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Monster a-Go Go (1965)
The very definition of BORING
You haven't experienced cinematic boredom until you watch this incoherent mess. You know you're in trouble early on when the voice-over (usually the saving grace of hopeless movie-directors) singularly fail to explain what is going on. You, the viewer, is on your own here, completely deserted by Monster a go go.
The actors sit around a lot, talk a lot, whatever. The monster doesn't really relate to anything else happening here, but he does look frighteningly emaciated and wasted (and very tall). Trouble is, he doesn't get much screen time. When the ending finally arrives a celebration is in order. Admire yourself enormously for sitting through this. It's an achievement, believe me. The second worst movie ever. Manos-hands of fate is even worse, but not by much.
The Hanging Garden (1997)
the Garden of mismatched souls
Sweet William, Rosemary, Violet, Basil and the rest. Named after flowers and herbs, people growing together in your typical family garden of mismatched souls. Little William, trying to be something that sets him apart from the rest, something nobody can touch or change. He grows up to be a gay and obese teenager. Lusting after his closest friend. Not the easiest of lives. We meet Willy 10 years later, returning home to celebrate his sister Rosemary's wedding. He is now a slim, attractive young man. But what has happened during those ten years? And who is the little boy running around the house?
Every time I watch this small masterpiece, new layers of meaning turn up. The plot structure gives away some undiscovered truths, together with dialogue pointers I didn't notice before. That, to me, is a film worth seeing! When we showed this at our local film society, it got a great reception, one of the best we ever had for a film.
The Hanging garden is short, bittersweet and - sadly - true to life. You'll find something in this garden for you, whoever you may be!
War Story (2001)
Love in the silent age!
Imagine Charlie Chaplin making a sweet and charming gay love story in his best silent-comedy style, and you have War Story.
Ronnie, a strapping, good-looking soldier going off to WW1 takes the place of Edna Purviance, and the tramp-character is here played by Metly Morville, a wide-eyed fellow in a bowler-hat working as a waiter. Ronnie and Metly fall in love, yet there are problems....
War story could be written off as brilliant pastiche, of course. The stock characters are all here: The fat man with the huge moustache, the silly old dame, the lovely young thing, the sneaky thief. The pratfalls, the fisticuffs, the captions, - all here! The interior of the restaurant looks exactly like a set at Mack Sennett-studios in 1915.
And yet: There is a scene of two men being beaten up and thrown out of the restaurant for being "pansies". That, of course, is the way gays were treated back then. So there is a darker message of ignorance and intolerance being addressed here. And, of course, you would never see two men fall in love like this in the silents. Unthinkable.
Overall, I give this film a 10/10, if only for the sheer audacity and novelty of it. I hope Baumgartner will return to this simple way of making films. His audience will love him for it.
Fright Night (1985)
A horror-movie you shouldn't miss
A lethal vampire moves into a large suburban mansion, and the young boy next door sets out to destroy him. He gets invaluable help from Peter Vincent, a TV-personality working on a low-rated monster show called Fright Night.
This teenage-vampire movie has it all: Truly frightening transformation-scenes, spot-on jokes, outlandish visual effects (Richard Edlund of Star Wars fame and John Bruno - Terminator 2, Titanic, the Abyss, Ghostbusters), outstanding actors: Roddy McDowall, expertly hamming it up as the TV-presenter/ vampire-hunter Peter Vincent, Chris Sarandon, really cool and dangerous as the vampire, pre-Bundy Amanda Bearse as love interest, and Stephen Geoffreys whose creepy, high-pitched laughter has no equal.
Sexy, funny and campy to the bone, Fright Night is something to watch when you want to treat yourself to something special. I love it!
Low budget movies need something to draw attention to them, lacking big stars and great effects. Slogans has those somethings in spades! We get to know an Albanian teacher arriving at a country school, around 1984. He seems to be a sympathetic guy.
The school seems to be less interested in teaching the children real subjects than pushing communist propaganda down their throats. Much of the week is spent on the hillsides, where the pupils whitewash stones and arrange them into huge letters with slogans like "Long live international Communism". The slogans can be seen from far off, thus securing that no citizen will be able to avoid them. Unruly teachers and classes are punished with very long sentences! Comic and tragic scenes are plentiful as the people struggle with the whims of the local communist party and the school principal's unrequited love for one of the female teachers.
Post-war Albanian history is terribly strange, weird and bizarre. Sandwiched between Christian and Moslem influences, this mountaineous country was isolated for a very long time, due to the paranoia of their leader, Enver Hoxha. Sensing enemies (revisionists) all around him, he closed the borders and nixed any international co-operation. This movie gives a fair account of what life must have been like in Albania at the time. It's well made, a bit on the long side, but still worthwhile for those who seek unusual films.
Red Dirt (2000)
Could have been better
This movie has two big assets, great camera-work and some great looking guys. Karen Black is also good - as always, but what about that accent?
I was a bit disappointed with the ending, though. I just couldn't believe they would behave like that. Still, this is a good addition to the Tennessee Williams hothouse stories from the deep south.
Madagascar Skin (1995)
Romantic film about two outcasts
I bought this on video and found it to be as comforting and reassuring a film as any romantic could wish for.
Two men meet on a beach, in slightly bizarre fashion. A young and rather sad homosexual, Harry, spurned and rejected by the big city gay community, due to a birth-mark the shape of Madagascar on his face. The other - Flint, a weather-worn (and seemingly heterosexual) sea-urchin prone to swallowing mice and spiders (rather gross this!).
They set up house together in a clay cottage by the sea. Initially nothing much happens between them. Harry is attracted to Flint, but fears another rejection.
("I'm going to die alone, and no-one, ever, will have touched me!")
Yet slowly, mutual affection wins the day. In a touching and believable manner, Flint woos Harry and wins him over. Yet, as they are squatters and outcasts in an unfeeling society, there is always the threat of exterior forces ripping open the idyll.
Madagascar skin is a romantic treat. Some may find the symbolic shots of starfish, scuttlefish, crabs (and shoes?) stranded on a beach distracting, while the dream-sequences sometimes disrupt what is basically a straight-forward story. But this is nitpicking. The story of two people finding strength and love in each other's company wins you over in the end.
The message would read, like the title of an old Stephen Stills song: "LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH." And the actors work wonders with their characters. Bernard Hill is excellent as Flint, while John Hannah takes risks with almost every part he plays.
A great film from Channel 4 and the British Film Institute. You'll love it "as long as you're straight!"
Your eyes are not deceiving you
Your eyes are not deceiving you, this movie really IS in and out of focus for about half of its running time! And yes, I mean the camera-lens... The blurry pictures can be disorienting to some viewers, yet it adds immeasurably to the trashy, slap-dash quality of it all.
Morrissey's directorial technique is simple. Whatever happens - happen. Some of the dialogue is quite funny, some is horribly bad and some is just a collection of monosyllables, usually emerging from the bored mouth of Joe Dallesandro. He staggers round the sets in a narcotic stupor, distancing himself totally from everything and everyone. Stagger, stagger, mumble, mumble. That - and he shaves naked in a bathtub. For 10 whole minutes. We get to study every pore in his face.
Great performance, Joe!
Apart from this, "Trash" is entertaining in that "let's-see-how-depraved-they can-get" manner that endears so many fans of movie-cults. I wouldn't see this picture more than once, but at the same time, I'm glad it's out there to prove to the world that if they put their mind to it, anyone could probably make better movies than this. Which is something - I guess..?
Neco z Alenky (1988)
Fascinating, horrific - just like the book
How best to interpret such a well-known classic in movie terms? Well, Jan Svankmajer, clearly an artist himself (a Czech version of Peter Greenaway) does it by extracting the essence of the book; the black humour and droll critique of Victorian society, investing it with his own rich surrealistic imagery. (Disney is not in the picture!)
Alice, played by a beautiful, doll-like girl, is energetic, brave and simple-minded, while her surroundings gradually go bonkers in ritual displays of nonsensical social custom. Svankmajer's celebrated mastery of dolls is on superb display, and dead objects, mostly worn, tattered and grotesquely animated, take on nightmarish properties. Foodstuffs certainly look repellent when sliding noisily across the kitchen-table!
The start of the movie is classic Svankmajer: Alice lies on the floor of her room, idly throwing pebbles into a half-empty tea-cup. (seen as a series of hypnotically repeated actions). The White Rabbit, here a stuffed specimen inside a glass display-cage, suddenly comes to life, puts on clothing hidden under the floor of his cage, cuts the wires that fasten his feet to the floor, breaks the glass, and he's off!
Svankmajer's "Alice" is the only version that comes close to rendering what Lewis Carroll's book is all about. It's a top notch art-movie for discerning audiences.
Wild Wild West (1999)
Well, I could have slipped into a coma for the duration of this unfunny movie, was it not for the hellish Elmer Bernstein score.
But then - right at the end, while our sore asses were being painfully dragged up from the cinema-seats; One of those delicious gay puns that only Hollywood can pull: Salma Hayek to Smith and Kline (right arm safely tucked under hussie's ditto): "Well, at least you two boys still have each other!"
Cut to shot of (extremely) phallic rock formation in the desert. Kline to Smith: "Can I ask you a personal question?"
Most of the Norwegian audience didn't get that. Personally, I laughed all the way to the car.