I always like to watch films about World War Two as I have an interest in WW2 history, so I was looking forward to this.
And it was pretty good stuff, especially as it was based on a true story, and apparently most of it was accurate. Mel Gibson directed, and I must say he did a good job. It was slickly made and the action sequences were very well done, and it did not use a lot of CGI trickery, Mel wanted to keep it real. He had a budget of 40 million bucks, with the film making 175 big ones at the box office, so he will be in the film studio’s good books again. His next project is a sequel to The Passion of the Christ.
My only criticisms would be that perhaps the portrayal of the Japanese soldiers was a bit stereotypical, and that it got just a bit too sappy at times. The ridge in question in real life was a whole lot smaller than in reality, but Mel knows a thing or two about spectacle.
There are better war films, but this is still a very good watch.
Date watched: March 31st
Film count 2018: 27
I had seen this many years ago, before this blog started, but I wanted to see it again as I had forgotten a lot of it and anything with Bruce Campbell is always pure gold.
The story was slow moving, but Bruce’s portrayal of Elvis Presley held the whole thing together, as well as Ossie Davis as a fellow who thought he was John F. Kennedy. Add in an Egyptian mummy who is slowly picking off the old people where Elvis and JFK live by sucking their souls out through their behinds and you have quite a unique story at least. The story is also about growing old and just how much it sucks, as well as the pitfalls of fame.
I haven’t seen many films about Elvis, if any, but I would say that Bruce’s portrayal of him is the best ever and will never be topped. He was in no way mocking Elvis, and his Elvis accent was spot on. One of the greats is Bruce.
The film cost a million bucks to make (and made 1.2 million), but it did not feel too much like a low budget film. It was shot well and the supporting cast were not B-grade actors. The only disappointment is the mummy which just looked like a zombie wearing a cowboy outfit.
Another classic Bruce film, not his best, but still well worth a watch.
Date watched: March 30th
Film count 2018: 25
This is a 2001 Spanish/Mexican film directed by Guillermo del Toro.
The story is of an orphan boy taken to an orphanage where he discovers it is haunted by a boy ghost. The villain of the story is a helper who grew up in the orphanage, and who knows that the people who run the orphanage have some gold bars somewhere in the building, and he will do anything (mostly dastardly) to get it.
It is set in Spain towards the end of the civil war (1936 to 1939).
The story was reasonably original, and there were a few surprises, but it was also quite predictable at times. The acting was superb, especially from the young boys, and it was nicely shot.
I liked the way the ghost was portrayed. I won’t go into detail, but I thought it was better than the usual scary ghosts we see in most films.
A very worthy ghost tale.
Date watched: February 15th
Film count 2018: 15
The title of this film got me hooked, especially the “polka” part because I like a little polka every so often.
This is the true story of Jan Lewan, a Polish immigrant who wanted to make it big in America, so he decided he was going to be the Kurt Cobain of polka (without the drugs and attitude).
The story though turns bad as he basically starts a ponzi scheme to fund his polka world domination plans. It is actually another very depressing story of a musician who goes off the rails a bit, but at least he doesn’t die (although he almost did in jail).
It is hard to feel sorry for him even though he seemed to be a happy and genuine guy who just wanted to realise his dreams, but he just went in too deep. It is also hard to feel sorry for some of the people, mostly retired persons, who invested a lot of their money into something that was obviously a bit dodgy right from the start. It was pure greed. When asked in interviews by the director about what happened in prison to him (he was shivved and barely survived), they just got plain nasty and wished openly that he had died.
The whole thing was shot in a kind of 1980’s style video-taped look which suited the story, and at only 69 minutes it is an easy watch. There is a comedy film based on this story on Netflix starring Jack Black, so with the background story fresh in my mind I will watch it next.
Jan is now out of prison and is back into his polka, I would say very much on the straight and narrow this time.
Date watched: January 26th
Film count 2018: 6
This is quite an interesting doco about the tune Apache, as covered by the Incredible Bongo Band, who consisted of a few great session musicians, brought together by a producer to supplement the soundtrack to the B-film The Thing With Two Heads (which looks INCREDIBLE, have to try and check that out). It went on to be sampled by hip hop pioneer Kool Herc a few years later. Instantly recognisable now of course. Gene Simmons narrates!
Date watched: 12th November
Film count 2017: 63
So many one-liners!
I felt like watching something random again, so this unauthorised documentary about Depeche Mode seemed like a good choice.
I am not a fan of Depeche Mode at all, and I am not into synth-pop, but this was still a fascinating look into the history of one of the biggest and most successful electronic music bands in the world (according to the documentary), and how they make their music.
There were interviews with various people involved with the band, and also with the likes of Thomas Dolby, Gary Numan, and Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, all three of whom were very interesting.
As this was unauthorised there were no interviews with the band members, except from archives. This did not feel like an unauthorised documentary though, there was no dirt or tales of debauchery, rather it was a respectful look into the history and music-making of the band. The lead vocalist did have a serious drug problem in the 90’s, but this was only very briefly touched upon. The band were pretty hardcore at one time when it came to rock ‘n’ roll excess, and I was reading that even Primal Scream could not keep up with them. As for me, I am quite happily addicted to music, films, and writing about them.
I am still not a fan of Depeche Mode, but I found this to be an interesting watch. As for my preferred synth bands, I quite like Chemical Brothers and Buck Futtons.
Date watched: November 21st
Film count 2017: 130
Browsing through YouTube for something to watch I found this 1943 propaganda film made by the U.S. government about the preparations for bombing raids over East Prussia (North east Germany). Something different for a change.
Like any other propaganda film it of course did not show the human side of war, we did not see any of the suffering of those that were ultimately injured or killed in the raids, although there was some footage of injured aircrew as they were taken off the planes. It was all told in documentary style and made us feel proud of the job the airforce boys did in those days.
I was quite surprised at just how much prepration went into the bombing raids, and the amount of detail they went into to make sure everything went swimmingly. The aircrews had about four hours of briefings where they were told about the weather, where they were likely to encounter flak, what type of bombs to use and how the fuses will be set, and a whole bunch of other things.
All of the people involved in the film were actual airforce people, from the generals down to the tail gunners. A lot of it was obviously staged with some pretty wooden acting, but some of them were actually quite good.
There was plenty of footage from the bombing raids which looked pretty nasty for the people in the factories being bombed, some of the explosions were huge.
Fascinating stuff if you like a bit of WWII history.
Date watched: November 17th
Film count 2017: 129