Sunday, July 25, 2021

WOYZECK (1979)

Germany, mid-1800’s. Franz Woyzeck (Klaus Kinski) has a shit life. He’s a lowly soldier stationed in a small town, he has a young child out of wedlock with a woman who doesn’t like him and in order to make some extra money he takes up odd jobs like cutting hair and being subjected to medical experiments. One such experiment, has him eating nothing but peas. Another has him catching a cat that’s been thrown out of a window. On top of all this, Woyzeck appears to have the mental ability of a pine cone.

I didn't care for this film. I don't regret watching it, because I did enjoy watching Kinski fidget around like a restless Chihuahua, but there's got to be more to a film than just that. Also the long, uninterrupted shots got old after a while.  I'm not against long scenes, some of the longer scenes in AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD were awesome...but you gotta mix that shit up! Rumor is this 82-minute movie only has 27 edits. I didn't count them personally, but 27 can't be too far off.  There wasn't a lot of edits and the pace was damn near torture.  Honestly, you could turn on the subtitles and watch the film at 2x speed and be just fine. That's probably sacrilegious to say as a "film critic", but ain't nobody reading this crap anyway so fuck it.

Slow pace, unfinished feel to the story (which was probably done on purpose since the source material itself was never finished due to the author dying), unique cinematography, outstanding acting, abrupt ending, weakass push-ups, animal abuse (that scene pissed me off), a murder knife with very little blood on it, good lighting.  WOYZECK is not a horrible film, just not my cup of tea.  In a weird way, WOYZECK reminded me some of Herzog's first feature-length film, SIGNS OF LIFE, which I really liked.

[Not part of the review: It's interesting that the onscreen copyright for the film says 1976, but the film premiered on May 22, 1979 at the Cannes Film Festival.]

Monday, July 19, 2021

WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE (1980)

The story around the campfire goes that established filmmaker Werner Herzog remarked (in a supportive way) to a young Errol Morris that if he (Errol) ever finished a film, that he (Werner) would eat his own shoe.  This film is about Werner fulfilling that promise and eating his shoe at the premiere of Errol's film GATES OF HEAVEN.

And...that's about it.  No fancy bells or whistles.  Just Werner cooking his shoes while talking to the camera and then eating them in front of an audience at a movie theater.  It's never revealed just how much of the nasty looking shoes he ate or the state of his asshole they next day, but he definitely did eat some of them and it looked gross as fuck.  At only 20 minutes long, WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE is an easy watch and a treat for Herzog fans.  (The cute shot of Werner pointing at his bare feet made me smile.)  Although, I do wish that they had gone into more detail about the event itself.  It's all very vague.  Hell, Morris doesn't even appear in the film at all!  Was he even there?

WHEHS is also notable for being the first collaboration (if that is the correct term) between Les Blank and Werner Herzog.  They would next work together on the truly fascinating BURDEN OF DREAMS were Blanks documents Herzog during the making of his psychotic FITZCARRALDO.

There's also a rumor (that I'm about to start in 3 seconds) that Werner originally told Errol that if he ever finished his film that "...he'd jack off a dog in the town square", but they settled for him eating his shoes instead.  [Insert WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS HUMAN CENTIPEDE joke here.]

Jokes aside, WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE is a fun watch. Check it out.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

CROCODILE DUNDEE (1986)

“G’day, shithead! Let’s throw a chimp on the Barbie!” Wonder how many “g’day” jokes were made back in the Fall of 1986? I’m guessing at least three-fiddy. CROCODILE DUNDEE is probably forgotten about nowadays, but it was a huge fucking hit way back in ye olde 1986. It was a much simpler time and Americans simply could not get enough of that handsome Paul Hogan. Old women were probably ripping off their dicks and pulling out their teeth to pawn for cornbread that they could then sell to earn just enough money to buy a ticket to see ol’ Paul in all his glory up on the big screen. Golden tan glistening under than hot, sexy Australian sun. Mmm-mmm-mmm. My handsome loins are heating up just thinking about it!

So…does CROCODILE DUNDEE stand up to the test of time? Nope, it wasn't even that good back in '86. I remember watching it (as a kid) on VHS and enjoying it, but it definitely wasn’t in my regular rotation of movies from the time like ALIENS, LABYRINTH or BACK TO THE FUTURE. Watching it again now, it has a few mildly humorous moments, but it’s seriously dated.

Newspaper reporter Linda Kozlowski is in Australia finishing up an assignment when she hears a wild story about a man who’s viciously attacked by a crocodile and then crawls ten million miles back to civilization. She goes off in search of this rugged hero. She finds him…drinking in a bar and with nothing more than just a medium-sized scar on his otherwise sexy, golden, tone, sweaty, toight as a tiger body. I’m sure you can guess the rest. That’s right, he drapes a fresh kangaroo carcass over himself and then attacks some drunken assholes. Crikey! Naturally, this city slicker cannot resist the appeal of this backwoods stud and decides to bring him back to New York City to meet her boyfriend, who happens to also be her editor and a part-time James Spader impersonator. The film tries its hardest to make the boyfriend out to be an evil shitbag, but outside of being an arrogant, egotistical, self-centered yuppie douche pile of shit...he’s not so bad. Anyway, shit happens and before you can say “Nah fuck you, fuck you, nah fuck you, nah fuck you.“, Dundee is sexually assaulting a trans woman in a bar and then laughing about it with all his new drunk pals. He then beats up a pimp while his limo driver (Reginald VelJohnson from DIE HARD) uses one of those old car television antennas as a boomerang.

Good pace, absolutely illogical story that only makes sense as a movie, Dundee assaulting at least 20 people (by either shooting at them, punching them, sexually assaulting them or stepping on their heads), beautiful Australian scenery and interesting New York City street scenes, MAXIE and JAGGED EDGE on a movie marquee, a vintage Twisted Sister t-shirt, an Iron Maiden "Powerslave" shirt, one painfully horrible scene that implies humans actually care about one another (hint: they don't), Dundee kissing a man without his permission, Dundee grabbing an older woman between the legs without her permission, Dundee teaching a dude how to do cocaine, zero nudity, average camerawork, bland direction, good cast.

It’s fun to talk shit about CROCODILE DUNDEE, but in reality it’s not a bad film. Hogan does a fair dinkum job of capturing the Dundee character and the film is totally watchable. Although, the bar scene with the trans woman was in bad taste and the use of the “f” word was completely unnecessary.

It's funny to think that the script for CROCODILE DUNDEE was actually nominated for an Academy Award! It lost to HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, which is a masterpiece that I cannot recommend enough. It has an organic quality. Entirely interdependent, if you know what I mean. I can't put it into words. The important thing is, it breathes. An epiphany of the soul!

Part 2 - Crocodile Dundee II (1988)
Part 3 - Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001)
Part 4 - The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee (2020)