Braindead

As mentioned in my previous post, I found this (on YouTube) and watched it last night.

This film upped Bad Taste in all ways. The production was much better due to a NZ$3 million budget (Bad Taste was made for $25,000), the use of real actors, and there was a lot more splatter. In fact this must rank as the most splatter-goriest film of all time, especially the last thirty minutes of the film which is basically just blood, entrails, and brains flying everywhere. It was also funnier, which it really needed to be due to the amount of extreme gore happening. Some scenes were a bit absurd, such as when the hero of the story takes the zombie baby to the park in a pram, and proceeds to attempt to subdue it when it goes berzerb… Peter Jackson’s favourite part of the film apparently.

The actors and actresses in this are a who’s-who of 1990’s New Zealand television and film. Familiar names such as Timothy Balme, Elizabeth Moody (she was brilliant in this), Ian Watkin, Davina Whitehouse, Bill Ralston, and Belinda Todd. Peter Jackson also had a minor role. They were all brilliant and they were all subject to a huge amount of fake blood and gore.

It was good to see 1990’s Wellington made to look like 1950’s Wellington. There was one scene where I saw the street where my brother lives, and the bus stop near his place where earlier this year I waited. This link shows the shop used in the film, and across the road is the bus-stop, although it has been renewed since then. In the film a tram was visible on the street which is impossible as the streets are very steep in this area.

The special effects, especially the puppets, were very impressive. This article is a good read about how the film was made.

Braindead is banned in countries such as South Korea, Finland, and Singapore. In Germany it is heavily cut, and the R-rated version in the U.S.A. is also cut, although the unrated version is completely original. Peter Jackson announced plans last year to restore this and Bad Taste in 4K, along with Meet the Feebles.

Here is a good story of someone who played the zombie “Mum” in the film.

This actually bombed in the day, I guess it was just too gory for most people.

I absolutely enjoyed this, it was just so over-the-top gory and yet funny at the same time. I would place it slightly above the Evil Dead films, Evil Dead 2 in particular, as the most funniest horror films in existence.

Recommended for anyone who can stomach a large amount of splatter and laugh at the same time.

Date watched: June 16th
Score: 10/10
Body count: unknown
Film count 2019: 18

The Pianist

This is based on the true story of a Polish=Jew who survived the German occupation in World War Two, directed by Roman Polanski. And it is most excellent. It was a French, German, Polish, and British co-production.

Adrien Brody plays Wladyslaw Szpilman, a gifted piano player who along with his parents, sisters and brothers tries to survive the German occupation after Poland is invaded. Things only get worse of course.

The film portrays the hardship and horror of what the Jews had to go through, some of it quite shocking, and no doubt based on actual accounts of what went on. I didn’t know that a part of Warsaw was used to house all of the Jews in the city temporarily, and was walled off from the rest of the city, like the Berlin Wall.

The acting was absolutely superb from all, as was the direction and the sets. Some of the shots of bombed-out streets towards the end of the film could not have possibly been real, so the CG was most excellent too.

It is a long film at 150 minutes, but it does not feel like it at all.

Not an uplifting film, and not easy to watch at times, but it’s three Academy Awards (out of seven nominations) proves that this is a must-watch.

Date watched: June 1st
Score: 10/10
Film count 2019: 16

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days

This is a 2007 Romanian film set during the days of Nicolae Ceaușescu and tells the story of a university student and her friend who is illegally getting an abortion.

So there is no need then to explain that this is heavy stuff and overall quite a downer. It is though a very well made and told film and has some very tense scenes, the final five minutes or so especially. It is all done without dramatic music of any kind, no fancy cinematography, or over-the-top acting.

The acting is superb, and for the two main female roles was obviously very difficult at times.

It was very interesting to listen to the Romanian language. It seems to be very similar to both Italian and Russian, and even a little French.

Superbness.

Date watched: May 1st
Score: 10/10
Film count 2019: 10

The Big Lebowski

My final film for 2018 turned out to be an easy choice, an old favourite that I last watched back in 2015.

This film never gets tired, it is just so good on all levels. I only wish I could see this at a cinema.

I am sure though that you have seen this, so I don’t feel there is much more I need to say, you know what I mean.

Happy New Year. May 2019 be full of film, music, books, and good stuff.

Date watched: December 31st
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 92

Turtles Can Fly

This is a 2004 Kurdish film made in Kurdistan, Iraq, and is a joint Iraq/Iran/France production.

The story is set mostly in pre-American invasion Iraq, and is about a boy nicknamed “Satellite” who is a whizz with satellite dishes and TV, and the people of his refugee camp rely on him to get news of the upcoming war. He also gets the children of the camp, many of them orphans, to work disarming mines which are sold so they can support themselves.

“Satellite” on right.

He meets a girl, her brother and a blind young boy they are taking care of. The brother lost both of his arms in a mine accident (the actor actually had no arms), and is known to be able to predict the future. The sister resents the young child she is taking care of and wants to abandon him, but the brother will not allow her.

The film just follows the children as they do their best to survive, with the few adults in the story doing little to help, mostly because they are old. Some of the things they have to go through are probably quite accurate to real life, and it is all very depressing. From what I have read, most of the child actors in this were actual refugees, but they were outstanding.

There are no politics in the film, it doesn’t try to make any statements about war or what Saddam did to the Kurdish people, although there is mention of Halabcheh, a town where thousands of people died in a gas attack by Chemical Ali in 1988. Just the story of the children is enough.

Extremely depressing stuff overall, but at the same time it is a well-made and riveting film with brilliant acting from the kids, they all seemed so natural, although of course they had already been through it all in real life. Hollywood blockbusters seem so trite after watching a film like this.

I tried to find out about what the children are doing now, but there is no information at all, apart from Satellite who is now a film maker.

Date watched: December 22nd
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 83

Miller’s Crossing

After the recent low-grade film viewings I decided I needed to see a quality film again, so I chose this Coen brothers masterpiece. I have seen this before, but this is the first post for this film on MBMS, so I must have last watched this a long time ago. Still, I remembered a lot of it.

There is not much to say about this one really, except that it is a perfect gangster film, not even Scorcese could do any better. The casting, cinematography, sets, writing, and of course directing were all top-notch. There is no use writing more, no need to. So to fill in some space, here are some images…

Gabriel Byrne as “Tommy”.
Albert Finney as “Leo”.
Albert Finney (on right) as a maid.
John Turturro as “Bernie Bernbaum”.
Sam Raimi in a cameo.
J.E. Freeman and Marcia Gay Harden

It is amazing that this film is now 28 years old, it hasn’t aged a day. I would love to see it at the theatre.

And the Coen Brothers are now in the MBMS Page of Fame.

Date watched: December 1st
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 80

Beware of Mr. Baker

Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols is a radio DJ in Los Angeles and has his own weekday afternoon show. When he has an interview on the show, which is often, it is recorded on video and uploaded to YouTube. So today I watched a couple of them, the first with Simple Minds, and the second with Stewart Copeland of the Police. During Stewart’s interview he mentioned Ginger Baker, and how he was part of a documentary about the life and times of Ginger. I was intrigued so looked it up on YouTube, and was happy to find it there.

Ginger Baker was the drummer for Cream, and if you can believe any of the interviewees in the documentary, is the best drummer in the history of rock, or at least was as these days health and old age (he is 79) have prevented him from playing. It is very clear though that he was a brilliant drummer not only in rock but also in jazz which is what he was playing until a few years ago.

What is also clear is that he is a grumpy curmudgeon, quite wild, a troublemaker, terrible with money, and just a generally complicated character. The film starts off with him attacking the documentary director with his cane, causing a gash in his nose…all because the director said that he was off to interview other people about Ginger’s life, something that Ginger was not happy about at all. This Rolling Stone interview will give you a good idea of what he is like.

Jack, Ginger, and Eric.

In between the interviews, which were done at his then home in South Africa, there were the other interviews with such people as Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce (Cream’s bassist), Stewart Copeland, Nick Mason, Ginger’s son and two daughters, his ex-wives, various managers, and John Lydon (Ginger actually worked on PiL’s “Album” album).

There was also plenty of archive footage and photos from Ginger’s long and busy past. Apart from music he had a go at a cheap Hollywood action film (which looked quite bad), he was an avid polo player, he drove across the Sahara in a Range Rover, and lived in countries such as Nairobi, Italy, the U.S., and South Africa. He was also into the usual musician vices such as drinking and doing drugs.

The documentary itself is well told and made, I have no criticisms of it at all. There are some nifty animation sequences too. The director/writer/producer actually lived with Ginger in South Africa for a while and wrote a Rolling Stone article about him. He returned in 2010 with a film crew to make the documentary.

This is a must-watch for anyone who loves music, and for those who appreciate a well-made documentary, or both.

Date watched: October 27th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 68