Friday, 28 February 2014

The A-Z of crappy/disappointing movies

Annie (1982, millions wasted, John Huston directs a musical!)
The 'burbs (1989, great cast, Joe Dante directing, huge yawn)
Camelot (1967, looks amazing but no charm, goes on too long)
Doctor Dolittle (1967, a bad year for musicals, Fox tried to make another box office winner after "Sound of Music", bigger isn't better)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999, yes it's Kubrick, yes it's tedious, his worst, albeit final film)
Firefox (1982, great web browser, crap film, Clint Eastwood directs a dud, a rarity)
Gable and Lombard (1976, terrific idea, bungled by Universal)
Hook (1991, great cast, Spielberg turkey - overstuffed)
Interview with a Vampire (1994, looks great, but it's still a dull vampire movie - if that's possible)
Jinxed! (1982, the title says it all, Bette Midler comedy directed by Don "Dirty Harry" Siegel!!)
Kiss Me, Stupid (1964, Billy Wilder's one dud film)
The Ladykillers (2004, Coen Brothers remake of the Ealing 1955 classic - terrible reworking, poor Tom Hanks)
Murderers' Row (1965, I have a fondness for Matt Helm silliness, but this is forgettable, Ann-Margret and Karl Malden are wasted)
Neighbours (1981, Aykroyd and Belushi, the latter's last film, no redeeming features)
Octopussy (1983, I love James Bond films, but this is the pits - everything from the title tune to the lacklustre villain)
Pirates (1986, Walter Matthau and an international cast - Roman Polanski should have walked the plank)
Querelle (1982, Fassbinder's unwatchable "Art" flick, crap whether you're gay or straight)
Rosebud (1975, Otto Preminger has made a few turkeys, this looks cheap as well)
Superman 3 (Audience Nil, 1983, Richard Pryor is even more annoying than usual)
The Towering Inferno (1974, overblown twaddle, unintentionally funny, e.g. Jennifer Jones and Fred Astaire scene)
Under Capricorn (1949, even Hitchcock can make a dud)
Van Helsing (2004, I saw this on a plane and enjoyed it, I must have had lots from the drinks trolley)
When Time Ran Out (1980, when the disaster movie ideas ran out, makes "The Poseidon Adventure" look like a masterpiece.
Xanadu (1980, ON-J + ELO = CRAP)
Yellowbeard (1983, crammed with comedy greats producing unfunny dross)
Zardoz (1974, some stunning visuals, hard to fathom sci-fi from the director of "Deliverance", best bit is the explanation of the title: The Wizard of Oz).

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The A-Z of forgotten (but good fun) films

The Assassination Bureau (1969, Oliver Reed, Diana Rigg)
Bedazzled (1967, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore)
The Cat and the Canary (1939, Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard)
Danger: Diabolik (1967, see it just for John Phillip Law's bonkers underground lair)
Experiment in Terror (1962, who knew Blake Edwards could make thrillers?)
The Face of Fu Manchu (1965, typical Hammer Films class)
Hackers (1995, Jonny Lee Miller, and a punky Angelina Jolie)
Into the Night (1985, John Landis includes a truckful of his favourite directors in cameos)
The Jokers (1966, yes, Michael Winner can make a good film)
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977, see it for the Bruce Lee sendup movie)
Lady on a Train (1945, nifty whodunit, Deanna Durbin even gets a chance to sing)
Murder by Decree (1979,versatile director Bob Clark's take on Sherlock vs Jack the Ripper)
The Nanny (1965, another Hammer gem, Bette Davis chewing up the scenery)
The Only Game in Town (1970, Elizabeth Taylor, Warren Beatty, George Stevens directed)
Pretty Poison (1968, the gorgeous Tuesday Weld and weirdo Anthony Perkins up to no good)
Queen of Spades (1949, atmospheric British gem)
Raw Meat (1972, cannibals in the London underground, originally titled Deathline)
Starstruck (1982, Australian pop music/media satire, great score, look out for Geoffrey Rush)
Take the Money and Run (1968, Woody Allen's first movie as actor/writer/director, patchy but some gags are the funniest he has every written)
The Uninvited (1944, ripper haunted house flick, Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey)
Valley Girl (1983, Martha Coolidge's 80's time capsule, Nicolas Cage has hair - gelled of course, great soundtrack)
What a Way to Go! (1964, huge cast, black comedy/movie genres satire, overblown but very watchable)
X - The Man with X-ray Eyes (1963, Roger Corman's creepy B sci fi set in Las Vegas, killer finale)
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985, great production values, nice tone, stay around the post-credits scene)
Zulu (1964, riveting, excellent British cast, you won't forget the image of the warriors lining the ridge)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

"Banshee" Season 2, Episode 7, Episode 8, Episode 9, Cinemax

Episode 7: A fairly pedestrian affair.
The nubile Rebecca (Lili Simmons) didn't have much to do this week, apart from parade around in a skimpy white bikini (that's probably enough) and stare morosely at mince meat (formerly Jason Hood). We had a brief fight scene in a junkyard (why is it always bald/tattooed dudes) and one helluva explosion courtesy of Job. Lots of m.f. cussing and sassiness from Job and a half-hearted apology from the deputy - (as hard to make as) "a prostate exam".
Observation: the head of the Indian council is also the casino owner, Dan Lannigan (Gil Birmingham), Tusk's ally in "House of Cards" (Season 2).
Episode 8: Is there a pattern emerging here? Another disappointing effort - turgid soap opera mixed with nastiness. Hope Job tracking down Mr Rabbit in NYC will help this season get out of the doldrums.
Episode 9: Two great action scenes (Job going all "Die Hard" in church and finding a novel way of hailing a cab and hospital mayhem with the Russian mafia) surrounded by too much banality and soap opera. Too much soul searching and wringing of hands over Emmett. Cheesy dialogue like, "I don't even know who you are!"
The final episode - Rabbit Season in New York - should be a ripper, though.
You know Clark Kent (Kai's right-hand man) means business when he takes off his glasses.
It is helpful to watch "Banshee Origins" - quite a few overlaps in Episode 9.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

"Banshee" Season 2, Episode 6, Cinemax, Why Season 2 is better than Season 1

Richer, more resonant situations, smarter direction (courtesy of Babak Najafi), inventive characters (e.g. Quentin feeding whisky-soaked bread to the pigeons) - as well as the usual quota of sex and violence - that's the second season of "Banshee".
Episode 6 saw an inventive highway fight scene culminating in the decapitation of the Brit hardman by an 18 wheeler. Kai's righthand man (a kinky Clark Kent/Mr Smithers variation) has a great cleanup scene in the motel room. I'll miss Jason (but at least he died happy).
Request for next episode: More teenager Driver Education, more Clark Kent and more Job (being surly as well as sashaying).

Thursday, 13 February 2014

"The After" Amazon Studios TV pilot, review

A disparate group of characters (French would-be actress, young Hispanic policewoman, Irish yobbo, dodgy lawyer, Revelations-quoting buxom blond, wealthy old lady, black dude with a heart of gold and a BIG shotgun, gay clown/entertainer) have to survive in a post-apocalypse LA. Yes, it's a bit derivative but after 20 minutes, it got me in.
This pilot was written and directed by X-Files' Chris Carter. This will be enough for some people.
In the final scene, the tattooed crab-walking demon/gargoyle/critter will stay with you for quite a while. Some intriguing ideas - the bond of the same birthdays (March 7) and same tattoos as on the critter's body.
Some patchy acting (the yobbo's Irish accent is pretty lame) combined with spectacular crowd scenes (think a scaled-down "World War Z") and tight editing (the tense build up scenes in the elevator and underground carpark) with some witty lines thrown into the mix. No big names. I only recognised Adrian Pasdar (from the spooky "Mysterious Ways" TV series).
The viewer is filled with unanswered questions. What happened? Why these people? How did they skip a day? What was the red-eyed demon spouting (sounds like "Twin Peaks" gibberish) before he scuttled away (think the John Carpenter's "The Thing")?

Sunday, 9 February 2014

"Banshee" Season 2, Episode 5, "The Truth About Unicorns", Cinemax, review

What's this? "Banshee" goes gooey? Arty editing, slow mo/shampoo commercial, cavorting toward the wisteria-entwined verandah of the 'locket-house'?
"Fuck it" as our hero tells Sugar in the final line. We get a ripper kitchen chat with wily Racine and an inspired scene in a wheatfield (almost Hitchcockian). Loved the aerial shot of the three trails. Nice work by Babak Najafi (he directed Episode 4 also).

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

"Fleming; The Man Who Would Be Bond" BBC America, 4 part miniseries, review

Well, the title says it all. This is enjoyable codswallop. Much like the films. The fun is to try and spot the links with the movies/novels e.g. martinis, exotic locales, playing chemin de fer with abandon, starains of Monty Norman's original James Bond theme in the score, the red leather door on the boss's office, Miss Moneypenny/Monday character in naval intelligence ("Why Monday, I don't know what I'd do without you!" exclaims Fleming). But it really is incredibly cheesy and surprisingly dull and predictable in parts. The first scene lost me with the too modern-cut red bikini worn by Ann Fleming (1952?).
This fluffy mini-series looks great, is mercifully short (each of the 4 episodes only 42 minutes) and Dominic Cooper (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) is suave but far too good looking for the hawk-nosed author/bon vivant.
Episode 3 features the phrase "licence to kill" as well as a heavy dose of sado-masochism.
Clunky dialogue: "this bloody war" "You're playing with fire"... and exclamations like, "Surely the Germans won't take Paris!" I can imagine "The Guardian" reviews now....
I rather enjoyed the final episode, though. Fleming anticipating the Cold War, his shenanigans in the Tambach fortress (blurring the lines between fact and fantasy), the exploding pens/micro cameras and Ken Adam inspired set in the opening scene. Later I spotted the fabulous glass ceiling in the German lab, last used in NBC's "Dracula".

If you want a more accurate tale full of booze and bitchery, seek out the docu-drama "Ian Fleming: Bondmaker" (2005). In this version the Flemings fought constantly. Ann Fleming had an affair with the then Labour Party leader.
The 1956 film of  "The Man Who Never Was" is also recommended (see Episode 3).

Sunday, 2 February 2014

"Banshee Origins" Cinemax, web series, prequel 2014, review

Web series "Banshee Origins" is required viewing for fans.  Economically told, well acted one scene pieces. No sex (tiny bit in "The Fields") and violence (apart from albino-prison flashback) but great back stories, filling in lots of gaps.

Season 1 consists of 13 1-2 minute episodes (deleted scenes?) filling in details about Allenwood Prison, Mr Rabbit, the albino, how Kai helps Sugar, Siobhan (drunk and in a miserable marriage) before she was a police officer, a lovely 'sisters' scene with Siobhan bumming a cigarette from Kai's niece, the all-important locket and the real Sheriff Hood arriving in town. Flashbacks range from 15 years ago up to 2 weeks ago and "Today".

Season 2
Episode 1 (14 mins) takes place 15 years earlier in a police interview room (in 3 parts)
Episode 2 (4 mins) Job teaching our hero to hotwire a car, 17 years in the past.
Episode 3 (5 mins) Kai visits black boxer Sugar/later to be Sheriff's ally in prison, 17 years ago/4 years later (in 2 parts)
Episode 4 (<3 mins) "Carrie" (Ivana Milicevic) meets hubby to be, Gordon, 15 years ago.
Episode 5 (4 mins) A very pregnant "Carrie" moves in with Gordon, 15 years ago.
Episode 6 (5 mins) Mr Rabbit (Ben Cross) meets his brother, now a NY priest (Julian Sands), 11 years ago. Two English actors from the 80's doing dodgy Russian accents. Why are English used so much as baddies?
Episode 7 (6 mins) Rabbit's brother is questioned by Agent Racine (Slovenian-born actor Zeljko Ivanek playing a US agent). But what the Hell ... Antony Starr is a Kiwi (New Zealander).
Episode 8 (3 mins) Five years ago featuring Kai's niece. Amish nymphet frolics in the wheat fields with knife wielding elder spying. See S02, E04 for more about the Amish "teacher" character.

Save money on spa/jacuzzi chemicals

Use the same quantity of household Bicarb soda.
Don't pay around $A12 for 500 g of Poppits Water Balance (on the label it reads:  99-100% sodium bicarbonate) for increasing pH and raising Alkalinity of your spa/jacuzzi.
You can buy 500 g of bicarb soda (sodium bicarbonate) at the supermarket for under $A2 (e.g. Aldi $1.79 for 500g packet).
Bicarb soda is an excellent bathroom and toilet cleaner as well. Forget expensive toilet cleaners and powders.

"Banshee" Season 2, Episode 4, Cinemax, review, spoilers,

Sheriff Hood has this knack of getting into fights with big dudes. This week it's the Amish "teacher"/psycho. You knew something was brewing as soon as he put on the kettle (and it wasn't Earl Grey).
A splatter fest of flying axes, pliers and spikes (the last two courtesy of Dr Proctor, frontier dentist).
The obligatory sex scene, a spectacular car wreck and Hoon Lee (Job) wearing a fetching white bodice (RuPaul goes to the sticks) tearing strips off teenage Hood make this another fun episode.
The final scene with the surprise return of wheelchair-bound Russian villain Mr Rabbit (Ben Cross) was the cherry on a very cheesy cake.
And remember "Love, truth, insanity".