Wednesday, 31 August 2016


Ah, Asylum, I must be so behind on the bad movies you've come up with. Anywhere, here's their group of people trying to bust some ghosts.

We start with a Saw level death of mother and daughter, then cut to the father going 'we must go back inside to get the machine'. Because he happened to have created a machine that can capture ghosts and extrude them as ectoplasm. And he just so happens to have created glasses that can see ghosts, which would immediately make him excessively rich, but let's ignore that. Anyway, the people working on the machine turn up at the house, with some other people, and then they are trying to capture ghosts, and save the spirits of the mother and daughter. Of course, there are problems, and I spotted the twist about ten years before the movie began, and this is just a sad pathetic not even really haunted house movie...

Now, I will give Asylum this, they have been making female led movies already. So I wasn't sure what they would do with this. Turns out, they didn't really have an idea either, beyond 'something with ghosts' and went with whatever generic script passed over their desk. They weren't trying, as much as they ever try, and even the effects aren't exciting either.

In a way, they were doing well at one point. However, they aren't doing anything like that now.


Read more!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Tales of Hoffman

Not Philip Seymour, no matter how much I kept thinking that, but a fantasy opera instead. These are The Tales of Hoffman.

We start with Hoffman being enthralled by a dancer Stella, who is also interested in him. However Lindorf intercepts the note so he doesn't know about it. And the Muse Poetry takes the form of Nicklaus to bring Hoffman over to loving Poetry. With that set up, Hoffman tells us (and these are the three main acts of the opera) of his loves of Olympia, Giulietta and Antonia, which never ends well. It ends rather abruptly (compared with the original opera) of Stella living with Lindorf.

This looks... gorgeous. There's no other way to describe it. This definitely needs to be seen on a big screen, and the Film Society showed the new 4K restoration (on the Paramount screen, so I'm not sure how well that worked). However, being an opera, there is a lot of singing, so this movie definitely needs subtitles to follow what's going on.

Enjoyable to watch, moderately good to listen to.


Read more!

Monday, 29 August 2016

JC Van Johnson

One more pilot, this one starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as himself... sort of.

However, JC isn't just an actor, he's also a secret spy agent type that goes in to bad places under cover of filming and dealing with the bad guys. He's been away for a while, but he's back now! And not at all over a woman! He's back and goes in to tag a shipment, but then there's trouble on the way out. He's back... and it isn't the same.

Okay, the first point, and the main point, is that JC is more than willing to make fun of himself, his movies, and his style. And that is enough to get me to buy in. There are some absolutely terrifically hilarious moments in here, and we also get some proper JC action!

This is a series that I will hopefully remember to keep up with.


Read more!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Pixel Puzzles

I played some jigsaw games. Indeed, a lot of time, all on Steam. The basic idea is you see a picture, which fades away, then you need to pick up the pieces from the side (with your mouse) and put them where they are supposed to go. Fortunately, the pieces lock in place, so that helps. Then each game adds more gimmicks.

Japan is the first one, with images of Japan. Just the basics of pieces into the place.

Then is Undead. Aside from the zombie pictures, there is also a character you control that is fighting off a zombie invasion. Fortunately, you can play the puzzle without that aspect (although you miss out on half of the achievements) so that's what I quickly shifted into doing.

Next is Anime, which is anime based pictures. There is also a really annoying character that floats around the image, refills your hint bar, and really, really annoys. Fortunately you can switch the sound off, so that didn't last. The other big change is puzzle pieces aren't in the right rotation. So as well being in the right place, you need to be the right way around.

Then is Birds. Which has pictures of birds. On rocks. Lots of rocks, which can be hard to tell the difference between. You need to fill the hint bar by collecting crabs. Fortunately, while there is rotation, you can switch that off. I'm not sure if the previous game had that option, but I switched it off for this.

Last is Space, with lots of great space pictures. The gimmick here is that there are space missile things floating around you can plug into the hint system. However, if you don't use any and plug them into the space ship, you can get an extra achievement per puzzle. With rotation switched off, that took a while, but I got there.

So all those puzzles are done... hmm... now I need something else to play while listening to podcasts.


Read more!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Drakula A.D. 1972

The Hammer Dracula movies have been rather casual with continuity between movies. While Dracula is resurrected from the last death, some rural characters seem to turn up again, but generally it's a new cast each time. With this movie, it's a completely different timeline... which I think is to allow them to bring back Peter Cushing... and I'll allow it!

A hundred years ago, Dracula was killed, but now it's a hundred years later and someone decides to raise him. Someone with the incredibly crafty name of Alucard, and in a manner reminiscent of Taste the Blood of Dracula. But Van Helsing's great-great granddaughter is part of this, and Dracula wants her. Fortunately, her grandfather, the proper occult-aware Van Helsing, gets involved, and the race is on for him to save her from Dracula.

There is quite the cast here. We have Christopher "dominate every scene" Lee, and Peter "great in any scene" Cushing, but we also have Stephanie "seaQuest" Beacham, who could also be called Stephanie "showing off how buxon she is by wearing flimsy clothing" Beacham. There is also Christopher "My clothes from my first scene will return when I'm playing Skagra" Neame, and Caroline "I could have been a Doctor Who girl" Munro. They are all giving good performances, and Neame very nearly stands up to Lee's acting ability.

But the best part of this movie is... the music! This is so 70s action music, I was expecting The Avengers, the Persuaders! and even The Professionals to turn up any moment. Now there's a soundtrack to get a hold of.

If this is a reset, I'll buy it, as long as we get more of those groovy tunes.


Read more!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Lost One Room

This mini-series was originally broadcast in three 90 minute episodes, but later released as six 45 minute episodes, and so that's how I'll review it.

In the first episode, we get a mystery straight away. In a pawn shop someone brings out a key, but a bigshot with a pen enters, and then... we have our hero, a cop, Detective Miller, enter to find two people burnt, one of whom in a ceiling. He knows a street punk was in there, and tracks him down, only for him to disappear through a door. Eventually the punk returns to the cop, and hands him the key... and so really kicks off the adventure. The key can open any door (with a key lock) and goes to the motel room, and from there to anywhere. Just what this open opens up is one the cop is not ready for.

We do get a slab of exposition here, as Peter Jacobson provides some back story. There are Objects, from the Room, and they have strange powers... and I'm in. I am so completely in. This is entirely up my street, and there's no way I'm turning off now.

We end the first episode on a climax using information that has already been set up. Now that's a good way to do it. Usually a climax is 'danger!' or 'here's something new', and this one is 'you know that thing that can happen? here's is happening in a way you should have thought about, but is really terrifying', and that's a great twist.

I love this series.


Read more!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

I Loving Dick

It's another pilot with a provocative title.

A man and wife (I think? she doesn't act like she is, more like she's a sister) move to Marfa for the man's new residency, and encounter Dick. Who is played by Kevin Bacon, which is the only good part of the entire episode.

Otherwise, this is wanting to be comedy, but... I'm not getting it. At least, I think it's supposed to be a comedy, as I can't tell the humour I'm not sure. Perhaps it's just drama? If so, it's still not grabbing me.

I'm willing to give anything with Kevin Bacon the benefit of doubt, but no... I'm done. No interest in following this.


Read more!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Shollaws

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water... every body of water has a shark in it!

Nancy has to get away and ends up at a nice beach in Mexico, and goes surfing. However, while enjoying the waves, a dark presence turns up, and then it's shark time! While only being 200 yards away, she is unable to get back to shore, and must survive the shark and being stranded.

While being a short movie, it takes a while for the shark to turn up. And then Nancy is mainly staying on a rock with a seagull (who is amazingly well trained or something to be there that long). There are some elements that need to be believed to really get into this movie, one is that Nancy could hang around as long as she does, and the other, really big one, is that the shark would act like it does. (Note: it wouldn't.)

But this is a horror/thriller. Comparisons are made with Jaws, but I can't say I'm going to. Jaws shark had a lot more personality, and it got a definite sense of presence. Here the shark is merely one of the dangers Nancy is facing, and is hidden from the camera far too much to feel that real. (And there are a few moments when we see the shark I was thinking 'sharks don't do that!')

This is an adequate movie, but plenty of other people are loving this far more than I do.


Read more!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Every Blessed Day

A couple are trying to get pregnant, and encounter Every Blessed Day.

One is a night porter, the other is an airline counter attendant, but they are enjoying what time together they have. Other members of the family are popping out kids and asking when they'll start. They try some medical options and...

To be honest, that's when I left. This was supposed to be a light comedy, and I'm not sure if it's because it was Italian, but... it just doesn't wasn't connecting for me. With some of these Film Society movies, I don't always feel like I'm enjoying myself, but I am interested narratively and want to know what happens next. This time, not so much. I just felt like I didn't care, and have no interest in finding out if they do eventually get pregnant or not (I assume so, or it's a very down movie).

These movies sometimes look promising, but didn't work out for me.


Read more!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Cell 213321321321321321

Is this horror? Drama? Religious? Competent? Can’t say that it is.

A lawyer is caught up as a guilty party when his client kills himself after staying in Cell 213. And now the lawyer is in there. He sees weird things, but it’s hard to tell if this is real or just in his head, or both or… and another person is investigating the prison for supposed problems and she comes across the lawyer’s case and looks into perhaps he’s innocent and… then stuff happens, and it’s all gone out of my mind, because it just drags on and doesn’t go anywhere interesting.

And yet look at the cast, Bruce Greenwood, Eric Balfour and Michael Rooker. People just decide to do weird things, and hopefully for the money. There are special effects, and they are passably decent, and fortunately there’s no huge monster or anything to look ridiculous.

It’s already fading from my memory, so that’s what you need to know.


Read more!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A Second Tick

The big thing at the moment is... another live action The Tick series.

I didn't watch the original tv series. Patrick Warburton (who's a producer here) just didn't strike me as a Tick I wanted to watch, and I can't remember who anyone else was. Now, I did see the cartoon... and I loved it! It was fantastic! And it was incredibly goofy. Chairface Chippendale? The Galactus-rip ate a bite of the moon. Great stuff! And kept continuity! (And now I want to watch it again.)

So now we have this pilot for a new series sponsored by Amazon. Peter Serafinowicz is the Tick, and Griffin Newman is Arthur and... the problem I have with this series is that it plays the Tick and the setting far too seriously. Arthur's father was killed in front of him, and now he's on medication, and is obviously troubled mentally... and he's going to be a wacky superhero! (And the bunny suit isn't white! Riot!) The goofiness is missing, and that's painfully so.

And yet Ben Edlund is involved in this, is writing it, and such, but it feels like a whiff. Perhaps he's too old now and is thinking more serious thoughts, but if so, come up with something else.

This feels like The Tick meets Reality... and the Tick is losing. And it shouldn't be that way.


Read more!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Scars of Drakula

Hey, wait a minute? Didn't we already have this movie? Yeah, it was when Dracula was a Prince.

Dracula is brought back and suddenly is back in Some Eastern Europe Place, where there happen to be students as tourists in the area. They end up at Castle Dracula, and have to fight him if they want to get away with their lives. Well, okay, not really. One ends up there, and the other two go looking for him. But Dracula now has bats under his control, and they get the business done. From slaughtering people in a church to plucking a single necklace away, they are quite effective (and the puppets aren't terrible either).

When I saw the priest in this movie, I thought "Hey, I recognise that mole", and indeed, it's Lord Mulberry from Fawlty Towers. ... But I'm dancing around the main attraction. The butler Klove is back... and he's played by Patrick Troughton! He's playing a cringing character, but there is no end to which this movie would have been improved if he had said "But Jamie" or "Oh my giddy aunt." Of course he steals all the scenes he is in (but then I'm biased).

And let's take a moment to pick at this movie, because I did, and have been, but let's address a few things. In the movie, there is a picture of Sarah that's cracked... although the crack moves around so much, it's clearly different props every time. And aside from being in the forest, it is clear that when they enter a village they are on a set. And by night they mean "obviously day". And when the castle is set on fire, the long shot is clearly a model. The sounds aren't so much bat as seagull. And vampires aren't real...

Now, I am enjoying these, these are the first Hammer movies I've seen, but this feels like a repeat.


Read more!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Fourth Likely Story

Was Neil even trying with this one?

An elderly photographer is being interviewed, then off record asked about his muse. He pulls out his old box of memories and starts showing off an old (issue wise) issue of Playboy featuring Charlotte. And then another later issue. And much later again. All the same girl, and she's 19 every time. And... that's about it. Really. He is obsessed by her, and goes into photography because of her, and that's it.

So this girl is the same age and continually models. As mysterious elements go, there have been more impressive ones.

I have to say that is the rest of the stories these are associated with are as exciting as this, this is a Neil collection I'm going to pass over.


Read more!

Thursday, 18 August 2016


I know there is a tv series by this name, which is why I spent some time reading the comics.

I've heard a little about the comic, that the basic premise was that there was a man who could speak with the word of god and make people do whatever he says. That is not at all what this is about. The preacher, Jesse, gets fused with a being from heaven and indeed has that power. But instead what he's trying to do is find god (who's left heaven) and get some answers as to why god has done what he has. Along the way, he gets back together with an old girlfriend (they have sex a lot) and a vampire (who does drugs a lot). The main villains of the piece are the Grail, basically headed up by Herr Starr...

And while Garth Ennis has a definite plot in mind around god, he has more interest in the characters and does a lot of character based plot, which is about the characters in and of themselves than actual story. For me, this is epitomised with Arseface, whom either Garth really likes, or thinks we really like, and wastes a lot of pages on his story. And failed to engage me with any of them.

That said, I did enjoy most of this, although there was a little too much plot convenience theatre for my liking.

With that done, I can now see what they did on tv.


Read more!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Fragments of Horror

I love me some Junji Ito, so of course I want to get his latest compilation.

And this is a compilation, there are eight stories, each with a different take on some horror moment. I can't say that I was shocked by any of them, because I am jaded, but I did often pause at the moment of the great revelation to really take in each picture. Ito often has one particular image per story that is the full display of the impact of the horror, either showing the demon or unveiling the wrongness, and that's all here with these stories. And they are really well done.

The opening story, Futon, is a good strong one, and Ito actually sort of gives a reason for the supernatural element. Wooden Spirit gets nice and creepy (I like mysterious houses), and Gentle Goodbye is rather sweet, especially odd coming from him.

And now I need to make sure I've read all his work. There's a cat manga of his? And other artists have inspired him? I should check those out.

Lastly the cover is a wraparound dust cover with images from the stories... and another later of oddness over the top of that. How apt.


Read more!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Chinese Mayor

He's a man with a job to do, regardless of whether or not it will work. He is The Chinese Mayor.

We follow Mayor Geng, of Datong in China. He has plans to renovate the city and make it a cultural place, just like it was 1,600 years ago. However, this involves a lot of demolition, and some people aren't that happy. (Fortunately, they can classify the houses as illegal, so that helps.) He seems like a nice enough guy, and holds various industry leaders to account, but the construction is still underway with no real sign of ending soon. And then, at the end, he's suddenly moved to another city, and you can guess what happens next.

The documentary crew get rather good access, although at times they are shut down. They follow Geng, but also get quite a few interviews with people who get relocated, whether they want to or not. Geng isn't portrayed as a bully or anything, just a man with a mission who is also an official in a socialist society, doing what he can.

Enjoyable and worth checking out.


Read more!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Arty and Crafty

I saw this on the top 2014 list and was interested.

Mark Landis is a forger, with a bit of a difference. One difference is that he just gifts them to museums, passing them off as originals, so aside from fooling them might not be considered a criminal. (Aside from forging official documents.) Another difference is that he's slightly mentally disturbed and isn't quite connecting with what the rest of us would call reality. As well as him. there's an ex-curator Matt Leinniger who is chasing him (for a rather calm view of lazy), and possibly obsesses a little too much about him. We end with another museum putting on an exhibition of his works, and him agreeing to stop... although it seems like he might continue on another mission.

An interesting view into a different style of forging, one who does it because he can rather than for money. And yet we see obsession from different points from both Mark and Matt. We also see how to fake up some images and partly how to pass them off on unsuspecting museums. This is really a tale to tell museums, and others, to not believe what gifts are given to them.

Worth watching if you like documentaries, like I do!

(How many times did I write 'interesting' and 'different'?)


Read more!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Progress Backwards

It's not just that we need to have the latest gadget, we also need to keep up with the latest version of software as well as hardware.

Currently I need to use a meter, and want to pull the readings onto my computer. I got the software from the site, and even had the buy the not cheap (but not that expensive either) proprietary cord to connect to my PC. However... I install the software, but it's not recognising the meter. Which, as far as I can tell, is because it isn't installing the right driver. And then it turns out that the driver, and indeed the actual software, isn't actually available for Windows 10. But, of course, because Microsoft, I'm on Windows 10. So... how actually do I do this?
(Actually, just remembered, I have a netbook I haven't updated. As long as I can stop that updating to 10, I could use that... okay, that's my next battle lined up.)

Other fun, at work, our phones. We used to have actual phones that sat on our desks. The internet for the computers went through them, so if the phone plug accidentally fell out, down when the connection. That wasn't too bad.
But now we have "soft phones", which is software on the computer (Skype basically) with USB headsets. Which means that unless you are logged in, you can't use the phone. Imagine for a moment that you have problems logging in... how exactly do we call for support then? (That hasn't happened yet, but I feel it's about to.) Then there is the fun of calls not always registering for me to get, assuming I can get to my headset in time anyway, which is only about 75% successful. And one time I was on a call, but the system insisted on telling me I had a (different) incoming call I couldn't do anything about.

Good to know technology is "helping".


Read more!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Taste of the Blood of Drakula

Previously we had one movie every few years, now we get two in one year! This first one has a great premise.

Roy Kinnear starts the movie by intruding into the end of the previous one, and takes the fallen items of Dracula. Back in England, there are a pair of young lovers, and their strict fathers. But, oh ho!, it turns out the fathers are complete bastards, and join another bastard to first get, then drink Dracula's blood. Which goes about as well as you might expect, the fathers chickening out on everything. Dracula then turns up and decides to turn the tables on the fathers, rather effectively.

Indeed, this feels like the most effective Dracula has been so far. He converts women, gets them to do his bidding, and gets his revenge. Where this film completely falls down is the ending, in which the main plot has run out, but they still need to kill off Dracula, so basically god intervenes and kills him off. There is no real excuse for it, he just dies.

There is quite the star studded cast here. Aside from Roy Kinnear, there's Martin Jarvis, and Ralph Bates, and Peter Sallis, and... some others I felt were familiar but I couldn't quite place. As for the production... I can't really say much stuck in my mind except for the nice large church they had. Christopher Lee as Dracula fit really well into that style of architecture, which, admittedly, is the one place he probably shouldn't be.

The other big note for this movie: Dracula is now in England. Let's see if that sticks and what other wackiness he'll get up to!


Read more!

Friday, 12 August 2016

Third Likely Story

Neil Gaiman tells us that the role of the writer is to get people to trust them, and then lead them astray.

This has a similar set up to a small arc in Sandman, in which people are in a bar and talking stories. Ghost stories in this case. The main character tells of a time when he was a kid and met some other kids, and then they disappeared... and that, by and large, is it. There's definitely supernatural elements present, but more of "there were supernatural elements present" than actually show them.

The main character is Johnny Vegas, and he gives a decent performance, having to turn from comedy with the lads to going into spookiness for the tale telling. Otherwise...

Again, these are just feeling too short. Just one left.


Read more!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Killed Joke

So there's another Batman movie making the rounds at the moment, the latest DC animated short, based on the comic.

We start with an episode from the animated Batgirl adventures, in which Batgirl faces off against someone who makes her have her very own nearly bad day. (While there are a lot of flak coming at this movie about these 30 minutes, I'm thinking they did this to give her her own Joker conflict. While not at the level of the others, this is still pushing her into this one day that the Joker claims is all we need.) It isn't really needed, but feels so separate that it's easy to consider this something else they did as well as the main event to show off how a more typical adventure might go (sex aside).

Then we are on to the main event. This is pretty much a panel by panel repeat of the comic, and, as the Nostalgia Critic point out, it doesn't really do anything else but translate the comic to the screen. Although not what the fans want, it seems? For me, it shows up the more interesting Joker history (which is so often stated to be fluid that this may as well be the actual one), and that the current day events just aren't that interesting. Joker shoots Barbara (spoilers by the way), tries to make Commish go insane (in a sequence which I feel doesn't translate to the screen well), and then gets captured by Batman again. Yeah, that's so different. Yet considered so seminal that only recently Barbara was restored to the Bat costume (I prefer her as Oracle, I thought she was more interesting then).

As not a hardcore fan, I'm not clamouring for anyone's head over this. However, can we now move on to doing something original and not just dredging up old comics?


Read more!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Jasone Bourn

Okay, I can't remember the previous movies, aside from that there were previous movies, so that's clearly the mindset to have going into watch the latest in the franchise.

Bourne is living a happily crappy life, and then a previous agent of Treadstone (which takes around 10 minutes to get referenced) shows up and explains that everything he knew was wrong. And so kicks off another cat and mouse game between the government CIA evil society and Jason. The CIA is made real as the Asset for Bourne to fight, and of course he figures into the new backstory. But at least there can be more movies now?

Yes, the backstory is stupid, and yes it has nothing to do with the books, but these movies are so far stuck in the subplot of the first book we are never going to get to Arkadin (boo-yay!). Still, given that, this is typical Bourne, in that lots of action sequences and some painful computer stuff. Like, really painful. "Use SQL to corrupt the database." "Send me the shell." What? What does that mean? What even...?

Matt Damon is fine enough, although it feels like he's running on neutral. Tommy Lee Jones is... old. Instead of bags under his eyes, each side of his face is just one huge bag. Vincent Cassel is good as That Bad Guy You Recognise But Can't Name. And Alicia Vikander has a great accent, although isn't quite believable as the ambitious character she's playing. Also starring: lots of gunshots, punches and explosions. And the riots in Greece as merely a backdrop, because screw making a political point.

Anyway, this is a movie, and now I've seen it.


Read more!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Swuiwide Swad

This is what everyone's been waiting for. The movie of Harley Quinn and Floyd Lawson.

What to do when Superman is a potential threat waiting to go off? Get some potential threats of your own and make sure they are working for you! This is the basic premise of Suicide Squad so I'm not giving anything away. Unlike the source of the villains, which would be giving things away in a way, so all I'll say is that they bring it on themselves. The Squad is set up as needing to do this otherwise their heads get exploded. Here's a small thing, we are giving the back stories for Harley, Floyd, Diablo, Killer Croc and Digger, then when the team is brought together we have them and Slipknot... guess who's the example death!

Oh, and Joker is in this as well, but comely adjacently to the movie. Even more adjacently, we also get Batfleck, so that's something as well (and a hint of Flash).

The main problem is... it's hard to say this movie is about anything. We have scenes in which people are doing things... but I found it hard to say why we should care. Even if I don't, I can usually at least work out what I'm not caring about, but here... nothing. And can we please stop having action scenes in darkness? I would like to be able to tell what's going on.

There are some performances in this. It's easy to see why Floyd is giving the main focus of the movie, because Will Smith can act. And Margot Robbie looks pretty, so Harley is there as well. And there are others on screen to, but the only other one worth acknowledging is Viola Jones as Amanda Waller, 'cos she's a stone cold beeyatch.

While easily better than BvS (yeah, low bar), I can't really say I liked or disliked the movie. It tried... so good effort? Try again?


Read more!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Lits OUT!

This is that movie that was based on that short.

A family are slowly being destroyed by the mother's friend. Where the friend, in this case, is a strange supernatural beast that only exists in darkness. [I have some issues with the nature of the creature, which is explained, with the question of just how much ambient light is needed to vanish her, what with photons all over the place...] The set up of this creature is pretty good, and the story works well when it is dealing with the possibility of it. However... inevitably it comes down to fighting the creature, and at that point it becomes just like any other creature feature. Okay, the final method of dealing with the creature is different (and thankfully they deleted the final scene), but the fighting the creature just didn't feel new.

Horror movies are hard. You can set up great premises, like here. But eventually it comes down to "we must defeat the creature because this is that sort of movie", and which point the creature suddenly has all sorts of vulnerabilities that can be exploited. (There are a few movies where the creature isn't even slightly defeated/fought, but it would be spoilers to mention the names.) This is definitely "oh, that's what the creature is like" that I lost a lot of interest when it was given away. Also there were many moments in the script that were set up as tense, but I knew exactly what was going to be revealed. The unusual monster is largely all this movie has going for it.

Which it plays well, and I don't feel like this movie was too long/short, which is good. I'm just hoping it won't be milked into a franch... it's already made over ten times its budget back, okay look out for the second one next year!


Read more!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

NZIFF: A Touch of Zen

A martial arts movie, why not? But from before they had Wire Fu. It's Xia nu.

A middle aged scholar gets caught up in events as a young woman moves into the ruins next door. It turns out, she's on the run after her high official father is killed, and she has two other generals to help her. The scholar won't leave her, and helps guide her to fighting off an entire army.

And then, the movie finishes with 30 minutes to go, and so they stuck on a sequel? It feels like that. The main character from the rest of the movie is gone, and a new villain is introduced, and other minor characters are back in a bigger role... it's only one scene, really, but it so feels like the sequel they didn't have other ideas for.

The main character is interesting, in that he isn't a fighter. And suddenly doesn't become one when he meets up with the actual fighters. I was a little expecting him to suddenly bust out moves, but nope, they keep him as the brains. And then the moment where he's confronted with the consequences of his actions...

The action sequences have lots of sword fighting, with occasional moments of people jumping about (usually shot from underneath so we only see flowing robes). There aren't any moments of standing on trees or moving with the wind or anything, just choreographed scenes and people being slapped about.

It's a decent movie, although it could do with a shorter than three hour running time.


Read more!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Drakula Has Risen from the Grave

Christopher Lee is back in looming form, and he even speaks!

Dracula is brought back to life in one of the more coincidental convenient resurrection scenes even to grace movies. From there, it's basically a revenge flick, from Dracula's point of view, as Monsignor dared to put a cross on his castle. So we go to the town of... I missed the name, and find a young pair of lovers who, of course, get caught up in Dracula's blood soaked eyes, and there's a chase, and you can see the end coming right before it does, but it works thematically so I'm liking it.

One thing about this movie that didn't strike me in the others is that this is a more personal story. Instead of this malevolent force striking across the country, and a group of people trying to survive/battle it, it's about Dracula vs the one man and drawing revenge on him. We get plenty of chase and crossing across house tops, but it's on a more smaller emotional scale than the other movies.

Interestingly they have an atheist character in this movie. Which has Dracula. It's hard to deny supernatural elements when you have a legitimate vampire in your face. While it does seem that he goes religious at the end, this is used as a drive for the priest to find his courage to face down Dracula, which is a nice close to that arc.

Then we finally get the death of Dracula, which looks pretty final. No way he's coming back from that...


Read more!

Friday, 5 August 2016

Second Likely Stories

The next Neil Gaiman story, and he talks about the weird images in dreams, so with that set up.

This is sort of set in a cafe. The waitress is expecting, and compares the baby inside to eating her from the inside. An old friend turns up and they spend time talking. He chats about a place he was staying, and this (to him) beautiful older woman who lived there. She has unusual eating habits, and he helps her as only he can...

This feels more shorted out pacing wise than the previous story. And yet that's largely because of the frame of one story inside another, so there only needs to be two shorter stories to make up time. The second story is the point, and is nearly getting creepy, but I think we would need to develop the true nature a bit more to really get there.

So far this series is feeling like 'let's take a germ of an idea from NG... and fail to use it properly',


Read more!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

NZIFF: Michael Smither: Portraits

It's the next Michael Smither documentary (we're up to seven of ten) with Portraits.

This follows Michael as he creates a series of portraits. He used to do them, but was just following a formula. Now he actually seeing them as human heads with their own properties to bring out. (He was inspired to create these as a reaction to seeing the emotions on people who's heads were to be cut off by terrorists.) We mainly see him paint the local doctor, but there are other paintings as well. Including one of himself. And despite seeing many of these done, there are still more to go.

Afterwards we had the director Tony Hiles at the screening answering questions. Although he pointed out that Michael Smither was in the audience, and so never mind Tony, we asked questions of Michael instead. Neat! And a bonus for attending the actual screening.

This was quite short, being just about some of the portraits, so it was quite a concentrated story. As such, it did feel very short, especially compared with the other movies I've seen this festival, but that'll work better when the entire set is available.


Read more!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

NZIFF: Ants on a Shrimp

I've always liked watching food/chef documentary, so here's Ants on a Shrimp.

This follows the restaurant Noma as it decides to move from Copenhagen to Tokyo for 5 weeks. This has a lot of build up, we follow the decision to move (because it's fun!) then the task of trying to find a collection of dishes that represent Noma and Japan. The main people taste all sorts of things, and prepare lots of foods... and we get to see them kill turtles, and serve up still living shrimps that have had their shells removed... Cuisine! However, we get up to the opening moment... and that's pretty much where the movie ends. We get the dishes and then the end credits. Eh? How did they do? We never know...

So it's a decent enough movie for what we see. This isn't the first time I've seen a "let's create a new menu" chef documentary (indeed, I've seen a fair few, and will probably track down more), and we get to see some really weird concoctions. I'm sure food buffs would be able to point out various delicacies and even suggest how tastes work together... but for the rest of us, it's just odd what chefs can come up with. I doubt I'll ever experience a tasting menu...

Anyway, it's a good 2/3 of a movie, shame they never did the other 1/3.


Read more!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

NZIFF: Under the Sun

The Sun in this case is North Korea, and we are Under The Sun.

The basic set up of this movie is that this is a documentary about a young girl joining the Children's Union. The documentary is written, approved, and overseen by the DPRK... so they helped create this. But does that mean this is a propaganda piece? Not quite...

The filmmakers leave the scenes running a little too long. They leave in the instructor (who I think was the Korean director working with them) telling them what to do. We see a few different takes of scenes. And we have some b-roll footage that might not show an entirely brilliant light. The only thing the film maker adds beyond that is a few subscript notes to explain what was originally in place, like Zim-mi's parents having other jobs and where the script wholesale added scenes.

That said, what we get is that NK is largely a personality cult run state with indoctrination education. Although they don't point out that ultra-conservative ideologies do exactly the same thing (because they are staying entirely within NK), whereas I'm now tempted to parallel this film with some teaching styles happening in America...

On one hand, the film makers get away with this. On the other hand, they had so much film from running the camera all the time (as documentary crews do), that they had plenty of material to work with.

While I'm sure the DPRK wouldn't like this edit, this is their own film used against them.


Read more!

Monday, 1 August 2016

NZIFF: Operation Avalanche

At last the documentary has come to light, the tale of Operation Avalanche.

This is the story of a collection new CIA recruits. After a successful operation, they want in on finding the mole inside NASA. However, while there, they find out NASA can't get to land on the moon in time, so they come up with a plan to make it seem like they did. And from there, this gets into paranoid conspiracy.

This is presented as a documentary, with video of the time (ie low quality), although like most documentaries it still somehow has close up shots and such that wouldn't have been shot at the time. Anyway, the moon landings need to be faked, so this is about as real as you're going to get about how the CIA did it. It even references a number of conspiracies, such as c rock, and Room 237.

This felt a little over long, and tries to shift tone too much, but otherwise is quite watchable.


Read more!