Monday, June 18, 2018

Kemper (2008)

Director: Rick Bitzelberger

Writer: Jack Perez

Composers: Bruce Chianese, Geoff Levin

Starring: Christopher Stapleton, Robert Sisko, Sean Thomas, Jordan Blanchard, Andy E. Horne, Zarah Mahler, Samantha Colburn, Robin DeMarco

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A Human Monster

Plot: A film inspired by the true story of Ed Kemper, a serial killer who murdered ten in Santa Cruz, CA during the late sixties and early seventies.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Woof.  If you know anything about the man, Kemper, then you won't recognize much from this direct to video movie.  "Inspired by" is to be used very loosely.  That's the first disappointment.  The second is the acting and the seemingly lack of locations.  A lot of locations get used enough to draw attention to themselves.  I get there are budget restraints but geez.  OK, so that's three disappointments.  The acting, especially from Stapleton, is lacking and that's being kind.  This picture has a few big problems but at least there's some good gore effects.  Fans of true crime will be very disappointed in how far the filmmakers stray from the actual and much more interesting story of Ed Kemper.  This picture isn't even set in the 60s through the early 70s when the crimes took place.  The only reason the title and character in this picture exists is for name recognition.  Give this one a pass.  There's so little to like that it's not worth your time.  The Lionsgate DVD offers the film in anamorphic widescreen with the only extras with the non-anamorphic widescreen trailer for this film and n-a trailers for other like-minded Lionsgate films.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Director: Ron Howard

Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, Jonathan Kasdan

Composer: John Powell

Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, Erin Kellyman, Linda Hunt

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Never tell him the odds.

Plot: During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.


Halfway through it occurred to me that I was bored and that mostly continued until the end.  I kept waiting for it to get better and it didn't.  I don't think the problem was with the actors.  Ehrenreich was good enough, especially given that he's got the thankless job of trying to fill Harrison Ford's shoes.  Harrelson was fun, Clarke was fine despite her character wasn't that interesting to begin with, Glover did a great Billy Dee Williams impersonation but Lando wasn't much more than window dressing and comic relief and Bettany was rather good as the big baddie despite never leaving HIS FUCKING OFFICE! (at least I can't recall a scene where he does).  Lando's droid, L3, was funny at times and annoying at others.  She suffered from too much screen time and too many jokes.  The action was OK as was the pacing but the biggest problem is with the story and dialogue.  "Look me up sometime.  I'm going to Tatooine.  Some big shot gangster's putting together a crew."  That was pretty clunky.  Also clunky was the dialogue that happened right after Han shoots first.  As if we the fan wouldn't have figured that out.

The movie plays like the screenwriters had a checklist they had to tick off one by one, a list of references from the OT.  And they handle some of them so clumsily that you'd think they were writing this for the most dimwitted movie goer.  It was insulting.  If they absolutely must include them, which they don't, then why not let things happen organically instead of making a big show of it.  Hell, there were a couple that would've only been worse if the character burst suddenly into song about it.  I did thoroughly enjoy Han and Chewie's introduction to each other.  That was one of the few things the movie got right.  But there were so many dumb choices in this picture.  I'm mildly OK with Darth Maul showing up but why the fuck did he have to force pull his lightsaber into the hologram and ignite it?  If you're that dim that you didn't recognize him from THE PHANTOM MENACE, is seeing the dual lightsaber going to be the thing that makes that work for you?  Jesus, the more I talk about this the more I don't like it.  The lighting of most the film was very dim.  I thought this was a problem with the projector until I read online that this was a widespread problem despite what Lucasfilm/Disney says.  It was awful.  Maybe they'll fix that for the home release and I'll someday catch it for free when I borrow it from someone because I'll never buy it.  Now that I think of it I haven't bought any of the Disney Star Wars movies on Blu-ray.  I'm just not that interested.  I have enough friends that own them that I'll probably never need to buy them and I'm OK with that.  Look, I'm not a hater by any stretch.  I wanted this to be good just like I want every movie I see to be good.  This one wasn't up to snuff as an action sci-fi movie much less one that shows the early days of one of screen history's most iconic heroes.  It's not good, it's not bad, it's just OK which is apparently not OK for moviegoers judging by the disappointing box office numbers (as initially projected by Disney).  Come on, people.  Spend some quality time writing a good movie.  That's all anyone cares about. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Frankenstein the Rapist (2008)

Director: Bill Zebub

Writer: Bill Zebub

Starring: T.J. Glenn, Nikki Sebastian, Andrea Szel, Sativa Verte

More info:  IMDb

Plot:  I think it's got something to do with Frankenstein's Monster raping lots of chicks but the movie doesn't get that across well.

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Have you ever wondered if you could get bored watching an 85 minute movie with 75 minutes of nudity?  I didn't either but there's a first time for everything I reckon.

Smiles, everyone, smiles!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Mr. Bill Does Vegas (2000)

Director: Walter Williams

Writer: Walter Williams

Starring: Mr. Bill, Walter Williams, Wayne Newton, Jenna Elfman, The Smothers Brothers, Bobcat Goldthwait, Father Guido Sarducci, Smokey Robinson, Jack Lemon, Joe Theisman, Bud Friedman, Richard Jeni

More info: Amazon

Plot: Mr. Bill talks to famous comedians on his way to reviving his stand-up comedy career with opening up for Wayne Newton in Vegas.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

My first exposure to Mr. Bill was in the mid 70s on Saturday Night Live when I was all of 6 or 7 years old.  That's about the right age to fall in love with this character.  Now, all these decades later, it's not all that funny.  Well, I should say that this twenty minute film isn't all that funny but it's great to see a lot of the stars like Sarducci, Goldthwait, Jeni and others.  They provide some of the funny.  Mr. Bill's voice is a lot more annoying than I remember.  My favorite moment was when Sluggo tears through a golf sand trap in his dune buggy and runs Mr. Bill over.  That's good stuff.  Fortunately they knew this was better at keeping it shorter than longer.  At least there's that. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ben (1972)

Director: Phil Karlson

Writer: Gilbert Ralston

Composer: Walter Scharf

Starring: Lee Montgomery, Joseph Campanella, Arthur O'Connell, Rosemary Murphy, Meredith Baxter, Kaz Garas, Paul Carr, Richard Van Fleet, Kenneth Tobey, James Luisi

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Where "WILLARD" ended... BEN begins. And this time, he's not alone!

Plot: A lonely boy befriends Ben, the leader of a violent pack of killer rats.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Fucking hell!  If you have a problem with the sound of squealing rats then this will drive you batshit crazy.  It's an assault on your ears.  OK, that's the worst offense this flick committed.  The first film, WILLARD (1971), was by no means a masterpiece (the R. Lee Ermy/Crispin Glover remake was better).  It had its problems, too, but it was mostly with how the two leads were handled.  This picture is a small step down from WILLARD but it doesn't have much to recommend.  It's just OK.  The abundance of squeaks started getting on my nerves by the halfway mark and the ending was so bad I had to lower the volume.  The one bright spot is the kid.  He's great.  The last couple of minutes with him and Ben (when the title song, sung by Michael Jackson, starts) about had me in tears.  WTF?  I know!  Seeing Meredith Baxter so young is wild.  Watch the movie for the kid's performance.  Don't expect any great rat kills or anything cool like that.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Staircase (1969)

Director: Stanley Donen

Writer: Charles Dyer

Composer: Dudley Moore

Starring: Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Michael Rogers, Royston Starr, Jake Kavanagh, Dermot Kelly, Gordon Heath, Cathleen Nesbitt, Avril Angers, Neil Wilson, Shelagh Fraser, Gwen Nelson, Pat Heywood, Beatrix Lehmann, Stephen Lewis, Katya Wyeth

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Can this marriage last?

Plot: Charles Dyer and Harry Leeds are a couple that have been living together for nearly 20 years. Both earn a living as hairdressers in the West End of London and both care deeply for their mothers, but not each other as time apart takes its toll on their relationship when Harry has to care for his invalid mother who snips at him every chance she gets.

My rating: 4.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I thought having Harrison & Burton together in one movie camping it up queer eye for the Shakespeare guy style would be amusing to say the least.  Nope.  I was bored for most of the picture.  I can kind of see what would've attracted these two acting powerhouse to do this picture but it just falls flat from start to finish.  The pair have a little chemistry at times but it's mostly so harsh and bland that I wanted them to break up and see other people.  Harrison looks to be having more fun with it.  It's based on Dyer's play so there's a stagey-ness about it but that's not the problem, at least I don't think.  The pacing is slow and that's to be expected in a slice of life kind of film this is but the thing is, I didn't much care about either of these two because they didn't show much love for each other and they're just so mean-spirited.  That kind of behavior gets old and real fast.  Add to that the longish running time of 96 minutes and you're going to be one bored cat.  WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (1966) this ain't.  You'd think watching two aging queens going at each other for an hour and a half would be fun but this picture proves it can be painful and depressing and not that fun kind of depressing, either.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Parting Shots (1998)

Director: Michael Winner

Writers: Michael Winner, Nick Mead

Composer: Les Reed

Starring: Chris Rea, Felicity Kendal, John Cleese, Bob Hoskins, Diana Rigg, Ben Kingsley, Joanna Lumley, Oliver Reed, Gareth Hunt, Nicholas Gecks, Patrick Ryecart, Peter Davison

More info: IMDb

Tagline: When Harry found out he had six weeks to live, something snapped...and it wasn't his camera.

Plot: After learning he is dying of cancer, a failed photographer illegally buys a pistol and decides to go vigilante and get his revenge on all those who have made his life a misery.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

I'm a fan of so many of the people involved in this that it's hard for me not to like this but it is an often hilarious movie trapped in a boring one and that I can't deny.  Just look at the massive, talented cast and just pull the trigger and watch it.  Maybe fifteen minutes in you'll see what I mean.  It drags often and hard.  The cast is fantastic.  Initially I wasn't sure if non-actor/pop star Chris Rea was going to hurt the picture or help it but eventually I settled into his relaxed style and I loved him by the end of it.  It doesn't help that the always adorable and fun Felicity Kendal is with him for much of it.  Besides Winner's oddly poor pacing problems, the score has moments of being just plain bad.  Even if you're not a film score nutter like me you're likely to come to the same conclusion if you notice the music at all.  Woof, it's off.  Story-wise it's a better film than what we're left with on screen, and considering the tremendous cast and how funny they are in this, it's a damn shame that it's not an overall better picture.  With the right handling I can see this up there with the likes of A FISH CALLED WANDA (1988).