Monday, 22 October 2018

Doctor Who 11.02

Okay, the accent is beginning to grow on me. Although now I'm noticing that she is fussing with her hair occasionally.

I'm still now sure about this Doctor. As this episode is immediately after the previous one, it's hard to say that everything is stablised. Hopefully, now she has the TARDIS back, we can get a "normal" episode and see what that is like. But if I have to say something... I don't want to leap to "manic depressive", but if she could find a middle setting, that would be great. Either overly eager or apologising the moment anything goes wrong, just calm down Doctor!

I'm gonna jump too far, and say that we already have too many companions. You could get rid of Yaz and Graham and not lose too much. Ryan is who these two episodes have focused on, so let's go with that.

As for the actual plot... again rather thin on the ground. And somehow we are to take the scarfs from Journey as a threat? I can't get the enthusiasm up for it. Otherwise, this is just a rather pointless trek across a boring alien planet until we get to the TARDIS... and I would need to see more of the TARDIS before I can get enthusiasm up about that either.

Okay, it looks like the Stenza will be our arc villains... but I'm not that threatened by them. So they put teeth in their bodies, but... aside from that they could be any other generic villain. Should have made them the Sontarans... although after Patternoster Dan, they don't exactly have a threat level any more. But, hey, I'm sure they'll turn out to be a major menace the Doctor has a hard time defe--- nah.

NEXT TIME: Rosa Parks. Well, I'm sure this will be a well considered and dignified... nah, who are we kidding? All I ask is that this episode doesn't have that the Doctor or companions tell her to go sit at the front of the bus, but it is still something she does because of who she is. (Although this episode could be after that incident for all I know.)


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Monday, 15 October 2018

Doctor Who 11.01

Mondays are my DW posts, so let's keep that. Which means for this season, I'll be watching the episode when it comes out, then watching it again before reviewing.

Okay, new Doctor, female Doctor... sure, I'm in let's see. However... that accent though...

Plot wise... this isn't that great. It's been pointed out that the first story of a thing like this should have a simple plot so we can concentrate on the actors. And yet, it feels like Chris still wanted a full on story (which wouldn't be that far off a Torchwood script, to be honest) and so we get all this business with a warrior and cheating technology and taking a huge time to track down one person, and a completely pointless scene with some guy throwing salad at him. And also lots of teeth because I think Chris wanted something offputting? Eh, just looks like a mask to me.

So let's go to the companions. We know there are going to be three companions with the Doctor, and we are introduced to a group of four, of which one we know doesn't become a companion. Now, this could be a Jackie case of someone staying at home, but that isn't likely as the episode pans out. Which means... we get a rather pointless death that doesn't really have an impact of them as they get over it really quickly so they can get on being companions. We'll see if this comes up again, but at the moment it's not looking great for Grace being meaningful.

But we do have a diverse range of companions. And that's largely what it feels like Chris is going for. Female doctor, black man companion, black female companion, and old white companion (who isn't Wilf no matter how they try).

And now I'll spin to the Doctor. Oooh, female, shocking! And yet... this is the first episode. The Doctor isn't really set as a personality yet, so I can't really say if I'm buying her or not.

Which means that for the companions and the Doctor I'm not really going to comment on them more until I see more episodes. Let's hope for the best.

Next time: Okay, this tells me two things. 1) I have no idea what the next episodes are doing. 2) They are banking on me being excited by a number of actors, most of whom I have no idea who they are, so... not really? Not a great job for hyping me up.


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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

China's Van Goghs

Hey, a documentary as part of the Film Society. This one is China's Van Goghs.

So Van Gogh was quite the painter, yeah? And people like to have copies of his paintings for themselves. In particular, in the same oil on canvas way. You can't print that (yet). So who creates them? In the Defan area of China, there are lots of people who spend ages of times cranking out many copies of Van Goghs and other famous people. We meet some of them, and see them going through the arduous process of creating them. We also follow some to Amsterdam where they meet their client (a not entirely wonderful souvenir stall), see the original paintings, and visit some famous Van Gogh locations.

When they say "made in China", you don't quite think of the process behind it, but for these paintings there is no simple way of creating an oil painting other than painting with the oils. The whole town is dedicated to this venture, which means there are many people who paint other people's pictures for, in the main lead's case, 20 years. And only now, at the end of the film, do we get to see them try some original work themselves.

On the one hand, it's quite a niche area they've got. But I do wonder how fulfilling it is.

It did rekindle my interest in documentaries, so I'll be checking out some more soon.


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Sunday, 7 October 2018

Tomb Meh-vader

Here we are again.

Yep, here we go. You can guess that this movie is based on, but it's more than just Tomb Raider. The leading lady is named Alabama Channing! Get it?? But as I've said, they are more female positive with the roles than other movies. However... it is obvious that they really didn't care.
 Did they leave the stickers on so they could return them afterwards?
 When traipsing through the ancient Chinese forests, remember to stick to the sign-posted routes.
 The classic shot...
and reverse shot.
 That is the ultimate guardian warrior... with his plastic vest falling/springing away.
 Please ignore the helping rods holding the set up.
And as we leave this tomb, behold the magnificent CGI...

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Thursday, 4 October 2018

100% Shadow

Okay, Shadow of the Tomb Raider update...

100% complete! As in all the collectables, missions, challenges, etc. All done.

At least, until the next update of DLC. But I have the season pass, so that's all good.

And yes, I did have to look things up, because some of them were so easy to overlook.

However, I do now have New Game + to try. And I probably will. What that gives you is that you have all the skills and upgrades you've already acquired available right at the beginning. And considering there are still some skills to unlock (which I could get if I did some really pointless grinding), yeah, okay I will. And I should be able to breeze through a lot of it, so it should be a lot quicker than the... 31 hours I've already spent! Of which 19 hours was the main mission, then another 12 getting to 100%.

The completion score was overly detailed, so I was at like 80.46% when I finished the main mission. Really? Do we need to be that precise?

Anyway, it's now done, New Game + awaits. And if I can up the difficulty, I might give that a go, because, as I mentioned, it's been mainly puzzles, and I know all the solutions now. (Although I can't say I'll remember them.)


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Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The Non

The latest of the Conjuring-verse... Conjur-verse? we dive into the backstory to see what is the source of the creature that we've already seen defeated, so we know how this is going to go.

Back in 1952, a priest and a wanna-be nun are called in to investigate the suicide of a nun at a convent. As we, the audience, know what's going on, we spend a lot of time on a slow build of them getting involved. There's more of an action ending than in the normal Conjuring movies, but again we know where we have to end up, so...

These movies are generally good at the slow build, and at the actual horror thing happening (as opposed to faking out scares like other movies), so in that sense, yeah this worked well. There were some good sequences of tension building, and then slipping expectations of what is going on from underneath you...

However, the ending action sequence just bored me. This series shouldn't do action, because as soon as you know you can shoot it, a lot of tension is gone. And when they reached the moment in the trailer, which is one of the bigger jump scares, that definitely lost its impact because I knew exactly what was going to happen.

This is also a brief 90-odd minutes, and given how dull it gets, catch it when it comes to cheap viewing.


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Sunday, 23 September 2018

In Her Shadow

It unlocked last week, and I dived right in. It's the latest Tomb Raider game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

We're on familiar ground with a Mayan apocalypse, but it's not supposed to be 2012. (Well, no date is mentioned, but that is unlikely.) And, um... whoops. It might be Lara's fault, but who can say? Anyway, we are then running around jungles and ruins and, of course, villages tucked away from the rest of civilisation.

As far as story goes, this is similar to the other games. As is the gameplay. There is a slightly different upgrade mechanic yet again, and merchants you now need to find to buy things. However... there is a LOT more focus on puzzles than combat. Like, the first half of the game is puzzles with only a little shooting. Then we get random rooms with mooks to make up for it.

And once again Lara is a bigger psychopath with more kills than some wars and plagues. She doesn't even hesitate to kill some, and that's in cutscenes so you can't blame me for shooting people.

I have completed the main storyline, although I have yet to collect everything (I didn't even fast travel once!). And there is a New Game+ mode I'd like to try.

So far I would rank the games as the first one, then this, then Rise. Not that Rise is bad, just not as good as this one.

That said... I can see me playing the first game again...


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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

MEGA Tim Sqid

Hey, New Zealand film! And after screening at the film festival it gets a general release.

John is a guy that works for Deacon (actually called Shelton, but he plays Deacon in What We Do In The Shadows so I kept thinking of him as Deacon), and decides to pull a job he shouldn't have, by raiding the Chinese shop and taking money and a temporal dislocator. As such, when he gets into trouble, he can time jump, and because he's not that bright, gets into further trouble by time jumping. Along the way he sort of gets a girlfriend and also right up his own nose. And they eat pies a lot.

This is set in Thames, and boy howdy does it feel small town New Zealand. From the small time crooks, to the 'yeah, okay' attitude, to the real enjoyment of the pies, this is pure kiwi.

It's also a comedy about time travel, and that part didn't land as well with me. The comedy was too understated at times, and the time travel was just a thing, not a real problem to be overcome or helping (I'm pretty sure the writer didn't bother trying to keep track of everything).

Still, overall... sweet as.


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Tuesday, 4 September 2018


Okay, let's acknowledge the iPhone gimmick now and move on. This is a "screwball comedy" called Tangerine.

Sin-Dee gets enraged when she finds out her pimp boyfriend is cheating on her and goes off to find the woman down. Alexandra reluctantly follows until the drama is too much, then peaces out as she wants to get ready for her club performance. Razmik is just a taxi driver who sometimes need to get some release. These three people swirl and intersect until everything comes together for a big climax. But not a lot are satisfied afterwards.

Human dramas are human dramas, no matter what the context, and this one comes across well. Being how they are transsexual prostitutes, this isn't one you wouldn't immediately think of, but it still works out.

I'm not a big fan of screwball comedies, but by the end, I was on board.


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Wednesday, 29 August 2018


All right, a Slender Man horror movie. I'm in, let's go.

Four girls summon a supernatural horror and then get picked off one by one.

...and that's about it really. The originality this movie brings is... it came out in 2018? This is... bad. Let's just jump straight to it, this is a badly made movie. And this is me saying that, who can't tell you what an edit is. Replace Slendy with any other creature, and this movie wouldn't change at all.

Two examples, so yeah spoilers. One scene has a girl at the library researching Slender via the web, and I'm pretty sure they just filmed their own research they did (or rather didn't do) for the movie. Oh, and later it turns out she had her own computer at home anyway. But this way they could do a scary library scene!

And a really annoying touch, they completely missed on Chekov's runner. They establish early that one girl is really good at track. And even bring up the point later again. So you would expect that at some point she has to outrun Slender, perhaps to save herself and someone else? There's a bit later on where that totally could have happened. But nope, none of that. Not even subversion of that because they don't make anything out of it when it could have happened. Just drop it from the movie and forget about it.

Maybe rent this later? But don't bother watching it now.


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Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Baden Baden

Hey, I finally got back to the Film Society, and it is a French film tonight, Baden Baden.

Ana is a young woman with a largely casual attitude to life, including doing a job and having relationships. We are with her as she finishes one job (and keeps a hold of the dress and rental car she got), and she returns to be with her grandmother. Her grandmother ends up in hospital, and Ana decides to remodel her bathroom using her own skill. At the same time, Ana sort of gets together with previous boyfriends, who are varying degrees of jerks.

Okay, I know there were bits I didn't get, and parts that just didn't resonate. This is billed as a comedy/drama, and the comedy is around the bathroom remodelling, and the drama is the rest of the movie. And there are also very artistic moments when I had no idea what was going on. This movie also has the issue of 'long slow shots are artistic' as opposed to just long and slow.

I wasn't sure about this movie, but thought I'd give it a go. As something different, yeah okay, but not really one I would pick.


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Sunday, 12 August 2018


Religious girl who experiences supernatural abilities? Okay, I'm in.

A young woman goes to college by herself, feeling alone. Eventually makes a friend or two, one of whom could become something more. However, as that friend is female, and she is religious, she doesn't think she should be having such feelings, and her previous abilities resurface. However, this isn't a good thing, and her family think they must do what is best.

First note: "atmospheric" is not the same as "slow", and this is slow paced. Which isn't bad, but when it takes so long to get anywhere, I'm already seeing the rest of the film spooling out before me. Nothing here is surprising, so I'm sitting there waiting for the inevitable beats to play out... and there they are.

This is basically a coming out/becoming accepting of one's own feelings that don't conform to your upbringing, but we don't need this to take place over two hours...


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Friday, 10 August 2018

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

Okay, settle in, this is a long one. By which I mean it is 3 and a half hours long! On the other hand, for a Frederick Wiseman document, it's on the short side.

This documentary is within the New York Public Library, and the format is a lot of very short segments of goings on at the library. Which means there isn't really a plot line as such, just moment of the library in use.

Which means the themes that come through aren't that of the library itself, but of how people use the library, interact with the space and idea of it. We have people using rooms for meetings and presentations, we have people using it as research, we have a few behind the scene meetings of what people consider the role of the library and how to develop, and then we have shots of how the neighbourhood the library exists in.

So while not a standard documentary, we aren't following a story, but nonetheless you get the sense of what the library is, and what it means.

Which is great... but I hope you have a very strong bladder! (Note, TMI: I don't.)


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Thursday, 9 August 2018

Michael Smither: Of Crimson Joy

The New Zealand International Film Festival has been happening, and I've only seen a few of the movies, although I hope to catch some more later.

In the ten part series, the latter half of which has been shown at the festivals, is Part Nine: Of Crimson Joy.

There is only three short segments, and this is the shortest of the parts so far, and it feels it. The first is a follow up to something started in the previous movie (the portraits), the second is going into how Smither deals with a painting that is a failure, and the third is him telling a poem.

While the components are interesting, the whole does definitely feel a little lacking given the lack of runtime. Perhaps when viewed as a part of the total series in one sitting, it'll work better.

And there is only one to go, for next year!


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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

MI FaalOot

Sure, let's go for an action movie that doesn't require a lot of thought. And I saw this at an advanced screening, woo!

So, let's recap the movie... um.. I remember the final big sequence... and before that, I remember snatches of what happened... oh right, there are plutonium cores out there, so the IMF team has to get them back, Along the way, they team up with various different people, and various true loyalties are revealed... none of which are surprising in this slightest.

This is not a sophisticated plot. Yes, there's a lot of it to get from one action sequence to the other, but ultimately none of it really matters. Indeed, there's a whole section of bad guys that are referred to, but they never actually turn up. Holding on to them for the next movie? Or were they just forgotten and/or dealt with an offhand line of dialogue? This series is now pretending they have a lot of continuity to refer to, so it could be the former, but I doubt it.

Don't go into this expecting an indepth story and well drawn out characters and situations. But as long as you don't want that, this'll do.


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Wednesday, 25 July 2018


It's not really Die Hard, it's more another "family in danger" movie.

There's a new big building, and Dwayne is brought in to give it the big tick. However, bad guys want something from the place themselves, and Dwayne's family is stuck in there, and he has to head in to get them out.

Okay, there's slightly more to it than that... but not a lot. We aren't talking in depth plot here, just something to justify big dumb set pieces, and there are plenty to see here. This does feel like a simple "let's do something to get in with China's media market", and as such this is probably the start of the more blatant attempts to do (as opposed to the more subtle ones like... Transformers...).

It's decent enough, with Neve Campbell startling me with her appearance, and Chin Han filling is as standard recognisable Chinese man. While the sets are all right, the titular skyscraper does feel more than a little fake in the city.

This is what "popcorn flick" is all about.


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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Ant Wasp and the Man!

Ah, Marvel, it's been... a few months since I last watched you? But now nothing until next year.

Because there's the hint that Janet Van Dyne may still be alive, this entire movie happens. Hope and Hank open a gateway to the quantum realm, leading Scott to realise he has a connection, and they all get together. However, Ghost also makes an appearance, and wants the quantum connection for her own purposes, as well as low level gangsters around, and lo we have a bunch of people in conflict and a movie happens!

Okay, let me ask me a question: was I entertained by this? And... I'm not sure I was. Fine, I sat in the theatre and watches the pretty pictures up on the screen and followed along with what was going on... but I'd be hard pressed to say I was engaged, that I cared about what was going on, that this movie evoked emotions in me beyond the immediate 'hey, a joke!' style. Looking back on it now... I can barely remembered what happens beyond what I've seen a few times in the trailer(*), and I find myself not that bothered by it.

(*)Speaking of the trailer, I remembered bits of that, and so 'oh yes, this trailer moment has yet to happen, so this will happen'.

Is this Marvel fatigue? Or is this just an indication that this particular movie wasn't really trying, or worth watching?

I can't say I want to rewatch it any time soon, so I'm going for it just being below par for Marvel.


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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Incradiblues 2

Finally after so many years, we got the sequel that we wanted. In that we wanted a sequel, but was this the sequel that was the sequel we wanted?

After the end of the last movie, supers are now more positively seen. Sort of. So someone steps in for the next stage of making supers more acceptable. Which leads us to the next chapter of the Parr's life. As in the literal next chapter which picks up from where the last movie ended and continues from there. Elastigirl is placed front and center in the charge for how great superheroes are, and she gets her own nemesis to deal with. As ever, there are bigger plans afoot and the family will have to come together to get everything done.

In a way this could be seen as a genderflip of the first movie, where the lead is the woman instead of the man. Instead, what we really get is two movies, one where Elastigirl has to fight this new supervillain, and another where Bob Parr struggles to become a stay at home dad. And while they do touch on the 'ha, the male can't do this!', it doesn't play completely down that track and we get some actual good moments that spin off from that.

But it is largely these two movies, and eventually one plot line cycles down so we can have the other for the big finish, but we don't really have a great resolution to the dad arc, so... I guess we have to accept it's fine now?

Given all this, I doubt we will now be clamouring for a third movie.


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Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Fallan Kangdam

The tagline for this series should be "We hired the dumbest people. We spared no expense."

Hey, I have an idea. Let's go back to where the dinosaurs are, capture a lot of them, and bring them back to the mainland! And we'll have Jeff Goldblum in it! Yes, I'm saying I was reminded of Lost World a LOT, although there are some differences. Like more focus on Blue the velociraptor. And more about making up dinosaurs. Oh, and no Trex lapping from a pool either.

Which does make this feel like the middle of an arc. However... does that mean we will end up with a raptor calling out "Alan"?

This is decent enough, with lots of spectacle, new people to find annoying, and, of course, a young kid. But it's not leaving a huge lasting impression.


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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

So Low

Yeah, I finally got around to seeing the latest entry in the yearly event series. Now maybe if they did several a year like MCU...

So Han needs to get away from his home planet, hooks up with various peoples, and ultimately because a crook/smuggler because that's his eventual schtick. But with a Heart of Gold(tm), because that's his schtick too.

So people are rabidly against this? And by people I mean 'some Star Wars fans'. I'm not a SW fan/ enthusiast/ whatever name you want separate yourself from fanatic, and... I thought this movie was fine. My main complaint is that they tried to squeeze in too many references to later movies because all those events happened in like five minutes altogether in Han's life?

Aside from that, yeah, fine movie. Lots of big spectacle, over the top sequences like Star Wars indulges in, and we are never talking in depth characterisation but enough to get to know who the characters are. (Although my one call completely failed to happen.) And yet, actually left events open at the end for more of Han's life to happen (in movie form?).

In my opinion the main issue is that this came out not on Christmas but too close to the last film. And yet... MCU pulls this off regularly. Guess we just have lower tolerance for a lot of Star Wars at once.


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Tuesday, 26 June 2018


Let's head back to 1946 and the fabulous night life in Gilda.

A card sharp is hired by the manager to help run a casino. But then a woman comes into the picture, and because they are both males, immediately problems arise that circle around her...

Yeah... I wasn't really drawn into this movie. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could be watching Casino instead.

I don't have much to say about this, because I just couldn't get into it.


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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Heredy Terry

Oh, it's from the same studio that did The Witch. That explains a lot.

The grandmother in a family dies, and this kicks off a set of events that... put people a little on edge, but it isn't until later that the real set of events are kicked off. And other stuff happens and...

There's been hype around this movie in terms of "so scary I shit my pants". I will grant this has TONS of atmosphere. I love movies with tons of atmosphere. But you know what else I like? A coherent plot. Go on, guess what this doesn't have?

"Oh, it's just being clever and not spoon feeding the audience." No, it's being overly obscure, and frankly I was completely disconnected from the movie because I had no idea what the hell was going on, nor why. I've seen an explanation or two which can fit the movie's events, but I'm not a big fan of
"the author is dead" and would like things to actually explain themselves. Not knowing what is going to happen could be a good thing, in that you can't have expectations to be disappointed in, but on the other hand, it also means you have left your audience behind because you are so far up your own...

It has some nice scary moments, but as a whole...


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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Of Horses and Men

And Icelandic film? Sure, why not? This is Of Horses and Men.

People are terrible any way you deal with them, and when horses are in the mix, they aren't any better. This is a lot of short vignettes in a small community where horses are a common part of life, and the people use them for any means necessary. To show off, to get drink, to stay warm. It's all about the horse.

And this isn't a warm fuzzy movie about horses. When I stay "to stay warm", think wampa here. This does treat horses rather brutally, but the film makers do make sure to have an end card that says no horses were harmed. Some well trained horses then.

It is short, which helps, and while engaging, isn't one for the pony princesses out there.


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Wednesday, 13 June 2018

8cean's O

I enjoyed the other Ocean's movies, so I was really looking forwards to this.

A convict gets out of jail and immediately goes back into crime... hang on, isn't this exactly the same opening as 11? Yep, but they don't try to avoid that. The big heist this time is going for jewelry. One change is that they don't know all the people they hire and another big things is... the movie is basically over around 2/3 through the movie, but they keep doing.

And that is really painful. First off, we don't need the sudden swerve into attempted comedy as signaled by the arrival of James Cordon, and the movie gets a lot less interesting then. They are still trying to do "big surprises and twists", but it feels more like they were trying to justify... a longer running time? The movie being more important than it is?

This movie had such great potential, just look at the cast! But in an attempt to be different, they are just dull. I could tell from us never seeing any of the heist being planned before it actually happens that it will go off without a problem, and there was no real problems that raised tension. At the end, with the reveal... it was a big more interesting, but far too late by this point.

If you really like this series... maybe go on a cheap day?


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Tuesday, 12 June 2018


Psychological thriller? I guess. Certainly weird enough. This is Seconds.

Arthur Hamilton gets the chance (in that the chance is trust onto him) to become someone else, to start a new life, and so becomes Antiochus Wilson. However, even in that life he isn't happy, and wants a second go at a second go.

From the opening sequence, which is too close up shots of a face, we are offset and disturbed and the camera work continues that through the scenes. Everything is tilted until he becomes Tony Wilson (played by Rock Hudson), then it gets more stable until everything comes unhinged again.

And yet.. I'm not really sure what this movie is going for. The unhappiness of man? The inability to accept whatever life puts in front of you? The need to make your own decisions? At over 100 minutes, whatever it is, it takes too long to make a point and then takes its time just circling it.

This should have been more my speed than it was.


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Sunday, 10 June 2018

RADFF18: Tadao Ando: Samurai Architect

The last film I saw was a demand performance due to popularity and was in the Grand theatre... and barely half full.

Tadao Ando is an architect, and he has designed many buildings. And during this movie, we take a look at many of them and he gives commentary on them. Two aspects of his stand out: he like to incorporate nature into his designs and he likes concrete. A lot of concrete. While not brutalist, it does feel like A LOT of concrete. While he has done many buildings in Japan, mainly Osaka, he's also done worldwise designs, and we see his latest effort in China. We also see some rejected designs.

Even at 75 minutes, this felt a bit longer than it needed to be. Which wasn't helped by a) my bladder filling up, and b) the guy near me wanting to continue some text chat throughout the movie (me being passive aggressive doesn't help there either).

This is probably the most on-target architecture film I saw, but it was probably also one of the driest, no matter how cheeky-chappy Ando came across as.


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Monday, 4 June 2018

RADFF18: Moriyama-San

This feels more like a movie in search of a festival than something gone in. In fact the movie declares up front that the maker just happened to meet Moriyama and make a movie while staying with him.

The two of them meet because of Noise Music and the director (Ila) asks to stay with him. And so we have a slice of life of Moriyama's life. He lives in a house that is made up of various blocks with different parts of the house compartmentalized in different blocks. And some of the blocks are rented out. Besides that, we hang out with Moriyama and see he likes reading and generally has a rather chill life. The two of them just chill for a while, have a barbeque with the neighbours and then fireworks at the end.

The big issue with regards to this festival is that this movie isn't really about architecture or design. More like "hey, there's five minutes of this movie that are related to the theme, so if I write the blurb for it to highlight those parts...".

It is a weird slice of life movie and could have worked, but I felt like it didn't belong in the expectation of this festival.


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Sunday, 3 June 2018

RADFF18: Happening

No not The Happening, just the Happening.

Solar power is a thing that is happening, and this movie is largely about that happening. Okay, it's more James Redford (his sons) looking at renewable energy in total, but the bulk of it is on solar power. What it basically boils down to is that we have the technical capacity for renewable energy. But we don't have the economic/political capacity for it. Fossil fuels, y'all! No, this isn't against fossil fuels, but it does, in the latter part, track what happens in Nevada which is (for some reason) striking down the solar industry while not touching the monopoly power provider.

But while this is trying to end positively, it still feels like we are politically blocked and as much as we can go "woo, renewable energy!", we the public just don't have the power. As James said it's the "power of the mighty vs the power of the public".

So really... boo-ray?


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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Deathpol 2wo

So with the origin story out of the way, we are into just comedy laughs right? Right?

We open with an extended sequence of Wade and Vanessa. Then after the title, we get down to what the trailer promised of Cable. Eventually. It takes a really long time for this movie to get anywhere. But then we eventually get various set pieces we've seen hinted at at the trailer, and the movie delivers a message that every other movie has also delivered.

So on the one hand, this is light and fun. On the other hand, it's quite dour and derivative. The problem is is tries to veer from one tone to the other, and it's quite clunky. It uses its goofiness as an excuse to just do random stuff and so while the individual scenes are neat, the whole isn't that cohesive.

Yes, there are repeats (callbacks) from the first movie, and it very clear in some cases that Ryan Reynolds redubbed lines over his mouth movements that don't match in the slightest. The effects work well, and I'm sure they got a lot more budget got it all, but it still feels like they tried to squeeze things in they couldn't really justify.

No doubt this movie will do well, and I did giggle during the end credits bits, but let's not draw this series out, can we?


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Tuesday, 29 May 2018


I saw this around 20 years ago, so I was looking forward to again seeing Alphaville.

A "reporter" comes to the logical society of Alphaville, looking up some old friends. While seeing how a logical society lives, he locates a professor that used to be in the outer countries than has since moved to Alphaville. But while the professor isn't amiable, his daughter has more potential.

One of the classic older sci-fi movies that inspires a lot, this is... weird. I remembered some bits, but not everything. (The swimming scene I had completely forgotten.) I think I read a script that explained some of the scenes way back when, so I know there is a lot of significance is some of the setups, and knew some of the revelations from that... but now I want to find it again because a lot of it goes over my head now.

Definitely a classic to watch, but not one to overanalyse while you are watching.


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Monday, 28 May 2018

RADFF18: Konstantin Grcic

On the design side, we have a movie about Konstantin Grcic. And also doesn't have an IMDB link.

I gather Grcic is a designer. And I gather this because the movie doesn't a) explain who he is, or b) what he is doing. Which seems to be designing chairs for an art display and also a furniture fair? Again, they don't explain, so I'm not sure. This is one of those movies where we follow the main lead as they go about their business, without anyone saying anything to the camera. Sometimes that works, and sometimes...

Not to say it wasn't interesting, see how he works. But I would have liked a bit more context to what he was doing. Is furniture all he does? How does he start from the beginning?

This feels more like part of a series more than a self-contained movie.


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Sunday, 27 May 2018

RADFF18: A Test of Faith

[So Resene is sponsoring a film festival for Architecture and Design, and while I'm interested in many of them I'm just gonna go to five.]

The first film I saw was about the reconstruction of the St Mary of the Angels church in Wellington. And it seems there isn't an IMDB link to this.

After the Christchurch earthquake they moved up the schedule for strengthening the church, and we follow the reconstruction as well as learning the history of the buildings. And when the November 2016 earthquake hit... and it was fine!

I hope you are interested in how earthquake strengthening, 'cos we see a lot of it. Fortunately, I do find that interesting. And hey, being in Wellington, I've walked past the building often, so now I know a lot more about it. Cool!

There isn't much more about the documentary than that, other than calling anything that happens to the building "a test of faith". No, not really.


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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Truht or Dari

Well, this was never going to be the best thing ever, and did it live up to that promise.

A group of university students head to Mexico for a last dash, and end up at a creepy church. They play a game of Truth of Dare, and because this is a stupid horror movie, are now forever demanded to play this game when they are home. Can they find a way to stop the terror before they all die?

This reminded me a lot of Final Destination. One by one, we go around the group and they must survive or die. And yes, they based an entire movie on the one game. The big thing about this movie? Various characters do a weird CGI grin. Or, as one character in the movie says, has a "weirdass Snapchat filter" applied to them. I kinda feel that was closer to the truth than they may have wanted.

Although Lucy Hale is the main lead, no-one here puts in a star-studded performance. And is this why Violett Beane isn't doing Flash? Oi. And Tyler Posey seems to be a name of note, but I never watched the Teen Wolf series.

Disposable horror film. And I see what they were doing with the end, and how it ties back to what was said at the beginning... but that's still a stupid ending.


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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Only Angels Have Wings

From the late 1930s we have a movie that is all about owning and operating an airplane service. This is Only Angels Have Wings.

In South America, one white guy runs an airplane service, employing other white guys to fly the planes in dangerous conditions. With that set up, we get basically a slice of life style movie with people coming and going, personalities clashing and romance in the air. As such, there are lots of minor plots, and one pretend major plot about trying to get a dangerous contract.

So I hope you like watching people flying in planes, because we have a lot of that. Because Howard Hawks was involved, the flying is more real than otherwise might be the case (although considering what I've heard about him, this probably took a longer time to film than most movies). We have a few character arcs, but really it feels more like a few set pieces strung together over the movie.

It's decent enough, but at two hours it certainly feels it.


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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Breakerer Uppererers

Hey, New Zealand comedy time! All right!

Okay, let's be honest. The plot here isn't exactly original. Two friends are doing something together, events happen to break them up, and so the last part of the movie is bringing them back together. The context, in this case, is that the two friends run a company to help people split up from relationships one of them doesn't want to be in. Which leads to one of them connecting more with the people than the other, and so the movie unfolds from there.

Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami are the writers, directors and two leads in this quite great comedy. There were a lot of laughs in the theatre and they were easily gotten (which means there's some dialogue I haven't heard). James Rolleston is the male lead, but his character isn't exactly the smartest and a lot of comedy plays into that. I get the feeling I should have spotted other comedy names, but all I got was Rima Te Wiata. And if you are into recognising Auckland places, this should tick boxes for you.

And even more special, I went to the screening at The Embassy... which had a Q&A session afterwards with the three leads. Jackie and Madeleine were good, Jason was... largely demonstrating his acting was that far from his natural personality. The answers were pretty much what you'd expect, but here's hoping we see more of them in the future!

Quite the enjoyable comedy!


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Tuesday, 15 May 2018


An alternative title might be "A Girl and Her Wolf." But this is the German movie Wild.

Ania is an IT specialist in a humdrum job who doesn't feel like a part of the society she's in. So when she sees a wolf in the nearby park area, she's immediately attracted to it's raw power and slowly she plans to capture it and mate it (in all sorts of ways). Eventually her willingness to deal with society breaks down and she turns feral as she and wolf return to nature.

I'll skip to the point of: this movie felt like a chore to watch. The first third felt like an age and many times I considered getting up and leaving. But I continued to give it a bit longer and finally got to the last act of the movie.

And I can't say it was really worth it either. This movie is not subtle in any way about getting across its message, but doing so in a slow labourous way. If you do want to get into this movie, maybe check out a proper review or at least the trailer first so you know what you are getting into.


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Thursday, 10 May 2018

Get STOMP!ed

So, last night, I STOMP!ed. I like hardcore rhythm so I was already going to like this.

There were, as you would expect, a number of pieces during the show. A slow building start. A few quiet pieces. A few raise the roof pieces. Some comedy characters getting a few turns (which helped keep the mood of it all light) and some interesting takes on audience participation. And, of course, a stonking great loud finish and an encore!

Great stuff, and I recommend trying to get some of the last tickets available online. Although there were quite a few empty seats towards the back (I was in the second row!!), so I'm not sure if they kept tickets back for door sales or if many people just forgot/couldn't make it. (I see the same thing when I go to movies. There are a number of seats booked when I look online ahead of time, but by the time the movie starts those seats are empty.)

Oh, and I worked out the secret to Stomp! ... It's Tap Dancing. Yes, there's a lot of banging of things on other things and hand clapping and so forth... but there is also a lot of footwork that is exactly tap dancing. It's simply tap dancing taken to another level where they are tapping other things, but if you want to get into Stomp!, besides being strong enough to hoist an actual kitchen sink, I recommend some specific dance style lessons.

Anyway, big noise, much enjoy, you should go!


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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Infinite Wah

While this post is coming out two weeks after the movie was released here, I saw it the day of release, and wrote it the day after so... still thinking about it in some ways, but I can be more open regarding spoilers.

So Thanos huh? He is wanting something, others are not wanting him to have it... and therein lies movie conflict. This is Infinity War, which is actually Thanos Quest in which he gets the gems, although that was against big cosmic entities, and it wasn't really Thanos vs Avengers until Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War was after that in which they fought Adam Warlock's Evil Side... look, Comics, as they say, are Weird. None of that matters here because the movie gets right to the people we know versus Thanos and as we care about them, we are more wanting to see them vs Thanos than other cosmic beings.

And along the way none of the deaths mean anything to me because we are talking about a powerful device that can rewrite reality so I'm not counting any death as certain until after Avengers 4.

Someone pointed out that this is Marvel, and they would play it safe. And in many ways, they did. This is big on battles and stuff, but it doesn't hugely feel like anything really huge happened. We all know Thanos was going to get the gems, because otherwise there wouldn't be much in it, so this is just an exercise in seeing how they can stall Thanos until he gets there.

So... big and epic? Yeah, it's a good watch. But it always was going to be so there you go. Mission accomplished.


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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Le Quattro Volte

This is a rather more contemplative movie. It is Le Quattro Volte.

A shepherd dies. A dog barks. A goat is born. A tree becomes mere wood.

That may seem rather... sparse, but this movie is, and this is the term that occurred to me, a tone poem. We spend time watching the shepherd go about his life, we see the dog being annoying, we see the goat growing up, and we see the tree and what comes next. All these things are the growing and passing of time, and we are there to absorb and experience them.

And as such, there isn't much I can really say about it. It's there on screen to be drunk in, and it's something you relax into.

That all said, I'm probably missing something deeper, but I floated along with it.


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Wednesday, 2 May 2018


People are claiming this is the best video game adaptations ever. Considering the video game consisted of not a huge about of gameplay, that's a lot that added over top of it.

Dwayne is friends with an ape that gets infected with a plot-based virus. The ape, George, gets bigger, as does a wolf (obliquely named Ralph) and a crocodile (never named Lizzie). EvilCorp drags them over to Chicago, and there's a big monster bash on the streets while the Rock and co chase and try to get their own plot-based virus solution. From the trailer, you know what happens.

This isn't a deep film, it's a monster bash, and it does what it says on the tin. They don't try to be subtle about anything, as evidenced by the bad guys have a Rampage arcade machine in their main room. None of the actors are bothering bringing their A game, but they are clearly having fun, so there is that.

You want a monster trashing the city movie? You got one. And, hey, I'm sure they can easily bring out sequels if the money pans out.


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Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Things to Come

Basically H G Wells saw Metropolis and said "that's completely wrong", and thence Things to Come.

It's 1940 and war is about to break out in Europe... and then it does. War goes on for 25 years, then a plague devastates the remaining place until in 1970 it is largely a medieval society, with guns. The Chief is only interested in furthering his aims for "peace" so when someone turns up in an airplane, which hasn't been seen since during the war, of course he imprisons him. However, others come along and gas him into submission. Skip to 2035 and scientific progress is getting ready to launch people into space, but others protest that we have too much progress. But if the options are to sink back into the ground or reach for the stars, what is the correct response?

HG isn't exactly one for the happiest of futures, but this feels more like they were trading on the name of the author. This is one extrapolation of the future, but it feels more like several smaller pieces that were found a way to be pasted together. (Note: I haven't seen Metropolis, which might employ those same techniques.) And it certainly feels more idealistic in that science comes out on top, although there is plenty of typical human smallmindedness in there too.

I guess I wanted more than just some ideas thrown against a wall to see which would stick.


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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Et Quietam Locus


Beings came from the skies and they have a problem with sound. In that they attack any source of sound. Fortunately this family has a deaf daughter and have learnt sign language so they can communicate without talking. Then we get to the story of one day where a number of things so terribly wrong and so they must fight for their lives.

This is one of them slow build thrillers. Establish the threat, establish the new reality, and then watch it crash about. They do signal the solution rather early so then we are waiting for the characters to click on it, but it still manages to be tense in a lot of places.

So husband and wife John Krasinski and Emily Blunt are the leads, with Krasinski directing. This is a tight cast with only seven actors in total on screen. I don't know how well they learnt sign language, but it looked to work for me. The monsters do feel a little CGI blobby, largely a mass of red streaks in brown.

Decent enough, doesn't outlast its welcome, but doubt I'll ever watch this again.


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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Deth of Stalin

An English black comedy? You don't say.

Stalin dies at the beginning of the movie, and what we get is the backstabbing and infighting of the Central Committe as they try to position themselves into being the new power. Beria steps up, and seems to be in the lead, but others are working to dispose him.

Okay, spot the names. Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Michael Palin... and others scattered around. It is written and directed by Armando Iannucci, and he definitely goes into dark humour on all of this. Want light hearted laughs around the mass death of people? Got you covered! And piss jokes too!

That all said, this felt long. During the middle of it, I was just wondering how much of this I was through. With that on board, if this appeals, go for it.


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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Mon Oncle

It's a classic Jacques Tati French comedy. It is Mon Oncle.

A man (Arpel) and wife have an extremely modern house, with electrical gizmos and a sparse decor. They also have a son who goes to a school and is sometimes picked up by the wife's brother, Mr Hulot. What story there is involves the rather lackadasical Hulot trying to be given a purpose in life so that he doesn't take the father's spot in the son's life. Arpel gets Hulot a job in his factory and his wife tries to set him up with the neighbour, but never really turns out to work that well for him. In the mean time, the son is getting up to pranks with his friends, and that's the final accidental moment that bonds father and son.

There is only a little story, and otherwise this comes across as a rather random collection of scenes, either from people coming up with it on the day, or a writer getting out of hand and not cutting anything that came into their minds. This does mean that the movie does feel long and rather incoherent at times.

As for the humour... a lot of people were continually giggling throughout this movie, but I didn't get most of it. There were a few moments when even I could get it (and I quite liked the House Eyes moment), but most of it just didn't do anything for me.

I'm glad I watched it, but it does lend more weight to watching movies on fast forward...


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Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Reedy Plater Won

So I listened to the audio book... and it was complete trash. So how does the movie work?

Parzival is the dude, and he works out how to win a race that everyone knows about to get the first key. Woo! But then he works with the others to work out the other two puzzles. Which aren't complete replications of games and such. We do get a big battle at the end, and overall... this isn't terrible.

As in, this is far better than the book deserves. Speilberg must have decided to tell an actual competent story over fetishing every aspect of the 80s. The puzzles are actually based on the characters in the movie, and what matters is how they are interacting with each other, not who is best at Joust or can quote War Games. I'm not saying this is the most brilliant movie ever made, we aren't talking deep revelations here, but given where this started, this came a long way.

I'm not saying that anyone should go and see this, but if you have read the book and wonder what the hell, this works far better.


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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The Adventures of Prince Achmed

The first German film of the year, Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed.

A sorcerer turns up at the Caliph's palace, and tricks the Prince into taking off on a flying horse, and while hitting on the Caliph's daughter the sorcerer is thrown in jail. The Prince ends up in some magical lands, and hits on the demon Peri Banu, and kidnaps her, but of course she gives in to him. The sorcerer escapes, kidnaps Peri Banu himself, sells her off to the Chinese Emperor and leaves the Prince on a volcano. Fortunately, the witch in the volcano picks the Prince up and helps him to get back. They collect Aladin along the way, but really it is the witch that solves all the problems at the end.

This was done in 1926 as a silhouette animation film, in which the animation is stop motion cut out figures. That said, it's really well done, and although it's monochrome (as in one colour, not as in black and white) the colour does help it pop. The story is largely a retelling, which makes me suspect that this was mainly a technical passion rather than really wanting to tell the story.

But I liked it, so check it out if you can.


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Saturday, 7 April 2018

The Final Movement

Via accidentally clicking, I found out that the Embassy was going to screen a screening of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Musical - Le Mouvement Final. So of course I had to go see it. As did around two dozen other people. In a theatre set up to hold over 600. Well, it was a school night, the movie started at 8pm, and went for three hours, and wasn't well advertised. Kinda shot themselves in the foot over that one.

This is the musical of the Sailor Stars storyline. The Three Lights arrive, as does mysterious figures intent on attacking the Senshi. While the Guardians try to protect Usagi, some of them fall, and the Three Lights are revealed as the Sailor Stars. Eventually, Sailor Galaxia unveils her plan to use the Sailor Crystals to wipe out the Galaxy Cauldron and defeat Chaos, but Chaos is onto it. Can Usagi survive losing her friends to defeat the biggest threat of all?

So yeah, I went in with little idea what to expect, and enjoyed myself. I'm not too positive that musicals work when you have to subtitle everything (except the extra songs at the end - boo!), but everything still seemed to work to me. This was a recording of the stage play, so I did spend some time noting the technical aspects of how they moved things around on the stage, and the use of lights to hide/accentuate moments. And as this is the first one I've seen (which happened to be the last arc, so I'm not expecting more any time soon), I did also note with interest that all the parts were played by women (including Mamo-chan).

This is concentrated Sailor Moon, and... hmm... where did I put my DVDs of the series?


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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Pasifik Rim Uprosen

So, name this movie: an unneeded sequel featuring the son of a character in the first film, the son being the focus of the second film, and the original character no longer around. We also have various cameos of characters from the first movie that are completely wasted. And there's the promise of more movies we don't need. And there are creatures that are not of this earth.

Did you say Independence Day 2? You are right! There is another answer.

So, yeah, we have the son that didn't exist in the first movie, and now it's all about him. And there is also a girl straight out of Transformers 5, but she has a twist: she wants to drift but suffers from traumatic memory when trying to drift. No, wait...

Do we at least have spectacle? Frankly, the Transformers comparison is apt on a few levels, although I could slightly follow the fights just a little more. I did follow the plot, and the clearly obvious villain did have more going on than I thought, so I will give them that.

I went less than a week after it opened, and while it was early afternoon, I'm not sure there was anyone else in the theatre... which says a lot.


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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

enTombing the Raiders

I loved the 2013 game, so why wouldn't I want to see The Cutscene: The Movie?

Richard Croft leaves Lara to go look for something and disappears, leaving Lara to act out about her loss. Some time later, she finds a clue to where he is, so goes to track him down, using all the work he put together and none of her own. Eventually she gets to the island and immediately is with the bad guy for a while before going into a tomb.

Okay, as a movie: this feels very pedestrian. Go to remote locale where Evil Team McEvil are trying to get Ancient Artifact of Power(tm) and be forced to help them... didn't I see this as an Indiana Jones movie? Or an episode of MacGuyver? It's hard to say what defines a movie as a "Tomb Raider" movie, but the 2001 movie felt more like a Tomb Raider movie than this did.

As a game adaptation, wut? There are some scenes replicated from the game (and a whole bunch done at once), but whereas we start on the island in the game, here we take around half an hour or so to get there. In the game, while Lara is fit, she uses tools (axe, bow and arrow, guns) to help here. In this movie, they go out of their way to show how scrappy Lara is and how she can take on people one-on-one, and point out how intellectual she isn't.

Not to say I had high hopes for the movie, but I did want better than this. Frankly, the cutscenes stitched together would probably have made for a better movie, whereas nothing in this surprised me. And where is the supernatural/mystical element? Did the movie makes do more than hear someone describe some of the plot down a staticky telephone line?


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Tuesday, 27 March 2018


This is a French film that was made to largely celebrate Jaques Tati, and in english is called The Illusionist.

A magician isn't making waves in Paris so heads to London. But as this is the late 1950s, there are rockers rocking out on stage and he can't really get a look in. He ends up in Scotland, does a good act in a pub in the far north, and catches the eye of a young madam up there, who he quickly dotes on like she's a daughter. When he leaves for Edinburgh, she tags along, and while he barely manages to make some kind of ends meet, she is enamoured by the city life and he tries to keep her in the fancy clothes that catches her eye. But eventually he can't keep up with the random jobs he ends up, and a young man catches her eye, and so he bows out, leaving them together.

This was a script that got handed down until Sylvian Chomet made it. This is a rather sweet portrayal of who is basically Tati, but as the magician you follow along and can see as he despairs of his jobs and getting caught up with Alice. The animation is simple, but there were moments where I was just grinning at the canvas on display. The dialogue is kept simple as well, but we don't really need it.

This is well told in drawings although I'm glad it was only 80 minutes.


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Wednesday, 21 March 2018


This has a great premise, the house with multiple rooms and stairways going nowhere. So what's the chance of this doing something interesting with it?

The widow Winchester is making a house, and she owns majority of the company. The company aren't too happy with that, so hire a doctor to assess her. Wouldn't you know, but the doctor has a past that ends up tying in with why she is interested in him. And there's an explanation for what's going on: ghosts. Namely, make a room of where the ghost died (unfortunate if they were outside) and then talk to them to allow them to rest... if they will. Go on, guess what happens.

And that's the thing. Once you get the set up unique to these real events, then it becomes a standard haunted house story. This feels like a mediocre low budget effort, but I'm not sure that a high budget wouldn't a) have stretched it out worse, and b) make the story stupidly complicated and overblown. So, yay, on the lesser budget. But I still feel like the story could have been better.

Yeah, I like Helen Mirran, and here she's doing more than the script should be worth, although she's not exactly pulling out an A-game here. Jason Clarke is our 'hero' and is a lot more believable that most ghost interacters, until he has to believe of course. And there are a range of other character actors that are familiar, and working well, but again nothing really stands out here.

Should have been better, but it doesn't outstay its welcome.


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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Rouge Bird

A thriller where the lead is a female? Hey, I've seen Atomic Blonde and this... is nothing like that.

A ballerina takes an aphorism too far, and ends up conscripted into her uncle's business. She's not that great at giving away her body, but she is into the manipulative bit really well. She's tasked with getting the name of the Russian mole out of the American handler, but all too quickly is ready to turn on her own side. And eventually we uncover all sorts of things in which we find out she had the power of script to set up the end scene way ahead of time.

You want a slow spy thriller? You got a slow spy thriller. And at over two hours, it has plenty of time to be quite slow. Not to say this isn't decently plotted, but it is very leisurely paced. Oh, and definitely don't expect any action scenes where JLaw takes out groups of men. This isn't that sort of movie.

That all said, easily the best part of the movie is Charlotte Rampling.

I can't say it was the movie I thought it was, but if you are into that sort of thing (which took me some time to tune into), it's a decently average entry.


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Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Sharp of Whater

So is this the origin story no Abraham? No, it's the consensual version of Black Lagoon!

Everyone overlooks the janitorial staff, so when a (seemingly random) concrete scientific institution of the 1950s gets their hands on an Amphibian Man, no-one realises that Elisa is going to fall in love with him (because she already has water fantasies), and manages to undermine a psychopathic security military man to get him away. Hopefully.

Can you guess that "the real monster was man all along"? Yes? Okay, that's good, because we get that around five minutes in, so we're all on the same page.

What this really is is a love story that crosses boundaries. That they are species boundaries is rather incidental when there are plenty of other boundaries on display that are being smacked around as well. This is well done, because this isn't that challenging a theme for GdelT (see, for example, Pan's Labyrinth), there's just the sci-fi layer over it because, again, this is GdelT.

I would add more praise, but this is standard GdelT great work, so I'm sure you already know if you want to see this or not.


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Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Fantastic Planet

Hey, the first movie of the Wellington Film Society I got to this year. I'm not sure why this is called Fantastic Planet when the French title is clearly "The Savage Planet".

The Draags are blue aliens, and keep the tiny Oms as pets. Oms are small humanoids they gathered from various planets, eg from Terra. (Ie, humans.) One Om pet gets his learning on, then escapes to join other wild Oms, which Draags consider vermin. But after one eradication too many, the Oms manage to get away and luck into getting their hands on technology, and then we'll see who rules this savage planet.

This is a French animated cartoon and it is weird AF. There are lots of strange plants and creatures, and a lot of this movie is "hey, check out this weird thing we came up with!" (In one case, it doesn't even bother with the pretense of following the Oms moving around to cut to a weird animal interaction.) Often I had only the barest idea what was going on. Not to say this is a complex story, just that it involves so many random moments you can easily lose track of what you are supposed to take in.

Although given that this is little creatures trying to get away to a place of their own in a bigger world, I kept flashing back to Watership Down.


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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Blak Panter

Sure, let's finally get around to seeing the latest Marvel movie, as is internet law.

A form of civil war comes to Wakanda, and the isolated country must consider how it relates to the outside world.

To be honest, it doesn't really do anything that amazing plotwise. But what it gets right is how it goes around doing what it does. This is really well acted, with great performances from Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira and others. (Although I can't quite accept Martin Freeman as an American.)

It did start with a slight worry, with black actors dressed in camouflage, during a dark night, being attacked by a man in a black outfit... but fortunately the rest of the movie is much easier to see. Although some of the spectacle reminded me of the large CGI city of Thor, the ending isn't quite the CGI fest I feared it would be.

So a well done film, which most of you have probably already seen.


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Friday, 23 February 2018

Universal 1956

And so, we eventually reach the end of the Universal movies I have! This is The Creature Walks Among Us.

Once again, the hunt is on for the creature, and there is stupid talk of changing it to be a land animal. Ha, as if. It takes half the movie, but they finally burn the creature and capture him. The burning is important because that burns the reptile out of him, and he becomes more human. But there is also a plot happening of the money having scientist becoming jealous of his young and lovely wife who attracts the attention of the other guys. He kills someone, tries to blame it on the creature, but the creature is having none of it, attacks him and leaves.

Because humans are the worst creatures of all. Get it? GET IT??

The first half of this is a retread of the previous creature movies, and the latter half seems to be them wanting a more typical monster movie, but tries to be different. As such, it doesn't really feel like its own movie.

This trilogy feels like Universal was trying for a setting up a new creature to join the others, but, well... it doesn't really fit with Dracula et al, and isn't enough for its own thing.


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Thursday, 22 February 2018

Universal 1955

Hey, the Creature is back! This is Revenge of the Creature.

We accomplish in ten minutes what the entire previous movie couldn't do, namely capture the creature. The creature is brought back and, like all strange beasts, put on display for profit. The scientist (male) and the scientist (female) join forces to study the creature, and the creature starts having eyes for the woman. The creature eventually breaks free, kidnaps the woman, and they chase after them, until they finally put it out of their misery.

One quick question: are we supposed to feel that the creature is the bad guy? 'Cos I'm on the side of the creature here. They kidnap him and take him to some weird place where he is put on display and prodded with electricity. Who can blame him when he finally snaps and breaks free (and when pushing the car out of the way it hits the camera)?

And then he's dead at the end, so that's the end of him... ?

(And, hey, a surprise early appearance by one Clint Eastwood!)


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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Universal 1954B

Oooh, glorious colour! And impressive enough to be the MST3K movie. This is This Island Earth.

Cal Meacham is a hell of a guy and a hell of a scientist. He is saved from crash landing, and is given the instruction manual to his very own interociter. This leads to him being coopted into a group of scientists that are working on atomic power. Then while trying to escape, everything suddenly blows up and Cal and Ruth Adams are taken on board a space ship on the way to Metaluna. After arriving to Metaluna they visit the central station only to immediately turn around and leave, eventually making it back to earth.

Again... I'm not entirely clear on what the moral of this movie is. It isn't atomic power is bad because it's used to help ward off attacks. Nor is it atomic power is good, because Metaluna is all used up. There is mention of god, but this isn't an example of god being greater than science either. So... given they get to the planet only to turn and run, perhaps it's just a big "beware the aliens" even if they have more power than you.

It's definitely a pretty movie as they make a lot of the fact they have colour, but the plot doesn't bear a lot of scrutiny.


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Sunday, 18 February 2018

Universal 1954A

Back to a monster movie, but a new one. This is Creature from the Black Lagoon.

A random dig in Brazil uncovers a preserved claw hand and the leader takes off to get white guys to come and examine everything, while the Brazilians who are left behind are killed by a creature. The white guys do turn up and decide to head into the Black Lagoon. There they swim around for a bit before getting randomly attacked by the creature more than once and finally manage to run away.

Okay, props to Ricou Browning. He was the Gill Man, and basically told "hold your breath, get in the water, and swim around." The swimming scenes are largely well done, and he is stuck in a suit with no air tank and has to swim around behind a mask he can barely see through.

Richard Carlson is the lead white guy, and the leading lady is Julie Adams, who is forever associated with this movie. There are others, but they are either other pasty white guys, or non-white guys that are killed off.

Let's see if they can get any mileage out of this creature.


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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Universal 1953

We jump from the horrors of man to the horrors from outer space. This time It Came from Outer Space.

An amateur astronomer (and his fiancee) sees a meteor crash, and when he investigates it he finds a spaceship that immediately gets buried so no-one believes him. After a while, he finds a supposed copy of another man he knows, but again there is no evidence. Then finally he meets up with more duplicates and then finds that the aliens are just trying to do their own thing and the whole 'land on earth' thing was a mistake. But there is a posse a-comin', so he has to stop them to give the aliens time to get away.

This is the same year as War of the Worlds, and I have no idea which came first, but we are getting the slew of space movies now. However in this case, this movie is an allegory for... I have no idea. The aliens don't really represent anything and don't really do anything and just want to leave. I guess it's an metaphor for 'stranger comes into town and then leaves', but that isn't really saying much about the human condition.

The focus of the movie is on John Putman, the astronomer, but he isn't really that interesting enough to keep the movie going. As such, this isn't one of the better space movies.


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Monday, 5 February 2018

Universal 1951

Okay, let's throw back to the 17th Century, and this Robert Louis Stevenson. And this is The Strange Door.

A rogue is drawn to a strange castle and goes through a door. What makes the door strange? It has no handle on the inside. Ooohhh! Although plenty of people are able to come and go, and there are plenty of passages all over the place, so the strange door isn't that impressive. Anyway, the uncle wanted the rogue to marry his niece and make her a miserable life. Unfortunately, the rogue isn't quite as rogueish as hoped, and they are doing the 'I hate you, but now I love you' relationship, and there's a servant who is on their side, so... it culminates with the pair of them and the woman's (pretending to be crazy) father in a room that is being crushed. Will the servant make it in time? Will he? WILL HE?

This actually gets rather gripping. There are moments when we repeatedly go through the same sets as attemping-to-escape scenes repeat, but it maintains momentum, and the actors... I'm not sure if I've seen them in other things, but Charles Laughton, William Cottrell, Michael Pate and of course Boris Karloff are great performers so more than keep interest.

It took me a while to get around to watching this, but it was worth the wait.


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Thursday, 1 February 2018


Last year I got into Nightvale. It's a podcast series about a radio station set in Nightvale. It's a comedy horror series, and I binge listened the lot of it.

So when I found out they were doing a live show in Wellington... well, I flipped and flopped and eventually decided... yep, I'll go!

This was "All Hail to the Glow Cloud". The Glow Cloud being a large cloud that hovers in Nightvale, drops dead animals, and is the president of the school committee. This is presented as a radio show in which various guests come in, and the whole thing is hosted by Cecil Baldwin.

And it's really funny and great, and you should get into it. Go binge listen, and you can buy copies of the live shows to listen to them yourself. Not quite the same as seeing the show and the various gestures and such, and get to see the weather live (you'll understand that when you listen to the show).

If it comes back, I'll say it's worth it to go. And definitely easy enough to listen to the free shows.


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Friday, 26 January 2018

Universal 1946B

Hey, wait a minute... I've seen this MST3K episode! This is The Brute Man.

College Jock likes girl, College Nerd tricks him into staying behind in the chem lab, Jock explodes chemicals in his face and goes on psychopathic rampage, how many times have we heard that tale? To be honest, a lot of this is generic. Hulking Figure goes around killing people and.. that's a large part that's it. He does meet a girl who is blind, she doesn't freak out, so he wants to help her, and this leads to his downfall.

I'm not sure how much this is familiar to me from the MST3K episode, but after watching all these movies so far, this isn't doing anything special. Like they knocked the script out over night. (Checks trivia, doesn't say.)

When they haven't done monster movies, they do tend to crime, but this one isn't that great. That said, I'm surprised MST3K hasn't hit on more of these movies.


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Thursday, 25 January 2018

Universal 1946A

Oh, something different with Wolfman... namely, Wolfwoman! This is She-Wolf of London.

June Lockhart, before she went into space, was in turn of the century London as part of the Allenby estate. While she was going to marry Barry, there are a spate of shewolf attacks in the park, and is she to blame? After lots of staking out the park, her sister realises there is something dubious going on, and the aunt tries to kill her to hide that the aunt is responsible.

See, this is different. The whole wolf-aspect is a complete mislead, and it's only because the audience is used to wolf movies that we think there is a wolf-woman around. Ha! Suck it! That's not what is going on at all!


I like this mislead. This is a refreshing take on the werewolf movie that I wish they would do more of this. We can only hope.


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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Universal 1945

Oh dear, while the last one wasn't trying, this one is a complete mess. This is House of Dracula.

Dracula comes to a sanitarium in order to get cured of vampirism, and not at all to creep on the lead nurse. Then Lawrence "Wolfman" Talbot turns up. And after trying to kill himself, he and the doctor find Frankenstein's Monster. Dracula infects the doctor before being killed, vampire doctor then treats Wolfman and brings the monster back to life, and then it all crashes.

Basically there are about three too many plots trying to happen at once and none of them get serviced well (it doesn't help this is only an hour long movie). The idea of Dracula curing himself is interesting, and now we get you can transfuse vampirism, but it just is a minor track. The Wolfman is completely unneeded and is the same plotline as before, and the monster is so irrelevant it's terrible how badly that plotline gets inserted.

Frankly the most interesting part of the movie is the female Igor (Nina, played by Jane Adams), and nothing is done with that either.

Really, what a conflab of nothingness.


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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Universal 1944C

Back to the invisible well(s), we have another variant one discovering invisibility formula. How does not everyone be invisible already? But this is The Invisible Man's Revenge.

Griffin is back from the asylum and hits up his friends for the money he was promised. Of course they say 'suck it', and he nearly is killed off. Fortunately, he doesn't die, but stumbles across a Man Scientist who is experimenting in invisibility and turns him invisible. Ha ha! Threatening the couple for a while, he then helps with a comedy scene before back to the danger. We find out that you can uninvisible yourself with a transfusion, and exit the mad scientist. He tries to get back in with the others, but needs more blood. However, the mad scientist's dog is a Good Doggo(tm).

This is just another variant on doing invisibility, without anything that exciting. It could have been anyone could have done this. Indeed, this movie has the credit "Suggest by H G Wells". As such, there isn't anything special that could distinguish this from another other movie they've done.

Eh. It's all right, but with the various cross-overs and such they've done recently, it could have been more.


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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Welcome to the Jumanji!

Okay, this is the third movie really, but I don't know how many people acknowledge/are aware of/have seen the space one.

After a long time, four high school peoples get into detention and find a computer console and decide to play a game. Cut to them as characters doing things that are completely against their normal selves, and they undergo various character development while going through different game levels involving animals and comedic dying.

Jumanji has two things, one - a person being trapped in the game before, and two - the environment around them collapsing. This got one right.

The comedy is decent, and certainly got laughs from the audience I was with (but at least they weren't pulling out cell phones!). I enjoyed it, but felt it took too much time to get to the actual Jumanji part, with plenty of the same old school antics everyone else's does to sit through first. The actors get to send themselves up a bit, and Karen Gillan... does a not quite right American accent. And, hey, Rhys Darby!

So, yeah, decent enough to be enjoyable, while not needing a lot of deep thinking to get.


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Saturday, 6 January 2018

Universal 1944B

Another colour production, with another opera based story with a crazed opera lover... there's no Phantom, this is The Climax.

Dr. Hohner loves an opera singer so much he kills her. Ten years later, he hears someone with the same voice and falls instantly into psychotic control. The fiance is concerned when the singer can no longer sing, and it's only because of the dead singer's maid that the doctor is vanquished and the singer can sing!

I could recite the plot in a manner that is reminiscent of Phantom, but while there are elements in common, they are basically because it involves opera singing. Aside from that, this is a different take on the crazed madman in control. This time he manages to stop the singer singing instead of making it that only she can sing. And Boris Karloff is the villain, so he's always charming.

Looking at the trivia, they are basically reusing the Phantom sets... but with enough of a different take on the idea that it works.


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Friday, 5 January 2018

Universal 1944A

Even more cross over than before! With a minor adventure to start with! It's House of Frankenstein.

Frankenstein's... assistant's... brother is the main villain of this movie, and he even has his own Igor. They get out of a prison, and take over a travelling Caravan of Horrors that has Dracula's skeleton! After unleashing Dracula (who is killed off before a third of the movie is over), they end up at Castle Frankenstein and revive the Wolf Monster and Frankenstein's Monster. And from there it's largely a retread of what has happened before with Wolfy whining for death, and the Monster lying on the table, and... then things end.

The whole Dracula plot (as played by John Carradine!) is just the first part of the movie and can completely be removed without impacting anything, other than having a Dracula cameo. As it is, we get Wolf and Mons back, but nothing new is done with that.

I'm sure there's some deep trivia about how this came to be made, but it feels like "let's just toss this out while we can". It's more watchable than the last one, but not really anything that exciting.


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Thursday, 4 January 2018

Universal 1943C

This is one of the more misnamed movies. While there is a Dracula, there isn't really a Son of Dracula.

Man and woman in love, so woman marries vampire to get immortality so that she can immortalise the man and they can spend unlife together. Unfortunately the family friend spots that Alucard is Dracula backwards, and the man doesn't quite want the same life together, so it doesn't turn out all sweetness and light.

This movie just... dragged. A lot of scenes were just watching people go from point A to point B with no music underlying the scene, and then other long shots of people contemplating, and so on and so on. It's not until the last twenty minutes that anything really interesting happens. Now, the overall idea could be interesting, using the vampire as a tool to an end, but the movie hangs on Dracula too long.

And speaking of Dracula, there's no mention that this Dracula is supposed to be his son. Indeed, he's just listed as Count Dracula, and there is no sons mentioned (there could have been a son from the marriage, but no).

To be honest, Frank Craven gets the best acting moments, but he couldn't save this.


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