What was the last movie you saw?

Vince W

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom or How to Bore an Audience with Dinosaurs. It took me three tries to finish this film. Dull, unmemorable, utterly charmless.
 

BAYLOR

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom or How to Bore an Audience with Dinosaurs. It took me three tries to finish this film. Dull, unmemorable, utterly charmless.
I didn't bother going to the theaters to see this film or the prior film. I think they should not have revisited this franchise at all.
 

Vince W

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I didn't bother going to the theaters to see this film or the prior film. I think they should not have revisited this franchise at all.
I would have been incensed if I had spent money at the cinema to see this.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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The book Kim Newman's Video Dungeon: The Collected Reviews (2017)
is divided into ten themed chapters. I'm attempting to watch at least one film I have not seen before from each category. I have already done this with a few of the categories:

Confinements and Dangerous Games: Tied Up in the Basement or Hunted Through the Woods: See my review of The Incident (1967).

Famous Monsters: Frankenstein and Dracula: See my review of Nocturna (1979).

Secret Agent Men (and Women): See my review of The Return of Mr. Moto (1965).

Other categories remaining:

Cryptids and Critters: Bigfoot, Mermaids, Gill-Men, Etc.

Found Footage

Hard Case Crime

High Adventure: Lost Kingdoms and Fabulous Voyages

Serial Killers and Cops

Weird Hippie [expletive]

Wildlife: Fish and Reptiles

Watch this space for reviews in the above categories.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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And let's begin with:

Found Footage

Europa Report (2013)

Takes the form of a documentary about a disastrous mission to the moon Europa. Interviews with folks back on Earth tell us right away that things went wrong, so it's a matter of finding out exactly what happened. All kinds of "found footage" -- aboard the spaceship, outside it, inside and outside the astronaut's EVA suits, within unmanned probes, and so on -- is edited together to form the narrative, not always in chronological order. We see the astronauts inside the lander on Europa, for example, before we see a solar flare cut off communications with Earth long before they get there. Suffice to say that a lot of things can wrong in space, and that there are also extraordinary discoveries to be made. The whole thing looks extremely realistic on a modest budget. Very dramatic, and not at all melodramatic. Highly recommended.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Moving on to:

Cryptids and Critters: Bigfoot, Mermaids, Gill-Men, Etc.:

Creature from Black Lake (1976)

Short version: Southern-fried Bigfoot.

Starts with a couple of guys canoeing through the swamp. One of them is Jack Elam, the other gets pulled into the water by the unseen creature. Cut to a couple of graduate students from Chicago taking a road trip to Louisiana in search of said creature. Lots of time spent chatting to folks, getting a warning from the sheriff, making out with a couple of local girls, and so forth. Along the way we hear an anecdote about the creature from a guy, and meet familiar character actor Dub Taylor, doing his good ol' boy thing, as the guy's grandfather. Jack Elam shows up again, to tell his story. As you can tell, it's pretty leisurely, almost like a buddy comedy with occasional loud, howling noises from the creature. (These sounds are actually pretty scary.) The final attack sequence is fairly intense. Filming on location adds something to this little time-waster, and even the cheap-looking cinematography gives it a semi-documentary feeling.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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On to:

High Adventure: Lost Kingdoms and Fabulous Voyages:

Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962)

Steals most of the title of Thomas De Quincey's 1821 memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, and features a main character with the same last name who claims to be a descendant, but otherwise has nothing to do with it. Vincent Price stars as a sailor who gets mixed up with rival Tong gangs and Chinese women kidnapped from their native land to be sold as brides at auction in Chinatown. Price as Action Hero is odd enough, but this thing is full of strange moments. (As a small hint of how confusing it is, most reviews claim it takes place in the 19th century, when it quite clearly happens in the early 20th century.) Price narrates in florid voice-over fashion, and has a lot of equally wordy and flowery dialogue, while still acting like a tough guy. A tiny sample:

There is a devil in the drunkard, and a ghost in the poet. Devil and drunkard, ghost and poet was I.
This stuff just goes on and on and on. We've also got secret underground passageways, women trapped in bamboo cages, a lady midget who becomes Price's sidekick, a dancing girl (one of the brides for sale) who accidentally loses her wig, proving that she's completely bald, and other weird stuff. To justify the title, Price smokes (but does not eat) some opium at one point, and has a hallucination consisting largely of random scenes from cheap monster movies. After this brief sequence, we get a silent chase scene filmed in slow motion. Price has an extreme love/hate relationship with the movie's Dragon Lady villainess -- who, by the way, sometimes disguises herself as the supposedly male leader of the Tong, not seen by anybody for years, by putting on a mask, but forgetting to take off her high heels. There's an unexpected ending.

She and Price both fall into an underground waterway, the implication being that they will be drowned, while Price offers his last voice-over philosophical musing by wondering if he is heading toward death or paradise.

It's a real oddity, a cheap B movie with a 1930's pulp magazine plot, music -- including generous use of the theremin -- that makes us think this is a horror film, and a script with outrageous literary pretensions.
 

Vince W

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Venom (2018). A mediocre by the numbers film and not the Venom I remember from the 80s. Certainly not worthy of the implied sequel at the end.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Continuing with:

Serial Killers and Cops


M (1951)

Remake of the Fritz Lang classic, with the scene changed to Los Angeles. The city is in a panic because of a series of murders of little girls. The police keep raiding places where criminals hang out, in a desperate effort to find out something. The big crime boss sets his own manhunt in operation, in order to get the cops off his back. Includes a long, tense sequence in the famous Bradbury Building, where the killer has locked himself in a room full of mannequins, along with his intended victim, while the crooks have broken into the building and are searching for him. Builds up to a big climax at an underground parking garage, where the killer is surrounded by a potential lynch mob of crooks. The big boss wants to avoid a murder rap, so he has the drunken lawyer who works for him delay things until the cops show up by holding a sort of mock trial. The killer, tormented by his inability to stop himself from murdering children, gets his big, dramatic speech, while the lawyer, the film's most interesting secondary character, manages to regain some of his lost dignity. We probably didn't really need a new version of the German original, but it's a fine film in its own way.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Moving on to:

Weird Hippie [expletive]:

Hex (1973)

Bizarre mixture of Western, motorcycle gang movie, comedy, love story, art film, drug movie, martial arts film, and horror flick. Two sisters -- talkative blonde flower child Acacia and laconic brunette Oriole -- live way out in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska. On a rare trip into the nearest town, they witness a bunch of motorcycle-riding World War One vets (and a few others, including one woman) have a race with a guy who owns a souped-up Model T. The friendly contest turns ugly, and the townsfolk chase the cyclists out of town with guns. They wind up at the farm of the two sisters. Despite some tension, the women give the gang food, shelter, and even some "loco weed" to smoke. Things turn ugly when one of the cyclists makes a clumsy grab for Acacia. The other guys pull him away, but Oriole casts a spell on him. You see, their father was a Native American shaman (mother was a European) and Acacia takes after him. The guy gets killed by an owl. Next, when the leader of the cyclists gets flirty with Oriole, the woman in the gang gets in an out-and-out fistfight with her. In return, she casts a spell that causes her to have terrifying hallucinations. When one of the gang threatens Oriole with a gun, she tells him to go ahead and shoot, which makes the gun explode in his hand. In the weirdest death scene, somehow an odd counting-out ritual between one of the gang and Oriole makes the guy fight the leader kung fu style. Along the way we get a shampoo commercial style romance between Acacia and the nice, bespectacled, mechanical genius of the gang, the on-screen birth of a calf, and some explosions. It winds up with Acacia and nice guy staying on the farm together, and Oriole going off to California with the leader. The woman playing Oriole always speaks in a low, nearly expressionless voice, which manages to be both bad acting and very effective. Add some wacky comedy music on the soundtrack and random uses of freeze frames. As a coda, the very last shot shows modern jet planes flying overhead, although the film is clearly set just after the First World War. I can't call it a good film, but its eccentricities make it endlessly fascinating.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Finishing up with:

Wildlife: Fish and Reptiles

Tentacles (1977)

Italian-American giant octopus movie, notable mostly for some old-time Hollywood stars in the cast. Starts with the titles over a close-up of a radio in a taxi, followed by somebody, seen only as a pair of legs, getting out of the taxi. Important character? No, whoever it is never comes back, as far as I can tell. Things really start with a young mother and her baby. Kid is in a stroller next to the ocean. Mom walks a little way away to talk to a friend. Next thing we now, the stroller is in the water. Making the first victim an infant is gutsy, in a sick way. Next a peg-legged sailor gets it. Back on land, A reporter (John Huston!) wonders if the deaths have something to do with an underwater tunnel (which we never see, and the purpose of which is never mentioned) being built by some big company. The head of the company (Henry Fonda!) has a few scenes, but doesn't do much. We've also got Huston's sister (Shelley Winters!) and her young son. Winters calls Huston "little brother," but it's obvious that he's much older than she is. Claude Akins is around as the sheriff. Bo Hopkins is our hero, as an oceanographer with a couple of trained killer whales. We get more deaths-by-octopus, including the sister of Hopkins' wife and the guys she's on a boat with; Hopkins' wife herself, in the movie's one decently filmed octopus attack; and a regatta of boats sailed by kids. (Winters' kid comes back OK, but his buddy doesn't, in yet another example of the movie's ruthlessness with child deaths.) Along the way, it's discovered that the big octopus is attracted by radio waves, something to do with Fonda's company using "illegal frequencies" (?) in its unexplained tunneling project. All our big stars disappear from the movie, unless you want to count Hopkins. In the film's goofiest scene, he gives a heartfelt pep talk to the two killer whales, telling them to go out and kill the octopus. Astonishingly, this works. The big fight scene consists of a couple of fake killer whales and a real octopus of normal size. (Either they bought a dead one at the fish market, or killed a real one on screen, which is reprehensible.) All the actors who aren't medium-to-big American stars are either badly dubbed or speak with Italian accents. It's a pretty dull affair, for the most part.
 

paranoid marvin

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Venom (2018). A mediocre by the numbers film and not the Venom I remember from the 80s. Certainly not worthy of the implied sequel at the end.

I watched Venom at the movies, and knowing nothing at all about the character, I quite enjoyed it; quite dark humour and some quite scary bits at the beginning. Though I do agree that I can't see any mileage in a sequel.
 

Overread

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - its, well its pretty at least. The lead actor and actress are terrible choices and would be better placed in a teen romance style story of two low ranked soldiers; rather than as decorated highly experienced agents holding higher ranks. The romance, their attitude, everything screams teen/young adult.

Then we hit the plot. Now I can get into an action flick and turn my brain off for a bit and enjoy a film for what it is, but this one has holes so huge you can drive several busses through them. So many scenes and events seem to be just done for effect and theme with no attempt to logically link the elements together. One or two on their own you could overlook, but the whole selection together just builds one problem into the next. It starts to be distracting.

It's a shame as they've clearly put a lot of money into the visuals. The alien designs, the overall general plot and themes are good. It's just the way they've arranged it all and put it together and presented it falls apart.
 

hitmouse

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - its, well its pretty at least. The lead actor and actress are terrible choices and would be better placed in a teen romance style story of two low ranked soldiers; rather than as decorated highly experienced agents holding higher ranks. The romance, their attitude, everything screams teen/young adult.

Then we hit the plot. Now I can get into an action flick and turn my brain off for a bit and enjoy a film for what it is, but this one has holes so huge you can drive several busses through them. So many scenes and events seem to be just done for effect and theme with no attempt to logically link the elements together. One or two on their own you could overlook, but the whole selection together just builds one problem into the next. It starts to be distracting.

It's a shame as they've clearly put a lot of money into the visuals. The alien designs, the overall general plot and themes are good. It's just the way they've arranged it all and put it together and presented it falls apart.
I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable film in a whimsical style, a bit like the original French comic strip . It is not really a Hollywood movie.
 

Foxbat

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Under The Skin.

Scarlett Johansson stars in a science fiction horror flick set in Scotland. It’s a movie without subtitles and very strong west coast accents (very different from east coast).

Johansson plays an extra terrestrial being of some kind, luring men into a weird form of seduction that resembles a cinematic mating dance that results in their demise and reminds me of an insect or arachnid devouring its mate.

It’s never fully explained what's going on but given that Johansson played Black Widow in the Avengers movies, it’s safe to say that here she is an extra-terrestrial black widow. The problem is, in the right circumstances, even the black widow can be vulnerable...

Dark, erotic and enthralling - it’s certainly worth watching.
 

Foxbat

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Just Another Saturday (1975)
A gritty drama set in Glasgow in the early seventies. It focusses on a seventeen year old drum major preparing for his first Orange Walk. His idealistic views on the world take a battering as he witnesses, first hand, the violence often accompanying sectarianism. Against this backdrop, his parents battle for his soul. His socialist father, cynical and world weary, has contempt for both sides of the religious divide. The boy’s mother tells him...at least you believe in something. The fact that his belief is based on an ingrained hatred of the other side escapes her as all our characters stumble through a world of alcohol, poverty, violence, confusion and a distinct lack of hope.

Great stuff!

One amusing point. I bought this dvd many years ago and had forgotten about the menu selection. It’s in english but you can watch it with or without (english) subtitles. Such is the strength of the Scottish accent:)
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Some stuff I watched while away from the computer:

The independent films of John Cassavetes marathon:

Faces (1968)

Not at all plot-driven, but, in summary, it's about two married people, their affairs, their arguments, and their reconciliations. Like a lot of Cassavetes films, particularly the early, black-and-white ones, it almost seems like a documentary, as if you're a voyeur watching real lives.

A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

Gena Rowlands has the title role as a married woman, with children, who has what we might call a "nervous breakdown" and has to be institutionalized for some time. Peter Falk is the husband, and his behavior seems to be a precipitating factor. Compelling performance from Rowlands, who manages to convey a very convincing portrait of mental illness.

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

Ben Gazzara runs a strip club, loses more money that he can pay gambling, has to commit the murder in the title in order to wipe out the debt, then has to evade the bad guys who forced him to take on that dangerous assignment. Not your typical crime story, although there's some of that. Lots of time spent at the strip club, with Gazzara's girlfriend, etc. Memorable performance from cult actor Timothy Carey as one of the gangsters.

Opening Night (1977)

Gena Rowlands having another breakdown, this time as a famous stage actress who has a lot of problems with her current play. Early in the film a teenage fan gets killed in a car accident, and Rowlands has visions of the teenager, who may be sort of a symbol of her lost youth. Ends with real-life husband Cassavetes performing a scene from the play-within-the-movie with Rowlands.
 
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