The Double

2013 dark comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A nondescript working man is alarmed when his doppelganger starts working at his place of employment. They hit it off initially, but then the double, who is his polar opposite, starts to get in the way.

Dystopian shenanigans based on a story by Dostoevsky directed by Richard Ayoade, the guy who did Submarine? And featuring my favorite actor Jesse Eisenberg? I never thought I'd say this about a member of the Eisenberg family, but I like the guy now. But it's almost in a Crispin Glover sort of way. The guy's not got much range, but he gravitates toward interesting roles and has developed a screen persona that is just his. Eisenberg barely has the range to pull off playing two characters who look identical but have opposite personalities, but there's a lot he does physically to make it work--slouches, gesticulations, different gaits. It's a nice, effortless performance. I really liked the world Ayoade creates here, one that is bleakly neo-Kafkian but with all these little details--like old school telephones--that give it a uniqueness. And the tone is more like what would happen if Kafka was still around and decided to take a crack at sitcom writing, complete with Japanese pop music. My favorite moments are an "I Was Born in West Virginia" song at the Colonel's ball, the line "I would tear the asshole off an elephant for a piece of trim I wanted that bad," finding out that ice cream cones are gay just like riding on a motorcycle with another man is gay, and a conversation Simon has with his mother where she says, "This used to be my favorite song," although no music is playing. There's absurdist humor, but again, it's got that Kafka-esque vibe which makes you slightly nervous about the whole thing. It's the type of world where this conversation can happen:

Police person: You're not going to commit suicide, are you?
Simon: No.
Other police person: Should I put him down for a no?
Police person: Put him down as a maybe.

Throw in a great music video and a glimpse of television soap operas in the future and a denouement that is either open to interpretation or something that I just thought too much about. It's all a little familiar--think Gilliam--but still manages to be refreshingly original. And if I didn't already say it, it's very funny.

Jesse Eisenberg's sister Hallie Kate is, as far as I can think of, the only woman who I'd like to go back in time just so I could punch her as a little girl. Does this sentence even make sense?

13 Sins


2014 horror movie

Rating: 10/20

Plot: A guy gets a phone call and finds himself in the center of some sick game where he has to complete these increasingly reprehensible challenges.

A co-worker recommended this one. The premise is interesting although you are forced to suspend disbelief more than any person should have to in order to fully enjoy anything that's going on. The whole thing felt a little Saw-ish, not necessarily in the good way that some of you might expect. Or is there a good way to feel Saw-ish? I did appreciate that there was a darkly comic tone in some sequences although the overall tone was a little all over the place with this one. There's an intriguing opener with an old man reading dirty limericks, and you learn that you can get away with poetry about a bear wiping his ass with a rabbit but should never go near the word "twat" unless you want trouble. The guy who played the lead (Mark Webber) wasn't bad and I really liked Tom "What do you think? I gotta piss like a race horse" Bower as the guy's father. Ron Perlman though? I'm not sure what he's doing? It's like he accidentally stumbled into the movie and decided to just be a character or something. What really brings this down is the performance of Devon Graye as the main character's mentally-challenged brother. I think people playing mentally-challenged characters might be a movie pet peeve of mine. Isn't it just tacky? Graye overdoes things. There's general silliness but the pace helps it all fly by and there are some good ideas sprinkled in there. I do sort of wish the main character's conflict would have been more of an internal one. After a while, it all has more to do with blackmail than his greed or anything like that. The character was the wrong kind of desperate.

This is a remake of a Thai film called 13: Game of Death which I wouldn't mind checking out.

Phase IV


1974 science fiction ant movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Somebody who enjoyed Them! decided that the whole thing would have been better if the menacing ants were just normal-sized itty-bitty guys and then made a movie about that.

I watched this because it was the only (sadly) shot Saul Bass had as a full-length-feature-film director, and I just had to see what the greatest title sequence designer ever--at least, I don't think I need an "arguably" in there--did. His graphic design career is probably more important and impressive than 90% of the directors out there, so although I didn't have high expectations for this, I did have some expectations. The pacing just feels off, and the storytelling is weak although the twist at the end works well enough. I did also watch an alternate ending on Youtube, an ending that was a lot more visually daring and experimental. It sort of clashed with the tone of the rest of the film, but it still rocked, all psychedelic fuzz and visual trickery. Nigel Davenport and Michael Murphy are the scientific guys, and they're both fine even though the characters aren't all that interesting. It's really the ants and the effects that steal the show. I wasn't sure sometimes if I was watching stop-animation, footage of actual ants like in Microcosmos or something, or a combination of both. So many ants! There's some surreal imagery that I liked--beakers breaking in slow motion, these weird pillars the ants decided to build for some reason, shots of the scientists' domed lab in the middle of nowhere, an ant walking down a coil. It's cool stuff. There's also a great ant fight scene with these incredible camera movements that reminded me of the Quay Brothers stop-motion shorts. I also liked a creative use of time-lapse stuff. Ants are probably the least menacing antagonist you could have in a movie not named Them! or featuring Indiana Jones and some Russians, but their modus operandi is a neat twist on the insect villain genre.

Seconds


1966 sci-fi drama

Rating: 16/20

Plot: An old guy who isn't exactly satisfied with his life gets a few calls from his dead friend and, on his suggestion, checks out the mysterious "Company," a company that promises to give folks a chance to die and start over again with a brand new life. It doesn't go very well.

I like my science fiction with a sense of paranoia and mystery, and this definitely has generous helpings of both of those. It all starts with the Saul Bass title sequences featuring distorted facial features with all this creepy organ dickery. John Frankenheimer's direction is almost claustrophobic, weird camera angles and lots of close-ups that give parts of this an expressionistic vibe, most notably during a trippy, Caligari-esque dream sequence. It's all wonderfully dark and teasingly mysterious, the sort of thing where you get little pieces of what you need to understand what's going on while knowing enough to figure out that this poor guy's getting himself into some trouble even before he walks into the laundry and meat-packing place. Interesting symbolic choices there, by the way, with that clothes press and the rows and rows of meat. John Randolph, as our protagonist, and especially Will Geer as an old guy who seems to be in charge of the whole outfit are really great in their roles. If the entire movie was as good as the first third, this would be on my list of favorite science fiction movies of all time.

Unfortunately, things aren't as consistently great post-operation. A lot of it is because Rock Hudson is just not very good in this movie, at least not until the very end during a scene which involves a lot of writhing. There's also a distracting Salome Jens playing Nora, the character's love interest in his new life. There's a too-long hippie win party with a lot of naked grape stomping, but the Rock-Hudson-adjusting-to-his-new-life parts of this movie just drag when compared with the exhilarating exposition and the dramatic finale. Don't get me wrong. This is still a terrific movie, probably even something you could call a sci-fi classic, but it doesn't make me like Rock Hudson very much at all.

An observation: Rock Hudson wasn't a very convincing on-screen kisser. I wonder why that is.

Frank


2014 musical odyssey

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A guy who wants nothing more than to be a pop 'n' roll sensation stumbles his way into a gig as a keyboardist for an experimental rock band after their normal guy tries to drown himself in the ocean. That band is fronted by Frank, a guy who wears and never removes the giant fake head seen on the cover up there. They retreat to the middle of nowhere to record an album and have some differences in opinion about what the band's goals should be.

Man, I loved this movie. I watched most of it and just enjoyed the darkish comedy and good performances--acting and musical. It was quirky, and the band's (Soronprfbs, if you want to try to pronounce that) trip to a remote cabin had enough parallels to Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band's recording of Trout Mask Replica, one of my favorites, to keep me happy. That album, by the way, was produced by none other than Frank Zappa. Soronprbs's musique concrete experimentation and meticulous recording process was, at least for me, fun to watch. And when they began recording? The music's probably not for everybody, but I thought it was downright euphoric!  Gradually, as the protagonist (not really the title character) began to be more and more of an influence, I figured out that this movie is actually about something. And it's a cool little conflict at the center of all of this--the struggle between the desire for popularity and acceptance from an audience and the creativity, passion, and relationships that go into creating something more pure. This also recalled another of my favorite bands--The Residents--and their Theory of Obscurity, the idea that great art can only happen if there is no audience. And although that transformation of Jon from a wide-eyed guy with big dreams to what is pretty close to a villain is pretty jarring, that transformation is what takes this from being nothing more than a quirky comedy to something with a message.

I'm not sure what this is saying about mental illness and the effect of mental illness on art or music. I'm sure it's saying something. Many of the characters have various mental illness, and one of them fucks mannequins. I know mental illness like the ones in this movie probably exist, but they're a little hard to accept all in one setting like this. Of course, as a character early on says, "You're just gonna have to go with it."
 
Michael Fassbender is mostly a voice and enough physicality to make him seem like a cartoon character. I hesitate to call it a good performance, but I suppose it was. I liked the mask and thought it was a lot more expressive than it should have been. I could have sworn that thing changed expressions as the camera hit it from certain angles. I liked Maggie "Stay Away from My Fucking Theremin" Gyllenhaal as his love interest, a psychotic synthesizer and theremin player. She also gets a couple fantastically somber musical numbers--"I Want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper" and "On Top of Old Smokey"--a little later. She and the other band members all apparently played everything we're hearing in this movie which makes the whole thing even more impressive. These characters are taken through a journey that feels, despite the weirdness of the whole thing, like it could be real, and there's plenty of room in their story to really think about what's going on. It's a well-paced story with plenty of humor and an ending that is just about perfect.

Bad Movie Club: Wizards of the Lost Kingdom


1985 wizards movie

Bad Movie Rating: 4/5 (Johnny: 2/5; Josh: 2/5; Fred: 1.5/5; Libby: 2/5; Jeremy: got sleepy)

Rating: 5/20

Plot: An evil sorcerer and his posse of little people have taken over a kingdom, and it's up to a small boy, a gurgling man in a rabbit suit (Mutated Lambchop according to Johnny and dubbed Tampon Man by Libby), and a nondescript hero to stop him. 

This borrows footage from Deathstalker and seemingly the entire score from Battle Beyond the Stars, two other Bad Movie Club entries. I can't figure out why my colleagues didn't enjoy this one as much as I did. You had a terrible child actor (Vidal Peterson); a bored, slightly-inept Bo Svenson as the big sword-hoistin' hero; a bad guy played by Thom Christopher who apparently stole Steve Martin's eyebrows and a couple of his poses; a Wookiee-like sidekick named Wulfrick, that guy in a terrible white rabbit suit who did nothing but gurgle; some of the worst fight choreography ever; and more little people characters than one movie should be allowed to have. Wulfrick would probably rank just under Chewbacca if I made a list if Favorite Walking Carpets. Check this guy out: 


Wulfrick is the one on the right. 

I will say this--there is a lot of creativity that went into this story, with its mermaids and cyclopes and shape-shifting sex witches. The special effects can't come close to keeping up with the ideas, but for me, that usually makes a movie that much easier to appreciate. This is the sort of sword and sandal c-movie craziness that I'd think would appeal to bad movie fans, but as I said, I seem to be the only person in our group who really enjoyed it. Of course, that could have been because we were wanting to watch the sequel instead, mostly because it has David Carradine, but were only able to find this one. But seriously, how can anybody not love something like this: 


And check out this guy!



Let's look up those little people to get my mind off that! Nick Cord plays the "Bat Creature," a spry little flying monkey that doesn't fly. Not sure if Cord is a child or a little person beneath that terrific costume, so he's not winning a Billy Curtis. He/She/It does [Spoiler Alert] seem to pair up with Tampon Man at the end of this which forces you to think about the pair having sexual relations. Or is "allows" a better word than "forces" there. You be the judge: 


Not a great screen grab, but it should still be enough for your spank banks. The best little person moment might be a scene where the evil sorcerer causes one of his mini-minion to evaporate, but not before the little guy lets out a great "Waaaaaa!" sound. The best little person performance was the spry Michael Fontaine's as a spry, Pillsbury-giggling fake-bearded little wizard. I was disappointed to see that he didn't have much of a career at all although he was a guard in The Man Who Fell to Earth. I don't remember any little people in that movie though. I was even more disappointed to discover that the actors who played Sipra and Bobino and Timmon and Malkon and Merkin and Jerkin and Blumpkin and Tookus and Porkins and Smackums and Jerkoff and Dorko had even smaller careers. In fact, this was their only movie, surprising since it seems these little people actors can find work. One wonders if Shurka's disintegration of them wasn't really a special effect. Somebody should investigate. 

The Telephone Book


1971 sex comedy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A woman becomes enamored with an obscene phone call virtuoso because "he has class," and tries to find him. 

It's hard to believe that this--sort of a more avant-garde and more modern Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Sex But Were Afraid to Ask--is the only film Nelson Lyon directed. In some ways, it mirrors the free-love hippie generation and the more playful avant-garde offerings of the middle chunk of the 20th Century, but I really enjoyed its style, its absurdist humor, and the black and white cinematography. It takes some raunchy risks and has an unusual but somehow still workable mix of goofballery and seriousness. The performances are good because nobody in this plays the verbal slapstick too slapsticky. The main character, played by a waifishly cute and frequently-nude Sarah Kelly, does have maybe the most annoying voice ever but some great wallpaper. The obscene caller, Norman Rose, has one of those great voices, one of those mellifluous voices like Ken Nordine or somebody who you could listen to reading anything all day and never really tire of it. The calls themselves lean toward the absurd, like a lot of the humor, and when we eventually get to see Norman Rose, he's wearing a silly pig mask that covers the top half of his face. He really puts on a performance here, but that's probably easy when you've got great lines like, "They say that I could seduce a fire hydrant if it had ears." The narrative probably takes up around a half an hour in this as random interviews with other obscene callers or various diversions interpose. There's the former obscene caller who used to call nuns after dipping his hands in pea soup but doesn't do it anymore because of the rising of Atlantis, and there's another guy with a pipe who says, after just the right pause, "My mother never let me smell her pants." He's also the guy who talked about swallowing a golf ball and having his nose run when he eats spaghetti and who eventually admits, "I know that it's sick to say dick-a-lick," a line that made me wake me wife up because I couldn't stop laughing. You know, because I'm a child. Other auxiliary characters Kelly encounters on this little journey of hers include Har Poon, a guy with Groucho glasses and a guy on the subway who has a weird way of exposing himself. The former ends up with about 9 or 10 naked women on top of him, including my two new favorite actresses. Geri Miller plays a dancer who engages in something I'd describe as advanced twerking, and it's something special. Special enough that I want to find myself all 17 of her movies in which she plays Girl Shaking Tassels, Girl in Bar, Dancer, Woman being Whipped, Gerri the go-go dancer, and Dominique in something called Daughters of Lesbos. And Ultra Violet (not her real name, by the way) plays "Whip Woman," a woman with a whip. I also liked a very small role by some guy as a giggling mugger. Kelly also meets a flasher, a lasciviously-mustachioed guy who draws pictures for a perverse Rorshach test and who later pays her to tell a story by masturbatorily ejecting change from one of those old change dispenser things he's wearing on his belt. And that story is about a guy with an enormous, apparently perpetual erection who just happens to be shane-movies favorite William Hickey! And let me tell you--if you've ever wanted to see a William Hickey sex scene, this is your movie. Hickey gets great lines during that--"I think that something fabulous is about to happen" and "I'm scared"--and it was more than enough for the flasher's great "Wow!" as he ejected those coins to be echoed by my own. Anyway, there's lots to see here, and with all the slurping and panting and gurgling and slurping sound effects, there's even a lot to hear. It's all absurdly funny. However, there is a sort of sex scene that takes place in a pair of phone booths that was a really cool, and almost touching. Of course, it was juxtaposed with these surreally animated obscenities, like rejects from Pepperland engaged in coitus. Coolly dated and definitely worth seeing, even for those of you are ain't perverts. 


Mystics in Bali


1981 Indonesian nuttiness

Rating: 12/20

Plot: A woman researching black magic heads to Bali and meets a witch who promises to let her in on some secrets of a local black magic cult. Unfortunately for Cathy, the witch has ulterior motives and plans to use her head to unleash evil upon the world.

Do you like cackling? You have to have a pretty high tolerance for a buttload of cackling because that witch spends the entire movie with this high-pitched laughter that the Wicked Witch would think was a little over the top. If you can get past this, there's plenty to enjoy here. And I really need to see more movies from Indonesia, I think. I don't think I've ever see a boring movie from Indonesia. You might accuse this of being poorly acted and almost entirely incoherent, but you definitely can't say this is boring. It all begins with wildly percussive credits and all these creepy masks. There's a cool little hand trick, a bad special effect but still something you can appreciate because it reminds you of a scene from Evil Dead II which is never a bad thing. There's blood drinking, cackling, a pretty funky pig transformation scene, another transformation scene involving snakes, a flaming snarling ball attack, blood drinking. Oh, and there's a scene where Cathy kisses somebody and immediately starts puking up mice. How's that supposed to make a guy feel? During an ending fight scene, you get to watch an old guy and the witch shoot cartoon lightning at each other, another pig transformation, and a boob stab. Of course, the whole thing disappointingly ends without any of that actually mattering, but sometimes it's not about the end result. It's about the process. And the process that brought us Mystics in Bali is nothing short of demented. I did mention the head with dangling innards, right? It looks like this:


Yep, just kind lifts out of there and then scoots around to wreak havoc, including one scene where it sucks a fetus out of a woman (I think) and then flies out the window again while some onlooking gentlemen don't even bat an eye. The whole thing's Cronenberg-esque. That witch has impossibly long fingernails and that impossible cackle, and when she talks, it often reminds me of Yoda. She over-witched, in epic fashion, but a lot of it had to do with some delirious dubbing. Fun little movie if you like your Indonesian cinema a little on the insane side--which includes apparently all of them.

Bad Movie Club: The Terror Beneath the Sea


1966 science fiction movie

Bad Movie Rating: 3/5 (Fred: 2/5; Jeremy: 1/5; Johnny: 2/5; Josh: 2/5; Libby: no rating)

Rating: 7/20

Plot: The military's testing torpedoes, and a pair of reporters investigating the story spot some sort of mysterious monster swimming around. Further snooping gets them captured by the cheap-looking grown-up sea monkeys.

Hey! There's an idea--Sea Monkeys: The Movie. I'd watch the shit out of that one!

You might assume that the terror pictured on the poster above was drawn by a small child, but other than the color, that's actually what the fish guys look like. See:


I enjoyed this one a little better than my friends, mostly because of the fight choreography and general tone. It's from '66 and seems to borrow that general tone from the Batman series. You sort of miss the onomatopoeia during the fisticuffs actually. Although the costumed monster guys are silly looking and, despite engaging in target practice, shoot about as well as Stormtroopers in A New Hope, some of the effects used to show the transformation of man into fish-man ain't bad if you're grading on a steep curve. There's action, far too much underwater swimming shots, and a few explosions, but this movie's really about facial expressions. Sonny Chiba isn't known for subtle facial expressions exactly. I mean, Google Image "Sonny Chiba Face" and you're going to get stuff like this:




But in this movie, everybody's expressions and reactions to shocking things are exaggerated. Chiba's not even the worst offender. No, that title belongs to his love interest and fellow reporter played by Peggy Neal. Here they both are making faces:


That's during the aforementioned transformation scene which, probably because director Hajime Sato (that guy who did the pretty cool Goke, the Body Snatcher from Hell) wanted to show off his special effects budget, was entirely too long. Shot of poor soul growing gills, shot of these two making some face, another shot of guy getting all rubbery, another shot of these two making an equally ridiculous face. And so on. The big villain is Dr. Moore, played by somebody named Erik Neilson, and you can tell he's evil because he wears his sunglasses indoors in an undersea laboratory for the entire movie. And yes, he overacts, too. And over-reacts. A few BMCers had issues with some of the science in this movie, but I'm sure something called "marine snow" actually does exist. Anyway, a pretty average bad movie, but Sonny Chiba completists will definitely want to check it out. Or Peggy Neal completists.

Death to Smoochy

2002 black comedy

Rating: 9/20

Plot: Popular kiddie show host Rainbow Randolph is fired after an embarrassing arrest, and a nobody--Smoochy the Rhino--replaces him. Sheldon, the actor in that rhino suit, learns the disturbing truths about the ins and outs of kiddie show business while Randolph does what he can to get his old job back.

On paper, this should be my kind of movie. You got an impressive ensemble of little people actors, grown men wearing animal costumes, and humor that's about as dark as humor gets. It's got a good cast, too. I almost always like Edward Norton, and he's good here with an all-in, enthusiastic performance as the idealistically pure entertainer. He was also gluten free before it was cool. Robin Williams does his Robin Williams thing although there are times when it doesn't really seem like his heart's completely in it. I love seeing Catherine Keener, and Jon Stewart and director DeVito are fine with what they do here. Oh, and Harvey Fierstein, a guy with a body almost as rockin' as mine, is also in this thing. So is Danny Woodburn, a great little person actor. The movie's colorful, has a few songs, and is really fast paced. And the soundtrack uses Yma Sumac--twice! And a fun reference to Nazis, complete with a "Heil Smoochy!" And penis gags. Unfortunately, I just don't think all the parts add up to much of anything. The movie sort of unravels early on and then continues unraveling, and although there are some ideas that are mildly humorous, there are a lot more ideas that just don't work at all. There are times when an idea might have even been pretty good, but they proceed to beat the viewer into submission with it. The best example is a phallic cookie gag where Norton tries to call them a rocket ship. I think the gag should have ended there, but Williams screeches, "What are you--blind? It's a cock!" and then follows it with about thirty penis puns. You just want to say, "OK, Movie. I get it. Let's move on." But then you realize you're talking to a movie. The musical numbers--a "Get you off the smack" song sung to the tune of "Coming Round the Mountain" or a Rainbow Randolph song with the line "One might say grass while the others says snatch?" (I think)--are the types of things you'd expect to see and not laugh at on a television sketch comedy show. And after a while, almost every single line coming from any of these characters just seems disingenuous. It takes a wacky premise that--again--should work on paper, and deflates it.

It's not all terrible, at least as not as terrible as I remembered. There's a nice song that is heavy on the Jew's harp, one of the most underrated instruments. Michael Rispoli's pretty good as brain-damaged ex-boxer Spinner Dunn. Robin Williams does this little celebratory dance at one point that's probably one of the most notable moments of his career. There's a great little rambling bum performance by a guy named Richard Hamilton, and somebody at one point says, "Don't get me wrong--I'm not literally comparing Captain Kangaroo to Jesus Christ," the type of thing I wish I could find a context to quote. And character actor Vincent Schiavelli shines as Buggy Ding Dong with a great first line--"Excuse me if I smell like piss."--and a enigmatic but interesting last one--"I never saw Venice." I really almost enjoyed the movie any time he was on the screen. Well, except for the big climax which was just a bunch of silliness.

And then there's the great work from former Billy Curtis nominee Danny Woodburn, a guy who's had a lot of interesting roles including Mickey, Kramer's little friend in several episodes of Seinfeld, and a great little performance in Watchmen. He also contributed to one of the worst movies ever--Jingle All the Way--so his career hasn't been all good. The other Rhinettes/Krinkle Kids? Colin Moult, Nikolai Tichtchenko, and Christy McGinity didn't really do anything else, but Martin Klebba has had a nice career. He's been in Pirates movies, visited Oz (the recent CGI one), was on 8 episodes of Scrubs, and played "Dancing Yosemite Sam." He's actually got 77 credits since 2001 which is pretty close to Eric Roberts territory. And Tanya Banks, known more for stunts perhaps, is part of the human xylophone in The Dark Backward.

Anyway, I've seen this movie twice now, and it's not worth watching twice. It's probably barely worth watching once.

Hoffa


1992 fictionalized biopic

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Movie mythology about the rise and fall of Union guy Jimmy Hoffa and his buddy, a little person.

Josh recommended this and the next movie I'm writing about, both directed by Danny DeVito, so I'll focus more on the direction. Hoffa's probably overlong and a little uneven, and the direction ranges from clumsy to pretty great. For the most part, DeVito (an actor) is good at allowing the actors to tell the story, and along with Nicholson even though he got himself a Razzie nomination for this performance, create a memorable and enigmatic and heavily-flawed human being to tell that story. Nicholson's voice reminds me a lot of David Lynch's, one that I enjoy listening to, and he drops a lot of "cocksuckers" in the dialogue. Or David Mamet, the screenwriter, drops them in there. I'd like to think Nicholson really relished in playing a character who says "cocksucker" so much though. It seems like a role that Nicholson is having some fun with, and that voice somehow humanizes this larger-than-life figure. My favorite bits are the ones where he gets agitated and cusses at somebody.

I really like the look of the film. Visually, DeVito does a good job. It's got a look that is a little too glossy for the time period and material, but the Hollywoodization of the story actually makes that seem appropriate. But I like the way the story transitions between what's happening in the present--Hoffa and his buddy waiting for somebody outside a diner in the middle of nowhere--and the flashbacks. A slow-motion shattering of a window melts into the grill of a car, a pothole transforms into a moon, a zoom into the ear of a priest, thankfully since if nothing else it gets away from showing some weird-looking burn make-up/effects. The initial meeting between DeVito and Hoffa is on a country road but looks like it was filmed on a stage. That and lots of driving shots give this a crisp old-timey feel. There's another scene in a fake-looking stylized woods where DeVito kills a deer with a revolver that I liked.

The film's got its flaws. One, is a really crappy score by David Newman. I wish the music would have blended in instead of sticking out, crappily. I also thought this played on sentimentality a little too hard. It was 90's melodrama, and that sort of thing makes me a little sick to my stomach. And then there was a scene where DeVito gets whisky or whiskey (I don't know the difference), cigars, and Playboys which forces the viewer to imagine Danny DeVito masturbating while drinking and smoking.

There's also a scene with genitals in a jar though, and that's the sort of thing that can always make a movie better. And this has a cool cameo appearance by Tim Burton.


With Razzie nominations for DeVito and Nicholson, I expected this to be much worse than it was. It's not a bad movie at all even though I'm not sure anybody should watch it for a 100% realistic look at the life of Jimmy Hoffa.

The Dance of Reality


2013 movie memoir

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

Plot: An autobiographical coming-of-age romp through Alejandro Jodorowsky's childhood in Tocopilla, Chile. His childhood is more interesting than yours.

I didn't take notes because you really don't want to take your eyes off a Jodorowsky movie to blandly write something down with a pencil. Or even an ink pen. Thematically, it's nothing new at all with its umbrella theme of embracing the past and using it as fuel no matter how difficult or traumatic you remember it being. But the presentation? Well, nobody's quite like Alejandro Jodorowsky, and as the imagery and ideas bounced and popped off my brother's television, about 75% of me was overjoyed despite the gloomy mood I was in and 25% of myself was infinitely sad because for reasons that aren't clear to me, the world just wasn't allowed to have as many Alejandro Jodorowsky movies as it should have had. Maybe the world doesn't deserve it anyway. Regardless, that was 23 years (Cinematic Dark Ages) where there were no Jodorowsky movies, and there's nothing anybody can do to fix that.

The movie's a breath of fresh air, but it feels wrong to resort to a cliche here. Colors pop off the screen, and Jodorowsky mixes actual (I guess) events from his past with products of his imagination in a way that is just so refreshing. This thing just swims. Even when it drags, at least by its standards, it swims. It's magically realistic and very playful although the humor is often very dark and the darkness is often entirely humorless. Beyond just a look at the artist's childhood, this is more universally about mother/son and especially father/son relationships, the expectations involved with being a man, oppressive government regimes (although that's used more to shade the rest of the story), confronting ideologies, how our pasts definitely help shape our futures, and how our futures can strangely shape our pasts. Compared with Jodorowsky's other three masterpieces--Santa Sangre, The Holy Mountain, El Topo--I'd say this is easily more accessible even though some chapters in the story feel intensely personal. There's still some mysticism or spirituality that a lot of folks would have trouble connecting with, and some of the ideas and imagery just aren't the kinds of things that appeal to the masses. Unfortunately. But its themes are more universal and easier to grasp than Jodorowsky's other work, probably even that one with Peter O'Toole.

Everybody in the world with the surname Jodorowsky is in this movie, by the way. His son Brontis plays his father Jaime, and two other sons are also in there playing an anarchist and a crazed religious dude. And Alejandro himself plays the adult version of himself as this sort-of spiritual guide. I thought young Alejandro was played by a grandson or something, but it's not. It's a kid named Jeremias Herskovits, and this is his only acting performance. I liked him, but my brother didn't. He's probably right since I'm apparently a bad judge of child actors. (See my thoughts on Jake Lloyd and Tootie for examples.) I'm remembering a large cast for what felt like a grand production, but there aren't a lot of credited roles and, in a perfectly Jodorowskian fashion, the people who aren't really important to this story at all are all wearing expressionless masks.

Those masks are just one of the little touches that make this an experience that can only be described as Jodorowskian. (And yes, I'm aware that I've made up a stupid word and used it in two sentences in a row. What are you going to do about it?) The mother sings all of her lines operatically, a neat little quirk that helps her clash with the father character and feel like this artistic, poetic, and beautiful influence for the youngster. She's Pamela Flores, and you have to appreciate the performance, the kind of brave role you'd expect a woman in a Jodorowsky movie to take, one involving her full-figured nudity and a scene with a golden shower that could be in there for scientific reasons that I'm not smart enough to understand. There's a little person who's kind of like those people who dress up as the Statue of Liberty or Uncle Sam and stand outside tax places or wave "Cash for Gold" signs. This little guy's dressed as a devil at once point and waves around inflatable money. You also get the obligatory circus scene with a guy dressed as a bee and some colorful clowns and more amputees than I think Jodorowsky's ever used before. Feisty ones, too! And there's a Fellini-esque ending that is stunningly beautiful and really touching.

Funny, spiritual, inventive, dazzling, dark, challenging, rich, and artistic, this is probably what everybody who's seen Jodorowsky's early works would have hoped for but maybe not have expected from an 86-year-old director. I had been looking forward to this one for a long time and suspected that I was setting myself up for disappointment. The Dance of Reality did not disappoint at all which, at least in this case, is the highest praise I can give it.

Bad Movie Club: Malibu Express

1985 action comedy

Bad Movie Rating [where a 5/5 would be a classic good-bad movie]: 3/5 (Josh: 3/5; Johnny: 3/5; Fred and Libby: did not finish)

Actual Rating: 7/20

Plot: A lousy private eye but prolific fornicator is hired to see what's up with the Chamberlain family. After he witnesses some infidelity, cross-dressing, and blackmail, he finds himself in the middle of a murder case.

It was time for more Andy Sidaris, and this was a major disappointment for us after the brilliantly awful and brilliantly sleazy Hard Ticket to Hawaii. This still nails sleazy with a solid BPM (Boobs Per Minute) rate and scenes where characters have sex only because Sidaris doesn't seem to know what else human beings do. People shoot at each other and have sex. That's about it in Andy Sidaris's world. Actually, I'm not sure if this had more sex scenes than deaths or not, but it had to have been close. Sidaris himself makes a Hitchcockian cameo as a driver of an RV, and he looks like the exact type of pervert who would make a movie like this. There's enough to make this worth watching if nipples and/or inept action movies are your thing. Seriously, Sidaris finds any excuse he can to show us a nipple or two, and when he can't think of an excuse, he'll probably show us one anyway. There's an unlikely action hero played by Darby Hinton, the guy who played Daniel Boone's kid in the TV series. He can't shoot, but he's like a babe magnet. The weird countrified banjo-heavy score must exist only to further help us all understand that Cody Abilene is a good ol' boy. Oh, and he also narrates the entire movie. There are lots of cars, a car/helicopter chase scene, a transvestite played by the same guy (Michael Andrews) who played a transvestite in Hard Ticket to Hawaii, a great and ultimately pointless performance by Robyn Hilton playing Maid Marian, a "poontage" (new favorite word, coined by Johnny), a bad guy who gets his ear shot off, and a really bad and senseless twist. There's no way I would recommend this before Hard Ticket to Hawaii, but there's definitely an audience for this sort of thing. Not for two member of Bad Movie Club, however, who left for unknown reasons that might be known but might not.

The Pervert's Guide to Ideology


2012 video essay

Rating: 15/20

Plot: My hero, Slavoj Zizek, digs into popular films to expose hidden messages that reveal how our beliefs are shaped.

Slavoj Zizek! Man, I love this Yugoslavian psychoanalyst/philosopher. As with the completely brilliant and entertaining The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, Zizek talks and talks, sometimes inserting himself into famous movie sets--De Niro's pad in Taxi Driver, the alley where fisticuffs go on and on and on in They Live, a chapel from The Sound of Music, the bathroom from Full Metal Jacket, in the frigid waters near Titanic where bodies freeze all around him. This meanders a little more than its predecessor, and I had trouble following some of what he was talking about and making connections, but this is successful because it gets you thinking and maybe will even change the way you watch movies. Heavy and heady, it's like an action movie for intellectuals. Watch and you'll learn about what that shark in Jaws really is. [Spoiler Alert: It's big brutal capital, or perhaps all of humanity's fears united into something tangible, something that makes reality a little simpler.] Coca Cola's creation of a "desire for desire" and Starbucks' ideas for a new consumerism without bad conscience take things away from movies, and so does an explanation of how enjoying the terrible band Rammstein is a way to fight Nazism. Or how Christianity is much more atheist than atheism. (No, I didn't really get it either.) And he ruins Titanic for everybody by explain how it is actually about rich people revitalizing themselves by ruthlessly exploiting the poor. This is after he asks, "What am I doing here in the middle of the ocean in boat surrounded by frozen corpses?" in that thick accent of his. The analysis that Leo and Kate would have had 2 or 3 weeks of intense sex in New York before their love would "fade away" and how the tragedy actually saved their love is just so cool. It's stuff that I'd never be smart enough to think about.

Most important quote: "We are responsible for our own dreams." In context, this is vital. Vital!

Long live Slavoj Zizek, and I am going to eagerly await a third "pervert's guide" movie.

Get Crazy


1983 musical comedy

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A businessman attempts to disrupt a New Year's musical extravaganza. 

Interesting cast with Malcolm McDowell in a purely comedic role, Daniel Stern with his Daniel Stern eyes, freakin' Lou Reed, teen-idol Fabian, Dick Miller who is actually playing a character not named Walter Paisley, and shane-movies favorite Paul Bartel. Oh, and there's been a Clint Howard spotting! I'm trying to think of some joke where I compare Clint Howard to a groundhog, like "If you see Clint Howard in a movie before February 1st, you're going to have six more weeks. . ." See, I can't do it, and that's just one of the reasons why I'm failing as a blogger. 


This is a fun but completely unimportant comedy by Allan Arkush who did Heartbeeps with Andy Kaufman, Rock 'n' Roll High School, and Caddyshack II. And a lot of it is your everyday 1980's comedy, or maybe like a few 1980 comedies got together to talk about old time, got hilariously drunk (because that's how you'd get drunk in 1980's movies), and then threw this up. But sort of in a good way. It's from the school of comedy-makin' where the writers seemingly threw every idea they could into the pot to see what you'd laugh at. And I did like some of the humor. A blues man's funeral made me laugh, both with a gag that I won't give away because it's just too funny and one of those great movie prayers: "God, this is my man and you better take care of him or I'm gonna wax your ass." There's some mild absurdism mixed in, too, like when McDowell's character is given a turtle and a refrigerator while performing ("A gift from me") or Lou Reed spending the duration of the movie in a cab. McDowell's pretty funny, playing sort of a Mick Jagger character. The first shot of him during his performance is great--he turns and looks at the crowd, his eyes matching a ridiculous poster that we got to see earlier in the movie. He's also, naturally, wearing a ridiculous codpiece because he's Malcolm McDowell and "My character will wear a codpiece in this movie if I want him to wear a codpiece" is in every contract he signs. He also delivers an "I'm not satisfied" (another nod to Jagger?) from a wall of naked women, and while "going for a pee" has a conversation with his penis. 

McDowell: I didn't know you could talk.
Cock: There's a lot you didn't know about me. 

I did five seconds of research and couldn't find any credit for "voice of Reggie Wanker's penis" unfortunately. And yes, his character's name is Reggie Wanker. Anyway, I'm just going to assume it's Clint Howard doing the voice work for the penis because he's probably the cast member who looks most like a penis. McDowell also takes care of his own singing, but it's his rock star faces that make that character. Lou Reed is funny enough although he's clearly not an actor. His "Death Bed Request" in the cab is cute, and I was happy to see a solo performance as the credits rolled. ("My Baby Sister" for you Lou-ficionados.) I liked the blues guy, too, with his Jews band--get it; it rhymes--and all-girls band Nada with guest vocalist Piggy. Piggy's a hardcore punk rocker Lee Ving, and here, he's great at wordless screaming and stage diving. The best character only makes two or three quick appearances and doesn't say a single thing. He's Electric Larry, and I assume the Butthole Surfers got the name of that album from this guy. He pops in whenever he thinks the characters need drugs. And he looks like this: 


Nope, I can't find who plays Electric Larry either, so once again, I'm assuming it's Clint Howard. 

Also, this is kind of fun: 


First Vanilla Sky, and now this movie recreating Dylan album covers. 

Oprah Movie Club for December: Close Encounters of the Third Kind


1977 science fiction movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: An ordinary Hoosier has himself a genuine religious experience and, in a series of event that might parallel the Old Testament's Elijah, is called to a monolith where he ascends into heaven.

Actually, I don't know if this closely parallels the story of Elijah because I'm a heathen. All I know is that Elijah ran around, probably like a demented person who spread honey on his chest and beard and ate locusts like all the other Biblical prophets, spreading the word about the coming of Christ and then was whisked into the aether. Any Biblical experts can correct me on any of that I've gotten wrong.

Elijah or no Elijah, this is clearly about the religious awakening of Dreyfuss's Roy Neary and really a kind of collective spiritual experience. And it leaves you with several questions:

1) Would God (or whatever spiritual being(s) are out there watching us) prefer a funky 1970's light show and a series of belched notes from a synthesizer to the blathering prayers he has to listen to all the time?

2) What would the government's response to definitive proof of God be? Would they try capitalizing on the second coming? Would they figure out a way to tax the trinity? Would there be a cover-up to avoid potential ideological clashes?

3) What would God think of this much product placement during a spiritual experience? I'm guessing the high fructose corn syrup would cause him to overturn Coca Cola displays in grocery stores like Jesus coming at money changers' tables. Or maybe I'm completely wrong and he'd understand how different we are in the 21st Century, speaking to us from burning soft drink billboards instead of burning bushes.

4) The abducted people being returned, including that kid Cary Guffey who Kubrick really wanted for The Shining--have they been rejected? Why were they rejected? And why do they want Roy? Have they really thought this one through? The dude plays with his food and takes showers with his clothes on.

5) Why didn't the aliens take children exclusively? I think I would have liked that better as a way of illustrating the appeal of the bright colors and flashing lights and miracles of religion to wide-eyed children. An all-child abduction plan would have helped explain why Dreyfuss's character is kind of an immature doofus at the beginning of this, too. I mean, isn't he arguing with his children because he wants to watch a cartoon the first time we meet him?

6) Devils Tower. I think there's a little style in the choice to make a landform with a demonic moniker where "God" is going to reveal himself. God probably is big enough not to thumb his nose at Satan or really care about showing him up, but you never know.

7) Am I wrong about Elijah? Is it Moses? Maybe Devils Tower is the mountain Moses climbed up (Sinai, right?), talked to God, got some commandments, and climbed back down again. Only there's no commandments, and the government is building any golden calves. Or are they? Maybe that explains all the Coca Cola references? Anyway, God didn't sweep Moses away in a spaceship, so forget that this paragraph is even here.

8) What's the message about spirituality if it is indeed a message about spirituality? Roy ditches his entire family and job as he obsesses over his visions. He apparently quits his job and stop worrying about cartoons, too. Is that what people are called to do? There's a story in the Gospels about a tax collector named Levi who leaves everything behind to follow Jesus. There's another verse in there about how you can't be a disciple of Christ unless you're willing to renounce everything. Seems like a theme that runs through the Bible is that you're supposed to leave all worldly things behind. Well, Roy definitely does that!

9) Am I the only one who thought the weird-looking alien, even though it was really kind of expressionless, seemed amused or even confused by our shenanigans? Those hand signals that are mimicked, for example: Is the alien humoring us there? Would God?

10) What happens when the messages to or from God are unclear? There's a great moment in this where the big spaceship or the people start farting out the wrong tune, a time when the people just aren't able to "get" it. As a kid, I always wondered about why people think we can only communicate with God with words. I guess the Pentecostals use other methods, but most Christians are all about talking to God. And God, unless you accept the Bible as "the word" and consider that a sort of verbal communication, doesn't really talk back. That's why I think I like the music and gesticulating--it's more visceral, passionate. I really liked the "What are we saying to each other?" part where all the noises collide like the soundtrack to one of Philip Glass's wet dreams.

It's quite obvious that I once again don't really know what I'm talking about. I hadn't seen this Spielberg sci-fi flick since I was a little kid, and I only remembered being scared during part of it--the abduction scene, I guess--and the end which I recalled being much, much too long. I watched most of the movie thinking it was about a guy having a mid-life crisis and having a difficult time dealing with the burden of having a family, but I think there was some projection going on there. This is obviously a more universal experience, albeit not one that everybody's willing to embrace. I do like how Roy's family, after they leave, aren't really heard from again, and unless I'm forgetting some dialogue, I don't think Roy even mentions them. I like Dreyfuss in this as much as I like him in Jaws, something you can take any way you want to take it. He's really good at getting angry. I'm not sure about some of the scenes with his character though. I can't be the only person who thought the mashed potatoes scene was funny, can I? I've had similar family freak-outs to that (mostly while playing board games), by the way, so I can definitely identify. I've also lain in a bathtub with all my clothes on while whimpering, "I don't know what's happening to me."

The special effects sure look dopey about forty years after the movie came out which is too bad because it kind of takes away from the experience. I didn't like the design of the spaceships even when I saw this as a kid. The mothership is fine, as grand as it should be--like a menacing behemoth made a little friendlier by lighting up like a Simon game. The little things that flash about though? They are a little goofy. There are a pair of spectacular scenes though. The first is Roy in his truck when he witnesses the visitors for the first time after the movie's given us all these hints of UFO's, something that probably wouldn't fly (pun probably intended) these days. The second is the scene where the kid who's not from The Shining gets himself abducted. You can always depend on Spielberg to give us these great set pieces where the spectacle is made up of all these little details. And that sort of represents why I think Close Encounters is effective despite all the product placement which cheapens the experience. He has a way of making this whole experience--both our experiences as viewers and the experiences of the characters--global or universal and personal at the same time. Again, if you look at the spiritual angle, that makes sense. We have churches where congregations gather and religion that appeals to masses of people all over the place, but the idea of spirituality is really intensely personal.

A quick digression: I wonder if E.T. would have ended up being a better movie if Bob Balaban was in it.

Favorite line in this movie: "Even my dog has a gas mask."

Ok, this is already late as it is, so I have to stop and hit the button. I'd love to read your thoughts if you've seen this recently (like, if you watched it for the Oprah Movie Club) or have seen it several times or just remember it really well.

And remember: The Last Temptation of Christ is next up for the Oprah Movie Club. Watch it!

Nicolas Cage Birthday Celebration: Zandalee


1991 sex movie

Rating: 9/20

Plot: A painter starts sleeping with the wife of his former friend who used to be a poet but is now some sort of impotent businessman.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find myself a good Nicolas Cage performance to enjoy on his birthday. Fortunately, a bad Nicolas Cage performance is still usually worth watching. The guy's something else. In his defense, it's not like he has good writing to work in Zandalee. There is part of me, however, that suspects Cage had a lot to do with some of his lines, like they're the products of some drug-fueled improvisation. Check out some of these lines:

"Without creativity, without life, then you are truly unable to go straight up the devil's ass, look him right in the face, smile, and survive." Yeah, go ahead and read that again. It won't make any more sense a second or tenth time.

"When that big red snatch is coming right at your face like a freight train, it's pretty hard to paint--I'll tell you what." Keep in mind that this line almost directly follows the mini-manifesto about the importance of creativity. His use of the word "snatch" here makes it seem unlikely that any woman is going to want to sleep with him, so everything that happens after this is jumping the shark. Or jumping the snatch.

How about these, all attempts at seduction: "We're inevitable," words spoken like a threat. "I want to shake you naked and eat you alive." I haven't met a lot of women in my life. Maybe that's the kind of thing that would actually work? "Take my dumb coon ass prick inside you. . .with your husband in the other room." Coon ass prick. The 90's were a different time, friends. "What about this? Isn't this poetry?" Ah, that sounds kind of romantic, doesn't it? How about in the context when he's got a woman whose morning jog was interrupted pressed against a wall and is stroking her private bits with his finger. Poetry? Well, it's more interesting than Robert Frost.

And "Theirry, you are really going fucking coon ass, man!" That's right. "Coon ass" made it into the script twice.

All of these lines are delivered by a Nic Cage who sounds a little like a sleazier Keanu Reeves. I mean, even when he's saying something that should be perfectly prosaic--like "This duck is really succulent," a line followed by a wonderful Marisa Tomei chortle--it sounds sleazy. That's fine, I suppose, because it really matches the tone of the rest of the movie. Is it a memorable Nic Cage performance? It's not exactly top-shelf Vampire's Kiss type work, but there's some fun. His weird posture and weirder hair, like a greasy mullet, combine forces with douche-y facial hair to make him irresistible to both women and I assume wombats. He performs a nifty card track in Aaron Neville's presence, and does one of those cool Nic Cage point things that I like, this time while offering a cigarette to Zandalee. He curses loudly in a church and actually manages to open his shirt up with the violence of his gesticulations. His character's first appearance is quite the intro. He's silhouetted in a hallway against the light from a door, bends slightly and does a head twirl like an 80's rock star. And, probably because of that move, it doesn't take long for him to find a woman to lick whipped cream off. He also asks Judge Reinhold, "Wanna share my peach?" at one point, a line that's interesting in an a way that is both oddly perverse and pretentious. We know Cage can eat a peach for hours. How long do you think it would take Cage and Reinhold to eat a peach? Cage's best moment is near the end, a classic Cage freak-out in his studio right after he tells an artist friend, "75 years you're gonna be dead! And I'm gonna be standing next to Picasso and Vincent. So get the fuck out of here! Want a cup of coffee?" Lots of gesticulation in that scene, too. But then he kung-fu fights his paintings, whines in a way that only a member of Nic Cage's species can whine, and winds up with black paint all over himself. It's pretty awesome.

Judge Reinhold's performance is worse than Cage's. First, his Adam's apple is very distracting, and I don't even blame Zandalee--played by a gorgeous and frequently-nude Ericka Anderson of Twin Peaks fame--for finding Cage and his hair attractive after having to spend so much time with her husbands protuberance. Nothing about Reinhold's performance would convince you that his character is supposed to be an actual person. You can tell he's a poet though because he looks at the heavens when saying things like "paraplegic of the soul." His worst moment is probably when he's singing on a streetcar. But my favorite thing about Judge Reinhold being in this movie is that it inspired a message board thread on imdb about his posterior.

Somebody: "seriously, whats wrong with it? it must be some kind of birth defect. theres something seriously wrong with his ass."

Somebody else: I can`t see anything wrong in Judges ass? 

Check these screenshots i took:
The first somebody again: you seriously cant see anything wrong with his ass? its like not there. his legs just go into his back with some kind of separation. im surprised he can walk. excellent screen shots though, they will allow for others to weigh in on the subject. thanks

I read "his legs just go into his back with some kind of separation. im surprised he can walk" last night and laughed loudly enough to wake my poor wife up. Clearly, I am very easily entertained.

Anyway, this movie is stupid and sleazy. There's lots of sex, but the sex scenes are about as erotic as the average episode of Sanford and Son. The story sort of oozes along instead of developing, and it all leads to a pair of climactic moments that are equally ridiculous. The ending makes you wonder if the screenwriter (Mari Kornhauser) said, "You think that last scene was preposterous? Check this out!"

Oh, Steve Buscemi also runs around as a garbage man and part-time criminal, grabbing his crotch and waxing poetic at a graveyard. But I wouldn't recommend this to Steve Buscemi fans. Or anyone but the staunchest Nicolas Cage completists.

Seriously, I just read that "his legs just go into his back" comment again and laughed out loud. I am a child.

Special Feature: The Top-Ten Movies I'm Most Looking Forward to Watching

Some of these are from the future, some of these are currently out there in theaters, and some of these are old things that I just can't find anywhere. I'm not really sure if these are actually THE top-ten or not. They're just the movies I came up with after a quick brainstorm.

Left Behind, 2014


Sadly, this doesn't seem to be the Bad Movie Wonderland that you'd think when imagining a "Left Behind" reboot with Nicolas Cage making that face the entire time. But I'm still looking forward to seeing it because I assume Cage will give the type of performance that could actually save my soul. And my soul, ladies and gentlemen, could use some saving.

Paddington, 2015


I giggle anytime I see a commercial for this one. Like--uncontrollable giggling. This poster reminds me of the one for the Yogi Bear movie, except without the suggestion that sodomy is taking place. You know the one I'm talking about, don't you?


That one! Paddington's got Nicole Kidman getting to play a villain which I'm looking forward to. I mean, any chance to see Nicole Kidman naked--even in a children's movie--is a chance worth taking, right?

Tampopo, 1985


The only movie in this list that I've already seen, but it was a really long time ago. This is a Japanese food-related comedy that mirrors a Western, almost paralleling the Western that I was named after. I have nothing but fond memories of this one. Ken Watanabe stars in it.

Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015


I like Tom Hardy a lot and (probably foolishly) trust that if he's in this movie, it's not going to be just another reboot. And have you seen the trailers for this? I don't watch a lot of trailers unless they're on during football games, but this is one I saw online and actually watched a couple of times. I like the Mel Gibson movies--which reminds me that I need to watch Thunderdome because it's been too long--and am curious to see what they do with this character in this big-budget thing nobody asked for.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: The Green Legend, 2015


I have reservations about this one, but with Yuen Woo-ping, choreographer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and director of two of my favorite kung-fu movies, directing and Donnie Yen starring as Silent Wolf, I'm in. And apparently, I'll be able to watch it on Netflix when it's released. Because something as beautiful and grand as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon should be watched on a Chromebook screen or maybe my phone.  And that reminds me of one of my favorite things ever:


David Lynch apparently doesn't have a movie coming out anytime soon, but I am really looking forward to Twin Peaks coming back.

Birdman, 2014


I've heard nothing but good things even if Michael Keaton's eyebrows creep me out as much as baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken's always did. It seems like this is right up my proverbial alley, the brand of black comedy and light experimentation that I dig in movies.

Birdemic II: The Resurrection, 2013


Another "bird" movie. Birdemic: Shock and Terror from the wonderfully inept self-dubbed "Master of the Romantic Thriller" James Nguyen is one of my favorite bad movies ever. I'm a little worried about this follow-up and how self-aware the director and cast might have been as they made this, but star Whitney Moore (a crush) assures me that Nguyen is still pretty clueless. This one adds zombies to the birds apparently. If it's half as fun as the first one, it's going to be worth seeing. I have a t-shirt, so I should probably see the movie sometime.

Lucy, 2014


I have very fond memories of the last movie I saw with a poster featuring Scarlett Johansson's face looking directly at me. Luc Besson makes interesting movies, and Johansson's getting a reputation for finding really interesting roles. And it's got Morgan Freeman who is one of the prettiest actors in Hollywood.

The Day the Clown Cried, 1972


Sadly, I don't see any hope of a release of this movie about a clown named Helmut Doork in a Nazi prison camp. C'mon, Jerry Lewis. Maybe you can win some kind of award for this and then jump on the backs of people's seats and nearly fall on them like Roberto Benigni did when he won for Life Is Beautiful. Hell, I'll probably give you an award, and you can jump on my furniture.

James Franco's movie based on the making of The Room, ???


Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this one, but my love for The Room and Tommy Wiseau is so strong that I'm pretty excited to see what ends up happening with this. It doesn't seem to be in production yet, and I've seen where Franco himself will star was the auteur and I've seen where Dave Franco is actually playing Tommy. This has the potential to be a bad movie about the making of one of the best good-bad movies which might make it a good-bad movie itself. And maybe in 20 years, somebody will make a movie about James Franco making a movie about the making of a movie which might lead to the apocalypse.

Queen of the Desert, 2015


I don't know if that's a real poster. It certainly doesn't look like one. Anyway, new fiction from Werner Herzog--one of my top-five favorite directors--is always something to get excited about. This one's also got Nicole Kidman and a naked talking bear (hopefully!) and James Franco. And apparently lots of sand. And, um, Robert Pattinson. Anyway, it's a biopic about a female adventure--played by Robert Pattinson, I'm guessing--in the early 20th Century.

And I don't think that's a real poster.

Inside Out, 2015


No Pixar movies in 2014 made the year seem a little empty, but we're actually getting two this year. There's a dinosaur one and this one which sounds like a lot of fun on paper. I saw the trailer and wasn't as confident, but I can't remember a Pixar trailer other than Finding Nemo that actually made the movie seem as good as it ended up being. So I'll set my expectations high. I'm just happy to see brand new characters from Pixar they've been a little sequel-happy lately.

Inherent Vice, 2014


It's getting to the point where a Paul Thomas Anderson movie release date should be treated as a national holiday. I can understand somebody not liking one of his movies, but I don't see how anybody could not find any one of them worth his or her time. And it's an adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel? I should probably get in line right now--in costume. Great cast, too--Phoenix (the living one), the wonderful Joanna Newsom, Owen Wilson, and Eric Roberts? Eric fucking Roberts? The guy who voiced the cat in A Talking Cat?!? is in a Paul Thomas Anderson movie? This is without a doubt a future classic.

The Battle Wizard, 1977


Sometimes, I leave little notes for myself and put them all over the place. I don't know anything about this Shaw Brothers production except that I wrote myself a note that says "Battle Wizard--do anything you can to see this movie!" and that exclamation mark must mean that I was being pretty serious. And if this is an alternate poster for this movie:


And if this is an actual screenshot from the movie:


I should probably listen to myself. Battle Wizard!

The Hateful 8, 2015


It's a Quentin Tarantino Western. Like, you don't want to see this?

Tiptoes, 2003


Gary Oldman plays a little person in this who happens to be Matthew McConaughey's twin. Let that sink in a moment. Peter Dinklage is also in this playing an angry little person, like the Malcolm X of little people. This is a romantic drama about a guy with an all-little-person family who has hidden that from his lover. But then, she becomes pregnant and wonders if the baby is also going to be a little person. I can't be positive until I actually see this movie, but it might be the greatest movie ever made.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, 2015


Well, duh. I mean, you're reading a blog written by a guy who likes the prequels. Of course I'd be looking forward to this.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, 2014


Yes, there's a movie I'm looking forward to more than the Star Wars one. And it probably doesn't have a single lightsaber. The incredibly prolific Scandinavian director Roy Andersson--in a world where "incredibly prolific" means a movie every seven years--makes movies like nobody else, and if you haven't seen You, the Living or Songs from the Second Floor, you should fix that. Maybe expecting this third in a sort-of trilogy to be a masterpiece is setting the bar a little high, but if anybody can deliver, it's Roy Andersson.