2011 comedy based on a true story

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A small-town funeral director strikes up a friendship with a rich old lady who later turns up dead.

This has a much different tone than not only every other Jack Black movie you'll ever see but most other movies. It doesn't feel like a comedy most of the time though there are a lot of very funny moments. It's not a mockumentary even though Richard Linklater utilizes interview snippets with actual locals throughout the thing which kind of give it that feel. At least I think they're actual locals. There's absolutely no mystery, so it's not a murder-mystery, and although some of this takes place in a courtroom and Matthew McConaughey does a wonderful job of playing a lawyer, going against type and actually keeping his shirt on for the duration of the story, it's not a courtroom drama either. I'll call it a black comedy. Jack Black's performance is subdued, but he does do that thing with his eyebrows early in the movie to remind you that he's Jack Black. But he's perfect for this role--he's got the facial expressions, the voice, the singing ability, and these perfect little movements. In an opening scene, he plays around with what I thought might be a real corpse. I'm too lazy to look that up just like I'm too lazy to check to see if the "locals" were authentic or not. This is, after all, rapid fire! Shirley MacClaine is also really good here. All you need to watch is a scene where she chews refried beans to appreciate her genius. Bernie's got a fascinating story, and I liked its simple style. The murder scene, by the way, is perfection--the editing, the writing, the acting, and then bam--76 Trombones. Brilliant stuff.

Cane Toads: An Unnatural History

1988 documentary

Rating: 15/20 (Lance: 2/20)

Plot: In an effort to battle cane grubs that were ruining crops, the titular toads were brought in to Queensland. They didn't do much to get rid of the grubs, but they did reproduce like crazy and are now ubiquitous and, for a lot of Australians, annoying.

Lance earned himself a detention which, because I'm too lazy to turn in paperwork, ended up being in my room. I'd had this for about a week, and it was the third time I had a copy from Netflix. The other two discs were cracked. I had to watch it and get it in the mail, so I let Lance watch it during his detention. Since there is some pretty graphic cane toad sex, I probably shouldn't have. And this is now, believe it or not, the second time I've shown a video featuring necrophilia to eighth graders, so it's surprising that I still have a job. Toad necrophilia, and the kid only gives it a 2/20?

This starts like a typical documentary, but there's a lot of weirdness here. The interviewees have lines like they think they're in a  Christopher Guest movie, stuff about getting "those cane grubs by the balls." I liked a scientist who, right before he popped one of the toads poison sacs to demonstrate the cane toads' poison sacs, said, "You should wear glasses if you're going to engage in this kind of behavior." He also warns that "children being what they are will probably put them in their mouths and suck on them." Another odd character smokes the toad poison, claiming that it allows him to see the world through the eyes of the toad. Another guy imitates the toad's courting noises and claims, "I've had 'em try to mate with my foot." He also reminds us that cane toads can't fly and almost, I think, starts laughing. Speaking of their mating sounds, one guy really likes these toads, especially that sound. He's almost in tears while talking about these things. A reference to Lady Diana and Prince Charles and a gift of a toad-skin-bound book, a failed attempts at a statue, a staged sequence with a guy showering that is edited Psycho-esquely like a horror movie, another staged scene with "Edgar," a dead cat story, a stuttering guy talking about goldfish, and other oddness make this a fun little documentary about something that I actually have no interest in. Oh, and there's a scene where a cane toad eats a mouse that had me pumping my fist. The scene in my room was like this:

Me: Oh, yeah! He's going to get him!
Lance: [silence]
Me: He's going to get him! Come on! Come on!
Lance: [silence]
Me: Eat him! Come on--get him! Here it comes!
Lance: [silence]
Cane Toad: [Gets him]
Me: [Fist pump!] Yeah!
Lance: There's something wrong with you.


2012 comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Two middle-aged brothers come to Mom's for a visit and against the best wishes of one of their wives and the mother, resurrect a sports rivalry from their childhood. They begin competing in twenty-five events to determine the champion of the titular Do-Deca-Pentathlon.

Rapid Fire! Because life sometimes gets in the way of what you really want to do!

It's the Duplass Brothers again with another understated comedy about the awkwardness in human relationships. This one reminds me of my brother--Anonymous, not the stoner--because we always threatened to have a "Sports Day" during which we would compete similarly to these two brothers. And for the record, I would have been the Sports Day champion because although my brother is a very good athlete, I could do a lot of stupid things--ping pong, miniature golf, one-bounce volleyball--a lot better. But I digress. And this is Rapid Fire, so there's really no time to screw around here! I'm really impressed with the acting here. In something this downplayed, a bad performance or two could totally ruin it, but everybody's really good here, especially the beleaguered wife played by Jennifer Lafleur. The dialogue feels improvised and really natural. It's mostly good except for one point when one character actually says, "Let's go seepy." The funniest thing about this is that the music and style give these silly competitions this tremendous weight. And because the conflict between these two brothers isn't just about sports and lots of other unspoken stuff burbles below the surface, you don't really care a lot who wins any of these things. You look for band-aids instead of trophies. This is not an uproarious comedy if you're looking for one of those, but I really liked it.

"Here's the stuff."


2012 cartoon

Rating: 13/20 (Jen: 14/20; Emma: /20; Abbey: 18/20)

Plot: A boy who sees dead people inherits the job of reading a magic book to a centuries-dead witch from John Goodman, and along with his friends and sister, he's got to save the town from zombies.

Rapid Fire--Where Shane desperately tries to catch up and refuses to put much thought into this, write like a grown-up, or proofread himself.

Either I'm going nuts or there was a Manos: The Hands of Fate reference in this one. I really wanted to like it, and there are plenty of things to like. The creators have loads of creativity, there's a lot of fun visual humor, there's a visual style that keeps it from being just another one of those animated things, and Jon Brion does a nice job with the music. Then again, there's some crudeness and frightening imagery that made me wonder who the audience is, the humor in the dialogue doesn't work nearly as well as the visual stuff, the characters are really flat, and things just start looking stupid during a crazy climax. The story's weak. There's just not a lot of depth here, but this skims along entertainingly enough. It's darkly humorous and really probably not for children at all. Tim Burton fans might like it. The movie reminded me of him for a lot of reasons, not necessarily in a good way. Or is there a good way anymore?

Small Town Murder Songs

2010 drama

Rating: 13/20

Plot: Walter, a cop with a violent past, investigates a murder. The suspect is the guy currently having sex with his old love interest.

Rapid fire--my attempt to catch up.

I watched this because Peter Stormare plays the lead, and I like that guy. He's good here, too, and he does it all with a mustache. He gets a sex scene where he's--of course--on top, a position that I'm going to refer to as The Stormare for the rest of my days. Or at least the rest of my days during which I can still perform sexually and be on top. Stormare's a good actor, and he's a good actor in this, too. He doesn't have much to work with though, and his accent gets in the way a little bit. And then there's a drooling issue. Jackie Burroughs--best known as Morag the Tulgah Witch in the Ewoks television show--plays a woman named Olive here, a character who might be mentally challenged. It's her last role. This plays like a character study rather than a murder mystery. In fact, the murder mystery part of this is so light that there's barely a story here at all. Pulsating neo-gospel tribal music and Biblical quoting muddles things and doesn't really add that much to the proceedings, and after this is all over, I had trouble finding the point. Stormare's performance saves this from being a complete waste of time

The Honeymoon Killers

1969 cult classic

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Raymond and Martha, a gigolo and a portly prostitute who met via an online dating service in the 1940s, team up for a series of con jobs that gradually become more violent. Raymond seduces lonely rich women and sweet-talks them into giving him money. Martha tags along as his "sister."

John Waters likes this movie a lot. I'm not sure if I would have thought the lead actress (Shirley Stoler) would have reminded me of Divine had I not known that before watching this. She does though, even her mannerisms and facial expressions. She's not a professional, and neither is Tony Lo Bianco who I almost would have guessed was one of Laverne and/or Shirley's friends a few years later. Their performances, combined with the low-budget feel and late-60's black 'n' white, give this a creepy realism somehow even though I could listen to arguments that it has the exact opposite effect. Both Lo Bianco and Stoler have these little nuances that just work somehow. I really liked them despite how awful their characters are. I think it's how they are played so casually, with a disturbing pinch of comedy. And I like how the characters are played. They're not romanticized at all, and really, with the amount of time we get to spend with the couple's victims, the emphasis is not even on them all the time. The clash with these naive women victims in their cheesy Americana homes and these cold-blooded criminals is jarring, mostly because of the way the characters are treated. It's cold, and it's dark. Very dark. You don't need to see what happens in the basement to put it all together and realize that. There are so many unnecessary scenes that add to the weird cadence of this thing--a new bride singing "America" in the bathtub, a chemical reaction in a hospital during the opening sequence, an attempted suicide by drowning. There's also some cool camera movements including the opening stuff in the hospital and a terrific series of shots in a hallway after the first marriage (while that gal is singing patriotically) that end with a shot of a transom with some copulating shadows. It was hard for me to believe or understand why this was director Leonard Kastle's only movie. He, by the way, took over for Scorsese who probably would have just messed the whole thing up. It's one of the more peculiar one-and-dones I've heard about though. After all, this was Francois Truffaut's favorite American movie. Doris Roberts is also in this for all you Everybody Loves Raymond fans. I don't think she's the character who says, "I'm not so sure Hitler wasn't right about you people," though. How's that for a line, by the way?

I would definitely recommend this to fans of cult movies, John Waters, movies based on true stories, or people who enjoy the television sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.

Who's the Caboose?

1997 mockumentary

Rating: 11/20

Plot: Documentarians get a grant to do a film on homeless people, but instead turn their attention to a young comedienne who is on her way to Los Angeles to try to get a television pilot.

I like Sarah Silverman. She's cute and generally funny. She's the very best thing about this--only possible exception is David Cross who is really funny and angry in a too-tiny role--which is good because she's the main character. She's so natural in front of the camera. Unfortunately, she and her character aren't in a movie where very much happens. Things approach mildly humorous, and the satirical look at Hollywood shallowness almost works. But this needs to let go a little bit, get a little more outrageous, or--at the very least--be funny. Kathy Griffin even keeps her shirt on. Andy Dick and that one guy are also in this.

A Report on the Party and the Guests

1966 movie

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A group of picnickers are bullied and later fed by a creepy guy.

First--no, I do not know for sure that this is the right poster. But just look at that. You're telling me you're not rushing out to buy tickets to a movie after seeing this poster? I'm wondering if it's the wrong poster because although I don't speak Czech, that title looks like "A slobbering hostage" to me instead of A Report on the Party and the Guests. This movie was actually "banned forever" at one point, but it wasn't because of the poster. No, that was because this movie attacks the idea of conformity in a unique and subversive way. That or it has characters having an elaborate dinner party by a lake which might be dangerous. This movie has a Bunuel feel, probably because the characters are enjoying an elaborate dinner party. And like the last Bunuel movie I wrote about, this one feels a little like a cinematic joke but with a punchline that isn't as satisfying. Although the situations are very strange, the movie isn't really funny. As a matter of fact, the vibe I got from the whole thing was more in the neighborhood of creepy. It's a short film that I'm glad that I watched, but I wonder if I'll remember it in a few months.

Suing the Devil

2011 Christian movie

Rating: 3/20

Plot: A law student sues Satan for 8 trillion dollars.

I feel the need to explain a little about how I stepped in this chunk of dog shit before I being describing how bad it smells or how it ruined my carpet. Because this might be the worst movie experience of my year for me. I saw half of a plot synopsis, noticed that Malcolm McDowell was playing the devil, and enthusiastically put this on. I could have done some research. I could have noticed the involvement of Rebecca St. James, a contemporary Christian artist whose name I recognize or maybe looked into the company that made this and realized what it was. I didn't, and I was severely punished. About three minutes into the thing, tipped off by some oppressive music and the production quality, I said to myself, "Uh oh. This feels like a Christian movie." Now, I don't have a problem with Christianity or really any religion. I do, however, have problems with what Christians make when they decide to get creative. The movie I wrote about here is a perfect example. I wouldn't have been surprised to see Kurt Cameron in the credits for this. What I am surprised about is Malcolm McDowell's involvement. Now, he's not awful or anything in this. As a matter of fact, he plays the devil about as well as I expected him to. But he must be either really desperate for work because he looks too weird to be in people's movies or he lost some kind of bet. A few nice lines are scattered throughout this courtroom drama, and McDowell gets to yell a little bit, but there's not really much to work with at all. And there's a scene where [SPOILER ALERT, I suppose, since this is near the end] a Bible reading leads to a marathon of McDowell belching which is far from his finest moment on the silver screen. Or a straight-to-video television screen. Other than McDowell, the acting is universally bad, especially from this Bart Bronson character who played the protagonist. He's either Australian or spoke in a faux-Australian accent for inexplicable reasons, but he's got the type of accent that makes everything he says seem like whining. The performance is brutally bad, made worse because the writing is so terrible. "Don't tell me I left the bullets at home!" is a line that shouldn't have made me laugh given the context, but the delivery and awkwardness of the whole thing did just that. Of course, I also know brain cancer isn't funny [Oh, shoot. SPOILER ALERT!] but a scene in which its revealed that his wife has brain cancer cracked me up. And I learned that brain cancer apparently makes you cough a lot. My favorite Bart Bronson moment: "Oh yeah. Nice magic trick, dude!" Shannen Fields, a woman who plays his wife and can't even spell her first name correctly, might be worse. And then there's a mention of Section 666 and a gavel drop and some awesome special-ed effects featuring twitching demons in hoodies and angels and this nifty exploding head trick, and it all manages to sink this thing even further until holy hell, you realize that this is probably the movie that Satan tried to show Job after God told him he could have his way with him.

Job: "You took my family, destroyed my property, and gave me leprosy. But this movie is too much, Satan! Uncle!"

You can watch this if you want, but it'll probably make you root for the devil. I'm not sure how comfortable you'd feel with that.

The Street Fighter

1974 Sonny Chiba movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: The mafia attempts to recruit the titular bad ass to kidnap a woman who just inherited a ton of money from her rich father. Terry, however, does not like the mafia and decides to protect her instead. Meanwhile, a pair of siblings keep trying to kill Terry for revenge. Lots of skull-smashing and nut-rippage ensues.

Despite the most famous scene in this in which a punch is shown in x-ray in order for the audience to see the actual denting of a skull, and despite a scene where Sonny Chiba's character does castrate a guy with his bare hands, this is nowhere near as violent or as bloody as I always imagined it would be. In fact, I've always wondered if I've just caught abridged versions of this every time I've watched it or something. I generally prefer old-school kung-fu movies that take place a long time ago more than the ones with contemporary settings, but this is an entertaining martial arts movie, mostly because of the faces that Sonny Chiba makes right before or right after he's nutsack-torn or skull-squished or eye-gouged somebody. Chiba's facial expressions and strange posture give him some charisma, and he's got the perfect face for the type of anti-hero he plays in these things. The fight scenes aren't terrific. The most challenging one-on-one match-up he has is with a rotund gentleman, and nothing about that makes any sense. The climactic fight aboard a ship is good and involves some cool stunts. And it's mostly accompanied by cheesy 70's electronic-y sound effects and funky music, especially the great title track which made me want to dig up Dolemite and show off a few of my dance moves. You know, put my weight on it.

Dead Leaves

2004 anime mayhem

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Your guess is as good as mine, even if you've never seen or heard of this movie. A guy with a television for a head and a a feisty gal wind up imprisoned on the moon where they befriend a guy with a golden penis drill. They try to bust out.

You've probably heard somebody, probably while watching a classic like It's a Wonderful Life, say, "Well, they don't make 'em like this anymore." I almost got the exact opposite feeling while watching this and actually said out loud, "They didn't make 'em like this ever." Nobody was around or I would have been made fun of. This is hyper-frenetic nutsiness, the kind that can only come from the Land of the Rising Acid Flashback. It's loud and seizure-inducing (not that I experienced any) and includes, as I mentioned, a guy with a television for a head and a guy with a penis drill. It's a comic book, complete with harsh lines and onomatopoeia, splashing out of its pages and getting all over your pants and walls. If your imagination isn't broken, go ahead and look at that poster up there. Then, imagine it all coming to life and moving really really fast. No, faster than that. Add a crazy assortment of odd-looking characters, several broken laws of physics and/or comic sense, a very strange sense of humor, and a golden penis drill. There you go. Wait, make it all move a little bit faster. Now, there you go. You've pretty much seen the movie. The storytelling's a mess, and if it was any longer than the 50 or so minutes that it was, I'm not sure I would have gone to sleep that night and woke up the same sane man that all my readers know and love. And, I have to confess that I felt a little tense while watching the whole thing. My nutsack shriveled, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. But you know what? I really enjoyed almost every second of this thing. It's creatively fervent, unapologetically wacky, and unquestionably unique. Absolute insanity! Penis drill!

Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell

1968 space vampire movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: After the sky turns red, a plane crashes in the middle of nowhere. Space-age bloodsuckers launch a fiendish attack that dooms the entire universe! Ok, so I ripped that off directly from the above poster. What's going to happen? The makers of Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell are going to sue me?

Bonus points for a sweetly bleak ending. Oh, and another bonus point for the cool title. I don't know where "Goke" comes from because, as I recall, that name isn't mentioned in this one at all. The titular hell is actually just generic outer space, too. There is some body-snatchin' going on though, so I guess it's all good. This is a weirdo horror movie from Shochiku studios, and although its plot, characters, or really anything else aren't anything special, there's a strangeness to the proceedings that keeps you interested. Start with the effects. The shot of the airplane swimming through this red sky are really cool even if they make you think the color's all messed up on your television which makes you wonder how you even change the color on these new televisions. There are glowing orbs, forehead gulches, and cheap avalanches. For such a simple plot, there sure is a lot going on. None of it makes much sense and all of it is pretty goofy, but for a movie that isn't bad enough to be funny or good enough to be really stand out from similar movies about body-snatching or vampire aliens, this is actually fairly entertaining. It might be worth it for the Blob-esque face attacks that leave slightly embarrassing facial scars alone. And it does have that stunning ending that puts a morbid capon all the goofiness.

Tarantino borrowed a shot from this for Kill Bill Vol. 1.

The Exterminating Angel

1962 comedy

Rating: 18/20

Plot: Some fancy-pants attend a dinner party. Afterwards, they are unable to leave. Things get desperate. Sheep enter the room, and later, there's a bear.

Subtle surreal shenanigans! This movie isn't uproariously funny, but there's a tone of humorous tension that I really like. Apparently, this was banned in the Soviet Union because the idea of characters unable to leave a party was considered anti-Communist. That's funny, too. It's casually surreal stuff, probably my favorite movie of one of my favorite directors. I like how the surreal touches--a woman with feathers and bird feet in her purse, the aforementioned animals, a scene with a hand--are things that none of the guests pay any attention to. I suppose there's a point there just like there's a point to all the repetition. Some of that repetition, like when characters say the exact same things or how the guests arrive at the party twice, almost seem like errors in editing. The cinematography is wonderful; the camera moves from person to person so fluidly during group conversations. There's a rhythm and choreography to the whole thing. Shots in mirrors of shoes being tied or apathetic faces are also cool. It all builds elegantly to a funny subversive and memorable punchline. I prefer this movie to its most likely companion--Bunuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, a movie where characters also attempt to have dinner.


2011 hockey comedy

Rating: 13/20

Plot: A dumb guy in a family of smart people amazes a hockey coach with his fighting prowess and is signed to the team despite his inability to skate or play hockey. He's the titular goon, a guy put on the ice not to score goals or even do much at all related to hockey but instead fight opposing players and protect his team's talent.

Doug Glatt. Hasn't that name been used in another movie comedy? I know I could Google this and get an answer, but I'd rather somebody else do the work for me. This is one of those dumb comedies that seem to attract Eugene Levy, so it's no surprise that Eugene Levy is in this. And Eugene Levy's eyebrows. Seann William Scott is our protagonist, and I don't like him or any of the dumb movies that he's in, mostly stuff with Eugene Levy's eyebrows. As I wrote in my Dukes of Hazzard review, Scott has too many first names and too many n's in his first first name. That's reason enough to not like him, but he also plays simple-minded goofball too naturally. Having said that, he's a likable doofus here, and this movie, though not really very good, is frequently funny. Raunchiness abounds ("We have not pissed together since last time we double-teamed Belchior's mother.) as the characters all seem to have Tourette's Syndrome or something. The goalie gets the best lines, likely improvised although the announcer is pretty funny, too. There's never too much hockey. A love subplot, likely forced into the screenplay to get the ladies on board, succeeds in making the main character more likable but is other pointless. My favorite line: "It was Doug Glatt in the conservatory with his ass."

Doug Glatt. Seriously, where have I heard that name before?

Shane Reviews the Greatest Movies Ever Made: Sunrise (A Song of Two Humans)

1927 silent melodrama

Rating: 19/20

Plot: A horny farmer meets a whore from the city, and she convinces him to drown his wife and sell his farm so that they can be together. His penis tells him that it sounds like a terrific idea, but he's unable to commit the act and the married couple falls in love all over again in the big city. But then there's a storm! Oh, snap!

Again, in order to avoid ridicule from cinephiles, I feel the need to give these movies on the Sight and Sound list a 20/20. [Edit: I have since changed my mind! I welcome ridicule.] I'm not sure if this makes me a more credible movie blogger, but admitting that I do it probably takes away every tiny bit of credibility I had left. I want to start this off by saying that I really do love this little movie, however. Oh, and you should consider, when deciding in your head just how much credibility I do have since I know you're doing that right now, that I am posting this entry in the "Shane Watches the Greatest Movies Ever Made" series on the exact day I said I would which is worth something.

Enough about my credibility or lack of credibility though. There's Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans to discuss. Everybody who knows me knows that I like silent movies. 1927 was a huge year for film, one that started with Metropolis and also saw the release of The Jazz Singer, a movie that ruined movies for several years. If my shoddy research is correct, this movie came out soon after that first successful "talkie," timing that unfortunately made it interesting to almost nobody. It did win a special Academy Award though, and it's now regarded as one of the best of the silent era. Deservedly so actually.

The story's in three chunks--a haunting first act where The Man (that's his name, just like it should be in a fairy tale) and city gal conspire to off The Wife, a much lighter and sweet and humorously cute second part where the love between the husband and wife is rekindled, and a third classically melodramatic final third that features some action, some surprises, and the exact ending that it should have. It's a silent film, and Murnau doesn't lean on title cards at all, forcing his mute characters to let us know all about themselves in other ways--the way they smoke their cigarettes, flash leg, or walk; the way they tuck their husbands into bed or frown at an abandoned kitchen table; and the way they clutch bundles of sticks, offer a plate of bread, or lumber about like their legs are too heavy. Those heavy legs, you should know, were allegedly because actor George O'Brien was forced to wear lead boots to help him walk in a more guilty way. Apparently, guilty men walk a little like Frankenstein's monster. O'Brien is good, even shedding some tears during one beautiful scene. His character's dopey though. Buying cheap flowers for your wife to make up for looking menacing during a boat ride? Janet Gaynor's also great, though often with that typical 1920's staginess. Margaret Livingston plays the woman in the city, and even though she's the third most important character in this, she's not in it all that much. She does look good in lingerie, however. That was appreciated. Oh, and there's a scene where she dances after she and lover daydream of life in the city, and that might be the worst thing I've ever seen. No, I'm not just talking about dancing. I'm talking about the worst thing I've ever seen. Of course, I always like the periphery characters, and there's a pair of guys in the city--a barber played by Ralph Sipperly and a randy photographer played by J. Farrell MacDonald--who play their parts like they really want to be noticed. And there's a dog that is not credited, but I was wondering if it was the same dog who played Homo in Murnau's The Man Who Laughed.

This isn't great because of the acting or rather simple story though. This is all about technical prowess. The visual experimentation makes this a stunning movie-watching experience. Watch that fuzzy moon and farmland melt into big city excitement, a scene witnessed through a moving trolley that transitions from a rural setting to an urban one, the lighting during a scene post-storm, a title screen that chillingly says "Couldn't she get drowned?" before even-more-chilllingly melting away, long tracking shots of characters walking through these sets including one spectacular sequence where the camera follows the guy as he meets his mistress. I can't remember seeing a silent movie where the camera moves this gracefully. It does it on the outdoors sets and again through the busy streets of the city. There are also some special effects, mostly superimposition, and it looks quaint but also like a labor of love. There's a craft to putting the model trains, dancing women, and musicians on the screen with dreaming lovers in a field of wheat. The goofiest effect is during a slow careless but loving walk that ends up humorously causing a traffic jam. It looks silly but still manages to add to the fairy tale-ness of the whole thing.

I also want to mention the music, something I almost never do because I don't really understand how music was done for movies in the 20s. It sounds to me that a lot of this music may have been used just for this movie although I did hear that Alfred Hitchcock television theme music in there during a scene with a broken statue. Generally, silent movie music is at best dull and forgettable or at its worst irritating. Here, it's really terrific, adding to the tension in the early and later scenes of the movie.

And speaking of the sound, this one is not technically a silent movie. It's one of those late-20's movies that use synchronized sounds. I really wish that era of movie-making would have been longer because it's delightfully goofy, especially here when the characters go to an amusement park and later with the wind and thunder during a violent storm. I can't understand why some things get sound and some don't. There's a scene where some incessant pig squealing is audible but a dropped bottle is not. It's weird.

I should have watched this with my wife, but I'm afraid she would get ideas and try to drown me afterward.

Next movie in the Shane Watches the Greatest Movies Ever Made series: Tokyo Story. I'll write about that one on the 26th of January unless I decide to shut this thing down before then.

Django Unchained

2012 spaghetti blaxploitation flick

Rating: 17/20 (Jen: 19/20)

Plot: A dentist-turned-bounty-hunter buys the titular slave in order to hunt down some white guys. Django does such a good job, that the bounty hunter decides to work with him throughout the winter and then agrees to help him locate his wife Broomhilda. That leads to lots and lots of violence.

Tarantino blends genres effortlessly and gloriously. Here, you get historical drama mixed with Italian Western with a pinch or three of blaxploitation, and I'm really not sure there's ever been another director who could put all that together so well. Being part-spaghetti, you might expect meandering with some bits drawn out enough to try most people's patience. Of course, Tarantino does that anyway. This does meander and go a few places that I might--upon further viewings--wish it didn't. From my theater experience--rare enough that I often have to curb my enthusiasm--I can tell you that I enjoyed every single minute of this bloated near-masterpiece. The movie looks beautiful, individual shots that you could probably show somebody and trick them into thinking they came from a Leone movie. A Wild West town drowning in mud, a few plantations, lots of good interior shots with what might be accurate period details. I'm not sure where any of this was filmed, but it was all great to look at. And with Tarantino, you expect certain excesses--blood, cursing, the n-word, and dialogue. This doesn't disappoint there if you're type of person who would be disappointed by a lack of those. The dialogue's rich and often funny, and the violence is quite possibly even more ridiculous than the House of Blue Leaves sequence in Kill Bill. It was definitely more shocking for me to see all that red, and I really wasn't aware that guns in 1858 were capable of making people explode. It felt weird to let out a little chuckle during one out-of-control shootout scene when an already-shot-to-death villain gets shot in the crotch again. Tarantino's boldness with inserting humor in all this violence and in a topic that there's really nothing at all funny about definitely helps this stand out, gives it that unique feel that makes Tarantino's movies so rewarding and special. It's all those minor touches. That wobbling tooth-on-a-spring makes me laugh just thinking about it. (Note: It's an LOL, not a real laugh.) And there's a scene featuring the Klan (or some sort of Klan prototype--I don't know their history) that might surpass the one in O Brother, Where Art Thou? as my favorite KKK movie scene ever. That's difficult to pull off even if Jonah Hill isn't involved. There are all kinds of funny asides that make me want to see this again. The characters' interactions are often troubling, of course but they sometimes manage to be both humorous and troubling at the same time. The actors portraying these characters at times make them seem like caricatures, but they do a terrific job making them semi-realistic, completely entertaining, and most importantly just fucking cool. Jamie Foxx gives a perfectly quiet performance as the hero, but he's not helped by how completely awesome Christoph Waltz is as Dr. Schultz. This guy's one of my new favorite movie heroes ever, and although a lot of it is how the character is written, a lot of it has to do with Waltz. I think it's because he kind of sounds like Werner Herzog. DiCaprio's good enough as the villain although he might be a bit too pretty. Prettiest villain in any spaghetti Western probably. There is a really intense scene that Leo pulls off really well, however. Tarantino-regular Samuel L. is also great in a much-different role. He's very funny here. And there are loads of filthy ruffians and rough-faced thugs that look like they came straight off the set of a late-60's Italian western, all craggy and with skin that looks well lived in. Also typical of a Tarantino movie--you're going to notice the music. You do here, too, and I loved hearing a lot of borrowed Morricone. I'm not sure if I loved hearing the modern hip hop or the Johnny Cash. It just didn't feel in place here. Still, it's a minor complaint. It's early January, and I doubt that I'm going to see a new movie that is this consistently entertaining.

For all you spaghetti-philes, Franco Nero does make a cute little appearance. You probably would have guessed that though.

Nicolas Cage Birthday Celebration: Bringing out the Dead

1999 Scorsese movie

Rating: 17/20

Plot: A paramedic in New York City loses his mind as he watches ghosts and tries his best to save souls. John Goodman changes his mind about the Chinese food.

"What's that?"
"It's three legs."
"That's too many!"
Nicolas Cage should consider himself lucky. There's only one person who gets special birthday recognition on this blog, and that's Cory. This, in fact, might be the highlight of the man's career. I wanted to watch a Cage movie on his birthday, and I hadn't seen this one. Now that I've seen it, I have no idea why I went over 13 years without seeing it. 
I'll get my gripe out of the way right off the bat--there was way too much music in this. I dug the Van Morrison played along with Scorcese's flashy images of New York bathed in colors. Van Morrison (I think just one song) fades in and out like you're losing radio reception, and wherever he pops up, it's appropriate. I could have done without the REM or Janes Addiction or The Who or 10,000 Maniacs though. That music might be timeless, but for me, it cements this in a very specific time and place. Plus, there were so many snippets of these songs that it sounded like somebody flipping the radio dial in the middle of songs just to be mean. Or in the case of 10,000 Maniacs, to be nice.
The first thought I had while watching this was, "What? A Nicolas Cage movie with narration?" The narration in this is especially poetic though and paints this wonderfully abstract picture of the character's mind. 
"Saving someone's life is like falling in love, the best drug in the world. For days, sometimes weeks afterward, you walk the streets, making infinite whatever you see. Once, for a few weeks, I couldn't feel the earth. Everything I touched became lighter. Horns played in my shoes. Flowers fell from my pockets. You wonder if you've become immortal, as if you've saved your own life as well. God has passed through you. Why deny it, that for a moment there, why deny that for a moment there, God was you?"
It's stylized 1st person narration for a stylized movie. I like it. And it just perfectly captures the thoughts of this poor dude wandering in this nightmarish limbo, an urban purgatory with ghosts, well-lit ghosts that occasionally boogie to Van Morrison songs. This movie looks so good, crisp when it needs to be crisp and more viscous when it needs to be viscous. Sometimes, the buildings and streets and skies and people are oily and indistinct, and you just have this white ghostly ambulance cutting through it all. Sometimes, things focus on the worn expressions and bad postures of these damned souls. It's all beautifully hideous, and Scorsese isn't shy about using the tricks of his trade to show us this world or how one man's mind is deteriorating as he moves through it. At times, it feels like too much, but it's an experience and a half. The birthday boy's performance is one of his better ones. Combined with Scorsese's trickery, Cage's acting perfectly shows this character's descent into madness. It's a more careful performance than you might expect from Cage although there are a couple of Nic Cage freak-outs ("Why's everything a cardiac arrest? Come on, people!" or his laugh after an accident involving the ambulance), but watching a Cage character gradually lose his mind is about as perfect as it gets for a fan of his work. Also shining in this E.R. on hallucinogenics: Ving Rhames as raucous Marcus with his sweet-talkin' and cries to Jesus; John Goodman as Cage's partner on the first night, a guy who just wants some food; Tom Sizemore as his absurdly vicious co-driver on the third night; an unrecognizable Marc Anthony, a guy I probably wouldn't recognize anyway; Arthur J. Nascarella, the barking (literally) captain; Mary Beth Hurt as a sarcastic nurse; and of course Afemo Omilami as Griss, a guy super-cool enough to be allowed to speak about himself in the third person. "Don't make me take off my sunglasses" might be my favorite line ever spoken by a guy named Griss in a movie. It all adds up to something that is devastating but at the same time enormously entertaining. There's a dark humor that's impossible to miss. Scorsese himself provides some of the chuckles as a dispatcher, sending the ambulance to help people with roaches in their ear, a man setting his pants on fire, a three car accident with "two taxis and a taxi," an elderly woman abducted by her own cat, and a man at the bus terminal who was shot three years ago but now says his arm hurts. 
I don't completely understand what this movie's about, but I'd love to see it again to piece things together. Three nights? A guy trying to save people? Is Cage's character a Christ figure? 
Other things I liked: 
1) I.B. Bangin. What a name!
2) The volcano art in that dude's apartment. I wonder if my wife would let me put something like that up.
3) As much as I hated the music, the song by The Cellos where a guy claims that he's "the Japanese sandman" is bitchin'.

Little Cigars

1973 little person crime caper

Rating: 12/20

Plot: On the run from gangsters, regular-sized Cleo hooks up with five diminutive performers who use their stage show as a front for some thieving. She and their leader Slick Bender strike up a romance as their crimes get more and more ambitious.

I love watching things that make my wife ask "What are you watching?" in a way that makes me think she'd ask "What the hell are you watching?" if she cursed more. She did that twice for this movie. I had to watch it in two installments, and she was confused by it twice.

The appeal for me, of course, was all the little people, especially shane-movies favorite Billy Curtis from The Terror of Tiny Town. Little Curtis is so angry through most of this. Look at this collection of lines:

Billy: Don't ever call a midget a dwarf.
Guy: What's the difference?
Billy: (in a whispery voice) Broken arm.

"Alright, you little perverts!"
"Is that the name of the game today? Teasing midgets?"
"If there are any heroes in here today, they're gonna be dead ones."
(After emerging from a crate with disheveled hair and a giant sweat stain on his shirt) "Boy, am I glad to be out of that son of a bitch."
"You don't have to tiptoe, you slut."
"Put me down!"

He also gets to fight a little bit in a bar, and it looks more realistic than half of Hollywood's fights. But there are other little people fights--including one where they gang up on one guy, another that is little-person-on-little-person, and a water fight that might be the hottest thing I've ever seen--and other little people. There's mustachioed Cadillac played by the great-voiced Jerry Maren who worked with the Marx brothers and got the chance to hand Dorothy a lollipop. He was also in the "Yada Yada" episode of Seinfeld. Frankie (Felix Silla) has the best voice of this crew. He fixes things in this movie but also played an Ewok, several aliens, Misquamacus in The Manitou, and Twiki in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century which is a pretty big deal if you ask me. Hugo is one muscular midget (I can use that word if there's alliteration--it's a rule.) and is played by Emory Souza who wasn't in a lot of movies but did do stunts in Dirty Harry. And there's Frank Delfino who looks a lot like Walter Matthieu and who played the Hamburglar in McDonalds commercials for over 20 years. A little guy named Buddy Douglas plays an attorney and is really awesome.

But who else is in this, albeit in a limited role? Angelo Rossitto, from Freaks. He's the smallest of a bunch of little people in a police line-up, and the only one of those guys to get lines, ramblings about being an honorary sheriff. Man, I love all 2 feet and 11 inches of that guy!

This movie's a hit 'n' miss affair. The biggest problem is that its makers don't seem sure what kind of movie they're even making. A black comedy? An action crime movie? It's dark without being funny too often. The capers don't make much sense, and the five little people and one statuesque blond woman seem a little conspicuous. It seems that the writers are playing a little game of "Let's see how many interesting places we can fit a little person," but all of the capers could be accomplished by just walking into a place with a gun and saying, "This is a stick-up!" like they end up doing anyway. The only thing silllier than their crime spree is the Little Cigars' act which might be the worst thing ever. Speaking of the statuesque blond, I do like her. She's Angel Tompkins and gets to be on screen in a towel and her underwear. Such a tease. She calls Billy Curtis a "piss pot" and has a fantastic wink. She's in this to look sexy and manages to pull that off. I loved one line of hers spoken to Curtis: "Because I'm an old lady, and I dig your little ass."

One other thing I really liked about this one was the ridiculous amount of off-screen asides, what I'm going to refer to "Attaboy, Luthers" from now on:

"Why, that cigar's bigger than he is!"
"That guy's shot!" (I love that one!)
"Watch out! Crazy driver! She's out of her head!"
"Hell, that's better than a waterbed." (during a Billy Curtis pillow demonstration)
"I'm gonna feed it to my bull!" (this one has to do with fertility candy bars)
"Like people with toy guns."

I enjoyed this, but it's not a very good movie. Check it out if you like little people in cinema as much as me. If that's possible.


1945 film noir

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A piano player on his way across country to visit his girlfriend in Los Angeles runs into some trouble after the man he hitches a ride with dies. The piano player assumes his identity and picks up a really mean passenger.

Such a fascinating little movie. On the one hand, it looks really cheap and the characters are generic. Edgar G. Ulmer directed the thing on a nothing budget in just six days. Tom Neal is awfully whiny as our protagonist and narrator and lacks punch, but he's an acceptable dupe. Ann Savage with her "homely natural beauty" is a vicious little bitch, squeezing pulpy insults out the sides of her mouth ("Kiss him with a wrench," "You'll pop into jail so fast it'll give you the bends") and bringing the feisty a little too hard. He's mopey and she's nasty, but together, they approach something close to noir magic with their hateful exchanges that dominate the second half of this movie.And Ulmer does a whole lot with his little. This storytelling's got lots of style with all these sneaky voyeuristic camera movements, hazy exteriors, a great use of shadows and light, and a terrific scene following a death with an in-and-out-of-focus glance around the room. With an interesting though less-than-plausible plot and a handful of damned characters, some who even realize they're damned, this is pretty far from perfect but still a good example of the genre made during its golden era. I would have preferred a less obvious ending, however. This should have ended with a shot of the protagonist walking on the shoulder of a highway, a lost doomed soul completely alone. It's too bad the lost doomed soul had to be arrested at the end because this movie was made in 1945.

Note: I'm surprised film noir classics I watched as a toddler didn't turn me into a smoker. I almost want to start smoking now so that I can talk with a cigarette in my mouth like characters like Al do. How did these movies not turn me into a smoker when I was a lot more impressionable?


2002 mockumentary

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A documentarian decides to chronicle the pointless misadventures of a pair of Canadian headbangers. One of them gets cancer.

First, there is a Zubaz sighting in this movie. I'm not even sure why I'm still linking to that company's website because they haven't given me a dime for my efforts. Obviously, they're not aware that my end-of-the-year post had nine readers.

This has a different feel from the sequel which, for whatever reason, I watched first. The other one doesn't even pretend to be a documentary. That leads to one flaw actually. While the work of the two leads Terry and Dean played by David Lawrence and Paul Spense are natural enough to maybe fool people that this whole thing is for real, Gordon Skilling's performance as the beleaguered director Farrel won't. He's pretty bad although a big surprise with that character later in the movie is so beautiful. Like the sequel, this has an improvisational feel that really works with an onslaught of funny lines. This would be oft-quoted by college kids if it was more well known, I bet. Of course, what do I know? It's not like I'm a prep school student in the 1950s or something. I also like minor details--some setting additions, duct tape use, a shot of a tattoo--that aren't thrown at the audience in a cheap or obvious way but are rewarding for viewers willing to pay enough attention. Funny movie.

Dead Poets Society

1989 anti-conformist propaganda

Rating: 16/20

Plot: An unorthodox literature teacher at the Welton Academy clashes with the "tradition, honor, discipline, and excellence" ideology of the all-boys prep school. He's a terrible influence on his students, encouraging them to tear up their textbooks, stand on their desks, read poetry, and shoot themselves in the face. They form the titular poetry-reading club and start learning to think for themselves.

How dangerous is it to start a movie with bagpipes? And how many misguided and just plain awful English teachers did this thing spawn? As a high schooler who liked to imagine himself as a burgeoning nonconformist, this movie appealed to me, but I wondered what my stuffy middle-aged self would think. Well, it's a bit manipulative and pretty stuffy (despite the bagpipes), a movie that does often seize the cliches, but Robin Williams' subdued and exceptional performance and two handfuls of key memorable scenes make this an entertaining and downright inspiring motion picture. Most of the classroom (or sometimes out-of-the-classroom) scenes with Williams teaching are really good. The first class scene in the hallway with the ghosts of Welton's past and their similar haircuts, the barbaric yawping scene's, the anti-Pritchard page-ripping, the desk-standing perspective lesson. It's good stuff, all things that I've tried with my teaching jobs but have been reprimanded for "making too much noise in the hallway," touching kids' faces, vandalizing textbooks, and "encouraging dare-devilism." I like that this is more about the kids than it is Robin Williams' character. He's the instigator or catalyst, but Peter Weir wisely focuses more on the boys and this moment when they're ready to challenge authority and have their own ideas. The boys' performances seem authentic to me, a guy who did not attend a fancy-schmanzy prep school in the late-50s, and the adult antagonists--Norman Lloyd as Nolan and Kurtwood Smith as Neil's dad Mr. Perry--are also really good. This isn't as consistently great as Weir's The Cars That Ate Paris but it's still a really good movie.

Blood Bath

1966 horror movie

Rating: 13/20

Plot: An artist who may or may not be a vampire kills attractive women and then dips their bodies in hot wax.

This one recalls the superior and more comedic (blackly) Bucket of Blood with its sculpting techniques and beatniks. Blood Bath, a movie that unfortunately isn't as interesting as the above poster makes it look, has an interesting history which explains why it's kind of a mess. Corman produced this movie and wanted Jack Hill of Spider Baby and The Wasp Woman fame to use footage of a movie Corman released in Europe but not in the U.S. He wasn't completely happy, so another director (Stephanie Rothman) came along and added a few scenes and changed the story around a little. So it's no wonder that this is disjointed and confusing. And it's too bad that it's slightly incomprehensible because the movie has so much style. There's great atmosphere early in the film with greasy atmosphere and impossible architectures and creepy bells, great black and white shots that look like they could have been in The Third Man or something. Later, there's a cool desert "He was mad!" scene and a nice shot of floating high heels in a swimming pool. The climactic scene, the only thing that even approaches horror, is effectively and efficiently dark and creepy. There's some cool movie artwork and even a little satire with some beatniks discussing the application of quantum physics to painting. This doesn't really overcome its convoluted production history or problems, but it is interesting enough to take a peek at.

Note: Like A Bucket of Blood, this has a very misleading title. There's sort of a bath, but no blood. And remember, you're not quite getting the cleavage or "the shrieking of mutilated victims caged in a black pit of horror" promised on the poster.

Disco Godfather

1979 disco anti-drug movie

Rating: 4/20

Plot: The titular hero, a platter-spinning cat at a discotheque, declares his own personal war on PCP after his nephew runs into trouble.

This is Rudy Ray Moore but not with his Dolemite character. It does have plenty of tackiness, 70's jumpsuit sequin action, and a few terrible kung-fu scenes though. Oh, and a Rudy Ray Moore sex scene, of course. The best of those fight scenes (and by best, I'm really meaning the worst) are a pair with some telephone repairmen, the second of those accompanied by this "One Way Ticket to Hell--Shermanizin'" song that made me want to get my own jumpsuit, preferably a crotchless one. Interesting that this has such a strong anti-drug message since I assume the only people who would really like this movie would have to be on some sort of drug. Maybe Angel Dust. PCP must be a hell of a drug, apparently one capable of transforming a disco into Night of the Living African American Dead and turn Rudy Ray Moore into a skeleton. This whole thing starts with a ton of disco dancing mayhem with a great entrance by Moore in this blue outfit and a whole lot of cries to "Put some weight on it!" whatever the hell that means. Moore apparently thought that little catch phrase would be huge because the credits point out that he did copyright it. Things really get interesting when this turns into a 1970's black version of Reefer Madness. Moore's performance is something to behold--the early delivery of a "Where is Bucky and what has he had?" line, the mispronunciation of the word clandestine, and a scream at about the hour and twenty-nine minute mark that might be the best acting I've ever seen. My favorite moment might be during one of Rudy Ray's curse-filled ramblings about PCP that ends with a reporter asking, "Can I quote you on that?" The most exciting moments are during the PCP freakouts, scenes that almost reminded me of an urbanized Coffin Joe or something. And when animation is added to the freakouts, it was suddenly like outsider art or something.

Notable moments: An awesome performance by John Casino--Kurt Russell's stuntman for the last 25 years--as a cowboy. His death scene is one of the more ludicrous things you'll ever seen.

Best line that isn't "Put some weight on it!": "She claimed the ham was crying and didn't want the ham ruining her party."

2012 Year in Review! (The Last Part)

Best Movie Moment of the Year, the Movie Moment That Makes All Other Movie Moments Seem Like a Waste of My Time Because I Could Just Watch This One Movie Moment Over and Over Again and Be Happy: Nicolas Cage urinating flames in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. It’s that look back at the audience that seals it!

Best Classic Movie Moment: “Get him a body bag! Yeeeeeeaaaaah!”

Best Silent Movie I Saw This Year: Unless I missed something, The Phantom Carriage was the only classic silent movie I saw this year. How did that happen? The Artist is a silent movie and that edges out the real silent movie because Berenice Bejo wasn’t alive in the 1920s. Oh, and Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee was a silent, but it was also missing Bejo.

Best Crispin Glover Moment: He rocks a red velvet suit, sings a song, gets beaten up by a young Tim Robbins, and has a fight with a wall in Twister. He’s a force in River’s Edge. But he creates something insane and magical in Simon Says. Seriously, stop reading this (like you haven’t already!) and watch that movie.

Most Ridiculous Orgasmic Moment: What follows a “ding” in The Cabin in the Woods.

The Torgo (Best Worst Acting Performance of the Year): This was the most impressive list of nominees ever! Robert Williams from The Giant Claw, Kon Ohmura from Gamera vs. Guiron, Alan Bagh or the gas station employee or the guy in an Easy-E shirt in Birdemic: Shock and Terror, Ray Milland or Adam Roarke in Frogs, Jack Woods who directed himself in Equinox, Ray Sager in The Wizard of Gore, Isaac Kappy’s small role in Thor, Angela Boyd’s small part in Rocky Balboa, Antonia Dorian’s Princess April in Dinosaur Island, Tom Jarmusch (Jim’s brother) as Conan the accordionist in Johnny Suede, Marjoe in a couple movies, Jack Driscoll as the bus driver in Trip with the Teacher, Elizabeth Berkley’s awe-inspiring performance in Showgirls, John Gatins off-the-hook work in Real Steel. Seriously, any of these could win the Torgo this year, but this award can only belong to one fine thespian—Gary Busey for his remarkably terrible work as both a person and a dog in Quigley. Absolutely amazing.

The Most Painful Movie Experience of the Year (Worst Bad Movie): Transmorphers, Dark Shadows, Hearbeeps, Period Piece, and The Secret of the Magic Gourd were all painful. Mighty painful. But only one movie made me want to take my own life before the end credits—Chipwrecked.

The Manos (Best Worst Movie): Look at this list of bad movies that I loved watching:

The Devil’s Sword
The Giant Claw
Gamera vs. Guiron
The Man Who Saved the World
Viva Knievel!
The Godmonster of Indian Flats
The Wizard of Gore
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter
Monster from a Prehistoric Planet
Simon Says
Samurai Cop
Santa with Muscles

If somebody told me that any of the above movies was the worst movie they’ve ever seen, I wouldn’t be able to argue with them. But there’s one movie I watched this year that was just special, the only 1/20 that I gave out this year. I watched it early this year and knew nothing would beat it. I’ve talked about this movie with everybody I know to help spread the word, and I eagerly anticipate the sequel which is coming out in 2013. That movie, friends, is Birdemic: Shock and Terror. It’s the best worst of the best worst and well deserving of the Manos this year.

Best Movie of the Year: As always, old favorites are not considered. That excludes Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Withnail and I, Young Frankenstein, Papillon, Once Upon a Time in the West, Taxi Driver, Cool Hand Luke, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover, Rocky, Citizen Kane, Midnight Cowboy, Down by Law, Stranger than Paradise, L.A. Confidential, Fargo, Barton Fink, Freaks, Fight Club, M, Five Easy Pieces, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Bride of Frankenstein, The Love Bug, Squid and the Whale, Memento, Smokey and the Bandit, You the Living (former best movie award winner), Amelie, The Karate Kid, Schindler’s List, Pi, The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain, and Vertigo which is my favorite movie of all time. Wow! That’s a lot of great movie-watchin’ there! Here are the best new-to-Shane movies that I saw this year in alphabetical order:

Cowards Bend the Knee (or, the Blue Hands)
Death Rides a Horse
How to Get Ahead in Advertising
Ju Dou (a fine recommendation from Cory)
La Havre (from shane-movies favorite Aki Kaurismaki)
Moonrise Kingdom (on a date with my favorite person in the world not named Crispin Glover)
Pepe le Moko
Purple Noon (the third Cory recommendation here)
Ridicule (another Cory recommendation)
Sound of Noise (my favorite little surprise)
The Artist
The Ruling Class
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
The Virgin Spring (It’s possible that I’d seen this before.)

 The best new-to-me movie I saw this year: Hugo

Finally: The following list consists of movies that I liked but that nobody commented on. I reckon that might be because they’re obscure and people haven’t seen them. I think they’re worth watching!

Trollhunter (great found footage horror-comedy from Norway)
Parents (very black comedy featuring a Quaid brother)
Fish Story (clever apocalypse movie from Japan)
Street Thief (pretty good mockumentary)
[Rec] (more found footage, this one pretty much straight horror)
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (spoof comedy with Bejo and that guy from The Artist)
Trees Lounge (quiet little movie with Steve Buscemi)
Thieves Like Us (Depression-era Altman flick)
The first 2/3rd of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (good horror comedy but it loses steam)
Sleepwalk with Me (sweet little romantic comedy starring and directed by a good comedian)
The Favour, The Watch, and the Very Big Fish (Goldblum gets to play Jesus in this black comedy)
Smoke Signals (Native America-directed comedy with some funny moments)
The Fall (longish fantasy that’s a nice tribute to silent-era stuntmen)
I’m a Cyborg but That’s Ok (a bizarre little treat, like a Japanese Cuckoo’s Nest)
Leaves of Grass (far-from-perfect Coen-esque black comedy with Ed Norton playing twins)
Hands on a Hard Body (cool little documentary)
The Living Wake (a fun little irreverent black comedy with an Eisenberg)
The Bunny and the Bull (quirky, bizarre comedy that burbles with creativity)
Submarine (I must like black comedies—this one reminded me of Amelie and Wes Anderson)
Zazie dans le Metro (Louis Malle gets really goofy in this stream-of-conscious non-animated cartoon)
The Puffy Chair (simple comedy from the Duplass brothers)
Good Morning (simple Ozu drama with a lot of farting)
Mousehunt (fun family slapstick that isn’t afraid to get a little dark)
Rat (cool little Irish comedy with a lot of clever moments and a great Imelda Staunton performance)
Klown (hilarious and probably offensive comedy from Denmark)
The Great Buck Howard (not great at all, but it has a fun Malkovich performance)
The Cabin in the Woods (as I wrote about this one, it's either really clever or really stupid and probably a combination--loads of fun though)
World’s Greatest Dad (very dark but as I said before, you get to see Robin Williams naked)

Good bye.

2012 Year in Review! (Part Two)

Best Scene Featuring a Woodchipper: A three-way tie! Fargo’s famous woodchipper scene, of course, but also a great scene in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and another in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The latter, however, does not involve a woodchipper at all. It’s a snowchipper. But none of you have made it this far in my year-in-review, so it doesn’t really matter.

Best Scene Featuring a Nipple: Lots of candidates here as I’ve seen my fair share of nipples, but Jeff Goldblum tweaking his own while looking at dinosaurs in Jurassic Park takes the prize.
Best Monster: Various trolls in Trollhunter, crocodile men and a bitchin’ Cyclops in The Devil’s Sword, that bird puppet in The Giant Claw, Godzilla or his enemy Destororah or whatever the hell that thing’s name was, Gamera’s knife-headed opponent Guiron, Alice Cooper’s monster dog, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, the stop-motion gems in Equinox? They’re great monsters, but the titular Godmonster, a deformed sheepish thing, was the best monster I saw this year. And by that, I mean the worst.

Favorite Movie Moments That Don’t Fit Anywhere Else in This Mess:
“I’ve got you now, little guy” from Mousehunt
Rosemary and Herman sharing a carrot in Rushmore
The chase scene involving a bicycle and a frog running on its hind legs in the otherwise dreadful The Secret of the Magic Gourd
Jackie Chan imitating Keaton in Project A II
Richard E. Grant eating fish sticks in How to Succeed in Advertising
Gordon-Levitt reenacting the Star Wars trash compactor scene in Hesher. . .also a scene where he farts.
Loch Ness monster eating a cowboy in The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao
Gene Wilder going bonkers over his blue blanket in The Producers
Doctors trying to save a girl’s life in Hobo with a Shotgun
A one-armed man making air quotes in Brief Encounters with Hideous Men
A dough-juggling scene in A Woman, A Gun, and a Noodle Shop
The breastfeeding of a unicorn in Black Moon
Liam’s prayer in The Grey
The Orlac-esque shower butt-poke scene from Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee
Nicholson orders food in Five Easy Pieces
All the wonderfully disturbing places Noe takes the viewer in Enter the Void
Frankenstein’s sexy sexy bride twitching and chirping
Bill Murray’s bowling

Most Outrageous Claim That I Made All Year: That John Carpenter is somehow responsible for 9/11

My Best Idea of the Year: Taking A Night to Remember, digitally remove the iceberg, and digitally include Rip Torn throwing wrenches at the ship.

My Worst Idea of the Year: Goonies 3: Mama Fratelli’s Bedroom Adventures in 3-D
Best Comment I Got All Year: “Whatever your an asshole you don’t even get the fucking brilliance of this movie. it is a parody douche bag. GO watch NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE or something that you can get because WET HOT is obvously over your fucking head.” From Anonymous.

Best Fight Scene of the Year: Nothing beats the titular monkey from A*P*E fighting that rubber shark although Edward Norton fighting himself in Fight Club, Singh’s multi-jointed contortionist kung-fu moves in Kung Fu vs. Yoga, and the seemingly endless gun fight at the end of Samurai Cop are all pretty good. And if you’d call it a fight, the scene where Samurai Cop throws a sword and chops off a guy’s arm is great, too.
Worst Special Effect of the Year: The candidates: Most of A*P*E, the Darth Vader-esque wizard getting his head chopped in half in The Man Who Saved the World, the exploding birds in Birdemic: Shock and Terror, the play-doh heads in Riki-Oh. Wait, that can’t be all the candidates. I’ll have to come back to this one later.

Best Sound Effect: A slide whistle accompanying a nutsack grab in Kung Fu vs. Yoga. The worst sound effect is probably the chomping of that bird puppet in The Giant Claw.

Top Things That Would Get Me in Trouble If My Wife Read My Blog (aka A Year of Randiness):
Watching the x-rated Alice in Wonderland
Typing that I have a “thing” for Marion Cotillard
Claiming that Jennifer Aniston’s character saying “I love kung-fu” is the most arousing thing ever
How I’d like to pat Claudia Cardinale’s behind
Admitting that I was sexually aroused by a taxi
Fantasizing about 6 Shelley Duvalls at one dinner table
Joy Hammon’s car washing abilities
Speculating on how I’d probably consider dating Berenice Bejo if the opportunity presented itself
Whitney Moore “as cute as can be”
“I like animated nudity as much as the real thing.”
“I’ve been looking for a good tentacle rape scene.”
Admitting that I was aroused by Audrey II
Claiming that Sally Fields was my first lover
Adding Caroline Munro’s winking to my masturbation rolodex
Waxing poetic about the way Uma Thurman moves in Pulp Fiction
Writing about how I have no use for period horror movies except for the cleavage
Raving about Jannis Farley’s posterior
“I may have a crush on Bradley Cooper.”
Writing about lovely Genesis Rodriguez’s “actual buttocks”
“All the points I’m giving this are for the boobs.”

Best Sex Scene: So many good ones that I can’t pick just one. There’s FDR having his mistress squirt mustard and ketchup all over his “little polio legs,” Victoria Abril getting it on with a diver toy in Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, Levitch’s simulated (I think) orgasm in The Cruise, a teddy bear and clam chowder can sex scene in Period Piece, Kevin McDonald’s attempts to sodomize a ghost in that Guy Maddin movie, and a man having his way with a library book return slot in The Onion Movie. Seriously, what kinds of movies am I watching? Anyway, Elizabeth Berkley’s swimming pool scene has got to win this one.

Best Documentary: It’s Agnes Varda’s The Gleaners and I although I really liked her other documentary that I saw (Beaches of Agnes), The Times of Harvey Milk, The Cruise and Atomic CafĂ© which I’d already seen, Hands on a Hard Body, Dark Days, and The Gods of Times Square, the latter which I wrote about in a way that seemed to piss off the director.

Best Animated Movie: When the Wind Blows, topping that stop-animated pirate movie.

Worst Animated Movie: It wasn’t going to win the Manos, so I wanted to mention it somewhere else. Titanic: The Legend Lives On. . . really has to be seen to be believed.

Best Dance Scene: Chris Marker almost makes Jarmusch’s early go Permanent Vacation worth the effort. Bill Murray’s dance in Zissou is a thing of beauty. “Moses Supposes” in Singin’ in the Rain is terrific. Salma Hayek does some good work in From Dusk till Dawn. A nude Claudia Jennings sort-of dances in a disco torture chamber in Deathsport. Madsen’s dancing in Reservoir Dogs is one of the reasons I watched that movie twice this year. Gamera dances, but he isn’t as good as Godzilla in Monster Zero. Oldman doesn’t dance, but he does conduct an apartment trashing in a way that’s almost like a dance. The winner? Obviously, it’s got to be Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike.

Something I’m Still Confused About: That fucking cube in The Avengers!

Best Actor: Goldblum as Jesus, Goldblum as Freak 1 in Death Wish, Richard E. Grant in both Withnail and How to Succeed in Advertising, Tony Randall’s tour de force in The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, Kingsley in Hugo, Albert Brooks in Drive, Bronson Dudley’s small part in Trees Lounge, Gambon in The Cook. . . (one of my favorites ever maybe), Norton as twins in Leaves of Grass, Mike O’Connell’s hilarious work in The Living Wake, Craig Roberts in Submarine, Alain Delon in Purple Noon, Ossie Davis as JFK, Peter Stormare from Fargo, Gleason as Smokey, Schwartzman in Rushmore. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but when you call two Gene Wilder performances (Frankenstein and Wonka) the “greatest ever,” you sort of commit yourself.

Best Actress: Caroline Munro (twice!), Whitney Moore from Birdemic, Catherine Keener in Johnny Suede, Imelda Staunton from Rat, Bejo in a pair of performances, Anita Ford and Pam Grier, both in The Big Bird Cage, Catherine Spaak in The Libertine, the hilarious Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids, Anais Reboux in the tough Fat Girl, Katie Aselton in The Puffy Chair, Cecillia Stark in her lone performance in Strangers in Paradise, Marie-Josee Croze from The Barbarian Invasions. What a list! The winner? Una O ‘Connor’s brilliance as Millie in The Bride of Frankenstein!

Best Musical Moments of the Year:

Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem rock on a bus in The Great Muppet Caper
The “Dingaling” song in that x-rated Alice in Wonderland
Crispin Glover’s little song in Twister
Rapping dogs on the Titanic in that awful cartoon
“Puttin’ on the Ritz” from Young Frankenstein
Wesley Willis’s song about Jar-Jar Binks in the George Lucas documentary
A shirtless Tony Randall playing a pan flute, a runner-up in my nipple category
“Satisfaction” from Riki-Oh
“Come Out and Play” from The Warriors
The talent show from Revenge of the Nerds
The best musical moment? That would be the Muppets’ cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”