If any of you have been awaiting Dish Flicks with bated breath, well, here they are. I haven’t been keeping up with them too well (mostly because I wrote them in several parts on several different computers and couldn’t be bothered to track them down) but I have been writing them, so here they are under the handy catch-all of Fall 2011.
If that isn’t exciting enough, though, I have some major news for you all. Why Does It Exist? is going web 2.0 on your ass.
I’m talking podcast.
Quietly, working under cover of night and almost complete anonymity, my buddy Daniel HG Weir and I have been taking the experience of watching movies that no one would ever want to see to the audio world. Starting on December 1st, Why Does It Exist? will be available for free on iTunes, once a week, until we have watched (ostensibly) every inexplicable film ever made. And, on top of all that, really overlong written reviews updated at random intervals, just like you’ve grown to love them. Tears, beers, and jeers! Guest stars! A different Montreal band providing music every week! At least one rapidly-derailing conversation about Courtney Love (thus far)! Minor celebrities! Burt Reynolds movies! Hilarious mispronunciations from a self-loathing Frenchman! Contests, probably! All that is coming soon, bros and broettes. Can you believe it?
Now, in order to be on top of things when the world of the Internet is inevitably shaken to its very core, I’ve got to ask you to do a shitty and annoying thing. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Use Google+ to do whatever it is Google+ does. Spread the word like peanut butter. Watch this space for links to fancy things like RSS feeds. The first episode drops on Thursday, December 1st at whatever time I get back from work. Will you take the Mountain Dew challenge?
Dead Space (1991)
I kind of miss these fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants low-budget science fiction flicks. That genre is woefully absent from the current B-movie landscape. In any case, this one’s an Alien rip-off by way of remaking another Corman-produced Alien ripoff called Forbidden World. Beefcake deluxe and Beastmaster star Marc Singer plays some sort of interstellar problem-solver who winds up on a scientific base (alongside his world-weary, slightly depressed robot sidekick) where an alien virus is infecting the staff (including a young Bryan Cranston, who utilizes the early stages of the wheezing and sputtering of a dying man he would later use to greater effect on Breaking Bad). Cue a lot of running through smoke-filled hallways, one superfluous sex scene (which, in a movie that barely cracks the 70-minute mark, is no mean feat), at least one decapitation and some mildly convincing rubber creature effects. It’s pretty competent, all things considered, but hardly transcendent in the way that the best films out of the Corman factory can be. It’s fast, efficient and totally dumb. A perfect Dish Flick.
Cecil B. Demented (2000)
I had the sudden urge to view this after watching John Waters’ one-man-show, This Filthy World. Why I picked the least well-regarded movie of his studio period is anyone’s guess, really. I really enjoy Waters’ early films, but the cheeky, gleeful revelry in all things trashy isn’t nearly as interesting coming from pretty people like Adrian Grenier and Maggie Gyllenhaal. It’s a pretty solid concept (and, post-9/11, not one we’re bound to see again any time soon): a band of would-be filmmakers organize as a terrorist cell in the name of great cinema and kidnap a movie star (Melanie Griffith) in order to make a masterpiece by their rules. It’s too pretty and shiny to feel truly subversive and Waters’ attempts to freak out the squares don’t come off too well. It keeps the frantic energy that makes Waters so likeable but it doesn’t use it for much.
Raid on Entebbe (1976)
This is apparently the better of the two American treatments of the events involving Palestinian terrorists hijacking a plane and holding its passengers hostage in Uganda in the mid-70’s. The other has an even starrier cast and a bloated running time, while the “best” is directed by Menahem Golan and stars Klaus Kinski (which is why I’m highly doubtful of its credentials as the best of anything). Basically, some counter-revolutionary Palestinian terrorists (as well as a couple of Germans) hijack a plane in order to better negotiate their situation. They land the plane in Entebbe, Uganda, where the always-jolly murderous dictator Idi Amin (Yaphet Kotto) is offering them a haven. The meat of the movie is spent with the Israeli government where a cabal of bigwigs (including Charles Bronson, Robert Loggia, Jack Warden and Peter Finch in his last released performance) map out the very risky solution. It’s basically constructed like a more sombre, less ridiculous Irwin Winkler disaster movie; no one’s in it that much and it’s hard to get a sense of character despite commendable performances by pretty much everyone. Still, as factually-murky and sensationalistic as it could be, I expected a lot worse. Unfortunately, the DVD currently available from this looks like an eight-generation dub of a 16mm print shot directly onto a Camcorder. Perhaps if everything wasn’t so fucking murky and indistinguishable I’d have a more precise opinion.
Blue in the Face (1995)
I think Smoke is one of the most underrated flicks of the 90’s, so it seemed logical to ask for more. I’d heard this wasn’t quite the same thing, but that was something of an understatement. Blue in the Face is like asking for more pizza and being given a cup of weevil-infested flour and the back half of a pig. Apparently, Paul Auster and Wayne Wang were so impressed by the improvisational skills of their cast on Smoke that they added a couple more days to their shooting schedule and dicked around to make another movie. Dicking around is really the way to put it; the film follows little rhyme or reason (even less so that Smoke) and finds familiar characters talking around in circles. Roseanne Barr makes out with Harvey Keitel, Michael J. Fox asks Giancarlo Giannini if he looks at his bowel movements before flushing, Madonna sings a telegram, random Brooklyn residents are interviewed about their home turf, Lou Reed and his awful permed mullet blather on about eyeglasses… It’s a cutesy DVD supplement at its best, a whole bit of self-indulgent wanking at its worst. The fractured, shambling nature of the various segments makes it perfect for watching while doing dishes and almost intolerable in any other context.
Perrier’s Bounty (2009)
Evidently, Ireland was not made aware that the ‘FAMOUS ACTOR owes some gangsters some money, and he’s about to have a VERY bad night’ genre didn’t make it past 2001. To its credit, however, Ireland has two things that make that more palatable: Irish accents and Irish actors. Both of those elevate this otherwise by-the-numbers Martin McDonagh-style crime comedy in which Cillian Murphy plays a ne’er-do-well bum who owes a local gangster (Brendan Gleeson) some money. Shit goes awry pretty quickly, and soon he’s on the run from Perrier’s men with his death-obsessed father (Jim Broadbent) and downstairs neighbor (Jodie Whittaker). The twists and quirks are pretty rote (attack dogs, gay henchmen and gravelly narration by Gabriel Byrne all feature prominently) but the cast is top-notch and manage to make the silly-on-paper dialogue pop. I have to say that Jim Broadbent is really a tremendous actor and seems to be wasted on hoity-toity Oscar-bait I never feel like watching (but that I’m sure are actually better than I’m giving them credit for).