Sorry! I hate the silent times too, but needs must sometimes. Alas, due to circumstances and stuff I haven’t read any comics for weeks. This is no reflection on comics, but it does leave me with little to lighten your lives with. It may well be that absence makes the heart grow fonder but it doesn’t make writing any easier. (Secrets Made Flesh Dept: Not writing is an astonishingly easy habit to get into. Scarily so.) So bear with me as we all endure a warm up about some movies I watched while gormlessley slumped in a chair at various points during the last howdiddly ever long it’s been. I have prefaced each with the best thing my long suffering life partner said about the movie in question. Those are the best bits, but if she thinks she’s getting paid for ‘em she can go whistle.
Anyway, this… THE MONSTER SQUAD (1987) Directed by Fred Dekker Written by Shane Black & Fred Dekker Starring: Andre Gower, Robby Kiger, Stephen Macht, Duncan Regehr, Tom Noonan, Brent Chalem, Ryan Lambert, Ashley Bank, Michael Faustino, Mary Ellen Trainor, Stan Shaw, Lisa Fuller, Jason Hervey, Adam Carl, Carl Thibault, Tom Woodruff Jr., Michael Reid MacKay, Jack Gwillim and Leonard Cimono as “Scary German Guy”
“If he’s up tonight, you’re handling him.”
I watched this with “Gil” because he’s at that stage where he wants to watch a horror flick even though he still gets nightmares and wanders into the room to startle me into incontinence at all hours of the night. To temper his disappointment that I wouldn’t let him watch EVIL DEAD 2 or MOTEL HELL (what can I say, cinematically speaking I’m a high-brow fucker). I found this on one of those streaming services we appear to have subscribed to in such abundance I suspect someone thinks we have a lot more time (and money!) on our hands than we actually do. Also, I’ve wanted to watch this for years. Whenever I’ve read about it it sounded like a solid bit of fun so it seemed like the perfect choice for some of that bonding stuff I’ve read about before the boy starts hating me in about, oh, two years. Turned out it was a bit of a mess (I suspect some poor editing decisions and studio tinkering there) so quite a lot of it didn’t make sense. But then again this is a kids movie so expectations are adjusted accordingly. It’s kind of THE GOONIES but with the Universal monsters chucked in (i.e. Dracula, Frankenstein(‘s Monster), the Mummy and The Creature From The Black Lagoon; it’s 2015 now so someone will need this list, I’m afraid). The kids are engaging and just rude enough for “Gil” to think he was getting away with something, and it was spooky enough for him to get comfortably creeped out while being occasionally gory enough for me to reconsider my decision. All the adults are familiar faces and all of them are enjoyable but Tom Noonan’s Monster and Macht and Shaw’s cop buddy double act stood out most. The script is as snappy as you’d expect from Shane Black; sure, it’s no KISS KISS BANG BANG but it’s crisp and clever and, remember, (it’s crucial this) it’s for kids. Fred Dekker directs and seeing his name reminded me I enjoyed NIGHT OF THE CREEPS way back when I had hair, and I don’t know where he ended up, but two movies I like makes me hope he’s happy out there. “Gil”, our lady of multiple streaming subscriptions, and even myself, The Bitterest Man In England, all had a GOOD! time.
PROMETHEUS (2012) Directed by Ridley Scott Written by Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong, Kate Dickie with Peter O’Toole as “T.E. Lawrence”
“How could anyone think that was good!?!”
It was a good question. A better question than the movie merited, I think. Jesus, I hardly have the highest of standards (I just ordered LIFEFORCE on blu-ray. Oho! Now who’s judging who! You scamp!) but PROMETHEUS was a bloated, ponderous and, in essence, thuddingly dull exercise in polishing the ancient crock of horseshit made famous by Erich Von Daniken with all the Brasso 21st Century CGI could bring to bear. It looked good, but looking good isn’t enough. Having failed to float through life on my spectacular physical beauty alone I can assure you of that, PROMETHEUS. Actual grown ass adults have told me this is an intelligent movie, this despite the fact that the script is basically all that silly shit Jack Kirby turned to creative gold back in the 1970s with The Eternals and all that Celestials stuff. All those millions of dollars and thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of people-hours, and a sun faded and badly foxed 1970s Jack Kirby comic still comes out on top. The level of intellect on show here is just pitiful. It’s just a stupid, stupid, stupid movie. And while stupid isn’t a deal breaker (see below), it’s unpleasantly stupid; there’s no fun in it and that, muchachos, is a deal breaker. On a couple of occasions the movie forgets its pretensions and lowers itself to deliver an action scene but these are poorly executed and weightless. The bloody thing is even badly directed is what I’m getting a there. Christ, everyone on screen acts like a complete moron. All the time. It’s like being at work. Charlize Theron states at one point that she has spent “trillions” on getting them all into space; she should have saved some money on interior décor and employed a better crew. These cretins are mostly scientists but they wilfully endanger themselves and everyone around them like safety and control aren’t actually built into scientific endeavour. The pilot (who we are supposed to like because he is Idris Elba and he has a squeeze box which once belonged to Stephen Stills) is so stupid he doesn’t move the ship closer to the whatever; consequently we spend a fifth of the movie watching people to-ing and fro-ing from one place where they endanger themselves to another place in which they endanger themselves. (The pilot is also so stupid he spent his money on a squeeze box which once belonged to Stephen Stills. Who gives a flying fuck. Memo to writers: Just because you think something is cool doesn’t mean everyone else does. Stephen fucking Stills. I ask you.) I could spend all night writing my way through every stupid thing in PROMETHEUS but it’s not like they aren’t all right here in front of everyone who watched it. If you didn’t see them you chose not to. The best scene in the movie is a clip from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA which sums up the whole thing nicely with a bit of tweaking: “Of course it’s shit! It’s not minding it’s shit that’s the trick!” Yeah, yeah, Fassbender is great in it, but if he wanted to be the best thing in CRAP! he should have pursued a career in scat.
TERROR AT THE OPERA (1987) (AKA OPERA , and THAT’S THE LAST TIME I LET YOU PICK A FILM, SONNY JIM) Directed by Dario Argento Written by Dario Argento and Franco Ferrini Starring: Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini, Daria Nicolodi, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Antonella Vitale, William McNamara
“You like some real shit you do.”
This is not a good movie but it was an amazingly enjoyable one. I used to watch shedloads of naff crap like this while pissed off my tits, but I am older now and I don’t drink around “Gil” (don’t worry, in all other respects I am a terrible, terrible parent. He’s currently playing that new MGS, so prison beckons for this bad Dad. (Also: A fire whale; WTF, Japan?)) Luckily, this movie is so exuberantly preposterous from soup to nuts it’s like watching something while shitfaced without actually having to get shitfaced. Jesus, where to start with this thing. I guess it’s the Phantom of The Opera but updated to be absolutely addlepated. Like some sadistic pre-teen’s idea of The Phantom of The Opera; with all the nuance and intellectual rigour that suggests. It’s the kind of movie where someone plays their own mother in a flashback by putting on a wig; it’s the kind of movie where someone knocks out the killer and instead of dropping a sewing machine on his head (or just running right the fuck off) creeps back reeeeaaaaalllllllyyyyy s-l-o-w-l-y to remove his mask (that ends well for her); it’s the kind of movie where they are putting on a production of Verdi’s Macbeth but the only Shakespeare I recall anyone quoting is from Hamlet; it’s the kind of movie where someone says “If you had ten pairs of hands it would still be a pile of crap!” and it’s the best line in the movie; it’s the kind of movie where everyone is dubbed badly, even the people who seem to be English speakers; it’s the kind of movie where a small child castigates her mother for being naked all the time, and it’s the second best line in the movie; it’s the kind of movie where the ventilation system in an apartment building allows fully grown adults to scamper around it like it’s one of those kids play tunnel things they have in pubs which end with a slide into a ball pool; it’s the kind of movie where the Italian police forensics department apparently can’t tell the difference between a dummy and a human corpse without weeks of tests; it’s the kind of movie that doesn’t have three good lines; it’s the kind of movie where people go on holiday to the Swiss alps and relax by tying a bluebottle to a piece of fishing line and film it buzzing about (I have no idea. Really. Answers in the comments. Please. Hurry!); it’s the kind of movie where someone has paid Bill Wyman to do some of the music (perhaps Stephen fucking Stills was busy squeezeboxing. Stephen fucking Stills. Just don’t.); it’s the kind of movie where while you know the plan to unmask the killer will be ridiculous it still manages to exceed your expectations by several football pitches (why is that dude inside the cage?!? Why didn’t he just walk over and open it from the outside?!?); it’s the kind of movie where ravens out act the humans by a comfortable margin; all of which is to say it’s unique. Hopefully. However, in all fairness the bit with the aural misdirection involving the lady carrying crockery was good.
Cineastes and horror connoisseurs will be baying for my face on a stick by now because this was directed by Dario Argento who they regard as a genius. Sadly, I’m not here to make friends, so they are all wrong and a bunch of delusional fools, every man Jack of them. No offence. Argento’s movies are essentially exercises in sumptuously executed set pieces of sadism strung together by ridiculous horseshit with, at best, one person who can actually act in the cast; which is fine. Honest. Recently I’ve watched THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, CAT O’NINE TAILS and DEEP RED; all were entertaining exercises in style over sense (the clockwork dwarf: WTF?!?), but here the style is leaden, the set pieces outstay their welcome, the token actor has been omitted and the unrelenting deluge of horseshit suggest the knackers yard is on the cards for this ailing nag of a movie. If anyone says this is a good movie ask them what lenses Brian DePalma used on MISSION TO MARS and I bet they can tell you. Bully for them! But I’m not that kind of movie fan(atic), just a casual viewer so TERROR IN THE OPERA was CRAP! (but FUN!)
IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000) Directed by Kar Wai Wong Written by Kar Wai Wong Starring: Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Maggie Cheung, Ping Lam Siu, Tung Cho ‘Joe’ Cheung, Rebecca Pan, Kelly Lai Chen, Man-Lei Chan
“She had to be sewed into those dresses, you know.”
Despite the fact that at no point during the sprightly 98 minutes running time of this slow punch to the heart of a movie does anyone wrestle a big starfish with a mouth like a lady’s woo-woo, use dressmaker’s scissors to cut open a sternum, blow up a werewolf with dynamite or, indeed, do anything more physically exhilarating than run to avoid the rain while buying some noodles this is almost certainly the best movie here. I would tell you what it’s about but since part of the joy of the movie is having it unfold in front of you I’m not going to. Tough shit, kiddo; going in cold is how the grownups do it. Know this though: IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE is pure cinema; a supersaturated wonder of movie making. It’s very definitely the best movie I watched out of all of these thus far, and I suggest very strongly that you just trust me on this one. Find someone you love, watch it together and let it carry you both with it. Warning: emotions may occur. Cinema? It’s still got it. EXCELLENT!
THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980) Directed by David Lynch Written by Christopher De Vore, Eric Bergen and David Lynch. Based on the books by Frederick Treves and Ashley Montagu Starring: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt,, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Freddie Jones, Michael Elphick and Stephen Stills as “Squeezebox Johnny”
“You can watch that one on your own. It’s very good, but it’s too sad.”
Worst superhero movie ever. EVER. I mean, really. You know how when JURASSIC PARK came out there was CARNOSAUR, and when (the children’s entertainment) STAR WARS hit big there was STAR CRASH and a billion other ropey rip-offs? Well this big pile of blatant opportunism is clearly the latest cheap, quick cash in on Marvel©®’s exquisite cinematic concoctions. Oh, the hot stink of money has brought all the chancers and Johnny-Come-Latelies out of the woodwork, all wanting a slice of that fat cash pie but without wanting to put any of the artistic effort of Marvel®© in. None of them have been more abject than this effort from some David Lynch guy. I don’t who he is but he’s clearly no auteur like Joss Weed On. Any fule kno that the first flick should be the origin, but this Lynch guy just sails right past that stuff with a really muddled and unclear opening. Mind you, that’s probably just as well because, apparently, Elephant Man is the result of his mom being either raped or trampled by elephants. You have to be operating at the giddy heights of a Mark Millar to get away with something that sick. And this David Lynch guy? He’s no Mark Millar. Then later on this rapey tramply shit gets retconned into an illness, like that makes it more realistic or something. Lynch seems to consistently miss the point about super heroes at every opportunity. It’s not just about having a costume and fancy name; you got to have powers, dude. Elephant Man’s powers seem to be an inability to speak properly, the power to shamble very slowly around and, best of all, the power to build ornate matchstick models of buildings he can only see a bit of from his Elephant Den window. Look out crime! And all the while El Phanto’s dressed up like some cheap DARK MAN rip-off. I hate it when reviewers tell creators what they should do as it displays an arrogant obliviousness of monumental proportions but, for instance, and I’m just saying this to help, Elephant Man could spit peanuts like bullets or maybe strangle people with his trunk (which he does not have! Look up elephants some time, David Lynch! They are trunk city! And ears! Ears like palm leaves!) Sure, Lynch does have enough sense to give Elephant Man a rogues gallery but even this is an opportunity for further Fail. The first bad guy is a boozy porter who hurts Elephant Man’s feeling by bringing whores to laugh at him. A thrilling fight does not ensue; no, he gets fired by Top Hat Man, who is kind of Elephant Man’s mentor; like Ras Al Ghul in Batman Begins, but not evil. Oops, spoiler. Next up is (promisingly) a kind of Joker played by a stubbly old man with a face like collapsed fruit studded with British Teeth© who steals Elephant Man off to his spooky carnival lair. Hopes are raised for a kind of riff on Killing Joke but, no. Instead, once again Top Hat Man turns up and after a bit of shouting takes Elephant Man home. A bit of shouting; it’s not exactly BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT is it? Clearly he’s no Christopher Nolan, this Lynch guy. And Elephant Man’s kryptonite? His big weakness? Turns out it’s not having enough pillows. That’s lamer than Donald Blake.
Oh, and in a pitiful bid to make this industrial sized lump of Fail seem more interesting it’s all set in this sort of made up Steampunk world with hissing pipes and top hats and frock coats. But it’s totes lame steampunkery because no one has a calliope chain-gun or even a zeppelin hat. Now, I’m not one for pointing fingers but the roles for women in this are appalling; they are either nurses, whores or entertainers. Sexist much, Mr. Lynch? And don’t get me started on non-Caucasian representation! What is this, Victorian England? I think we need a strongly worded article from The Beat. Stat! Honestly, this Lynch guy can’t get anything right; at one point we get the obligatory shirtless bit, but John Hurt’s no Chris Hemsworth amiright, Beat gals? No one wants to ogle some pasty English dude who looks like he’s sculpted from tubers.
Not only does Lynch film it in B&W like it’s the 1940s or something but, fatally, nobody in this film is less than forty, they are all like old and stuff. If I wanted to watch old people I’d be, well, I’d be a pervert. Ugh, old people, with their crêpe faces and fear of Social Media! Entertainment is just for the under thirty-fives! Check your demographics, David Lynch! Old people don’t watch movies that’s why there are dominos and sleeping! No one ever made a profit by taking the audience for complacent fools, so Lynch has reaped what he sowed and, I hear, has had to run off to television. Mind you he’ll find the competition tougher than he expects now the crème of comics like Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick are wallowing about in the old cathode ray money trough. Frankly, cinema’s better off without chancers like this David Lynch fellow. Here’s to the next Phase of Marvel movies! Excelsior! (Oh, c’mon, THE ELEPHANT MAN will always be EXCELLENT! It doesn’t even need saying.)
Yes! There it is, finally, that endearing combination of lofty disdain, overworked and painfully obvious humour, terrible grammar and disproportionate sarcasm which means I have entered that heavenly zone of judgemental prickishness for which I am renowned. Next time (at some point) – COMICS!!!