchio is sent to school the following day but decides to skip because some talking animals convince him that acting is much easier. It's an eventful day. He's kidnapped twice, gets his nose stuck in a hole, partially turns into a donkey, smokes for the first time, and gets his first erection. The cricket also tries to sell him for firewood. Eventually, the star fairy does turn Pinocchio into a real boy, albeit the type of boy who is going to be picked on frequently during his adolescence. Seriously. Just look at him.
One question: I don't get how purchasing an island and building an elaborate amusement park in order to turn little boys into donkeys is really a lucrative business.
Much more than Snow White, this one looks like a perfect culmination of the creative spirits and groundbreaking animation techniques that the Disney folk had been dicking around with for years. I really like how the bad guys work in this, especially how they don't violently die like in other Disney classics. These villains are still menacing but work more like archetypes, symbols of problems that every young wooden boy will inevitably face during childhood--temptation, taking the easy way out, hedonism, peer pressure. The action sequences are fun to watch, especially within the 1940's context. The animated characters move, not only back and forth but front and back as well. There are vibrant colors and good textural details creating what I guess is Italy but, just like in the best stories like this, don't really look like any particular time or place. There's also a depth to the settings which I imagine must have been pretty mindblowing at the time. In fact (and I'm typing this without having seen Snow White in a while), it might be world's better than Snow White. Good characters, too. The cricket not only provides some comedy relief but also, ironically, makes the story more human with the everyman narration. Geppetto, despite his idiocy, is likable and has some funny lines ("Lie back down, Pinocchio. You're dead."). And I like the peripheral characters as well. I also like that there's an intelligence to Pinocchio; not all of this is stuff that a child will appreciate. For example, I love the irony with the "I've Got No Strings" song as Pinocchio is obviously being guided by forces that he can't understand. Pinocchio is an intelligently written and artistically animated achievement and one of Disney's very best.
Plot: Harold Hall, a delusional Midwesterner, dreams of going to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. Unfortunately, he's funny looking and talentless. When a picture of a better looking guy is accidentally slipped into an envelope sent to a big-time producer, he's invited to Hollywood for the chance to live his dream. He meets a girl, meets another girl, and soon realizes that neither being an actor or a lover is necessarily easy.
Other than a few barely-funny moments, this is really not very good at all. There's a cute enough story and Lloyd is still likable (although not as likable from the moment you hear his voice), but so much of this was awkward and dull. It succeeds most during moments that look like they're pulled right from one of his silent movies. There's a too-lengthy scene involving a magician's coat (a scene that would fit just as well in any other Harold Lloyd movie as it does in this one) and a too-lengthy fight scene that is reminiscent of the climax of The Kid Brother except without a monkey. The romance plot is ludicrous, and the dialogue humor seems really forced. Also, I think Lloyd is terrific as a silent actor. The mannerisms and expressions are perfect in his silent comedies, but here, he seems out-of-place and often over-emotes. In fact, there are far too many times when his acting is just bad. There are some Lloydian moments that make it worth wading through the other stuff, but this was mostly a disappointment. I'm definitely not in a hurry to see more of his 1930's work.
Plot: Uptown rich kid Harold falls in love with downtown preacher's daughter Hope. When he accidentally becomes a philanthroper, he wins her affection; however, his rich peers aren't happy to hear he's marrying the girl.
Some great stunts, not all of them provided by Lloyd himself, and some hilarious visual gags make this quick little comedy another winner from Harold Lloyd. This has a fun cast of quirky characters, all of them more interesting than the romance at the heart of the story. I loved the little reverse chase scene (for lack of a better description) in which Lloyd's character angers the town's riffraff so that they'll chase him into a church service, and like in Speedy, there's some very exciting and well-choreographed vehicular mayhem at the end. And just like in Speedy, I'm amazed at the special effects, the pacing, and just the ambition of the grand race-against-the-clock scenes. It really looks as if people could have been killed. There's also a funny fight scene, a great scene where he has to round up drunkards, and some other funny bits involving Harold's absentmindedness/aloofness. Lots to like in this one.
Plot: Chihiro and her parents are moving to a new home in a new town. She's only ten and doesn't really want to move, but children don't get to make those kinds of decisions. On the way, her father detours and takes the family to an abandoned theme park. While there, her parents gluttonously devour the goods at an abandoned restaurant and turn into pigs. A boy named Haku tries to convince her to leave, but it's too late. Spirits gradually arrive and frequent a bath house. Chihiro has to find a way to transform her parents back into parents and finds out that getting a job at the bath house is the only way. A big-headed witch, a stinky spirit, a six-armed boiler room man, anthropomorphic dust mites, a magical ghost thingy, and dozens of other unusual character help and/or get in her way.
It's really difficult for me to articulate why this film connects with me like it does. For whatever reason, it seeps into the lobes. I think I would give this a 20 if I were Japanese. I'm sure there's some references to Japanese folklore, Japanese customs, or Japanese history that I'm not hip to that unfortunately probably hurts my chances of ever fully understanding this. I can appreciate the real sense of wonder and dreamy mystery, the gorgeous animation, the originality of the characters, and both the gentle fragility and thematic depth of the story. Like a Japanese Alice in Wonderland, it doesn't actually have to mean anything at all to succeed, but like all great works of art (and this is a great work of art), it's completely open to interpretation and does mean several things at once to difference audiences. Is it a coming-of-age story? Is it a critique of the greed and thoughtlessness of contemporary society? Is it about the contrast between the innocence of childhood and the futility and confusion of adulthood? Who knows? But it is exactly what an animated fairy tale should be. If dreams were as good as this, I would never want to wake up. Miyazaki has borrowed from the world we inhabit and managed to create an entirely new world, one with its own rules, its own logic, its own norms. Enchanting and wonderful and vivid and rich and magical and fantastic, this world in Spirited Away is impossible to forget and a joy to ponder. It's easy to feel lost but at the same time absorbed, and that's exactly what makes this animated movie about as good as animated movies can get.
Plot: Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder until 1974 when that was corrected by psychologists. A lot of ultra-conservative Christians didn't get the memo apparently. This documentary is about the religious right's attempts to cure homosexuality.
There's a rambling, sort of unfocused structure to this combined with an ending that gets far too preachy, but this is still a fascinating and fairly scary look into Christianity's attacks on gays. On the surface, it looks subjective enough, featuring interviews with both sides and no heavy-handed narration, although it's pretty clear where the makers stand on the issue. A lot of the spotlight is on Gary and Michael, two formerly cured gay men who worked as part of a gay-curing organization called Exodus International who later somehow uncured, probably because the devil got to them. There are other insightful interviews and a lot of neat footage showing the variety of angles taken to get rid of the homosexual desires. The cover alludes to A Clockwork Orange, and that's actually an accurate comparison. A psychologist telling a man to pleasure himself to a picture of whatever until the moment of climax when the picture could be substituted for that of a naked woman? Attempts to associate physical pain or sickness with images of scantilly-clad men? Giving butch lesbians makeovers to make them feel more feminine? Geez, Louise! Simultaneously funny, educational, and horrifying.
Plot: The last extraordinarily dull days of a musician who sort of looks like Kurt Cobain. He swims, eats cereal, messes with a guy who works for the yellow pages, wanders around, avoids phone calls. That's pretty much it.
Like Elephant and Gerry, this is impossibly dreary from the opening scene. The languid pace and the long, still shots (a cup, an abandoned room, leaves blowing) are the main contributors, but knowing this is at least loosely based on Cobain and therefore knowing exactly how it will end doesn't help matters. It's almost entirely plotless, and the lead doesn't do or say anything to force the audience to connect with him or really care what's going on. In fact, he barely has any lines of dialogue, and most of that is mumbled stream-of-consciousness ramblings. So although parts of this are artistically shot, this ultimately is just a really frustrating ninety minutes that I wished I had done something else with.
Rating: 16/20 (Mark: 18/20; Amy: 15/20)
Plot: Randy the Ram's career wrastlin' peak was twenty years ago when he heroically won an epic bout against the Ayatollah. Now, he struggles to make ends meet, sometimes paying rent on his trailer-park property and supporting his drug and lapdance habits by winning B-league local wrestling matches and working part time at a supermarket. A heart attack and multiple staple injuries force him to reflect on his life, his career, and where he's at in both of them.
This excels when it stays gritty and harsh. Mickey Rourke and Marissa Tomei (as the wrestler and the stripper respectively although vice versa might have been interesting) give realistic, gutty performances, and the handheld cinematography, something that occasionally bugs the heck out of me, works really well to bring you right into the action during the wrestling scenes, into the physical pain during the post-match locker room sequences, and into the emotional struggles of the characters. This is Aronofsky's best film (I think. I don't remember Pi too well.), but he has a way of stepping on the narratives a little bit. That happens here with a spelled-out-for-the-non-thinking-crowd Hollywoody scene preceding Randy's debut as deli counter guy, some artsy sound effects, and some unnecessary incidental music. This has interesting things to say about identity and survival, and the ending is about perfect. It works really well as a dark, depressing study of an extremely flawed individual and packs a real emotional punch, not like those fake wrestling punches even though some of the direction might make it feel like that. Confession: I don't really know if Marissa Tomei's acting was any good in this, and I really doubt any other heterosexual male will be able to tell either.
This broke the tradition of seeing only comic book movies at my brother's house.
Plot: Geronimo is a Texas lawman who runs into a pair of brothers involved with the Italian mafia. After they shoot down his partner, he chases them over the border into Mexico, shoots one, and arrests the other. Then, while escorting the brother back to Italy, he loses him in Malta and breaks all kinds of rules to capture him again.
This embarrassing Dirty Harry clone is, according to user ratings on imdb.com, the 19th worst movie ever made. It's probably not that bad. Joe Don Baker plays the cool, anti-heroic Geronimo, completing his Clint impression with some squinting and his own repeated "Do you feel lucky?" catchphrase--"You think you can take me? Go ahead on. It's your move." I was surprised to find out that this movie was only a pointlessly repetitious hour an a half because it seemed to be at least a pointlessly repetitious three hours. Geronimo is a very unlikable hero, and Joe Don Baker has absolutely no charisma. Not much to latch onto there. The villains aren't even interesting. By the middle of this movie, you really don't care who wins the struggle although you probably secretly wish they will all somehow die to prevent a sequel from being made. Really awful, but there are some moments that are dumb enough to make you laugh.
Plot: Scientist Martin is killed in an airplane accident while surveying a nuclear testing site. Shockingly, he arrives back at the base completely unharmed except for an L-shaped scar on his chest. He's given a lie detector test and tells a story about bug-eyed aliens who never blink and mutant insects and lizards that the killers from space will use to take over the world. Nobody believes him.
1950's B-movie. Aliens. Radiation. Giants. Typical stuff. This one's got a great title though! Laughably goofy no-budget stuff here with Peter Graves apparently under the impression that he's playing a statue. The aliens are really cool, all black with those gigantic eyes. A scene where Graves tries to escape from a cave and keeps running into the giant lizards, a scene which seems to last for fifteen minutes, is also great in one of those ways where you're thinking, "These special effects are terrible," followed by, "My God! This scene's been going on for fifteen minutes! What the hell? Didn't they already show that lizard twice?" followed by, "This is the greatest thing I've ever seen!" Those lizards and goo-goo-googily-eyed extra terrestrials are only in the movie for a brief middle portion of the movie; the rest of the film does drag a bit. Lame dialogue, mumbo-jumbo B-movie science, and terrible cinematography where parts are too dark to even tell what's going on and actor's faces are shown in disturbing close-ups for no apparent reason. This was a Mystery Science deal which I like because it tricks me into thinking I have friends to watch the movie with.
Plot: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Especially if alien visitation and radiation causes her to grow to a height of 50 feet. That's exactly what happens to Nancy Archer, and once titanic, she goes after her cheating husband. He's the size of a normal man.
It's gotta be one of the best movie posters of all time. Unfortunately, it's not very accurate. Less than ten percent of this movie is a gigantic woman wreaking havoc on the city, picking up cars, bustin' things up, etc. This isn't the most entertaining no-budget B-movie, but the laughable effects are fun. There's a gigantic foam hand that is used several times (for two giants) and the translucent quality of the giants certainly doesn't help matters. This was obviously made by a feminist.