Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Holidays (2016)

1 (Valentine's Day): Terrible, appalling, total shit. 0.5 out of 5
2 (St Patrick's Day): I'm guessing this was supposed to be funny and surreal? It wasn't. 1 out of 5
3 (Easter): A tale of how Easter's crazy mix of Christian and Pagan resurrection/rebirth myths can fuck with a kid's head, especially one whose dad has recently died. 3.5 out of 5
4 (Mother's Day): Watching new-age hippies cavort in the desert for no payoff was not how I wanted to spend 12 minutes of my life. 1 out of 5
5 (Father's Day): An interesting story about grief and the resurfacing of lost memories. The poor ending lets the whole thing down though. 2.5 out of 5
6 (Halloween): Dull rape-revenge stuff that has fuck all to do with Halloween. 1 out of 5
7 (Christmas): A bit of a turkey! 2 out of 5
8 (New Year's Eve): I could see the twist coming but it was fun nonetheless. I still fucking hate New Year's eve, though. 3 out of 5

Letterboxd Review

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Wasn't really expecting much at all and was nicely surprised. Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Michelle is up there with Ellen Ripley.

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

The only sequel to come close to the fun of the original (I still need to see IV)? Good to see Michelle Rodriguez and the Red Queen make a reappearance. Good level design, nice end-of-level baddies, lots of Milla goodness but the supporting cast, with a couple of exceptions, still suck.

Letterboxd Review

Monday, 25 July 2016

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Aliens meets Escape From New York. The film lights up for the brief time that Milla's on screen but otherwise it's a pretty dismal affair. The Wolfenstein-a-like Supersoldat/Nemesis was pretty cool, though.

Letterboxd Review

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The French Connection (1971)

Popeye Doyle is still the coolest motherfucking detective to walk the celluloid streets. He may be a heavy-handed misanthrope but with his shabby suit, skinny tie and porkpie hat he's a down-at-the-heel brownstone tenement standing steadfast against the gentrification surrounding him, a man out of time who casually shits all over those cravated, polo-necked and flared-collared, dedicated followers of fashion.

No one, but no one, wears a porkpie like Popeye.

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 22 July 2016

The Executioner Part II (1984)

There's nothing quite like punks, pimps and hoodlums in 1980's films with their headbands, perms, bleached jeans and muscle shirts, bouncing up and down and running around everywhere like fancy-dress poodles on whizz. This is my second Renee Harmon film of the day and I think I'm starting to drown in aging-redhead Deutsche cleavage. Contains the worst Vietnam war sequence I think I've ever seen... and grenades, lots and lots of grenades. Funny as fuck!

Letterboxd Review

Frozen Scream (1975)

Frozen Scream does have an odd, trippy atmosphere in places but beware of an awful script, jarring edits, terrible performances and dialogue, killers who look like Rowan Atkinson and Marty Feldman with porn moustaches, and the loudest and most inappropriate voice-over ever. Low on gore, high on crappiness, Frozen Scream will only be of interest to those of us who like shitty, low-budget films or are trying to complete the video-nasty list and have found this at the bottom of the pile.

You know how, sometimes, bands cover a song and then change the lyrics a little to avoid copyright and paying the subsequent royalties? Well, Frozen Scream has some of the worst I've ever heard, played during a totally pointless dance scene: "there's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on" becomes "we're goin' to try to get it on" and "We're goin' to rock around the clock tonight" becomes "We're goin' to jack around the shack tonight". Fucking hilarious!

The picture and sound quality on the Vinegar Syndrome DVD is not great but still bright and very watchable.

Letterboxd Review

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

I'm just wondering why that couple waited until the last minute to sort their shit out? The purge happens once a year and they all know the date. Do not do last minute shopping and then make a long drive across the city. SORT YOUR SHIT OUT!

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 8 July 2016

Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films (1964 - 1992)

I've not watched the entire box of Jan Švankmajer shorts as yet but the ones that I have watched are terrific and I recommend them to anyone with even the slightest interest in experimental animation and film-making.

Currently, they can be had for as little as £15, which for 3 discs that cover an artist's entire short film work is pretty damn cheap. Go buy them now!

The Last Trick (1964)

Friendly rivalry turns nasty. Something I never noticed before is how the violin bow string passes through the hole in the key during Mr. Schwarzwald's First Trick.

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Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasia G-moll (1965)

Absolutely beautiful and the organ music by J.S. Bach wasn't too shabby either.

Letterboxd Review

A Game with Stones (1965)

In his 3rd short it seems that Švankmajer really starts to understand what he can accomplish with stop-motion animation. It reminded me a little of the animations from BBC's Vision-On programme.

Letterboxd Review

Punch and Judy (1966)

The matches that Mr. Punch uses to light the candles over Joey's coffin are labelled "Rose of Peckham ". Where did a Czech filmmaker find matches from the East-End of London? Del Boy! And how do you do stop-motion with a guinea pig, unless... sniff

Letterboxd Review

The Garden (1968)

A non-animated and chillingly Kafkaesque story from Švankmajer. I'm not exactly sure what it's trying to say, but it's definitely saying something. Maybe something about collectivism (the rural setting, the garden, the vegetables and talk of food production) and the role of the community coming before the individual?

Letterboxd Review

The Edge (1997)

I love being outside and I also love a good wilderness survival film and this is a fine one. I know I've backed off of writing full-length reviews but this is something I promised myself that I'd do a year or so back. A review of a wilderness survival film that actually mentions the techniques used throughout and if those techniques were successful or not.

I'm not an expert just a passionate amateur and the following is a list of the techniques either described or practised in the film.

Equipment = Folding knife, flares, paper clip, three broken watches, canvas satchel, leather belt

  • Escape from downed plane in water
  • CPR on drowning victim
  • Dry wet clothes
  • Firelighting with matches [fail - because of inadequate tinder]
  • Firelighting with flare
  • Letting fire burn out [fail]
  • Using Flares for signalling [fail - they use them all for fire building]
  • Indication of travel direction [fail - they removed a vital note]
  • Importance of thinking/planning/attitude
  • Direction finding using analogue watch [fail - all watches broken]
  • Direction finding using bird migration route [described]
  • Direction finding using magnetised paper clip
  • Direction finding using two points
  • Move slowly backward away from a bear [fail - they started ok and then panicked]
  • Moving calmly and purposefully [fail - running away from bear with little regard to terrain]
  • Do not panic [fail - running away from bear]
  • Making a log bridge to cross a river
  • Crossing log bridge sensibly [fail - keep a low centre of gravity]
  • Drying clothes after getting wet [fail - did not light a fire immediately in a very cold environment]
  • Finding a high point to navigate from
  • Navigation in a straight line [fail - possibly got turned around during bear panic or from interference from a metal object]
  • Not losing or throwing away equipment [fail - threw away magnetised paper clip]
  • Build a makeshift spear
  • Keeping busy
  • Knife use/safety [fail - leg wound from making spear]
  • Bandaging
  • Burying blood-stained clothing in bear country [fail - Baldwin is told to bury the clothing but doesn't]
  • Fire building [fail - fire too large and with no reflector]
  • Shelter building [fail - lean-to has far too large an opening, too little thatch and has no ground insulation]
  • Direction finding using stars
  • Camping in a forest during a thunderstorm [fail - although they had no real choice]
  • Bear attack [fail - panic, stays on the ground]
  • Bear attack [pass - stands ground, does not run, uses burning branch]
  • Camp in a sheltered spot [fail - on top a barren mountainside]
  • Fire building [fail - again, no reflector]
  • Knife use/safety [pass - cutting away from your body]
  • Food gathering
  • Trap building [pass, although a deadfall would be more efficient as it takes much less work. Less work = more calories saved]
  • Signalling to a rescue helicopter [fail - they were in a heavily forested area with no signal method]
  • How to build fire using ice [described]
  • Keep your companions calm
  • Fishing using a watch chain as a lure, a thorn as a hook and jumper thread as a line [I'd have preferred to see several threads combined to make a stronger line]
  • Bear attack [pass - fire circle]
  • Spear building with fire-hardened tips
  • Swinging spike trap
  • Descent down a scree slope [fail - you don't do a huge jump at the top. The bear did a far better job of it ]
  • Fire building [fail - another fire that's too big and with no reflector]
  • Cooking meat on a spit [personally, I think the chunks of meat were too big and that they could have smoked some thin strips as well]
  • Direction finding using magnetised watch hand
  • Making clothes and backpack out of bear skin [we'll skip over scraping away the fat and the tanning process]
  • Deadfall trap [Hopkins refers to it as a dead fall but it's actually a pit trap]
  • Keeping gun and ammunition in good order [fail - Hopkins ejects the shells from the rifle and leaves them. Remember that at this point they're still not rescued]
  • Makeshift tourniquet using a belt [fail - applied pressure would have been better]
  • Rifle as a splint [fail - two branches would have been better rather than possibly gumming up the mechanism on the rifle]
  • Pulse checking [pass - correct method used although very quickly]
  • Fire building [fail - no reflector, yet again]
  • Signal fire [fail - they should have had one set up ready rather than quickly having to improvise]
  • Foraging [fail - no foraging in the entire film. Berries, nuts etc. take far less energy to gather for the amount gained than meat]

Their #1 failure, however, is that they moved away from the plane wreck in the first place. Stay where you are unless absolutely necessary. Over all though, Hopkins' character did a fine job in a shitty situation - attitude is everything.

A fine film and that was one beautiful Kodiak!

I've written a similar woodcraft/survival based review for Man Vs. if you're interested.

Letterboxd Review

Timecrimes (2007)

The time-travel and resultant paradox is fine but I just don't understand why she couldn't fit the table through the door?

Letterboxd Review

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982)

The Runaways sing Kimya Dawson

People tend to focus on Diane Lane but how about some cheers for Stains guitarist Marin Kanter who went on to appear in Kathryn Bigelow's early and underrated biker flick The Loveless.

Letterboxd Review

Prey (1978)

Totally worth it just for Sally Faulkner's portrayal of Jo the hysterically deranged, man-hating, vegetarian lesbian. Notable scenes? Where they dress the alien up in a women's dress and makeup and then play hide and seek. When Jo goes fucking batshit over some dead chickens. The very strange, slo-mo, fight in the muddy, swan pond. The final sex and death scene.

I liked this even more than Warren's later film, Inseminoid.

Letterboxd Review

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Beyond the Reach (2014)

An adaptation of Deathwatch by Robb White, but not the first. Back in 1974 there was a TV film named Savages (Andy Griffith and Sam Bottoms) which I think is much better. I first saw it back in the early 80s and it took the next 30 years for me to track it down based on what little I could remember - for one thing, there's a really interesting scene with a slingshot that isn't repeated in the newer version. It can be found on youtube and also on a bootleg DVD along with Pray For the Wild Cats, another Andy Griffith TV film. So watch the original rather than this.

Letterboxd Review

Force Majeure (2014)

I've been down switchback roads like that in the French and Italian Alps and it is very scary indeed. Also, when did wearing helmets when skiing become a thing?

Letterboxd Review

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

Fucking hell, accurate tech-speak! Hopefully, the planned remake starring Will Smith has bitten the dust.

Letterboxd Review

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Ghastly Ones (1968)

The first 30 minutes are a little dull but things soon pick up and we get: Melodrama! Exposition! Cramped camera shots that try to fit in as many people as possible! Terrible dresses! Colin! Director's instructions heard on camera! Great gore! A film that screams exclamation points!

Letterboxd Review

Monday, 4 July 2016

John Peel’s Record Box (2005)

Interesting documentary but you do have to put up with the likes of Paul Morley and Elton John every now and then. Get a hankie ready at the end.

"More of the same unpleasant and disorientating racket on tomorrow night's programme. Until then, from me John Peel, goodnight and good riddance."

Letterboxd Review

Alucarda (1977)


[hi-ster-i-kuh l]

1) of, relating to, or characterized by hysteria.
2) uncontrollably emotional.
3) irrational from fear, emotion, or an emotional shock.
4) causing hysteria.
5) suffering from or subject to hysteria.
6) causing unrestrained laughter; very funny

Letterboxd Review

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Deadpool (2016)

If there was an award for wiseassery this film would win it hands down. I fucking hated it with every fibre of my being. After 10 minutes my daughter was on her DS, after 15 I was on my Kindle, after 30 minutes my wife admitted she hated it as well (not noticing that I'd been reading for 15 minutes). Maybe one day I may finish it but it's highly unlikely.

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 1 July 2016

Creep (2014)

Sorry, I just don't get it.

The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E. Smith (2005)

The egotistical, crunchy, intelligent, vindictive, contrary, petty, abrasive, sharp, grumpy, charming, stupid, nasty, repetitive and utterly brilliant world of Mark E. Smith. A wonderful arsehole and this documentary has reminded me that I really need to replace my Fall records.

"I don't know whether he's killing them or what?" -- John Peel, on the large number of past Fall members

Letterboxd Review

Inseminoid (1981)

Possibly the only film where you get to see Judy Geeson's dental fillings.

Letterboxd Review