Question: Favorite so bad it’s good movies?

This post was inspired by contentcatnip’s embarrasingly cringey music: 70’s and 80’s edition.
The line between intentionally campy and unintentionally funny is often hard to distinguish. Below are a few films I enjoy despite ridiculous moments.

 

 

 

 

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The Room (2003)
Often cited as the worst movie ever made. A flop when released, but has since gained a cult following. Horrible acting from the lead Tommy Wiseau, he’s the worst actor I’ve ever seen. Way too many sex scenes as well as scenes of throwing a ball. That laugh Johnny has, “ha ha” is hilarious. How the hell did this film cost $6 million!? 🙂
Just about the only positive is the photography of San Francisco in the intro.
If you enjoy “so badly done it’s funny”, an essential watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Indiana Jones was always a bit campy and over the top. The realism was lost in Temple of Doom which I love but when a boy is beating up grown men it’s hard not to chuckle. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) also took liberties with reality such as Shia LaBeouf swinging through trees like Tarzan accompanied by monkeys. Ludicrous yet amusing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flash Gordon (1980)

Based on a cartoon strip from the 1930s. Was it intended to be funny? Who knows. What I do know is as a child I loved the sets and the colors. Great escapism. Like a world you have never been to and the characters are very memorable. I’ve read the filmmakers kept fiddling around with the script, trying to decide whether to be funny or realistic. Has a camp style similar to the 1960s TV series Batman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Moonraker (1979)

Cashing in on the Star Wars hype in the late 70s, Moonraker is easily the silliest Roger Moore Bond film. The scenes with henchman Jaws are so laughable that it’s endearing. And the gondola chase in Venice should be in a comedy movie, not a secret agent film. The best scene in is “You missed Mr Bond.” “Did I?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Commando (1985)

Suitable when you are craving a mindless action film. The 92 minutes just fly by. Especially the opening hour surprises with its action sequences. The acting and one-liners tend towards so-bad-it’s-good territory. The silliness is part of the fun. I still consider Commando a quintessential Schwarzenegger actioner, and superior to the movies he’s made in recent times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Showgirls (1995)

A very divisive film. Is it a misunderstood satirical masterpiece or superficial misogynistic trash? I’m not sure. Some believe it’s worthy of critical re-evaluation such as Adam Nayman who examines the film in his book It Doesn’t Suck. Others laugh at it ironically.
I’ve only seen Showgirls once and was never boring to me, although the frequent nudity was overdone. The characters do illogical things, such as kiss someone for no apparent reason besides it’s sexy. The ridiculous ending is an improbable one-in-a-million coincidence. The movie derailed Elizabeth Berkley’s career but has gained cult movie status. Although the film was not successful when first released, it generated $100 million from video rentals and became one of MGM’s top 20 all-time bestsellers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Road House (1989)

About bouncers and with plenty of bar room brawls. Big chunks of the movie are clichéd, the acting is below average, and the dialogue an 80s cheese-fest. Yet somehow defies logic and is entertaining throughout!
Roger Ebert wrote: “Road House exists right on the edge between the “good-bad movie” and the merely bad. I hesitate to recommend it, because so much depends on the ironic vision of the viewer. This is not a good movie”.

 

 

 

 

 

Did you watch any of these films and what is your opinion? Which bad movies do you think are entertaining?

 

Question: Is the diversity issue in Hollywood making movies look the same and compromising creative freedom?

 

 

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This article is spoiler-free for the films that are discussed. Diversity in movies is important and groundbreaking but I don’t like when it’s calculated and politically motivated. Because not every new movie is supposed to be inclusive and include minorities, and creativity is compromised by pandering to a set of standards. The 1970s is often regarded as one of the greatest decades for American cinema and the freedom those filmmakers were given led to amazing work that still holds up today. Of course, there will be those who argue I’m looking at the past uncritically as the 70s also had political movements such as feminists which influenced how films were made and received. Just look at The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) where Bond teams up with a female Russian agent. The character of Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach above) not only addresses the misogyny in the series, the presence of the character also challenges the anti-Soviet tendencies in the Bond universe. Up to a point at least, as many feel the depiction of Amasova is dated by today’s feminist standards. 

 

 

 

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I understand the Tarantino backlash and he could have given Margot Robbie a few more lines in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), and treated Uma Thurman better on the set of Kill Bill, but it’s ultimately his choice how to write his characters, do we really want Tarantino to change the script to please diversity requirements? That’s not progressive that’s restrictive. I’ve nothing against other races or female driven stories, yet when writer/director Rian Johnson decided to have 10% Asian, 10% black, 50 % females, or whatever the percentages actually are, represented in The Last Jedi (2017), it feels forced and disingenuous, the inclusiveness a distraction to the story. The black storm trooper idea I was fine with albeit I don’t want to watch movies where every race, gender, or miniority has to have a “moment to shine”. This was even more noticeable in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). Worried that the studio might offend someone is not what storytelling is about. Storytelling is about taking chances, interesting characters, and letting the story evolve naturally. You can say something new with a diverse cast, yet doesn’t the story lose a sense of edginess and individuality if you have to please others? I don’t want Star Wars to be a diversity ad. I want Star Wars to be Star Wars.

 

 

 

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On one hand, diversity in casting is progress and LBGT in It Chapter 2 (2019) I agree with Stephen King is a good idea and was already implied or present in his novel. On the other hand, when the choice of cast is financially motivated to attract worldwide audiences, that’s abusing the progress. Because not every story needs racially diverse, politically correct casts.
You can make movies with a white cast without being a racist. Sometimes a story would be historically inaccurate if you diversified, such as WW2 war film Dunkirk (2017) which came under fire.
Diversity for the sake of diversity doesn’t work. Story comes first. If blockbusters and Oscar contenders have to follow these guidelines then movies all start looking alike. Diversity is not the same as originality as this funny YouTube video shows

 

 

 

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Representation matters, but to me only when it’s right for the story. Great films don’t follow the rules. If social justice warriors police our filmmakers and yell at them every time they do something daring or non-PC, then Hollywood is heading towards dystopian censorship.

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

 

Question: which films are not as good on the small screen?

 

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I should preface by saying I didn’t go to the cinema very often until the mid 90s, and I haven’t rewatched these films recently, which the list reflects. Also worth mentioning, the post was inspired by another blogger who wrote about watching Gravity on TV: The gravity of the situation.

 

 

 

Independence Day (1996)
Independence Day (1996)
I had a great time with this blockbuster back when I was a teenager, it’s funny and visually the spaceships and explosions look epic. The friend I saw it with agreed with me and I even bought the poster. Once released on video my friend rushed out to buy it. He told me about the rewatch and I could see the excitement on his face wasn’t there, the movie lacked epicness at home. I rewatched it too and the result was the same.

 

 

 

 

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Gravity (2013)
Rarely have I seen a film that captured space so beautifully and the spectacle was enough initially.  Similar to Avatar (below), once the film is stripped of the 3D and reduced to the small screen, the story and characters become more important, and neither are at the level of the special effects.

 

 

 

 

 

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Avatar (2009)

Probably a popular choice in this category. The thrill of Avatar was seeing a 3D film for the first time. Immersed in the world of Pandora, with its creatures, landscapes, and most memorably the floating woodsprites which hang in the air among the audience in the cinema. The story isn’t great, and when rewatched on TV there isn’t the same wow feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sixth Sense (1999)

Keeps you on the edge of your seat, a great mystery. Some viewers may claim it’s easily solved during the first watch. But the excitement of the story unfolding was a cinema-going event which can’t be replicated. The second viewing on home release was a lot less intense, but not a total waste, where you are essentially aware of the twist and the predicaments of the characters are more clearly defined. Still, the twist is what most remember and once that secret is revealed, the film looses some of its impact.

 

 

 

 

 

Gladiator (2000)
Gladiator (2000)

Ancient Rome is presented on a grand scale and I believed I was right there. By no means a bad movie on TV, but I couldn’t help feeling a little let down. For me, definitely one of those films that is most entertaining the first time around.

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Which films impressed you at the cinema and then underwhelmed you on the small screen?

Question: Why do we celebrate Easter?

 

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I thought I’d take a break from the usual music and film writings to talk about Easter and what it means to me.  The joy of eating chocolate eggs is not really the point, though I admit my family used to hide smalls eggs in the garden which was fun.

I rarely go to Church yet I try and be kind towards others. While miracles are hard to rationalize with today’s science, I appreciate the importance of the resurrection as an allegory. Jesus is an inspiring example to all for his forgiveness of those who wronged him. He suffered on the cross, but had the strength to forgive. We need more anti-violence in the face of adversity and he personifies that image.

The Easter story can be a comfort to isolated inmates at this time of year, the depth of God’s mercy reaches those who have despaired of ever finding redemption. Jesus is ready to accept them despite their mistakes and hopefully in time the inmates (or anyone) can forgive themselves.

Jesus’ forgiveness of “the kiss of Judas” and his murderers reminds us that we can forgive others too, even those who betrayed us. And that we should try and tolerate rather than dismiss someone who is different. The fish-man in The Shape of Water (2017) could be compared to Jesus, both persecuted and misunderstood.

To return to the chocolate eggs I mentioned, it isn’t about the chocolate (okay I like chocolate), but about what it represents as new beginnings and new life. I’m in no way an expert on religion so maybe you have a better understanding of Easter. I didn’t even go into The Last Supper which is also part of the story where Jesus predicts his betrayal by one of the Apostles. In fact you could say God “planned” the series of events so we could have this story to learn from in future.  It’s said his dying was Jesus’ reason for living on earth.
Lastly, Happy Easter!

How do you celebrate Easter, and what message(s) do you take from the story of the resurrection?

ps Back to regular posting in a few days.

Question: are video games bad for you?

 

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I was recently watching an interesting BBC documentary Are Video Games Really That Bad? (2015). A bit of context, I used to play games, but stopped when I was about 18-20. Amiga 500 was what I grew up with and enjoyed, and later we had PC games. These were good for unwinding after school and I sometimes miss them. I wondered why I quit and maybe was a sense of wasting precious time that could be used on something more meaningful. But even without noticeable benefits or results, it’s okay sometimes just to have a good time. I haven’t really followed the evolution of games in the 21st century, so there’s lots of things about current games I don’t know, although I still find it interesting to look at new developments.

 

Video games stand accused of making us violent and causing addiction. The addicts favoring immediate rewards rather than delayed gratification in the future. The academic division on the topic is rarely mentioned in the media, as scare stories continue to dominate the news. A typical newspaper headline could be “gamers can’t tell real world from fantasy”.

 

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There are proven benefits of video games. Designed by professor Adam Gazzaley, Neuroracer (watch a short clip here) is a game to sharpen the minds of seniors in terms of attention span, memory, and multi-tasking. And apparently it works!

 

For those becoming surgeons, the game Underground (here’s a trailer) was developed to help them improve their skills at depth perception when performing keyhole surgery.

 

A test was created in which the subjects had to identify the number of changing objects on a screen, and the result revealed gamers scored better than non-gamers, because of their ability to keep track of a bigger number of objects.

 

The naysayers will argue for the negative impact on gamers, especially the aspect of enjoying violence in for example first-person shooter Call of Duty. As opposed to TV, you are tied to the violent character and directly rewarded for behaving in an aggressive way. Yet the team competition against others is regarded as a sport and tournaments and professional gamers exist.

 

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Professor Craig Anderson, a psychologist, believes violent video games (such as controversial Carmageddon) teach us to look for enemies in real life, seeking aggressive solutions (see image above). For example when someone pushes you at school, you could perceive this action as a threat and not an innocent accident.
A study was done in which two groups were tested. There was a measurable desensitization towards images of real violence among those who played games. Those who hadn’t played video games were more prone to sensitivity towards real violence.

 

Dr Andrew Przybylski claims there is no evidence that video games increase crime rates, violence at school, or domestic violence. Chris Ferguson, professor of psychology, points to a survey in which youth violence in the US dropped by 83% in the two decades leading up to 2013. A period in which there was an explosion in violent video game popularity. He doesn’t know why that is, but attributes this statistic to youths immersing themselves in games and spending less time on real life trouble making. Still, it’s impossible to claim gaming has caused crime to drop. Family background, poverty, mental health, even simply being male are thought by some to be more closely correlated to aggression than video games.

 

Debate.org ran a poll asking if violent video games are good as an anger outlet, with differing opinions on the matter.

 

 

Where do you stand on video games? Are games part of your everyday life now or previously? Are violent games bad for us?