Monday, July 17, 2006

Movie Mon. - It's Historical AND Hysterical

It was a very low-budget horror heavy week for me, rental-wise. How low-budget? Well let me put it this way: when I was looking at the TV listings yesterday, I saw that two of the movies I had just finished watching were going to be on back-to-back . . . on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Sadly, neither one of them was quite up to the level of Mansquito.

On to the reviews.

Tristram Shandy: a Cock and Bull Story: This one's a bit hard to summarize: it's sorta based on the "unfilmable" novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, a nine-volume work which, as one character in the film says, was "post-modern before there was any modernism to be post about." The novel itself is supposed to be the life chronicle of Tristram Shandy which somehow never really gets beyond the day he's born, getting lost in digressions and meta-textual experiments; meanwhile, the film itself switches between the adaptation of the book and a faux look at the behind the scenes making of the film. A smart, funny film, both in the Tristram scenes (which make me want to read the neverending novel) and in the "real life" sequences (which make me want to track down more of star Steve Coogan's work). By far my favorite film of the week.

Room 6: First of the Sci-Fi Channel movies, this confusing mish-mash of a film about a woman plagued with eerie nightmares about hospitals who finds the dreams coming to life after her boyfriend disappears in a strange ambulance following a car wreck. Despite an interesting teaser and some familiar faces (Christine Taylor and Jerry O'Connell), this was one of the most unsatisfying movie-watching experiences I've had. By the time the big "twist" arrived, as awful as it was I was still happy if only because it meant that the movie was almost over. The worst aspect of the film (outside of the general crappy plot) was the constant screeching of Christine Taylor's character as she jogged briskly away from danger.

It Waits: Low budget horror film about some forest rangers being stalked by a sadistic demon. Second of the Sci-Fi Channel movies, this one actually started off fairly well, all things considered (especially since we watched it hot on the heels of the disaster that was Room 6), but the wheels really came off around the second half as the female lead began to make every decision using that "What is the absolutely dumbest move I can make?" method that is all too common in horror films. Not as annoying as a screeching Christine Taylor, but not all that appealing either.

Wizard of Gore: Cult horror film about a psychopathic magician who slaughters his volunteers on stage, while hypnotizing the audience into thinking they survived. Old-school, over-the-top gorefest from exploitation pioneer Herschell Gordon Lewis of 2000 Maniacs infamy. A bit tedious at times, and the acting is mostly atrocious, but generally in an entertaining way.

The Horse's Mouth: Odd British comedy starring Alec Guinness as Gulley Jimson, an eccentric artist with no social skills and a volatile disposition. I enjoyed portions of the film, particularly the sequence where Gully commandeers an empty apartment to paint his masterpiece comprised mainly of pictures of people's feet, but overall I wasn't too fond of this one.

These Girls: Frustrating comedy about a trio of teenaged girls (who include Jaye from Wonderfalls and the karaoke singing sister from Sons & Daughters) who each become involved with the same married man (David Boreanaz), basically blackmailing him into letting them "share" him. Some funny moments, and good performances from all involved, but the murky morality of the ending really bugged me; it wouldn't have bothered me that the guy got as much crap heaped on him as he did if there had been some consequences for the self-involved, witchy girls, but with them all getting off scott free, I felt discomfited.

Just Before Dawn: 80s slasher film starring veteran character Gregg Henry as one of a group of campers who stumble across a couple of inbred psycho killers. Very slow going; I don't mind horror films taking up time with characterizations, since it makes the deaths a bit more meaningful, but this one took a bit too long to get started.

On a Clear Day: British film about a recently laid off man who decides he's going to swim the English Channel. Nice little film; nothing groundbreaking, but not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.

The Quiet Earth: 80s post-apocalyptic film following three vastly different people who wake up to find that everyone else on Earth has disappeared. An interesting film which is worth it just for the first third of the film which follows the main character during his descent into madness before he finds out that he's not all alone after all and declares himself ruler of the world.


Reel Fanatic said...

Great stuff ... Tristram Shandy was easily one of the funniest movies I've seen in recent years, and look forward to getting it on DVD soon to see the long interview with Coogan in the extras

Bubblegum Tate said...

Because I understand the type of personality that heas about a nine volume novel and sees that as nothing short of a challenge, I will endeavor to at least save you the money you might otherwise have spent on the nine volumes. Behold!

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