Tuesday, December 12, 2017

THE BAD BATCH (2016)

Imagine if you had an interesting visual concept for a 6-minute long music video and then stretched that concept out to 118 minutes.

Set in some kind of low-budget dystopian future, THE BAD BATCH opens with a pretty chick with a killer body, Arlen (Suki Waterhouse), being locked behind a huge fence in the desert.  She turns and wanders off into the wasteland.  Within a day, she's kidnapped by cannibals and sections of her right arm and right leg eaten.  Soon, the real horror starts when the cannibals start listening to Ace of Base!  Arlen can't take it anymore and escapes.  She eventually shows up in a town full of tweakers and dorks called Comfort.  From there on, more things happen, but honestly, I didn't give a shit.  The story was dumb as fuck, slow-moving and illogical.

Style over substance storytelling, very little dialogue, lots of music video-style photography, Jim Carrey showing up from some unknown reason, snail's pace, multiple things that brought to mind EL TOPO, zero nudity, very little violence, promising opening act, weak middle act and a lame as fuck ending.

Ms. Happyotter claimed to have "liked it", but yet she was still making fun of it.  I think she was just being nice. If you need me, I'll be in my room playing Borderlands 2.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

THE THIN MAN (1934)

Hard-drinking Nick Charles (William Powell) is one of the greatest detectives alive, but he recently married a wealthy industrialist's daughter, Nora (Myrna Loy), so from now on it's smooth sailing!!  No more gumshoeing or hiding in the shadows for him. No siree, Bob! Just a bunch of relaxing, getting drunk as a skunk and gettin' up in his wife's guts...or at least that was the plan.

No matter how hard he fights it, he can't help but get pulled into the case of a married scientist (Edward Ellis) who disappeared around the time his mistress was found murdered. All of New York is abuzz with wild rumors and stories. And to make matters even worse, Nick's beautiful new bride is chomping at the bit to see her famous detective husband in action! Finally, he agrees and after some entertaining snooping around, he has all of the players in the mystery forced to attend a dinner party at his penthouse.  Fireworks ensue.

The murder mystery in THE THIN MAN is entertaining, but the real attraction (and the reason the film endures even to this day) is the on-screen chemistry between Myrna Loy and William Powell.  The two of them together as Nick and Nora Charles really is movie perfection.  The playfulness and quick wit...and the funny faces!  Oh my god, the funny faces they make at each other is the cutest thing that I've seen in a long time.

Quick pace, great mystery, amazing supporting cast, nice use of shadows, clever script (based on an outstanding novel by Dashiell Hammett), outstanding direction by W.S. Van Dyke (a.k.a. "One-Take Woody") who somehow shot this movie in less than 3 weeks!!!  Fun fact: Hammett's novel was originally published in December 1933 and the film premiered five months later in May 1934!  Holy duck-billed platypus testicles, that's fast!!!

If you enjoy classic Hollywood mysteries, then THE THIN MAN is required viewing and the start to a wonderful series that actually has a two sequels that I think are better than the original (parts 2 and 3). Highly recommended.

Part 2 - After the Thin Man
Part 3 - Another Thin Man
Part 4 - Shadow of the Thin Man
Part 5 - The Thin Man Goes Home
Part 6 - Song of the Thin Man

Monday, October 23, 2017

THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980)

"Can you cure me?" "No."

Joseph Merrick has always been a fascinating individual to me.  And David Lynch has always been an artistic hero of mine, so it should come as no surprise that I really like THE ELEPHANT MAN.  Yeah, it's about as historically accurate as DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?, but who cares?  It's still a great film that transports the viewer into a thought-provoking world of freaks, dark corners, peaks and lows of human behavior, and explores the definition of what it is to be a human being.

After the surrealist opening, we see London Hospital surgeon Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) walking through a carnival.  There have been rumors about a certain freak show attraction known as "The Elephant Man" (played by John Hurt).  He has a grossly enlarged head, thick lumpy skin on his back, an enlarged right arm, a twisted skeleton, and numerous other things physically wrong with him.  The two eventually meet (Hopkins' face in that scene is so sublime that it brought a tear to my eye) and soon "The Elephant Man", whose real name is Joseph Merrick, moves into the London Hospital as a permanent guest.  It is there that the good doctor discovers that inside this monstrous body there is intelligence.  He's emotionally scarred from the abuse and ridicule he's endured, but once he begins to open up Merrick turns out to be a very kind and wonderful man.  Not an animal, a man.  

Writer/director/sound designer David Lynch might be known for his more surrealist works, but THE ELEPHANT MAN is, for the most part, a very straight-forward and skillfully told story.  And the B&W photography is absolutely perfect!  Outside of the actors ages, it's almost impossible to tell when this film was even made!  And speaking of actors...John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins are tremendous in this film!

Overall, THE ELEPHANT MAN is kind of a downer of a movie, but it's still a remarkable achievement and worthy of your time.  Recommended.

Interesting side note: It's rumored that Producer Mel Brooks deliberately went uncredited because he feared that his name in the credits would be a distraction from the serious nature of the film.