Friday, October 20, 2017

WHAT AM I WATCHING THIS WEEK? - Edition 6: 10/20/17

Editor's note: I am in no way being paid by Amazon nor am I employed by Amazon. I merely wish to bring to light the fact that Netflix is no longer the service for cinephiles and that Amazon Instant Video is the best streaming option for fans of movies.

Having the guts to cancel Netflix was the first step. Unplugging from that matrix of over-hyped and overrated original programming, with a dwindling number of films to appease that customer base that subscribed to them for movies in the first place, is a very liberating experience. It opens your eyes to other services that can provide endless hours of entertainment without locking you down into an endless binge-watching loop. Amazon's Instant Video service has a huge selection of films and this week's trio is another small sample of what you can find. Let's take a look at a few from the year 1995, where we find a cult film with a solid ensemble cast, a Swedish horror film and a big-screen adaptation of a beloved animated character.

Congo - This jungle action/adventure film, loosely based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name, is a rousing throwback to adventure movies of old. A solid ensemble cast is highlighted by Tim Curry, as the slimy Romanian phony philanthropist, Herkermer Homolka; Laura Linney is a strong female lead and Ernie Hudson makes a good bid to be the star of the film, using an equal combination of wit and bravado as the guide Capt. Munro Kelly. Of course, we also have Amy the Gorilla Who Can Talk, which makes for some humorous situations (some of them even intentional!). The story is quite ridiculous, but has a level of insanity to it that makes it work in an entertaining fashion. A cult favorite of many in the "so bad it's good" territory, but it probably transcends that label; so silly and crackling with humor, that it comes back around as a quality movie you can waste two hours of your life watching. That's a recommendation, folks. "UGLY. GORILLA. UGLY. GO AWAY."

Evil Ed - This is a Swedish horror/comedy from director Anders Jacobsson. Don't worry, it's dubbed in English. It tells the story of a film editor who is assigned to trim the excessively gory parts of a film series called "Loose Limbs" for to meet the standards for international distribution. The editor, mild-mannered Ed (who else), who is used to editing arthouse films, eventually begins to lose all sanity the more he is exposed to the scenes of gore and violence. What starts off as a solid premise, with some witty "film-within-a-film" vignettes, soon goes flying off the rails in a final act that feels tacked on to pad the running time. It's almost as if you're watching two different films. One interesting aspect of Evil Ed is its take on the Swedish censorship bureau, which was one of the toughest in the world up until 1996, when they finally relaxed their stringent standards. The message contained within the film is a blunt take on the segment of the population that believe horror films have corrupted innocent minds. Evil Ed is really only a partially successful film, but still worth a look if you're a fan of gorefests.

The Gumby Movie - The title credits let us know that the original title was "Gumby 1", indicating that maybe a franchise was being planned for the 90s kids. This revival of the 1960s Claymation cartoon character, created by Art Clokey, was actually completed in 1992 but did not find a distributor until three years later. The evil Blockheads have sent foreclosure notices to the local farm owners, and Gumby and his band, The Clayboys, decide to hold a benefit concert in order to generate some money to assist. The Blockheads attempt to put a stop to this by creating evil robot clones of Gumby and the band. The animation is seriously dated even at this point and it's easy to see why it sat on the shelf for so long. It's not terribly sophisticated, so adults watching it with their children may get a little fidgety with inattentiveness. The highlight of the movie is a showdown between Gumby and Evil Robot Gumby that should easily entertain. Despite the middling results with The Gumby Movie, Claymation is a large part of animation history and Gumby has some significance in that regard.

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