Television Show Special: The Eric Andre Show (Seasons 1 and 2)


Rating: None. It's a television show.

Plot: An insane talk show that just might take place in some talk show purgatory.

This might be the worst thing on television, but I can't get enough of it and it makes me laugh like a drunk school girl. I can't quite figure out if I'm watching a work of unparalleled genius or something that foreshadows the impending apocalypse or a little bit of both, but what I do know is that I'm watching something unique. It's one of those Adult Swim shows, so if you're into any of that, you're going to know what to expect. But even then, you're not quite going to know what to expect. It's a cousin to the Tim and Eric weirdness with a little Tom Green mixed in, a cold splash of dada madness and surreal deconstruction and the sort of thing that gets me rock hard. If nothing else, you have to appreciate the editing. Not everything in every episode is comedy gold and some of it seems like a deliberate attempt to annoy or possibly even castrate the viewing audience, but it's the kind of show where I don't even want to blink for fear of missing something that I've never seen before. And I really thought watching the star of the show destroy his set at the beginning of every episode would get old, but it really never does. There's a passion to what Eric Andre is doing, and he's the type of performer willing to sacrifice his body and his dignity as much as the Jackass performers. Part-lowbrow pop nonsense and part-artistic statement, this is often a complete assault on the eyes and ears, a show that has caused my wife to actually threaten me.

I thought you might like to know what I'm watching instead of movies. Between this, baseball, and the start of my school year, I haven't fit many films in lately.

The Quick and the Dead

1995 Western

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Gunfighters roll into a town run by the type of character Gene Hackman would play and participate in a tournament for 123 thousand dollars. Some of the participants have other things on their mind, however.

Gunfight porn, but give director Sam Raimi credit for giving each of the 10 or so gunfights its own unique look. It shouldn't surprise, and you'll recognize visual effects and camera trickery used in Darkman or the Evil Dead movies here. This is far from a traditional Western, but the visual touches always keep things exhilarating. The two, the single setting for almost all of the action, looks great even if it doesn't quite look 100% authentic, and Raimi's camera is always moving through the sets creatively. There are nods to Leone's spaghetti Westerns and some really terrific shots.

This is definitely in the category of style-over-substance as there's not much to a story which also happens to be really predictable. A lot of the auxiliary characters--a nearly-indestructible Indian, a flashy show-off, guys with some of the ugliest teeth you'll ever see--are great and add a lot of color and really fit in with Raimi's visual style, but there are some issues with the main characters. DiCaprio looks like a little kid and just doesn't seem quite right for his role. And he's too pretty. Sharon Stone is also too pretty, and I either didn't like her performance or didn't like the girl-power stoicism of the character, the kind of thing that feels manufactured or too written. I did like Russell Crowe, however, and I really liked Gene Hackman, a guy who can pretty much just go through the motions and phone it in and still be Gene Hackman and therefore get away with it.

So despite enough flaws that would turn away most Wild West flick aficionados, this entertains with that Raimi creativity, some cool characters, and some great shots. If you like Western gunfight showdowns, this might be the movie for you.

I wish I were Gene Hackman. Then, I could go through the motions when writing stuff for this blog and get away with it instead of ending up with something like this.

Bad Movie Club: The Legend of the Titanic

1999 animated history lesson

Bad Movie Rating: 4/5 (Josh: 4/5; Johnny: 5/5)

Rating: 4/20

Plot: Pretty much just like the tragic tale of the Titanic except a version where a mentally-challenged octopus is tricked by sharks into hurling an iceberg at the ship and nobody actually dies except for three bad people and two cats. Seriously. Oh, and I'm not even sorry for spoiling the whole thing for you.

I would like to see this movie fight Titanic: The Legend Goes On. . . for bad animated Titanic movie supremacy. I didn't think there could be a worse animated Titanic movie, but this movie, also from Italy, was up to the challenge. The other has the racial insensitivity and rap music going for it. But this one so offensively disregards the actual history and unapologetically and blatantly rips off the Cameron movie that you have to admire the thing.

The characters are ridiculous, and most of what happens makes almost no sense. This octopus, named Tentacles since the writers of this thing have no creative bones in their bodies, is about the worst character you'll ever see in an animated movie. The fact that he's responsible for the demise of the unsinkable ship makes him bad enough, but when you factor in that he does it all because of a hat that doesn't even fit his bulbous head or how he sulks in a cave instead of fixing the problem he caused or how he actually uses his legs to run at the bottom of the ocean, you'll find the creature downright despicable. The human characters are nondescript and poorly formed, except one of them gets an eye patch, an easy way to insta-villain a character. The animals talk, sometimes just to each other and sometimes to humans, and they do it like fourth-rate Disney characters. Mice scheme, a dog dances like a human, and dolphins somehow float in the air. So not only is the movie offensive to Titanic victims and historians, it will also offend people who care about science. And probably magic.

You have to love a bad movie that can make a person watch with mouth agape.

Two things occurred to me while watching this, by the way. Cameron's movie about the tragedy needed more talking dolphins, and this movie needed a nude sketching sequence.

Murmur of the Heart

1971 coming-of-age movie

Rating: 17/20

Plot: The touching tale of love between a mother and her youngest son.

Louis Malle really couldn't do wrong, could he? This has the feel of a European coming-of-age story, but it develops into something a little more taboo. And then the way that moment, something that should be shocking, is handled is really beautiful. Most people would likely still be sickened by what I guess you'd have to call a twist, but it's all softened by the grace and gentle humor with which Malle tells the story.

This is the second movie with Lea Massari I've seen in the last couple weeks, only she's a little more naked in this one. If my wife read this and made the connection, I'm sure she would accuse me of doing it on purpose.

Great little movie, and it's one of those 70's films that really seems like it could have been a Wes Anderson movie.

Fassbinder Film Fest: Veronika Voss

1982 penultimate Fassbinder film

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Robert, a sports journalist, meets the titular actress whose fame has disappeared as her career has fallen apart. Despite being in a relationship, he sleeps with Voss, but she starts acting wacky. Robert discovers that she's hooked on morphine provided by a sketchy doctor and tries to get to the bottom of things. And he has to replace a vase.

Another uplifting drama from Fassbinder, but this one couldn't look any more different than The Merchant of Four Seasons. Whereas the other Fassbinder movies I've seen have these lurid 70's colors, this one is in black and white. And it's that sort of oily black and white. The movie's gorgeous, but it's gorgeous in a bleak way. I'm not sure I've seen whites look whiter or blacks look blacker than here, and there's also a lot of weird things going on with some of the framing, the angles, and especially the light. Candlelight, artificial light, and most bizarrely (and anachronistically, I believe, although I'm not an expert on them) a disco ball cast light that bleeds, all these fuzzy splotches of light. The washed-out quality almost looks amateurish at times, and if it wasn't for an earlier bit of dialogue where Voss talks about people having light and dark parts, I might have thought it was meaningless. Anyway, the film's got a great visual style, one that doesn't quite seem like it belongs in the 1980s and one that doesn't fit in with those other Fassbinder movies I've seen.

Rosel Zech is the actress who plays the lead role, and it's a really interesting performance. There are times when she overcooks, another thing that makes this film seem out of time, but the melodrama kind of fits with the character and her profession. With a character like Voss, it's important that the viewer is a little confused about what's real and what's pretend, and until the morphine is introduced, you really don't know. Zech moans and screeches like a female Nicolas Cage, and she's got just the right amount of attractiveness and craziness to make the character work.

She also gets a nice musical moment where she sings "Memories Are Made of This" during one of a few feverish dream sequences. Well, she sort of sings it. The music in this is very strange actually. There are several, also anachronistically, all these country songs that don't really seem to fit with the time period or even really what's going on in the scene. Lee Hazelwood? Not sure why Lee Hazelwood songs would have been playing in mid-50's Germany, but who am I to question Fassbinder? Actually, I'm not allowed to criticize the guy during the Fassbinder Film Fest. That would just be rude.

I'm not 100% sure what this movie's about but suspect it's allegorical. The characters--the love-struck sports reporter, the actress whose popularity is waning, the malicious Dr. Katz, Robert's girlfriend, an elderly couple--all feel like they could represent pieces of a post-war Germany, like they were symbols almost as much as they were characters, but I don't have nearly enough background to piece all that together. The movie has the feel of a darker Sunset Boulevard. It's definitely recommended because of the cinematography, the gripping performance, and the general weirdness of the storytelling.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

2016 horror/classic-lit mash-up

Rating: 9/20

Plot: Sisters in 19th Century England battle zombies and find love.

I don't like period pieces, and I don't like zombies. So I'm not sure why I even bothered with this. No, I take that back. I know exactly why I bothered with this, but I can't tell you the reason because it'll make me seem like a petty manchild.

I didn't think the mash-up really ever gelled. The zombie stuff comes along right away, all squelchy just like you'd expect, and then they're kind of peppered in. The effects are fine, but there's nothing here that hasn't been seen before and far too much that you've seen multiple times in the zillions of other zombie movies out there.

10 Cloverfield Lane

2016 thriller

Rating: 11/20

Plot: A woman's involved in a car accident and wakes up in an underground shelter with the conspiracy theorist who created it and another man. The conspiracy theorist claims that some sort of attack has made the air outside toxic and that they'll need to stay underground for a year or two. Luckily, they've got Monopoly and ice cream.

A Facebook acquaintance warned me about this, but because of how much I liked Cloverfield, movie which really has nothing to do with this; seeing John Goodman throw out the first pitch at a recent St. Louis Cardinals game I attended; and positive reviews from critics, I decided to see it anyway. The story had potential, and the performances were good enough. I always like Goodman anyway, and it's fun seeing him play a character who is slightly unhinged but trying desperately to not seem unhinged.

Unfortunately, I just didn't like the movie at all. I don't think it made a lot of sense, and then the final twenty minutes, where it almost seems to turn into another movie with a different genre, really had me rolling my eyes. There's a real goofiness to some scenes, especially a montage where the trio is shown putting puzzles together and playing board games to "I Think We're Alone Now," that disrupts the tone the movie should held. Attempts to turn Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character into Ripley never really worked, and she was just a little too resourceful, like a female McGyver, throughout the movie. The creation of this third individual, John Gallagher Jr.'s character, was flimsy. For 80% of the movie, it just doesn't get under your skin enough even though that's what I think director Dan Trachtenberg was trying to do, and then there's just way too much going on with that final 20%.

It all ends with far too many unanswered questions, but I'm really not even sure I want any of them answered. If there is a sequel to this, I'll definitely see it, but it's nothing I'm going to look forward to.

Product placement: Goldfish crackers.


2016 animated liberal propaganda

Rating: 15/20 (Jen: 15/20; Abbey: 17/20; Buster: 20/20)

Plot: A bunny becomes a cop in the big city of Zootopia and, since she's a bunny and not taken seriously by her superiors despite excelling at police academy, is put in charge of writing parking tickets. She has higher aspirations, however, and finds herself involved in a missing otter case. She gets help from a conman (well, con-fox) but soon finds that she might be in over her little furry head.

I'm not going to tell you anything specific that happens in this movie, but it may still somewhat spoil things for you. So if you haven't seen the movie, you might not want to read this.

Mike Pence, the governor of my beloved Hoosier state and the white-haired Muppet man who could wind up becoming vice president if our worst nightmares come true, once wrote about Mulan, claiming that the movie was "liberal propaganda" aimed at tricking children into thinking women should be in the military. I have a feeling he would really hate this movie.

For the first half of this movie, I didn't really get the appeal. I had heard that there was a lot going on beneath the surface and that it wasn't just a movie about funny-talking animated animals engaged in hijinks, but other than a sort-of cliched "You can break expectations and be whatever you want to be!" message, I saw no depth at all. And then, my friends, the movie went there and threw down some gauntlets. My wife brought up parallels to Black Lives Matter and the ongoing problem American police officers have with killing black men which are at the center of current events, but this actually--if I read things correctly--goes way deeper than that. This story actually parallels the CIA's selling of crack to blacks in inner-cities in the 1980s. And that makes it one of the more daring pieces of popular culture that's come along in a very long time.

Just think about it. Cute and funny animated animals, some slapstick, some funny voices, a lot of creative animated ideas, funny juxtapositions of animals that show their differences in sizes and personalities as they live together, those slow-motion sloths you probably saw in the previews. It's entertainment, the kind of thing my six-year-old is going to laugh at and probably want to watch again tomorrow. But then there's this ultra-dark subtext that's going to go over the heads of every child watching this and a large percentage of adults. It really amazes me that Mickey Mouse had the balls.

It makes me wonder what I'm missing in movies like Home or Despicable Me 2.

The movie's fine without all of that subtext. The characters are likable, there are a few funny moments, there really are some nifty ideas (the different districts was a fun touch), and there's all kinds of movement and background details that would make this worth checking out again. I liked the lessons in the story even when the story kind of goes exactly where you expect it to.

But that story beneath the story? Damn! I think I watched the last 20 minutes of this movie with my jaw on the floor.

Fassbinder Film Fest: The Merchant of Four Seasons

1972 drama

Rating: 16/20

Plot: The uplifting story of a fruit vendor and his family. Hans, played by a guy named Hans, is a disappointment to most of his family, and partly because of that, he drinks a little too much. One night, he abuses his wife in front of their daughter. She leaves. He has a heart attack. And then some other things happen.

I always intend to watch more from Rainer Werner Fassbinder's daunting filmography. I liked Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Fox and His Friends. It's been three years since I saw Fox though! Despite what I said in the well-written plot synopsis above, Fassbinder's movies really aren't uplifting, and the experience can be a little draining. It's difficult to describe the appeal of these three movies, but I think what I really like most about them is how honest they are. With Fassbinder's dramas, you just don't feel cheated or manipulated at all.

Another thing I really like about this movie--the colors. I guess the best word to describe them would be garish, but that just might be the early-1970s bleeding through the screen. This movie is an intense look at depression and alcoholism and defeatism, but it's also a study in wallpaper.

You know what? I'm impulsive and maybe a little drunk. Let's do a Fassbinder Film Fest! I'll let you know at the top of my blog which Fassbinder movies I'll be watching in the next several weeks.


1980 action comedy

Rating: 16/20 (Jen: 18/20)

Plot: When a crafty CIA guy is forced to take a desk job, he decides to retire instead and fuck with them. He begins writing a tell-all memoir guaranteed to tick off people on both sides of the Cold War and tries to remain one step ahead of everybody as they try to stop him.

Does anybody else get Walter Matthau and Martin Landau completely confused? It's the sort of thing that should disqualify me from having a movie blog.

This is cute, the sort of thing that somebody like George Clooney would probably star in if it was made today. Matthau or Landau or whoever is in this movie isn't conventionally handsome, probably not the type of fellow whom the fetching Glenda Jackson would really be attracted to, but he's got this charm and this intelligent face that makes you believe him as this trollish James Bond character. The movie's humorous, but probably more fun than funny as you watch all his plans unfold and try to keep up with him just like the characters he's messing with.

Walter Matthau and Marin Landau, the alligator and crocodile of film actors.

Umberto D

1952 dog movie

Rating: 18/20

Plot: An old man and his dog try to catch a train.

I believe I prefer this to Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves (or The Bicycle Thief since it doesn't seem like people can make up their minds what this movie is called), but my movie memory is actually really bad. So who's to say?

This is a look at despair, and although there might be a few scenes here or there that you could say are lighter, this movie's really kind of a downer. However, most of the movies I like the most are downers. This story about this unfortunate soul in an apathetic world always seems like it's threatening to become relentlessly depressing. There's a maid and a dog who bring a little light, but just like they do in the man's life, they just can't do enough. De Sica films the man's story matter-of-factly, something that seems like it would give the whole thing a coldness, but it's really the complete opposite. There's such a warmth here, and you almost get the feeling that the camera itself, though it's inanimate, actually cares for this old man and his dog.

A lot of the warmth comes from the quiet but great performance of Carlo Battisti. It's one of the greatest one-and-done performances of all time. I'm not sure how De Sica stumbled upon this guy or what his background was, but watching him carry this man's past and present on his shoulders and face is exciting. And depressing. It's the kind of performance that works so well because while the story's author leaves all these gaps and doesn't give you much background about what this guy did with his life before the movie started, what his family is like, or really anything other than this guy's right now, the actor somehow fills in those gaps for us.

As great Battisti is, he's out-acted by the dog, Flike. It's a great animal performance.

This is a quiet movie, but there are some truly great and touching scenes and some brilliant shots. I loved a couple shots of Umberto's landlady as she walked away from her closed door, her silhouette actually growing larger as she moves away from the door. A chaotic scene at a dog pound is also really great, and there are a lot of great moments with that dog, including the one depicted on the poster up there. The final shot is just about perfect. And at least for me, it was totally uplifting. I'm sure you could take the end of the story De Sica's telling in different ways though.

Bad Movie Club: Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster

1965 sci-fi thriller

Bad Movie Rating: 4/5 (Josh: 2/5; Fred: 2/5; Kristen: no rating; Tami: no rating)

Rating: 4/20

Plot: I already wrote about this movie here.

I half-assed it the last time I wrote about this, but I don't feel like adding anything. This has all the elements you'd need in a good-bad movie from the 1960s, including having the feel of a movie made in the 1950s, but it actually comes together less ineptly than the output of your typical b-movie directors. You've got some ridiculous acting, a wafer-thin plot, weird aliens, a monster, another extraneous monster, scenes that go on for too long, and lots of general silliness. Robert Gaffney didn't direct anything else, and that's actually unfortunate because it would have been interesting to see where a film career could have gone.

There's a single thread on his imdb page, and it's from somebody claiming to be his son or daughter about how they've got his birth year wrong. I don't know why that makes me sad, but it kind of does.


1960 romantic mystery

Rating: 18/20

Plot: After a stop at some rocky islands on a delightful yacht trip, some rich people lose one of their rich people. During the ensuing hunt, her boyfriend and her BFF fall for each other.

It's the kind of movie that ruins other movies for you. You watch L'Avventura, and every other movie you watch for a while after that just looks like crap. Michelangelo Antonioni should probably apologize to every other movie because making a movie as hauntingly and exquisitely and devastatingly beautiful as this one was just insensitive. I think any director could find a location like Aeolian Islands, the gorgeous aforementioned rocky islands with all those crags. It's the kind of place where you can set up a camera and swoop it around a little bit and automatically have a sense of mystery. And any director can find architecture in Rome and Sicily that's going to look great on the screen. Heck, I'm not even a director, and I could probably capture a few things worth looking at in these locations. But Antonioni, as evident from what you see here, has the kind of gifted eyeballs that can make astounding beautiful places look even more astounding, and there are barely any frames in this movie that aren't worthy of hanging on your wall. Just gorgeous stuff.

The actresses are easy on the eyes, too. Lea Massari, for the limited time she's in this thing, intrigues. I'm not even sure she's conventionally attractive, but there's this allure and mystery, and I couldn't keep my eyes off her. It definitely made me look closely at all those rocks to try to find her along with the other characters. Later, I couldn't keep my eyes off Monica Vitti's hair. It was almost a character and should have been in the credits as Claudia's Hair played by Monica Vitti's hair. Gabriele Ferzetti's character was a lot more predictable, probably because he was playing a man and men are just more predictable.

The mystery of what happens to Anna isn't nearly as important as the mystery with the romance. Romantic mysteries are oftentimes more difficult to solve than missing person cases, and as this unfolds, you can't help shifting your focus from Anna's whereabouts to why Sandro and Claudia have become fuck buddies. And that, I think, is part of the brilliance of this movie. It introduces an intriguing character, takes her away from you, leads you to believe that the "adventure" (I assume that's what that wacky two-V word means) is going to be a mystery, and then takes you down this beguiling romantic path instead. In a way, the whole movie is probably about being lost or trying to find something. All of the characters--not just the ones at the forefront--are sort of drifting. Sandro and Claudia are looking for something, and it's not always clear whether or not it's even their friend.

How about that final shot, by the way? You really feel like these characters could go anywhere after that moment where a hand is placed on a head. At the same time, you feel you know exactly where those characters are going to go. Stunning!

Cory's Birthday Celebration: Godzilla vs. Megalon

1973 monster madness

Rating: 10/20

Plot: The submerged kingdom of Seatopia's inhabitants are tired of having nuclear bombs destroy their country and decide to send their monster to teach us a lesson. The plot also somehow involves a colorful robot. Can Godzilla arrive from his extended vacation on Monster Island quickly enough to save the day or is humanity doomed?

Hey, it's Cory's birthday! He's of an advanced age, the kind of number people reach where they don't even want to think about birthdays. If it wasn't for this--the cheapest gift imaginable--the poor guy would have nothing to look forward to. This year, I watched Godzilla vs. Megalon, very likely another Godzilla movie the guy doesn't even like. And like last year, we're doing this Movies-a-Go-Go style.

Don't be fooled by that poster, by the way. Godzilla and Megalon are never atop the World Trade Center buildings. In fact, they are never even out of Japan unless you count Monster Island and Seatopia. They definitely only fight in Japan though.

Anyway, let's get to it. Happy birthday, Cory!

As this is beginning, I want to make a couple things clear. First, I’m fully aware that this is not going to be an example of a “good” Godzilla movie. I’m sort of hoping it works as a good-bad movie though.

Second, I had the option to go dubbed or subtitled and went with the former because of the whole Movies-A-Go-Go thing. I can’t be reading, watching a movie, and typing at the same time, right?

So far, the dubbed narrator voice is making me think I made the right decision because he sounds like he came straight over to do this after finishing up with his Ed Wood film.

I know the narrator explained that there was a nuclear war, but it just kind of looks like somebody on Monster Island has terrible gas.

I’m kind of digging this song playing over the opening credits.

Oh, holy crap! This scene with a kid riding some sort of colorful dolphin thing is the most perverse thing I’ve ever seen.

Sadly, the dolphin toy was the first casualty.

So far, I’m impressed with the effects--the burbling lake, the opening crevice, the guys pretending the ground is shaking while people throw rocks at them. Good stuff.

These guys have a sweet dune buggy.

The dubbed voice for the kid makes me regret my decision to go with the dubbed version. He sounds like a cartoon mouse on crappy heroin.

“It would be funny if the earthquakes destroyed your robot.” Geez, with friends like these. . .

I may have misheard, but I think the kid’s name is Rocksalt.

Well, the earthquake didn’t destroy his robot, but the pair of fancy pants burglars apparently painted it funny colors.

This car chase wasn’t working for me until they added this music the flute.

The button they left behind is the same color as the sand they found? The mystery deepens! [Note: It may have been more to do with me than any flaws in this movie, but I never figured out what was going on with the sand and button. Or really anything the bad guys were doing.]

Welding montage!

Cool, the kid’s got himself a crotch rocket.

I hope we don’t find out later that this guy made this silly grinning robot for sexual purposes.

Hi there! 

Jet Jaguar, sexiest robot in East Asia.

Those two are going to regret kidnapping this kid once he starts talking.

Seatopia looks like a fun place. Like a psychedelic toga party where the women all wear shower curtains, panties, and silver curved hats. My kind of place!

I don’t recall learning about Seatopia in any geography class.

Seatopia leader was obviously picked because of his sweet sideburns.

As he wakes up Megalon, I wonder if that thing he’s wearing on his head is a snooze button.

Megalon seems sparky enough.

Geez Louise, is it always this destructive when Megalon wakes up? One-third of their city’s been destroyed by nuclear wars. I think Megalon rolling out of bed just destroyed another one-third.

It’s a good thing they didn’t make Megalon goofy looking because it could have ruined the entire movie.

“Work on this rope, kid. See if it will disintegrate at the sound of your voice!”

Jet Jaguar’s flying music makes me wish I could do something spectacular and have music accompanying it.

The guy dubbing one of the truck drivers sounds like the same voice as Ringo in Yellow Submarine.

Wait a second. The people of Seatopia not only made their own oxygen supply but also made their own sun? How’s that work underwater?

Fun art on the walls of this “laboratory”--something that looks like a tiger with the words “hungry tiger” painted beneath it.

Another car chase already? I think this must have more car chase sequences than any other Godzilla movie. So far, there are more car chase scenes than scenes with Godzilla.

And now the cars are driving down stairs.

The car chase ending with that cartoony sadly descending trumpet sound makes me happy.

Quite the risque poster in this guy’s truck. This isn’t a children’s movie? I'm giving the movie a bonus point.

Do you think Japan from 1950-whenever until the present day has had to budget for monster attacks? I thought they had one of the smallest military budgets in the world actually.

[Well, I was off on that, but with this information, you'd think the U.S. had a greater number of giant monster attacks than anybody else in the world.]

I’m not even sure the dummy that was thrown out of the truck and rolled down the hill was wearing the same clothes as the guy it was supposed to represent.

What the hell? The guy, in an effort to save his friends, dropped the metal box they were contained in from the bed of the truck, and Megalon volleyballed it about a quarter mile away? And they survive that?

“Isn’t that Jet Jaguar there?” No, it’s another silver, red, yellow, and blue robot.

I’m having a tough time figuring out how Megalon is so dangerous. I mean, he’s big, but he doesn’t even have hands. He’s got the top of the Chrysler building for hands. What can those do?

Oh, there we go. He can shoot laser stuff out of the top of his head.

45 minutes into this, and we’ve only seen Godzilla once, briefly. On Fart Island.

Ok, forget that I just complained about the lack of Godzilla. Watching Megalon hop after Jet Jaguar is worth the price of admission. Which in this case was nothing.

The leader of Seatopia also has a back hair issue. When you can see the back hair from the front, it’s an issue.

This might be Godzilla’s goofiest foe. It’s at least the goofiest I’ve seen in my years of celebrating Cory’s birthday.

The characters just went into a hobby shop where I assume a lot of the props for the movie were purchased.

It’s a good thing Jet Jaguar and Godzilla speak the same language.

I’m a little confused about what the bad guys were using Jet Jaguar for. Megalon was hopping after him, but he didn’t actually destroy anything until after the good guys got control of their robot again. What was the plan there, bad guys?

From the radio control plane hitting the bad guy in the forehead to the kid swinging on the weird cube art, that’s not a fight scene a lot of people are going to be proud of.

Gigan’s explosive entrance was cool even if it didn’t make any sense. An explosion, the same explosion shown in reverse, the explosion again, reverse again, explosion, reverse, explosion, reverse, GIGAN!

The guy built artificial intelligence into Jet Jaguar? That seems like a terrible idea. The first time somebody makes fun of his ridiculous color or silly grin, he’s going to go on a killing spree.

Megalon just clapped.

Oh, Jet Jaguar can increase in size. That does make a lot of sense.

I can’t tell if this Jet Jaguar and Megalon scene is a fight scene or foreplay. Is it wrong that I'm kind of hoping for the latter?

Jet Jaguar just fell for the “Watch Me While I Fly in a Circle Around You and Make You Dizzy” trick. Rookie mistake.

“He just programmed himself in some way to increase his own size.” I’m glad they explained that in a way that would make scientific sense.

Megalon’s hands are apparently drills. I’m still not sure that’s all that intimidating.

My favorite thing about these movies is when the monsters talk to each other.

I believe Megalon just laughed. Yes, he did it again. Megalon’s got drills for hands, the ability to shoot yellow lasers out of his head and some kind of red grenade out of his mouth, and a hearty chuckle.

Poor Jet Jaguar. He’s totally getting his yellow and silver ass handed to him now.

What the hell is with Godzilla’s entrance music?

Now I’m hearing a Jew’s harp. They figured out a way to make Godzilla’s entrance even more aurally painful.

Why use a theremin when you can get your hands on a Jew's harp? 

Whoa! Gigan just sliced Godzilla pretty good. That was quite the blood spurt!

Great celebratory move by Godzilla, but this isn’t over because there’s still 12 minutes left.

I’m going to take back what I said earlier. My favorite thing about these movies isn’t when the monsters communicate with each other. It’s when they celebrate. After a series of explosions, the Megalon/Gigan celebration might be the gayest thing I’ve ever seen. And that’s not homophobic because I’m meaning it as a positive.

How’s Jet Jaguar going to get out of this ring of fire? It’s not like he can fly or anything.

Ouch! I think Jet Jaguar just broke Gigan’s arm.

Well, this sliding-on-the-tail-and-kicking-the-opponent thing should have been Godzilla’s finishing move from the beginning. That’s great!

Take that Seatopia! You’re just going to have to put up with our nuclear weapons for a little while longer, you perverts!

Isn’t Seatopia where Sea Monkeys are from?

I have a feeling Godzilla and Jet Jaguar are about to make love. If not, the makers of this have made a terrible mistake.

For a movie called Godzilla vs. Megalon, this sure seems to be giving Jet Jaguar a ton of credit. He even had a little song about him at the end.

Overall, that was one of the goofier Godzilla movies I’ve seen. The bad guys were more unusual looking than menacing, and the robot didn’t really add much of anything. It seems like this entry was geared more toward children and is very definitely a product of the 1970s. It's definitely not a waste of time though, especially if you find enjoyment in movies that aren't very good.

Elevator Movie

2004 comedy

Rating: 10/20

Plot: A college guy and a woman find themselves trapped on an elevator for months. As the woman's grocery bag of food is mysteriously filled every night, the pair pass the time by talking.

This draws comparisons to Eraserhead and Bunuel, but I don't see it. It's too wacky. Severely limited by its budget, the inexperience of writer/director/star Zeb Haradon, and bad acting, this really doesn't work except for a few humorous lines, some strange moments, and a cool ending. It definitely has a student film feel, and that's not necessarily always a bad thing because it helps contribute to this almost alien vibe. I wouldn't recommend this to anybody, but I did enjoy that memorable, disturbing ending, a reference to Venus Flytraps, and some fun cheap special effects.

My Man Godfrey

1936 comedy

Rating: 16/20 (Jen: 13/20)

Plot: After Irene finds her man Godfrey at the city dump during a scavenger hunt at a rich person party, the Bullocks hire him as their butler. The Bullocks turn out to be nuts, and Godfrey turns out to be wily.

Charming in exactly the way you'd expect 1930's romantic comedy to be, Godfrey succeeds despite being a little episodic and a bit too tidy. It's more amusing than funny, but Powell and Lombard bounce off each other as well as you'd expect recently divorced actors to. Mischa Auer almost steals the show with a quality monkey impression. My wife hated the ending.


2015 comedy

Rating: 7/20

Plot: Two sisters with different personalities throw a party at their parents' home even though some snooty people have already bought it.

Not only is this awful and criminally unfunny, but it's also embarrassing. I'm not sure why Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are even in this thing. Fey's a respected comedy writer, so you'd think she would know bad comedy when she reads it. I can't understand why Fey was drawn to this character who just doesn't fit her personality at all. Poehler's playing the type of character you'd expect her to play, but she's playing it like she's tired of playing characters like that. The duo bounce off each other well, but they're given almost nothing funny to say and do. Clearly, this was an effort to be a Hangover-type comedy, but it fails spectacularly from beginning to end.

I laughed one time. A character is doing an impression, and another character incorrectly guesses that it's an impression of Tim Allen. That was it--my single laugh.

I felt sorry for this movie because it came out the exact same day that the latest Alvin and the Chipmunks movie was released and therefore didn't have a chance at box office success.

Bad Movie Club: Exterminator City

2005 sci-fi serial killer comedy

Bad Movie Rating: 3/5 (Josh: no rating, but he didn't seem to enjoy it; Johnny: 1/5)

Rating: 4/20

Plot: In a future inhabited by only robots and large-breasted women who can't find their shirts, a detective and a doctor try to solve the mystery of who is behind the brutal murders of a bunch of those large-breasted women.

This is one bizarre movie, mostly because of its redundancy. A pattern is established, and except for a couple wacky and trippy glimpses inside the antagonist's damaged robot mind, that pattern is staunchly stuck to. The pattern:

--Show a woman with large breasts doing the typical things shirtless women do in their houses--brush their hair, stare at themselves in mirrors, etc.
--Enter lurking robot who stabs, saws, bludgeons, etc.
--Shot of a futuristic building in this perpetual rain and a flying match-box car
--Conversation between two jive-talking robots

And then repeat. It's a relentless, hallucinatory, and often even painful pattern. I'm a heterosexual male who happens to enjoy looking at female breasts, but by the midway point in this movie, I was tired of them. You know the director--Clive Cohen, who apparently hasn't been allowed to make any more movies since Exterminator City--not only loves breasts, gore, and robots but decided a combination of breasts, gore, and robots would be perfect for a movie. His budget was very low, and this seems like it could have been a student film. I guess you have to commend Mr. Cohen for managing to get so many porn stars on board for the thing. Cohen might have talent as some of this is visually interesting and the tie-in to religion is almost interesting, but here, he doesn't show any ability to tell a coherent story, pace action, direct actors, or keep the audience from slowly going insane, and those are all things that filmmakers should probably be able to do.

I wonder if this movie breaks the record for including nudity so quickly after an opening reference to a Bible verse. There were nipples about 6 seconds in.

Cat Soup

2001 animated short

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A kitty saves half of his (her?) sister's soul and then accompanies her on a surreal journey.

At a little over 30 minutes, this is one magical journey. The imagery's a delicious blend of Hello Kitty, Salvador Dali, Bill Plympton, and Disney makes this hallucinatory but grotesquely lovely. You won't know what's going on exactly, but that matters about as much as it would if you were dreaming. Indeed, this moves along about as dreamily as 30 minutes of movie can move. In this animated purgatorial landscape, there's quite a bit of dismemberment, lots of blood, a guy preparing soup while wearing a dominatrix outfit, and even a little self-cannibalism. There's a character who might be God, but he doesn't seem to care much about anything but himself. I think there's meaning behind it all even if all the pieces are way too squishy to actually fit together.

This is recommended to people who understand that animation should really take advantage of its ability to break any rules and go anywhere. This one does exactly that, and it does it for exactly the right amount of time. You should check this out.

Help, Help, the Globolinks!

1969 German opera

Rating: 14/20 (Jen: 8/20)

Plot: Globolinks, spiky ballerinas and warbly chess pieces, have attacked, and some students returning home from a field trip and their chaperone have to find a way to survive.

It was really wild to watch something made by people who felt legitimate opera music/singing (at least it seemed legitimate to my untrained ears) and your typical psychedelic effects from the late-60s was a good idea. Things start out with a frantic newscast announcing the arrival of these Globolinks, and then there's a good five minutes of images of these creatures swimming around with all this blooping and bleeping electronic music. It's 1960's avant-garde, the kind of stuff German kids must really like. From there, things normalize, that is, if opera has ever seemed normal to you. The children and Tony, the chaperone, discover that the monsters are allergic to music before we move to the only other setting for the movie--the principal's office. A quartet of professors and a contaminated professor try to figure out where their students are before venturing out with some instruments. It's all so delightfully absurd, the sort of thing you watch and don't even believe it's actually real. It's all very silly even when a message about the importance of the arts, especially music, attempts to creep to the surface. However, there are some really beautiful moments, including one with a lone student walking through a weird landscape while playing a violin. That and the odd appearance of those Globolinks whenever they're around make this worth checking out, even if opera music isn't your thing.

Actually, I'm not sure it's really worth checking out for most people. I imagine the amount of people who would get as much of a kick out of this as I did would be pretty small.

An even smaller percentage is going to be as aroused as I was watching this.

My wife, by the way, did not like this at all.


2016 baseball documentary

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A look at the appeal, the science, and the history of the fastball.

This is likely for baseball fans only, and a lot of them will already know a lot of the stories covered here. The organization of the material felt a little jumpy to me, but the mix of archival footage, beautiful contemporary footage (especially a lot of the slow-motion stuff), and staged things. Toward the end, you wonder if this was a propaganda piece put together by Nolan Ryan, a man with a giant peanut for a head, but it's a fun look at a variety of major league legends--Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, a bunch of modern guys. Most interesting might be the sad tale of Steve Dalkowski, the "fastest that never was." Recommended for baseball fans.

My Night at Maud's

1969 drama

Rating: ?/20

Plot: A religious fellow who is in love with a woman who he's not even spoken to meets and old friend and then Maud, a woman whose values are almost completely the opposite. They spend the night chatting about stuff.

This movie is way smarter than me. I've been meaning to see an Eric Rohmer movie, but I'm not sure I should have watched this one when I did.

This review is a complete waste of everybody's time.

Secret Honor

1984 movie play

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Richard Nixon records his story in a room with a tape recorder, a video camera, and a gun.

A lot of the actual historical references and names dropped went straight over my head, but I didn't really like this because it was a history lesson. I liked this because of the overblown, almost unhinged performance by Philip Baker Hall. Most folk are going to know Robert Altman as a guy whose films work because of great ensemble casts, probably all talking at once. So it might be odd watching a Robert Altman movie with a solitary character pontificating and frothing and shaking his finger around. On paper, it sounds dull, even if the performance is great. This is far from dull, however, and part of that is what Altman does with the camera to make this less like a play. The camera seems to be moving almost constantly, almost like it's as agitated as the subject speaking in the room. Nixon's got his own camera and four monitors to play with, and Altman uses those in ingenious ways, too.

But this is mostly about Hall's performance. I wouldn't even call it perfect. There are times when the impression of Nixon that he's doing feels off, like the guy's just a movie character instead of a real flesh 'n' blood figure. But there's a fervency to the performance as Hall's Nixon just vomits out a stream-of-conscious series of words. History non-buffs like me might be forced to hazily connect dots, but as I said, that doesn't matter all that much because it all paints such a great picture of a broken man with a fractured mind. It succeeds as a character study and becomes more and more intense as it goes, probably because you know that gun is on the desk.

Oh, and what a perfect last line this has! I'm hoping I can be in a situation where that can be my final line.

Chafed Elbows

1968 comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A guy named Walter experiences his annual breakdown, gives birth to cash, and marries his mother.

No, I didn't see Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising with this, but I couldn't find a poster with just Chafed Elbows. I'm a fan of the other Robert Downey movies I've seen, mostly because the guy seems fearless. With this early flick, you get kitchen sink satire, goofball avant-garde, spotty comedy, and a cheap but completely unique style. Like Chris Marker's La Jetee, this story--though it would be a mistake to go into this looking for a story--is told through a series of still images rather than moving pictures. The dialogue is ludicrously dubbed, and the music often feels like an assault. But I mean that as a positive. Downey's wife Elsie and George Martin do all of the voices as director/writer takes on politics, art, religion, and relationship, attacks on everything with dada bullets and kooky gags that sort of recall a more surrealistic or drugged Marx Brothers. It's wild stuff, man.

Closely Watched Trains

1966 comedic war drama

Rating: 18/20

Plot: A kid follows in the footsteps of his father to take on the lazy life of a railroad worker. After some troubling premature ejaculation during his first sexual encounter, he attempts suicide but fails at that, too. He tries to work out those problems while war rages on in Europe.

Ahh, I just realized that poster has an ass on it. A stamped ass! That's a depiction of a great scene, but this is a movie made up of all kinds of great scenes. There's an awkward sexual encounter, appropriately since this is a cumming-of-age movie; an odd bit involving some paintings; a climax that is chilling in how nonchalantly that part of the story is told; a lovely shot that involves the young protagonist chasing a train; several conspicuous phallic symbols, my favorite involving an old woman and a goose; near kisses; a perfect not-so-innocent gaze on a face that looks completely innocent; such a quiet scene with horny Nazis; a giggling mentor, demonstrating perhaps that Czechs really were just laughing animals; a terrific portrait of the main character's hypnotist relative.

This is a war movie that isn't really a war movie. The characters, almost all who would be worth following around for their own movie, are too preoccupied with other things for this to be a real war movie. There just happens to be a war going on in the background. And the way all those preoccupations, seemingly incongruous, bounce off each other and work to set unexpected things in motion, the idea being that it's the little things--a stamp fetish, for example--that can thrust somebody into historical relevance.

Like a lot of great movies, its Closely Watched Trains' combination of simplicity and depth that make it stunning. And, I think, it has a special brand of dark humor that makes it seem ahead of its time. It's really a wonderful movie.

Alan Partridge

2013 comedy

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Radio guy Alan Partridge finds himself in the middle of a siege at the radio station after a colleague is canned. As an intermediary between his friend and the police, he looks for ways to turn the situation into something that could advance his career and love life.

My friend Larry recommended this, and although I trust him completely, I'm not sure I would have watched this had I known it was actually called Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. Or if I knew what a difficult time I would have spelling partridge. Coogan makes me laugh. I think the first time I saw him was in the Jarmusch Coffee and Cigarettes segment with Alfred Molina. I hesitated to watch this because I know nothing about this character who has apparently been around for 25 years in various incarnations. Radio, specials, television series. I didn't know how much I would be missing going in. Even though I'm fairly positive that I am missing some references to the character's past, I was definitely able to enjoy this anyway. And a great deal of that was Steve Coogan's performance. It's a case where the performer inhabits this character, almost wears the character like an article of clothing. That's got to have something to do with the amount of time Coogan's spent playing the character, but there's a level of comfort and confidence with this sort of buffoon of a human being that just keeps the character flowing on screen, and that's regardless of how absurd some of his words and actions might be.

I'm not sure what stories the television series (plural, apparently; and why isn't there a more obvious plural word for that? One series? Two series? "The television series" makes it seem like I'm talking about one, but I was talking about more than one. What gives, English language?) had Partridge doing. This story is ludicrous, but it's really just there as an excuse to have characters do and say funny things anyway. And maybe make a point about big corporation and the de-evolution of mass media or something. The dialogue-driven humor is quick and always smart, even when it's juvenile. As with Coogan's Hamlet 2 (a movie I really need to watch again so that I can give it a higher rating than Ice Age since Larry really seemed to have an issue with the ratings for those two), there are so many jokes that you can't expect everything to work. But the ratio of jokes-that-work to jokes-that-fall-flat is much better than most comedies.

A great performance, smart writing, and just the right amount of slapstick make this one fun even if you're brand new to this character like I was.


1985 character study

Rating: 17/20

Plot: A female vagabond dies in a ditch, and we get to know her in a series of flashbacks.

Telling you the character dies in a ditch is as much of a spoiler as telling you Charles Foster Kane dies in Citizen Kane. This isn't really about her death anyway. It's more about her life, her decisions, and whether any of it has any meaning. With Mona, the smelly vagabond on the poster up there, you get a little Holden Caulfield and a little Chris McCandless from Into the Wild. It's hard to understand the character's motivations, and at times, it's even difficult to empathize with the character. Heck, it's hard to sympathize with her. However, with Agnes Varda's storytelling, it's impossible to not feel something while watching this character drift or wither or whatever she does.

I've liked every single thing I've seen from Agnes Varda. Why haven't I seen everything she's done?

This is really a movie I feel like I need to see again. It's not that the story is overly complex or anything because it really isn't. There's barely a story at all. No, the complexity here is in all these little connections. I understood that there was a metaphor or an analogy that had to do with trees, but I'm not sure I would feel comfortable trying to explain what it was all about. And when the tree people show up? No, I really had no idea what was going on with the tree people. I could tell you that I once had a nightmare as a child about tree people in my father's back yard trying to get to me, but that would just be a waste of your time. There are lines of dialogue that seem to connect, and all the characters kind of come together in the end in a way that baffled me a little bit. I think a second viewing would actually make this movie even better.

The structure of this story is a little unusual. It's a series of flashbacks, and you're not always sure you're even watching everything in chronological order. There are interview segments with characters Mona comes in contact with that could almost fool some people into thinking this is a documentary. Varda seems to employ some non-actors here, especially a philosophical goat herder who I couldn't keep my eyes off. I think I was drawn to the guy's teeth. And Varda's got such a great eye, and it was amazing watching some of these shots unfold. The camera will follow Mona as she walks, leave her to drift through landscape or whatever, and then wind up exactly where it needs to be at the exact time it needs to be there. There's nothing overtly fancy here, but there are some shots that are quietly stunning.

This was made well past the golden age of neorealism, but the way it captures humanity reminds me a lot of those kinds of films. I highly recommend it.

Finding Dory

2016 sequel

Rating: 15/20 (Emma: 17/20; Buster: 20/20; Dylan: 13/20; Abbey: 17/20; Jennifer: 19/20)

Plot: Dory, a fish with short-term memory problems, tries to find her parents.

This delightful sequel isn't quite up there with Toy Story 3, but I like it better than the Monsters sequel, Toy Story 2, or obviously Cars 2. I guess all you really want with a sequel for a beloved movie that has beloved characters is that it respects the original. This one does that. Pixar does a good job not forcing all these references to Finding Nemo in this one although there are a few recurring characters, explanations for some lines/songs or character traits from the first story, and some very familiar moments. There's a moment where Marlin turns a little nasty, but it's used to show the character's growth which was nice. Moving the setting from the vastness of the ocean to mostly a marine life institute was a nice touch that helped this not be a complete retread of the first movie, and the new characters--especially Ed O'Neil's cantankerous octopus--are fun.

Like a lot of Pixar climaxes, you have to let yourself go with the flow and remember that it's all a cartoon. The you-can't-fly-a-house-to-South-America people or the why-would-Buzz-Lightyear-suddenly-be-able-to-actually-fly people aren't going to be able to sit and enjoy the last 15 minutes of this. To be honest, I'm not sure I did either although it was all so vivacious and whimsical that I had trouble not getting a kick out of it all on the big screen.

This is also a whole lot of Dory. I like Ellen DeGeneres and all, but Dory might have been the most annoying part of Finding Nemo. This uses flashbacks to get inside her head a little bit (an underwater animated Memento, I read somewhere), and the scenes with little Dory were just adorable. They really do a good job making her a sympathetic character, and it's impossible not to pull for the little fish.

It's hard for me to believe that Finding Nemo came out 13 years ago, a fact that makes me feel really old. This kind of animation has come a long way in 13 years. If you don't believe me, check out the ultra-realistic "Piper" short that precedes this feature. Finding Dory, however, doesn't differ stylistically or visually from its predecessor. I'm sure if I watched this again, I'd notice more details that prove the Pixar animators are really showing off, but none of it clashes with what was on the screen in the original. And that's a good thing.

With the marine life in these movies, you've got this blend of living things that are really mean to each other and really altruistic. Think of the greedy seagulls or crab guys or creepy bioluminescent thing and the dentist's aquarium fish or the whale or sea turtles in the first movie. You've got a similar mix of helpful and hateful characters in this movie, and I like the subtle message that sends youngsters watching this. That is, after all, how life works. Along with the more obvious themes, some which are delivered pretty hard, this really connects thematically.

So there's nothing revolutionary here, and you could probably argue that a sequel to Finding Nemo wasn't necessary at all. Still, this works as an action-comedy in the same way that first movie did, and it was great to reconnect with the old characters and meet a few new ones. It looks great, might make you laugh and/or cry, and has that ability to entertain both children and their parents. If nothing else, Pixar fans will have fun finding all the Easter eggs. There are lots of those.

I'm not sure who the hell they're going to have to find in the third movie in order to make this a trilogy.


1934 classic

Rating: 2/20

Plot: A former vaudeville actor works as a lab assistant to a scientist attempting to bring the dead back to life. Following the accidental murder of his boss, he steals his identity but is slowly driven obscene. Then, he eats a cat eye.

This Dwain Esper madness is well worth checking out for fans of bad cinema or just weirdo outsider art. Esper allegedly stumbled upon film equipment in a foreclosed property and then made his little movies outside of Hollywood which is apparently why he could show nipples in 1934. There's so much weirdness here, and it's not just because of a really odd scene where the main character eats a cat's eye after a short monologue in which he says it can't be much different than a grape or an olive.

No, the weirdness and main draw here is the acting which is truly some of the worst you'll ever see. The early-30's aren't exactly known for the best acting performances, but I'm not sure where they found some of these people or why Esper decided they needed to display their talents on film. In any other movie, the best-worst would be Horace B. Carpenter who plays the mad scientist with this wacky German accent and out-of-control eyebrows. But then, you're just given bad performance after bad performance. The pair of morticians, the strange cat fur guy, the quartet of lingerie-clad broads and especially the one with the worst movie voice I've heard in years. And Ted Edwards who plays Phyllis Diller's (!) husband Buckley. Watching his scene where he's injected with something that transforms him into a psychotic rapist, I can't decide if it's the worst acting I've ever seen or the greatest acting I've ever seen. Bill Woods, our protagonist, isn't great, but his impersonation of Carpenter doing what he thinks is a German mad scientist is spot on. It's all wacky stuff though.

The best performance might be from the cat--Satan.

Also adding to the strangeness is that Esper tried inject some educational value into what was obviously just an excuse to show some boobs. Dryly, title screens tell the viewer all about miscellaneous psychoses. There are also scenes where Woods has scenes from 1920's horror movies (Haxan maybe?) swimming around him, I guess to show us that he is losing his mind. Add to that Esper's ripping off of a Poe story (and trust me, it's more ripping off than it is an adaptation despite what the poster or dvd box says up there) and more extraneous scenes than you'll ever see in a 50-minute movie and there's more than enough to confuse the average viewer.

There are loads of movies that are so bad that they're entertaining. Only a handful--your Ed Woods or Manos: The Hands of Fates or Beasts of Yucca Flats--are so bizarrely bad that there almost seems to be some insane genius at play. Maniac belongs in that category of bad filmmaking.

Strange Frame: Love and Sax

2012 animated sci-fi musical

Rating: 13/20

Plot: Two lesbians start a band after a chance meeting. They're pulled apart after a shady manager gets involved, and a space scavenger has to help them reconnect.

I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, I loved a lot of the animation. There's almost always something interesting to look at on the screen with this always-busy cut-out psychedelia. Creativity's on overdrive as you've got all these odd-looking characters, some which would have fit right in among the Mos Eisley cantina crowd. Always delightfully odd, this is a real visual feast.

A little of that goes a long way though. It took my senses a little while to get used to what was going on with this thing. Once it did, I enjoyed it all for a bit. Eventually, however, I kind of got tired of things and just wanted it to end. I think if the characters were a little more interesting, their voices a little less grating, or the story anything worth paying attention to, it would have helped. I also didn't care for the music, none which sounded like it could come from the 27th Century. I also imagine some people who would actually enjoy this animation style for the full 90+ minutes would be turned off by the genre. This isn't just science fiction. It's really hard sci-fi. Since there's not much originality in the storytelling, at least not the originality you'd expect from a psychedelic sci-fi lesbian musical, that will make it difficult viewing for people who aren't into sci-fi or adult cartoons.

This is worth seeing for fans of creative animation, and it's the type of labor of love that really does make me want to see more work by director G. B. Hajim.

My daughter Emma recognized the voice of this little monkey character as the same person who voiced one of Clifford the Big Red Dog's friends. Indeed, it was the prolific Cree Summer. Unfortunately, that monkey was one of the characters with a grating voice. Tim Curry, Martin Landeau's daughter, Alan Tudyk, and George Takei also provide voice work.

Japanese Summer: Double Suicide

1967 gangster gun sex comedy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A teenager really wants to get laid, but she can't find a willing man to help her out. A young soldier wants to die, but he can't find anybody willing to kill him. They find themselves kidnapped by a group of gangsters that don't seem to have anything to do.

Another Nagisa Oshima flick, this one's wickedly funny. Once again, I feel like I'm missing some context since I'm not living in 1960's Japan, but the movie's themes still resonated. You've got all these frustrated characters who can't accomplish the one thing they want to accomplish--shooting somebody, being killed, have sex, general gangster action. More absurdly, none of them really seem to have a clear understanding of why they want to do any of those things. It sets up this Bunuel-ean, Theater of the Absurd situation with some wacky characters.

I like Oshima's quiet style here. Like Death by Hanging that I saw recently, a lot of this takes place in one setting--some sort of warehouse. Instead of that single setting becoming stale, Oshima uses the architecture well. There are also a few visual motifs, most obviously, people-shaped outlines in walls and on the ground. It's all stylish in a way that doesn't feel stylish.

I liked Keiko Sakurai, the gal who played the only female character in this movie, and it was just because she was busty. I'm surprised to find out that this and Death by Hanging were the only movies she acted in.

There were loose ends. Television, an American sniper on a rampage, and a guy obsessed with knives instead of guns work their ways into the proceedings, and I'm not exactly sure what it all means.


2015 horror-comedy

Rating: 13/20

Plot: Teenage metalheads accidentally unleash demons.

There's really nothing new here in this metal-stuffed, angsty demon-comedy, but for the most part, it's really well done. It's a lot like Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse only with more likable characters, a lot more heavy metal, and a sicker sense of humor. Like a lot of these sorts of comedies that seem directed at 18-year-old boys, this one loves its penis jokes. You also probably wouldn't want to be snacking during this because there's quite a bit of gore. Intestines, decapitation, eyeless demons, etc.