Archive for the ‘Film – sort it aht!’ Category

 

dracula

This Dracula is a twat

 

I can believe Marvel and DC have a shared universe. They’ve got a long history of people in Spandex biffing the living crap out of each other. I can even believe the Universal Monsters have a shared universe, even when they’re not biffing the crap out of each other. Back in the yesteryear they were teamed up in films like House of Dracula and Frankenstein Vs The Wolf Man. But the subtle difference between then and now is they didn’t try and make the fluffing monsters the good guys.

Yes, I know The Mummy remake with that pipsqueak of action, Tom Cruise, had the Mummy as the evil-doer, but if you check out Dracula Untold or I, Frankenstein the bastard monsters are the ones getting up to all kinds of super-hero shenanigans, and I say ‘NO!’ This will not stand! If I want to see a film with Dracula in it I don’t want him poncing about slapping people around in the name of good, or Frankenstein using his bellend-powers to take on the evil mastermind. I want them kicking ten shades of shit out of each other before a castle burns down for some reason!

I understand Universal want to get their greasy fingers into the superhero pie. After all, the Marvel and DC films are raking in more zlotys than your average corrupt politician. But the one thing you should have – the one reason people go to see horror films – is to have the pants scared off of them, not root for the fucking bloke with the fangs! It’s a horror film, dammit! Horrify! And by horrify I don’t mean stick a tiny Tom Cruise in it and have him bastard well running about like he does in EVERY BLOODY FILM HE’S IN!!

Leave the super-heroing up to the people who don’t mind wearing skin tight suits, and let’s get back to the sort of Universal films where Dracula pops up and bites the virgin’s face off, or The Wolf Man leaps out of the dark and flicks the V’s at some old people, or The Phantom of the Opera writes the word ‘knobend’ on the hero’s car just to show how evil he is.

The Conjuring people have the right idea. The film’s might be ropy, but at least the buggers are trying to scare the balls out of your pants. They split off with Annabel, made a few of them, and sooner or later Annabel and Bathsheba from The Conjuring will have a big slap fight like the bluddy horror tropes they are. If Universal got their mitts on the series we’d have Annabel don a big leather suit and Bathsheba suddenly find she can do kung-fu, and then they’d team up and fight Big Pharma.

On the plus side, all of the recent superhero versions of well-loved horror legends have gone down like a big pile of poo down the U-bend. No matter how much they try and link all their non-copywritten characters up, no fucker’s buying it, mainly because these bloody films are generic toss, and there’s enough of the cak out there to be getting on with as it is.

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Ernest goes to jail poster

Five Stars!! – Empire

 

Many of your earth years ago I was flicking through a copy of Empire magazine and came across a review of Sam Peckinpah’s The Getaway. A good film, but not exactly a classic. However, since the film was by Peckinpah and a certain musty age, Empire magazine gave it five out of five stars, just for being old. What a pile of cak.

This is one of the many reasons why film magazines get right up my nose. I’ll buy them, I’ll read them, but only rarely will I come away with a sense of fulfilment, or even having learned anything. Mainly it’s a puff piece for whatever piece of corporate crowd-pleasing bullshit the film companies wish to foist upon the glazed, drooling faces of the average punter, which is fair enough as I love a bit of cak. These puff pieces will take the form of all the actors talking about how working with the director was ‘a challenging experience’, which is shorthand for the megalomaniac in charge was a total cunt and they’d quite happily kick the bastard in the jewels for eternity if they could get away with it. It’s then followed by said actors talking about how everyone they worked with was great, despite actively loathing every second of time with each other. Maybe some insight from the director talking codsbollocks about some wank the studio wishes him to bleat, followed by half a ton of stills to pad out the bullshit.

I wouldn’t mind so much, but after decades of reading this cak I wish they’d try something a little different. Sight and Sound at least go for the foreign market, but Empire and Total Film plough straight for the furrow that says ‘middle-of-the-road’. They’ve got enough space in their bastard mags to try and stick in the odd piece about something which isn’t the same old regurgitated bollocks. Yes, I understand they need to flog copies, but TRY and stick an article about The Brothers Quay or Jodorowsky amongst all the bastard glitz!

And their attitude to films goes beyond fandom and into the territory of craven toady. Everyone’s got a different perspective on their likes and dislikes. I fucking love some films which other people wouldn’t piss on (Rambo 3, Speed Racer, Scooby Doo – all great in their own, unique way, and all hated by just about everyone I know) so I understand if Johnny Reviewer gives a five-star review to whatever knob cheese has hit the Criterion re-release rota, but more often than not any film which is over 10 years old gets the red-carpet treatment, and everything else is ignored. Empire don’t even do DVD reviews anymore, and do puff-pieces on major films or underground hits, such is their contempt for film. It’s only through a quick review in Sight and Sound that I discovered the genius of Hausu!

Like in life, diversity is an expander of knowledge, and it would be nice if the mainstream film mags could take that into consideration. I could just stop buying the mags of course, but then what would I read on the bog?

 

Vader

Fucking Star Wars!

 

Lately Empire magazine produced a listing of the top 100 films as voted for by their readers. All the usual suspects were in there, because you can’t have a listing with anything interesting, diverse, or too different in there.

A lot of film mags do this, as it’s a great way to fill out 10 pages with piccies and the odd comment from some director saying, “I likes Star Wars because it made the snail in my pants feel funny!!” If it’s not ‘best films’ it’s ‘sexiest stars’ or ‘best scenes’ or ‘most tedious listings’. So, let’s have a look at what’s on offer with:

!!SORTITAHT TOP FILMS OF SOMETHING OR BLAH!!

Star Wars: Got to have Star Wars in any listing. It’s the law, or every 40 – 60 years old virgin will explode in apoplectic rage, even if the listing is something like ’50 best financial adjusters’. I loved it when I was a kid, but I’m almost 50 now! I couldn’t give a fuck if Greedo shot first – I just want some comfy fucking slippers!

Jaws: Also, every listing must have Jaws. Dum dum, dum dum – ooh, big sharky. For some people, these two films sum up everything about the power of cinema. Go and see ‘Come and See’ by Elem Klimov. That’ll blow your fucking socks off!

The Godfather: Also in every top poll, just to show that film fans can sit through boring talky stuff, as long as some fucker gets a bullet up the jacksey at the end of it.

Citizen Kane: Usually down the lower end of the listing; usually voted for by people who can cram Empire AND Sight and Sound into their eyeball space. It says, ‘Yes, I spunked a big wadge of man-love over Fast and Furious, but I still have time to stroke my chin and nod knowingly at them black and white fillums’.

Some Shit By Richard Curtis: Always a few of these bastards in there. Simpering, upper-middle class toss, the lot of them, exemplified by the attitude to the disabled woman at the end of Notting Hill, where they leave her in the road as they all bog off in a taxi. “Yeah, fuck off, wheelie – thanks for providing us with the right-on credentials for the Hooray crowd – now try not to get hit by a truck as we piss off to the fucking airport and get emetic.”

Institute Benjamenta: Hah! Good luck seeing THAT bastard in any list! Actually, it’s a pretty average film, but the point is films which are different or experimental or just brilliantly interesting don’t even make it into the bloody Sight and Sound charts! And those ponces breathe pretension! Empire probably send a hitman around to your house if you sneak one of these bastards in.

It must be hell being a film fan with a wide-range of interests, and knowing that every time – EVERY TIME – there’s a film poll the usual suspects will turn up in the listing. Including The Usual Suspects. I don’t dislike these films – Jaws IS a freakin’ classic, along with Godfather and Kane, but it would be nice to see something with a little bit of individuality.

So, here’s my very short listing of bonkers madcap nutty films you should see:

Hausu – Nobuhiko Obayashi – Weird Japanese ghost story – in one scene a piano eats someone. And then the severed fingers play the piano. And that’s not the weirdest part.

Faust – Jan Svankmajer – Re-telling of the Faust legend with puppets and people. Normal in intent, but strange in execution. They used life-size puppets for this one, and the effect is BLOODY MAD!

Endless Poetry – Alejandro Jodorowsky – Not his weirdest film, but fuck me, is it inspiring. An autobiographical look at Jodorowsky’s first stabs at creativity – Quote from a friend I watched it with: “Well, I didn’t think I’d end the day watching a poet make love to a menstruating dwarf.”

The Hourglass Sanatorium – Wojciech Jerzy Has – No idea where to start with this one. There’s one scene where a man crawls under a bed and ends up in a swamp, next to a beached showboat. Why not, eh?

A Town Called Panic – Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar – Mental animation about a cowboy, a native American, and a horse and their undersea adventures. Massively funny and hugely barmy.

If you want something a tad different (and barmy) then have a peek at these.

romero3

George A Romero passed away, and with it went another slice of the forces which have influenced me in my burgeoning years. His later output may have been ropy, but he was creator of some stone-cold classics in his early years.

When I was 9 years old I went to see Ralph Bakshi’s animated version of Lord of the Rings at the local Odeon. Back then they didn’t bother with age appropriate trailers, which is how I ended up watching the forthcoming attractions for Swedish Nympho Slaves and Dawn of the Dead. The Nymphos I had no interest in – I was 9 years old, after all – but the Dawn trailer blew me away. It was the first time I’d come across any representation of a zombie which would tear your face off and pull down society. The trailer was chaos and anarchy, mixed with action and satire. And some stonking music by Goblin.

Instant fan. I was already into horror, but mainly Hammer and Universal, as they were the only films deemed appropriate to show on TV back in the restrictive 70s. After seeing the Dawn trailer I started reading up on modern horror, like Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left, and – principally – Night of the Living Dead. Dawn had just come out then, so there weren’t the reams of literature dedicated to its status as a modern classic that you can find now, so I had to delve into his first film to get my thrills. (As a side note, you couldn’t even get Fangoria in the shops until the mid-eighties. Dark times, indeed).

My next aim in life was to try and see these classics, and thanks to the advent of video, many years later I managed to get my peepers on a dodgy pirate copy of Dawn which a friend had in his stash (along with a copy of House By the Cemetery, where he’d amusingly dubbed over all the characters as Ronald Reagan). It had everything I’d read about – helicopter blades taking a head off, shotgun to the bonce, many limbs chewed, machetes to the head, etc. Not only that, ladles of social satire, oodles of characterisation, and some of the best action scenes I’d ever seen. Seriously, folks, if you want to know how to ramp up tension on a budget check out the opening scene where the SWAT member has his gun jam, gets tangled up in a chair, and then starts to panic – whilst all the while a zombie drags itself towards him across the floor.

Censorship laws in the UK were pretty draconian up until the 90s, although we did get Night of the Living Dead released on vid. Channel 4 showed Martin in all its glory, completely uncut, and that turned into the second-best Romero film I’d ever seen. Knightriders had a great concept, but drowned it in biker-hippies. Day of the Dead was slow, but had some great scenes and some fantastic acting, and even Land of the Dead had its moments, although seemed stifled by the need to dial down the gore.

Apart from The Crazies, the rest of his work seemed to lack the oomph of his early years. Creepshow was too garish (for a good reason, but it didn’t chime for me), and Document and Survival of the Dead seemed unnecessary. Monkey Shines was just silly.

Despite this, George Romero made the films that changed the way I looked at horror – taking it out from the castles and fog and sticking it right in the middle of urban and suburban America. This was relatable, and more important, they weren’t squeamish about chucking the tomato sauce about. I shall miss him as a director.

 

gun

Michael Bay’s new look for Winnie the Pooh

 

Over the years Michael Bay has made a squillion dollars by blowing things up, looking like a 70s soft rock guitarist, and being a sexist twat, but in Hollywood it’s the making squillions of dollars he’s best known for.

It’s a well worn argument that Bay is a one trick pony – lots of explosions, wanking over the armed forces, lots of low angle spinning shots of actors – the usual bollocks. However, lately Michael Bay has had a hankering to stretch his creative wings. After all, Pain and Gain didn’t feature ONE ROBOT!

Here at Sortitaht Towers we recently nabbed an ideas list from Michael Bay’s own desk as he was secretly making hot lurve to an aircraft carrier, and it shows some surprising new directions The Bayster wishes to move into. Or not, as the case may be:

Winnie The Pooh: Or Winnie The Annhialator as we shall call him from now on. Fuckin’ great idea, as Winnie loses his shit when terrorists try to burn down the Hundred Acre Wood, and he teams up with Eyeore to kick some ass. Tigger tears a man’s face off and then uses it to strangle a hippy.

Reefer Madness: In this pro-Trump film we show how smokin’ reefer MAKES YOUR FUCKIN’ HEAD EXPLODE! And then the US military invade Cuba and kick everyone’s ass. Maybe have Make Wharlberg grow a robot dick that shoots money at hookers. I saw in it a Fox documentary.

The Turin Horse: What? 30 shots in two hours? Make that thirty MILLION shots in THREE HOURS! And instead of some fuckin’ dull shit about a man and a horse, we’ll have some terrorists steal the old man’s horse, so he goes FUCKIN’ APESHIT with a bazooka. Tagline: EAT MY BALLS!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Yeah, I get it. Chicks in lingerie! This time, we’ll have Frank-N-Furter be a kung-fu artist, and alien terrorists have taken over his castle. Brad and Janet slow-mo walk against a huge explosion, and instead of them pansy ass songs about transvestites we’ll have the whole thing scored by Nickelback.

Robot Monster: More fuckin’ like it. Robot Monster kidnaps chicks. But instead of a fishbowl on an ape suit, he’ll be a robot terrorist made out of other terrorists. Mark Wahlberg turns up and FUCKS IT TO DEATH. Co-starring Daniel-Day Lewis as my dick.

The King and I: Them foreigns are funny, right? We’ll make the king like that Mickey Rooney dude from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Lots of prat-falls – it’ll be hilarious! But to take into consideration racial sensitivities we’ll cast Jet Li as the The King. Signature Tune: I Could Have Kicked Your Ass All Night!

The Seventh Seal: In this one, Death gets his ass kicked FOR BEING A FUCKIN’ TERRORIST! Instead of playing chess at the end they have a half hour robot fight.

Watership Down: Hey, no fuckin’ way! The original is WAY too violent for me! Game over!

 

 

Action scene

Just an average day at the office for an action scene

 

People flying about like blue-arsed monkey spiders has always been a staple of all action films ever. Take a Bond film – any Bond film – and you’ll see croaky old geezers knobbing about on skis, defying their age and mental competence with the aid of a green screen and some disturbingly beefy stunt men for the long shots. Martial arts films are well known for their mocking of gravity, as the venerable ancient master proves his skills by beating ten shades of shit out of the evil villain with the help of wires and some forgivingly breakable furniture.

This was never a problem. Part of watching a film where beefy lunk-heads spanner about with guns is the suspension of belief. There’s no way Chuck Norris can act, let alone ninja a hoard of communists using only his beard, but nobody gave a shit because it’s Chuck, and he’s a plank of wood with facial hair, same as Arnie is an accent with muscles. You don’t expect believability in an action film, and you want them to go crazy ape bonkers with the laws of physics once they get sulky with the bad guys. That’s the whole point of these films.

However, I’ve become more and more exasperated with the lack of respect a lot of films have been showing even the vaguest concept of reality over the years. I first noticed it with Die Hard With a Vengeance, when Brucy boy is surfing on the top of a truck as it’s being propelled down an underground tunnel. At the last moment he grabs onto a stepladder and climbs his way to safety. Now, granted, in the first film when he falls down an elevator shaft and manages to latch onto the lip of an airshaft it comes across as the only sour point in an otherwise classic film – his fingers should have been ripped off, after all – but if the film had just ended with Bruce and his toupe spiralling downwards to end up a bloody, shattered heap on the floor then it would have been a tad short on the running time. Saying that, Alan Rickman could have carried that film on his own, but that’s beside the point.

Anyway, when Bruce grabs the ladder, a move which should have seen his arms ripped off and the rush of water pummel his insides into a liquidised mess, I shrugged it off. “It’s an action film, he’s Bruce Willis, Bosh! – on with the show.” However, later on in the film he falls about forty facking feet with Sam Jackson, only to land on a solid steel deck of a boat, and apart from a bit of wincing the escapade is shrugged off like a minor sprain. It was at that point the ‘fuck off’-ometer in my head started wailing like a klaxon and the sense of disbelief waddled into my bonce to squat there like an unwelcome visitor and piss all over my enjoyment of Big, Dumb Action Films.

The ‘falling for eight stories and ending up with a minor sprain’ is a particular bugbear of mine, and seems to crop up time and time again. Either that or the ‘save the heroine/hero by leaping through the air, smacking into her/him at an oblique angle, and then land on a car roof’ staple, which turns up in every single Fast and Furious film. Fine, action heroes have always been leaping through the air, but back then they had stunt men who would actually do these things to add that air of ‘fucking hell!’ to proceedings. Now, with CGI, every facker who headlines above the title is seen to be hurtling around like Rudolph facking Nureyev on springs. Which is why it’s interesting to see some films, like the piss-poor remake of The Italian Job (hint, Hollywood types – if it’s called ‘The Italian Job’ then set the fucking thing in Italy, you numpteys), talk about how the stunts in the film were all done ‘in camera’. Now, with the endless spiral of CGI tricks, film companies are forced to promote the reality of what you see on screen, so the willing punter will think ‘Blimey – they really flipped a truck in The Dark Knight Whinges In a Donald Duck Voice – best go and see that!’ to reinforce their veracity.

(On a personal note I’d just like to say what a massive pile of old wank the remake of Gone in Sixty Seconds is. The original had a forty-five-minute car chase as the show-stopper, ending up with a stunt which put the star/director in hospital. The remake has a piss-poor ten minute bibble-about, ending up with a CGI stunt which had me weeping in my seat with laughter. Not a good sign in an action film).

Now the CGI and the bollocks-action scene have reached an apotheosis with the spate of superhero films. “Of course they can bitch-slap nine hundred bad guys in an aerobic display of gymnastic extravagance – they’re fucking superheroes! What did you expect! Christopher Reeve made time go backwards – stop facking complaining!” The unbelievability of action scenes has become the accepted norm, which is a pity, as the lack of weight CGI gives to a scene robs it of any impact. Which is why films like Ong Bak kick many of your earth-arses, as when Tony Jaa belts some poor fucker on the top of the bonce with the elbow, you really FEEL for the poor bastard on the receiving end. That shit looks like it hurts!

On a final note, Michael Bay is a massive twat, and his films are massively twatty. Just thought I’d mention it.

Footnote: Several scenes which piss me off:

• King Kong flinging Naomi Watts about in a way which would shatter her spine
• Any Transformer throwing anyone around and catching them for reasons stated above
• Cars shooting out into crowded roads, just missing other cars – I’m looking at you, Bourne, you twat!
• Entire car chases made up in a computer – see the latest clutch of Fast and Furious films and A Good Day to bastard well Die Hard.

There are many more, but I’m tired and need my Old Man nap. If there are any action scenes which, from an academic perspective, boil your piss, please let me know, and we can grind our teeth in suppressed rage together.

endless poetry

Yes, yes, yes, I know the title was over-verbose, but goddammit, Endless Poetry by Alexandro Jodorowsky is why we fucking create  “Oh, you poncy poet/ painter/ writer/ creator/ comedian/ musician – get a proper job!”  Which is bullshit, because to create rips the heart out of you (unless you’re Jeffrey Archer, in which case you just take the zlotys. pulp out whatever shite comes to mind, and do a runner).

Endless Poetry, a film everyone who creates should see, nails down the reason WHY people create.  WHY art is so important.  WHY we should not curl up into a ball of complacence.  And we all have the capacity to create, and this film puts the size ten boot up the arse of those who waver.

I had so much I wanted to say about this film, but it should speak for itself.  For those who create something out of nothing, watch this film.