Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Black Monolith made of Cheese

If one were to map my love of bad movies, I suppose you could start with Mystery Science Theater 3000, which I only started watching during it's Sci-Fi channel run in 1997. I had a lot of catching up to do, of course, which was assisted by friends of friends who had VHS tapes to lend me and that I dutifully copied. It was a grand time, and I damn near wore those tapes out.

Another phase started when I went looking online for reviews of one particular MST3K subject called Girl in Gold Boots. One of the review links on the IMDb went to a website called Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension. Upon clicking on that link, I was treated to a thorough (and I mean thorough) eviscerating of the movie in question. It was a joy, and I quickly devoured all of the other reviews on the site, most of which were to movies I hadn't even seen (which did not diminish the enjoyment of the reviews).

But there was one film on Jabootu's list that I had seen (and not with the aide of MST3K, either), and that film was Death Wish 3. Now I know I said that my affection for bad movies started with MST3K in 1997, but that's not entirely correct. Seeing the title Death Wish 3 on Jabootu's site immediately transported me to my teenage years in the 1980's when I first watched this movie on Saturday afternoon television. I remember many things about watching it, but one thing rang crystal clear: It was the first time while watching a movie that I thought to myself, "Wow. This is really bad!".

This did not compel me to turn off the TV, of course. Instead, I enjoyed the badness, and that was something I wouldn't discover again for another ten years or so. More's the pity. I recently revisited all this with the AV Club's latest article in their "The New Cult Cannon" series, which focuses on Death Wish 3. It doesn't go into as much detail as Jabootu (who could?), but it touches on the more ridiculous points of the film and was a nice reminiscence for me.

I think about Jabootu (and other members of the B-Masters) every now and then, but I don't visit the sites on a regular basis like I used to. In the case of Jabootu, the reviews started to have a political bent that completely turned me off, so I parted ways with the site that started me on the road of cheese. Others, like And You Call Yourself a Scientist, can still be depended on great analysis of films both good and bad (though I wish Liz would hurry up and fix the links to her old reviews).

These days, I take in bad movies via my steady supply of MST3K, RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic DVD's (not to mention my Mill Creek back catalog). And it's a habit that has gown into a hobby, so I can't forget my roots.

Thank you, Death Wish 3, for being so incredibly, absolutely awful.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Flicks Unseen

Flickchart has started to get annoyed with me.

Well, no, not really. What it has actually done is run out of movie titles. Ever since I found the option that presented two unranked movies each time to vote on, I've been using it like mad. Well, late last week the website started to slow when I used this function. Now, more often than not, it will freeze up completely in the middle of generating the next pair.

The reason for this is that it's running out of titles. Unfortunately, the site does not appear to be tied specifically to the IMDb, so it doesn't have that wide a breadth. The result is that there are films I have seen that are not on my Flickchart list because Flickchart doesn't recognize them (C'mon, Flickchart? No love for The Beast of War? It's an awesome flick!).

The time for finding new movies to add is grinding to a halt, so let's have a gander at the top 20 voted films (by Flickchart users) that I have not yet seen:

The Lion King - I actually watched the first half on one occasion and then never got around to finishing it. I should fix this soon. If it's any compensation, I've seen the stage show!

Rocky - Yeah, there's no excuse for this.

Superbad - No real interest, guys. Sorry.

Edward Scissorhands - Long overdue, as well. Though it still freaks me out to see Winona Ryder as a blonde.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy - I suppose if there's one Will Ferrel movie I'd be interested to see, it's this one, so it's got a shot.

The Nightmare Before Christmas - Two Tim Burton films? Mere coincidence, I assure you!

Knocked Up - See Superbad entry.

Pan's Labyrinth - Not exactly a movie I can sit down with Mrs. Mosley to watch, but I'll get around to it soon.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin - Started it. Way too damn uncomfortable. Shut it off 20 minutes in.

Slumdog Millionaire - I know it's an Oscar winner and all that, but I get the feeling this movie might be a slog to get through. Maybe one day.

Dumb and Dumber - See Knocked Up entry.

Gangs of New York - Mr. Scorsese, I have tried... tried to get through this one (twice!) and no dice. No offence, please. It just ain't gonna happen.

The Graduate - The hell of it is, I've read so much about this film by now (including the ending) that I'm not quite sure how much joy I would get out of it.

The Wrestler - Kind of the same category as Slumdog.

A Beautiful Mind - Funny story: We had started this movie on a night in August 2004 when the power went out due to Hurricane Frances. The power didn't come back until one week later and we never got back to the movie. We should fix that.

Borat - See Dumb and Dumber entry.

Happy Gilmore - See Borat entry.

Top Gun - There's just so much cheese associated with this flick, but I suppose I should indulge myself one night with a big bowl of popcorn and a testament of Reagan-era manliness.

Old School - See Happy Gilmore entry.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective - See Old School entry.
So there you have it: Seven that I'd like to see, four that I'm willing to see, and nine that can go fly a kite. Thanks, Flickchart!

"Up yours, Commie!"

Not a lot of people know that, about a year ago, President Obama was feeling pretty depressed at the reactions he was getting to his health care plan and just his presidency in general. In order to cheer him up, the First Lady put together a White House dinner and invited some of the most legendary comedians in America.

At some point after the dinner, President Obama was taken aside by Gene Wilder and given some words of condolence:

"What did you expect? 'Welcome, Mr. President'? 'Make yourself at home'? 'Help me to marry my lesbian lover'? You've got to remember that these are just simple patriots. These are people of the GOP. The common Conservatives of the new America. You know... morons."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Midnight showings at the Value Voters summit...

It's been two weeks since I discovered Flickchart, and I've done a lot of clicking since then. Last night, I discovered an option on the site to only present movies that haven't yet been voted on. This way, you can quickly eliminate titles you haven't seen at the rate of about one per second. My current count is 1,700 movies seen (127 days, 16 hours and 20 minutes) and 3,151 that I haven't seen.

Clearly, I'm not the big movie stud I thought myself to be. But given that a lot of those titles is stuff I have no interest in seeing anyway, I'll try not to sweat the stats.

Being presented with titles not voted on at such a rapid clip will present options both great and obscure. The most interesting one I've encountered is a little horror film from four years ago called The Tripper. Check out this one sentence summary: "A Ronald Reagan-obsessed serial killer targets a bunch of hippies who are heading to a weekend-long concert."

Wow. Just... wow.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Skippy of the Day: William Murray

I have stated before that, as popular as Mitt Romney can be, I believe his Mormonism is more of a deficit than he may think. I go back and forth on this thought, wondering if the radical right Christians can put it aside long enough to pursue the common dream. Given that Glen Beck is also a Mormon, I have to believe that was one of his goals in his recent rally in Washington D.C.

If only they targeted voters who could actually process complex and nuanced ideas (nuance is more of a Democrat thing). Alas, once you've read the signs at any Tea Party gathering, you know this isn't likely.

Yet even knowing this, I have to admit that my jaw dropped to the floor after reading this quote today from William Murray, who is leading the fight against the mosque in NYC:
"I don’t know with the case with Mitt Romney. It could be because of some similarities between Islam and Mormonism, to be very frank with you, and his fear that any criticism of Islam, that those arguments could then be construed or used against Mormonism."
With such complete and total idiocy as this, I wouldn't be surprised if in ten years the Republicans had a Protestants vs. Catholics inter-party fight on their hands.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Just in time for gift-giving.

Often the question is asked, "When is the right time to buy (insert latest technology here)?"

For me, in terms of Blu-ray, the answer is: When Disney finally releases some choice titles from the vault again.

Truth be told, Mrs. Mosley and I have already decided to treat ourselves to a Blu-ray player this Christmas, but such a fortuitous pair of releases (Beauty and the Beast on 10/5 and the Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 combo on 11/30) just sweetens the pot.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

* shakes fist at Amazon *

Oh, for crying out loud...

Looks like the IMDb has decided to do another design change. They apparently thought the original design wasn't cluttered and boxy enough, so they threw up a bunch of irrelevant movie posters and such so that you have to scroll down to get to the actual movie list. Add to this the fact that they blow up the headshot to a size that the original was not meant to be blown up to and we get M. Emmet Walsh's memorable mug pixelated all to hell.

I know, I know. Website redesigns are inevitable (especially if my own blog is any evidence). And sucker that I am, there's no way I'm going to stop using IMDb (unlike Boing Boing, whose last design change was so awful I stopped going there altogether). But I'm a grumpy old man who remembers when the IMDb was simply lists of movies that actors were in and we liked it that way, by gum!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Web surfing with Rupert Murdoch

An article on NPR (via Metafilter) delves into speciality search engines that screen out material according to the users' religious preference. Here are some details (and my one word summary's):
Houdmann says a search on his site would not turn up pornography.
If you search “gay marriage,” you would get results that argue against gay marriage.
And if you type in “Democratic Party,” your first search result is a site on Marxism.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"You're Welcome, America."

I...... what...... huh?!?!?
A Florida pastor says his church will never burn a Quran, even if a mosque is built near ground zero.

Pastor Terry Jones had threatened to burn the Muslim holy book on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks over plans to build an Islamic center near where terrorists brought down the World Trade Center nine years ago.

He flew to New York and appeared on NBC's "Today" show. He says that his Gainesville, Fla., church's goal was "to expose that there is an element of Islam that is very dangerous and very radical."

He tells NBC that "we have definitely accomplished that mission."
That is, without a doubt, the worst save I have ever seen someone at the center of a controversy attempt. His mission was nothing of the kind. He has tried to transform this (in the wake of the controversy) as a mission against a certain segment of Islam, yet his words and actions have shown that his disdain for all of Islam and it's adherents is quite clear. Sorry, Jonesy, we're not buying it.

And this is all aside from the fact that America really didn't need to be told this about Islam. Islam has fringe elements? You don't say!

Now if you don't mind, Big Media, I'd like you to stop paying attention to this guy now that he's had his fifteen minutes. The only time I want to hear the name Terry Jones again on the national news is in reference to Monty Python.

(And as a side note, it's weird that the names of Python members have cropped up among the right wing, first with Palin and now with this guy. I half expect the next conservative superstar to be named Idle or Cleese.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Not exactly a "plummet".


......Oh. That's very different. Never mind."

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Godfather Part III

Flickchart came across my radar (via Metafilter) last week and has instantly become a major time suck, but in a good way. The basic concept is this: You are presented with two movies and asked which one you would rather watch (if you haven't seen one or both of them, it allows you to discard the title for a new one). And then you pick from another two films. And another. And so on. You quickly create a list of (a) which movies you have seen and (b) you're ranking of them.

As I said, a tremendous time suck. As of this posting, I personally have made 3100 of these either/or decisions and in the process listed 633 movies that I have seen. And according to their computations, that group of movies constitutes 49 days, 11 hours, 33 minutes spent watching them. Either you're someone who is impressed or depressed by such calculations. Count me in the former.

One thing you might notice from those numbers is the huge discrepancy between number of movies and number of rankings. This is because each ranking doesn't come up with new titles every time. If they did, they couldn't compare with the other decisions. A logical process, but it means that movies you have zero interest in seeing again will pop up over and over and force you to choose something over it... until you come across one that's just as bad and you have to make a decision (cough Alien Resurrection vs. X-Men Origins: Wolverine cough).

But then it also allows you to reconsider some titles that fall in the middle between brilliant and awful, and that leads me to The Godfather Part III (Spoiler Alert).

For me, Godfather III ranks currently at 238 out of 633, which isn't bad. I have only seen it the once, but I have pleasant memories of it and would definitely be up for watching it again when given the choice between it and, say, Vacancy (currently at 430 and dropping like a stone). The most indelible memory I have of Godfather III is the very last shot:

When the movie first came out, the one critic's comment I remember reading (apart from all the scorn heaped on Sofia Coppola's performance) was how Michael's death in the last scene seemed more appropriate for a Monty Python sketch than the conclusion of the greatest American Crime saga ever put to film.

Being a Python geek in addition to a film geek, I know the exact sketch that critic was referring to. But that's beside the point. The scene is as follows: The elderly Michael Corleone, perhaps permanently crippled from the stroke he suffered in front of the theatre, is seated in a chair in what appears to be a courtyard back in Italy. It is a long shot and we cannot see his face. As the final ascending notes of that familiar tune play, Michael tips over in his chair and (we presume) dies.

The greatest American Crime saga's protagonist, whom we have seen grow over three incredible films, who has been studied and talked about by film scholars and movie buffs over so many years, who reached so much power and influence during his reign, just died suddenly and alone.

There is an incredible sadness there. His father could at least say that he died playing with his grandson and assured that his empire was in the capable hands of his favorite son. Michael has no such compensation.

One could argue this was the karmic debt Michael owed, and one would have a point. It doesn't make it any less tragic, though. It's a fitting end to such a wonderful tale.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

We'll be thinking of you, Alec.

You know, movie buffs gushing about "great casts" can get old after awhile, especially when we have seen time and again "great casts" wasted on utter cinematic drek.

That being said, after reading about the new version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy being filmed and the cast they lined up, I'm impressed: Gary Oldman (Harry Potter), Tom Hardy (Inception), Ciarin Hinds (There Will Be Blood), Jared Harris (Mad Men), Colin Firth (Pride & Prejudice) and Benedict Cumberbatch (lately of the Sherlock Holmes revamp on the BBC).

Folks, that is an awesome collection of Brits, right there. And the prospect of watching them all play spies in a classic Cold War story has certainly gotten my attention. Can't wait.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Doing it right.

Back in January, I announced that I was restarting work on something called "The Cattle Corner Project". As I said then, it was probably crazy to think I could find the time to do so what with caring for an infant and trying to sell a house. Turns out I was right, and last week I made the decision to put the project on permanent hiatus.

But then this morning I stumble across this, and my mind begins to wander (and wonder) once again:

If you can't tell from the photo, it's a detailed representation of the city set in Logan's Run. It's stunning work, and inspires me to go back to my project. And in case you haven't guessed from the clues, the purpose of my project was to create a replica of the set and scene from the beginning of Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West out of LEGO.

And the hell of it is, my project would not be a tenth as detailed as the Logan's Run piece. In fact, I had considered doing it at a slightly smaller scale. But now, having seen this, I wonder if such compromises are necessary. I can do the full thing. It would take time and a little bit of money to Bricklink, but it can be done. I'll be keeping you posted.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

"The Roomies"

Hilarious to people who have seen The Room. Confounding to everyone else:

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

And once again I say "Thank you, Roger".

Roger Ebert lays it all down for us:
The time is here for responsible Americans to put up or shut up. I refer specifically to those who have credibility among the guileless and credulous citizens who have been infected with notions so carefully nurtured. We cannot afford to allow the next election to proceed under a cloud of falsehood and delusion.

We know, because they've said so publicly, that George W. Bush, his father and Sen. John McCain do not believe Obama is a Muslim. This is the time -- now, not later -- for them to repeat that belief in a joint statement. Other prominent Republicans such as Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul also certainly do not believe it. They have a responsibility to make that clear by subscribing to the statement. Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh must join, or let their silence indict them. Limbaugh in particular must cease his innuendos and say, flat out, whether he believes the President is a Muslim or not. Yes or no. Does he have evidence, or does he have none? Yes or no.
Thanks for that, Roger. As for your assertion that Beck and Palin are going to announce their intent to run together in 2012, I have my doubts. My view of the ticket is that it would either fail spectacularly or succeed spectacularly, and I don't know if the catharsis of the former is worth risking the horror of the later (no matter how minuscule the chances).

Samuel L. Jackson Quote of the Month: September 2010

Pulp Fiction, of course, was Sam's breakout role. Even though he got great notices for his dramatic portrayal of crack addict Gator Purify in Jungle Fever three years prior to Pulp, it was the humor and action of Tarantino's hit that launched him into the big leagues.

And so it's reasonable to notice that Sam sort of gravitates to the same type of roles that are equal parts humor and action. The Long Kiss Goodnight is a good example of this (without actually being, you know, good). And one can't help notice how Sam's very first scene has his character holding a guy at gunpoint in a grubby room and speechifying, very much like his immortal encounter with Brett over Big Kahuna Burgers.
Mitch: "Don't give me attitude, sir. You're assuming I won't shoot your sorry ass. When you make an assumption, you make an 'ass' out of you and 'umption'. Now I'm Sgt. Madigan, Vice, and if you do cop a 'tude, jerkoff, I will see to it you spend the next 10 years in prison getting ass-fucked. If the case is thrown out because my arrest was violent, I will personally hire men to ass-fuck you for the next ten years. So if you're an ass-fucking fan, you go ahead and mouth off."