Thursday, July 22, 2010

Short Movie Reviews

Psychopathia Sexualis is a series of vignettes based on the studies of 19th Century psychoanalyst Richard von Krafft-Ebing and his catalogue of sexual depravity. It sounds like a dirty movie, and it does have its moments, but is remarkably non-titillating. There is very little nudity, and very little of anything graphic. The story follows several characters through various stages of treatment. It ends, primarily, with the story of Lydia, an aging lesbian tutor, and Annabel, her student who falls in love with her. It is a rather touching little story, and quite sad in the way Lydia is treated. The cinematography is very nice, the acting is fair to good. It is a good movie to watch when there is nothing to do and you are not up to a lot of emotional investment in a film.

Verdict: Interesting and semi-informative.

Blood for Dracula is another "Andy Warhol Presents" by Paul Morrissey. Udo Kier is the decaying Count Dracula who must flee Romania because he has exhausted the virgin supply. They go to Italy, because all Catholic girls are virgins, right? This movie is so spoofy-feeling it is hard to believe Morrissey meant it to be straight. These Eurosleaze fests are definitely not for everyone, but I love it. Udo Kier is like Daffy Duck in this one, and his "Renfield" is so uncomfortable. There is a socialist undercurrent to the film, where Dracula doesn't necessarily need to die because he's a vampire, but because he's an aristocrat. If you like silly, strange horror movies you owe it to yourself to watch a bit of this one.

Verdict: Crazy good, or crazy bad? Who cares, it is CRAZY!

Cash Back involves an art student whose girlfriend dumps him and he sinks into a depression that prevents him from sleeping. As long as he has an extra eight hours in his day he decides to take a night job at a supermarket. This movie starts strong, but falls apart a bit in the middle. If they'd trim it closer to an hour things might have improved. It has its funny moments. There is quite a bit of semi-gratuitous nudity, including British bombshell Keeley Hazell. Unlike most films this one actually ends nicely, it just has some trouble getting there. It seems the producers were confused. Is it a sex comedy? A screwball comedy? A romantic comedy? A surrealist look at the nature of man? Ultimately it is a romantic comedy, but then they throw tits at you and you feel confused.

Verdict: Enjoyable, if a bit disjointed.

Slumdog Millionaire is a tragic look at the Indian underworld. It is far from the feel-good movie it was sold as. It is a bit like The Usual Suspects in style, with a touch of Oliver Twist. The good generally outweighs the bad. It is an engaging story, and I don't mind telling you I got a little teary at the end. (DVD)

Verdict: Good, despite a few flaws.

Oliver! is the musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. I mostly watched this because I love the book, I wanted to see Oliver Reed as Bill Sikes, and Slumdog Millionaire was so like Oliver Twist. I am not generally a fan of musicals, but this one is pretty fun. It is mostly true to the source material. Fagin is less of a monster than he should be, but they do expand Bill Sikes' malevolence which balances things. Watching this one really points out the similarities in Slumdog Millionaire, as Victorian London is nearly as awful as modern India, though it is played down a bit in this happier film.

Verdict: Good for musical fans or Dickens enthusiasts.

Career Opportunities is a John Hughes film that is part grown-up Breakfast Club and part screwy crime comedy. Jim is the town liar who cannot keep a job. Josie is the town boss' daughter. Both are out of high school but on hold. Neither feels they have a future. Jim begins working at Target as the night janitor, and Josie is there to shoplift and get caught, but chickens out. They start messing around in the store, but are confronted by some wanted criminals who break in on their fun.

Verdict: Fun, if occasionally stupid.

Diabolique is a story of murder by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Michel is a douche-bag. His wife and mistress team-up to rid the world of him. Why? Well, the wife is the one with the money, and Michel has indicated that he hopes to do his wife in. The two run a boarding school in Paris, and the mistress is one of the teachers. On a holiday weekend they do the deed with a quite sensible plan to cover up their crime.

Verdict: Interesting, particularly if you don't mind subtitles (or speak French).

The Big Lebowski - what can I say that has not been said? This movie has perhaps surpassed Monty Python & the Holy Grail as the most nerd-quoted film in history. It is a great absurdist take on the film noir genre. It is smart and funny, and has very few slow moments. The entire film is a red herring, much like Chandler's The Big Sleep, the ultimate conclusion has nothing to do with anything the characters are initially interested in. If you've not seen this, really, do it.

Verdict: Great film, or greatest film?

Bad Girls from Mars by Fred Olen Ray is a low budget titty movie. It "stars" Edy Meyer (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls). Edy was the only reason I wanted to watch this, but unfortunately she has none of the fire she was famous for there. She looks good for her age, but is no longer the girl who said, "I'd like to strap you on sometime." This is not, by the way, a sci-fi movie. It is a movie about making a sci-fi movie where a killer is on the loose.

Verdict: If you've ever seen a Brinke Stevens movie you have seen this one.

Women Behind Bars features Franco muse Lina Romay. Franco calls this the favorite of his Women in Prison films, though he declares he does not like the genre. That makes sense as this film breaks most of the Cardinal rules of WIP. It is more of a thriller, actually. It has plenty of the necessary aspects, but considering Quentin Tarrantino says WIP is the most inflexible formulas, the serious breaks Franco makes almost removes the film from the genre, but not entirely. You can read more specifics at my Franco-Phile Tumblr here. (DVD)

Verdict: I liked it.


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Kal said...

'Career Opportunities' is on of my guilty pleasures. Jennifer C has never looked sexier (before she became a serious actress) and Fred is less annoying than he is in everything else he ever did. Hell, I would have shot him in 'Pulp Fiction' for saying 'what' all the times that he did.

All and all a very ecclectic list.

Darius Whiteplume said...

Wow. I did not recognize him as the "what" guy until I read that. "Big Kahunna Burger!" :-D

Lazarus Lupin said...

Two things about slumdog Millionaire.. ok three... first off look at danny boyle's other film "millions," secondly, the scene of diving into the outhouse to get the picture signed is the BEST example of desire I've seen in a decade (What would you do for klondike bar?), thirdly the music video at the end not only made me smile but almost literally dance in the aisle!!!

Lazarus Lupin
art and review

Darius Whiteplume said...

The outhouse bit was funny. Super fan-boyism.

I had not heard of Millions, will try to check it out.

dfordoom said...

Blood for Dracula is a major favourite of mine. And it has Udo Kier, always a plus. The companion film, Flesh for Frankenstein, is even better.

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