The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

I last watched this a very long time ago, some time before the turn of the century, so I had forgotten most of it.

This was a bomb when it came out in 1988, it made only $8 million from it’s $46 million budget, but it is a Terry Gilliam film after all. This article explains the making of the film, and also some of the troubles in the film including some quite dangerous scenes, which were very clearly evident while watching it. Sarah Polley, who was nine years old at the time, had a co-starring role and as you will read in the aforementioned article was very traumatised as a result of being in the film.

I quite enjoyed it though. It was funny in places, especially when Robin Williams made his appearance as King of the Moon. Oliver Reed too was very funny as Vulcan, in fact I would say he was the highlight of the film. The rest of the film though was entertaining and quite good to look at. As well as Robin and Oliver, the film included such fine actors as Eric Idle, Uma Thurman, and Jonathan Pryce. A very respected actor, but virtually unknown at the time was John Neville who played the Baron, and he was most excellent. Sting had a cameo.

Some of the humour does fall a bit flat, and if you are a Monty Python fan then you will know what the punchlines to some jokes will be, and it also slows down a bit in places. It is also not really a kid’s film, especially with several beheadings and a risqué scene involving the tickling of the Queen of the Moon’s feet and suggestive groans.

A rather enjoyable watch, and better than I was anticipating.

Date watched: August 11th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2019: 23

Casino Royale

James wanted to watch a Bond film in the weekend, so he chose this one as he has not seen it yet.

I have seen this a couple of times before at least, with my last post about it way back in 2012. So here is what I wrote that time:

I saw this a few years back for the first time and decided to watch it again to see how well it has stood up after seeing most of the older Bond movies.

And I was quite impressed. Daniel Craig was as good as I remember and the rest of the film was much more polished, mature and action-like than any Bond film before it, but pretty much minus the camp Bond humour. That though did not matter too much, this seemed more like a proper action/thriller/spy film that can hold it’s own against the Jason Bourne and Tom Cruise flicks that could have easily wiped out Bond if he did not get up with the times.

Hopefully Daniel Craig does a few more Bond films.

I am in agreeance with myself on what I wrote, but I don’t agree with my score of 8.5 out of 10, it was a tad too generous. There were a few long scenes where the story slowed down just a bit too much and I was longing for some action sequences. The poker game for example dragged on a bit which could have been shortened or livened up a bit with a shootout at some point. And the romance storyline in the third act, which seemed like it was tacked on, was kind of dull… it too needed a shootout scene or at least a car chase somewhere.

But these gripes aside it was still a good Bond film, and solidified Daniel Craig as a very worthy Bond.

Date watched: August 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
James’ score: 7.5/10
Film count 2019: 22

Animal Factory

“Animal Factory” is a 1977 novel by Edward Bunker, and is an extremely excellent read.

Because Edward spent a lot of his first 42 years in and out of prisons (mostly for bank robberies, drug dealing, extortion, armed robbery, and forgery), it has a very authentic feel to it. The experiences told through the eyes of a young man sent to San Quentin are no doubt all based on what Edward experienced or saw for himself in the joint (in 1951 he became the youngest ever inmate in San Quentin). He also did time in Foxriver Penitentiary where Michael Scofield famously escaped.

The writing is superb, honest, and raw. Edward was obviously an intelligent chap.

A most excellent book, certainly the best prison story I have ever read along with his equally excellent book “No Beast So Fierce”. You will certainly not ever want to go to prison after reading this.

Book count 2019: 3

Airplane II

I felt like a comedy last night, and Airplane came to mind first. But, I saw that recently so decided to go with it’s sequel, even though I remember it as not being nearly as good (I have seen this at least twice previous).

Right from the beginning it started re-hashing jokes from the original, even using a few of the original’s characters such as the Hare Krishnas at the airport. Some jokes were just variations. But, there were some new jokes, and I did laugh a few times, but overall it got to be tiresome, and some jokes were just not funny at all.

Julie Hagerty, Robert Hays, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, and Steven Stucker returned and were just as good, it is just a pity they didn’t have a better script to work with. The Shat seemed to enjoy his part, and being The Shat he did overdo it a little… but, we expect nothing less.

From IMDB: This film was created with the obligation that its creative team return for a third installment. Expectations were so high that the next film was promised at the end of the credits of this one. When the film was released to mediocre box office, plans for Airplane III was doomed. However, the advertisement remains in most prints.

This is not worth watching again, but some day I will probably watch the first film again, and perhaps another time after that.

My previous score for this film was 7 out of 10 (February, 2016), but I feel that is too high now.

Date watched: July 6th
Score: 4/10
Film count 2019: 21

Black Ben Carson

Some time back I came across JPEGMAFIA on Bandcamp and liked what I heard, so I bought their albums “Veteran” and “The 2nd Amendment”, both good albums. This week I decided that it was time to buy another album from them, one that I had my eyes on for a while, but other purchases got in the way.

Compared to the other albums this album is a little more hip-hoppy and less noise, but only slightly. The songs are satirical and funny on the whole and hard-edged at the same time. The best thing to do is listen to a song for yourself…

This will not be to everyone’s tastes, especially those that like M&Ms, but it fits my idiom quite well.

Music count 2019: 21

The Amazing Quest of Doctor Syn

This is the penultimate book in the series of seven Doctor Syn books.

The story is about a sinister new foe Doctor Syn comes across, a dastardly yet dashing and crafty fellow who is trying to marry a wealthy maiden for all of her fortune. To accomplish this he murders her uncle, then sets his sights on further murders and nasty business to get what he wants. Part of his plot directly involves the brilliant Doctor Syn, ex-pirate and current leader of a smuggling ring, but also the parson of Dymchurch-under-the-Wall, a small village in Eastern England. This leads to the villain’s demise of course.

The story is a bit drawn out and at times goes into a lot of unnecessary detail. There is also not a lot of tension as Doctor Syn is always in ultimate control of every situation, he hardly gets into any sticky business which he must brilliantly solve his way out of. But this is what Doctor Syn does in all of the books, so it is nothing new.

Unlike some of the other books this one is not a series of escapades and adventures, it is one consistent story which is good. The best books in the series have been the first two books (the first book though is chronologically the last).

This book was published in 1939, but the book is written more in the style of 18th century English which is fun to read.

Book count 2019: 2

The Informers

Not long into watching this I realised I had seen this before, and looking back through my blog posts I found that I had reviewed it back in September, 2012. No matter, it was kind of worth watching again.

The film involves different characters and follows them as they go through 1980’s high life in Los Angeles. So there is a lot of being high, and one character comes down with a mysterious new sickness, the result of sleeping around too much.

The acting by all is superb, and it should be with actors like Mickey Rourke, Amber Heard, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, and Billy Bob Joe Hank William Thornton. Chris Isaak is in it too, and he did an admirable job of it.

Ultimately though it didn’t really do much at the end. Some of the stories had an ending, some not, and maybe it was not supposed to come to a satisfying end. Basically the film was about despair, loneliness, and helplessness so perhaps the filmmakers were trying to get us all really down.

A whole subplot that involved vampires was cut from the film, perhaps for the best. Then again, it could have spiced the film up more. There was one scene in the film though that did show a remnant of that plot (involving a very nasty and pale-faced character who was trying to buy a kidnapped child). The film was a huge bomb, which is a pity as it was not a terrible film, but I guess most people want a happy ending, and maybe keeping the vampires would have helped.

Date watched: July 6th
Score: 7/10
Film count 2019: 20