11 March 2019

NEW DIRECTION FOR THE URANIUM CAFE/LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH


I am always struggling with this blog anymore. Lack of traffic. No comments. At a loss for content and direction. I have come to realize that some of the lost direction was of my own making. Some is my inability or willing to shift my thinking to doing a blog to be viewed on  mobile phones and not on home computers or turn the blog into some sort of social media site all over Twitter or Facebook.  I doubt I could do that successfully even if I wanted to.  But mostly I realize I shifted from doing posts on older movies (before 1990) and began doing more and more newer films, which I just do not like for the most part. The tone of my posts became more negative and cynical because the movies I began watching more and more made me feel that way. Then recently I became upset over the whole Social Justice trend in films, such as the Marvel movies and many TV shows. It was just pointless for me to take on such issues and yet I did out of some sort of frustration. Most likely the frustration was over matters in my own personal life that I had no control over and I needed to vent somehow, somewhere. My early posts were not so bitter and angry I fund when i reviewed my blog recently. 

Much frustration is around just trying to maintain the blog at all from inside China where Google and Blogger are blocked, along with a few thousand other websites. But the truth is I am tired of the cynical blog posts and reviews of movies I hate. From this post onward I want to go back to doing the type of reviews I used to do and enjoy. I wanted to do more current films in an attempt to attract more readers. Maybe my old Al Adamson and Ted V. Mikels films were too old and obscure. But in truth nothing changed in terms of traffic. No more comments than before (meaning about zero). So, why not just do what I want to do. Do it for myself and hopefully a few other people. No more angry SJW rants. No more angry reviews of newer crappy movies, only lukewarm to supportive reviews of older crappy movies. I changed the general appearance and really want to write again the way I used to. Maybe I cannot exactly of course, but beginning today (12 Mar 2019) I will try my best to get back to my roots. 

Long Live the New Flesh. 



12 February 2019

OVERLORD/2018

Overlord at first seems like it might be a great little action/horror film. I will say the photography is top notch. The idea of Nazi zombie experiments is not a new one and goes back a ways with many of the more well known ones being from the 70's and early 80's, like Shock Waves, Zombie Lake and Oasis of the Zombies. And there was a tradition before that and it has continued since. With Overlord the bigger budget of J.J. Abram's Bad Robot company hangs over you like a dangling carrot. Wow, at last, a high budget Nazi zombie film!  But in the end does it really ever deliver the real goods? I don't think so myself although it had some good moments.

The story involves a small band of American soldiers on the eve of D-Day on a mission in occupied France to blow up a radio tower in Nazi held town. I guess all towns in France at that time were Nazi held, but you get the point. The platoon or whatever you call it is mostly all wiped out from the get go and soon the few surviving soldiers meet a local French girl wandering in the war ravaged forest. They follow her back to her village where they begin their mission, but not without many complications along the way. Not the least being that the Nazis are creating Thousand Year Reich “super” soldiers (zombies basically) in the basement of the church. And no doubt these are formidable and scary zombies. What few we get to see. One would would think a Nazi zombie movies would have a few zombies in it. Well, it does. A few. Very few.

The movie gets sidetracked way too much with useless dialog and time killing sequences of essentially nothing happening at all. Characters running down dark corridors and around corners, huffing and puffing. The best part is the paratroop sequence at the beginning. It was really done well. After that there is too much babble and not enough action. And the talk is often boring, trying hard to develop characters I guess. Make you like them or know them. But it really does not make much sense to me. The Americans and British are parachuting a mile or two away and the Germans in the village seem lackadaisical at best, running about their routine affairs as if they have no clue what all the explosions and burning planes down the road are all about. The commander even deciding there would be no harm in chilling out with a bit of naughty dilly-dallying with the lovely French girl for a while. There is an invasion going on okay? I always thought the Germans were professional soldiers. The Americans aren't much better. Hey, lets play baseball with the annoying little French boy here! we'll keep it down when the Jerrys are in the next room though. 

People online are trying to make the movie into something it is not really, calling it a schlocky fun time. Like some sort of homage to old Nazi zombie movies, although the genre is actually very much alive and well in the low budget and straight to DVD realms. But it really did not strike me like that. An homage. There are cliches galore, like the mad scientist, the dungeon laboratories, the hypodermics with glowing serums inside, the evil operating tables and cells with crazed zombies clawing at the doors. But these are brief references really. Most of the film is all focused on the band of soldiers wrestling with, I don't know, different emotional issues that are not necessary to the story  at all. And that brings me to the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. Or if they do it is gloss over it or praise it. The film is a Hollywood PC propaganda turd and at the heart of it is all is inserting not only a person of color (two actually) into a situation where historically it would have never happened, but having the main character Boyce (Jovan Adepo), who is black, presented as the most moral and educated of the group. He can speak French. He defies direct orders when those orders goes against the higher ethical good. He risks all to rescue an imprisoned comrade. The French gal Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) is drawn to him because of his bravery and virtuous nature although no romantic moments occur. He calls out the mercurial Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell, Kurt's boy) when he starts punching the shit out of the kraut commander to get information.



And yet it is all a progressive Hollywood contrivance since blacks and whites in WWII were segregated. One can argue how unfair that was and yet it is reality. In this case the gritty platoon sergeant is black as well, played by Bokeem Woodbine. For me it just reeks of Hollywood wanting again to correct the grievous errors of the past. They see the solution to this as putting black characters into roles only a white person would be suited for and then having the storyline ignore race altogether. This would be the better world to live in for sure, but it is not the real world and I get tired of Hollywood and their blasted moral social crusade ruining potentially decent films. In other words, would there really be something "wrong" with having all white guys in the platoon, the way it would have been in the real world? A black character could have somehow been written in I guess, but why? Why is that necessary for this particular film? Why not have a couple black Nazis? Because that would have been silly of course. As this was. One can argue that zombies aren't real so why not have a black infantryman and platoon leader alongside white guys? Because there is a difference in accepting the impossible (i.e. that Thor and Asgard exist) and accepting the implausible (i.e. that some Norsemen and their gods and Valkyries are people of color). 

And to go back to an earlier complaint, there should have been more scary ass zombies running amok. More fighting and more carnage. Less French girl wrapping up Boyce's arm with bandages and going all googoo over the story of how he did not kill a mouse back in the barracks (because he he is so moral and decent you remember) and more Nazi zombies eating people's faces off! The zombies are good, but not all that scary if you only have to deal with like four or so in the entire film. Or maybe we could learn the backstory of how Chloe learned to use a German flame thrower on the fly? Yes the film looks nice. The cinematography and editing is very good. The effects are good when we get to see them. The zombies are pretty scary. The combat scenes are few and mediocre really but passable. But the focus of the film is off quite a bit and the film is not schlocky but it rather boringly agenda driven. I had hoped it might be something I would want to see again in the beginning. But I will not be watching it again. It is worth a watch and many people will not be bothered by the same things I am. They may only be upset that Idris Elba did not have a role in it somewhere.

Movie like this are why I am getting burned out with movies in general. Or at least newer films. Films with an agenda. That of fixing all that is wrong in the world of the evil white male. Okay, okay I get it already. I find myself watching a lot more older stuff and if I continue with this blog (as I am really burned out with movies anymore) I will most likely be writing about older movies again the way I used to. Movies with no meaning or agenda or message. Yea. At least the ones about Nazi zombies.

NOTE: With this movie post I decided I will cease writing about newer, modern films. I will go back to my original intentions with this blog and focus on what I call "psychotronic" films, referring to the term used by Michael J. Weldon. I am sick and tired of social justice Hollywood films that lack any fun. I lost my way I suppose. These new films just seem to make me angry with their obvious and absurd agendas. I am tired of watching them and tired of writing about them. 

Bill
18 Feb 2019












01 January 2019

RADIOACTIVE IMAGES

Random images sometimes gathered together for some other purpose and meant to be deleted but in the end are fairly share worthy.





10 December 2018

iPad SCREEN CAPTURES OF TAKASHI MIIKE'S AUDITION


Takashi Miike's 1999 crime/horror film Audition is without a doubt one of my favorite's of the genre. I am not going to do a review here but I may shortly as I recently rewatched the film and it seemed to leave a new impression on me. I have seen it about six times I am sure. I cannot say I really enjoyed most of the Miike films I watched. They had moments but in the end I prefer something with a more linear narrative. Many of his films are hard to follow storyline wise but Audition is not. In fact it a brilliant piece of filmmaking and storytelling but not an easy watch for most people. So I made some nifty screen captures on my iPad and some came out pretty good and I thought I might share them with the reader here.  I left the subtitles in as it can create a cool effect. If you have not seen the film and want to I advise not looking at them as they are set up in a sequential order and would most definitely add a spoiler effect to the viewing later. 






OPEN FOR LOTS MORE AUDITION SCREEN CAPTURES

21 November 2018

THE TARKOVSKY EXPERIMENT




I am not the biggest fan of what one might label "art house" films but not because I have not put in many long hours trying to be. Especially during my ten years in Seattle I watched quite a few such films as they were so readily available there. Saw some in the cozy little theaters they have there that seat maybe 20 or 30 desperate souls. Many I even rented on VHS from the legendary Scarecrow Video store. A lot of stuff I liked, such as SOME films by Fellini, Truffaut, Bergman, and Kurosawa. I emphasize the word some, because I did not like a lot of stuff by those guys and the films I liked tended to be more linear in narrative style. Some other directors like Jordorowsky, Terrence Malick and Wim Wenders did not appeal much to me though they have at least one film I liked. However, longer is the list of these "avant-garde" auteurs that I have never seen a single film by. One person on that long list of filmmakers, whom to many is the epitome of high brow cinema, is Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky.  I often find him to the fist name dropped by people who can either be called, flatteringly, film connoisseurs, or, insultingly, film snobs. These are people who know and appreciate "real" cinema. Like a foodie know good food. Of course one has to be honest that there exists a type of reverse snobbism as well. Where people who tend to like more popular or even low brow fare like to insult and ridicule people who favor the "finer films in life". I guess I would have to fall into this latter category, but I want to point out I served in my time in the art house trenches. I tried my best and yet in the end found myself often trying to attach meaning and significance to films that really seemed simply like poor film making in the end. Bad camera work for the most part, poor acting and poor editing. Not in all cases. But in quite a few. Gilded lilies at best. And in the end many so called art house films to me have a big problem in that they lack a linear story line that is somehow or another resolved by the film's end. This is important to me, especially if a film is like three fucking hours long! And two hours of that is hot in one room!!!  When the film connoisseur tries to defend the work they can reveal their near misanthropic disdain for the common film buff's lack of philosophical and intellectual depth. They may say something like "each scene is a metaphor for something deeper" and the common film buff may be left wondering, rightfully, what the hell that even means. It means nothing of course. It means they don't know what it means either. But in "art" something can have no meaning and yet mean something.

Okay, this is not a real Tarkovsky qoute. This is one of my clever, witty little memes that really pissed off a couple film snobs in a Facebook group. Truth can be painful folks.

So I have decided to watch three Andrei Tarkovsky films I downloaded from the film site Karagarga because I want to little by little close out my account there. It is too hard to maintain a good ratio on just seeding alone and I no longer rip DVDs and upload them like I did years ago. This begins my process of getting some films from there regardless of the impact on my once good ratio. I have actually never seen a Tarkovsky film and I will try to go into the viewing with an open mind. Like trying a new food. One has to put  the new food in his mouth and chew it and try a couple swallows first. Unless you live in China like I do, and sometimes the food comes flying out quickly. I will try the films Solaris, Mirror and Stalker. My wife just watched Stalker and I will wait to share her opinion on it until I have seen it myself. I did watch some of the film with her and my curiosity was piqued a little. I did not watch the film with her as she is Chinese and so she watched the Russian version with Chinese subs. I may well be at a time in life when some of these film may appeal to me a little more than when I was younger. But I equally may well not like them in the least. One way or the other I will write up a post here when the Tarkovsky Experiment is finished, in a week or two. I will not claim I liked them if I do not just to appear smart or refined, and conversely I will not dismiss them if I liked them just to sound hip and cool.

This quote however is real. But I think it is basically saying the 
same thing my wise ass meme above is saying. 

11 November 2018

A NEW - AND YET OLD - DIRECTION FOR THE URANIUM CAFE



When I started this blog way back whenever that was the focus was older horror and sci-fi, old exploitation style films, foreign films (usually older) and a few older movies that have had a lasting impact on me. Somewhere I got detoured and began doing more and more newer stuff. And that may well be okay if not for the fact I find myself really not liking anything anymore that is new. Well, I honestly cannot say I do not like anything new anymore tan I like everything that is old. A lot of old stuff is simply horrid. But I have grown sick of the over the top elements of newer films. I will give two quick examples of movies that left me uneasy lately: Terrifier and Wolf Creek 2. I just found them to be repulsive and I have never been a fan of ultra-violent films, the so called cinema of the extreme, like A Serbian Film or Irreversible. Even more excruciating than those films is when some "film critic" on Youtube reviews Irreversible and uses a french accent every time he says the word. And I have never seen the film and never will. I do not think it is too hard to make people feel uneasy or revolted. I would say that is the easiest thing to do. And I just do not want to explore those types of films any longer, either in viewing or writing. I am not anti-violence or even gore to some degree, but extreme cinema and torture porn type films are no longer my cup of tea. 

I will be returning to the types of films I enjoy writing about at least even if I do not always enjoy the total viewing experience. I will be sharing more old Japanese films and Mexican wrestling movies here, and giant bug movies and classic psychotronic fare. My period of trying to modernize the content is, for the most part, over. I may write some articles on the subject matter itself, like why I hate films like Terrifier. But I will not be reviewing those sorts of films any longer. Because I loathe them and see no reason why I should not. I will not review or write about movies the way I used to should you decided to check back to some of my early posts. Those posts were rather long and researched and often contained a lot of spoilers. I will go more for an over view these days and write no more than, let's say, a page and a half of a Word Document file. Thats enough. I may mention whether or not I liked the film and if it s real stinker I may suggest passing on it all together but will not tear it apart too much as I am prone to do with newer films. I will start with my next post and have no idea what it will be, but it will be before the 90's for sure. 


04 November 2018

TV SHOWS/DAREDEVIL



So I actually like the Daredevil TV series from Marvel and Netflix. There are a couple little problems I will mention but they are far from deal breakers. And while I am on the topic of Daredevil I will say I did not hate the 2003 movie version with Ben Affleck though most people seem to really give it a hard time. But lets not dwell on that. The comic book of Daredevil when I bought it (during the early 70's) was drawn mostly by Gene Colan with some issues drawn by Bill Everett. I was never a super fan of Colan's work but I loved Bill Everett. Everett has a lot of writing credits on the show and I think that is great though I am not sure whether he actually wrote anything or is given credit for story ideas from the original comic books. The character in the days I bought comic book (when it was about 15 cents) was not so dark as the one he evolved into later, becoming a sort of Marvel version of Batman's "Dark Knight" persona. The character had marginal super powers was a sort of an outsider and seemed a bit apart from the rest of the Marvel superheroes. I seldom recall him teaming up with other characters like Captain America or Spiderman. He was not Avenger material. And the TV show seems to capture that aspect of his personality. Daredevil/Matt Murdock is played pretty darn well by Charlie Cox. He is in great shape as Daredevil and as Matt Murdock the blind, sympathetic lawyer he is equally convincing. So far in my viewing he has dealt with Wilson Fisk (I am assuming he is King Pin from the comic books) and now he is scrapping with Frank Castle (The Punisher), played by Jon Bernthal. Elektra has entered the drama and I know from reading ahead that Dex will be introduced soon. As allies he is partnered up with law associates and friends Karen Page and Foggy Nelson. 



What I like about the series is the dark mood and eye to detail in the shots and scenes. The camera work is really exceptional. The fight scenes are never boring. Rather bloody and violent and super fast paced. I quit watching Iron Fist because I found the kung fu sequences to be pretty weak and dull. But here they are carefully choreographed and shot to near perfection. In one recent episode there is an almost single shot sequence where Daredevil fights a bunch of Irish mobsters as he goes down a staircase  and it is simply of the highest calibre of filmmaking. The acting for the most part is pretty good as is the most of the dialog. Of course there is some padding here and there and some parts drag on a little longer than necessary, but for the most part (not 100%) I can handle it. And I will mention that Matt Murdock has a hell of a work ethic. He gets his ass beat, shot and stabbed the night before and for the most part misses a lot less time on the job than I ever did in my prime. I will watch it as long as it stays on the air so that is as good a recommendation i can give to a TV show. Iron Fist didn't make it too long with me and I can explore that in another post. TV shows are not like a movie. In a movie you may have to lose, if you choose, ninety minutes to two hours of your time. A TV series requires more of a commitment. I had read that Netflix may even pull the plug on the series after season three but I hope not. 



I have a couple problems and will mention them just because I like to talk about things I don't like. One problem I have is the use now and then (not all the time) of shaky cam work. Usually when two or more people are in a room talking. I hate shaky cam work. I just hate it, but I hate it more when it is a situation where a steady cam seems the only option. In a fight sequence or battle scene (like the beginning of Saving Private Ryan) it can work. But in a room with two people talking I do not want to be reminded there is a hungover guy walking around with a hand held camera. I also feel like some of those talking scenes go on a bit too long. Like, way too long. In fact last night I just could not take a scene where Frank Castle is opening up to Daredevil on top of a building about the roots of his anger. Good grief it just went on and on. I even began to click the advance scene button on my video player, moving it forward ten seconds. And it just kept clicking and clicking! Maybe they don't have another scene to cut back and forth to or something, but it just has the feeling of gratuitous padding. "We need to fill in five minutes of film time here folks, so... ah...talk a lot." I do find myself skipping forward during some of these type of scenes. Another small peeve I have is about the shapely Karen Page character. Seems every time Foggy or Matt makes a piercing legal pint to an opposing member of the legal community the camera pans to Karen and shows her snickering and gloating in the background. I really is a cheap shot in terms of laying out the scene's message and does not look professional at all. It has happened so far three or four times and it just does not fit in with how the characters should be evolving or whatever it is characters do. But she's pretty hot in those office dresses so I can let it slide. (NOTE: A few episodes later and this issue with Karen snickering and smirking while Foggy or Matt is talking some heavy duty law stuff to the DA or whomever is still going on. Really annoying.)

And the last thing that bothers me, and bothers me the most, is the character of Foggy Nelson. Not only does actor Elden Henson annoy me whenever he is on screen but Foggy seems to be the most poorly written character of the show. His shaggy long hair, pot belly and baggy pants and attempts at comic relief are just off putting. It is as if the writers and director and Henson himself decided they would try to recreate one of those goofy sidekicks from the old matinee movies whose sole function is to make the hero look even better. Even worse are scenes where he becomes serious and emotional, or even tough. He is a necessary character and the comic book character was a tad slovenly as well with his bad suits and bow tie. But to be honest I do not think this actor pulls off whatever it is he is trying to do with the character.

One cannot have everything the way they want it in life and I can live with one irritating character and a few quirks in an otherwise well made TV adaptation of one of my favorite Marvel comic book superheroes.