Friday, December 14, 2007

Camera Obscura - Legends of Good, Bad and The Dark

I was floored last week when a videotape mysteriously appeared here at the house, as it was in fact a bootleg copy of The Strangest, Weirdest Movie Ever Made. It took some time to puzzle out the tape's origins, and my thanks to it's provider are most heartfelt and sincere. Still, it troubles me some that the arrival of the tape came so quickly after I had written about it. Weird.

The movie? It's called "The Phynx" and it matched the hype for horrible. Make no mistake, I have indeed sought out and viewed some heinous, awful crap over the course of my days and "Phynx" is likely the worst. It not only met, it exceeded my expectations for bad. Questions as to why it is not available, why it disappeared are easy to answer - every star, living or dead, most likely has people devoted to crushing any appearance or copy of this film. (Read this for more info.)

It is a monument to awfulness, an endless cascade of weirdness. One scene I particularly liked was the arrival of a Phil Spector character to help record the first album for the band called The Phynx - a fake CIA-created rock band which has a secret spy mission to go to Albania and rescue famous celebrities being held hostage. Then there was the non-nude, government sanctioned Orgy Scene. And likely the most shocking thing was the truly awful music made for the movie by the legendary songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller.

The videotape now rests in a place of honor here at the house. And remember, If You Seek It, You May Find It, But Don't Blame Me If It Haunts You Forever.


I've become addicted to reading the blog Cinematical and have added it to my link list. This week they gave us the Worst Christmas Movies list. One in particular which tanks with spectacular badness is the 1988 movie "Scrooged." On the plus side, it is the only version of "The Christmas Carol" which features Miles Davis. On the negative side ... well, it is all bad really, and only having a few seconds of Miles playing trumpet doesn't save it. Tops for Worst Christmas Movie is "A Christmas Story." The entire list is here.


Cinematical, in honor of the new adaptation of Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend" helpfully offers a list of Stupid Things The Last Man On Earth does. Some examples:

2. They Don't Check to Make Sure They Are, In Fact, The Last Man on Earth

7. They Walk Around With Clothes On:

"OK, maybe none of you want to admit it, but a lot of us like walking around naked once a while in the privacy of our own homes (as long as no one else can see us). Usually, it's not a pretty sight, but it's comfortable and the human body is a beautiful thing. In the trailer, Will exercises without a shirt, but otherwise keeps his clothes on. This makes no sense. If I'm the last man on earth, I'm stripping down and dancing for the first three days, at least. Freedom!"

A mostly positive review for Will Smith and I Am Legend is here.


I finally got to see a movie which came highly recommended, the 2006 film "Notes On A Scandal". I was not eager to see it originally, expecting a wallop from Histrionic British Women Overacting. Boy, was I wrong.

Judi Dench plays an icy, hateful teacher who is drawn to the new art teacher, Cate Blanchett. The movie begins with Dench's character narrating from her diaries about the world around her, and quite quickly becomes a furiously told tale of mangled emotional lives. Screenwriter Patrick Marber knows this playing field quite well (see "Closer", the break-up movie to end all break-up movies).

Savage, realistic and full of acidic commentary on class, the movie also delves into the headlinges with a plot line of a teacher and student affair. But mostly it celebrates the fantastic acting of the two lead actresses. Dench, especially, is quite remarkable.

Two negatives from the movie - the Phillip Glass score is annoying and I found the ending a bit too abrupt and pat. But don't let that stop you from watching.

Horror Movie Find of the Week: "The Dark" (2005).

The director of the sly and fun werewolf movie "Ginger Snaps", John Fawcett, turns to a more serious ghost story with "The Dark." Based on ghostly aspects of Welsh mythology, the movie stars Maria Bello and Sean Bean, an estranged couple whose daughter's life gets caught up in the old myths.

The movie is an old-fashioned scare fest, perhaps with too many zinging orchestral stings at every turn and creepy shadow. Still, the movie is rich in atmosphere and the subtext of a mother and daughter relationship turned sour adds a nice touch.

One odd point - when your husband rents a house on a dangerous cliff where there is a monument to the poor folks who committed mass suicide at that spot, it is definitely time to move.

Oh and by the way -- have you got my Christmas present yet???

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