Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Frankenstein Monster Art!










It always comes back to the Universal Monsters! 


Sunday, August 13, 2017

What I Watched In July


Bluntly stated there is nothing interesting or fresh about the story of  BABY DRIVER (2017). If you've seen a dozen or more crime films in your entire life you have seen a variation on this story. But that is what actually makes this such an incredible film. It's the style employed in telling this clichéd story that makes this movie an amazing cinematic feat - one well worth seeking out.

Understand that it's not just in the obvious thing that director Edgar Wright has done, which is to edit entire sequences of the movie to rock and roll songs. That in and of itself would be an interesting thing to see and Wright does it very well. But what he's really done is infuse the film with the energy of those rock and roll songs to the point that it's impossible to think of the film's various characters without the certain music automatically playing in your head. I'll admit that I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more to the story of BABY DRIVER but any film that has the sequences this one does deserves to be respected. Hell, this film has two specific sequences that elevate the movie to near classic status on their own - the romantic laundromat getting-to-know-you sequence which is played out like a ballet routine laid over the verbal dance that allows two people to discover if they actually like each other beyond just the physical. And then there is the mind-bending, brilliant car and foot chase set to the instrumental song tune Hocus Pocus by Focus. Rarely have electric guitars, yodeling and speeding bodies been so well crafted for excitement.

Oh - great cast too! 



I've already written a brief bit about WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES and I plan to comment on VALERIAN and the new Spider-man film but I'm really pressed for time right now.

THE LIST 


THE CURSE OF THE VAMPIRE (1972) - 4 (dull, lifeless Spanish horror)
TIME TRAVELERS (1976) - 4 (limp TV movie from a Rod Serling story)
BABY DRIVER (2017) - 7
YETI - GIANT OF THE 20TH CENTURY (1977) - 2
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017) - 9
GAMERA (1965)- 7 (Japanese version) (rewatch)
CASTLE IN THE DESERT (1942) - 6 (solid Charlie Chan mystery)
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE VOICE OF TERROR (1942) - 6 (rewatch)
KING KONG VS GODZILLA (1962)- 7 (rewatch on the big screen)
THE SAINT'S DOUBLE TROUBLE (1940) - 5 (OK programmer)
STUDENT BODIES (1981)- 6 (fun slasher spoof)
BLOOD FATHER (2016) - 7
HAMDS OF STEEL (1986) - 6 (silly Italian post-apocalypse thriller)
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017) - 9
VALERIAN AND THE PLANET OF A THOUSAND CITIES (2017) - 8
THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984) - 8 (rewatch)



Saturday, August 12, 2017

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017) - Thoughts on Silence


The first thing I noticed about WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is the silence. At first I feared that the quiet opening and subdued aural composition of the first few seconds of the film was a technical glitch but then the natural sound effects of people walking through a forest became audible and I realized that it was intentional. Soon it was clear that sound was going to play a major role on the way the story was going to be told.

The rest of the movie demonstrated that director Matt Reeves fully understands how to use sound to tell his story as well as draw an emotional response and a quickening of interest in the viewer. Often he drops specific, expected noises out from underneath images in such a way that it draws attention to violence or action. He is cleverly using his soundtrack to underline character traits the same way a visualist will use costuming or lighting to color our perceptions. At one point a character is crouched in snow with tears trickling down his face and what we hear is his slightly stifled sniffle. This shows his pain better than any conversation could. At another point two antagonists scream while attacking each other as slow motion machine gunfire tracks across a floor and wall seeking a target but all we hear is breathing and the score. The tension is unnerving and I don't think I could have had a more emotional response if all the fury and rage were blasting my ears.


This use of silence often  seems wholly natural because of the wintertime setting. Given that the majority of the story takes place in the harsh cold it's easy to suppose that the general hush over the story comes from that choice alone. I would be curious to know if the filmmakers chose to set the film in the colder months or if it were mere happenstance. Silence over snowy landscapes and cold frigid vistas is a standard movie visual but Reeves and his team clearly know that silence is also something useful in both contemplative sequences as well as scenes of frantic action. On more than just the one occasion described above gunfire, explosions and screams all drop away and we're left with only the music or incidental sound effects giving us an expressive and often profound  view of the emotional content of the violence on screen. This isn't the first film to use silence in this way but, as a technique, I thought it had gone the way black & white photography. I'm glad to see a modern director employ the lack of sound creatively where bombast seems the standard.


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Year of Naschy Blu-Rays Marches On!


Synopsis

Paul Naschy (born Jacinto Molina Álvarez) was Spain's answer to Lon Chaney. He has portrayed many classic monsters – the Wolfman, Frankenstein's monster, Count Dracula, the Mummy and more. He was not only a terrific actor, but an accomplished writer, producer and director. This Blu-ray box set includes five stellar films from his long and distinguished career.

HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (EL JOROBADO DE LA MORGUE)

THE DEVIL'S POSSESSED  (EL MARISCAL DEL INFIERNO)

THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI (LA MALDICIÓN DE LA BESTIA)

EXORCISM (EXORCISMO)

A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH CORPSE (UNA LIBÉLULA PARA CADA MUERTO)

Also included in this five-film collection is an immersive 24-page booklet by author Mirek Lipinski.


November 14th! 



Sunday, August 06, 2017

What if John Carpenter did a Doctor Who Theme?



I never cease to be amazed by what people are out there doing! 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Doctor Who - The Krotons (1968-69)

Not that it's a topic that comes up very often but whenever the subject does raise its head I point out that my favorite Doctor Who actor is the second man to take the job - Patrick Troughton. I've never been exactly sure why it was so easy for me to fall in love with him as the character. It could be the fact that he was the last Doctor whose adventures were shot in black and white (something that I love) or it could be that I just love the slightly rumpled cosmic hobo idea for Doctor Who. It might also have something to do with the fact that Patrick Troughton was simply an excellent actor and capable of pulling off anything that the scripts asked.

Of course as any fan of 1960s Doctor Who will tell you, one of the big problems with trying to watch Who from that period is that a lot of it got wiped. Yes, a number of classic Hartnell and Troughton episodes have long since vanished because the BBC decided to wipe the tapes on which they were stored. They clearly did not know what they were doing.


The Troughton story that I viewed most recently is The Krotons and it was not one that got lost in the mad desire to clear shelf space in the vaults at the BBC. It was released on video tape in the UK and the USA in 1991 so the fact that I'm only now seeing it is really my fault. I missed out on the US DVD release that has now gone out of print and fetches a ridiculous price here in the states so, being the owner of a region free player, I purchased the relatively cheap DVD from Britain. And boy I'm glad I did! While not being an especially great Doctor Who story The Krotons is an excellent example of exactly what I tune into 1960s Doctor Who to see. The story is engaging, the dialog good,  the Doctor and his companions fit into events very well and the conflicts between the Doctor and the villains and the Doctor and the oppressed people he's there to help are very well drawn.


The only real complaint I have with the story is there's a certain lack of energy at times and the Krotons themselves are pretty pathetic looking at any point in which they move around. They're an interesting design but it's clear that they can't actually do anything. Also, it was fascinating that the usurping bad guy who stupidly gets a number of his oppressed compatriots killed is not dealt with by the end of the story. I suspect there may have been an idea to return to this planet later to deal with what his machinations may have continued to create. Sadly, there was no sequel to The Krotons, though.

So, another fun Troughton Doctor Who story with the excellent combination of Zoe and Jamie as the perfect companions for the adventures I love so much. And of course it helps quite a bit to my eyes that Wendy Padbury as Zoe is running around the entire time in a mini skirt. Damn that was one cute lady!


Friday, August 04, 2017

Superman Ad Art from the 1940's and 50's













Getting the urge to watch some of the early live action Superman stuff! 


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Brief Thoughts - THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984)








For decades the only way American Godzilla fans could see the Japanese version of what became GODZILLA 1985 was through the bootleg market. Eventually Americans were able to buy Japanese DVDs of the film but it wasn't until just this past year that we finally got an actual legal release of THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984) here in the United States. Being a geeky bastard I, of course, had already seen this film via bootleg and knew that it was much different and much better than what was served up to American audiences in 1985. But I have to say that revisiting it now via the Kraken Blu-ray was revelatory in several ways.

I've always thought it was a good film but I honestly now consider it to be one of the best of the post Showa series of Godzilla films. Fashioned as a direct sequel to the original 1954 film and completely ignoring every movie that came along in the decades after it does what last year's SHIN GODZILLA did. That is to say it reinvents the creature for a new age bringing both seriousness and a sharp focus to what made the original classic such a great film. The two reboot films share more than they don't with both emphasizing the dangers of slow government bureaucracy as well as the fear of the potentially world ending dangers of human fallibility and gigantic mistakes that can't be altered. Both films are excellent and I find it difficult to decide which I like better.