Monday, October 29, 2007

A coupla reviews

I Drink Your Blood, 1971

What can I say? This film was part of Jim Doller's semi-regular "Bad Movie Night" series, and it's the worst thus far. I suspect that most would consider it "So bad it's good," but I dunno. I think I was born without the gene for liking lousy things on a camp level. Which isn't to say that I don't like campy and/or lousy things, it's just that I (sadly) "Like them" like them. So the work of John Waters is lost on me - why would someone deliberately set out to make something bad (and badly), and why should I have to watch it?

In this case, the movie fit quite snugly into Jim's sense of cinematic joy, with genuine animal deaths on screen, plenty of nudity with people you wouldn't care to see nude, not nearly enough coverage to stitch together the plot in an editing room, making for huge narrative leaps that hardly ever carry the audience across the chasm of 'giving a shit' with them.

The plot, I'll give it credit, is actually fairly ingenious in its own completely 'yeah, sure' kind of way. Briefly: a mixed-gender nomadic troupe of acidhead hippie charismatic-cult satanists turns up in a small town somewhere-or-other and proceeds to a) attack/rape a local girl when they catch her witnessing their late-night ritual (the extent of the attack is never made clear, but she's in mute shock later with big bloody gashes running down her legs, so it can;t have been good). Her younger brother and the local baker (female) find her, and bring her home. After a brief red herring for the baker, who thinks it's the workers at the local dam that have done it, the hippies come to town, pretending to be all peace'n'love and shit. They go to squat at the local abandoned hotel, have a rat hunt/bbq. The boy comes by, figures out what 's what. His grandpa later goes to give 'em a what for, but they...

...ugh, I'm boring myself with this. Long, pointless set-up short, the kid gives the hippies rabies meat pies, they all start to freak out and attack the townspeople, the skanky one sleeps with all the dam workers (the ones that weren't killed by the satanist leader, that is), and then people lose limbs and other extremities as the army of rabid dam workers and hippes chases them all over town with sharp objects.

Really, if you like this kind of thing, I'm sure it's a masterpiece of the form. For me, now that both tits and violence are better done in your average episode of network television, why bother?

And speaking of lousy/campy things I kind of liked....

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 2007

There's no way I can defend either of the FF movies as 'good,' really, but I found I enjoyed this one about as well as the first, and still place it above Superman Returns, Daredevil, and some other superhero film franchises that are supposed to have generated better films. The FF films are half miscast - I don't like Ioan Gruffud (even though I can't place my finger on exactly why), and Jessica Alba is woefully wrong, though she tries hard.

I know that if I let myself, I could really be atomically angered by all of the departures from the Lee & Kirby stories that these follow, but why bother? When something is this far off, you kind of have to ignore it entirely or just go with the flow if you do choose to subject yourself to it. I will point out that the departure from the original storyline is a real mystery, because it's completely filmable as-is, but anyhow.

This film won't make you ill if you happen upon it, but it's (obviously) not worth seeking out. I probably liked it more than it sounds, because I was entertained, and I do think that there's something of the spirit of the Lee/Kirby comics in these films - if only in the way the characters interact. And even though they committed the bizarre act of changing Galactus from a giant dude in purple armor to a cloud of spores,* I liked the sequences involving the cloud, so sue me.

*I understand it's one of those studio-head things, a certain guy who has a problem with a big dude in purple armor. Apparently this guy has no interest in making any real money, because a Galactus toy if popularized in the movie would be huge. I don't think any kid (or overgrown kid) is going to be asking for a cloud of spores for Christmas this year. And if they are, I'd be worried about them.

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, 2005

Some weird feature-length anime by (I guess) a big, famous anime director who is not Miyazaki or Ottomo, written by a French electronic-pop band (Daft Punk, to be exact). Not a line of dialogue in the whole film... instead, the entirety of a Daft Punk album. And you know? I liked this film quite a bit. There's no denying that a little Daft Punk goes a long, long way - frankly, if you stripped their music of all the studio whizzery, it's beyond unhip and cutesy sub-Afternoon-Delight level pop with natteringly repeated phrases in lieu of real lyrics - but it's a case of music and visuals working so well together that both are immeasurably improved.

The story: a top-10 alien pop group is kidnapped by some elite agents from Earth, then brain-wiped and forced to produce their music for Earth audiences. Their kidnapper/manager plans to use their music to build a Mystical Universe Take-Over Machine, powered (no shit) by gold records going all the way back to Mozart. Who knew they had gold records in the 1800's?

I note with some amusement that despite the fact that the film has (as note) not a line of dialogue and the storyline is even more complex than I Drink Your Blood,, Interstella 5555 never has a moment where you don't know what's going on.

Visually imaginative, fast moving and slyly self-aware without being cloyingly so, I'd give this one a 5555 on a scale of 10101010.


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