Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bad movies are difficult to Andy

I know it's no shock, but bad movies are difficult to find. I've been waiting for weeks for blockbuster to send me megalodon 3, and I can't find anywhere that rents Blood Diner. Ideas people? I can't even find a used copy for a cheap price.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dancer in the Dark & Rashomon, by Andy

I finally got around to watching these two movies. Good picks by the way.

I had no idea Dancer in the Dark would be so "dark." I'm not sure I've been so sad after a movie. I'm sure part of the reason for my intense feelings were from my job, having now defended a handful of guys charged with capital offenses. But still, when Bjork starts hyperventilating as they put the hangman's shroud over her, I nearly emulated her response. The movie left me sadder than any movie in recent memory. It obviously buoyed up my feelings against capital punishment.

Rashomon was also a very interesting film. It seemed kind of racy for 1950s but was a fascinating to look into Japanese culture. I'm not sure whose version of the story to believe...

Master of Disguise, comments by Andy

Yeah, this will be a hard section of movies to get through. And it's sort of anticlimactic for me. I just finished the last of the AFI 100 movies (the 1998 & 2007 list), so moving onto a list of movies that are particularly bad is going to be a bit of a drag. The problem with bad movies is "bad" is so difficult to define. "Bad" is way too broad. What makes a movie "bad" is often times what makes it so great, or at least a cult classic.

In analyzing Master of Disguise, I'm sort of tempted to just say that Dana Carvey and other SNL actors just can't make the transition from SNL to movies with the characters they play on SNL. Dana Carvey was hilarious, and he's a great stand-up comedian, but his prowess seems to be in short skits, not long movies with a running story and theme. Maybe what makes the skits for which he is famous (think "Church Lady") so good is how terrible they are. Can you imagine two hours of "well isn't that special?" The floors at the cinema would run red from the blood spilt of the suicidal movie-goers.

But then the argument for SNL actors making it on-screen would have to include Chris Farley and Adam Sandler (yes, I know there are several others; Jane Curtain was always funny, but I stand firmly behind the statement that Mike Myers career was a push). Both of those guys had several movies that incorporated a lot of their SNL stuff, and audiences loved it. Maybe the difference is that their characters were themselves only doing bits when reverting back to SNL material, whereas Carvey was doing a whole movie based on his characters. I don't know. Maybe it's as simple as Farley and Sandler were funnier. It makes me sad to think that might be true because I really like Carvey.

Here's the other strange phenomenon. Really bad movies are not hard to find, but the worst ones are very hard to rent. I've been waiting for three weeks now for either "Plan 9 from Outer Space", "Killer Clowns from Outerspace", and "Megalodon 3", and they are all listed as "very long wait" on Blockbuster. That is shocking to me. How bad can these movies be if they're so demanded and impossible to rent?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Thinly Disguised Comeback Attempt

by Jason Pyles

Writing meaningfully about this “Worst Movies Ever” series is already more difficult than I thought.

I first saw “The Master of Disguise” in 2003, with professional pianist Paul Cardall. I absolutely despised it, concluding at the time that it was the worst movie ever made. But it’s not. There are worse movies. But after having detested it over the past six years in my mind, when I forced myself to revisit it, I came to realize that it’s not as bad as I thought, even though it’s still decidedly unpleasant.

Dana Carvey used to be something special … or, at least, the junior high Jason remembers him that way. And perhaps it’s merely that phenomenon where you’re gravely disappointed in something as an adult, even though it impressed you in your youth. Maybe that’s my problem with Carvey.

But maybe not: According to his filmography on, Dana Carvey hasn’t acted in anything since this movie. Indeed, what appeared to have been some kind of puny comeback attempt may have actually killed his career altogether. And Carvey bears more responsibility than just acting in this movie — he was also a co-writer.

In simplest terms, “The Master of Disguise” is both sad and embarrassing. Assuming that Carvey’s Saturday Night Live heyday truly deserved admiration, this movie is humiliating. Most of the characters he does impressions of aren’t even worth impersonating. Aside from the singular, semi-humorous highlight of the movie, his “Turtle Club” member, and possibly his Al Pacino impression and Robert Shaw’s “Quint” character from “Jaws,” Carvey falls flat on his face and looks like an amateur.

And that’s the reason for the depths of this movie’s badness: Sure, the writing and story line are both awful, but we could possibly overlook those if the star met our expectations. “The Master of Disguise” was meant to be a vehicle for Carvey to show off his silly impersonation talent, so the one thing we’re hopeful about fails us, too. In short, his impressions are so disappointing, Carvey crashes the vehicle and the movie falls apart.

And perhaps the low-point of the movie is when he spills spaghetti on the customers’ heads, and he says, “I clean. I clean,” and sprinkles cheese on them. I know there are probably a handful of Americans unintelligent enough to think that’s humorous, but picture standing off camera on the set during the filming of that scene. When the director said “Cut!,” was there laughter? No way. I’d bet money it was awkwardly quiet, and Carvey and the actors who had spaghetti on their heads probably wondered what they were doing with their lives. You’d think that was the low point, but then there’s also the cow-pie disguise …

In the end, we must remember that “The Master of Disguise” was intended for 9- to 12-year-olds, kids who were the same age I was back when I thought Dana Carvey was funny. But when those kids revisit this movie again in about 20 years, they’re going to be deeply disappointed.