Movie Roundup #2

Sorry about the lack of screenshots, but I recently got a hospital bed and have become addicted to watching on the TV as a result. As you’ll notice, I’ve been watching a lot of pre-codes. I love them so much! Oh, and coming soon, I am going to do a sequel to the Deanna Durbin punishment posts with a series Esther Williams punishment articles. I think I can get my hands on about 16 of her films.

1. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Not Recommended: More like the Dark Knight takes an elephant-size dump on its viewers. This movie is garbage. It’s no better than Lincoln or Iron Man 3. In fact, it’s worse because we actually have high expectations going in to it. What were they thinking following up a well-made film noir with this cartoonish comic book shit? Joseph Gordon-Levitt is completely unbelievable as a cop. Catwoman doesn’t even belong in this iteration of Batman. She simply cannot be taken seriously and just reminds us of how bad the film is with every frame she appears in. Batman spends the majority of the film ruminating and being fed spiritual claptrap from wisemen stereotypes instead of doing anything. Bane struts around like an ass, then disappears while we are supposed to be overwhelmed by the “revolution”, except we’re already lost to the film and are laughing our assess off at its incompetence.

The only redeeming thing about Christopher Nolan’s unholy piece of crap is Bane’s voice. That’s it. This movie is a joke.

2. Distant (2002) – Approach With Caution: You just end up talking to the screen, saying things like, “He’s watching TV next to a pillar rather than talking to the other guy…DISTANCE!” It’s very brick to the head obvious and pretty boring with a few nice landscape shots thrown in for beauty.

3. Vampyros Lesbos (1971) – Not Recommended

4. The Last of the Mohicans (1936) – Worth A Look

5. Trial by Trigger (1944) – Worth A Look

6. Funny Games (1997) – Not Recommended: Was that supposed to be startlingly or horrifying? To me, it was just boring. Predictable as clockwork.

7. Bridesmaids (2011) – Approach With Caution: Enough poorly done low brow humor that it drags down the whole film.

8. Bad Boys (1983) – Recommended: A good, realistic, no highbrow BS look at juvenile prison. I enjoyed it. Sean Penn did a good job in the lead and I loved Clancy Brown in a supporting role.

9. Bad Teacher (2011) – Worth A Look

10. The Castle (1999) – Recommended

11. Dirigible (1931) – Worth A Look: The scenes at the South Pole are something to behold. Great cinematography and unusually good performances for the 1930s. Worth slogging through the stupid parts for the extraordinary ones.

12. Roaming the Emerald Isle with Will Rogers (1927) – Approach With Caution

13. Chaplin Shorts: Kid Auto Races at Venice Beach (1914); Cruel, Cruel Love (1914); Tango Tangles (1914); The Star Boader (1914); His Prehistoric Past (1914); A Film Johnnie (1914); His Favorite Pastime (1914); Between Showers (1914); His Trysting Place (1914): They are all pretty much an approach with caution.

14. The Last Flight (1931) – Highly Recommended: This is shockingly good. It follows several post-WWI pilots as they drink their way from Paris to Lisbon along with a beautiful woman. The film does a good job showing how the men have had their eyes open to horrors they won’t forget and how their bodies and minds have been changed so they can’t forget. An example of how the pre-code era was a mini Hollywood Renaissance. A must see of the period.

15. Central Airport (1933) – Worth A Look

16. The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011) – Not Recommended: It gets a little better in the last 5 parts, but this really is one of the worst documentaries I have ever seen. It’s incredibly biased, heavy-handed, and ill-informed. And that’s coming from someone who has watched the documentary I Love Dollars where the director spends an inordinate amount of time showing us a financial institution’s front door because it has a street address of 666.

There is no reason to see this awful documentary. You can find the films to see elsewhere. And any teacher who shows it should be ashamed of themselves.

The story of film is not one of innovation. It’s a history. That means what happened, happened, and sometimes that means steps backwards, to the sides, and even in crazy zig zag patterns. Also, there is nothing super special about a particular time or place. Good, bad, and innovative film is made everywhere and at anytime. Don’t let your mind and film education be constrained by one man’s narrow and biased view. Mine included.

I disliked this movie enough that I made a little parody:

17. Private Lives (1931) – Highly Recommended: Fucking amazing! One of the finest pre-codes I have seen in a long time. It’s loaded to the hilt with things that couldn’t be done a few years before, and certainly couldn’t be done under the code. Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery are hilarious as a former couple who were once married. They meet while they are on their honeymoons with their new spouses, and run away together.

Great movie, and an essential for anyone studying film. This film is the pre-code era in a bottle.

18. Complicated Women (2003) – Worth A Look: A decent TCM documentary about pre-code Hollywood.

19. Washington Merry-Go-Round (1932) – Recommended: This isn’t a great film, but wow! It’s relentless in the way it indicts the US government for being corrupt. This is another classic example of a film that couldn’t be made after the production code. It ends with the main character telling someone there’s a gun in a drawer and you should probably use it, he does, and then an arm is extended around a girl for this happy suicide ending.

I love pre-codes!

20. The Merry Wives of Reno (1934) – Highly Recommended

21. The Merry Widow (1934) – Recommended

22. The Tenderfoot (1932) – Approach With Caution: This is a shitty pre-code. Enough said.

23. The Lost Squadron (1932) – Worth A Look

24. Topaze (1933) – Worth A Look

25. The Big Trail (1930) – Approach With Caution: Gorgeous cinematography that makes everything huge in scope. The fact that it is in widescreen helps too. Unfortunately, it’s pretty boring. Really boring, and the acting isn’t too good either.

26. Moby Dick (1930) – Approach With Caution: I thought the whale ate him at the end? It doesn’t in this one.

27. The Star Packer (1934) – Approach With Caution

28. The Lost Patrol (1934) – Recommended: An early implementation of the formula that says, “stick a bunch of people in an isolated location and have them picked off one by one by an unseen enemy.” It works, pretty much. Karloff is annoying and helps to ruin the film. John Ford could have also done much more to build tension and suspense. Still, quite good.

29. Jimmy The Gent (1934) – Approach With Caution

Let’s Play: Phantasmagoria

I recently finished my first Let’s Play. I played Roberta Williams’ Phantasmagoria. This game draws heavily from The Shining and is gory at times. It has it’s frustrating moments near the end, but it’s still a lot of fun. Horrible acting, but that doesn’t take away from the fun. It’s great to laugh at a guy who looks like Ozzy Osbourne trying to do the maniacal laugh that Richard Widmark did in Kiss of Death. I think my next Let’s Play is going to be King’s Quest VI, but I might do the sequel to Phantasmagoria instead. I haven’t made up my mind.

Let’s Play: Phantasmagoria (Part 1)

Let’s Play: Phantasmagoria (Part 2)

Let’s Play: Phantasmagoria (Part 3)

Let’s Play: Phantasmagoria (Part 4)

Let’s Play: Phantasmagoria (Part 5)

Let’s Play: Phantasmagoria (Part 6, Finale)

Movie Roundup #1

1. Emmanuelle Exposed (1981) – Not Recommended: Pointless and boring! The only thing of redeeming value in this movie is the upper crust Spaniard gentleman who is so convinced of his superiority that he just knows he’s the best. He doesn’t look down on others, but he also can’t be convinced his beliefs are false. That includes when he gives a less than satisfactory performance in the sack. He is the narrator and is usually quite humorous. The rest, just stinks.

2. Iron Man 3 (2013) – Not Recommended: Granted, there was a mentally challenged guy who was disrupting the audience throughout the film. And granted, the theater failed to remove him despite being informed on three different occasions, by three separate people that he was making a lot of noise. However, this movie still sucks! A few laughs. There wasn’t much of the derided action that people are always complaining about in such films. Just boring Robert Downey Jr. out of the suit, doing impressions of himself in his old mug shots and calling it PTSD from the events of The Avengers. No thank you, get in the suit and kick some ass next time.

Oh, and hire better writers. It was nice to see Guy Pearce, but his villain was worthless. I’m not even sure I got a reason for what he was doing.

Yuck, and that’s all I have to say about that!

3.

Lincoln (2012) - Not Recommended

Lincoln (2012) – Not Recommended

This is a not a good movie. The film is about the passage of the 13th Amendment. Major problems creep in because the film tries to also be about Lincoln and the Civil War, but ends up covering them in a half-assed manner. Lincoln is a two-dimensional joke that has a couple good speeches and a load of stupid little stories. It’s kind of sickening to see such a great man reduced to a caricature. And every other character is the same. Just oversimplified pawns in an uneven and unnecessarily comical presentation of one of the most important moments in the history of the United States. I was gonna give this film two stars, but the more write, the more I realize how much I disliked it. I wouldn’t recommend this film under any circumstances.

4.

Gummo (1997) - Worth A Look

Gummo (1997) – Worth A Look

I can’t believe I am giving this film three stars, but in the last four minutes or so they played Roy Orbison and suddenly it worked for me.

5.

Women Behind Bars (1975) - Not Recommended

Women Behind Bars (1975) – Not Recommended

Always nice to see the beautiful Lina Romay, but she alone can’t save this film.

6.

Yol (1982) - Recommended

Yol (1982) – Recommended

Sad and beautiful. A people in chains because of backwards culturally and government instituted rules. In many ways, horrifying.

7.

Turist Ömer Uzay Yolu’nda (1973) AKA The Turkish Star Trek - Recommended

Turist Ömer Uzay Yolu’nda (1973) AKA The Turkish Star Trek – Recommended

It’s basically a shot for shot Turkish remake of the episode from The Original Series with the shapeshifting monster who needs salt. The only difference is that a Turkish bum is brought from the past and thrown into the mix. This is priceless. It actually means that the Turks adapted Star Trek into a film before the US did. Hilarious!

8.

Eugenie Sex Happening (1974) - Approach With Caution

Eugenie Sex Happening (1974) – Approach With Caution

A lousy and very loose adaptation of Marquis de Sade’s Justine.

9. The King Of Kings (1927) – Recommended: I’m not what Elton John called a Jesus freak, but it’s always interesting to see how different directors handle the story of Christ. Particularly, how they handle Pontius Pilate and Judas. Pontius is portrayed as the guy who bends over backwards to try and not execute Jesus, but ultimately has his hands tied. Judas is not portrayed as evil, but someone who is only weak. I can understand why Scorsese tweaked his role in The Last Temptation of Christ. In that film, Jesus asks Judas to betray him because he knows that it must happen and none of the others have the stomach for it. It makes more sense then Jesus knowing Judas will betray him and will kill himself out of guilt. This film does an excellent job of telling the story without becoming big studio epic The Ten Commandments or the awful force it down your throat Song of Bernadette.

10. Schoolgirl Report Vol. 5: What All Parents Should Know (1973) – Approach With Caution: This is my third Schoolgirl Report film and they don’t get any better. They are the weakest and lamest form of soft core porn. They have their humorous moments, but it’s largely a waste of time.

Playthroughs of King’s Quest IV and V

One part of the story of what’s been happening in my life that I left out is my discovery of Let’s Plays. That’s when someone plays through a game while delivering commentary. I started watching these last Fall and became hooked. A few weeks ago I decided to start making my own. I wasn’t able to obtain a microphone until the last two parts of King’s Quest V, so the rest are just gameplay, but I intend to make Let’s Plays from now on. Here are the videos I have made so far, with only the last two parts of King’s Quest V having my voice on them.

King’s Quest IV, Part 1

King’s Quest IV, Part 2

King’s Quest IV, Part 3

King’s Quest V, Part 1

King’s Quest V, Part 2

King’s Quest V, Part 3

King’s Quest V, Part 4

I’m Returning From The Hills, Part IV

And since I always prefer to show, rather than tell. Here is a sampling of some of the delicious junk I watched.

Double Dragon (1994)

Double Dragon (1994)

A Force Of One (1979)

A Force Of One (1979)

Valet Girls (1987)

Valet Girls (1987)

The Bloodsucker Leads The Dance (1975) -- She's headless!

The Bloodsucker Leads The Dance (1975) — She’s headless!

Requiem For A Vampire (1971)

Requiem For A Vampire (1971)

Nude Nuns With Big Guns (2010)

Nude Nuns With Big Guns (2010)

Hot Bubblegum (1981)

Hot Bubblegum (1981)

The Cheerleaders (1973)

The Cheerleaders (1973)

Revenge Of The Cheerleaders (1976)

Revenge Of The Cheerleaders (1976)

She-Devils On Wheels (1968)

She-Devils On Wheels (1968)

Dolemite (1975)

Dolemite (1975)

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)

Justine De Sade (1972)

Justine De Sade (1972)

Sins Of Sister Lucia (1978) -- This was a actually a great Roman Porno, but it belongs here anyways.

Sins Of Sister Lucia (1978) — This was a actually a great Roman Porno, but it belongs here anyways.

Female Prisoner: Caged! (1983)

Female Prisoner: Caged! (1983)

The Hand Of Death (1976)

The Hand Of Death (1976)

Princess Iron Fan (1966) -- There's a tiny Monkey King crawling on her butt under her dress.  Devious Monkey King!

Princess Iron Fan (1966) — There’s a tiny Monkey King crawling on her butt under her dress. Devious Monkey King!

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

Female Teacher: In Front Of The Students (1982) -- An incredible Roman Ponro, but very, very, very non-PC. Be warned if you try and track down a copy.

Female Teacher: In Front Of The Students (1982) — An incredible Roman Ponro, but very, very, very non-PC. Be warned if you try and track down a copy.

Air Doll (2009)

Air Doll (2009)

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (1981)

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (1981)

The Bunglers in the Planet Wars (1978) -- Also known as The Brazilian Star Wars. This movie is so bad, and yet so good. Everyone should see it.

The Bunglers in the Planet Wars (1978) — Also known as The Brazilian Star Wars. This movie is so bad, and yet so good. Everyone should see it.

That pretty much brings you up to date. From now on this blog will not only be for movies, but for anything Michael Troutman. Right now, that means film, hiking, photography, and hopefully Let’s Plays. I hope that’s ok with everyone. See you soon.

I’m Returning From The Hills, Part III

Looking across Sindicich Lagoon to Mt. Diablo

Looking across Sindicich Lagoon to Mt. Diablo

I wasn’t going to walk as far as I did. Honest, I wasn’t planning to choose the “peak” trail rather than the valley. Yet, I did both, and it was amazing. Briones Regional Park is one of the most beautiful places in the East Bay, and it’s big too. I have been back many times and I still have trails to explore.

When the sign says valley or peak, you choose valley! The peak nearly killed me.

When the sign says valley or peak, you choose valley! The peak nearly killed me.

IMG_8317

IMG_8418

IMG_8448

After my trip to Briones, I did a little more park hopping, but mainly I stuck to hiking. It’s amazing how many places to hike there are in my area. I swear that Contra Costa county is really a giant park with squatters on it.

But hiking isn’t the only story here. Comcast lifted their data cap for me during this period and I wanted to see how much data I would actually use if I wasn’t worried about the cap. Also, there were good weeks where it was way too hot to hike and I didn’t have a choice but turn on Netflix instant streaming. It began with the Roger Corman/Traci Lords film called Not Of This Earth (1988). But it would get worse.

Starcrash (1978)

Starcrash (1978)

Much, much worse.

He's My Girl (1987)

He’s My Girl (1987)

I’m Returning From The Hills, Part II

Park hopping is what I called it. I wasn’t visiting parks that you could hike in yet, but I was visiting any place that my GPS classified as a park. The places I visited varied greatly.

Brookwood Park — A small neighborhood park

Paso Nogal Park -- A good size dog park for both large and small dogs

Paso Nogal Park — A good size dog park for both large and small dogs

Heather Farms -- A big park/community center/dog park/etc. It actually dates back to when there was a track here that was used in the Clark Gable film Sporting Blood.

Heather Farms — A big park/community center/dog park/etc. It actually dates back to when there was a track here that was used in the Clark Gable film Sporting Blood.

El Divisadero Park -- The park with an identity crisis. The sign does say it's a neighborhood park, but it's also a field attached to a school.

El Divisadero Park — The park with an identity crisis. The sign does say it’s a neighborhood park, but it’s also a field attached to a school.

It was a blast, and I enjoyed exploring my area in ways I had never done before. While I was going to your normal types of parks, I would occasionally come across places that hinted at something more.

Where the Lafayette-Moraga Trail meets the Moraga Commons (Park)

Where the Lafayette-Moraga Trail meets the Moraga Commons (Park)

Walnut Creek Open Space? I thought I was at Howe Homestead Park.

Walnut Creek Open Space? I thought I was at Howe Homestead Park.

After hitting a lot of parks, I decided to make a run at the state park in my backyard. That evil mountain that looks down on me everyday. I went to Mt. Diablo State Park…on wheels.

One view from the observation deck at Mt. Diablo State Park.

One view from the observation deck at Mt. Diablo State Park.

But that same day, I also saw this.

Protected Watershed? EBMUD, my water company? I thought this was just Rancho Laguna Park.

Protected Watershed? EBMUD, my water company? I thought this was just Rancho Laguna Park.

10 days later my GPS said Briones Regional Park, but not the Lafayette Ridge Staging Area. I was going to the Bear Creek Staging Area. I was totally prepared with my regular shoes, no sunblock, no extra water, and no food. It was just me, my water bottle I always brought with me, and a cellphone. Before I knew it, I was going on my first real hike.

I’m Returning From The Hills, Part I

It’s been nine months since my last blog post, and where have I been? Mostly, I have been in the beautiful hills and the Netflix sewers. Let’s start with the attractive one first. Last June I desperately needed to get out of the house for the day and decided on a whim to go to a place called Dinosaur Hill.

The View From Dinosaur Hill

The view of Mt. Diablo from Dinosaur Hill

It’s a scenic viewpoint in Pleasant Hill, CA from which you can look across the Diablo Valley and see Mt. Diablo. Still not wanting to go home, I decided to go back to the Lafayette Reservoir in Lafayette, CA. I hadn’t been there since I was a child.

The Dam Tower at the Lafayette Reservoir

The Dam Tower at the Lafayette Reservoir

I walked the paved trail that keeps close to the water. There are two trails around the reservoir. One takes you up to an upper rim and one takes you around the shore. I wouldn’t be up to the upper rim for months to come, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I was pretty proud of myself for finishing that trail, but still wasn’t up to going home. It was still so early! I thought of one more place I could go. Next to the elementary school I attended is a staging area for Briones Regional Park. Briones is one of many parks in the East Bay Regional Parks district that covers both Contra Costa and Alameda counties in California. But there is something special about this staging area. It takes you onto a portion of Briones that is almost a park unto itself. It’s called the Lafayette Ridge. I remember being taken up part of it when I attended elementary school, and I remember running up a portion of it when I did cross country at the nearby high school.

Entrance to Lafayette Ridge

Entrance to Lafayette Ridge

It’s a steep climb up to the ridge, and once you’re there, it’s up and down, up and down, till you reach a big up at the end that kicks your butt. It’s arduous, but it’s in my backyard. So it’s mine.

You can see the entire ridge in a video I shot, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I walked a small portion of the initial ascent and went home. I went out soon after and started what I call “park hopping”.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), TSPDT #941, Not Recommended

Best scene in the movie

I have to be honest. I tried to write a regular review for this film, but I disliked the movie so much that I don’t care. On some level, I felt personally offended. Rather than try to write some long justification, I am just going to say I don’t recommend it and move on. I recommend PinocchioStar Trek: The Next Generation, and Battlestar Galactica. They explore the themes in this film far better, with a greater maturity and depth that won’t leave you feeling like you have been lectured to like a child.

Audition (1999), TSPDT #940, Approach With Caution

Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina)

I knew going into this film that it was not my kind of movie. I am not a fan of horror films. They are rarely done right, and often degenerate into torture porn or a gore fest. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to find that director Takashi Miike made the film from the book of Hitchcock. It’s about a man whose wife has died. He is lonely and his son is bugging him to get remarried. A friend suggests that a good way to quickly sift through a large number of women is to do it the way the pros do. That is, an audition. They set up a semi-fake audition for a movie and whittle down the possibilities to 30 women. Of course, the man picks the creepy girl in white. Once this man touches her life outside of the audition; the film begins to break further and further from reality. We descend into her warped world of ballet, a creature in a bag, and torture.

Behind The Tree

Takashi Miike definitely has talent. It’s just not my kind of movie. I think he attempts to class up the film by feeding us BS to try and connect us emotionally with the characters. What was impressive was his command of suspenseful filmmaking techniques. It meant that when it was gruesome, it was a drink of water to someone in a desert rather than being drowned in a pool. An atmosphere had been built and went unbroken as a head was severed or a pin was pushed into an eye. Miike does not just using a series of cheap tricks. Those who enjoy horror will probably appreciate it more than I did. I say, approach with caution.

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