Stream of the Week: Troll 2 – really the worst movie?

I love movies that are unintentionally hilarious – at once both undeniably bad and entertaining.  Troll 2 has recently gotten some buzz as the worst movie of all time”, largely because of Best Worst Movie, a 2009 documentary about how horrible and funny Troll 2 is.  It may not be the worst, but Troll 2 belongs in the conversation and has earned a place in my Bad Movie Festival.

A white bread suburban family vacations in the mountain village of Nilbog (“Goblin” spelled backwards, get it?) in which all the locals are vegetarian predator goblins who can take the form of regular humans.  The goblins are able to turn humans into vegetative matter (a green slime) that the goblins can ingest.

The movie was made with very primitive production values by a non-English speaking Italian crew and a non-Italian speaking Z-list American cast.  Inept acting and directing aside, the screenplay is probably the source of the most laughs.  There’s the dead grandpa Seth who keeps appearing to the boy, the boy’s saving his family by urinating on the family dinner, the make out scene so “hot” that it pops popcorn and so much more. Another of the funny aspects of Troll 2 is that it is completely unrelated to the movie Troll and has no trolls in it.

Troll 2 is available on Netflix Streaming.  You can see some of the finer bits of Troll 2 by doing a YouTube search for “You can’t piss on hospitality” and “Troll 2 O my God”.  Here’s the trailer.

 

As to Best Worst Movie, it’s very entertaining.  There are some squirmy scenes with cast members whose mental health issues have since worsened.  The Italian director is a jerk who, although happy to bask in Troll 2‘s new found cult status,  is narcissistically unwilling to acknowledge its badness.  But the goodhearted goofiness of star George Hardy, a cast of good sports and Troll 2‘s cult following dominates, and Best Worst Movie is fun to watch.  Best Worst Move is available on DVD.

DVD of the Week: The Locksmith

Somehow, this comedy gem never earned a theatrical release, despite winning the low budget award at Sundance.  A decent guy is serving out his drug sentence and has a day job as a locksmith on work release.  He is determined to keep his nose clean and not get in any more trouble.  He meets a kooky gal, who – despite his resistance – introduces all kinds of chaos into his life.  The Locksmith was originally titled Homewrecker.

If it had been released into theaters, I think that this working class comedy would have become a real crowd pleaser.  Fortunately, it’s now available from Netflix.

DVD of the Week: The Last Lullaby

This is a surprisingly brilliant contemporary noir film from 2008 (that I KNOW that you haven’t seen).  Tom Sizemore plays a retired hit man, a professional loner now living what would be a comfortable loner life (except for his chronic insomnia).  He is offered a very large sum to take out a librarian (Sasha Alexander), but he is attracted to her and wonders why?  And, as in any noir film, is she the innocent that she seems?  Sizemore’s performance and a smart screenplay by Peter Biegen and Max Alan Collins carry this film, and Alexander is good, too.

Other recent DVD picks have been Road to NowhereTinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, Poetry, Queen to Play and Kill the Irishman.

DVD of the Week: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

In this 1979 miniseries version of the classic John le Carre spy novel, there is a Soviet mole in the highest echelon of British intelligence.  It could be anyone except George Smiley, whom the other top spies have pushed out to pasture.  Smiley, in one of Alec Guinness’ greatest performances, begins a deliberate hunt to unmask the double agent.  Guinness is joined by a superb cast that includes Ian Richardson, Patrick Stewart, Ian Bannen and Sian Phillips.  It’s 290 minutes of pressure-packed whodunit.

The Labor Day weekend is a great opportunity to watch the old master spy drilling down through the characters of his former peers to expose the mole – one of the best mysteries ever on film.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has been remade into a much shorter theatrical version that will open in the US on November 18.  This new film version will also feature a top tier cast – Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Fassbender, Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones and Stephen Rea.   The trailer is at Movies I’m Looking Forward To.

Other recent DVD picks have been Poetry, Queen to Play, Kill the Irishman and The Music Never Stopped.

More prison movies (the raunchiest of the genre)

It’s not often that I get accused of being too high brow, but my friend Steve has criticized my heretofore well-regarded list of 10 Best Prison Movies for not including Women in Chains (1972).  Women in Chains is part of the subgenre of women-in-prison exploitation movies.  A prison setting offers a filmmaker the possibility of violence, sex and S&M to exploit.  With women’s prisons, nude shower scenes and catfights are added to the mix.  Steve fondly remembers this aspect of Women in Chains.  But, Steve, it was a made-for-TV movie, so it couldn’t have been THAT racy.

The absolute master of this genre is the website BigBustOut.com – The Original Encyclopedia of Women in Prison Films, which lists over 300 women-in-prison movies.  BigBustOut.com also has an excellent history of the genre. I’ve included BigBustOut on my list of Other People’s Great Movie Lists.  Here is BigBustOut’s take on Women in Chains.

My own guilty pleasure from 70s prison exploitation films is 1971’s 1,000 Convicts and a Woman, which I saw in a drive-in during a misspent evening of an otherwise upstanding youth.  1,000 Convicts and a Woman doesn’t make BigBustOut because it’s not about a women’s prison.  Instead, the oversexed daughter of the warden returns from finishing school and moves into the men’s prison.  Played by vamp-eyed blonde Alexandra Hay, she immediately begins to tease the incarcerated, with forseeable results.

 

DVD of the week: Four Lions: terrorist comedy, anyone?

This couldn’t have been made in the US, but fortunately the Brits have made the terrorist equivalent of Waiting for Guffman.   A group of homegrown Brits of Pakistani heritage decide to join the jihad and try to organize a terror mission.  Fortunately, the smartest one is both inept and unlucky, and each of the others is dumber than the last.   The cell’s intramural competition reminds me of the hilarious People’s Liberation Front scene in Monty Python’s Life of Python.

The Hangover Part II: just not that funny

The Hangover Part II has its moments (the buddies lose a little brother on a wild night in Bangkok) , but is just not as gut-busting funny as The Hangover.   Not so much sequel as photocopy, the same story loses its impact the second time through.   Right from the start, when they awake memory-free in a trashed hotel room, their discoveries just don’t match up to the comic value of the missing tooth, the tiger and the baby in The Hangover.   The revelations in Part II are just as extreme, but they just don’t register as funny.

The one original thought is when we see what’s in the socially retarded Zach Galifianakis’ brain – and we learn that he sees the buddies as his crew of 13-year-olds.  But that’s really the only imaginative part of the movie.

DVD of the Week: Kaboom

And now for some sexy silliness. Director Gregg Araki created the brilliant and searing Mysterious Skin, but here he’s just having fun.  In the first hour of Kaboom, I lost track of how many characters had sex with each other – it’s just about non-stop and guy-on-guy, girl-on-girl, guy-on-girl, guy-and-girl-on-guy, etc.  I would characterize the sex as casual, but that would make it seem that the characters were having even a modicum of difficulty in finding partners.  Anyway, the chaotic sexathon is very funny.   The last twenty minutes takes the film into a campy version of a paranoid apocalypse film, before an abrupt (and I mean abrupt) ending.  Did I mention the bad guys in the animal masks? It’s fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Have two cocktails and then pop in the DVD.

Movies to See Right Now

Incendies

I’m still urging people to see the searing drama Incendies, the year’s best film so far. Upon their mother’s death, a young man and woman learn for the first time of their father and their brother and journey from Quebec to the Middle East to uncover family secrets. As they bumble around Lebanon, we see the mother’s experience in flashbacks. We learn before they do that their lives were created – literally – by the violence of the Lebanese civil war.

13 Assassins is brilliantly staged and photographed, and is one of the best recent action films; an honorable samurai must assemble and lead a team of thirteen to hack their way through a psychotically sadistic noble’s 200 bodyguards.

Don’t miss Cave of Forgotten Dreams while it can be seen in 3D; Werner Herzog explores the amazing 30,000 year old Chauvet cave paintings.

In Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig plays a woman whose insecurities keep her from seeing the good and the possible in her life; it’s funny, but not one of the year’s best. Meek’s Cutoff is a disappointing misfire.

Source Code is a gripping scifi thriller with intelligence and heart, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Farmiga and Michelle Monaghan. Hanna is a rip roaring girl-power thriller starring Saiorse Ronan as a 16-year-old raised in the Arctic Circle to be a master assassin by her rogue secret agent father, and then released upon the CIA.

For trailers and other choices,see Movies to See Right Now.

I haven’t yet seen Midnight in Paris or The Hangover Part II, which open this weekend.  You can see trailers of upcoming films at Movies I’m Looking Forward To.

My DVD pick is Kings of Pastry.

Movies on TV this week include the timeless drama The Best Years of Our Lives on TCM.

DVD of the Week: Kings of Pastry

This documentary chronicles the physically grueling and emotionally draining three-day competition for the MOF, the highest designation for French pastry chefs. Amid impossibly towering sugar sculptures and delectable cream puffs and layer cakes, we see the essential cores of competition – aspiration, ambition, perseverance, commitment, desperation, heartbreak and victory. Kings of Pastry is directed by the brilliant documentarians Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker (The War Room).

It has earned a spot on my list of 10 Food Porn Movies.