Sunday, 8 May 2016

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - Number 33 Glitter

Another musical film on the list. Or a movie featuring a musician rather than an actor/ress. I’m counting Gigli here, because I’m still reluctant to call J-Lo an actress. But I digress. Traditionally singers turned actors do not fare well on the silver screen. With the possible exception of Will Smith. But then again, these days I’m reluctant to call him a musician. Anyway. This one I had dreaded for a while, because let’s be honest here. Mariah Carey. Turns out, I was partly mistaken. Or was I? No, I actually was. But not by much. Confused? Me too. Let’s try and clear things up with this review of…

Obviously this had to be in the movie somewhere.

Glitter (2001)

Like Gigli and Usher’s attempt at a serious(ish) movie, uh… Turn it up? No that can’t be right. In the mix. That it’s. I was close. Like Gigli and Usher’s In the Mix, Glitter is pretty much a movie built around the main attraction. J-Lo/Ben Affleck, Usher and Mariah Carey. Contrary to Gigli and In the Mix, the main attraction actually has a talent. Not acting. Acting is not that talent. But she has one. And that makes parts of the movie at least bearable. Let me just cast my verdict right off the bat here, so you know what you’re heading into: This movie isn’t good, but it’s not B100 bad. Not by a longshot. How do I determine? Well for starters, I didn’t want to murder myself and/or others immediately after credits rolled. This is a huge step up. Secondly, I was somewhat engaged. Granted, I played a whole Parcheesi tournament online while watching it (I won. Yay me) but still, a few times my little 10 second timer ran out because I accidentally got caught up in the movie. Crazy, right? So let’s have a look at the plot here, so you can try and get over this crazy turn of events. 

I think it's written in some music industry bylaws, that if you're a music producer, you have to wear a shit with golden records on it at least once a week. And wear it out.

Unsurprisingly, this movie is about Mariah Carey. Well Billy Frank really. But also Mariah Carey. It’s not autobiographical, but I don’t think Mariah Carey has the capacity to play anybody but herself, so… Mariah Carey. Her night club singer mother, who is living life a little too carelessly, has to give the 7-12 year old Billy up for adoption or foster care placement. I say 7-12 because the scene after she is given up, Billy appears in school in what looks like a kindergarten classroom, but she, and the two girls she meets, look a lot older than kindergarten. It’s unimportant. The two girls become her life long friends and co-dancer/singers. Cut to some years after. 1983 the caption claims, which is obviously a lie. We’ll deal with that later. Billy and her troupe are discovered in a club and asked to sing back up for some talentless lady. Mariah Billy outshines her, and is discovered by Terrence Howard, and then rediscovered by Dice (Lucky 7s) a prominent NYC club DJ. Dice wants to produce Billy, and they enter a partnership that eventually leads to a romantic relationship. Dice buys her contract off of Terrence for a 100 large, that he doesn’t pay. Terrence, perhaps with good reason, is upset by this. 

Terrence is down a 100 grand, and this pleases him not at all. Here seen threatening Billy with physical violence.

Dice starts making some noise for her, and rejects offers from small time producers. He believes in Billy, and it pays off. Warner or some other large production company signs her, and things move fast. Studio execs want to take over, and it causes some issues with jealousy and competition between Billy and Dice, but Dice bows out gracefully. He simply loves Billy too much to hold her back. But he’s bitter, is Dice. Bitter than he isn’t as successful. After some show, he’s drunk and says hurtful things to Billy. Billy doesn’t like having hurtful things said to her, and can we blame her? No. We cannot. She bails. With her cat. Dice regrets everything. Billy’s start shoots, and her and Dice’s dream of her playing Madison Square Garden becomes a reality. Billy visits Dice’s apartment while he isn’t there, and sees he’s writing a song for her and that he has a ticket to her show. On his way to the concert, Dice is shot dead by Terrence, and Billy goes on stage and gives a teared up rendition of some song that was special to her and Dice and which may or may not have come from Mariah’s actual catalogue. Right after the concert, in a letter from Dice, Billy reads that her birth mother has been found. She heads directly from the concert and meets up with her. Roll credits. 

A kiss for the song that the late Dice worked on. So heartfelt.

Alright. 1983. No. Just no. I mean sure, perhaps. But in that case, they should fire the props, costume and music department, because nothing is early 80s about this. It’s mid to late 90s at best. Now, I don’t know if they made the movie and didn’t realize or if they just thought fuck it, the demographic this movie caters to won’t know the difference. But it was not 80s. Mariah Carey was executive music producer on this, so I guess she should’ve been fired too. She used, or had somebody use pretty iconic 90s music. This may be chalked up to artistic liberty, but it just seems sloppy. Like nobody gave a shit about that aspect. Hairstyles and outfits were not in the least synced. Especially not Mariah who basically looked like Mariah all the way through. I mean she could’ve done that movie yesterday, and we wouldn’t have known the difference. 

That hat pissed me off more than anything else in this movie.

Plenty of the actors involved are ones you’d remember from some obscure little role in some obscure film og series. A few have done bigger things. Mariah Carey was obviously the star here, which is probably why she’s in almost every scene. Mostly people deliver decent performances. Nobody where I was appalled or wanted to phone the proper authorities. Like I mentioned, Mariah wasn’t as crappy as I had suspected she might be. It is the director, though, that kind of startled me the most. When I saw the name Vondie Curtis Hall on screen, I had this weird idea, that I’d seen that name before. And I felt pretty sure he was related to Arsenio. Turns out I was correct. Vondie Curtis has been in thousands of movies and series, but where I remember him from, is the overwhelmed Zamundan concession stand worker that wants a picture taken with Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. That’s the guy. Crazy that he’d go on to direct Glitter. What a time to be alive. 

"No Dice. I don't owe everything to you. I'm my own person. My own person and my cat." - Billy Frank, probably.

After watching this movie, and figuring it wasn’t B100 material really, I had to ask myself the question: Why is it on this list? And at 33 no less. Well I’m going to assume it’s much the same reason that 5 (yes five) of Paris Hilton’s movies are also on this list. That’s almost all Hilton’s collected works in feature film. People just don’t like Mariah Carey. Now I wasn’t a big fan of Glitter. I won’t recommend it probably. And I won’t ever watch it again. But like I said, I didn’t hate it. And I didn’t hate Mariah Carey for it. I’ve never been a big fan of hers but even a cold hearted sum’bitch like me can’t deny, that she has a voice and the skills with which to use it. Paris Hilton has zero skills worth anything in the movie business save a brand. Glitter belongs in the 4-5 range of the grading scale, and not >3. The love story was a little forced, and Dice and Billy both make some weird choices and do some weird things. It’s amore, I guess. But really, lots of this could’ve been handled if they had gotten an agent and a lawyer and negotiated a proper deal, instead of just half assing it. But alas, I’m just a lowly review writer. 

Fighting in the car. Billy has to chose between her man or her friends. She goes with the guy. Rookie mistake.

The whole mom subplot was… It was pretty stupid. You didn’t get the idea that Billy had done all this shit all along just for her mom. She mentioned it at one point, because she finds a box of her mom’s old stuff. But it’s not really a thing besides. Yet when she reads Dice’s letter, it says her mom has been living clean for the past few years, which begs the question: why the fuck didn’t her mom both know Billy Frank existed and/or try and find her. Nevermind. But Billy goes to her mother’s house which is the fucking colonial giant of a house located in this super pictureque location, with trees and fields and meadows all around. I’m like “she was a drug addict down and out dive bar singer. How did she manage a massive house in Maryland like this? And why?” Don’t get me wrong, I only want the best for Mariah Carey’s pretend mother, but a street walker from Jackson Heights? Did she win the lottery? I’m going off on a tangent here. It really doesn’t matter. Glitter. Don’t watch it, but also don’t hate it?

Mom's humble abode. I know right? Cray.

Friday, 29 April 2016

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - Number 34 Emret Komutanim: Sah Mat aka Yes sir

Just like Hannibal I love both elephants and when a good plan comes together. When every intricate little aspect of a well laid plan executes with clock work precision, despite possible involvement of elephants - notorious for being unable to adhere to a time table. It’s beautiful to watch, and gives you the sense of something lurking behind the scenes of life, pulling threads so events fall in your favor. Imagine that magnificent scene, and then picture the polar opposite of that. What do you now see? This movie. Please, if you will, let your eyes wander downwards and soak up the thoughts in my head put into words on your screen. Yes, you guessed it. It’s…

Pretty much how I felt watching this movie.

Emret Komutanim: Sah Mat aka Yes, sir (2007)

Another Turkish movie. And, I fear, not the last one at that either. I don’t know if the Turks are particularly horrible at movie making, or if the Turkish movie watching crowd are particularly apt at rating said movies for shit on IMDb. It’s really hard for me to say, because I do not speak and/or read Turkish. Coincidentally that also made picking up nuances in this movie exceedingly tough, since I was unable to procure a set of English subtitles. Or indeed any of the numerous other languages I would understand better than Turkish. The plot wasn’t super tricky to follow, don’t get me wrong, but even so, I’m thinking I would’ve understood why I hated this movie a little better than I do now, where my hate is largely unsubstantiated by anything else than “It was superbly boring and I hated every character in it.” That may not be much different from the previous some 70 films I’ve had the dis/pleasure of reviewing for you guys, but still, as a guy with, what I think of as, a critical sense, it’s nice to understand why strong emotions are invoked. But we’ll see if I can reflect on my thoughts as this review is written. 

Levent and his colleagues' office. I like the little coffee table setup in front of her desk. Also is that two identical pictures of Ataturk in one room? Bold.

Plotwise, this movie was both simple and confusing. Like I said, I understood what was going on, but never why it was. A bad guy, Karpov, surrounded by matching ladies in silver hair and skimpy outfits, look to cause a military guy of undeterminable rank, some harm. Either personally or in his capacity of being a military officer. He accomplishes this, or attempts to accomplish this, by exploiting an annual event at the barracks where a group of special needs people are allowed to don uniforms and participate in military drills and exercises for a day. With this group of special needs people, he sends one of his non special needs guys cleverly disguised with slightly goofy looking glasses with a piece of thick white string tied around his neck. Blends right in. The ringer manages to switch out the officer’s phone, so Karpov can track him on this Nintendo looking screen, and real time move little action figures around on a crude, and ridiculously pointless, scale model. 

The monitor on which Karpov, well, monitored Levent and his crew of ragtag soldiers. 2007, ladies and gentlemen.
Karpov lures the officer, whose name might be Levent (?) and his forces out into a remote location. I don’t know what pretenses are set up to accomplish this, but it happens. Some of Karpov’s henchmen drive an 18 wheeler into the location, rig it with a bomb, and bank on Levent and his group being close by when it goes off. They are. So close, in fact, that the plan would’ve succeeded, had this not been a really shitty movie. Everybody survives a pretty big explosion, despite being in a 20 feet radius of it. Oh well. Levent is kind of miffed by this whole thing, but decide to send his men back to the barracks. Underway they are tricked by, what I’m gonna have to label as, the lamest and most preposterous hot-ladies-broke-down-car scheme I’ve ever witnessed. So many stereotypes are inadequately purported here, I was almost in shock for a few minutes. Obviously every single one of these super inappropriate dudes are captured and brought to Karpov’s compound. Levent and his, apparently equally ranked, lady friend (possibly girlfriend. We don’t really know), go on a rescue mission, and despite complete lack of control over anything from tactical approaches to trigger discipline and several instances of conduct unbecoming, they save the crew and incapacitate Karpov. The end. 

Levent dons guns akimbo and utilizes his military training to invoke deep concentration, before he shoots to literal fucking bombs at close range.
I can’t figure out what Karpov’s motivation was. He had enough money it seemed, with all the shitty hardware and the obscene amount of women and henchmen he had in his employ. Also a tracking device in Levent’s phone kept a Super Mario looking avatar updated real time on Karpov’s main viewer screen. One silver haired lady was almost constantly at the computer, punching buttons and fiddling with levers. I’m not sure why, but there we are. And then Karpov spent a lot of time moving little toy military vehicles and figurines around on a mock battlefield. It was stupid and made him look like a 5 year old moron. Karpov was played by Mehmet Ali Erbil, a person I fear we (you and I, dear reader… you and I) will not be rid of that easily. His unimpressive catalogue includes two more movies I will be watching in the near future, and his performance in Yes, sir taken into consideration, I’m pretty depressed about that. I couldn’t find anybody on the cast list who have appeared in other movies that one might know. Ali Erbil voiced Woody in Toy Story and Toy Story 2 (Turkish versions obviously) but had apparently fallen from grace when the time came for a third outing for Woody and his gang. Perhaps they had seen these movies of his, and figured fuck that. Rather risk the continuity snafu in a different voice for Woody than have this guy ruin more movies. 

General's office. Or the Turkish equivalent. Same god damn picture of Ataturk again. It's a thing apparently.
The military ranks piqued my curiosity, but like the rest of the movie it left me severely disappointed. All officers (I assume) have insignia on their collar flips, and I assumed they indicated rank, but Levent and the woman and somebody who is clearly above them in the chain of command, all have this special emblem on their shirts. The ranking officer has several stars on his shoulders, however, where Levent only has two. I checked Turkish military rank and found nothing that matches. So that’s kind of a bust. I could’ve learned something, but even that was denied. Everything was, as far as I’m concerned, in this movie. A reviewer on IMDb tore this movie a new asshole, and still gave it 3 out of 10 stars. I don’t know why. He compared it to the 1980s classic franchise Police Academy. I don’t know if I quite agree, but I suppose the inept and supposedly lovable dipshits save the day concept is somewhat similar. However, these dorks accomplish precisely nothing, they save no day and they basically just fuck around aimlessly for 100 minutes, until Levent, in a glorious fucking stunt, shoots two bombs at 4 feet, to free his men from two cages. I mean he literally points a gun in each hand at the bombs on the bars of these cages, and shoots them. Like what is that even supposed to accomplish? Granted, bomb disarmament and dismantling is only a hobby of mine, but it takes skills well above the UN sanctioned 9000 to be able to safely shoot bombs at close range. Insanity. 

I wonder if subtitles would've let me to a greater understanding of these girls matching outfits, and why they mostly just stood around.
I fear for the next few Turkish movies coming at me. This was from 2007, and still I could not find subtitles for it. The next two are from the year before, so I don’t hold high hopes. Say what you will about the many many many crappy movies I’ve watched so far, but at least when they’re in English, I can understand just what it is about them that I loathe so very much. I feel handicapped watching this. On the plus side, I can stick this on, and pretty much do something else, since the dialogue isn’t keeping me marginally distracted. It’s just moving images on screen for a 100 minutes, until credits roll and I get to write this. So there are pros and cons. Mostly cons. Even the pros are kind of cons. Next week, thankfully, I’ll be back in good old sub-Hollywood to review a wonderful movie featuring Mariah Carey. I literally can wait. 

The scene of these girls in the back of military vehicle with super inappropriately behaving soldiers made me uncomfortable.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - Number 35 The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies!!

I know you’re probably thinking “has he gone insane making up titles for these films now where does the madness end?” And I honestly can’t blame you for thinking something along those lines. If you were thinking about touching strangers inappropriately on the street or throwing rocks at small animals, I’d probably blame you. But that’s really neither here nor there. This movie really bears that striking title, and it really kind of does fit. Because like the title, this movie is super stupid. If you can make your way past the title however, please enjoy some moments reading my review of…

My face when watching this movie.

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies!! (1964)

I won’t say I exactly looked forward to watching this movie, because that hasn’t been true a single time so far. But with a title this moronic, I admit I was a little curious as to what the makers had come up with. Because surely people making a film with a title like that had to have poked fun at themselves a little, right? I don’t mean like it would be a comedy. I mean you make a zombie movie and throw in some fun gags and stuff and give it a title that indicates that you don’t take yourself super seriously. Right? Nope. This movie is dead serious. And apparently the title is too. It might’ve come about in a stillborn attempt to apply to a younger demographic by being cool or something. I’m sure there has been done research or questions have been asked, but I honestly don’t want to spend precious time on Earth looking for those. Suffice to say, the movie is serious and the title is too and whoever made that decision did bad and should feel bad.

Jerry looking less than skeptical at this gyppo's shenanigans.
The story in this movie seems like it should be pretty basic. However, it’s not quite as straight forward as you might think. No evil scientists or nuclear accident in this. No siree, this time it’s the gypsies’ fault. Their motivation eludes us, but with gyppos, you don’t really need motivation. They are inherently evil. A young girl is in love with the neighborhood black sheep dude, Jerry. I’m not sure why he isn’t liked by her parents, because he seems just about the most harmless dude ever. But he doesn’t have a job, and in 1964 that was the same as doing drugs. Jerry takes Marge to a carnival, where they visit the Gypsy fortune teller lady, and Jerry makes the mistake of scoffing at her predictions. If only he had lived in 2016, he’d know not to laugh at gypsy ladies. Anyway, they walk out and Jerry immediately becomes crazily infatuated with a stripper/belly dancer. He sends Marge on her way and watches the stripshow among a crowd of underwhelmed patrons. Unbeknownst to Jerry, stripper lady is gypsy queen’s sister, and Jerry is soon lured into the back room, where he is turned into something supposed to be a zombie. 

Wart on face and she turns from Elizabeth Taylor to crazy gypsy woman. He'll I'm suspecting Taylor did this movie uncredited.
You might think that there is nowhere else to go at this point, plotwise. And you’re actually kind of right. But there is also a subplot, featuring a singer/dancer and her dancing partner. She needs to quit drinking or she’ll get fired. In that process she somehow incurs the wrath of the gypsy queen and is murdered. I have a really hard time connecting the dots here, and I do believe I actually watched the whole movie without napping or bathroom breaks where I ‘accidentally’ forgot to pause the movie. So we’ll let this subplot stay unresolved except to say, that Jerry kills her and her partner. Marge recruits her brother and one of Jerry’s friends to free Jerry. This ends up being a half assed chase across a sandy beach ultimately leading to Jerry’s death when two policemen become involved. I think, possibly, before this happened, Jerry, with the last thread of humanity in him, managed to open the cage door to the gypsy zombie stash, and the monsters pour out and kill every gyppo around. The end. 

Kind of a diverse crowd for a burlesque strip show. But perhaps the 60s were different.
This movie sucked a lot. It’s hard to find much to say about it that isn’t already covered in that one sentiment. It’s from 1964 and, like the other movies from the sixties we’ve reviewed here, it’s super shitty quality. Obviously, since it’s a B100 contender, the plot and acting and story is subpar, but it’s just the look of the movie too. I’ve seen movies from the 30s that looked better than this, and I assume it has to do with equipment quality and thus prices. I just can’t help but think, if you’re gonna make a movie, at least have the common decency to make it look somewhat good. This looks like it was shot through a pair of binoculars. It’s a subconscious thing to me I guess, but I get unreasonably annoyed and pissed off about it. Like the whole movie is a shitty peep show flick from the 1910s. Grainy and choppy and like you just woke up from one of those naps in the afternoon that feels like somebody doused you in olive oil and you can’t get it out of your eyes. That’s how this film feels to me. Then there is acting and directing.

Is this the face of somebody who directed endless pornos? I guess it is.
Both of which suck. Jerry does a somewhat decent job, but his looks are not believable. And I’m not really criticizing Jerry’s looks as much as I’m criticizing the casting director’s (if there was such a person) choice in actor. Jerry looks like he’d be better fit as a teaching assistant at a local community college’s physics department than a 1960s cool cat. Marge is completely off the mark, even for a movie this crappy. The gypsy kind of pulls her role off, but she kept reminding me of Elizabeth Taylor from back in her heyday, and it threw me off. Like she was a pretty face they had stuck a giant wart on, and it seemed kind of ham fisted. Like they started giving a shit and then remembered they actually didn’t. She has a henchman that sort of hangs around and I’m not sure how to describe him. He reminded me of Scarecrow of Oz fame, but infinitely less well made. The zombies were alright I guess? I mean you didn’t see them much, and Jerry never fully transformed enough, to warrant lots of make up. The ones that poured out to slay gyppos looked pretty stupid, but not as much as say the jerk off who killed people in Yucca Flats

Subtlety wasn't on the cast list for this plot.
This movie had like 4 or 5 musical bits with dancing, that seemed completely unwarranted. It’s a movie about zombies doing the bidding of gypsies. Why the fuck are we then treated to people prancing around to repugnant music in offensive outfits? It seems like it’s thrown in as a vehicle for somebody’s latent desire to become a music hall actor/director or putting out an album or something like that. It had no bearing on the already fragile plot whatsoever. It was basically wasting everybody’s time. The entire movie was. Granted it didn’t look like it had a budget of more than you could confidently beg off of strangers on the street in a mid sized city over the course of a week, but even with that kept firmly in mind, somebody must have fronted the money for this movie to blink into existence. People have come together to collectively craft a piece of cinema. Did anybody at any point during the process of making this, think it was going to be a masterpiece? Or did they make it, realize it was complete shit, and stick that title on it, hoping it would scare people off?

The only thing this movie accomplished was to associate astrology with gypsies and tag it as mumbo jumbo.
All in all watching this movie felt like a waste. Not as much a waste as I’ve been through before, but enough that I was mildly annoyed after watching it. Like it’s offensive that somebody makes movies like this under the premise that others will inadvertently pay to watch it mistaking it for an actual good movie (hard to believe with that title, but the principle stands.) Not a single person on the cast list has their profile image on IMDb, and perhaps that’s a shitty measuring device to determine the success and appeal of a movie, but it’s proven somewhat of a rule. One person does stand out, I suppose, and that’s the director and main star, Jerry. Played by a guy named Ray Dennis Steckler. Or that might be his name. He’s credited as Cash Flagg for his acting. He was active up until 2009 so I took a glance at his credits and found that they mostly consisted of porn. Debbie Does Las Vegas was the only one I read about, mostly because the title was iconic in nature and I figured I might have some sort of contextual knowledge that would help me in understanding what Ray Dennis was up to. I can’t say I gained much understanding. The guy made pornos. It’s pretty straight forward. This explains the lewd semi-clad nature of the performers in the extensive and extravagant musical bits in this movie. If only Ray Dennis had gone full porno, I might have enjoyed this more. But it couldn’t even give me that. Instead I watched incredibly stupid creatures who should’ve stopped living altogether.

Jerry pays the ultimate price for his insolence: Shot by police. Just like the gypsies had foreseen it. Kind of.