Saturday, 14 September 2019
This is the 12th film in the Stuttgart fantasy Film Festival.
This is new for me. It's the first film I've ever seen in which the dialogue is in Latin. It tells the story of the brothers Romulus and Remus, and how they founded the village called Rome which would go on to become the world's largest empire.
The story doesn't match the legends that I read while I was at school. That was a long time ago. I need to read them again.
The film shows that the two brothers loved one another, but they were very different. Romulus believed in the Gods and followed the advice of their seers, whereas Remus said that he needed no God. Which one of them was right? History gives the answer.
It's a savage film with lots of gritty action and fight scenes. My only problem is that I didn't always know what was happening. When the characters are caked in mud it's difficult to tell them apart. It took me at least 15 minutes to figure out which character was Romulus and which was Remus.
This is the 11th film in the Stuttgart Fantasy Film Festival.
Partly comedy, party horror film, partly supernatural thriller, this film has it all.
Grace marries Alex, the future heir of a rich family. The Le Domas family has become rich by selling board games, although they've recently branched into sports entertainment. It's a custom in the family that whenever someone new enters the family, they have to play a game at midnight, chosen at random. The others say that their game was something harmless like Chess or Old Maid. Grace has to play Hide And Seek. The twist to their version of the game is that when Grace is found she'll be killed, but if she stays hidden until dawn the rest of the family will be killed.
The hunt is on!
It's an exciting film that begins slowly, but it becomes better as it continues.
This is the tenth film in the Stuttgart Fantasy Film Festival.
Tom is a gardener. Gemma is a schoolteacher. They're not yet married, but they're considering moving together. They visit an estate agent to look at houses. They drive to a housing estate in the suburbs, but they can't find their way back home. Their car runs out of petrol, so they stay overnight in the fully furnished house they looked at. The whole area is deserted. Nobody lives in any of the houses.
The next day a box is left outside the house with food. That's useful, because there are no shops. The day after that a box is left outside the house containing a baby and a note saying that they can't leave until they've brought up the baby.
There's so much I could say about the film, but I'll refrain for fear of giving away spoilers. It's a bizarre mystery, a living nightmare. This is the sort of role for which Jesse Eisenberg is perfet. He reminds me of his character in "The Double".
This is the ninth film in the Stuttgart Fantasy Film Festival.
Jarvis Dolan and Andrew Wilde were the hosts of a successful radio talk show. They took a break for a few months because of rape allegations brought against Andrew, but now they want to get back on air. The studio boss suggests that Jarvis does the show by himself, but he insists on Andrew joining him. After all, Andrew was never officially charged with rape.
On their first day back two masked men break into the studio, intending to force Jarvis and Andrew to confess to the rape. Andrew confesses at gunpoint to having raped a girl. Jarvis refuses to confess, because he says that he wasn't in the room when the rape took place.
Despite the tense atmosphere, this is ultimately an unsatisfying film. Most of the film is made up of repetitive dialogue, the same questions and the same answers being repeated over and over again. Whatever the intention of the film is meant to be, it fails.
Friday, 13 September 2019
This is the seventh film in the Stuttgart Fantasy Film Festival.
Have you ever been to the cinema and wanted to walk out because the film's so bad? You say that you have to stay because you paid for it, but when the credits roll you wish that you'd followed your instincts and left an hour ago. Staying is probably a good idea, because if you walk out half way through you'll spend the rest of your life thinking the film might have improved.
A young woman called Olive has just been fired, so she decides to comfort herself by going away for the weekend. It's $500 to stay in a remote country mansion. The problem is that the owner is an old man who regrets that he's never killed anyone, and he wants to make up for lost time.
The film is just ridiculous. I tried to enjoy its absurdity as art, but I couldn't, it was just awful. The killings are random and unrelated. The characters are all unpleasant, in one way or another. Even the acting is sub-par. Silence and loud music alternate annoyingly. What was the director thinking?
This is a dreadful film, and I can't imagine anything else at the festival being so bad.
And the title? Olive is an awful piano player, but she doesn't know, because all her friends are polite and say her playing is great. This means we have repeated piano performances which are out of tune. Terrible!
This is the sixth film in the Stuttgart Fantasy Film Festival.
Two unrelated stories are told which don't unite into a single plot until late in the film.
In a small town in Ohio young boys are disappearing. The policeman Greg Harper is in charge of the investigation, and the only thing that connects the disappearances is that green penknives are found whenever a boy disappears.
Greg's marriage is under a strain, because his wife has had an affair. They're trying to make things work, but there are supernatural occurrences in their house. Doors open and shut, records play by themselves, and objects disappear.
This is a very original story, with various twists that come unexpectedly. Maybe it deserves a higher rating. I'll decide next time I see it.
This is the fifth film in the Stuttgart Fantasy Film Festival.
A small cinema is owned by a Christian who only employs Christians to work for him. Why not? At least he can trust them to be honest. They stand and pray together every day before they open.
After the cinema has closed and the boss has gone home, the young people find a film roll in the cellar. It's a pornographic film, and since they've never seen pornography before they put on the film. Don't they have the Internet at home? The film is possessed, and by watching it they unleash a demon which leads them into another world.
This is a film with a retro feeling. It looks like the splatter films made in America and Italy in the early 1980's. I can appreciate it as a good film, but some of the scenes are so unsettling that I already know I don't want to watch it again.
This is the fourth film in the Stuttgart Fantasy Film Festival.
"Door Lock" is a Korean film which is a remake of the Spanish film "Sleep Tight". It tells the story of a woman being stalked. Every night when she's asleep a man enters her apartment and climbs into her bed, using chloroform to make sure she doesn't wake up. He doesn't rape her, he only wants to enjoy physical closeness.
When the woman begins to suspect something she contacts the police, but the wrong man is arrested. She thinks she's safe. but the real danger is about to begin.
It's a chilling story, full of suspense, but most of what happens is infeasible.
Thursday, 12 September 2019
This is the first film in the Stuttgart Fantasy Film Festival.
The Stuttgart Fantasy Film Festival contains a mixture of films, from small independent productions to big budget horror and sci-fi movies, but it attempts to present a special film as its opener each year. This time it's been decided to open the festival with the latest film from Hammer Horror, "The Lodge".
I can sum it up by saying that I love the atmosphere, but I hate the story.
A journalist, named only as Richard, does research to write a book on a suicide cult. Only one person survived, a young woman called Grace. She was designated as the survivor, because she had to film the scene of the dead bodies. In the course of his investigations, Richard falls in love with Grace and leaves his wife. As a result his wife commits suicide.
A few months later Richard takes Grace and his children on holiday to a remote lakeside lodge for Christmas. The two children hate their new step-mother, because they blame her for their mother's death. There's an emergency at work, so Richard has to leave the others alone. At first things seem to be improving, with the children being able to talk to their new mother. Then things go wrong. The electricity is cut off, and personal items disappear from the lodge.
The story has a multiple plot twists. Normally I gasp with surprise at plot twists, but in this film I groaned. I would have been happier with a more linear plot. The overall result is disappointing.
I'm glad that Hammer Horror has been revived, but they've lost the connection with what made them great in the 1960's. None of the original films were really scary, they were camp and frequently amusing. That's what they should try to achieve today.
Over the next eleven days I'll be watching up to four films a day, leaving me little time for other things like sleep. Because of the time constraints I'm imposing a 10 minute limit on myself for writing each review. What I can't write in 10 minutes won't be written at all.
Wednesday, 11 September 2019
There are no bare feet in this film. No women's feet, anyway. The only toes we see are those of Jesus on the cross.
This is Quentin Tarantino's weakest film, but as I've said before, his worst film is better than the best films of most directors. I'm sure that today isn't the last time I'll watch it.
Success Rate: + 1.5
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This month Marvel introduces two new comics. Rather than rely on his main theme of super-hero comics, Stan Lee is diversifying into romance and horror comics. It could be argued that the long-running "Millie The Model" comic and its spin-offs are romance comics, but they're primarily comedy stories. "My Love" is a comic that tells serious stories in an anthology format, without recurring characters.
The comic was hosted by Suzan Lane, a new employee at Marvel. Each month she answered questions about romantic issues. Here is how she introduced herself in the first issue:
I find it amusing that she writes "This book is created for you by girls not too different from yourself". It was Stan Lee who wrote all the stories for the first 13 issues.
The comic ran for four years on a bi-monthly schedule, alternating with "Our Love Story", which will start next month. After this it turned into a reprint magazine.
The second new comic this month is a horror anthology magazine. This is a surprise to me. Marvel specialised in horror and science fiction anthology stories throughout the 1950's, with titles like "Strange Tales", "Journey Into Mystery", "Tales Of Suspense" and "Tales To Astonish". In the 1960's the anthology stories were phased out, and these comics were filled with super-hero stories.
Most of the issues contained three stories by different writers. For instance, in the first issue the stories were written by Jim Steranko, Johnny Craig and Stan Lee.
The comic ran for nine issues on a bi-monthly schedule, after which it was renamed "Creatures on the Loose".
Fantastic Four #90
Title: The Skrull takes a Slave!
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Fantastic Four: Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, Crystal
Villain: Mole Man, Slaver (Skrull)
Regulars: Susan Richards, Alicia Masters, Baby
Last issue the Fantastic Four defeated the Mole Man, and they have him tied up as a prisoner. They release him, and he scurries back below the Earth. Why?
"A man can be arrested for illegal parking, but there's actually no law against trying to conquer the planet". Is that true? I want to hear Matt Murdock's opinion on the subject.
Reed and Susan still haven't named their baby after ten months. This is getting ridiculous. I still think they should call him Victor.
The Fantastic Four don't have much time to stare at the cute little unnamed baby on their visiphone. (TM). The Mole Man sends signals to destroy their home. I hope Susan didn't pay too much for it.
The Thing walks into the city to meet Alicia. The Skrull known as the Slaver tricks him by impersonating Reed Richards. He captures him and takes him to space to an unspecified destination; unspecified until next month, at least.
Amazing Spider-Man #76
Title: The Lizard Lives!
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Romita
Regulars: Aunt May, Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy, Captain Stacy, Joe Robertson
Guests: Human Torch
The longer Curt Connors is the Lizard, the more his humanity fades away. Eventually, all he wants is revenge on Spider-Man for defeating him in the past. The last time was in Amazing Spider-Man #45. Spider-Man is in a dilemma, because he considers Dr. Connors to be his friend. He wants to defeat him without seriously hurting him.
When Spider-Man falls from a rooftop in the final battle, he's saved by the Human Torch, who takes up the fight against the Lizard. Lying weakened, Spider-Man is worried that the Human Torch will kill the Lizard.
The Crazy Credits call Sam Rosen hammy. That's not called for.
For months John Buscema has been described as the comic's innovator and Jim Mooney as the illustrator. It's unsure what this means. It's generally accepted that Buscema was the artist and Mooney was the inker.
Captain America #117
Title: The Coming of the Falcon!
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Gene Colan
Villain: Red Skull, Exiles (General Ching, Iron Hand Hauptmann, Cadavus, Gruning,Krushki, Baldini), Mordok, AIM
Captain America is sent to the small Caribbean island where the Exiles have been trapped by the Red Skull. In later comics this is called Exile Island. Even in the Red Skull's body he's a skilled fighter. It's lucky for him that the Red Skull has kept himself fit.
In the fight a falcon irritates the Exiles, giving Captain America a chance to run away. He takes off the Red Skull's mask. He finds a man from New York City, the owner of the trained falcon. The bird is called Redwing, but Captain America doesn't ask the man what his name is. Strange. He went to the island when the Exiles were looking for someone with a trained falcon, but when he arrived he saw that the island's inhabitants were being treated like slaves, so he's taken their side.
Captain America suggests that the man should make a costume and present himself as a super-hero. He puts on a snazzy skin-tight green costume with touches of orange and yellow, and he calls himself the Falcon.
The Avengers #68
Title: And we battle for the Earth!
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Sal Buscema
Avengers: Thor, Goliath, Vision, Yellowjacket, Wasp, Black Panther
Villain: Ultron-6 / Ultimate Ultron
Guests: Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, Countess Valentina
This is the first comic drawn by Sal Buscema, the younger brother of John Buscema. Previously he had worked as an inker, beginning in Silver Surfer #4. Over the next 40 years he went on to become one of Marvel's most prolific artists.
Ultron pulls the level to unleash a nuclear explosion in New York City, but it doesn't work. Vision has destroyed the machinery. Ultron leaves to make new plans.
The Avengers tempt Ultron out of hiding by arranging a speech about Ultron to be held at the United Nations. The speaker, Dr. Maclain, is Hank Pym in disguise, though he's been hypnotised to forget who he really is. That's a dangerous strategy for a man who already suffers from schizophrenia. Ultron attempts to absorb Dr. Maclain's knowledge on robotics, but all he gets is the pre-programmed message, "Thou shalt not kill". This drives him mad and he attempts to destroy himself, but the explosion is contained by a shield made of Vibranium.
Why isn't Iron Man in this story? He was with the Avengers last issue, but he's missing now. Maybe he had a dinner date with Janice Cord.
Iron Man #17
Title: The Beginning of the End!
Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: George Tuska
Villain: Midas, Madame Masque, Morgan Stark, Tony Stark LMD
I admit that Archie Goodwin has been my least favourite writer for Marvel so far, but starting in this issue he has some very original ideas.
While flying back from Africa, Iron Man is attacked by a flying vehicle belonging to someone called Midas. This delays his return to his Long Island factory. At the same time someone called Madame Masque causes explosions to sabotage the factory. We've met her before, but her identity isn't revealed yet.
By a freak accident, the explosions charge the Tony Stark LMD that was used to fool the Mandarin in Iron Man #11. It becomes self-aware and takes over Tony Stark's life, believing it can be more efficient than a weak human with heart problems. The real Tony Stark is cast out as an imposter.
Tony Stark's cousin Morgan, still plagued by his gambling addiction, is now working for Midas, giving him information on Tony's factories.
Madame Masque takes Tony Stark captive.
Title: Galactus Found!
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Villain: Galactus, Thermal Man
Regulars: Odin, Balder, Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg
The Warriors Three (Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg) travel to Earth to assist Balder while he's recovering from the injuries inflicted by Loki last issue. They hear about a new menace called the Thermal Man, a giant android created by Communist China.
Thor embarks on his quest to find Galactus, but it's a very short search. Galactus has been waiting for him, because he wants someone to talk to. He begins to tell Thor how he came to be.
In Galactus' story the Watcher is mentioned. Stan Lee obviously meant this to be the same Watcher who has appeared in Fantastic Four comics, but in the post-canon years this Watcher was retconned to be one of his ancestors.
Title: And Death Came Riding!
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Gene Colan
Villain: Death's Head
Regulars: Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Debbie Harris
Now that Starr Saxon is dead, Daredevil's secret identity is safe. He swings to the offices of Nelson & Murdock to talk to Karen Page, but she's gone home to see her father, the famous scientist Dr. Paxton Page, the man who invented the Cobalt Bomb. He lives in Fagan Corners, Vermont.
When Karen arrives she finds out that her father has been kidnapped by a ghostly figure called Death's Head. He warns her to go back to New York as quickly as possible. In the meantime, Daredevil arrives, looking for Karen. Death's Head fights and defeats Daredevil. He dresses Daredevil in his own costume and puts him on a horse galloping towards the police.
Title: From the Stars, the Stalker!
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Marie Severin
Villain: Kormok, Dynorr the Stalker
Regulars: Vashti, Dorma
Prince Namor doesn't trust the priest Kormok, but he has no justification for acting against him.
Kormok decrees that Neptune's Trident has to be renewed by being dipped in the eternal flames on the site of the original Kingdom of Atlantis. Namor swims and finds himself in a trap. An alien race, led by Dynorr the Stalker, wants to steal the Earth's water and transport it back to their own planet. First he wants to capture Namor as a specimen, though it's not clear why. Kormok has delivered Namor to him. Namor is sucked up into space.
The Incredible Hulk #119
Title: A Clash of Titans
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Herb Trimpe
Villain: Maximus, Aireo, Falcona, Leonus, Nebulo, Stallior, Timberius
Regulars: General Ross, Major Talbot, Betty Ross
Do you remember that Maximus and his followers fled from the Inhumans' Grand Refuge at the end of Fantastic Four #83? Did you wonder where they went? They've gone to the island of Costa Salvador in the Caribbean. Bruce Banner wakes up on the island and finds the inhabitants in a trance. Rays are emitting from a giant statue in the marketplace in the centre of the island. Everyone else falls under its spell, but not Bruce Banner. The strain of resisting its hypnosis turns him into the Hulk.
The Hulk fights with the six servants of Maximus: Aireo, Falcona, Leonus, Nebulo, Stallior and Timberius. I can never remember their names. The Hulk has the upper hand. President Nixon has sent fighter jets to the island, because the lack of communication makes him think an enemy country has invaded. Maximus points at the planes and tells the Hulk that they're the real enemies, not the Inhumans.
Title: In the Shadow of Sauron!
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Neal Adams
X-Men: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast, Iceman
Villain: Sauron (Dr. Lykos)
Regulars: Alex Summers, Lorna Dane
Guests: Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Toad, Mastermind, Blob, Unus, Vanisher, Banshee
The X-Men brink Alex Summers to Dr. Lykos, a doctor who used to work with Professor X. Unknown to them, he's a mutant who drains the energy from other people. Mutants in particular make him stronger. After taking energy from Alex Summers, he turns into a pterodactyl form and calls himself Sauron. The Angel challenges him first.
Captain Marvel #16
Title: Behind the Mask of Zo
Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: Don Heck
Villain: Zarek, Ronan, Yon-Rogg
Regulars: Carol Danvers
Captain Marvel is stronger than the followers of Tam-Bor, but he doesn't resist them, because he wants to be captured and brought to Tam-Bor itself. When inside the statue he sees that it isn't an ancient relic, it's a modern scientific construction. Before he can destroy Tam-Bor, Ronan appears. All the powers that Zo has given Mar-Vell aren't enough to protect him against Ronan's attack.
A Sentry intervenes. instructed by the Kree Supreme Intelligence to protect Mar-Vell. Ronan fights and loses. Mar-Vell is brought to the planet Hala to meet the Supreme Intelligence. He's told that Zo was a fake. Illusions and scientific devices made Mar-Vell think he had received new powers. Behind Zo is Zarek, the second-in-command in the Kree Empire. Together with Ronan he's planning to overthrow the Supreme Intelligence. Yon-Rogg is also part of the conspiracy.
The Supreme Intelligence has already captured Zarek and Ronan. He wants to kill Yon-Rogg by destroying the Earth, but Captain Marvel asks for permission to handle him himself. The Supreme Intelligence agrees. He gives Mar-Vell new powers – genuine this time – and a new costume.
That's a lot better than his ugly old green and white costume, isn't it?
Captain Marvel flies back towards Earth, but he's sucked into the Negative Zone.
Silver Surfer #8
Title: Now strikes the Ghost!
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Buscema
Villain: Mephisto, Flying Dutchman (Joost van Straaten)
Regulars: Shalla Bal
Mephisto has been observing the Silver Surfer ever since he was defeated in Silver Surfer #3. He's determined to win the Silver Surfer's soul.
Centuries ago, Mephisto won the soul of Joost van Straaten, a sea captain, by tempting him with immeasurable wealth. Mephisto brings him back into the world and makes him a ghost with supernatural powers. He gives him a ship that flies through the sky.
According to a note from Stan Lee, this was originally written as a 40-page story, but from this issue onwards it will be a monthly 20-page comic, so the story has been split into two parts. Stan says that this was in response to demands from the readers, but I doubt it. Until now they've been paying 25 cents a month for 50 pages (40 pages Silver Surfer and 10 pages Watcher). Now they'll be paying 15 cents a month for 20 pages. Is that really what they wanted?
Other comics published this month:
Millie the Model #174 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
Chili #5 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
My Love #1 (Stan Lee, John Romita)
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #70 (Gary Friedrich, Dick Ayers)
Captain Savage and his Battlefield Raiders #16 (Arnold Drake, Don Heck)
Tower of Shadows #1 (Jim Steranko, Jim Steranko)
Note: The Avengers annual released this month contains reprints only.
This is a very strange message from Stan Lee on the Bullpen Bulletin page. An end to continued stories? They're what make Marvel so special! It's what sets them apart from Brand Echh. Let's wait to see the fan reaction over the next few months.
Tuesday, 10 September 2019
The world according to Quentin Tarantino is better than the real world. In Tarantino's world the last thing Hitler saw was the face of a laughing Jewish woman. In the real world he died in or just outside a cold bunker. Tarantino gave him a sexier death. I'd like the last thing I see to be a laughing woman, Jewish or not.
It's a fairy tale, not meant to represent the truth. It opens with the words "Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France". Fairy tales have happy endings. The big bad monster dies, and they don't come bigger or badder than Adolf Hitler.
The film shows two unconnected plots to kill Hitler. The one is a big operation ordered by Winston Churchill, carried out by the Jewish American squadron called the Basterds. The other is a solo effort by a Jewess who wants revenge for the death of her family. I know that Hitler killed six million Jews, but that's just a number. A number on a piece of paper is abstract, it means nothing. What makes it personal is if Hitler and his followers kill just one person that you know, a family member or a friend. That's what spurs revenge. That's what makes Shosanna Dreyfus aka Emanuelle Mimieux laugh.
Hitler's death takes place in a cinema. This is no coincidence. For Quentin Tarantino films are important, and cinemas are important as the place where films are shown. He loves films, and he openly displays his nostalgia for old films.
This was the film that helped Daniel Brühl make his breakthrough into Hollywood. He'd already been a successful German actor for ten years, but this is the film that made him well known internationally.
Martin Wuttke was primarily a stage actor in Germany, but since appearing as Adolf Hitler in "Inglourious Basterds" he's been cast in a string of American films.
Brad Pitt is the film's anti-hero. He's one of the good guys, but he's so mean in carrying out justice that he makes the audience shudder. His aim isn't primarily to win the war, it's to kill Nazis. For him, anybody wearing a German uniform isn't a human being, he's a Nazi, and he has to die. Obviously, this attitude is completely wrong. The vast majority of the German soldiers didn't put on uniforms because they were Nazis, they put on uniforms because they were conscripted. But it's just a film. The characters aren't meant to be perfect.
Christoph Waltz won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor, but anyone who's seen the film knows that he was really the Leading Actor. Despite having less screen time, Brad Pitt was named as the Leading Actor for two reasons:
1. He's more famous than Christoph Waltz.
2. Bad guys aren't usually the Leading Actor.
But look... isn't that a foot rising up Christoph Waltz's jacket towards his medals?
Yes, it's Diane Kruger's foot. I promised you that I would point out the bare feet in Quentin Tarantino's films.
Christoph Waltz gets to put a shoe on Diane Kruger's foot. Most actors work for 50 years and never get a chance like that.
Here are both of her feet, one of them in a plaster cast.
Before anyone accuses me of having a foot fetish, no, it isn't true. All I'm doing is acknowledging Quentin Tarantino's foot fetish. I have many fetishes, too many to list, but a foot fetish isn't one of them. I would rather look at Diane Kruger's face than her feet. She's beautiful, isn't she?
I definitely have a Sitting-In-The-Cinema-Watching-A-Laughing-Woman-Telling-Me-I'm-Going-To-Die fetish. That's a good idea for my blog. I should have a Fetish Of The Day feature. All year long!
This is probably Quentin Tarantino's best film. It's difficult to say. Every time I watch it I'm stunned, like I'm watching it for the first time. My definition of a good film is that I want to watch it at least three times. Today I watched "Inglourious Basterds" for the seventh time, and I still want to watch it again. That makes it better than good.
Success Rate: + 2.6
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