Author Topic: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar  (Read 111498 times)

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #45 on: April 20, 2013, 05:19:49 PM »
TitleSeedpeople
Year1992
DirectorPeter Manoogian
StarsSam Hennings, Andrea Roth, Dane Witherspoon, Bernard Kates, Holly Fields
OverviewThe sleepy little town of Comet Valley has been invaded by plants from outer space. Intent on taking over the Earth, the space plants have found a way to pollinate humans, thus turning them into walking seed carriers.

Can the resourceful residents fight off the alien invaders, or is the planet doomed to become an alien garden?
My thoughtsFrom an idea by [executive producer] Charles Band. Well, let me guess what ideas good old Charlie had:
* We can take the story from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, add some monsters and a little blood, and nobody will see the connection. Fail!
* We let John Carl Buechler build the monsters. He'll do a terrific job of it. Fail!
* It'll be as good as the original. Heck, it'll be even better. Epic fail!

It's not the worst movie I've ever seen. But that's not saying much, because I've seen some real turkeys. But there's hardly anything good about it either. It's silly without being funny. Story, acting, directing, everything is just mediocre.
If you want to see Invasion of the Body Snatchers, see the original. Or even any of the official remakes. The '78 remake is almost as good as the '56 original. The '93 remake by Abel Ferrara is so-so, but hey, it's got a young Gabrielle Anwar. This one is pretty much just a waste of time.
Rating
« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 05:26:17 PM by GSyren »

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #46 on: April 22, 2013, 10:46:13 PM »
A Frank Tashlin duble review

TitleThe Alphabet Murders
Year1965
DirectorFrank Tashlin
StarsTony Randell, Anita Ekberg, Robert Morley, Maurice Denham, Guy Rolfe
OverviewThe Belgian detective Hercule Poirot investigates a series of murders in London in which the victims are killed according to their initials. The first victim is A.A. the second B.B. and so on. Poirot is assisted in his investigations by Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp.
My thoughtsOk, this is a bit of a cheat, because I don't think this one is available on DVD. I saw it on TV the other day, and I thought it was interesting, because it's a bit of an oddity as far as Tashlin goes.

Tone Randall as Hercule Poirot? Directed by Frank Tashlin? I wonder what Agatha Christie thought about this? Randall is playing Poirot like something out of The Pink Panther. This could have been funny, but not as an Agatha Christie mystery. Robert Morley is the best thing in this mess, but even he cannot quite save the film. Margaret Rutherford has a five second cameo as Miss Marple, identified as such only by Ron Goodwins famous theme from "Murder She Said" (a surprise top ten hit in Sweden a few years after the film).
Rating

TitleThe Glass Bottom Boat
Year1966
DirectorFrank Tashlin
StarsDoris Day, Rod Taylor, Arthur Godfrey, John McGiver, Paul Lynde
OverviewDoris Day entered her eighth consecutive year as a Top-10 Box-Office Star when she boarded The Glass Bottom Boat, a hilarious blending of romantic comedy and the era's burgeoning spy-movie genre.

Day plays a Girl Friday at a hush-hush aeronautics think tank. When colleagues suspect she's an espionage agent, Jennifer chaotically sets out to clear her name. Looney Tunes alumnus Frank Tashlin directs with a cartoonist's sensibility – or zany insensibility – embracing everything from spy guises to push-button chaos in a futuristic kitchen. With top comedians Arthur Godfrey, Paul Lynde, Edward Andrews, John McGiver, Dom DeLuise and Dick Martin in tow, The Glass Bottom Boat is loaded top to bottom with seethrough fun.
My thoughtsHave I mentioned that I love Doris Day? This is one of my favorite Doris Day movies. It's a really silly comedy. Unlike The Alphabet Murders it never pretends to be anything else. The title is a bit of a misnomer, because the film has very little to do with the glass bottom boat. The Swedish title, literally translated, was "Spy in Panties". Not that we see very much of any panties, either, but it's a little more appropriate. Not much singing, but the title song is good. It's sung in the movie as well, as a duet with Doris' dad (and we get a couple of lines of Que Sera, Sera as a bonus). Rod Taylor is quite ok in this one, better than in the previous year's Do Not Disturb, in my opinion. Perhaps because this is no remake, so there is nobody to compare him to.
Rating

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #47 on: April 22, 2013, 11:09:57 PM »
TitleThe Court Jester
Year1956
DirectorMelvin Frank
StarsDanny Kaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury, Cecil Parker
OverviewIn this swashbuckling comic farce, star Danny Kaye plays kind-hearted entertainer Hawkins who disguises himself as the legendary king of jesters, Giacomo. Hawkins infiltrates the court of the evil villain Basil Rathbone, but when a sorceress hypnotises him, royal chaos ensues. Giacomo now believes he is also an infamous assassin, and alternates between his identities at the snap of a finger. Between swordplay and wordplay, Danny Kaye displays his fancy footwork... and his comic genius. With a stellar supporting cast, including Glynis Johns, Angela Lansbury and Mildred Natwick, Kaye sings and dances among dueling knights and damsels in distress. Through it all, this jester proves he's one of the original kings of comedy.
My thoughtsWhat can I say? This is a brilliant film. It's been a while since I saw it, but I've seen it several times, and it's just as funny every time. It is, in my opinion, one of Danny Kaye's funniest films, rivaled only by The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. There are great songs, great gags, great parody. It's... great! Danny Kaye was an incredibly gifted artist. He could do serious roles just as well as comedic ones. A favorite of mine in the serious category is The Five Pennies (with Louis Armstrong and Barbara Bel Geddes). But it is in his comedies that his real genious shines through. If you haven't seen this one, you have missed something really special. I almost wish I could see it for the first time again...
Rating

Offline DSig

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1094
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #48 on: April 24, 2013, 12:29:06 AM »
Oh wow ... what a great watch.  I really want this for my collection.  Some of Danny Kaye's early works are simply brilliant.
Thank you
David

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #49 on: April 27, 2013, 10:44:32 PM »
All right, who was the dirty rat who put me on to Castle? Not only am I going to have to watch all of Season 1, there will be at least four more seasons that I'll be bound to buy. And who knows what will happen if ABC doesn't have the sense to drop Castle after Season 5?

Hi, my name is Gunnar, and I'm a TV show junkie... (Ok, not quite as bad as Pete, maybe, but that's not much of a consolation  ;) )

Offline Dragonfire

  • Mega Heavy Poster
  • *******
  • Posts: 6911
    • View Profile
    • Dragonfire88 Pbwiki
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #50 on: April 28, 2013, 05:38:17 AM »
 :laugh:

No no no...we do not want the show to be cancelled.  Bite your tongue.

I know I've posted about the show some here.  I love it.

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #51 on: April 28, 2013, 07:40:26 AM »
Ouch! I guess I'll watch a few more eps of Castle while I wait for my bitten tongue to stop hurting...   :-X

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #52 on: April 28, 2013, 02:50:15 PM »
TitleThe Hammer Vault: Treasures from the Archives of Hammer Films
Year2011
AuthorMarcus Hearn
OverviewThis book tells the story of Hammer Films through previously unseen treasures from the companys archive. Beginning with the companys incorporation documents from 1934, and ending with promotional material from the 2011 release The Resident, The Hammer Vault presents original correspondence, lobby cards, script pages and rare photographs alongside a commentary from the people who made some of the companys greatest films.
My thoughtsWhat's this? A book review? In a DVD forum? Yes, well it is about films, so I hope I am forgiven.

If you're into Hammer Films, then this book might be of interest to you. As the overview describes, it contains previously unseen archival material, mostly publicity stuff and lobby cards (or "front of house cards" as they are apparently known in the UK). But also some interesting behind-the-scenes photos and other material. It starts with The Quatermass Xperiment and goes through all (I think) of Hammer's films after that, up to the recent Let Me In. Most films get a two page spread, some only get one page, but they are fairly large pages (31 x 25 cm).

There is some text on each film, but as you can imagine the book doesn't go into any depth on any of the films. And it is totally UK centric. Understandable, since all the material comes from a UK company, but it doesn't even mention that some of the films were retitled for their US releases. So no mention of "Horror of Dracula", for example. I thought I knew most Hammer films by name, at least, but I found several that I hadn't heard of before. Not any horror films, though.

If you're looking for an introduction to Hammer films, this probably isn't your best bet. While it will give you a good overview of Hammer's output, you can find that in other books that won't cost you £20. If you want in-depth discussions on the films, this definitely isn't it. If you're a Hammer fan and want to get previously unknown tidbits, well here's your chance. I had a bit of a hard time deciding how to rate this book. I like it a lot, but it has rather limited appeal, and is a bit expensive. So 3,5 out of  5 is a compromise. For myself only, I would probably rate it higher, but I wouldn't want to mislead anyone.
Rating

Offline Dragonfire

  • Mega Heavy Poster
  • *******
  • Posts: 6911
    • View Profile
    • Dragonfire88 Pbwiki
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #53 on: April 29, 2013, 03:29:13 AM »
That book sounds interesting.  I have some books about different movies.

Offline DSig

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1094
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #54 on: April 29, 2013, 04:15:37 AM »
All right, who was the dirty rat who put me on to Castle? Not only am I going to have to watch all of Season 1, there will be at least four more seasons that I'll be bound to buy. And who knows what will happen if ABC doesn't have the sense to drop Castle after Season 5?

Hi, my name is Gunnar, and I'm a TV show junkie... (Ok, not quite as bad as Pete, maybe, but that's not much of a consolation  ;) )
The only thing wrong with Castle is they went through a weird arc of Beckett trying to figure out who killed her mother and some deep conspiracy ... other than those shows <G>  it is a very fun series to watch.  As always I am sorry the *hooked up* as it relieves that tension.  But still watching ...
Thank you
David

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #55 on: April 29, 2013, 07:20:12 PM »
You may remember that I mentioned that I had written a small utility to help formatting my reviews.

Well, the developer curse struck me. You know, that's when you start thinking "Well, this is all right, but everything is hardcoded. It really should be more flexible, more configurable, so you're not locked to one specific layout".

So, even though I didn't really need anything else, it became a matter of pride to prove to myself that I could do something better. So I spent a few rainy days (well, I didn't look too closely, maybe it was just windy) tinkering with Visual Studio and WPF and Visual Basic (yes, I don't like C#) and now version 1 is ready.

So... if anyone wants to try my super duper program - DvdpBuilder - drop me a PM and I'll let you know where you can download it. Yes, I could post the d/l link here, but I just like to know who is playing with my toy  :)

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #56 on: May 01, 2013, 08:44:51 AM »
TitleThe Ballad of Josie
Year1967
DirectorAndrew V. McLaglen
StarsDoris Day, Peter Graves, George Kennedy, Andy Devine, William Talman
OverviewHOLLYWOOD SWEETHEART DORIS DAY lights up the screen with her timeless sparkle in this light-hearted western.  Upon the death of her husband, feisty rancher Josie is determined to make a success of her sheep farm in smalltown Wyoming, much to the outrage of her male counterparts.  Determined to prove her equality and defend her land, she stirs up a woman's rights riots, and even a little romance along the way.
My thoughtsApparently this is a film that Doris didn't want to make, but one which her husband Martin Melcher signed her up for. Despite this, Doris does a pretty good job, but it's just not a very good script. It seems that the scriptwriters couldn't decide if they were writing a comedy or a straight western, so the result is rather a mish-mash. Their recipe is something like this: Take the standard sheep farmer vs. cattle farmer controversy. Add a good portion of womens lib. Sprinkle with some silly comedy moments. Unfortunately it doesn't come out very well. Not even Peter Graves or George Kennedy can save it from being rather bland.

And talk about unimaginative casting! They've got William Talman playing a district attorney. After being defeated time after time by Perry Mason for nine seasons, couldn't they have given mr. Talman something else for his final movie role? And how about Andy Devine as a judge? Seriously?

This is also one of the few of Doris' movies where she doesn't sign at all. Well, ok, a couple of lines over the end credits, but that doesn't count. Still Doris is the saving grace for this movie. She is the only reason I rate it 3.5 / 5.
Rating

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #57 on: May 01, 2013, 09:56:46 AM »
TitleBlitz
Year2010
DirectorElliott Lester
StarsJason Statham, Paddy Considine, Aidan Gillen, Zawe Ashton, David Morrissey
OverviewUncompromising and utterly un-PC cop Brant (Jason Statham - The Expendables) is teamed up with an unlikely partner in Sgt Porter Nash (Paddy Considine - The Bourne Ultimatum) as they hunt down vigilante cop killer Barry Weiss (Aidan Gillen - The Wire). Time is running out for the next victims in line, as Brant combs the streets of London for the unrelenting and merciless Weiss. Also starring David Morrissey (Red Riding) as the hack journalist who bites off more than he can chew. This gripping thriller is from a screenplay by Nathan Parker (writer of Moon) and based on the best selling novel by acclaimed crime writer Ken Bruen.
My thoughtsJason Statham will never win an Oscar. But he's fun to watch if you like action movies. The problem here is that there isn't that much action. There is some bloodshed, and sure, Statham kicks some ass, but not a whole lot of action otherwise.

On the plus side, there is the nice photography. Nice London locations that doesn't use a lot of tourist spots that we've seen meny times before. Paddy Considine is good as a gay cop, and Aidan Gillen plays a cop-killer psycho quite well.

(click to show/hide)

With that caveat, Blitz is still an entertaining movie.
Rating
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 01:56:13 PM by DJ Doena »

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #58 on: May 02, 2013, 05:39:43 PM »

A technical review of 20 Million Miles to Earth.

I'm a fan of Ray Harryhausen, and I consider his animation in 20 Million Miles to Earth among the best he has done. It's not as complicated as some of his later works, like the seven skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts, but it is extremelt fluid and lifelike. Some other stuff in this movie isn't as brilliant, so here are some of the good, the bad and the ugly in 20 Millions Miles to Earth:

0:05:10 The rocket is nose down, yet the insides are right way up.

0:09:00 When the fishing boat is leaving the rocket, the two saved austronauts are nowhere to be seen inside the boat.

0:09:56 The general speculates that the rocket is now "20,000 leagues under the sea". It is a common misunderstanding that the title of Jules Verne's book refers to the depth at which the Nautilus was sailing. Actually it refers to the distance sailed under the sea. A league is three nautical miles. So 20,000 leagues is over 100,000 kilometers. The diameter of the earth is less than 13,000 kilometers...

0:22:16 The Ymir hatches. This is a brilliant piece of animation. The way that the Ymir breaks out of its gelatinous "egg" looks absolutely lifelike. There is no sign of any trickery. I have no idea how Harryhausen accomplished this. Possibly he poked the Ymir's front leg from behind in order to make it break through, but there is absolutely nothing that shows.

0:23:58 When dr. Leonardo places the Ymir in the cage, the bars in front of the Ymir must be part of the animation setup, and the rest of the cage is clearly part of the background plate and full size. The matching of the miniature and the fullsize cage is absolutely perfect.

0:26:41 In this sequence the close-ups of Colonel Colder, General McIntosh, Doctor Uhl and some others are shot against backprojection screen. In the long shots on location in Italy they are played by second unit stand-ins. Looks ok, but the distance they are shot at is a clue that they are stand-ins. It's just far enough that you can't really make out their faces.

0:29:51 The general reveals that this is "man's first interplanetary voyage". The script doesn't reveal if man has been to the moon. The moon isn't a planet, so possibly man has visited the moon. However, it seems terribly unlikely that the first interplanetary voyage would be to Venus rather than to Mars (even if this is fiction).

0:35:20 The Ymir breaks out of the cage on the trailer. Great matching of miniature cage and full size cage. When the Ymir leaps from the trailer it looks very much as if the full size cage has been used, and part of the Ymir has been matted. It's so quick that it's hard to tell.

0:38:05 The sequence with the Ymir and the lone lamb is obviously meant to show that the Ymir is not agressive or blood thirsty. However the scene fails because the lamb does not react at all to the Ymir. It doesn't even look at it. It's way too obvious that the Ymir isn't really there.

0:38:49 A minor continuity error; the horse is tethered, then it's free, then it's tethered again

0:39:05 A bunch of chicken are very obviously thrown into the scene.

0:43:48 The fight between the Ymir and the farmer. When the Ymir jumps the farmer, it's the live action farmer. For the rest of the fight the farmer is an animation puppet. If you look closely you can see the difference, but the animation of the farmer is really very good.

0:49:58 Another minor thing: Since the Venus project is run by the Air Force, we must assume the the General is also Air Force. Yet when he order up helicopters, they are Marine helicopters. Except when the soldiers jump out of the helicopter. That helicopter is marked US Army. I doubt that you can get different parts of the US military forces to cooperate that quickly.

0:52:47 The Ymir is attacked with flame throwers. Now, the flames are part of the background plate, yet we see them pass in front of the Ymir. That's a neat trick from Harryhausen. He pulled a similar trick in It Came from Beneath the Sea. When asked about that trick in a recent interview, Harryhausen said he didn't remember how it was done. Perhaps not, or perhaps he didn't want to reveal all his secrets.

0:59:28 The press conference ends. All reporters rush out. Not one of them has a question for the general. Did you ever see a real press conference on anything important where the reporters don't shout all kinds of questions?

1:04:36 Dr. Uhl says to the reporters "The beast has no heart and it has no lungs". And yet we see very clearly how the creature's chest rises and falls as it breaths.

1:06:50 The fight between the Ymir and the elephant. Just like the fight with the farmer, this is a piece of superb animation. Animating a fantasy creature is one thing. Animating a human or an animal that we recognise is quite another thing. Harryhausen knows exactly how an elephant moves and replicates it perfectly in his animation. It's the small details that makes all the difference, such as the swing of the tail, for eample. Every little such detail means one more movement to keep track of during animation.

1:08:30 During the struggle the Ymir tips the elephant across a car. It crushes very realistically. When the elephant steps on the mangled car to get up, it gives just a little bit. Another very small detail that helps to sell the scene.

1:13:38 The Ymir breaks through the Ponte Sant'Angelo bridge. Perfect match between the animation miniature in the foreground and the real bridge in the background plate.

1:15:09 The Ymir appears behind some columns. The soldiers run in front of some other columns. Impossible to tell real colums from fake ones, even though you know that the columns in front of the Ymir must be part of the animation setup. Moments later the Ymir topples the columns, including the ones that we saw the soldiers run in front of. These must now be miniatures, and the real colums hidden somehow.

1:15:40 The sequence with the columns is marred by some pieces of column dropping in front of some soldiers. The pieces show fringing that reveal all too clearly that they are matted in. One piece is even partially transparent.

1:19:44 Shots of Ymir on top of the (real) Colosseum. Quite effective.

1:20:19 A closer shot of the Ymir, now on a miniature part of Colosseum. This miniature is too clean and smooth to match the real Colosseum.

Note: The time stamps are from the Region A blu-ray. They should be the same for any blu-ray and for any NTSC DVD. Not for PAL DVDs, though, because of the 4% PAL speed-up.

So, despite some flaws, this is quite an enjoyable film. The animation is consistently good. The script is ok. Not great, but ok. William Hopper (Perry Mason's detective friend Paul Drake) was a dependable, but hardly stellar, actor. Nathan Juran may have been a B movie director, but he went on to direct 7th Voyage of Sinbad and The First Men in the Moon for Schneer and Harryhausen, so they must have found him to be ok.

Offline GSyren

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1081
  • Country: se
    • View Profile
Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #59 on: May 05, 2013, 10:00:55 PM »
A book review
TitleHammer Films: A Life in Pictures
AuthorWayne Kinsey
# of pages224 (Hardcover)
Purchased atAmazon UK for £22.39
My thoughtsJust like the previous book I reviewed, The Hammer Vault, this book has lots of pictures and not much text. But unlike The Hammer Vault, this book has no publicity material. Some sections are devoted to their stars, with pictures of them in different roles. Most of the book deal with their films though, and contain lots of behind-the-scenes photographs. Most of the pictures are black and white, but there are 8 pages of color photographs. Not a whole lot of text, as I said, but what there is is often quite interesting. There is very little overlapping between the two books, so they make perfect companions.
Rating4 out of 5