* Amazon women on the moon: (1987 - Comedy) Not quite a sequel to "I'm gonna get you Sucka" or "Kentucky fried movie". A spoof on 1950's sci-fi B movies is interrupted by a series of comedic skits. Starring an immense cast, including: Arsenio Hall, Phil Hartman, Corey Burton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Peter Horton, Joe Pantoliano, Stanley Brock, Joey Travolta, Forrest J Ackerman, Sybil Danning, David Alan Grier, B.B. King, Rosanna Arquette, and many, many more. 1970's comedy sketches featuring slapstick, nudity and racy social context. The creative talent behind this movie went on to produce and star in television shows such as 'In living color', 'Mad TV' and 'Saturday Night Live'. Very funny stuff. 3 out of 5.
* Bubba Ho-Tep: (2002 - Comedy, horror) Starring Bruce Campbell as Elvis Presley? and Ossie Davis as John (Jack) Kennedy? A soul-sucking Egyptian mummy is praying on the inhabitants of a retirement home in East Texas. What a ridiculous plot. It made for a pretty good movie. It could have been better though. The direction was definitely lacking. It got some good laughs out of me, but the writing wasn't very well done. The director didn't take advantage of Bruce Campbell's ability to deliver lines. I give this movie a 3 out of 5. Don't let the 'R' rating scare you, it's only there because of adult humor.
* Species: (1995 - Sci-fi, Horror) Starring Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, Forest Whitaker, Marg Helgenberger and Natasha Henstridge. Aliens tell humans how to recombine Human DNA in order to create a Human - Alien hybrid. The idiot scientists incubate the child and she escapes. That's when they realize that she's dangerous, deadly and beautiful. This creature wants to breed with Humans in order to create more of her kind, and a small group of specialists must find and kill it before it's too late. Seeing Natsha Henstridge nude was definitely a bonus in this slightly above average sci-fi horror flick. The ending absolutely sucked. I'm pretty sure it was tacked on as an afterthought. Surely it was added as a way to extend the franchise through a sequel. 3 out of 5.
* The eternal: (1998 - Horror, drama) Starring Christopher Walken. This movie was an strange one. A young woman (with husband and son in tow) returns to her ancestral home in Ireland. Apparently, she's one of a long line of witches. The home is a large mansion where most of the lights don't work? Her crazy uncle has locked up grandma, and he's trying to resuscitate a thousand year old mummy in the basement. The corpse in the basement is a druid witch who needs a fresh soul in order to continue living. It comes to life, changes it's appearance, kills the uncle and sets out looking for the young women she called to the castle. If this is confusing, wait until you see the ending. I'm still trying to figure out who died, who transferred who's soul to who, and who managed to escape unharmed. Despite the confusing story, I liked it. The photography was excellent and all the weird twists served the plot well. 3 out of 5.
* Clerks II: (2006 - Comedy, drama). Astonishing. A comedic masterpiece. This time around, the lines aren't just there to fill the space between one scene and the next. The conversations were more realistic. The humor was truly amazing. The dramatic touches were excellent. How could anyone make a movie this funny into something more than a laugh fest? Only Kevin Smith could do it. A serious relationship, self examination drama takes place while we're laughing our asses off. The characters are great and the direction is outstanding. The writing was brilliant. This one bears watching, again, and again. I'm going to buy a copy. 5 out of 5.
* Five deadly venoms: (1978 - Kung Fu, mystery / Hong Kong - Wu Du) An abysmal dubbed version of a Hong Kong Kung Fu cult classic. Despite the incredibly poor soundtrack/dubbing and a poor video transfer, this movie presents some pretty good suspense in this stylistic b-grade Kung Fu flick. After training his last student, the aging master of a Kung Fu school sends the pupil to ferret out the intentions of his last five students. The situations are incredibly staged, the choreography is fair, the character motivations lacking, the acting terrible, and the story preposterous. I can only give this a 2 out of 5.
* The long goodbye: (1973 - Suspense, mystery) A film noir detective classic set in the 70's. The main character (played by Elliot Gould) is a private detective (try to forget the nudist neighbors (are they really lesbians?)), who becomes embroiled in a disappearance, a murder, a love triangle, and a mobster's lost money. The characters are fairly well developed, but the acting (except for that of Gould and Sterling Hayden) is pretty bad. Thankfully, the story is engrossing and well paced. How many cigarettes does the main character smoke? Pay close attention and you'll see a very ripped Arnold Schwarzenegger in yellow underwear. 3 of 5.
* Broadcast news: (1987 - Drama, romance, comedy) Written and directed by James L. Brooks. Starring: William Hurt, Albert Brooks, Holly Hunter, Joan Cusack, Jack Nicholson. This romantic comedy is a great drama. The writing and direction were excellent. The acting by Joan Cusack was outstanding. All the characters live in the broadcast industry, where they live their lives at the speed of light. Deadlines define their lives, and they don't have time for relationships. A classic love triangle romantic comedy where the characters are very believable. There's even a message here about the decline of journalistic values. A prophetic vision that clearly defines the current state of network news. The best part was the non traditional ending. 4 out of 5.
* Only angels have wings: (1939 - Drama, romance, adventure) Starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell, Noah Beery Jr. and others. Jean Arthur's character steps off the boat in South America, falls for Cary Grant's characters, and can't help but stick around for a couple of weeks. In the interim, we're treated to aviators struggling to operate a mail delivery service that flies over the Andes. Operating in a perpetual state of danger, the men of this outfit don't have much time for women. The story had a few problems and the special effects were very corny, but the adventure aspects kept me watching. Another movie where the characters are lighting cigarettes every three minutes... 3 out of 5.
* A scanner darkly: (2006 - Sci-Fi, mystery, drama) This movie featured an animation technique called 'over animation'. Animation is applied over live action footage. While it made for an interesting effect, I don't think it added to the movie in any way. As a matter of fact, I disliked it. I thought it was interesting, but I'm not a fan of anime. I find that animation detracts from my ability to believe in the movie and empathize with the characters. This movie would have been better without the over animation. The story was great. A not too distant LA, where detectives are hard at work trying to eliminate the threat posed by a highly addictive drug. As our primary protagonist operates undercover, someone is ratting him out. Eventually he's targeted by the department that he's working for. The characters were well developed, but the dialog felt cartoonish. The acting was good, but some of the humanistic nuances were masked by the over animation. The ending contained an excellent twist, but there was a bit too much exposition, and an obvious open ended sequel hinting end story. 3 out of 5.
* Nightwatch: (1994 - Suspense, horror / Denmark - Nattevagten) It took me five attempts, but I was finally able to watch this movie. NetFlix kept sending me an unrelated title with a similar name (Night Watch). There's an American remake with the same name, starring Ewan McGregor and Nick Nolte, but this is the original version. I have to say that the acting in the American version was better, but the suspense and character development were better in this version. A law student takes a job as a night watchman in a morgue. With a bit of back-story, the late night story takes place in a creepy, confining hospital. Things are going well until a serial killer starts filling the morgue with dead prostitutes. As the bodies begin to stack up, suspicion turns towards the protagonist. The killer tries to pin the crimes on our college student, and a bloody confrontation follows.Very suspenseful story with dynamic characters, excellent direction (by Ole Bornedal) and a creepy atmosphere. 4 out of 5.
* Idiocracy: (2005 - Comedy, satire) Written and directed by Mike Judge (Office Space, Beavis & Butthead). This brutally satirical comedy, starring Luke Wilson, pokes a stick directly into America's sleepy, half-open, lazy eye. Average joe soldier and a street walker, are chosen to be subjects of an army experiment which goes awry. Placed in suspended animation, they're awakened in the year 2505. In this dystopian future, the dimwit of today is a genius of the future. While the acting is mediocre, the story is a biting satire on the state of American culture, and the laughs are a bit distressing - It makes you think, could this really be our fate? This controversial film, which pokes serious fun at corporate sponsors, was penalized by it's parent (who can't take a joke) for being too up front about the dumbing down of America. Thankfully, it was released, and we're the lucky consumers. Some of the lines are very funny. "It's got 'lectrolytes". 4 out of 5.
* 20 Million miles to Earth: (1957 - Sci-Fi, Fantasy) In this B&W Sci-Fi B-Movie, a spaceship crashes into the Mediterranean upon it's return from Venus. All but one of the crew dies during the crash, and an embryonic specimen is washed ashore. As the authorities rush to the crash site, an alien creature hatches, is held captive by an unwitting citizen, and escapes to roam the Italian country side. What starts out as a great movie, soon devolves into a typical 'rampaging giant monster from outer-space' flick. The acting was horrible, the lines were campy, and the story was a shallow monster mash. The best part of the movie, Ray Harryhausen special effects. The master of 1950's sci-fi effects. The initial space ship crash scene and the stop motion monsters were absolutely awesome. It's too bad the story ended half way through the movie. 3 of 5.
* Mothra: (1961 - Sci-Fi, fantasy / Japan - Mosura) There's probably a good reason why this really bad B-grade sci-fi film is not available on DVD. It sucks. A Japanese production featuring a surprising number of westerners. The dubbed voices included an astonishing number of accents, which frequently changed. The story was weird enough to raise this one out of the bottomless pit of really bad movies. A ship wrecks on the shore of an irradiated pacific island. After being rescued the crew tells tales of inhabitants. A team of scientists returns to the island to find a strange paradise of mutant plants, hostile natives, and a set of miniature twins. A scheming entrepreneur kidnaps the two girls, and puts them on display in a ridiculous vaudeville act. The duo's singing summons a gigantic larvae from the island. As it attacks Tokyo it transforms into an immense moth. Eventually the twins are freed from the clutches of the evil exploitative capitalist, and they catch a ride on Mothra back to their radioactive island. The color in this movie was very well done, but the special effects, writing, acting, dialog, costumes, sets and production were horrible. A funny line from the film? Japanese actors are dubbed in Engrish: "That won't do you any good, even if they could understand you, they don't speak Japanese." 2 out of 5.
* Spaceman: (1997 - Sci-Fi, drama, adventure) Palm pictures Video on demand, a Comcast on demand selection. A great story that just kept moving all the time. The story is pretty neat. A young boy is abducted by aliens at the age of 5. The aliens train him to be a pit fighter. At age 30? a mutiny breaks out aboard an interstellar transport and he has to abandon ship. Stranded on Earth, the disoriented, socially maladjusted alien pit fighter must find a job, rent an apartment and find a way 'home'. Along the way he rediscovers what's it is to be human, learns what love is all about, and begins a search for his real mother. The story was great. Unfortunately, the acting, costumes and sound work were pretty bad. The costumes and acting had me thinking that this guy wasn't any alien pit fighter, he's a psycho who created his own costume out of construction paper and styrofoam. A bigger production budget and better acting could have made this a much better movie. Watch the writer though (Scott Dikkers), as his talent was telling in this B-grade sci-fi flick that flops for lack of production bucks. 2 of 5.
* Employee of the month: (2006 - Comedy) Not to be confused with Employee of the month (2004), starring Matt Dillon. This comedy pulled a few laughs out of this lack luster cast. The best performances came from Efren Ramirez (Pedro of Napoleon Dynamite) and Harland Williams (Who's been overlooked for quite some time now). The plot is a typical hollywood formula. Hot new girl joins male dominated work place. Two of the males compete for her affections. They humiliate each other until the predictable outcome. Slacker underdog wins out over boorish, overbearing, self-obsessed competition. The acting by Jessica Simpson was simply horrible. She would have done better without lines, or better yet, without clothes? I can't believe I said that... Anyway, no nudity in this movie. Just a failed attempt at duplicating the success of movies like 'Waiting', 'Anchorman', and 'Office Space'. 2 out of 5.
* Werkmeister harmonies: (2000 - Drama, mystery / Hungary - Werckmeister harmóniák) European production of a movie shot in Hungary by director Béla Tarr. An artful masterpiece with only one flaw. Some of the incredibly long takes were exceedingly boring. That said, the black and white cinematography was momentous. This is the best camera work I have seen in a very long time. By combining movement, lighting and camera position, the director was able to tell an incredibly rich and mysterious tale without much dialog. The story was a bizarre experience that spanned two sleepless nights in a back-water Hungarian village. As the winter grows cold, the villagers grow weary. Weary of being ignored, weary of the cold, the lack of jobs, the lack of coal, the lack of compassion. As tempers flare, they turn their hatred towards institutionalized symbols of the government, and the mysterious strangers who've entered their town. Fantastic direction, surreal imagery, great acting, and a strange ending. This one gets a 4 out of 5.
* Lady in the water: (2006 - Fantasy, mystery) A movie written directed, and starring, M. Night Shyamalan (I really liked his other movies). First of all, I have to say that Paul Giamatti did a really good job in this movie, and I liked the original story. What I didn't like was the screen play. It was poorly paced, hurried, and full of improbable circumstances. There was far too much exposition. Far too much talking. Far too much corny dialog. Far too much hollywood crap. The completely predictable ending sucked horribly. The music was way too dramatic for this movie. This was a very pale Shyamalan movie. No wonderful twist, no mystery, nothing but spoon-fed hollywood sap. Maybe someone, someday, far in the future, will watch this movie, and it will inspire him to be a great leader. On the other hand, maybe not! 2 out of 5.
* Dirty rotten scoundrels: (1988 - Comedy) Starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. It's a good movie, but the plot is fairly predictable. Steve Martin and Michael Caine play big time and small time con men (respectively). When the crude American (Martin) intrudes on the sophisticated Caine's turf, they cook up a contest to determine who stays, and who goes. The French Riviera location was great, and the two actors complemented each other perfectly. Martin was funny, but not at his best. The acting by Caine was good, but Martin was doing 'an act'. The supporting cast was forgettable. The story had me laughing despite the predictable plot. The best part of the movie was the twist at the end. I was so absorbed by Martin and Caine, that I didn't see it coming. 3 of 5.
* Spies: (1928 - Thriller, drama, mystery / Germany - Spione) Directed by German master director, Fritz Lang. A black and white silent film that foreshadows all the spy thrillers of the 20th century. The acting is strange, in a 1928, silent picture way. Some is good, some is bad. The soundtrack was great, the camera work excellent. This movie was almost three hours long, and I had to fast forward at times. It took me two days to watch the whole thing. It's got everything. Russian, German and Japanese spies. There are several stories going on in this movie, and a lot of characters. There are a lot of female spies, and a lot of implied sex. There's an evil genius spymaster confined to a wheel chair, a bumbling spymaster, and a suave male spy who seduces a female spy. There's a train wreck, motorcycle chases, technological gadgets, secret lairs, tradecraft, deceit, lies and a lot of mystery. I can only imagine that Ian Flemming must have seen, and been influenced by, this film. It's fantastic. 4 out of 5.
* Jesus camp: (2006 - Documentary) Boring. What promised to be a no holds barred documentary about 'fundamentalist fervor', and the dangers it presents, turned out to be a lukewarm bath in the baptismal font of the bible belt. This could have been an examination of the real right wing of America, and it's agenda. Instead it was a show about jesus kids, who do nothing more controversial than hand out pamphlets to complete strangers. Parents are teaching their children about Jesus! Are you shocked? I wasn't. The preview had me thinking; "I'm going to see a documentary about militant Christians, teaching their children to fight a holy war!" This pabulum is best served with sacramental wine. 2 out of 5.
* Hercules in New York: (1970 - Comedy, action, fantasy) Arnold Schwarzenegger, billed as 'Arnold Strong' stars as a petulant demigod. As the son of Zeus defies his father's wishes, Hercules travels to New York to 'have a good time'. While there he engages in ridiculous behavior. The plot is simplistic and laughable. The acting abysmal. The camera work horrid. The sound work was terrible. The only redeeming feature to this movie? Give me a minute here... Oh yeah, Arnold beating up on a man in a bear costume. 1 out of 2.
* Serenity: (2005 - Sci-Fi, Action, Fantasy) First of all, yes I've seen the television series (FireFly). I thought it was rather well done. I liked the stories, the characters and the premise. The future can be a gritty frontier full of smugglers and independent minded settlers. Not all science fiction is porcelain coated stainless steel. This movie was great. Take away the pulse pounding action scenes, the astonishing special effects, the gritty post-apocalyptic environment, and all your left with is above par acting, fantastic writing, and a great story. Mix in some outstanding music and rock solid directing, and you've got yourself a winner. The involved story was something I couldn't predict, and the characters were far more complex than your typical Star-Trek cookie cutter crew. 5 out of 5.
* On the beach: (1959 - Sci-Fi, drama, war) Starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins. With a cast like that, I wasn't surprised by the great acting. What did surprise me was the story. This cast starred in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi war movie. The survivors of a nuclear armageddon ride out mankinds last days in a submarine. As australia is the last bastion of mankind to die by radioactive fallout, the drama becomes more taught and the message becomes clearer. 'There is still time, brother...' 5 out of 5.
* Descent: (2005 - Adventure, horror, drama) This movie was in my queue. Then I took it out. I watched it because it arrived for Kim, and I didn't have anything waiting for me. A group of thrill seeking best friends, go on a caving outing to reunite the group after a tragic accident leaves one of their group grieving. This movie featured an all woman cast, and there were some hints at lesbianism, but the drama in this movie was second rate, and really a waste of time. The real focus was the 'crawlers' that lived in a cavern miles beneath the surface. Once these girls get down in the dark, the action really starts. Bizarre, evolutionary abominations begin stalking the prey that has entered their lair. Good use of lighting and set work produced quite a few jumps out of me. The makeup and prosthetic work on the 'crawlers' was outstanding. The acting? Not so good. This was a good friday night fright-fest. 3 of 5.
Now you know: (2002 - Drama, comedy) Directorial debut of Jeff Anderson (co-star of Clerks2). A pretty good debut, considering the fact that some get this rating (see below) after being in the business for many years. Unfortuanately, the lead male actor (not Jeff Anderson) couldn't act. He showed about as much emotion as a paper bag. The story was o.k. Very predicatable. Young guy and his fiancee' have broken up. Over what? We're never quite sure. As they struggle to figure out what happened, we're dragged along for the ride. Luckily for us the ride includes some humorous side trips into sillyness. Unfortunately, the ending was luke warm, and the rest of the movie was there only to serve the ending. It took forever to get there, and when it ended, I thought to myself. I saw this ending before the movie started. 2 out of 5.
* Nick Fury - Agent of shield: (1998 - Action, Sci-fi) A made for television adaptation of a comic book. Starring David Hasselhoff. I only got 30 minutes into this movie, before I had to stop watching. So you are free to dismiss my rating if you're not happy with that fact. Amazingly bad movie. The acting, which had to be forced, was notably over-the-top and stereotyped. The lines were very corny, the costumes ridiculous, the accents atrocious, and the plot was as preposterous as any 1950's B grade sci-fi movie. Uggh, it was one of those "So bad it's good" movies, but I couldn't find anything to laugh at. The lines weren't funny enough, and the situations weren't contrived enough. It was just stinky bad. Maybe the lines got funnier later on, but I couldn't take it anymore. I stopped 30 minutes into this 2 hour movie! 1 out of 5. Rates 3.2 on IMDB.
* Flyboys: (2006 - Action, drama) The adventures of the Lafayette Escadrille, young Americans who volunteered for the French military before the U.S. entered World War I. Supposedly based on 'the true story'. If so, they picked and chose elements until they found something that fit the Hollywood theme. This one came in Kim's queue. I watched it because I'm an idiot... It starred Jean Reno (who I like), and it was about the Air Force - in a round about way (I served 20 years in the US Air Force). What a mistake. I should have trusted my initial instincts when it came to this movie. Rife with technical inacuracies (It's a good thing the bullets trailed smoke, or we wouldn't understand that they were shooting at each other!), dripping with sap, featuring a bunch of poor acting ( Here's a clue. People in the 1900's didn't act the same way we do today. Their mannerisms, speech, and dress were vastly different), mediocre directing, and a completely overwrought soundtrack. A typical hollywood sapbuster movie. It's got to have a love interest (who mumbles a lot - was that actually French? - and learns English in a day). It's got to have a villain (That evil German guy who honorably spares his victims when they run out of bullets), it's got to have angst (there's the guy who can't quite get it together until the end of the movie). It's got to have a hero who meets a tragic end, etc, etc, etc.. This movie sucked horribly. It had every cliche' you could think of. Oh yeah, the ending? Sucked. I spotted that one as soon as they showed the pilots their pistols... Do yourself a favor. Don't watch this crap. Watch a history channel presentation instead.1 out of 5.
* The work of director Michel Gondry: (2003 - Musical, documentary) A look at the work of director Michel Gondry, through his music videos, short films, and commercials. This guy's head is full of powerful stuff. Imaginary worlds, filled with colorful, strange characters. I've never seen these music videos before. It's amazing stuff. Very visual, very artistic. It's not so much the music that's turning me on. It's the powerful visual imagry. I've only seen one of his movies; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (I own it; gave it a 5 out of 5), but this movie connected some powerful dots. I've got 'The science of sleep' in my queue already, and I'm going to add 'Be kind rewind' and 'Master of space and time' as soon as I can. If Gondry wrote and directed it, it's going to be very good. Dancing robots, giant hands, gargantuan trucks fuelled by diamonds. This DVD contained videos, short films, and a documentary/bio featuring Michel Gondry. Despite the five hour duration, I really enjoyed this documentary. 4 out of 5.