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  • Excalibur 1981

    ★½ Watched 20 Apr, 2014 1

    The director of Deliverance brings you an Arthurian epic with the most ridiculously accented shouting of all time! There are good things about this movie, almost all of them to do with the dreamlike visuals; the acting makes it impossible to take anything seriously. Nigel Terry is horribly miscast as King Arthur, cutting neither a heroic or imposing figure. It's fun seeing young famous faces--Helen Mirren, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Patrick Stewart, Ciarán Hinds--but their best days were certainly ahead of them. Every line of dialogue is shouted or punctuated with strange emphases. It's sorta baffling.

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze 1991

    Rewatched 18 Apr, 2014

    Part of Will & AJ's Excellent LOLviewings

    I haven't seen the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie in its entirety for years, but I watched chunks of it recently, and you know what? It still works. It's a mixed adaptation, cribbing elements of both the lighthearted cartoon and the darker Eastman/Laird comics. As such, it's both silly and just serious enough, taking talking teenage turtles as seriously as they need to be taken. The sequel...not so much. Don't get me wrong,…

  • And the Ship Sails On 1983

    ★★ Watched 16 Apr, 2014

    I revisited Jean-Luc Godard for the first time in years with Alphaville and found that the man's work still didn't resonate with me. Now I'm returning to Federico Fellini, who if you ask me, made Nights of Cabiria, La Strada, and a bunch of other stuff we should stop talking about. And the Ship Sails On doesn't particularly change my mind. The opening sequence, shot like a silent film, is lovely; Fellini's narrator breaks the fourth wall in some fun…

  • It Could Happen to You 1994

    ★★★ Watched 12 Apr, 2014

    A charmingly old-fashioned romantic comedy in which Nicolas Cage's cop half-jokes that if he wins the lottery, he'll split the money with Bridget Fonda's waitress in lieu of a tip. Much to his surprise, Cage wins. Does he share the money with Fonda? The answer is obvious--as it is to the question, "Will they get together at the end?"--but there are some chuckles along the way. I'm a huge fan of Nicolas Cage, both for his serious performances and his…

  • Scenes from a Mall 1991

    ★½ Watched 12 Apr, 2014

    Woody Allen and Bette Midler as a squabbling couple in the '90s L.A. update of Scenes from a Marriage, directed by Paul Mazursky? How does this go wrong? Very, very easily. Allen does what he can with the material, but he's utterly unconvincing as the sort of businessman whose wife would buy him a surfboard (I've read that Allen had never stepped foot in a mall before filming, and I believe it). Midler, meanwhile, is screechy and annoying and also

  • Dahmer 2002

    ★★ Watched 12 Apr, 2014

    Part of Will & AJ's Excellent LOLviewings

    Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later: we finally watched a movie that wasn't funny or ridiculously awful. But we just had to follow up Bundy with a film starring Jeremy Renner as Jeffrey Dahmer...and it's definitely a film that's trying to take this monstrous human being seriously, trying to peer into his dark, fragmented psyche. It just not very good at it. Writer-director David Jacobson is obviously talented, but the elliptical…

  • Ted Bundy 2002

    ½ Watched 11 Apr, 2014

    Part of Will & AJ's Excellent LOLviewings

    Will, while admitting the film is largely a failure, was telling me he thinks Bundy is attempting to be a subversive comedy about the infamous serial killer. I think there's some truth to that, if only because you'd hope that someone who scores a montage of Ted Bundy thwacking a bunch of young girls to death with the sunniest pop music imaginable has to be conscious of the decision they're making. But whatever director…

  • The Phantom Carriage 1921

    ★★★★½ Watched 10 Apr, 2014

    No less than the film that inspired a young Ingmar Bergman to make movies, The Phantom Carriage remains a haunting experience nearly a century later. Victor Sjöström wrote, directed, and starred in this adaptation of the Selma Lagerlöf novel wherein the last man to die on New Year's Eve is forced to drive Death's carriage for the next year. First, though, he must relive the torment he caused others: his alcoholic ways turned his brother into a killer, drove his…

  • Border Radio 1987

    ★★★ Watched 09 Apr, 2014

    A true artifact of '80s DIY cinema. Filmed in black-and-white over four years with a barely-there budget, Border Radio is about a punk musician (real-life rocker Chris D.) who high-tails it over the Mexican border when some folks he stole money from come looking after it. Par for the course, none of the actors are particularly good and the film meanders from offbeat episode to offbeat episode. Still, there's a ramshackle charm about the whole thing and a number of funny moments, most of them involving Chris Shearer's roadie. If only the plot felt like anything more than a constant interruption.

  • A Well Spent Life 1972

    ★★★★½ Watched 08 Apr, 2014

    Like his The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins, Les Blank's A Well Spent Life (co-directed by Skip Gerson) is another Texas mood piece set to the blues. This time, they're courtesy of Mance Lipscomb, and where this one goes the Lightnin' Hopkins doc one better is in getting Lipscomb to discuss his philosophies on life, love, religion, and happiness. We meet a married couple who live near the Lipscombs; back when he was ornery, she shot his leg off. That…

  • The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins 1970

    ★★★★½ Watched 08 Apr, 2014

    This half-hour documentary from Les Blank highlights the blues of Lightnin' Hopkins. And true to the title, we get to find out what the blues are according to Mr. Hopkins: they're any sadness you carry inside you, something you're always crying over. Not that any sadness carries over to his performances or the stories he tells Blank; there's a joyousness in watching Hopkins strum the guitar and sing, or in witnessing one of his fellow musicians tearing into a harmonica.…

  • Consenting Adults 1992

    ★½ Watched 07 Apr, 2014

    Starts off promising with good interaction between Kevin Kline and Kevin Spacey as a jingle writer and his oily scam artist neighbor. Things take a turn for the dreadful when Spacey frames Kline for the murder of his wife, leading to a thriller that is as boring as it is ridiculous. I laughed at a graphic crime scene twice; probably not what they intended. A rightly forgotten effort from '70s master Alan J. Pakula.