Movie Diary 2018 by pahaK

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I feel similar to School of Rock. This should have been Black's ultimate role, but it's neutered. Understandably, it is also a hit film in some ways. The "safe" audience loved it. Sadly, it didn't land Black any more primo roles in greater movies (unless you consider Pick of Destiny a great film - I want to but I can't lie to myself, it was good, but not great).



In the Mouth of Madness (1994) r

A tribute to King and Lovecraft that didn't manage to hold my interest and felt little too fanboyish.



Sam Neill plays an insurance investigator who is hired to find a missing bestseller horror novelist Sutter Cane. He follows the clues to New England with Cane's editor and finds the man in the fictive town from his books. Line between fiction and reality is crumbling and the Old Ones plot their return.

After Prince of Darkness this was a major disappointment. It almost felt like getting as many King and Lovecraft references had been more important than making an interesting story. There was no consistent style and the movie continuously wandered from King's modern small town horror to Lovecraftian themes of Stygian depths swarming with ancient malignant beings to comedic weirdness.

For some reason Sam Neill is a hit and miss actor for me and in this one I didn't like him. Not exactly sure why but he just seemed out of place. Lots of characters were more or less crazy so they felt weird and it's kid of hard to judge their acting. The movie lacked clear visual style as well and as a result parts of it looked good, others decent and some even bad. I just have to emphasize how far this is from the quality of Prince of Darkness in every way.

Oh, and I wonder if it's only coincidence that the travel sequence to Hobb's End is exactly like the traveling in Joe Hill's NOS4A2 or did he make a tribute to a tribute?

-



The Fog (1980) r

Another Carpenter rewatch. Not as solid as Prince of Darkness but stylistically similar.



Hundred years ago a ship sunk on the shores of what has become a small coastal town of Antonio Bay. It crashed on the rocks in heavy fog leaving no survivors. On town's 100th birthday the fog returns and within it the dead are looking for retribution. But why have the dead returned and what do they want?

The Fog looks pretty and has, again, very similar visual approach to Fulci's horror films. The use of lightning and camera angles create unreal atmosphere which is enhanced by the fog that's more literal threat in this than usually. The violence is very mild when compared to Italian horror though and I think more grotesque killings would have been a positive change. Soundtrack is very good as well, a bit more Italian than in Prince of Darkness I'd say.



Story is not very good. It's really basic supernatural revenge film with no surprises or any deeper mysteries. There's a backstory that's read from a book and the rest just happens on this one night. There's nothing wrong with simple stories but The Fog doesn't give its characters much to do. Acting was good. It's kind of surprising how well acted some of these cheap old horror films are and how many actors from them have managed to make a long and successful career.

A little too simple and straightforward story with rather stylish execution. Closer to good than bad but falls just a little short.




Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Only saw In The Mouth of Madness for the first time a couple of months ago and would agree with you that it's pretty weak. I felt it did a decent job building up the sense of mystery and intrigue of just what the hell is going on. But once Sam Neill's character actually arrived in the town it just became pretty dull. Also thought it looked and felt rather cheap; almost like a TV movie.

The Fog however I really quite like. A simple story but told with a lot of style and atmosphere. Just a really fun little B-movie



The Fog however I really quite like. A simple story but told with a lot of style and atmosphere. Just a really fun little B-movie
I spent an hour pondering whether to give in 3 or 3.5 popcorn so it's very close to good in my books



Deadpool 2 (2018) N

I watched the super boring duper cut which was like an hour too long for the content.



For a film like this Deadpool 2 has far too many attempts for drama (which doesn't work in a film that doesn't take itself seriously) and too few jokes that actually work. As a character Deadpool feels like a daydream of a juvenile smartass who hates being told to behave and wishes he'd be strong enough to keep his mouth running. So in short the film is a (mostly bad) comedy with annoying protagonist that wastes too much time trying to be something else.

Action is mostly OK but there's very little unique in it. From action's point of view Domino is the most refreshing character (I'm pretty sure I've seen similar lucky person before but can't remember in which film) and her special ability is used pretty interestingly. There is way more graphic violence than in typical PG-13 Marvels but somehow it's disappointingly bloodless (even with severed limbs or people torn in two).

I guess it's a good thing that I'm not sure whether the film was making fun of political correctness or promoting it. Maybe that depends on the viewer (which would be kinda good thing). Despite of this it's way too long exercise in boredom that the few funny moments every now and then can't save.




Deadpool 2 (2018) N






I wasn't near as impressed by it as the first one. It felt really random and scattered. Like an episode of SuperMarketSweep makes a movie. Okay, grabs Cable off a shelf, make a team, love angle, troubled kid, 2nd villain, etc.



Lacks cohesion.



School of Rock (2003) N

How not to make a movie about rock and rebellion.


Sorry for spoiling the best joke of the film.



The Linklater mob hasn't found you yet?



Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) r

1930s scifi-horror done right - also surprisingly bleak and brutal for its time.



Dr. Jekyll is a brilliant scientist and philanthropic but also a man with large ego and strong impulses. He has a duality theory that men are comprised of good and evil and that it's possible to separate them, that it's possible to remove evil from man and leave behind a virtuous, angelic being. He creates a potion for the task but instead of making him a saint it puts his evil in charge creating Mr. Hyde.

Basically Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is yet another cautionary tale about man reaching beyond his position and stepping on God's toes. I kinda dislike such anti-science stance but it does yield good basis for a story and obviously fits to a film set in Victorian era London. There are heavy Darwinian influences in duality of Jekyll and Hyde the latter being a step down the evolutionary ladder, an animal not only in its inability to control its impulses but also physically transforming to resemble an ape.

The relationship between Hyde and Ivy is brutal. It's perversity is amplified by the fact that (at least in my opinion) some of the scenes between the two are made almost erotic despite of their violent nature. Both actors are good but it took me a while to get used to March's animalistic manners as Hyde. Rest of the cast is alright but they really don't have as much chances to shine.

Cinematography is good and creative for such an old film. I personally don't like first person view so the beginning is certainly not to my liking but other uses of the technique work quite well. The meeting with Jekyll and Muriel in the garden has some brilliantly framed shots and works really well. Split screens are used with good taste. Overall the film is visually better than majority of the other old ones I've seen. The effects feel (obviously) outdated but not distractingly so.

Entertaining scifi-horror with some creative cinematography, good acting and surprising brutality. Definitely superior to Mad Love.




Paper Moon (1973) N

What would bring father and daughter (or not) better together than some conning?


Looks like someone wants 200 dollars.

9-year-old Addie's mother has died and her only living relatives live pretty far away. Fortunately a con man, Moses, who used to know her mother happens to be in town and it's decided that he takes Addie to her aunt. There are quite a few bends in the road and Addie ends up teaming with Moses whom she believes to be her father. Together they con their way onward with some ups and some downs.

Story itself is very simple but Paper Moon is much like a road movie anyway. There's no big plot to solve but a long journey for the main characters to get acquainted and bonded. In the beginning Moses is just trying to use Addie as a piece in another con but finds the hard way that she's not someone you can bully out of her share. In typical comedy style Addie pretty much ends up being the brains of the operation.


"Are you pushing?"

Biggest reason the film works so well is absolutely brilliant performances by Ryan and Tatum O'Neal as Moses and Addie. While many husband-wife duos fail to have any chemistry on screen together this father-daughter pair has a truckload. It seems that some have accused the director for "manufacturing" Tatum's performance with huge amount of takes but who cares - the result is just so good that any number of takes is justified.

Black-and-white cinematography is beautiful and fits perfectly to the depression imagery. I don't find anything to nitpick about the technical aspects. Script has some issues though. The part with Trixie isn't too good and it feels weird how Moses falls so easily for her antics. Also the way Moses loses their money feels little cheap (how conveniently he just happened to need to carry everything with him, I think that's little lazy writing).

Overall very entertaining drama-comedy about depression era swindling by father-daughter duo with amazingly good performances by the leads.




The Long Day Closes (1992) N

Visually beautiful but otherwise empty collage of moments in the life of a young boy in 1950s London.


Bud is a lonely 11-year-old boy and the youngest child of the single mother. He loves movies and escapes his dull grey existence into their fantasies. Bud is little bit of a mommy's boy but the family appears to be caring and close knit unit. School is little harder with strict discipline and three bullies picking on Bud. There's no story, there's very little characterization and the film just goes from scene to scene with minimal narrative.

What saves The Long Day Closes from being bad is it's cinematography which ranges from good to stunningly beautiful. There are moments when you can just watch the images on screen and forget how dull the film actually is. Rainy and bleak London is the true star of this movie and it's captured with far more depth and emotion than any of the characters.

I had rather high hopes for the film based on few reviews I'd read but the emptiness of the script came as a surprise and largely ruined the rest. It's hard to find any emotional attachment to Bud (or anyone) without even an illusion of knowing them. In The Long Day Closes even its main protagonist feels distant, almost like the closest we get to know him is looking through the window of his house and see his mother smiling. Maybe it's done on purpose but for me it just doesn't work.

Great cinematography wasted on mostly pointless script. It looks marvelous though so despite of the low rating I can somewhat recommend it.




Virtue (1932) N

A romantic drama that has serious issues in its narration.


An ex-prostitute falls for a cynic taxi driver in New York. She doesn't tell him about her past so it's just a matter of time 'till the old days return to haunt her. Such revelation doesn't help the marriage and finally all seems lost when the lady falls for her "friend's" ploy and looses some much needed money. Oh boy, how will our heroes get through this?

I hated the script and its fragmentary way of showing only small glimpses of the characters before jumping ahead in time. Even the marriage comes practically from nowhere. Why did the cynic misogynist, Jimmy, fall for Mae at all? It's like a drama about mannequins, not real people. Why should I care about these people when they're kept so distant? The whole film is just a rushed series of flashes from their lives, as emotional as looking through my window and seeing people walk on the street.

Acting itself was fine. I don't know anything about the characters but they do act and look like real people. Visually the film is quite bland and had no interesting shots to remember it for. As a whole Virtue was totally forgettable film. I'm afraid that my rating is even generous.




The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) N

This happened to be available on local TV's online service so I decided to give a try to this Foreign HoF winner.



So it's a romance (my not so favorite genre) and musical about young love in small French town of Cherbourg. Geneviéve and Guy are in love. Geneviéve's mother isn't too happy about it and when Guy is drafted to army she pretty much hopes her daughter will forget the young man. It happens that Geneviéve is already pregnant which complicates the forgetting part. Then new suitor appears and we have the expected love triangle (or square).

Surprisingly I kinda liked the story. It wasn't anything new but it mostly worked. It was also a nice "twist" that for the last part Guy suddenly becomes the main character after being gone for the whole second part. Ending felt fair and it had a touch of dreariness and bitterness that spiced up otherwise very syrupy film.

It was the musical part that I actually hated. I didn't like how all the dialogue was sung and there were no real songs at all. For the most part it sounded very monotonous and forced. I much prefer spoken dialogue with occasional songs to this. Acting was actually really good despite of the constant singing and everyone felt overtly emotional. Catherine Deneuve was very lovely.

Cinematography was great and the whole film was ridiculously colorful. There were many beautiful scenes like Guy's departure to army and the ending at the snowy gas station. I really wanted to like this more but the horrible sung dialogue marred the rest quite badly and made watching somewhat annoying.




Blacula (1972) N

A blaxploitation rip-off of Dracula that's better film than I expected.



In 1780 an African prince, Mamuwalde, is visiting Europe gathering support for his anti-slavery campaign. Things go wrong in Transylvania when Dracula, an apparent racist in addition to his other character flaws, turns him into a vampire and locks him into coffin to suffer the never ending hunger and leaving his wife to die besides the coffin. In 1972 the coffin ends up in LA and Blacula is released.

I was surprised how good the movie looked. Cinematography was easily above average, lots of nicely framed shots and rather beautiful color compositions. I was expecting total trash but Blacula ended up being technically very professional. Soundtrack, as usual for the genre, was very groovy and the song There He Is Again by The Hues Corporation is a blast.

Story was quite heavily loaned from Dracula but it wasn't one-on-one copy. Some things didn't make any sense (like Blacula going after the photographer - there's no way he'd know his image doesn't show on photos as he was trapped into his coffin before photography even existed) and the script in general wasn't on par with the technical quality. There were few jokes that made me laugh out loud though (don't think I can repeat them on the forums in the year 2018).

Not great film by any means but a positive surprise none the less. Not recommended for those who are triggered by derogatory language towards sexual minorities.




Frightmare (1974) N

Very bleak and down to earth cannibal film set in 1970s England.



Dorothy and Edmund Yates are a married couple who have spent about 15 years in mental hospital for murders and cannibalism. They're released as sane but Edmund and his daughter from previous marriage, Jackie, suspect Dorothy isn't as well as the doctors said. They try to keep her happy with a plot involving pig brains. Jackie's younger sister, Debbie, who's Dorothy's daughter is supposed to think her parents are dead but yeah, apples and trees. Things start to get out of hand.

I liked the grimy and bleak tone of the film. There's not much graphical violence but the story was brutal and severely downbeat. Family relations were well written and the whole mess seemed, in all its insanity, kinda plausible. Especially Edmund was great with just enough humanity and independence in him that you're tempted to feel sorry for him.

While the concept and basic story is great the actual writing leaves something to be desired. For such a short film it drags quite a bit and dialogue isn't too good. Acting is otherwise fine but Sheila Keith as Dorothy is clearly overacting. Kim Butcher as the psychotic jailbait Debbie looks hot. Cinematography seems to be quite basic and the overall look of the film is cheap. Effects are pretty poor.

Little boring at times but otherwise pretty nice and depressing cannibal film.




In a Glass Cage (1986) N

A film that's been on my watchlist for quite some time because of its reputation as dark and disturbing piece of cinema. It didn't disappoint on any level.



Klaus, a former Nazi doctor, has a fetish for sexual violence towards young boys that includes killing them. After one incident he attempts suicide which leaves his entire body paralyzed and himself trapped within a machine that keeps him breathing. Soon a young man, Angelo, arrives to the house and becomes Klaus' nurse helping his wife and young daughter, Rena, to take care of Klaus. But Angelo's motives aren't exactly philanthropic.

While there isn't much graphic violence in the film In a Glass Cage is quite daring and it has had some issues with censorship. It's topic of sexual abuse and fetishized murder of children is a touchy one and the film's depictions of such events are more brutal than usual. The film digs deep into the worst of humanity and doesn't offer much light or redemption.



I was surprised how good the film was technically. It's cinematography is masterful and its often cold color palette drains its world from all warm emotions. It mostly happens within one large house and every shot inside is brilliantly composed (nothing wrong with the few outside shots either). There's also one long murder scene that would have made Argento proud. Acting is also great by everyone (especially the chemistry between Angelo and Rena worked really well).

A relentless film about controversial topics, a drama with a hint of art house and most of all a great film. One of the most disturbing films out there but definitely recommended.




Red Dust (1932) N

Everyone must already know that I didn't like this so I'll keep it short.



Love triangle (or square) in Indochina between rubber plantation owner, a newly arrived engineer and his wife (and a prostitute from Shanghai). Once again every woman falls for Gable's cocky charms and it's up to him to uphold the high moral standards in the jungle heat.

Film is basically a soap opera with pretty decent acting and nice sets. Storywise there's very little interesting happening and the moral ending is stupid. Also I don't understand why in all these Hollywood romances from the 30s pretty much every character is super annoying.

At least it was (little) better than Virtue.




The Exorcist III (1990) r

I had to keep a little break from the franchise after the second film but time to continue with the rewatches.



Detective Kinderman has troubles with the murders that match the M.O. of the Gemini Killer who was executed 15 years ago. Things get weirder when all of the victims can be linked to an exorcism of one young Regan MacNeil that also happened 15 years ago. His research leads him to psychiatric ward of the hospital and to a patient who looks disturbingly familiar.

The Exorcist III is a neo-noir horror that builds upon the events of the first film but is stylistically very different. Visually it's mostly very beautiful using both colors and camera angles in interesting ways. The scenes in the patient's "cell" are somewhat an exception (I suppose it's hard to make such a small place look fascinating) and Brad Dourif doesn't have enough charisma to carry them alone. Religious imagery is used often and to rather good effect.



Like neo-noir usually The Exorcist III has dark and sad atmosphere. The murders, while never shown, are described by the investigators in very detailed way and their brutality is used to hammer home the sense of despair. The film builds its mood well but the story itself is somewhat weak. The lengthy monologues of the Gemini Killer don't work, the whole idea of his return is pretty stupid, the links to first film seem forced and the end with father Morning's appearance is borderline comical.

Great cinematography and well built forlorn atmosphere but ultimately weak and pointless story result in OK film.