Film Catch Up

We’ve been lazy, watching films but not writing about them. We’re not sorry.

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Yeah that’s right.

Actually we are a little bit sorry so here are some condensed reviews:

Lifeforce (1985)

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You know you’ve always wanted to see a vampire space odyssey. No? Well have you have ever wanted to watch a film where Sir Patrick Stewart makes out with a dude? Yes you say? This is the film for you then. It’s such a bizarre film that when Patrick Stewart starts latching his round head to a man’s face we weren’t really surprised. So much crazy shit happens in this film that it was an inevitability.

ABCs of Death (2012)

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There’s literally no plot to this, instead it consists of 26 short films representing each letter of the alphabet and all containing at least one death. ABCs of Death, get it? Good. Some are funny, some are gory but most are pretty unsettling. The short film from Indonesia takes the award for fucked up depravity, think sex and violence but the worst of both. I guess that’s what you get from a country that’s in the Ring of Fire (volcanoes, not the song or drinking game).

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

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Not to be confused with Rowan Atkinson’s 1995 comedy series of the same name. Obviously. An enthralling documentary about an infamous miscarriage of justice and damming indictment of eye witness testimony. We really liked how it cut between interviews and reenactments. The reenactments weren’t the usual Watchdog style nor were they like scenes from a fictitious movie, they came across more as hazy memories which were liable to misinterpretation. A forerunner to edge of your seat, tense documentary films like The Imposter (2012), Blackfish (2013) and Man on Wire (2008). 

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

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More like Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter: Bollocks is this The Final Chapter. We don’t think this is at least halfway through the franchise. But enough about the title. It’s probably one of the most standard slasher films ever made. All the people you expected to be killed were indeed killed. No one put up much of a fight and you could see the twists from a mile away. It’s just really bland…much like this review.

On to the next film after we get wrongly convicted of killing a group of holidaying space vampires in alphabetical order.

Rachel Getting Married (2008)

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The inverse of TV on the Radio. That’s one for the fans. Fuck you posers if you don’t get that.

IMDB says: A young woman who has been in and out from rehab for the past 10 years returns home for the weekend for her sister’s wedding.

With a plot like this the film could’ve easily fallen into the trap of being the feature length version of a bad episode of EastEnders. However it remains tender without being maudlin. We were drawn into the lives of these characters and started to care about their trials and tribulations rather than laugh at their misfortune, which we normally would because we’re bastards. The camerawork is all handheld and seems to take the form of an actual wedding video, if said video was directed by the guy behind Silence of the Lambs (same director yeah). Most of the music is diegetic (it comes from something in the scene, fancy film word alert) like one of their super cool friends playing some acoustic love song or that fucking guy on the violin. This adds to the film feeling very natural and helps you relate to the characters’ emotions. You feel less like an observer and more like you’re actually there. Kind of like Avatar. If you don’t believe us try watching the scene where Anne Hathaway gives a self pitying speech during a toast to the soon to be married couple. Anyone who doesn’t cringe at that must be a psychopath.

The best bit about the film is the acting. When acting’s this good you don’t need every scene to look like a potential Facebook cover photo (we still like The Conformist though). There’s a special skill to playing characters as naturally as possible without being contrived  and Anne Hathaway and co nail it (see The Good Life for an example of when this skill is lacking). What we’re saying is that we don’t normally like straight up family drama indie films but we got well into this. It’s a bloody good film and we get to hear Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio sing a Capella  into Rachel’s face.

Tears were close to shedding at this point.

On to the next film after we have dishwasher loading race.

The Conformist (1970)

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Sixteen in the clip and one in the hole
Clerici is about to make some bodies turn cold                                                                                                                          I laid all them busters down                                                                                                                                                       I let my gat explode

IMDB says: A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident.

The Conformist is probably the best film we’ve seen during this endeavor. First of all, it’s beautifully shot. Each scene is a potential Facebook cover photo. Even at the beginning we weren’t sure what was happening in the story but we felt that we were in store for something great. The framing of each shot tells a story of its own. Characters and objects are placed in a very meticulous fashion. We could try to describe it in film language and get all technical on your ass but we’re not cunts. So here are some screen shots instead.

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The plot was as captivating as the visuals. You have to work to understand it but that makes it all the more richer. The film follows this secret agent, working for the Italian Fascist Regime, who’s torn between the commands of the state and his own desires. Without giving too much away, the story provides a study in how a lot of people will just go with the flow or with what’s considered “normal” rather than what they think is right. Most of us would like to think we’d make a stand against injustice but in all likelihood we’d just stay on the path of least resistance. There’s more to the film than that, it’s also a study in the nature of fascism, sexuality and society. What we’re saying is it’s a bloody gorgeous looking film that will make you feel intelligent so you can write a blog about how smart you are.

Here’s a taster of the dialogue

Italo: A normal man? For me, a normal man is one who turns his head to see a beautiful woman’s bottom. The point is not just to turn your head. There are five or six reasons. And he is glad to find people who are like him, his equals. That’s why he likes crowded beaches, football, the bar downtown…

Marcello: At Piazza Venice.

Italo: He likes people similar to himself and does not trust those who are different. That’s why a normal man is a true brother, a true citizen, a true patriot…

Marcello: A true fascist.

Us: Dats good shit

Onto the next film after we go buy some beer for a nutty man and encourage him to talk about politics only for it turn out that that man … was Hitler.

Mr. Angel (2013)

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Before and after. Good job testosterone.

IMDB says: Mr. Angel chronicles the extraordinary life of transgender activist and porn pioneer, Buck Angel.

We found this to be a pretty run of the mill documentary about a not so run of the mill subject. When it came up on Netflix we were amused in our usual insensitive bastard ways, a dude with a vagina, whatever next? However, what we got was an insightful story about someone coming to terms with who they are and not being afraid to show the world. The documentary splits itself between Buck’s troubled past and a fly on the wall look at his successful career as transgender porn star of the year.

Buck’s mission in life, other than to make sexually confusing porn movies, is to normalize transgender people. We see him at talks and writing to transgender fans, helping them in their journey by offering advice and telling his story. There’s a clash between this cause and the concept of the porn star Buck Angel. On the one hand you have him saying he’s just like anyone else and on the other hand his whole career seems to based on the fact that he’s “a man with a pussy”. The social commentators interviewed in the documentary all support him but it seems to be because of the mind fuck factor of this dickless dude which goes against Buck’s whole agenda of making this normal. It’s a strange, they all like him but it’s for the fact that he’s “unusual” but then again he plays up to this. The friction between these two ideas is something that’s not really addressed unlike like the friction between Ron Jeremy’s dick and anyone who’s touched it.

Onto the next film after we watch Buckback Mountain.

Tears of the Sun (2003)

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No funny caption. Too serious. Look how serious they are.

IMDB says: A Special-Ops commander leads his team into the Nigerian jungle in order to rescue a doctor who will only join them if they agree to save 70 refugees too.

We enjoyed this film, it’s very quick off the mark. There’s no sitting around and waiting or having shitty macho banter, the SEALs get their brief then jump out of a plane within the first five minutes. When they arrive at the village to rescue the doctor (Monica Belluci) it soon becomes clear their mission won’t be simple. They’re confronted with the choice of carrying out their mission or abandoning defenseless civilians to the encroaching rebels. This theme continues throughout the film as tough choices present themselves to Bruce Willis and his never changing concerned expression. It’s like he’s sucking a lemon in every scene. Suck that lemon. 

Although they are being pursued through an arena as large as a jungle, the action is very claustrophobic and tense. There’s some great scenes that rely on shadows and silence and close ups of Bruce Willis’ face. Suck that lemon. As an audience you hold your breath as it instills that feeling of panic and vulnerability. The violence is brutal, death really matters in this film. There’s nothing that really glorifies the violence, whereas something like The Expendables would have Jason Statham and Sly Stallone swapping quips as they annihilate a horde of rebels. Instead we have Bruce Willis and co hold a woman as she bleeds out from having her breasts sliced off. We didn’t say this film was fun.  

Despite the character arcs for the SEALs and Monica Belluci the Nigerians are left as either barbaric killers or noble defenseless victims. Ironically, it’s very black and white, there’s no middle ground. The bad guys are just the bad guys, they all look evil and stern and go around beheading priests. The good Nigerians are just a mass for Willis to protect except one dude who just happens to be an important target for the rebels for the sake of the plot. They’re either begging for Monica Belluci (who wouldn’t though, I mean goddamn) or running and hiding. None of them are really developed which lets the film down because its overall message is that their lives ought to be as equally valued as the white American doctor yet they’re presented as this amorphous mass rather than individual humans.    

It’s a good film if you’re looking for a serious action movie yet it falls short of being anything more. 

Onto the next film after we cowboy the fuck up.

 

The 13th Warrior (1999)

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90% of the scenes in this film shown above.

IMDB says: A man, having fallen in love with the wrong woman, is sent by the sultan himself on a diplomatic mission to a distant land as an ambassador. Stopping at a Viking village port to restock on supplies, he finds himself unwittingly embroiled on a quest to banish a mysterious threat in a distant Viking land.

We were quite pleased when we got this film. The fish out of water tale about this Arab joining forces with a band of Vikings to take on a supernatural sounded like something right up our street. It’s got a ridiculous story that promises the making of a wacky adventure film, something like a mash up of The Hobbit and The Evil Dead. However it did not even come close to meeting our expectations much like Omar Sharif (one of the cast) who was so disappointed with the end result he temporarily retired from acting. I guess you could say… ‘Sharif don’t like it’. 

The problem is every scene is incredibly tedious, even the fight scenes. Half the film is just people staring concernedly at each other, the other half is slow motion shots of axes and brown costumes and boring shit. There’s some blood and guts to be had that brightens up the scenery but not even that can save the action. All the male bonding comes across as cheesy and forced as we’re given no reason to care about the Viking bros or their mission. There was promise of a dragon, even fire worm, which got us very excited. We didn’t care that it would’ve been shit 90s CGI, we just wanted to see a dragon. Did we see a dragon? NOPE. All we got were some villains dressed as bears that kept riding into sticks. Maybe the bear hide obscured their vision, who gives a shit.    

 Onto the next film after we rock the casbah.   

The Fisher King (1991)

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The film is not actually about two uniquely dressed gentleman assassins.

IMDB says: A former radio DJ, suicidally despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was an unwitting victim of that mistake.

You know it’s a Terry Gilliam film right from the get go because of the steam and the pipes and Dutch angles plus all the general weirdness. Unlike his other films it’s set in the real world (Fear and Loathing barely counts as being set in the real world, it’s more like it’s set in Hunter S. Thompson’s head). It’s set in New York in the early 90s, when New York still looked like Gotham and the Ghostbusters were still running around. Gilliam puts his unique perspective on a plot that could’ve easily been a bland TV movie sob story. Perry, played by Robin Williams, is like a character from a more wacky Gilliam film who somehow found his way into this slightly more run of the mill story. He runs around the slums of New York in pursuit of the Holy Grail dressed as a shabby knight and dances around Central Park naked (you see his dick, that’s right, Robin Williams’ dick and yeah it is as hairy as you’d expect). You wonder why this character is such a free spirit, why he’s so quirky and strangely charming. Could it just be due to his positive mental attitude that he sees life through this wonderful haze?

No, it’s because his wife got shot in the head and some of her brain ended up in his mouth.

We also forgot to point out that he sees this huge, red, fire breathing knight creature stalking him so it’s not all fun and games. He’s a happy go lucky kinda guy but in a twisted Terry Gilliam manner. Thankfully The Dude aka Jeff Bridges is on hand to help. He’s not The Dude in shining armour, in fact he was the catalyst for Williams’ madness and he’s only really helping him to alleviate his own guilt. It’s strange seeing Bridges play a bit of an arsehole but he was good. His story is naturally a redemption story so he gradually breaks free from arsehole mode and becomes the Jeff Bridges we all know and love and want to cuddle.

Watching this reminds us of tomato juice, there aren’t many things like it and you’ll either love it or hate it.

Onto the next film after we have some mystical bowel movements.