Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Nutty Professor (1963)

Last night Azalea was being really hyper and I just wanted her to go to bed.  So I decided to put on a bad movie so she would hear it but not be interested and fall asleep.  And it totally worked.  The movie I chose was The Nutty Professor.  No, no the one with Eddie Murphy being lots of different people.  The one with Jerry Lewis, who believes women can't be funny.  As if he's able to judge.  That would be like me judging a spelling bee.

If you know the story of Jekyll and Hyde, then you already know what is going to happen here.  Jerry Lewis plays Professor Kelp, a caricature of nerdy bumbling professors.  He also has bad teeth that stick out, a bad haircut, and is generally clumsy.  As usual, he keeps crossing his eyes.  I no longer believe this is used for comedy purposes and his eyes are just stuck that way.  Have you ever seen Mr. Deeds?  Steve Buscemi has a lazy eye for comedic effect.  And is that movie on the list?  Of course not.  I know this movie is on the list because it's old.  If a Jerry Lewis style film were to be made today, it would star Adam Sandler or Jim Carrey and the critics would hate it.  Yet several of their films are actually funny.  These kinds of films are the ones I'm not looking to learn anything, I just want to laugh. 

Dude look like SpongeBob Squarepants.  He falls in love with his student, Stella Purdy. (How did she get this name?  Because the actress's name is Stella and she's purdy.  Jerry Lewis is such a clever writer.)  He tries to get in shape which only perpetuates more stupid gags.  The worst is when he goes to the bowling alley without his glasses and bowls down a group of people.  Why is he not wearing glasses?  For that one gag?  That was stupid.

He creates a formula that turns him into Buddy Love, who is stylish for 1960s I guess?  He may be good looking, but he is horribly rude.  The main difference is their voices.  Professor SpongeBob has a nasally sounding voice, while Buddy's is smooth and dark.  When Buddy is singing, sometimes the Professor's voice will pop out.

Buddy is awful and has the attitude of a snowbird.  A snowbird is someone from up north who moves to Florida for the winter.  They are rude and awful.  They make fun of how stupid Southerners are and how great their state is.  It's worse when they officially move down here for good, because they still act the same!   I didn't see Buddy's behavior as over-the-top rude, like it probably was intended,  because this is what I experience every day.  The only thing Floridians hate more than sunburns and our bus system are snowbirds.  Except Paul, he's okay.

Professor Kelp can't control how long he will stay as Buddy, and he returns to normal at the most inopportune times.  At the end, he changes at the prom in front of everyone. (Yes, this is a university and they're having a prom.  Today they are known as formals.)  So he gives this speech about being yourself or whatever.  Then he marries his student.  That part I can't judge because my aunt and uncle are a student and professor who got married.  This movie was so bad.  I didn't like either character but of course he's going to get the hot blonde anyway.  Being an old film does not make it a good film.  I will give it a 4/10.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Things to Come (1936)

Today we watched Things to Come today.  It was awful.  It was made in the style of a grainy newsreel, everyone spoke in those awful 1930's newsreporter voices, and the whole thing was just an anti-war film disguised as a film about the future.  This was probably the wrong choice for Memorial Day, espeically with so many of my family being veterans.  We will give this a 4/10.

It starts off in the "future" of 1940 when war is threatened to last forever and destroy the world.  Everyone says that war will stop progress.  And it does.  The world all goes to chaos.  Plus, an epidemic of the "wandering sickness" spreads, but finally stops when all the infected people are shot dead.  Which totally makes sense because everyone knows you can't catch germs from a dead person.

Then comes the real future of past-2014, when we finally go to the moon.  They kind of underestimated our technological advances here.  Then there's a lot of preaching about progress and Azalea and I kind of tuned out.  Then it was over.

The main thing I hated was everyone had that 1930's newsreporter voices that boom.  Nobody talks like that, ever, not in a conversational way.  It really took away from the movie.  The whole thing felt like a giant newsreel, and it only focused on the negative parts of the future.  So we decided to think about positive things that exist instead:

  • More vaccines that can save lives.
  • Microwaves to heat up noodles
  • Crocs because they're comfy and people give us weird looks when we wear them and we don't care
  • Cameraphones - Are they camera or phone?  They are both!
  • Toasters.
  • Publix - where shopping is a pleasure - possibly the best grocery store
  • balloons
  • air conditioning
  • The internet that contains several lifetimes worth of knowledge yet I mostly use it to play games. The internet is also where we can make or watch educational or informational videos.  We're trying to make a video, but it's not going too well.
  • Poptarts
  • Pullups because they really help with toilet training - when she keeps all her clothes on, that is
  • there's so much more we can think about, but it's almost 11 so we'll stop for now.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ghost in the Shell (Kôkaku Kidôtai) (1995)

Today's film is Ghost in the Shell.  Think of it as a film that not only has robots, but has some deep philosophical thoughts.  This month I have focused on films that I have never seen before, but I have watched the Ghost in the Shell anime series, plus the Stand Alone Complex series, so I am very familiar with Major's character.

Major Motoko is a cyborg cop, who along with her mostly human partner, Bateau, is searching for a powerful hacker known as the Puppet Master.  The term "Ghost in the Shell" refers to a human spirit or conscience that resides in a robot's body or brain. It alludes to the Ghost in the Machine, a book written by Arthur Koestler and is way too complicated to write about here.

 Major wonders just how human she is.  She knows that she has emotions, imagination, and memories, but how much of that makes her a human.  Bateau is mostly human with cybernetic eyes.  How much of a cyborg needs to be actual human in order to make them a full person? 

The puppet master manipulates different cyborgs and gives them false memories.  One victim believes he has a wife and daughter, but he has been a bachelor for years.  He has to have his memory restored, but since they don't yet have the technology to fully restore, he may have the false memories of his "daughter" for the rest of his life.

A lot of the scenes are Major being naked, because that's how she uses her cloaking technology.  Everyone else uses a cloaking jacket. Cause that makes sense.  Pretty much every other scene is robot nipples. 

The universe of this movie looks just like our present, the only difference is that a lot of people have cybernetic parts.  Even the guns are the same as the present.  You would think with all this robot stuff, they would have laser guns or something.  Major and Bateau work for Section 9, a special group of cops that have the best technology available.  They find out the Puppet Master is not a person at all, but some ghost created by Section 6 that can infiltrate any network.  Going from network to network, it eventually became self-aware.  Major becomes obsessed with getting to know the ghost of this Puppet Master, to the extent of destroying her cyborg body and messing up her own mind.  But what does she gain from it? 

This movie was beautifully animated, from long panoramic scenes to realistic human movements.  It is a very well done anime.  I will give it an 8/10

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Metropolis (1927)

Today's film is Metropolis. It is one of the best science fiction films I have ever seen.  It is also eerily prophetic, especially here in America.  Even though we're not as bad as some countries, there is still a sharp divide between the lower and upper classes, and the middle class is becoming extinct.

In the world of Metropolis, the city planners and the rest of the upper class live in a beautiful garden utopia on the surface.  The lower class, known as the "workers" run the machines underground that power the city.  The workers live deep underground, below the machines.  Some of them, especially the children, have probably never seen sunlight.

Freder, the son of the city's mastermind, sees a woman surrounded by children and follows her deep underground.  He has never seen this part of the city before and had no idea what the workers have to go through in order to keep the above-land comfortable.  The woman is Maria and she is sort of a preacher/prophet that believes that there needs to be a mediator between the workers and the city planners.  She says the brains of the city and the hands that work needs a heart to come between them.

Meanwhile, Freder's dad, Joh Frederson is working with Rotwang, an inventor.  Rotwang looks like an angry Beethoven and he is building a robot that never tires or makes a mistake.  Frederson tells angry Beethoven to make the robot look just like Maria, so she can stir discord among the workers.  Then, they capture Maria and lock her up.

Rotwang's invention is successful and Maria-bot convinces the workers to destroy the machines.  Both Maria and her robot double were played by Brigitte Helm, and she does an awesome job portraying the two different personalities.  A lot of the acting is bad silent film over-acting, but that's all silent films so it's okay. 

So since Maria-bot got all the workers to destroy the machines, all of the underground areas start flooding!  Especially the worker's underground city!  The real Maria escapes and rescues all the children trapped in the city.  Meanwhile, the workers tie up Maria-bot and burn her at the stake like a witch.  This shows that in times of panic, lots of people will turn to superstition.  But the real Maria saves the day and meets up with Freder, who kisses her.  Freder now can act like the heart, or mediator, between the working class and the city planners.  And they lived happily ever after.

I didn't understand the skeleton playing the flute, the seven sins or stuff like that.  This film didn't need all of those abstract things in there.  I felt it took away from the movie.  Other than that, the movie was great.  I will give it a 9/10.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Fly (1958)

Today's film is The Fly.  It is so amazingly terrible.  This is one of the few movies in which the remake is far superior.  I think it's because the remake focuses on the scientist's point of view (the one who transforms into a fly) and this movie does not.

In this film, the scientist is dead, being squashed in a hydraulic press.  His wife confesses to killing him, but won't say why.  She also seems obsessed with flies, including a white-headed fly.  The scientist's brother lies and says he caught the fly, so she tells him what happened.

The scientist, Andre is working on a matter transporter called a disintegrator-integrator, which truly sounds like it was named by Dr. Doofenshmirtz.  Actually, I looked through his inventions and it turns out he did create a "disintegrator-inator" as part of his fitness lock-inators in the two-part episode "Where's Perry?"

Behold! My disintegrator-inator!
While he is in this disintegrator-inator, a fly gets in there with him.  So their genes mixed and now he has a giant fly head and one fly arm.  But, he keeps his mind so he can write notes to communicate.  That doesn't make any kind of sense.  If they switched heads, how could he keep his mind?  And when they finally find the fly with the human head, he speaks!  So both heads kept a human mind?  Where did the fly mind go?  Do flies have brains?  I really don't know.  The more I think about this, the more frustrated I get, like with a Rubiks cube.

So, anyway, the fly-scientist dies and everyone else lives happily ever after.  I can't say I benefited from watching this film.  I will give it a 4/10.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Blade Runner (1982)

Today's film is Blade Runner.  It was based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, mainly because of Harrison Ford's excellent acting and him being shirtless part of the time.  The setting is a dark, cyberpunk future that doesn't focus much on technology except for the fact that replicants exist as slaves on distant planets.  "Replicants" are what this film calls "androids" or humanoid robots.  They look exactly like humans, but have no emotions, have super strength, and have a limited lifespan of 4 years.

Replicants are dangerous, so they are not allowed on Earth.  If they come, they are hunted down by special cops called Blade Runners.  An especially skilled one named Deckard is called out of retirement to take care of a group of replicants that have stolen a ship to come to Earth to meet their creator.  Even though in the book Deckard is definitely not a replicant, everything in this movie seems to indicate he is.  He even has the same red flash in his eyes when talking to Rachael, another replicant.  She doesn't even know she is one, at least not until he gives her a special test to check her emotions.  So if Deckard is a replicant, then he probably doesn't know he is one either.

The movie culminates in a rainy fight between Deckard and the stronger Roy.  Both actors agree that Ridley Scott's assertion that Deckard is a replicant takes away from this fight.  Instead of it being a fight of man over machine, it just turns into a fight between two androids.  That's it.  So in this sense, one could say that Deckard has to be a human.  Also, it would be difficult but not impossible for Rachael to form any relationship with Deckard if she really doesn't have any emotions.

 In some ways, the replicants are more alive than Deckard is, who only exists to do his job, one he tried to retire from in the first place.  The replicants, led by Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer), are on a mission to visit their creator to extend their lifespans.  Roy's lifespan is almost up and he is not ready to die yet.  The creator tries to explain that they can't extend the lifespan and have tried several times.   Roy responds by killing him by smashing his face with his bare hands.  So this movie explores themes of creators being destroyed by what they have created, slavery and freedom, and what it means to be human.  I will give this film an 8/10.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Videodrome (1983)

The early 1980's were a simpler time.
Today, if I wanted to see pictures of blood splatter (of which I do have a proclivity towards) or gore, I could simply go to a variety of specialized websites.  Some people enjoy watching videos containing violence, whether real or obviously faked.  Some also enjoy playing violent or scary video games or listening to heavy metal.  And the thing is, we are not violent people.  

Some people get out their frustrations from the day by playing a violent video game.  I have had Autism my entire life, so my mind travels in different directions a mile a minute, so I listen to heavy metal at night so I can start to calm down.  My co-film critic and I like to dance and wear ourselves out before we go to bed.
But what about the 1980's?  There weren't many video games except like Pong or something.  Even early games like Mortal Kombat didn't come out until the 1990's.  There was no liveleak or youtube or anywhere to find short videos.  There were no phones that sent pictures.  There were no websites to browse through pictures.  Where am I supposed to find my blood pictures?  Come on!
That's where Videodrome comes in.  Videodrome is the new wave of violent TV.  It was accidentally discovered by a TV producer, Max Renn, who runs a station in Toronto.  Now, I've never been up north so I don't know much about Canada.  In fact, these pictures illustrate what I know about Canada:

So, Max decides to learn more about this Videodrome show and goes to a charity that helps homeless people watch TV (I'm not asking) and finds Brian O'blivion, who has recorded everything onto videocassettes.  Brian's daughter, Bianca explains about Videodrome and warns him that it is dangerous.  Max's girlfriend, Nicki, is turned on sexually by violence and wants to participate on an episode.  Unfortunately, I had to see James Wood's butt and I was not prepared for that.

I noticed that everyone's name is symbolic.  The main character is Max Renn (German for Run), Nicki Brand,  Convex, O'Blivion.  Their names made more sense as the movie went on.

This is a movie that I would really love to see updated with modern technology.  Remember this was made before reality shows and the movie The Matrix.  In that film, people use a smallish plug in the back of their heads to hook up to the matrix.  Poor Max has to use a giant tear in his abdomen to insert a videocassette.  Instead of Brian being split up into thousands of videocassettes, he would be a supercomputer, a transcended being who could answer Max's questions in real time and who could have explained Videodrome easier.

Max learns the makers of Videodrome are evil and are going to use their program to infect other people.  So he uses the gun he keeps in the tear of his abs to find the main producer and kill him.  We see that Videodrome really is some kind of virus and could infect anyone.  The way his body explodes like that is just awesome.  Then, Max runs away to an abandoned boat and finds Nicki inside a TV screen.  Should Max end his life and transcend into the "new flesh"?  How much of what has happened to him been a hallucination?   We may never know.  I will give this film a 9/10.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Today's film is Plan 9 from Outer Space.  It has the distinction of being the worst film ever made.  Because of this fact, it can be a guilty pleasure for some to watch and laugh at.  And it's not that it's so bad that it's good, it's just bad.

This looks more like a Soviet propaganda
poster than a movie poster.

First of all, the plot is here and everywhere.  Aliens, who look exactly like humans but wear shimmery clothes, come to destroy the Earth to prevent us from building some kind of sun-bomb.  They decide to implement Plan 9 in order to do this.  Plan 9 involves taking the recently deceased and turning them into zombie/vampires.  I can't tell if their zombies or vampires.  They certainly look like vampires, especially Vampira, who doesn't say anything, just walks slowly and menacingly.  The actress Vampira refused to say any lines because she thought the dialogue was atrocious.  That's a question I have for the filmmakers: If your own actress thinks the dialogue is so bad she can't even say it, then why would you think anyone would enjoy it? Also, the time of day changes constantly.  In one scene, it'll go from night to day to night for no reason.

The other vampire I see is Count Dracula, or Bela Lugosi, who I think either can't get over the fame he had as playing Dracula or doesn't want to.  He slow walking (acting exactly like Dracula) is really misplaced in this film.  Also, thanks to watching Ed Wood (a biopic on the director), I learned that Bela Lugosi died during the filming and was poorly replaced, which is why he's covered by his cape half the time.  I really have a greater appreciation for this film after watching Ed Wood.  Not that I like it any better, I just know more about the actors playing in this film and what they thought.   The only character that reminds me of a zombie was Tor Johnson, just because he's too big to be a vampire.

Since this was plan 9, what were the other plans?  Did they seriously try 8 other plans to destroy or invade Earth and fail, and this was their new best plan?  Do they come from the same planet as Invader Zim?

Even if Ed Wood wasn't the worst director ever, he certainly was the worst writer ever.  My favorite line in the movie is "Future events such as these will affect you in the future".  Did he not have anyone else to proofread this?  Then, the colonel says, "Then they attacked a town, a small town I'll admit.  But nevertheless a town of people.  People who died."  This sounds like a third grader trying to write a book report.  Then, the reason why the transmission is cut short is because "atmospheric conditions in outer space often interfere with transmitting".  This is how I feel about that:

There can be no atmospheric condition in outer space because there is no atmosphere! *throws table*

This whole film made me want to throw a table.  I'm going to give it a 3/10.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Children of Men (2006)

Today's film is Children of Men.  It shows a sadly realistic portrayal of a future world.  No spaceships, laser guns, or anything futuristic technology-wise, just a sad, crumbling planet thanks to our actions.  In this film, it's been about 18 years since the last baby was born.  The movie's not concerned with why women can't have babies, they just can't.

Clive Owen plays Theo, a one-time activist who grew up and got a job.  He is asked by his fellow activists, including his ex-wife, to get papers and help transport a young woman named Kee.  Kee is pregnant and needs to go to the Human Project, a group of scientists dedicated to fixing the fertility problem.  The activists, known as Fishes, want to use the baby as a pawn in their political scheme, and the government, well the government just sucks.  So Theo and Kee are trapped in the middle.  However, they do get lots of help from many people who want to make sure that Kee and her baby are safe.

Michael Caine was my favorite part of the movie.

This film is not so much a film about a dystopian future as it is a commentary on our modern society.  The film takes place in England but much of what we see is more about America.  We have a huge mistrust, almost hatred, of immigrants, yet we are a country founded on immigrants.  When Theo and Kee go through the first part of the refugee camp, we see the immigrants hooded and caged.  These people are in the exact same poses as the prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison.  Also, I noticed the floating pig from that Pink Floyd album.

Something else I noticed was the impending danger associated with oranges.  Someone peels an orange in the car, and Theo's ex-wife is killed.  His pot-growing friend, Theo, has an orange right before the rebels kill him.  In the refugee camp, the gypsies share an orange with Kee and her baby, right before they have to run out into all that violence.  Every time we see an orange, someone gets killed.  This also happened in The Godfather.

I think the ending of this film is upbeat and positive.  Yes, Theo dies, but he has to.  He represents the dying out of a diseased generation, while Kee is the new generation that starts over.  She gets to start over fresh with her new baby.  And, the boat that comes to pick them up is named "Tomorrow".  That says a lot to me.  As the picture fades out, we hear the laughter of children, signifying that more children will be born and the world will be saved.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Total Recall (1990)

Today's film is Total Recall.  I remember watching this on TV quite a few times as a child, but never really grasped what was going on.  Turns out it is a lot more mindbending than I had anticipated.

Governator Schwarzenegger plays Doug Quaid, a construction worker that decides to go on a virtual vacation.  Something goes wrong and he finds out that he is a secret agent that is supposed to go to Mars and that he has a vital secret.  Is what is happening an elaborate dream and is his body still at the Recall vacation place?  Or is he key to saving Mars?

Super Towel Man here to save Mars

Doug's original name before he got his memory changed is Hauser.  Hauser was a bad guy working for Cohaagen, the main man on Mars, but switched sides when he discovered his secret.  Was Hauser's memory erased so he would forget the secret?  Or did Hauser really do it to himself so he could fool the psychics and infiltrate the rebel gang?  Doug declares that he is not Hauser anymore, but was he ever Hauser?  Or did losing his memory change his demeanor?  There have been victims of brain damage that have changed personality.  It makes me wonder that if damage to your brain can change your personality or consciousness, which I have seen firsthand, does that negate the existence of the soul?  We were taught in school that souls were our consciousness, but if something as simple as a knock on the head (or a memory cap like in this film) can change that, was it ever there to begin with?

That's what the film made me think.  Besides the mindbending parts, there is the usual action that accompanies Schwarzenegger films.  I enjoyed the fight scenes, and even the women are great fighters.  The makeup was also great.  Many of the characters were mutants and they had to look believable.  Yes, I did not forget the lady with three boobs.  This film is so much fun.  I will give it an 8/10.

No damsels in distress in this film!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

When I saw the title for this film, I felt like this:

So I had to watch the film.  It's campy, and it knows exactly how silly it is.  Aliens in a Big Top circus tent shaped spaceship crashland in the woods near a town that apparently only has two police officers.  The aliens kill humans, wrap them in cotton candy cocoons, and drink their blood through crazy straws.  I was laughing the whole movie.  It is outrageous.  I will give this film a 5/10.

Unfortunately, many lives were lost because out of the two police officers, only one is helpful. His name is Dave. The other cop is rude and useless when it comes to helping.  He must be based on Florida cops.  Dave figures out that if you pop their noses, they'll explode.  The Clowns (or Klowns I guess) also throw popcorn everywhere.  I think the popcorn might be their eggs or something, because weird clown-faced creatures emerge from them.

Even though this movie isn't scary, the characters of the clowns can be considered scary.  There was a survey done in 2008 that proved that clowns were "universally dislike" by kids of varying ages.  I would have hated to have been a part of that study.  I think it's because their heavy makeup hides their true face, and without seeing facial expressions, it's hard to trust someone.  This lack of trust and the unfamiliarity of this person and what they really might be translates into fear.  My husband said he was surprised that I watched a film with scary clowns in it.  I told him that those clowns weren't scary, but this clown is, and showed him this picture:

I have no idea why he won't watch horror films with me.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May is Sci Fi Month! Yay!

Hi! I want to wish everyone a happy May Day, and I hope we have a beautiful spring here.  In honor of May 4th (may the fourth be with you), this month is now designated as Sci Fi Month!  Sci Fi is my favorite genre of film. I'm glad to live in a place so close to the Space Center because there is a wealth of learning there.  Also, we get to see the rockets take off.  Sci Fi is the best because it is so imaginative.  What will the future be like?  What is life on other planets like? I can't wait to find out for real, but it is fun to imagine.