Films of 2005

(January to August 2005)

The Office
(first season): thoroughly depressing BBC comedy about the mediocre denizens of some office somewhere in the UK. Very funny, in a sick way, where you laugh at these people, not with them. Hmmm... David the boss is a psychopath, a liar, a buffoon, infatuated with himself just as much as his sad existence. Gareth is simply weird. Tim is normal, but clearly frustrated. Dawn is a sweet little thing, more an observer than anything else really. Episodes are farcical and build up around things like redundancies (i.e. people getting fired), office training, hiring, pub night, quiz night, and stuff. Brutal honesty from some of the office workers, and the mock-reality show/documentary feel of the show if fun. First season only has six episodes, so it seems a little skimpy. No matter - nothing much happens anyway.

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle: The sequel to the much-superior Charlie's Angels offers a weak version of more-of-the-same, except this time the ideas that seemed so clever in the first film just fall flat - Lucy Liu refusing to listen to more than two words from a guy who's trying to hit on her, the "three very different girls" origin stuff, Bosley's entrance - all the things that seemed ad-libbed and fun in the first film here are a bit forced. The trailer to the film is definitely ten times as much fun as the movie itself, and you can save yourself all the time of watching the stupid thing by just sticking to the that little three-minute masterpiece. This film tries to innovate by going into Drew Barrymore's past, and it tries to be innovative by ignoring race - Lucy Liu's father is a very white John Cleese, while Bill Murray's brother is a very black Bernie Mack. The opening Bond-esque scene was just too unbelievable to stomach (helicoper falls into precipice, Angels start it up in mid-fall and fly away in it), and other scenes are just too CG-laden (the pointless BMX bike race, Demi Moore and Cameron Diaz fighting) to take with just a grain of salt. I was prepared to be disappointed by Demi Moore, who I just don't like, and her grandstanding was something even I wasn't quite prepared for. The bikinis and the oversized golden guns - yuck! I'm trying to remember a scene that was fun and quirky and true to the spirit of the original, but I'm not coming up with anything. Oh yeah, there was the continued poking fun at Mission Impossible - in the first film it was the rubber masks, in this one it was the MI:2 billboards. Funny... kinda.

Nausicaa: Need three attempts to finish watching this film, which will probably be my favorite Miyazaki film for its ambitious legends and weird
other-worldly geographies. Fantastic insect-laden worlds pulse with spore-infested life, noxious gases, and the pulse of human hope for a sane world. Weird Lovecraftian ancient spectres or cyclopean horror, as well as pre-pubescent nymphette assassins, not to mention wild arial battles and daring mid-air rescues and explosions. Crazy. Cool.

Laputa: The fantastic Miyazaki Hayao film about Johnathan Swift's flying city talks about dormant power and greedy princelings with overreaching ambitions. Sure, everybody can be undone by a pair of cute spy kids, and the hyper-kinetic ariel battles and chases are fantastic to behold, as are the cool robots in Miyazaki's employ, even if they do look slightly like something seen in a Superman cartoon from 1941. The robot, along with princess Nausicaa, first appeared in an episode of Lupin the Third, also directed by Miyazaki.

the Motorcycle Diaries: No, not the Basketball Diaries, about punk poet Jim Carroll, but the Motorcycle Diaries of Che Guevera, the Argentine who, as a young man, drove around South America on an old motorcycle with his good friend. As young men, torn between hormones and ideology, Che is remarkable interested in the latter while his older friend is clearly interested in the former. Okay - a two hour film can never get close to desccribing the gargantuan task that these two undertook in their epic journey, and it is just as ambitious in trying to get under the skin of everybody's favorite martyred revolutionary. Of course, this is Che the real guy, not Che the inspirational t-shirt, and the tale is quite fantastic and well-told nonetheless and the tale of friendship gets back to his friend, now a very old man living in Havana.

Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: Finally saw Episode III, and of course there's lots to complain about, nothing more so than the terrible acting and the awful dialogue. The original film didn't have fantastic acting (Harrison Ford was awful, but at least he was cool), but at least it had great lines. What happened? In this one, the good things to focus on are Ian McDiarmond as the Emperor, who was mighty creepy. Of course it might be better to see the films in order to get an idea of what this whole war was about. The thing about the original movies is that you understood that there were good guys fighting bad guys and the bad guys were pretty invincible. In this one you never had the sense that the bad guys were... what? Who were they? Of course Lucas' shameless ripping off of the Godfather and Frankenstein was a bit corny, and obviusly his idea of directorial style is to juxtapose two developments on top of each other (two sword fights, two operating rooms). Maybe what I didn't like in this one was the fact that there were droids everywhere. What's the point of mowing down rows and rows of stupid robots, then? Happily, C3PO wasn't in the movie much. But neither was the cloaked-in-black Darth Vader. The transition was all a bit too jarring, wasn't it? Oh well. Time to hope for another movie as cool as the Matrix to come along. Who's going to make it then?

The Aviator: nice Martin Scorsese film about Howard Hughes, brought back all those memories of all those James Elroy books, weird guy, sort of like Tucker: A Man And His Dream, but a little stranger. The plane crashes were so scary!

Closer: a stage adapation that is just like a stage adaption. Nathalie Portman's acting is terrible... just when you want her to be good! Lots of stagey scenes, leaden lines, split second changes of heart, dumb ironies, and a funny-looking Julia Roberts. Check out the closing credits - only six actors in the whole film, and two of them are barely in the film at all.

Farewell My Concubine: Fine, fine performance by the late Leslie Cheung as the effeminate opera singer, devoted to his craft, secretly in love with his stage partner, and the love-hate relationship he has both with him as well as the stage partner's prostitute/wife, all to the backdrop of life under the Manchus, the Japanese, the Nationalists, and finally the Communistss, culminating with the Cultural Revolution and a raft of forced confessions and purges. Wild, wild, wild. ""I hate only th etyrant who ahs plunged our land in mistery." Who is the tyrant? All of the above, of course. Great fish bowl scenes of an opium dream that contrasted heavily with similar scenes we witnesses earlier that night in Finding Nemo. Dhe dawning realization of life under Communism, Gong Li and Lesley Cheung's complicated relationship. One of the most powerful endings to a film that I can recollect, with overt and liberating betrayals as tragedy begets tragedy. Amazing.

Sin City: Stunning recreation of the Frank Miller graphic novels, which I haven't read, but I know enough of Miller's style to know that the ultra-cool look of the comics, with their stark black and white contrasts, is a very faithful rendering of Miller's signature style - and why not, since Miller is credited as co-director with Robert Rodriguez (and some input from Quentin Tarantino as well?). A great sequence with Bruce Willis, a great sequence with Mickey Rourke, and another great sequence with Clive Owen (who is this guy - he's popping up everywhere these days). Structurally perfect, the only thing I didn't quite understand was the motivation of powerful political and religious figures to harbour and nurture cannibals and serial killers, or for bad guys to not kill the good guys when they had a chance. Oh well. Still, it's great, gruesome fun, and certainly better than most of the crap destined to be coming out this summer (Kingdom of Heaven, Fantastic Four, War Of The Worlds).

A Grand Day Out: Funny fun Wallace and Gromit fun, although a bit clunky as Nick Parks' first claymation rendering of the not-so-dynamic duo. Weird villainous moon robot, quirky touches, awful rendering of Wallace walking down the basement stairs, funny tic-tac-toe bit.

Finding Nemo: Borrowed this from Sean, but will have to buy it for Zen soon. "Are you my conscience?" conversation in the dark is funny. Albert Brooks is good as the voice of Marlin, but basically he talks too much. Dory, as his foil, is very good - she talks less, and barely says anything of importance, but is charming all the same with her stupid "memory loss" problem. The "talking whale" bits were pretty hilarious, though. Willem Dafoe is good as a scary fish, although I thought at first he was James Woods. A shark called "Chum." Good names, like Gill, Bloat, etc. Anchovy impressions were good, as was the sea of jellyfish (scary, man!!). Amazing how they can wring real emotions out of... computerized fish!! Quite a roller coaster, both physically and emotionally. Surfer turtle, swordfish swordfight, dolphins, scum angel, and "the Surly Mermaid" were all funny parts of the film. "Hop inside my mouth if you want to live." Interesting...

If You Listen Closely...: Ultra sentimental Miyazaki Hayao film about a 12-year-old girl, parents are scholars and librarians, she wants to be a writer, she meets a boy her age, he impresses her that he is going for his dream of building violins and he will go study in Italy, etc. etc. etc. Fantasy sequences with a cat in a suit and tails are interesting. Nearly nothing happens in the film, it could have easily been a regular film with real actors.

Crying Out Love In The Center Of The World: Norwegian Wood was the former bestselling novel in Japan, now overtaken by this one. This is the film version of it, although according to Naoko it is quite different from the book. Story of a guy in modern-day Japan thinking back on his first love in high school in 1986, the Sony Walman he had at the time, trading tapes with the girl he likes/loves, scenes of Shikoku. One unintentionally funny scene of a near-car wreck, many parallelisms, and lots of sobbing and crying. A sad tale, to be sure, and fairly well done.

Me Not Stupid: A very funny film about three kids who are down on their luck as they have been relegated to EM3, for dimwits and underachievers, and they and their parents suffer the social stigma attached. In this way it is a close companion piece to "Money No Enough," which charts the fall and rise of three Singaoreans from-very-different-social-spheres, although the kids really have less to do with their parents' falls in fortune (but do help in their recoveries). In many ways this is the better film, because the kids are more appealing, the parents are also better characters than the "Money No Enough" caricatures," and Jack Neo shows himself to be a very clever screenplay writer. Many subtle barbs to social mores in Singapore, such as when he shows that a guy who went to shunned ITE (nicknamed "It's The End") to learn how to be a hairdresser can actually be very successful in life. Also reverse prejudice of foreign talent, language study, and the general disregard of kids who are stronger in artistic subjects than the so-called "academic" fields. Interestingly, the two poor kids learn how to shine, while the rich kid's son, who is genuinely stupid, is not redeemed - he'll be fine anyway, since his dad is rich, is the message here. He also gets the funniest lines, including a surreal speech about his mom's shit, and also a freaky "know you inside and out" speech he makes to his teacher, mixing up his words, that could be taken as some sort of reverse pedophilia thing.

Home Run: When I heard that Jack Neo had remade the gorgeous "Children of Heaven" film and set it in Singapore, my first thought was "how will a tale of a dirt-poor family be done in prosperous Singapore." Of course a statement like that is naive, because there are plenty of struggling families here too, unfortunately. But the film is set in 1965, when Singapore had just split from Malaysia, and the kamphong where the film is set certainly could be in Malaysia. Nice shots, cool old village, lots of good Mandarin (barely any English in this one), great scenery. Old lifestyles. More "friendship" stuff in this film, compared to "Me No Stupid" or "Money No Enough," rather than the origional, and it is funny seeing so very many of the characters from those two films, set in the '90s, turn up in this period piece playing totally different characters. Good stylistic things - brother and sister writing and whispering to each other while parents argue, trying to keep a low profile and avoid attention or ire. Dancing teacher and kicking shoes, good kids punished by bad luck, dried pork again, punishment # 73, scoring an own goal is disqualified "because it's my ball and I make the rules" nonsense, poor kids get smart while priviledged kids get lazy is a subtle message among many not-so-subtle messages. Zhou Huajian (Emil Chou) has a cameo as a riot cop getting beat up, but it's one of those blink-and-you-missed-it sorta thing. Pretty OK film overall, but ultimately doesn't really come close to the original.

Infernal Affairs I: bearing all of the typical overblown melodramatic flourishes of yer typical Hong Kong gangster drama, shot in dark dingy browns and greys, along with crisp blues, the stylish drama about cops and robbers is intesting - the cops have had a gangster set himself up among them for 10 years, and vice versa. Neither one of the moles knows about the other, although they actually meet early on. Really a grounded-in-reality version of Face/Off, which was basically a bit of a better film.

Kung-Fu Hustle: starring the so-so enjoyable Steven Chow, this film is much funnier than Shaolin Soccer, of which it is a sequel of sorts. The weird "wild west China" mood of the film reminds of Peace Hotel, Chow Yun-Fat's "last" Hong Kong movie of about 1993 or thereabouts. I liked the wacky Axe Gang dancing of the beginning of the film (surreal) and the mood of Uzumaki that kind of pervades the film itself. I like less the blind musical assassins with their freaky magic gang-ching. Stylish, sadistic comic book violence, roadrunner SFX, three knives, cobras on lips, fairy kung-fu tailer, Mr. Slippery, Mrs. Lion's Roar, CG butterfly looked terribly fake. "He is the one" line, and many other things (courtyard battles, flying above the clouds) reminds of the Matrix films, but is ultimately better. "With great power comes great responsibility" is also a funny good. Funny Funny.

Road To Singapore: The first of the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby films, with Dorothy Lamour, of two "confirmed bachelors" who make googly eyes at every woman they see. Weird responsibility fleeing, and the film isn't really set in Singapore - it's more like somewhere in the Philippines. Funny mating dance with sexy Malay woman, but otherwise not really interesting.

Star Trek, the original series: Episodes 2 and 3, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "the Corbomite Maneuver." Old episodes like this make me remember what a good series Star Trek was. For a while I thought that Space 1999 was a better show, but now I know better. "Where No Man Has Gone Before" has a hunky Sally Kellerman (what else was she in?) and some slack-jawed yokel attaining the powers of gods and then having a showdown on an alien planet. Spock's eyebrows are really fake-looking, and the uniforms are funny looking. No Uhuru or McCoy yet in this episode. Good action, interestitng buildup, suspense, everything. Also neat ethical dilemmas - if you had the power of a god, would you remember you were once human? "The Corbomite Maneuver" is interesting in the way it shows Kirk's leadership abilities in outwitting a condescending enemy. Nice ending.  In case you're wondering, episode 1 can be viewed, in two versions, on the final DVD in the series, which I will probably get to sooner or later... 

They Saved Hitler's Brain: Terrible old movie with near-porn film level acting. Terrible sound quality and lack of subtitles (sometimes you need subtitles to understand English-language films!!!) meant that I skipped through the film. The Nazis don't even bother to have German accents, and Hitler's disembodied head is featured in a few scenes, mostly grimacing although he did have a line or two.

Black Sabbath - the Black Sabbath Story, Volume One: Good early 1970 live performances of N.I.B. and Paranoid with a cute young Ozzy sounding great. War Pigs, from 1970 is good too, mostly to see Bill Ward attack the drums. Children Of The Grave was filmed in the afternoon at a California festival under a big rainbow prop, kind of anti-climatic. Some 1978 footage from the Hammersmith Odeon is terrible - Ozzy's voice is breaking up. Cool fringe shirts and tassled jackets. Tony Iommi is like a British version of my old friend Paul. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath "conceptual video" is laughable - Ozzy's voice barely ever matches up with the audio, and he's grinning like a madman - stoned? Never Say Die filmed on Top of the Pops with British teenagers boogying around is also quite silly. But a good overall look at the original line-up (there is no mention of Ronny James Dio at all) with some cool clips of their early demo songs (that also had "conceptual videos" attached to them!!).

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion: One of those weird cases of seeing a movie for a second time because you forgot you had already seen it. Happened before with "The Man Who Knew Too Much," there was also a book of Martin Amis short stories I read twice for the same reason... Woody Allen is not so great as a tough insurance comany detective, and Helen Hunt is not so convincing as his hate-at-first-sight love interest, but the gags are good enough, for the most part, and it's funny to see Elizabeth "Showgirls" Berkeley in a small role again. Good lines. "Don't feel threatened immediagely." To a blind man "keep eating carrots, I think they're working." "I love where you live. It's just what I thought it would be - a grungy hellhole." "Many a man's gone to the gaqllows on circumstantial evidence." "You're going to take your word over mine?"

Little Caesar: Edward G. Robinson as the apochrycal gangster, a movie filled to the brim with Scarface/Al Capone cliches. Nothing is known about Rico, little Caesar, his background, past, or family. But there he is, the vicious gangster flying to the top of the flesh heap of gangsterdom. Weird, wily, I want to watch it again some time now that I know what it is. I should see "Public Enemy" too... "Maybe we can get away with it this time... if we tried..."

Hana and Alice: A tender film about two girls falling in love with the same guy... who has amnesia. Or does he? Will he remember which of the two he really loves? And does this matter to the here and now? Great story, great characters, pleasant moods and tones. Naturally, this could erupt into a psychotic love affair, lots of sex and plots and murder, but in the hands of Iwai Shunji, it's just a simple little thing. Riding trains in the countryside, funny rakugo, sakura, hit head - bright colourts, CAT scan, reading and walking, mirror manipulation very clever. "I dream about you all the time. I dream the police come and take you away." Hana also slug dream! Waling in the rain, or dancing in the rain. Strange girl Fu. Open air ballet and fun pics, meeting her father. "Make yourself at home," says mom in underwear walking in on the sick guy. Kano Mika. He's figuring out what we've figured out, what with the cards and the lies and the jellyfish allergies. Bound to slip up sooner or later. Nice flourished - giant Atomu balloon peering in on them through the window...

Caveman: Caveman is a film about cavemen, set on October 9th, one zillion B.C. It stars Ringo Starr, and a very young Dennis Quaid and Shelley Long (even in caveman grunt language she sounds annoying and uptight). It also has in it someone called "Barbaba Bach," whose claim to fame is that Ringo Starr married her. She's also very easy on the eyes. See Starr, as wimpy caveman Atouk, discover how to walk upright, invent the wheel, discover fire, learn how to cook food and play music, and a bunch of other things. I guess he's a kind of forgotten prehistoric genius of sorts. Funny how only one person in the whole movie speaks English. Of course, there are plenty of pot jokes and sex gags - it was the '80s after all.

Tales From Gimli Hospital: freaky weird Canadian movie that is clearly influenced by David Lynch, Jean Cocteau, and Nordic myths, as well as early Fritz Lang films and such. Weird ideosyncratic spots - like old 1920s make-up and stylization, with a 7-11 Big Gulp thrown in. Always SOMETHING very strange in each scene. King Kong music, angel above, shaving monobrow, otherworldls, fish shampoo, sexy nurses, scarred doctor, uppet play, black face outrageous, more outrageous gore on the operating table, three drifting coffins, a framing story, something similar to the tragic horror of Tetsuo - the Iron Man. She died on their wedding night. "Einar, you did not let me finish my story!" Followed by "the Dead Father, a short film by Guy Maddin that has weird textures, strange families, torment in a small room. "Brief recoveries from death became common." Spooning up stomach stuff. This type of surrealism reminds me of something, but I'm not sure what exactly, it will come to mind later on I bet...

Schoolhouse Rock: naturally Zen loves Conjunction Junction (it has trains) and the tune of Lolly Lolly. I remembered a lot verbatim from my childhood, especially "the Premble to the Constitution." Good songs, although some of them - like the one about prepositions - were a bit too way out there. Weird how they need to use complicated language to explain grammar to kids - if they can't understand predicates, and they can't understand the language needed to explain what a predicate is, then what do they gain from it?

Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould: literally that. Idyllic beginning, stock still sitting, the artist must operate in secret - intellectual dialogue by Don McKellar, the master of intellectual dialogue (see "Roadkill"). Talk of "vertical pan-culturalism (huh?). "Coffee with cream" cnverstaion. Seque3nce of "interviews" with people about Glenn. He is never shown actually playing the piano. Super ugly Ray Scheider glasses. Cool overhead camera angle. Swimming with the music. Unmusical music. Each "Story" done in a very creative way (except for the stock interviews). Arctic interview. "Classical musical music," interviewers suitee, trippy animation by Norman McLaren. Sotex stock rumour story, x-ray sequence, pills, telephones.

This Is Spinal Tap (with bonus material): The disc has a bunch of bonus material, namely a new piece by Rob Reiner (looking old) playing Marty DeBergi and saying a few irrelevant things, mostly acting like the Tap no longer talk to him, that they've had a parting of ways. Oh, sure, whatever. And then it struck me - Michael Moore is the new Marty DeBergi. Like you don't know if his documentaries are real... or they just seem real. Kind of... surreal somehow. Anyway, the bonus material is quite funny. Billy Crystal doing mime-waiter stuff, and explaining his schtick - he wanted to be an actor, but couldn't remember his lines... so he became a mime. Ha ha ha ha. "The Sun Never Sweats" concept album. It's their final tour, but it's more like a reunion tour. "It's a constant party, just sometimes we're not invited." Stupid radio spots. Charles and Diana stash boc, with limo driver Bruce Kirby, doing Sinatra in his briefs. All have cold sores. Can't open the child-proof cap. Butt plaster caster. "Roma means love - it's the root or 'romance,' not the city of Rome." "Why don't they make grave stones cheerier?" Baseball stats drummer.

For some reason, I reviewed this one twice... 

This Is Spinal Tap: The best thing about it is the hilarous dialogue: "The New Originals." "Gimme Some Money" skiffle. "Best leave it unsolved, really," about the death of their first drummer. "Choked on somebody else's vomit." Mime waiters (Billy Crystal "mime is money"), Sir Eton-Hogg. "Big Bottom," "the bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin'." Double bass guitarr. "Intravenus de Milo," "what's the difference between golf and miniature golf?" Howard Hessman. "There's such a fine line between stupid and clever." "We toured the world we toured the States." "I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I w asn't under such heavy sedation." "I envy us." "I believe virtually everything I read." "As long as there's sex and drugs, I can do without the rock 'n' roll." Kramer vs. Kramer vs. Godzilla. Lucky us - the DVD has 1 hour of new or unreleased material!!

 The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin'
 That's what I said
 The looser the waistband, the deeper the quicksand
 Or so I have read

 My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo
 I'd like to sink her with my pink torpedo

 Big bottom, big bottom
 Talk about bum cakes, my girl's got 'em
 Big bottom drive me out of my mind
 How could I leave this behind?

 I met her on Monday, twas my lucky bun day
 You know what I mean
 I love her each weekday, each velvety cheek day
 You know what I mean

 My love gun's loaded and she's in my sights
 Big game is waiting there inside her tights, yeah

 Big bottom, big bottom
 Talk about mud flaps, my girl's got 'em
 Big bottom drive me out of my mind
 How could I leave this behind?

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse: A bizarre tale of a criminal genius dictating new killings from his prison cell, and the gang out there tasked to fulfilling his task. Fritz Lang's classic is genuinely frightening, outlandish, stylish, and crisp. They sure don't make movies like this any more, even with huge budgets and a well-oiled mechanism. A brilliant roadside assassination. Parallel scenes of two parties escaping capture. The ending is similar to that of Roman Polanski's the Tenant, just as the water escape is similar to the Drowning Pool.

Logan's Run: Freaky '70s film about cults, hedonism, totalitarianism and mass denial. In a future city where nobody grows old, creepy assassins called "Sandmen" go around terminating people who are escaping the social order. Wild '70s vision of future fashions, cool electronic beats (reminiscent of the much-later Liquid Sky) and the world's crappiest sci-fi city set (the old 1030s Buck Rogers sets were probably just as crappy, but at least the black and white made them look a bit better). Fans of the original Battlestar Galactica series should definitely check this one out. Lots of sweaty faces, including Michael York who now plays Nigel Exposition in the Austin Powers films. Sexe Shoppe scene pretty barfy. Sexy computer voice. Farrah Fawcett-Majors plays a near-retarded bimbo who works for cosmetic laser sculptors in New You. More flooding. Cool underground set. Origami robot and popsicle humans. Discovering graves. "Beloved husband, beloved wife - what does that mean?" "Don't go in there. You can live! There's life past 30.!!!" Dumb ending with styrofoam "rocks."

For some reason, I also reviewed this film twice... 

Logan's Run: very weird movie - sweaty faces, blippy soundtrack, good acting, but way-out theme. A world where nobody knows their parents, no one marries, everyone chases a hedonistic lifesyle until they are 30 when they are called to join this freaky "ceremony" that will determine if they are to be called to continue on or to be "reborn" in heaven or something. Shades of Soylent Green. Sexe Shoppe scene quite bizarre, cool underground set, sexy computer voice, Farrah in New You (dumb - not nearly as sexy as her co-star Jenny Agutter) getting burned, Michael York as Logan the Sandman (now better known as Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers movies, but looking handsome in his groovy '70s hair). Flooding, origami killer robots and popsicle humans, Sanctuary and the ankh, discovering graves, "beloved husband, wife - what does it mean?" "Don't go in there. You can live. There's life past 30." Dumb ending with styrofoam rocks.

Cat Ballou: Wacky sexy Jane Fonda movie feels more like an Elvis movie starring a girl than anything else. Indian and Hebrew jokes, lots of crackling funny dialogue. "I ain't responsible for what my people did to General Custer - I was just a baby at that time." "I ain't never seen a man get through a day so fast." "I ain't running a dude ranch for misfits and unemployables." "SOME gang of cutthroats and murderers." Lovers diaogue crackles. "You've no right to think about me what you're thinking about me." The dressing of the gunfighter should be a classic of film history. Nat King Cole is great as the singer who is part of the Greek chorus that narrates what's going on, and Lee Marvin is fantastic as a drunken gunfighter on a mission to eradicate an enemy. Still, Jonny Guitar is a better film. Sighhh...

Buck Rodgers: Found the original 1926 Buck Rodgers film series in the library. Horribly bad sets and special effects are actually not bad considering that Logan's Run in 1976 was still using basically the same technology. In suspended animatin for 500 years. Robot helmets, referernce books still exist in th e25th century. "Why don't you take a nap, Wilma, I'll take over." "After them in the other ship." Parallels in plot with Marix Reloaded - journeying to the other world to ask for help, etc. "I never figured you to be the kind of guy tolet a pal down." Buddy's "gee, gosh" tone will irk after a while. Attack of the Clones city jumping is interesting. "Now what, Buck?"

Superman (1941 animated TV series): Surprisingly high-quality 8-minute animated episodes are exciting and fun. Lois Lane is about the sexiest animated character since Jessica Rabbit. Being a 1941 series, the world is at war and the enemies are the Japas and the Nazis. In one episode Superman fights Japanese saboteurs (the episode is called "Japoteurs" - in a different episode Superman is in Yokahama and this time HE's the saboteur), and in another he goes to a desert island where he saves a primitive tribe from Nazis masquerading as temple priests. Funny - Superman's fighting is kind of wimpy, and he can't fly - he just hops long distances like the Incredible Hulk. In only one episode does he use x-ray vision, and it's made out to be a big deal. In nearly every episode he needs to rescue the intrepid Lois Lane as she takes on bad guys. Cool to see Lois firing at gangsters with a machine gun. Very Indiana Jones-ish. Robot like the Lupin robbery robot. Interesting stuff.

Bob le Flambeur: littering in Paris, french fries, hot hot chick, everybody smoking, the Moulin Rouge, Um Thurman, George Clooney, Michael Imperialani to be cast for remake? Processes shown, like lock picking. Black jazz musicians, xylophone, Chinese restaurant, Russel Crowe as Bob, Tom Hanks as inspecor, Catherine Zeta Jones as the wife. Mercy to all fools. Cool heist flick with the inscrutable Bob cutting through absolutely every scene. Dishy chick is very sexy indeed. She knows men like her. Fun, funny, great.

The 400 Blows: Mother's kiss, smoking cigars in bed, laughing watching the puppet show. Kids will be kids, Alain has nothing but his destiny, he had no choices in life, just cruel fate. Stolen typewriter. Same streets seen at night from the back of a paddy wagon, spooky. Freaky French processes. Little girls in cage, fantastic final shot!!!

The Outer Limits (Season 2): never seen the Outer Limits before, I only watched four episodes - one had William Shatner in it, another had a young Robert Duvall. yet another had a young James Doohan (Scotty from Star Trek) speaking without a Scottish accent, but I didn't watch much of that one.

Johnny Guitar: not so much guitar in the movie, beyond the first 20 minutes or so, but still an engaging western film that is a bit offbeat. All of the usual elements - good guys, bad guys, lynch mobs, stagecoach holdups, bank robberies, secret hideaways, saloons, gunslingers, tough broads - but a bit off center, with the feiry Joan Crawford as the hero of the film, with the not-so-wimpy-either Sterling Hayden supporting her. Fights 'n' arguments. "That's justt about the most toughing speech a woman's ever listened to. I'm OVERWHELMED." "When a fire burns itself out, all you have left is ASHES." "What's keeping you awake?" "Dreams. Bad dreams."

The Sopranos, Season 4: Not the best season of the Sopranos, still some earth-shaking events. Interesting justaposition of Uncle Junior's eye with a horse's eye (!?!), Junior falling seven steps, Paulie's mother a "tattletale," and the priest quoting Sympathy For The Devil "when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain." Dead horse. Chrissy always being interrupted when he shoots up - funny or disgusting? Adrienne throws up on the FBI agents. "On The Waterfront." Christopher battered with a xylophone. AJ at Furio;s "why do I always have to come here?" "I know what it's like to lose a pet." Paulie recovers Tony's horse pic. AJ's teacher assigning Billy Budd, then Death In Venice.

The Last Emperor: The classic tale as we know it, but with a few extra scenes that we don't remember, particularly the tale of the wet nurse as she enters the employ of the imperial palace, and also Peter O'Toole's character as he approraches the palace for the first time. "I''m a spy, and I don't care who knows it." Amazing how the two stories, past and present, parallel each other, then converge.  Zen loves this film. 

Team America: Puppet tale that works surprisingly well on a technical level - the puppets actually look OK, and are somewhat expressive even - check out the death scene! Tries a bit too hard to satirize the typical love relationship cliche stuff from your typical blockbuster plot, which is so-so, the "dick, pussy, asshole" analogy thing is really quite funny! Kim Jong-Il and Alec Baldwin - what a match!

Army of Darkness: from Sam Raimi, a sequel of sorts based on the Evil Dead storyline, this time Ash is transported back in time where he must steal the Necronomicon ex Mortis in order to get himself back to his own time. Yeah, whatever. Seems like the story was built up around a pun - the Medieval Dead, instead of the Evil Dead. I don't really dig medieval stuff too much, considering swords and sorcery a bit boring, but Raimi manages to inject some fun into all of the drizzle and mud that you associate pictures like this with, and there is great slapstick, surreal moments (such as the birth of "bad Ash"), and all sorts of other goodies. The film falls apart at the end, as man promising films do, by showing a lot of useless "hero saves the day" kind of stuff, while going light on the humour, but at least the ending is saved by some very dark irony. Ash - what a dumbass. I hear that Bruce Campbell is going to resurrect Ash to create a kind of film franchise, a la Freddy and Jason and all that, so let's see what develops. Bruce Campbell, the indie actor who almost was.

The Bourne Supremacy: On the ANA flight over, a bunch of crappy movies were playing, things I would never waste time on normally. Since I had low expectations going in to all of them, amazingly, I enjoyed them all. Much more than crap like Electra or Catwoman or the stuff that is showing in the cinemas now I think. The Bourne Supremacy is a well-made spy action thiller, with a good perfomance by Matt Damon as a government-trained killer with amnesia. Cool scenes in India, Berlin, and Moscow make it a good looking movie, and the pace is fast, although the super-cop lady does a Tommy Lee Jones as he was in the Fugitive, which this film is in a sense a remake of, a bit too well, making it a little annoying, actually.

Garfield: I thought this would be terrible, but the cat is actually OK, and voiced by Bill Murray nearly irresistable. Unfortunately that's about the only thing that the film got right. Jennifer Love Hewitt looks nice in a dress, but as Liz she's terrible. The guy who plays Jon is OK, but the plot is useless. Nermel and Odie are played by real animals, not CG like Garfield, and they are terrible as well. Odie at least should have had more character. Oh well. Good for a laugh or two.

Without A Paddle: Essentially a remake of Stand By Me, with a dash of Deliverance, these three guys go into the wilderness to find DB Cooper's stolen millions. Of course they find it, but not after being chased by bears and people, going over waterfalls, the usual stuff. The best thing about the film is the dialogue, which is pretty sharp, but not a film to watch under normal circumstances. Still, somehow I enjoyed it.

Cody Banks 2: a spoof of Austin Powers, Bond, or whatever, the teen with the CIA handler tries to save the world from being brainwashed. The dialogue is pretty good, but the kid who plays Cody is pretty annoying. Best thing about the film is the witty dialogue and the repartee with the big black CIA handler guy, who is very charming.

Old Boy: A drunk is kidnapped and held captive for fifteen years in a room with nothing but a TV set. He spends a lot of time trying to figure out which of his enemies may have done this to him. "I wrote down the names of all of the people whom Ii fought with, bothered, or hurt. This was both a prison journal and autobiography of my evil deeds. I thought that I'd lived an average life, but I've sinned so much." Weird disco music seems somehow inappropriate. Steals sunglasses. Slurps down a whole live octopus, which is trying to crawl out of his mouth. "Be it agrain of sand, or a rock, in water they sink all the same." This line becomes important to the end, but it shows that the smallest sin is actually as great as the largest. Or what? Weird wallpaper rooms, rough sex, mirror and tits. Ass tattoo of a cross!! Thrown against glass, weird forest ending. Plenty of great stylish things that were obviously done on a small budget. A great sort of film, with a fairly satisfying ending that can possible be viewed on multiple levels. Not like anything I've ever seen before. Elaborate revenge thing may be slightly similar to The Game, but I don't think so, actually...

Happy Together: Black and white? Or just bad color? Great music, including Argentine tango (which Wong Kar-Wai obviously has an attraction to) and old rock and roll (ditto), in this case the title song (does Wong always name his movies after song titles?), and Frank Zappa "Chungka's Revenge," and "I Have Been InYou." Cigarette smoke becomes slow-mo, very stylish. Flea sprayaing - process investigation. Bought lots of cigarettes, both sick, selfish and horny. Ears more important than eyes. Platonic gay love. Soccer matches. Traffic boulevard at night. Rooms in Wong's films - Nam rents Fei's room. Crying. Iguazu falls. Taipei. Sobbing on tape. Great film. Parts Chungking Jungle and parts The Mood For Love.