|DVRfest 2015 (11.07.15 - 11.08.15, 10 movies)|
|11.07.15||The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)||Tom Six||It's noon on a Saturday and I just watched a movie. What's that mean? It's DVRfest, muthahumpers!|
This year I have a feeling the fest is going to be pretty minimal. I fell asleep last night trying to watch this first film, Molly's around the house doing stuff, and I'm working again so I only have the weekend. Plus I only have one movie on my actual DVR. Nevertheless, the spirit of DVRfest is alive and well as there are always movies that I need to catch up on and if I get through those I have the Internet at my disposal.
So let's get started! With this... terrible terrible movie. What a crazy arc, this series has had for me. The first film, a surprise hit at Fantastic Fest, really caught on and got a huge release. The follow-up, I believe an Opening Night film at Fantastic Fest, pretty much sucked. This one, silently released onto Netflix with absolutely no fanfare, has the stars of the first two films play prison management who are affected by the first two films and decide to subject the entire prison population to the human centipede process. They even bring in director Tom Six to prove his claims that it's 100% medically accurate.
So if Human Centipede 2 sucked, it was still kind of a real movie. This one doesn't even feel like that. I feels like they had a warden's office set for a week and decided to make a movie around it. The german guy, so awesome in the first film, is fully unleashed here in the worst possible way. He literally screams every line of dialogue and it's all but unintelligible. The super gross guy from the second film plays a mild-mannered account and not gross at all (not really anyway). There's also porn star Bree Olson and Eric Roberts for some reason.
So this was really really bad. Tiny Lister plays an inmate of the prison. A serious step down from playing the inmate in The Dark Knight. Here all that happens is he gets his arm broken and he beats up Bree Olson.
Gah. no fun. no fun at all.
Next up... hmm... i'll have to make up a schedule real quick, so I have no clue what's up next! Either way, we'll both find out in a couple hours.
|11.07.15||The Connection||Cedric Jimenez||Always a sucker for a gangster movie, I was pretty excited to see this French movie that tells the story of The French Connection from the other side of the Atlantic. So 70s, true crime, gangsters, police procedural... these are all words that I look for in a movie. So why didn't I love this movie? I really expected to love this but I didn't. It's too long, mostly. And I hate that I'm saying this but I had a real problem telling the main good guy apart from the main bad guy. I guess all Frenchmen look the same to me.|
Anyway, I'm a bit surprised by this... time to watch something that will hold my interest a little better before delving into a horror double feature to end the night.
|11.07.15||That Guy Dick Miller||Elijah Drenner||I don't know if I went into this on my Wrecking Crew notes but this is another movie that I backed on Kickstarter and wound up being the last person on Earth to actually see. In the movie's defense, I think there was an Austin screening of this at South by Southwest but again but I was sitting at home waiting for my DVD or whatever.|
All of that aside, I really enjoyed this one. I feel like the film clips and interviews were exhaustively complete and the whole thing was put together proficiently. Plus Dick Miller's personality is as fun as you want it to be so it's a joy to step into his life a bit and see things from his perspective.
And you know... this film also kind of doubles as an informal doc on Roger Corman and his New World generation. Joe Dante, Alan Arkush, John Davidson, Jonathan Kaplan, et al. I think that's some very fertile ground as well. It's fun to hear from all of those guys as well. I guess a snippet of Jack Nicholson would've been a really nice surprise but whatever... I didn't pledge at that level.
So yay. This one flew by compared to The Connection. Next up is a bit of a throwback double feature to take me deep into the night.
|11.07.15||Friday the 13th||Sean S. Cunningham||Being a child of the 80s I grew up with the ridiculous sequels of all the slasher films. I feel like my first Nightmare on Elm Street was part 2 or 3 and my first Friday the 13th was part 4. I've gone back on most long series like these and caught up but for whatever reason I never saw Friday the 13th part 2. Well I figure it's finally time to fill in that gap and I threw the first film on the queue because I can't actually remember watching it.|
Usually when people watch this one I think they go on and watch the next 10. In my case i'm just seeing the first two tonight. I found a few interesting things with this. One is how much it owes to Psycho. Not just the mom thing but also the score. In addition to the ki-ki-ki ha-ha-ha thing but there are stabby strings through most of the horror here. It's pretty crazy to think that this was just 20 years after Psycho! 20 years after this we had...what, The Ring?
This one is also way more atmospheric than I remember. Lots of shots of the woods just hanging out being woods. It's actually surprisingly effective. I feel like the final shock scene and Kevin Bacon with the arrow through the throat is all that anyone ever sees or remembers from this movie these days but actually the first half is pretty quiet and understated.
Otherwise, yeah this pretty closely matches Bava's Bay of Blood. It's just kids dying in the woods. Still, it was pretty good and, like all films with too many sequels, a far cry from where the franchise wound up.
|11.07.15||Friday the 13th Part 2||Steve Miner||So I remember thinking I had seen the first Friday the 13th but it felt like I was seeing it for the first time as I was watching. This one I was always on record as never having seen but there are a few scenes which felt oddly familiar. I wonder if a few teenage wires got crossed in my brain and I had it wrong all these years.|
Anyway, now I've definitely seen them both. Cross that shit off the list. So this one... the birth of baghead Jason. It was ok. More of a straight sequel than I would've thought although I remember part 5 doing a very similar thing of showing the ending to the previous film. I'd like for me to have a ton of thoughts and notes on this now that i've finally seen all the films in the series, but really both of these films are very formulaic. As they should be... after all they are almost templates of the genre.
and thus ends day one of DVRfest. I'm going to sleep, then getting up and watching more movies!!!
|11.08.15||Road Hard||Adam Carolla, Kevin Hench||So what happens with these kickstarter movies is that by the time I actually do get my DVD or Blu-ray or whatever then I've already moved on because everyone else has seen it and the disc just sits on the piles for months and months. That's what DVRfest is for though so that's why I'm watching these.|
For a time I listened to Adam Carolla's podcast pretty regularly. I didn't buy his books but I did back his film. Since then, I've stopped listening to his podcast because it's kind of the same thing over and over again, but I'm on record for liking his first film The Hammer and hoped this would be as good.
It mostly is. Again, Carolla recognizes his limitations as an actor and writes a role that's 99% himself. The scenes where he has to emote things other than cynicism and depression feel a bit strained but they're minimal (just like The Hammer). This movie is well shot and there's a bunch of familiar faces in small roles that fill the film with smirk-worthy appearances and the script doesn't have any huge problems and it doesn't drag... so in that regard this is a pretty good movie.
My issue is the familiarity. It's probably a bit unfair to expect something completely different from a guy who more or less says the same stuff every day on his podcast, but I was surprised by how much material was taken directly from the show. So when David Alan Grier does his phramaceutical bit or his Teddy Pendergrass bit, it feels like a not-as-funny version of the hilarious moments on the podcast. Similarly, the stand up bits and the rants and anecdotes that Carolla's character recounts to his friends in the movie are pretty much taken directly from stuff that felt organic and natural when I heard it the first time but now feel regurgitated and shaped to fit a different mold. Again, this is probably unfair to the film itself, and as time goes on if I'm in the mood to revisit Adam Carolla's comedy I might be more inclined to watch this film again rather than listen to his podcast, or if his podcast ever changes then this will be a more palatable historical record of the stuff he was doing at the time that I was a listener rather than reading his books.
All that is to say that I liked the movie ok but didn't really hear any new jokes. However, there were a few meta things that I found amusing while watching. For one, they used Carolla's house as Larry "Babydoll" Miller's house in the film, so there's a huge thing where Carolla is complaining about how much money his agent has, using his own toys as examples... which is kind of odd and funny. But also, it let me see inside Carolla's house (which I've heard A LOT about on his podcast) so that was pretty sweet. Also, i'm guessing they used Nick Offerman's woodshop as Diane Farr's late husband's garage, and cameos from Carolla's dog and ex co-worker Alison Rosen and some of that stuff peppered throughout.
But, on a positive note, the movie did have a bit of the same heart that The Hammer had and presents all the things that I like about Carolla: his everyone-is-crazy-but-me observations, his refusal to play the game, and his love-me-or-hate-me induvidualism. So for that I liked this movie. It was pretty good.
|11.08.15||The Decline of Western Civilization Part III||Penelope Spheeris||I saw the first Decline as a vhs rental in high school. The second Decline was a DVRfest movie from several years ago. I didn't know there even was a third Decline until this past Fantastic Fest when Daniel Kerr mentioned that Penelope Spheeris was just here for an AFS event (which I really should have known about and been there for, I bet seeing Suburbia on the big screen was a treat, not to mention all three of these docs). So shame on me for not knowing she was in town and shame on me for not knowing this existed. Time to fix that!|
So my memory of the first Decline movie was that it was interviews and footage of just the bands? Maybe there were some fans thrown in there too. Certainly for the second film she stretched out a bit and talked to some fans/groupies as well as local hair bands, but this one seems very focused on the gutterpunks: homeless punk rockers who hang out on Hollywood Boulevard and go to shows in between their drinking binges. The focus on these particular kids gives the music itself a secondary role, which I guess could also be said about the second one.
I really loved this. It's a sad movie and pretty depressing but it's also authentic as hell and shows a new and unique part of life that most people don't get to see. I thought of Zack Carlson often while watching this. His Destroy All Movies book about punks on film talks a lot about how punks were portrayed - mostly inaccurately - in the media and how few movies carry the "real" punk spirit. I feel like Penelope Spheeris is the queen of that spirit. Certainly as far as the movies I've seen, I can only think of Alex Cox's Repo Man that even comes close to Suburbia and Dudes. In some ways I feel like this movie represents punk even more than the first (which is ridiculous but still). But who am i... I sat on my couch eating pizza rolls while watching this...
So that was great, and also the only movie I had on the DVR this year. I'm kind of through my planned schedule of films so for the rest of the evening I think it's going to be random films off the internet! Yay for that!
|11.08.15||Tomorrowland||Brad Bird||I've picked out three more movies that I feel fit the general DVRfest theme of movies that I've been wanting to see but haven't gotten around to yet, starting with this Brad Bird hopeful sci-fi love letter to the imagination and innovation of Walt Disney. I feel like, in terms of box office and this movie's public reception, the optimistic and inspirational nature wasn't very well received and the cynical toxicity of places like Twitter melted it down with acid, not helped at all by its defenders basically trying to guilt trip the world into having better taste in movies. It's true that this isn't a comic book movie, sequel, or remake and yes, in a perfect world, everybody would be open to something like this. But it's also a super hard sell of a movie that's half retro-futuristic nostalgia, half environmental proselytization, and half sci-fi thriller. This movie seems destined to become a cult favorite liked by people who already like Brad Bird in a not-as-good-as-iron-giant type way.|
I liked it more than Iron Giant (aren't I special!?). I love meta Disney stuff, love anything having to do with Disneyland, and love that some movies aren't afraid to have a message (even though they still do make me groan when i see all that on-the-nose nihilism). It's very easy to tear this movie down for daring to be about something, anything more than CGI, but I have to give it kudos for trying. Except I also see the marketing department drooling over collectible pins and pre-worn NASA hats and George Clooney toy jetpacks... but since the movie kind of bombed then we didn't get to see any of that stuff. YET.
I thought it was good though. I thought the actors, including the children, did a great job for such an effects-heavy movie and the tomorrowland design was fantastic. I like that George Clooney can be in a movie and not have to be on every page of the script, I like that Brad Bird wasn't afraid to dive into live action and try something new. And, a few global warming commentaries aside, I didn't groan at any stupid turns or glaring holes which seems to be less and less common these days.
Up next is another sci-fi, followed by the final film of the fest! I hope I can fit them both in and still make it to work in the morning.
|11.08.15||Ex Machina||Alex Garland||A sexy robot tests a few nerds who drink beer and talk about AI. So when this came out I was a bit hesitant because of the whole "sexy robot" thing but I then heard from pretty much everyone how good it was and am finally seeing it now. Surprise! It's really fucking good! Even though the robot is sexy, they address it in the film and it's actually a plot point which is nice.|
The film looks spectacular. The sets and location photography are unbelievable. The fact that this is technically an indie movie... and it looks this good with that many effects shots in it... there are really no excuses you know? I mean I know Alex Garland is a high profile screenwriter so this isn't like completely out of the blue but come on... Stuff like this, Blue Ruin, hell... Monsters. Having no money is no longer an excuse for a movie not to look spectacular.
And Geoff Barrow on the soundtrack! 2015 is turning out to be quite a lucky year for Portishead fans between this and High Rise. I mean I'm still waiting for a new album but I won't complain about getting an interesting and characteristic score out of the man any day. It reminded me a lot of when Underworld used to score films like Breaking and Entering and Sunshine.
So yeah... loved this. Liked it way more than I thought I would. But yeah, that robot was sexy. I only had one little problem with the plot and that's at the very ending. I thought he changed the security protocols to open the doors when the power failed, so... shouldn't the doors be open at the end? whatever, still a good movie.
Up next is the last film of DVRfest 2015. It is a movie that I wanted to watch for last year's fest because I missed it at Fantastic Fest but it wasn't available yet, so now I feel like i've missed it two or three times and everyone seems to gush about it so I hope I like it too and don't have to be that guy. I'll find out in a few hours!
|11.08.15||It Follows||David Robert Mitchell||Finally saw this! I really liked it! It had an original premise, subdued and effective execution, and great atmosphere. The main girl's performance bugged me a tiny bit but I suspect her vacancy is a tonal choice since everything about the movie was trying to be muted and creeping rather than quick and actiony. The abundance of circling pans showing the surroundings and making you think anyone walking in the background could be "it" following, the really great soundtrack with its pads and synths washing over you and building up deep bassy drones that release in uneasy silence, they both fit with the lead's vacant stares.|
I get that Cliff Martinez's synth stuff is kind of driving a trend right now and I was originally kind of put off by the soundtrack choice but as the film went on I really came to like it. I looked him up afterward and found out that he didn the soundtrack to a video game called Fez, which completely makes sense because both soundtracks are great in an elevated chiptune sort of way.
And also shooting in Detroit. That's like free atmosphere these days.
So yeah, this was really effective. I loved the actor choices for the actual followers. The tall guy was probably the creepiest? or maybe the peeing pross? Dunno. Good job though. Yay I wasn't disappointed! I'm so glad!
So this is a great movie to end the fest on. Gotta say, for a year that kind of whipped together impromptu style I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. It's always fun to set aside the weekend like this and fall down the movie hole for a while. I wish it could keep going but alas tomorrow is Monday and it's almost time to make the donuts.
So let's run down some stats for the year. 10 in the past week (1.43 daily average), 17 in the past month (0.57 daily average), 176 in the past year (0.48 daily average), and 2866 since this site started (0.71 daily average). It's best not to think about what those numbers were like 7, 8 years ago... but they are what they are.