Helldriver - Japanese zombie movie. Tiresomely quirky
300 (2006) - Unintentionally very gay with all those oiled torsos on display and Butler's Scottish accent keeps trying to escape.
However, very skillfully captures the panel work from Miller's graphic novel - stylish and enjoyable in the same way as "Sin City".
Predator 2 - 22/229 - 15/03/12
So-so sequel to the original film. The first half sounded like everyone had dubbed themselves. I did struggle a bit to understand what was going on in some scenes and the scene on the metro was very confusing because it was too dark. Bill Paxman stars
The Lake House - 23/230 - 16/03/12
The always watchable Sandra Bullock stars in this odd film where she and Keanu Reeves converse by way of a magic mail box. I thought that they were originally going to be living 50 years apart in time so was surprised that it was only about 4. An interesting idea but not brilliant though I think it was based on a French film. The twist at the end was unexpected. Keanu Reeves cannot cry convincingly.
Clifford - 24/231 - 17/03/12
Odd film in which Martin Short (?) aged about 40 plays a child of about 12 in this slapstick/spoof style comedy. I read it was made in 1990 but released in 1995.
David Barry Gray, Scott Holroyd, Chris Messina, Danny O'Carroll, Sam Worthington
(Terror at the) Opera
Dario Argento loses the plot with this substandard Giallo - there's still signs of directorial flair but the story lacks any real suspense or scares and the heroine is an incredibly insipid drip. Apparantly Argento's most expensive film at the time - not that you'd know it from the ugly locations and claustrophobic interiors.
Deep Red it aint.
I quite liked Opera and found it to be be very stylish, but it does go bonkers at the end. And what's with the pulsating brain shots?
I really can't stand Tom Cruise but after seeing a few minutes of this a month or so ago I decided that I had no choice but to give in and watch this version of WotW and I am glad I did because it was a really movie IMO. I loved the way the film just followed Tom and his two kids as they just tried to survive everything that was happening rather than explain anything and everything along the way. Sometimes life just doesn't give neat endings. The effects were very good and the simple story held up very well with some amazing set pieces such as when the aliens first came up out of the ground. It wasn't all perfect. A bunch of soldiers standing in a line were able to hold a mob back and the scene with Tom and his son on the hill who needed to be released to see what was happening were dire but everything else was spot on. Doubt I will watch any of the Mission Impossible films though.
David Barry Gray, Scott Holroyd, Chris Messina, Danny O'Carroll, Sam Worthington
Secret Of The Telegian (Jun Fukuda, Japan, 1960)
A vengeful former soldier uses a matter transmitter to locate his victims and then kills them with his bayonet. Essentially a detective story with SF elements this offers a few mild chills, a touch of Phantom of the Opera in the villain’s hideously disfigured face (we learn that the more you use the matter transmitter the more your physical structure begins to decay!) and as you might expect of a period when the Japanese studio system was at its peak very good production values.
As Koji Tsuruta’s Reporter and Akihiko Hirata’s Detective (pictured above) piece together the story, which has its roots in a betrayal born of greed during the last days of WW2, it becomes increasingly clear just how difficult it is to protect any of the targets when the killer can literally appear right next to his victim at any moment. Fukuda gets a couple of good setpieces out of this notion and the climax in which the former war villain turned wealthy industrialist hides out with his goons in a beachfront retreat while waiting for the hour of his appointed death is agreeably tense. The film offers a few brief shots of the victims with a bayonet stuck in them, something one suspects would have been unacceptable in a UK or US version for children. Yet with its gobbets of exposition, cardboard characters and Mt Fuji conveniently exploding at the end just in time to destroy the villain’s lair this is essentially juvenile SF. I don’t mean that as a slight btw, just an observation and the production values are certainly as good if not better than anything comparable from Western equivalents of the period. The special effects, including a train explosion and the aforementioned volcano blowing its top, were directed by Eiji Tsuburaya, the godfather of the Japanese special effects industry.
The matter transmitter exuding lightning bolts and weird flickering effect on the killer’s body as he closes in on his victims is particularly eerie and effective. Despite this, it’s not a movie I can envisage inspiring any great passion in people (it never quite catches fire in the way you’d like) but it has its moments and if you enjoyed The H-Man or Goke: Bodysnatcher from Hell, you’ll likely enjoy this too.
Supermarket Woman (Juzo Itami, Japan, 1996)
From The Funeral in 1984 to 1997’s Woman In Witness Protection Program writer/director Juzo Itami was one of the shining stars of Japanese cinema. His food and sex comedy Tampopo (1985) became an arthouse hit in the West as did the marvellous A Taxing Woman (1987). Nearly all his films starred his wife Nobuko Miyamoto. In Supermarket Woman Miyamoto (above) plays Hanako, a middle-aged widow who renews a friendship with an ex-school pal when she bumps into him in his mini-mart ‘Honest Goro’s’. Goro (Masahiko Tsuguwa) is in a bit of a pickle. A rival store ‘Bargains Galore’ has opened across the street and its ruthless cost-cutting looks like driving him out of business. So Hanako accepts an invitation to help and before long her instincts, general common sense and rapid promotion collide with the store’s head meat cutter who’s running a scam of his own and Goro’s lieutenants who have secretly thrown in with the opposition.
What’s so great about Supermarket Woman is the way Itami so affectionately sends up Japanese behaviour. The herd instinct, the reluctance to think individually or show initiative, to accept what authority figures say without question – all of these qualities are embodied by Goro and his staff leaving them at a spectacular disadvantage. By contrast their rival, ‘Bargains Galore’ (‘The Demon King of Discounters!’ their posters pronounce with a pic of a demon clutching a giant carrot!) come on like it’s still WW2, what with staff adorned with absurd ritualistic headbands and chanting brain dead vows of service and loyalty to the exhortations of a ruthless manager who doesn’t really give a toss about the customers. Thank goodness then for feisty, independently minded Hanako who can show Goro’s staff the way out of this mindset.
The supporting cast are also well chosen. Especially notable are a recurring gaggle of no-nonsense housewives who can spot a scam or a bargain at a hundred paces and whom Hanako smartly enlists as food tasters for the store. One of the funniest scenes in the film has Hanako persuading one of their suppliers (below) to stop using sub-standard ingredients in his fish cakes. When he witnesses the delighted approval of the housewives at a tasting session his face collapses into that uniquely Japanese mode of repressed emotion where he’s so happy and yet can’t express it openly. It’s a hysterically funny moment and yet genuinely touching.
This, I think, is why the film is so damn good. Under the surface Itami is touching on serious themes of taking pride in your work, friendship, the underdogs vs the big guys, yet conveying it with a light comic touch. You’re laughing your head off as you watch and yet at the same time you’re moved because you understand perfectly well what he’s getting at. From start to finish this is terrific feel good stuff with a splendid performance from Nobuko Miyamoto and a great bouncy jazz score by Toshiyuki Honda that’ll have you tapping your foot before you know it. Honestly, if you get the chance to see Supermarket Woman don’t pass it up. One of the trailers included on the Japanese DVD includes a brief shot of the entire staff of Goro’s performing a dance routine in front of the checkouts and so good is the film that one genuinely regrets it didn’t make the final cut even though it’s admittedly hard to see where it might have figured. Incidentally, anyone new to Itami might be interested to know that there’s an excellent English subbed native PAL DVD of Tampopo available from Amazon Germany.
When I can't make my mind up what to watch I frequently turn to something Amicus, thus I treated my self to another viewing of From Beyond the Grave (1974) one of my favourites of this genre.
Usually with these anthology efforts there is one or more weak stories but not so here I think, all are excellent with special mentions for David Warner having bother with his mirror and Ian Ogilvy likewise with his door. The comedy episode is superb with Ian Carmichael and a wonderfully batty turn by Margaret Leighton, plus an especially nasty tale with the Pleasences even more creepy than usual. The tales are excellently bookended by dear old Peter Cushing doing sinister Northern shopkeeper, where all purchases are guaranteed a surprise.
So much to view, so little time..... DVD Collection & Wants
I love Cushing in this, he's so creepily nice - the way he says "Naughty..." in that accent always makes me chuckle and shiver at the same time.
Robb - too many spoilers on that Telegian review!
I was considering watching it!
Where did you get Secret of the Telegian?
42: Deep End recorded from Film 4 HD. Excellently seedy film in which young John Moulder-Brown gets obsessed with Jane Asher who he works with at a public baths. Looked great in HD, lots of closeups of pasty English flesh and amazing use of colour (particularly liked a scene where Asher is talking to the prim receptionist and in the background someone appears and paints the wall red)
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