Welcome to the ICM Forum. If you have an account but have trouble logging in, or have other questions, see THIS THREAD.
Podcast: Talking Images (Episode 4 released May 26th)
Polls: 1950s (Results), 1966 awards (May 28th), 1935 (May 29th)
Challenges: Comedy, Western, Iberian Peninsula
Film of the Week: Unter den Brücken, June nominations (May 29th)
World Cup S4: Round 2 schedule, Match 2A (Jun 4th)

Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 20, 2020

Post Reply
User avatar
sol
Donator
Posts: 8380
Joined: Feb 03, 2017
Location: Perth, WA, Australia
Contact:

Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 20, 2020

#1

Post by sol » May 17th, 2020, 12:00 pm

Which Films Did You See Last Week?

Please share with us which films you saw last week. It would be great if you could include some comments on each film. It would be awesome if you could also take some time to comment on everyone else's viewings. Unfortunately, it has reached the point where it is no longer viable for me as host to comment on everyone else's viewings every week (especially since some people like to use the weekly thread to log their viewings and nothing else). I am always keen to promote movie discussion though, so if you comment on my own viewings, I will comment on yours at my earliest convenience.

Please also note that this is intended as a movie discussion thread, not a large image posting thread. Having too many large images makes this thread difficult to navigate through. If you wish to include more than five images in a reply, please use spoiler tags - [spoiler][/spoiler] - to hide extra images.

This is what I saw:

★★★★ = loved it /// ★★★ = liked it a lot; ~7/10 /// ★★ = has interesting elements; ~6/10 /// ★ = did very little for me; ~5/10 and lower

The Big Show (1936). Gene Autry has fun playing two separate characters in this comedy that casts him as both a Wild West movie star and a lookalike stuntman, with chaos ensuing when the stuntman is talked into impersonating the star at publicity events. The film does not milk the comedic possibilities of this for all it is worth with a lot of time spent on the stuntman singing, which wows the movie star's fans. There is still plenty of good comedy though at the expense the stuntman having trouble convincing others that he is not the star and Smiley Burnette is very funny as his fretting producer, constantly nervous that others will catch onto the ruse. Best of all though is all the back lot film production scenes and shots of the stuntwork being filmed. The stunts themselves (which including hanging on underneath a moving stagecoach) are impressive too. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Border Feud (1947). A whip-wielding marshal poses as a notorious gunslinger to find out who is pulling the strings with two feuding families in a nearby town in this western starring Lash La Rue. While perhaps best known nowadays for playing the exorcist with a whip in the cult hit The Dark Power, La Rue was popular way back for his whip stunts in budget westerns like this. His whip work is indeed impressive here, yet we only get to see him use it twice, with much of the film disappointingly relying on gunplay instead. The best aspect of the film in any case is not La Rue but rather Al St. John as a goofy sheriff; his pratfalls are a little over-the-top, but much of the humour involving him works, in particular as tries the whip himself, as he cleverly creates a diversion with bullets in a furnace and as he even manages to shoot himself from a dropped gun! (first viewing, online) ★★★

Jubal (1956). Catching the eye of the much younger woman married to his boss, a ranch hand finds himself in a bind when a jealous coworker falsely accuses him of sleeping with her and she refuses to deny it in this Technicolor western starring Glenn Ford. It is a premise that might have had potential had Ford allowed himself to seduced, but quite on the contrary, he is so kind and good-natured that he rebuffs her every advance while romancing another woman. Playing such a plain good guy and with his accuser Rod Steiger as such a clear bad guy, the film often feels like little more than an over-baked soap opera. The resolution comes far too quickly and easily too. The film looks simply gorgeous though, with rich, vibrant colours, even at night. Ford also has some strong quiet moments (recalling his father) but his acting is undercut by the melodramatic plot. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Joe Dakota (1957). Harmony in a small oil-drilling town is disrupted by a visit from a stranger in search an Amerindian acquaintance in this western starring Jock Mahoney. The film is loaded with tension throughout due to how elusive the stranger is about why he wants to see the Amerindian, as well as how suspiciously unwelcoming the townsfolk are. The mystery of what exactly is amiss is very intriguing. Less successful are some detours towards romance with Luana Patten actually coming off as a bit of an annoying character, especially as her gullibility is pointed out late in the piece. The supporting characters are generally great here though with such hostility quivering only just below their surface and there are memorable stretches as strong personalities clash, most notably Mahoney subverting a bar game where they knock each other off stools. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Awful Dr. Orlof (1962). Opening with an atmospheric dialogue-free scene in which a strange-looking man kidnaps a drunken woman at night while her neighbours look away and lock their doors, this Spanish horror movie begins well but soon goes downhill. The film has drawn some criticism for its similarities to Eyes Without a Face and Frankenstein, but it is this aspect of the film - focusing on the doctor and his Igor-like assistant - that works best thanks to shadowy interiors, creepy makeup and grand long distance shots of the pair carrying bodies in the dead of night. Alas, the vast majority of the film is not dedicated to the title character but rather the detective trying to track him down. What's more, the investigation frequently takes an odd backseat to the detective engaging in romantic walks in the park and talking to his girlfriend about marriage! (first viewing, online) ★★

McLintock! (1963). Paid an unexpected visit by his estranged wife, a charismatic rancher's life grows complicated as he has to juggle both family issues and tensions between his neighbours and the local Native Americans in this comedy starring John Wayne. While some of his actions, especially in the final scene, are arguably problematic from a domestic violence point-of-view, Wayne is generally enjoyable in the lead role here, playing a larger-than-life character with both gusto and heart. While he does not always treat his family well, Wayne's sympathy for the Native Americans is great. He also thinks on his feet well, creatively using a starter pistol at a key point and so on. With far too much brawling, fist-fighting and both food and mud between flung about, this ultimately comes off as more juvenile than funny, but Wayne is delightful to watch. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Shooting (1966). Cautiously guiding an apparently lost lady over harsh terrain, two cowboys become worried that they are being watched and followed by a marksman in this western from Monte Hellman. After a truckload of exposition as the cowboys reunite, the film settles into a decent paranoia tale with the arrival of the mysterious woman, played well by Millie Perkins, whose true motives are unclear. The existential threat posed by the marksman works well too; never clearly seen but always there, it is easy to feel how unhinged the cowboys are by all that his mere presence represents. Alas, the second half of the film is weaker as we actually meet the marksman. Played by a charismastic as ever Jack Nicholson, he has a few snappy lines, but the latter part of the film never once recaptures the tension before we are properly introduced to him. (first viewing, online) ★★

A Human Condition (1974). Louis Malle looks inside a car manufacturing plant in this observational documentary that gives no voice to the workers themselves, only their customers who they never see. Indeed, the most striking aspect of the film is a midsection that suddenly transitions to an automobile showroom where prospective buyers look at the finished products and query them, oblivious to the labour put into making them. Malle soon returns to the assembly line though, and while there is certainly something to be said for capturing the monotony of the job, the second half of the film is a lot less interesting, mostly just showing what we have seen before. A final shot that lingers on a worker who never once looks up seems to sell the film on the message suggested by the title, but even at less than 75 minutes, this feels incredibly long for such a simple idea. (first viewing, online) ★

Goin' South (1978). Saved from the gallows when a woman agrees to marry him, a horse thief soon discovers that his bride is only interested in him for manual labour in this odd western directed by and starring Jack Nicholson. It is a decent idea, like a reversal of the notion of a man marrying a woman for her good looks, but the film does not have a lot to offer beyond the basic notion. Nicholson is his usual slightly eccentric self and while Mary Steenburgen holds her own well cast opposite him, the film is ultimately only really carried through by the question of whether or not the pair will eventually learn to love one another despite their sham marriage. Bits and pieces stand certainly out (Nicholson catching a surveyor spying on his wife bathing) but the talented supporting cast are given little to do and the dynamics between the leads tire far too quickly. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Dead Birds (2004). Sheltering overnight at an abandoned plantation, a group of soldiers on the lam (after stealing a fortune in gold) are plagued by strange visions, mysterious voices and paranormal activity in this indie thriller set during the 1860s. The film is essentially an attempt to blend a typical haunted house film with a typical western about violent bandits, but it is never as fascinating as that. While the film throws in clichés from both genres, they only ever remain clichés, and as the horror angle overtakes the Old West stuff in the second half, the film becomes a standard catalogue of jump scares and grotesque images. The film also rarely taps into the story's potential as a fable with the bandits receiving a comeuppance for stealing. If atmospheric and curious as genre-breed experiment, this sadly seldom seems like more than just a simple experiment. (first viewing, online) ★

[REC]2 (2009). Beginning where the original film ended, this inevitable sequel to the Spanish horror hit looks at further events in the evening of the infection outbreak in the apartment block. While the original concluded with a somewhat unsatisfying explanation, this entry develops the mythology behind it and has a really interesting health inspector who is not all that he seems. What made the first [REC] film so great though was its first half, focusing on an ambitious reporter intent on making an amazing documentary despite the chaos around her; in fact, other than the final shot, the second half of the original is mostly just running, screaming and lots of shaky camerawork - which is exactly what 90% of this sequel is. Well, that and a whole lot of exorcism clichés. The cutting between various point-of-view cameras here also dilutes the intensity of the original. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Julia's Eyes (2010). Investigating her sister's suicide under suspicious circumstances, a half-blind woman begins to suspect that her sister's mysterious boyfriend is spying on her in this thriller from Spain. The film begins well with an insanely intense pre-suicide opening sequence. It also successfully maintains a real sense of mystery for the most part, both in terms of whether the boyfriend can really be virtually invisible as well as why he kills, and there are some great literal shadow chasing scenes, most notably at a gym where lights turn on as she runs down a darkened corridor, only for him to continue to slip into darkness. Alas, despite some curious social metaphors, the revelation of who exactly he is and his motivations are underwhelming. The film also concludes on an oddly sentimental note, but there are certainly many decent thrills and chills throughout. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Retribution (2015). Told by an anonymous caller that there is a bomb under the seat of his automobile while he is driving his kids to school, a banker desperately tries to organise the demanded ransom via phone calls in this Spanish thriller. The film plays out a lot like Phone Booth with the local authorities coming to believe that he responsible for another bomb, unaware of the blackmail, however, having his kids in danger too adds extra some dimension. The whole thing is very intense and gripping, but loses its way a bit in the second half. The eventual revelation of the bomber's motives is underwhelming and pushes the film into sentimental territory. The film also runs too long once the situation is resolved. Still, this is undeniably solid as a look at a stressed out man placed in an impossible position and Luis Tosar (as always) shines in the lead role. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Lucky (2017). His doctor unable to explain a sudden fainting incident, a fit and healthy man in his nineties grapples with the possibility of dying from old age in this drama starring Harry Dean Stanton. This was Stanton's last big screen performance and it is a fitting final note with the actor indeed looking incredibly good for a man his age, talking and walking without any trouble. When a barmaid asks him late in the piece "why can't you live by the rules?" this seems doubly true of his character as he both refuses to abide by social conventions and fitness expectations for someone so old. He has a great speech towards the end too about how everyone eventually goes "into blackness; a void". Not much happens plot-wise here; it is incredibly episodic with some bits (a life insurance salesman's pitch) dragging, but as a character study, this really works. (first viewing, online) ★★★

El Bar (2017). Too scared to leave when two bystanders are shot by snipers outside, a group of coffee shop patrons and employees begin to wonder if there is a conspiracy afoot in this comedic thriller from Álex de la Iglesia of The Day of the Beast fame. The first half of the movie is excellent, steeped in their growing paranoia over the strange situation and uncertainty of what exactly is going on. The film pulls between horror, science fiction and government cover-up stuff in this stretch with some superb tension regarding what certain patrons are hiding from the others. The second half of the film is disappointing by contrast, becoming a predictable look at everyone turning against each other when confined to a claustrophobic cellar. The ending is pretty good though and packs a bit of a wallop after all of the apocalyptic stuff we have seen play out. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Klaus (2019). Exploiting a toymaker's random act of kindness, a postman inadvertently creates the myth of Santa Claus in this curious and sometimes quite imaginative origin story. The snowy locations look great, especially at night, and there is some amusement in how such tropes as the Naughty List and Santa watching may have come about. Most of the humour is hit-and-miss though and the film's messages about goodwill and kindness are delivered in a heavy-handed manner. The film also throws in an obvious and predictable love interest (but it at least avoids playing up this angle) and some very by-the-numbers personal redemption plotting. If never once boring, the film feels like it could have done better by focusing more on Christmas tropes and less on cutesiness. It is nice though how it manages to be a Christmas movie without involving religion at all. (first viewing, online) ★★

OtherShow
The Big Trail (1930). Settlers trek west to California, led by an ambitious young man with romance on his mind in this early career John Wayne western. This was Wayne's first leading role and he is almost unrecognisably youthful; his voice also is not quite what as distinctive as it would become in years to come. Curious as it is to see Wayne looking and sounding so young, his character is not especially interesting and the overall story feels stretched thin at over two hours (it soon becomes a repetitive series of adversities on the trail), plus Wayne's love interest is simply dull. There are also a bunch of title cards throughout that feel like silent era leftovers, presenting information that could easily be surmised without them. For all its drawbacks, the film at least looks quite beautiful, shot in 2.10:1 widescreen in actual outdoor locations rather than in studio. (first viewing, online) ★

Desert Gold (1936). Discovering that their employer has been torturing Amerindians to find out the location of the gold in their area, two mining engineers decide to work against their boss while also conspiring to steal his bride in this western comedy starring Tom Keene and Robert Cummings. The humour is pretty hit-and-miss with some particularly unfunny tooth pulling on a mobile stagecoach (with expectedly unpleasant results), yet also some amusing bits and pieces, like pushing their employer's bride out of an open window to stop the ceremony from going ahead. The film never quite gets the balance right between romantic comedy and serious drama with the whole torturing of Amerindians for gold often taking a backseat to all the love pursuit stuff, but Keene and Cummings have very decent chemistry and the whole thing is at least very short. (first viewing, online) ★

Rollin' Plains (1938). Riding into what initially appears to be a deserted ghost town, a Texas Ranger and his riding companions come across a feud between cattlemen and sheepherders in this low budget western starring Tex Ritter. It is not an especially well paced affair with the film too often taking a break from the feuding (and mischief between clans) for Ritter to belt out a tune or two. The film is at least a little eerie to begin with though as the trio carefully walk through the seeming ghost town; there is also an impressive sequence towards the end in which Ritter and his companions manage to scare a superstitious Ernie Adams into telling them what they need to know. For the most part though, this is pretty average stuff, and while they are occasionally amusing, Ritter's companions only ever seem to really be present as a source of easy comic relief. (first viewing, online) ★

Sky Bandits (1940). Two Northwest mounted policemen investigate a series of plane crashes in this odd little film that traverses a variety of genres. As a mystery movie, it does not really work with the criminal reasons behind the crash revealed long before the mounties catch on. The sci-fi angle with how they are causing the planes to crash is interesting though; same goes for the crime elements like the crooks communicating in code via a children's radio program broadcast. There is also a lot of mood-destroying comedy though, with some particularly lame gags at the expense of one person's deafness. And then there is the fact that the mounties randomly break into song at a couple of jarring points in the story. The shots in the air are decent and some of the vast landscapes are beautiful, but this mostly feels like a mess and unsure of what it wants to be. (first viewing, online) ★

Silver Spurs (1943). Famous as a singing cowboy, it is curious to see Roy Rogers cast in this western that has him belt out a couple of tunes but which is mostly devoid of music and song. The story is rather focused on Rogers trying to prove his innocence when framed for attempted murder. The plot is in fact even more complex than that, involving an arranged marriage to a landowner, a female reporter volunteering as the bride to get a juicy news scoop and John Carradine plotting to murder the landowner once he is married since he cannot legally sell his land but a potential widow could. It is all a bit much for a film clocking in at less than one hour, and a deliciously vile Carradine receives far too little screen time. Carradine's scheme is also revealed too early on, providing little mystery as Rogers tries to clear his name, but Carradine is as solid as ever. (first viewing, online) ★★

Zachariah (1971). What if heavy metal music and electric guitars existed in the times of the Old West? This oddball western attempts to answer this, focusing two musicians who use their show-stopping tunes to distract townsfolk while robbing them blind, while at the same professing a preference for nonviolence whenever in a dispute. If this sounds like a weird mixture, it is - and things only get stranger from there as the duo have it out with a drum soloist and then part their own ways, encountering bright purple cabaret houses in the middle of nowhere and eccentric old men. There is a potent bit in one such old man takes one of the musicians over a mountain, talking about its subtle changes, which seems metaphorical for the way the western genre has evolved, but a showdown set to drumbeats aside, the film feels like it loses its way as it goes along. (first viewing, online) ★★

Low-Flying Aircraft (2002). Based on a short story by J.G. Ballard of High-Rise and Crash fame, this Portuguese thriller is set in future in which normal pregnancies are rare with the vast majority of new babies being mutants killed by the government in their infancy. Intriguing as this premise is, the movie does not do a whole lot with it, rarely looking at the ethics of infanticide, the possibility that the so-called mutants might be more evolved and the effects around the world (though we do get hints of the latter in sporadic television broadcasts). What the film does very well though is tap into the fears and anxieties regarding having one's first child; Rosemary's Baby feels only a few steps away as the female protagonist here likewise has vivid nightmares and is plagued by just what could be inside her. As a sci-fi tale though, this comes up a tad short. (first viewing, online) ★★

Automata (2014). Opening with over a minute of exposition delivered entirely through title cards, this futuristic tale gets off to a poor start and never quite finds its feet. There is something of interest here with the detective protagonist bonding with the illegally altered, artificially intelligent robots who he is tracking down as they trek through the desert together, but this is ultimately a fairly small part of an epic scale film that establishes far too elaborate a back-story (regarding how the future has come to be) considering how little all the exposition has to do with the central dilemma. Much of the film feels very tired and overly familiar too: robots becoming sentient, not following their strict programming and so forth, while humans react with violence first and talk second. Antonio Bandares does have some great rapport with the robots though. (first viewing, online) ★

Toro (2016). Learning that his brother and niece have been kidnapped by his old boss, a former getaway driver returns to a life tried to leave behind in this Spanish crime thriller. While the basic idea - inability to escape the past - is decent, this suffers from pacing problems. The action only really begins half an hour in with (an admittedly excellent) car chase along the beach, and then there is a whole lot of the characters sitting around and talking before the action and suspense once again revs up the final half-hour. There is a particularly well done bit in a building with changing neon coloured lights and a spiral-like structure, but it is not an easy ride getting to this point. All of the sitting around and talking would be fine if the characters were intriguing, but the most fascinating one (the tomboyish daughter) is never developed beyond being a cliché child in peril. (first viewing, online) ★

Jefe (2018). Kicked out of home by his wife, the CEO of a major corporation finds his world turned upside down when he starts to live out of his office in this Spanish comedy starring Luis Callejo. Dismissive of his coworkers with insults constantly rolling off his tongue, he in many ways seems like the boss from hell, yet Callejo brings some unexpected dimension to the part. Plagued by such absurdities as his wife only communicating via a messenger service, and a teasing vending machine, Callejo feels like an everyman struggling against the very absurdity of existence. This vibe does not quite carry through the whole way though, and an unlikely romance that develops never feels credible or real, but the film is engaging throughout - and there is a remarkably intense stretch in which Callejo inadvertently ends up spying on a cleaner in his office letting off steam. (first viewing, online) ★★

When Angels Sleep (2018). Far too tired to safely drive but intent on making it back home to see his daughter, a workaholic businessman hits a teenage girl in this Spanish thriller. The film gets off to a good start, capturing his fatigue well with some haunting bits as he drives past someone on a stretcher and imagines it being himself. The film begins to nosedive though after the accident. There is some solid tension at first as he encounters a friend of the victim (who believes that the victim's boyfriend was responsible) but once she puts two and two together, the film falls apart with increasingly ridiculous situations and dynamics between the protagonist and friend. Had the whole thing been played as a black comedy or had our protagonist been likeable, this may have worked; as it is though, everything spirals towards a conclusion that feels uncomfortable at best. (first viewing, online) ★
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
Image Image Image

User avatar
Onderhond
Posts: 3945
Joined: Dec 23, 2012
Contact:

#2

Post by Onderhond » May 17th, 2020, 12:20 pm

Image

A pretty fine week, with few bad films and some welcome suprises. Birds of Prey one of the better superhero films I've seen, Hello World a very intruiging anime, Good Boys a crude but funny US comedy and Gillespie back on track with I, Tonya. Oh, and Marston took a very different turn than I'd exptected up front. Then there's of course the 80s flick I loved, which is a once in a decade occurence.


Image

01. 4.0* - Kai Doh Maru by Kanji Wakabayashi (2001)
Unique and intriguing short that's as much a tech demo as it is an actual film. Because of that, the narrative feels quite disjointed and the running time can't really do justice to the story and characters, but the art style and atmosphere more than make up for that. Not for everyone, but a must for anime fans.


Image

02. 4.0* - The Hunger by Tony Scott (1983)
A very nice surprise. Atmospheric, strange, a little experimental even. I've always wondered where Scott's crazy mid-00 period came from and now I know. Also props for the sound design, in combination with the editing it makes for a film that still feels quite modern and relevant, almost 30 years later.

03. 3.5* - Hello World [Harô Wârudo] by Tomohiko Itô (2019)
An interesting mix of romance and sci-fi like only anime can deliver. The premise is pretty basic, but the execution is something else. Spectacular use of CG, a really detailed sci-fi plot and some memorable moments. Just a bit too cheesy at times to be a real classic, but worth your time if you're into Japanese animation.

04. 3.5* - Strayer's Chronicle [Sutoreiyâzu Kuronikuru] by Takahisa Zeze (2015)
Surprising Zeze. An X-Men vs X-Men story that pits too groups of youngsters with superpowers against each other. Not really the kind of film you'd expect Zeze to direct, but he does surprisingly well. Not all the actors were on point and the film needed a few more spectacular scenes, but overall this was pretty interesting.

05. 3.5* - Good Boys by Gene Stupnitsky (2019)
Funny. Something I didn't immediately expect up front, usually these kid comedies are pretty safe and predictable, but this one turned out to be a welcome exception. The kids do a good job (Williams in particular), the jokes are on point and even though the ending is a little lame, it doesn't take away from the rest of the film. Fun.

06. 3.5* - Chasing the Dragon II: Wild Wild Bunch [Chui Lung II] by Jason Kwan, Jing Wong
A very solid sequel that shuffles things around (with an entirely new cast for one), but offers the same thrills as the first film. In other words, expect undercover police work and tight action scenes. Koo, Yam and Leung are on a roll here, the film looks slick and the pacing is perfect. Not a future classic, but extremely entertaining.

07. 3.5* - I, Tonya by Craig Gillespie (2017)
Gillespie's return to form, after some lackluster projects. Well-acted (with a stand-out part for Janney), funny, endearing and sporting some impressive figure skating routines. It's a bit long maybe, but this is a film with its heart in the right place. Not Gillespie's best work and not quite as memorable as its reputation might have you believe, but this was a good, solid film.

08. 3.0* - Professor Marston & the Wonder Women by Angela Robinson (2017)
Interesting biography on the creator of the Wonder Woman comics. The story definitely received a Hollywood treatment, still it is intriguing to see what triggered the creators of the comics and how little of that has remained over the years. Wonder Woman still lives, but only after the American/cultural sanitation did its job.

09. 3.0* - Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn by Cathy Yan (2020)
This is how I like my superhero films. Silly, colorful and over-the-top. So much better than all those failed attempts at dark and gloomy that have ruined this genre. I could've done with Robbie's accent (she was otherwise perfect though) and the soundtrack felt a bit flat, but I had a lot of fun with this one. Solid entertainment.

10. 3.0* - The Wrong Missy by Tyler Spindel (2020)
A simple but fun and effective Happy Madison production that harks back to the old success formula. A bunch of familiar comedians, a tropical location, a bit of romance and tons of silliness. Nothing too heavy-handed or serious, just 90 minutes of light entertainment, perfect for a lazy afternoon.

11. 3.0* - Ema by Pablo Larraín (2019)
Decent drama with some telling and powerful moments, but overall a bit too Dardenne-esque for my liking. The camera work is fine, performances are decent and some of the sets are really stunning, even so the drama itself left me pretty cold and the quality wasn't very consistent. The potential was there, but film didn't always cash in on it.

12. 3.0* - Urusei Yatsura 6: Always My Darling [Urusei Yatsura 6: Itsudatte, Mai Dârin] by Katsuhisa Yamada
Pleasantly insane and over-the-top. Exactly what you hope for when putting on a Urusei Yatsura film. Nothing too serious, fast-paced and entertaining. The animation is a bit limited and it's really just more of the same, but that's not really a bad thing if you like the franchise. Good, but only when you're already familiar with the series.

13. 3.0* - The Lost City of Z by James Gray (2016)
A solid adventure film, that turns a bit too much to the dramatic side during the second half. Gray's direction is nice, but a little heavy-handed. Performances are good and the Amazon scenes are fine, but there's a bit too much filler in between and the family drama feels a bit pointless and drawn out. Good, not great.

14. 2.5* - Blended by Frank Coraci (2014)
Decent but standard Sandler/Coraci collaboration. A couple of funny jokes and some memorable moments, but for the most part it's a pretty basic romantic comedy that brings exactly what you'd expect. There's enough chemistry between Barrymore and Sandler and some loveable secondary characters, but there's also quite a lot of cheese. Average.

15. 2.5* - The Wild Goose Lake [Nan Fang Che Zhan De Ju Hui] by Yi'nan Diao (2019)
Chinese arthouse may be doing well on the international arthouse stage, I feel it's in a big old rut. The Wild Goose Lake is another good example. The violence looks a bit off, the neon shots are pretty sloppy and the story seems to combine the worst elements of crime and arthouse cinema. It's not a terrible film, but it is disappointing.

16. 2.5* - The Woman Who Keeps a Murderer [Satsujinki o Kau Onna] by Hideo Nakata (2019)
A mediocre thriller. Performances are decent and there are a few tense moments, but the plot isn't all that interesting and the drama fails to impress. Though short, the film is basic and struggles to keep the attention. It's been a while since Nakata made anything worthwhile, this film isn't doing much to fix his faltering reputation.

17. 2.5* - Ode to Gallantry [Xia Ke Hang] by Cheh Chang (1982)
A pretty basic Cheh Chang film. Not nearly enough action to be a stand-out entry in his oeuvre, but fans of the Shaw Bros films will find that the studio's usual charm is fully present. It's short and the pacing is decent, but for an 80s film I expected a bit more. Not the worst thing he's ever done, but rather forgettable.

18. 2.0* - Phantasm by Don Coscarelli (1979)
Manages to muster up quite a decent atmosphere, but the actual horror bits are rather cheap and cheesy. It's always a bummer when the best moments in a horror film are the set-ups instead of the pay-offs. The mediocre acting doesn't help, but it's the poor creature designs and crappy effects that let Phantasm down.

19. 2.0* - The Dream of Garuda [Kôkyû Sôpu Tekunikku 4: Monzetsu Higi] by Takahisa Zeze (1994)
Not the most interesting Zeze. A pretty static and slow pinku that feels like it was dragged down by the strict rules of the genre. It lacks the creativity of its more infamous peers and offers little in the way of drama or story. As a springboard for young directors the pinku genre deserves respect, but it didn't always result in good films.

20. 1.5* - Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge by David DeCoteau (1991)
Quite disappointing. The setting never feels genuine and the backstory of Toulon is completely worthless. It takes up valuable time and gets in the way of the horror, of which there isn't much to begin with. We get one new puppet, and that's about it. I'm surprised this is considered the best of the Puppet Master films by many.

User avatar
peeptoad
Posts: 1942
Joined: Feb 04, 2017
Contact:

#3

Post by peeptoad » May 17th, 2020, 12:23 pm

Hi sol. I've only seen two of yours this week, and from what you wrote about Julia's Eyes I think we agree more or less on that one. FWIW I found El Cuerpo (same writer, Oriol Paulo, who also directed) to be a bit better, but they are the same, general type of film. I have found a lot of similarities between the more recent (like last 15 years) Spanish thrillers. Not sure if this accurate or not, but they all have similar tone, look, and plot devices to me.
I liked The Shooting well enough, but it is a Hellman film with Oates and Nicholson, so I expected to like it. Might rewatch it next month since the details are vague.

Julia's Eyes (2010) 6
The Shooting (1966) 7

The Awful Dr. Orlof and [REC]2 are both on my watch list. I may not get to then this month though...have had a difficult time finding the REC sequels, for one thing.

mine this week-
Pi (1998) 7
Extramuros (1985) Beyond the Walls 6
Viridiana (1961) 8
Count Dracula (1970) 6
Coisa Ruim (2006) Blood Curse 7
Omnívoros (2013) Omnivores 4
El cuerpo (2012) The Body 7
A Floresta das Almas Perdidas (2017) The Forest of Lost Souls 5
Os verdes anos (1963) The Green Years 6
The New World (2005) 7
La visita del vicio (1978) The Coming of Sin 7
La mansión de la niebla (1972) Murder Mansion 5

Viridiana was slightly best, thought nothing was really a stand out this week.
Pi was okay, but I may have enjoyed that one more if I had seen it closer to release. I had a lot of the dialogue memorized because there were clips of it on the film's soundtrack, which I had to listen to ad nauseum in the wake of the film's release since I worked in a music store at the time. As a consequence it felt like a movie I'd seen before but hadn't. That might have lessened the experience for me, but Aronofsky also isn't director I actively seek out anyway since I have most of his stuff rated in the 6-7 range.

Same goes for Malick actually, although now I've seen only two of his films: Badlands ages and ages ago and now The New World. I liked the latter okay, but it fell short of my general expectations. It was a nice-looking film by all means, but the characters just did not resonate with me. I am still going to check out The Thin Red Line at some point, but that may be it for Malick for me, unless that one strikes me in a particular way.

User avatar
peeptoad
Posts: 1942
Joined: Feb 04, 2017
Contact:

#4

Post by peeptoad » May 17th, 2020, 12:26 pm

Onderhond wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 12:20 pm
02. 4.0* - The Hunger by Tony Scott (1983)
A very nice surprise. Atmospheric, strange, a little experimental even. I've always wondered where Scott's crazy mid-00 period came from and now I know. Also props for the sound design, in combination with the editing it makes for a film that still feels quite modern and relevant, almost 30 years later.
I enjoyed this one back when I saw it. My cousin (who I was roommates with at the time) played the cello and we watched this one night at around 2am (she had already seen it) and then she whipped out that cello and started sawing away on it and it kind of freaked me out a little. It's a pretty sexy film and Bowie was great. The visual aging he underwent still sticks in my brain.

User avatar
Onderhond
Posts: 3945
Joined: Dec 23, 2012
Contact:

#5

Post by Onderhond » May 17th, 2020, 12:36 pm

@sol:
I liked [REC]2 (4.0*) a lot when I first saw. Haven't seen it since, but some other faux doc horror films I've rewatched haven't lost much of their charm, so I'm quite confident the score would still be the same. Los Ojos de Julia (3.5*) was nice, but a more typical Spanish horror film, which means it's very atmospheric, but also a bit overdramatic and not all that scary. Also like El Bar (3.5*), not sure how familiar you are with de la Iglesia, but Balada Triste de Trompeta and Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi are even better in my opinion. I've also seen Klaus, of which I liked the artstyle, the story and characters not so much. But I shouldn't have seen this with an English dub, especially not since the Spanish one was available.

@peeptoad:
Pi is a solid 5* film for me (though on the lower end), I don't think there's a film that has a better soundtrack. Not even so much the music itself, but the way it's just part of the fabric of the film. I get that watching the film so many years after getting tired of the soundtrack may be a bit of a bummer, but that just goes to show how much it's an essential element of that film. I wish more films would take an example of that. I've also seen The New World (1.5*), a typical kind of Malick cheese I don't appreciate and Viridiana (1.0*). So far I've disliked most of Bunuel's films.

User avatar
peeptoad
Posts: 1942
Joined: Feb 04, 2017
Contact:

#6

Post by peeptoad » May 17th, 2020, 12:46 pm

Onderhond wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 12:36 pm


@peeptoad:
Pi is a solid 5* film for me (though on the lower end), I don't think there's a film that has a better soundtrack. Not even so much the music itself, but the way it's just part of the fabric of the film. I get that watching the film so many years after getting tired of the soundtrack may be a bit of a bummer, but that just goes to show how much it's an essential element of that film. I wish more films would take an example of that. I've also seen The New World (1.5*), a typical kind of Malick cheese I don't appreciate and Viridiana (1.0*). So far I've disliked most of Bunuel's films.
You are dead on accurate with regards to the music and soundtrack being interwoven and so critical to the film. It's the reason why I felt like I had seen the film before. And the last time I heard anything at all from that soundtrack was circa. 1999 so it shows how much some of that stuff hits the neurons and sticks forevermore.
OK, so I guess you agree with me on Malick, somewhat. "Cheese" wasn't exactly what I was thinking, but The New World definitely went in that direction for me.
I disagree with you completely on Bunuel, but that doesn't surprise me given the differences in some of our film tastes. Viridiana was not one of his most memorable for me though.

User avatar
sol
Donator
Posts: 8380
Joined: Feb 03, 2017
Location: Perth, WA, Australia
Contact:

#7

Post by sol » May 17th, 2020, 1:29 pm

peeptoad wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 12:23 pm
Hi sol. I've only seen two of yours this week, and from what you wrote about Julia's Eyes I think we agree more or less on that one. FWIW I found El Cuerpo (same writer, Oriol Paulo, who also directed) to be a bit better, but they are the same, general type of film. I have found a lot of similarities between the more recent (like last 15 years) Spanish thrillers. Not sure if this accurate or not, but they all have similar tone, look, and plot devices to me.
I liked The Shooting well enough, but it is a Hellman film with Oates and Nicholson, so I expected to like it. Might rewatch it next month since the details are vague.

Julia's Eyes (2010) 6
The Shooting (1966) 7

The Awful Dr. Orlof and [REC]2 are both on my watch list. I may not get to then this month though...have had a difficult time finding the REC sequels, for one thing.
That's interesting regarding the [REC] sequels, since they are among the few Spanish horror films readily available on DVD over here. I would approach the second film with caution, depending on how much you liked the first film. It almost all plays out like the duller second half of [REC], full of jump scares and boo-moments but with some tiresome exorcism stuff thrown in too. The film does at least expand on the mythology of the original film (which sort of rushed through the twists towards the end) and I guess the two films might work better back-to-back, but watching the second film only served to remind me of how superior the first half of the original film was. Oh, and it also served to remind me that possession horror films tend to fall back on mimicking The Exorcist when they have nothing new to add.

The Awful Dr. Orlof was interesting to watch as a pioneer Spanish horror film. It is not much of a horror movie (it is far more police procedural drama) with the title character absent from over half of the duration, but there is quite a bit atmosphere to the whole thing with lots of shadowy shots and well scouted interiors and exteriors.

Oh, I am familiar with Oriol Paulo. His The Invisible Guest (currently streaming on Netflix, at least over here) knocked me off my feet when I watched it at the start of the month. I actually have his Mirage next to watch in my Iberian watch-list and I have been trying to track down El Cuerpo, but it has never been released on DVD down here and it is not streaming on Netflix. Definitely interested in that one. As for Julia's Eyes, I totally get what I recall you saying a couple of weeks ago about it falling apart towards the end. Shame because so many earlier moments were so intense (the opening scene; in the locker room with the blind women).

Road to Nowhere was very cool, but none of Monte Hellman's twentieth century films have done much for me so far. Yeah, Oates is characteristically solid. Nicholson too, I guess, but is hard to judge since the best parts of The Shooting are when Nicholson is spying on them from a distance, never properly seen, really playing into the tale's paranoia aura. If you rewatch it, let me know what you think of the ending. I didn't quite "get it" myself.

Yours:

Pi was very cool at the time. Love paranoia films and this one had an amazing music score too. Aronofsky - not really a big director with me either. I did like both Pi and Requiem at the time, but much of his stuff since then seems a little up and down. His recent mother! though was pretty great. Excellent paranoia film a la Pi too.

I should rewatch some of those Buñuel films at some point. Viridinia is probably his second best for me from memory, though all that I recall off-hand is the Last Supper subversion and Fernando Rey's women's shoes fetish.

I have a hard time approaching directors like Malick whose ardent followers insist that his every film is a 10/10 masterpiece. Not seen The New World, but I really like Badlands and have seen it three or four times over the years. Knight of Cups is interesting as something more experimental. The Thin Red Line is also really good.

Onderhond wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 12:36 pm
@sol:
I liked [REC]2 (4.0*) a lot when I first saw. Haven't seen it since, but some other faux doc horror films I've rewatched haven't lost much of their charm, so I'm quite confident the score would still be the same. Los Ojos de Julia (3.5*) was nice, but a more typical Spanish horror film, which means it's very atmospheric, but also a bit overdramatic and not all that scary. Also like El Bar (3.5*), not sure how familiar you are with de la Iglesia, but Balada Triste de Trompeta and Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi are even better in my opinion. I've also seen Klaus, of which I liked the artstyle, the story and characters not so much. But I shouldn't have seen this with an English dub, especially not since the Spanish one was available.
Not surprised about you liking [REC]2 since you've said before that you value mood and style over storylines (or something to that effect). Personally speaking, I hate found footage horror films, I dislike exorcism scenes in general and I have never been big into boo-moments, so [REC]2 naturally did little for me.

I would describe Julia's Eyes as more unsettling than scary; those early scenes in which she realises that somebody has been watching her without her realising are pretty well done. Interesting concept too (is it possible to effectively make oneself invisible?) but yeah, the film definitely goes for melodrama towards the end.

The only other de la Iglesia film that I have seen is Day of the Beast, which I loved at the time (10+ years ago). Would like to see more from him, but they are not readily available to me. Curiously enough, I saw quite a bit of Beast in Bar despite only having vague memories of the earlier film.

IMDb reckons that Klaus was filmed in English. I didn't mind the voice performances (the Santa one felt spot-on) but gee, those characters and that annoying protagonist who of course has to find his redemption and prove his worth - all a little too generic for something trying to be a unique origin tale.

Yours:

I enjoyed The Hunger a lot at the time too - and it is probably my favourite Tony Scott film. Agreed about Good Boys being very worthwhile. I watched this one recently myself and really liked how the kid characters talked and acted like real kids. Somebody on iCM compared it to 'South Park', which I thought was very apt. Yeah, I, Tonya was reasonably fun at the time, though all the trailers that kept comparing it to Goodfellas toyed unfairly with my expectations. The Lost City of Z was okay but did not do a whole lot for me. I did like Phantasm though at the time. It was actually a film that I had for years searched for since the sequels were always in the horror VHS section when I went to rent movies, but never the original. Then I found out that over here the original was retitled The Never Dead. Would probably preference the director's John Dies at the End over it though.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
Image Image Image

User avatar
peeptoad
Posts: 1942
Joined: Feb 04, 2017
Contact:

#8

Post by peeptoad » May 17th, 2020, 1:46 pm

sol wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 1:29 pm

That's interesting regarding the [REC] sequels, since they are among the few Spanish horror films readily available on DVD over here.
I should have said "...short of buying them outright on dvd". This was one I had intended to get from the library (they nave all of them), which is now closed for the foreseeable future. They are available here for purchase, but the 2nd one is only on Prime stream for purchase at $12.99. No thanks. It's not a film ultra-high on my list anyhow.

User avatar
joachimt
Donator
Posts: 31471
Joined: Feb 16, 2012
Location: Netherlands
Contact:

#9

Post by joachimt » May 17th, 2020, 2:07 pm

Accident (1967, 3 official lists, 492 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI, but accidentally it was a movie I already planned to watch, because it used to be on TSPDT.
Gruppo di famiglia in un interno AKA Conversation Piece (1974, 3 official lists, 346 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Plex, but accidentally it was a movie I already planned to watch, because it used to be on TSPDT.
My Blueberry Nights (2007, 1 official list, 4020 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Salaam Bombay! (1988, 9 official lists, 954 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
The Southerner (1945, 2 official lists, 349 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Humain, trop humain AKA A Human Condition (1974, 1 official list, 152 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
La bande des quatre AKA The Gang of Four (1989, 1 official list, 117 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Mesto darované AKA A Town Presented to the Jews as a Gift by the Führer (1965, 1 official list, 32 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's an official short.
Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda AKA The Seventh Horse of the Sun (1992, 2 official lists, 97 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Thick as Thieves (2009, 0 official lists, 997 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a movie starring Morgan Freeman and available on Plex, but while I was watching the movie they pulled it down, so they forced me to download a copy to be able to finish the movie.
Death of a Prophet (1981, 0 official lists, 7 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a movie starring Morgan Freeman and available on Plex.
20 Million Miles to Earth AKA The Beast from Space (1957, 3 official lists, 1091 checks) 4/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Plex.
ICM-profile
Fergenaprido: "I find your OCD to be adorable, J"

User avatar
Onderhond
Posts: 3945
Joined: Dec 23, 2012
Contact:

#10

Post by Onderhond » May 17th, 2020, 8:33 pm

sol wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 1:29 pm
Not surprised about you liking [REC]2 since you've said before that you value mood and style over storylines (or something to that effect). Personally speaking, I hate found footage horror films, I dislike exorcism scenes in general and I have never been big into boo-moments, so [REC]2 naturally did little for me.
Oh yeah, if you don't like the found footage style, there's not much here. The whole genre is pretty basic I guess, with very simple and generic storylines. But to me it works as a more visceral experience, which is nice watching horror. It's rare for me to still feel tense/thrills while watching horror and at least some of these films still manage that, even though rarely for an entire film.
sol wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 1:29 pm
The only other de la Iglesia film that I have seen is Day of the Beast, which I loved at the time (10+ years ago). Would like to see more from him, but they are not readily available to me. Curiously enough, I saw quite a bit of Beast in Bar despite only having vague memories of the earlier film.
Hmmm, Balada Triste was pretty big, so I'm sure that shouldn't be too hard to find? It's true that his work isn't that easy to come by though, which is a shame because he's a really interesting director. The mix of quirky & genre just doesn't travel that well nowadays.
sol wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 1:29 pm
IMDb reckons that Klaus was filmed in English. I didn't mind the voice performances (the Santa one felt spot-on) but gee, those characters and that annoying protagonist who of course has to find his redemption and prove his worth - all a little too generic for something trying to be a unique origin tale.
Well, the director is Spanish, but since it was made for Netflix the "original" dub is English. I just don't think US dubs are very good in general. They do voice acting like they do silent comedies: too broad and loud, no subtlety or character whatsoever. When it's a true US production I usually stick with the original dub, otherwise I do my best to avoid them. With Klaus, I kinda forgot that the director is Spanish though, because Netflix is actually pretty good at providing different dubs.
sol wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 1:29 pm
Agreed about Good Boys being very worthwhile. I watched this one recently myself and really liked how the kid characters talked and acted like real kids. Somebody on iCM compared it to 'South Park', which I thought was very apt.
Well yeah, I got it from you :D I truly hate South Park though, so not sure where that comparison comes from?
sol wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 1:29 pm
I did like Phantasm though at the time. It was actually a film that I had for years searched for since the sequels were always in the horror VHS section when I went to rent movies, but never the original. Then I found out that over here the original was retitled The Never Dead. Would probably preference the director's John Dies at the End over it though.
Oh nice, didn't even see that was the same director. Definitely liked John Dies at the End better too, but Phantasm wasn't that bad. Already have the second one lined up. Noticed that it was late 80s, so I'm expecting a bit more.

User avatar
Perception de Ambiguity
Posts: 3681
Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Contact:

#11

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » May 17th, 2020, 9:20 pm

"The church of progress is the religion of the emotionally defective, the spiritually dyslexic, and the philosophically depraved."
- John Anthony West

Chronopolis (Piotr Kamler, 1982) 7/10

Sheitan / Satan (Kim Chapiron, 2006) 4/10

パコと魔法の絵本 / Paco and the Magical Book (中島哲也/Tetsuya Nakashima, 2008) 7/10

Comfort Stations (Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy, 2018) 8-/10

Gente Perra / Dog People (Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy, 2014) 8-/10
preShow
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
ImageImage
postShow
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Heliopolis Heliopolis (Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy, 2017) 8/10

Good Boys (Gene Stupnitsky, 2019) 4/10

Variations (Nathaniel Dorsky, 1998) (2nd viewing) 6-/10 (from 5)


shorts

The Boogeys (Sanjay F. Sharma, 2017) 3/10

Chanson de gestes (Guy Gilles, 1966) 8-/10

Another Occupation (Ken Jacobs, 2011) 7/10

14, Bina Garden (Teo Hernandez, 1968) 2/10

Le labyrinthe (Piotr Kamler, 1970) 6/10

Le trou / The Hole (Piotr Kamler, 1969) 4+/10

Потоп / The Spate / Potop (Иван Максимов/Ivan Maximov/Ivan Maksimov, 2004) 7/10

Дополнительные возможности Пятачка / The Additional Capabilities of the Snout / Dopolnitel'nye vozmozhnosti pyatachka (Иван Максимов/Ivan Maximov/Ivan Maksimov, 2008) (2nd viewing) 7-/10


music videos

Paradise Lost: No Hope In Sight (Lyric Video) (2015) (probable rewatch)
Paradise Lost: Ghosts (Lyric Video) (2020) (rewatch)


series

The Joe Rogan Experience - #852 - John Anthony West (2016) 7+/10

Magical Egypt - E02 - "The Old Kingdom and the Still Older Kingdom" (John Anthony West, 2001) 6/10

Magical Egypt - E03 - "Descent" (Chance Gardner, 2001) 7/10

Solar Opposites - S01E01 - "The Matter Transfer Array" (2020) 4/10

Solar Opposites - S01E02 - "The Unstable Grey Hole" (2020) 4/10

Solar Opposites - S01E07 - "Terry and Korvo Steal a Bear" (2020) 6/10


other

Joe Rogan: Live (Michael Blieden, 2006) 7/10


notable online media

top:
Trussell and Russell Cosmic Tussle | Russell Brand & Duncan Trussell
Based on actual events [by Brian Jordan Alvarez]
Eddie Bravo Looks Into It for 20 Minutes Straight (Compilation) [partly, for now]
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF BANGLADESH (most densely populated city in the world)
[YT channel "Brian Jordan Alvarez", "STUPID IDIOTS" series included]
Käptn Peng - Spaziergang
Bonsai: the Endless Ritual | Extraordinary Rituals | Earth Unplugged
rest:
[YT channel "DAVID LYNCH THEATER"]
The Sensual World of Claire Denis
Man Saves Wedding By Fainting and Peeing
Robert Gwisdek,Käpt'n Peng ( Ausschnitt aus :" BLIND & HÄSSLICH")
[various Joe Rogan Experience clips - Best of the Week, UFO, Ritual Magick, Striking Garbage Workers, swallows chewing tobacco, Obese People, Lazy Southerner, Slap Fighting, Weed with Tyson, Tyson's Return,...]
[various Mike Tyson fights]
Deepest Sleep Music 24/7 💤 | Sleep Music 528Hz | Miracle Tone Healing | Positive Energy Sleep [audio only, mostly asleep]


Image
Last edited by Perception de Ambiguity on May 18th, 2020, 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
dream realityImage
LETTERBOXD | MUBI | IMDb | tumblr.

User avatar
prodigalgodson
Posts: 195
Joined: Jul 30, 2011
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

#12

Post by prodigalgodson » May 17th, 2020, 10:08 pm

Closely Watched Trains (Jiri Menzel, 1966) 7/10

I knew this was a comedy; I was not expecting a Czech art house Superbad. That's not doing it justice though, this a solid one-of-a-kind take on young adulthood under the shadow of war. It's mostly told in still shots, which as a storytelling method requires masterful framing and editing; most of the time it succeeds admirably, with some of the frames just a bit off of perfection and some of the editing feeling slightly stilted. The fairly austere visuals can seem somewhat at odds with the horny adolescent comedy, but there is something sensual about the silky black and white photography (the Eastern European countryside is so evocative, and of course trains always make for beautiful visuals, especially, as it turns out, in the snow). And then there's a deeper, darker subtext to the rollicking goings-on -- train operators bemoaning the German treatment of cows and sheeps on the trains (presumably alluding to deported Jews), positioning the appeal of fascism in a perception of moral decay (embodied in the Hitler-stached station chief) -- that's starkly and suddenly brought to the surface in the legit amazing finale. The arrival of German tanks looms large in the protagonist's family history, and obviously in the collective conscience, and it's heartbreaking to think that less than two years after this was made a new wave of tanks would be rolling in from the other side of town.

All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, 1979) 8/10

I had a good feeling about this from the opening whirlwind of disorienting editing, and this Felliniesque deconstruction of an overworked director/choreographer's psyche remains a masterclass in editing throughout, with a corollary of great shot selection. The screenplay has flashes of brilliance and remains pretty damn sharp throughout, kind of a stepping stone between 8 1/2 and Bojack Horseman, barring some very 70s elements (the gay jokes, the smoking doctor, the bizarre sexualization of the lead's teenage daughter). I don't usually understand exactly what people mean when they use indulgent to describe a film, but this kind of flattering autobiographical psychoanalysis seems inherently self-indulgent -- Bob Fosse would've made a great rapper in another life. I also had no idea Roy Schneider was an actor of this caliber. There are surreal sequences theatrically acting out the protagonist's inner life throughout, but it doesn't become a full-fledged musical until about 3/4s through, and even then the numbers can be given a diagetic explanation as the lead's moribund hallucinations. I enjoyed this much more than I expected, partly I think thanks to the interest in dance I've developed since being with Yanti.

Pyaasa (Guru Dutt, 1957) 7/10

Finally, my first Bollywood flick. And there are some genre staples I'd expected from seeing excerpts: telenovela levels of melodrama, hokey characters, broad comic relief, and overbearing music cues. But juxtaposed to these are bitter dramatic irony and an acidic, cynical portrayal of human nature. The story follows a struggling poet involved in a love triangle with a romantic prostitute and a pragmatic ex-girlfriend who's now married to a publisher who functions as the primary antagonist amidst a sea of opportunism and corruption. It's one of the best-looking black and white films I've seen in a while, with a classically composed, appropriately poetic metropolitan aesthetic and noirish use of light and shadow. There are plenty of odd filmmaking choices, for better or for worse -- in addition to nutty plot contrivances that drag the protagonist through a series of unlikely miseries, there's a musical number about scalp massages and a fantasy romance sequence with the most excessive use of fog machines I may've ever seen. And the dour, self-pitying tone can be wearying after awhile. But overall it's a refreshingly despairing piece of social realism disguised as a lavish musical; pretty unique stuff.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001) 7/10

Hard to know what to say about this one -- a thoughtful, intentionally crafted film that doesn't appeal to my sensibilities much at all. Spielberg's stiff, overproduced Kubrick impression is pretty cringey, and his visual style, which doesn't appeal much to me on a good day, has never looked worse, with persistent blues and blown-out whites affecting a cheap facsimile of technological coldness. And maybe it's intentionally vague, but I don't have a sense of the parameters of David's (the robo-kid's) AI at all. In the opening it's posited that all that separates him from other mecha is the ability to love, but why this should give him a fully developed subconscious and imagination (including illogical beliefs like taking fairy tales for gospel), and emotions like fear and anger (others related to love like jealousy make sense) is not at all clear to me, and the parameters of his internal logic seem pretty inconsistent to me. But I do like philosophical sci-fi, and overall it feels like a wise look at humanity's technical progress outpacing its moral progression. The world-building feels organic, a few plot conveniences aside, and the character of the mother is one of the most three-dimensional characters Spielberg's ever portrayed, props to Frances O'Connor. Despite and perhaps because of feeling persistently unsettled in ways probably intentional and unintentional through the whole thing, I came away from it with the impression of a pretty solid film, about as good as it could've been given its script and director.

Short Cuts (Robert Altman, 1993) 9/10

The most LA movie ever made? Altman just gets the city at a molecular level, down to fundamentals of light and color. I wonder if even his trademark overlapping dialogue has its origin in Altman's adopted Californian roots, somehow it feels like a paradigmatically SoCal way of interpreting a scene. His use of diffused light and tracking zooms continues to be unparalleled. I'm usually not a big fan of anthology film, but much like Nashville this intertwining tableau, replete with stony associative segues between storylines, is an exception to the rule, playing all the generally quotidian portraits of human tragedy and comedy off each other to resonant cumulative effect. Also, Julianne Moore has to be the queen of 90s LA, between this, The Big Lebowski, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Safe.

Mississippi Mermaid (Francois Truffaut, 1969) 5/10

Truffaut uses noir genre trappings to explore the complexities of romantic love. The story twitches and plods along through a tropical island, mainland France, and finally the Swiss Alps, all captured with Truffaut's definitive lack of visual flair. I don't know how he made two such dynamic and vivacious films as Shoot the Piano Player and Jules and Jim in a row -- everything else I've seen from him has been rather inert and lackluster -- and lightning does not strike twice with his second Woolrich adaptation here. Belmondo is woefully miscast as an ambiguously willful naif, but Deneuve does a great job in a subversion of the femme fatale trope. It doesn't follow a traditional neo-noir path, but it's not a particularly interesting diversion either, barring a few intriguing nuances.

The Gentlemen (Guy Ritchie, 2020) 7/10

My kind of popcorn flick. Ritchie's a veteran craftsman at this point, and tweaks his formula for the times. Highly entertaining stuff, and if mature doesn't come to mind as an adjective, it's probably his most knowing.

User avatar
Lonewolf2003
Donator
Posts: 8557
Joined: Dec 29, 2012
Contact:

#13

Post by Lonewolf2003 » May 18th, 2020, 4:02 pm

What did I watch last week? Some westerns and a comedy.

My Darling Clementine (1946, John Ford)
rewatch: 7.8 > 8.0

The Last Wagon (1956, Delmer Daves)
: 6.0 - A social issue Western that fails to make it point; firstly by only half committing to its issue by making it's protagonist a white man turned Indian instead of a real Native American. And lastly by a ridiculous illogical ending. Which is too bad, cause the acting by Widmark, the directing by Daves and the action all aren't as bad.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957, John Sturges): 6.0 - A typical bigger production Western with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as the big stars. It's not particular bad or poor, just very bland.

The Bravados (1958, Henry King): 7.8 -A western that starts off very unoriginal, and honestly pretty poorly written; it keep the reason of the protagonist mysterious only to create mystery, instead of characters asking the logical question why he's interested to watch the hanging of these men. But it gets better and better when the movie casts more and more doubt on the correctness of Peck's hunt on these guys. Gregory Peck really sells both the starting stubbornness and realization of his faults. It reminded me very much of Boetticher's Decision at Sundown.

Weird Science (1985, John Hughes) : 6.8 - It's pure teenage boy fantasy and the science is absolutely ridiculous, but the movie fully embraces it nonsense which make for an entertaining watch.

High Noon (1952, Fred Zinnemann) rewatch: 7.5 > 8.0

Day of the Outlaw (1959, André De Toth) rewatch: 7.5 > 8.2 - A very good little winter Western with a great built up of suspense and well fleshed out characters.

How the West Was Won (1962, John Ford, George Marshall, Richard Thorpe and Henry Hathaway
): 6.2 - Because of the Cinerama aspect-ratio the scenery shots and actions scenes are way better than those with actors, who constantly have to be in the middle of the screen. Like Scorsese said about superheroes movies; this is more theme park ride than cinema. But it so gorgeous it makes you fall in love with the American landscape.

User avatar
prodigalgodson
Posts: 195
Joined: Jul 30, 2011
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

#14

Post by prodigalgodson » May 18th, 2020, 10:54 pm

Everyone else's

sol - digging this run of Westerns, though I haven't seen many this week
Joe Dakota - sounds up my alley, thanks for the rec
The Shooting 8 - I remember this trading the tension of the first half for artsy dread in the second, and liking the ending a lot, but don't recall many specifics
A Human Condition - sounds like a great idea for a short, though given how much I loved West of the Tracks recently, I might enjoy 75 minutes of it

hond
The Hunger - thanks for the rec, I tended to enjoy Scott's 2000s output
Birds of Prey 5 - moderately fun but my score reflects how many minutes it took me to forget it afterwards
The Lost City of Z 7 - pretty much agree

toad
Viridiana 6 - know it's a favorite for many, but doesn't stand out among Buñuel's filmography for me
The New World 10 - easily my favorite Malick and one of my favorite movies ever; I'm not generally his biggest fan, though I did think A Hidden Life was one of last year's best; regarding sol's point about his fans giving all his films 10s, I think he's one of those guys that has such a consistent vision that if it appeals to you you're gonna love most of his stuff

jt
My Blueberry Nights - kinda curious to watch this at some point
The Southerner 6 - I love Renoir, but wasn't too taken with this; it got better towards the end as I recall

pda
seen none again :(

wolf
My Darling Clementine 9 - one of the ultimate exemplars of Ford's technique
The Bravados - thought I'd seen this, I'll have to check it out
High Noon 6 - cool idea but hasn't aged too well
Day of the Outlaw 7 - liked the style a lot but found the ending underwhelming
How the West Was Won - will get around to this eventually

User avatar
sol
Donator
Posts: 8380
Joined: Feb 03, 2017
Location: Perth, WA, Australia
Contact:

#15

Post by sol » May 19th, 2020, 9:33 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
May 18th, 2020, 10:54 pm
sol - digging this run of Westerns, though I haven't seen many this week
Joe Dakota - sounds up my alley, thanks for the rec
The Shooting 8 - I remember this trading the tension of the first half for artsy dread in the second, and liking the ending a lot, but don't recall many specifics
A Human Condition - sounds like a great idea for a short, though given how much I loved West of the Tracks recently, I might enjoy 75 minutes of it
I don't know how many other big name westerns I have left to watch this month, but my watchlist is massive (over 100 titles). It was never a genre that I was too interested in growing up, but it has been really great catching up with some of the intense tales that filmmakers have managed to mount in the Old West setting.

Joe Dakota has been compared quite a bit to Bad Day at Black Rock, so that might an additional sell-point if you liked that one. I haven't seen the Spencer Tracy film recently enough to compare and contrast, but the whole premise is just fascinating for me and really well worked through.

I like your description of the second half of The Shooting, but I never honestly felt all that much dread myself. And that ending; gee, for something so often talked up, I really hated how inconclusive it is. I get that it is an existential western and all, but I don't think it would have hurt to have some explanation in some form at the end rather than a pretty random twist and leaving it to the viewer to guess character motivations.

A Human Condition is fine if you're into observational documentaries. It just doesn't do much more than that. It observes and draws a very obvious metaphorical significance to the title. Do not go in an expect something mind-blowing like Frederick Wiseman's observational documentaries; it probably works better with lower expectations and not knowing that the director of Zazie dans le Metro and Au Revoir les Enfants is behind it. But Malle always was uneven, I guess.

Yours:

You're doing a great job as usual watching films that I haven't seen in over a decade. :lol: Very vague on All That Jazz and Pyaasa, both of which I liked quite a bit. I didn't get too much out of AI the first time, but it is one that really jumped in my estimation upon revision. Nice to see a shout-out for Frances O'Connor; agreed about the performance and character being one of the best in Spielberg's oeuvre. Definitely a top 4 Spielberg film for me. Interesting to see you single out Julianne Moore in Short Cuts since Jack Lemmon was easily the MVP for me in that one. Solid ensemble piece, though not a top ten Altman film for me or anything, and I'd definitely peg it quite a few notches below Nashville, which is an all-time favourite.

I think you are selling Mississippi Mermaid short though; it is your only viewing that I have seen during the past ten years so I am less vague on it, though specifics are a bit challenging. Basically, I recall it being a very well crafted Hitchcockian thriller with an excellent Hermannesque score, and Truffaut's late 60s output is actually my favourite era for for him. Mermaid, The Bride Wore Black and Fahrenheit 451 are all top 4 Truffaut films in my books and I certainly got a lot more out of all them than Jules et Jim at the time. Nice to see a positive mention of Deneuve in Mermaid though. I do recall her being excellent.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
Image Image Image

User avatar
Onderhond
Posts: 3945
Joined: Dec 23, 2012
Contact:

#16

Post by Onderhond » May 19th, 2020, 11:55 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
May 18th, 2020, 10:54 pm
The Hunger - thanks for the rec, I tended to enjoy Scott's 2000s output
Well, there is a strong 80s vibe present of course, but not the typical synth/kids one you see in so many popular 80s horrors. I think you'll like it if you liked films like Domino or Man on Fire.
prodigalgodson wrote:
May 18th, 2020, 10:54 pm
Birds of Prey 5 - moderately fun but my score reflects how many minutes it took me to forget it afterwards
Oh definitely, which is why I have most superhero flicks between 0.5*-1.5*. And that's mostly because I've had to sit through to entire end credits sequence to see the final extra scene :p

User avatar
OldAle1
Donator
Posts: 4333
Joined: Feb 09, 2017
Location: Dairyland, USA
Contact:

#17

Post by OldAle1 » May 24th, 2020, 8:11 pm

Last bit of catching up...

This Film ROCKED
This Film SUCKED


I quattro dell'Ave Maria / Ace High (Giuseppe Colizzi, 1968)

This is more like it. After a string of just ok to mm, pretty good but still lacking something films in this genre, this month, we have a winner. Not quite AWESOME, not quite on the level of the best of the three Sergios, but still a pretty solid entry, thanks in no small part to American actors Eli Wallach and Brock Peters and their very enjoyable formation of an outlaw (but basically sorta kinda good guys) foursome with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, reprising their characters (or at least character names) Cat and Hutch from Dio perdona... Io no!, This I think is really the beginnings of what made Spencer & Hill successful and it certainly carries through to the two Trinity films which followed shortly after this. But it's the addition of Peters (in a significant, but supporting role) and Wallach (really the star) that bumps this up a few notches. Wallach is one of those guys who automatically improves any film he's in, and Peters and villain Kevin McCarthy (who's only in the last quarter of the film) add plenty of flavor as well. The story? Wallach is a criminally recently condemned to death who somehow contrives to rob a bank, kill the manager, escape, and then get away from bounty hunters Hill and Hutch, but eventually teaming up with them and circus acrobat Peters to pull a really big job on a casino run by cheater McCarthy. This is really an expert mix of comedy and western action, with only the single (albeit significant) flaw of overlength. Just one or two too many escapes and double crosses for my taste and at over 2 hours it gets to feel a wee bit repetitive.

Hooper (Hal Needham, 1978)

I acquired this, probably the best-known Burt Reynolds film I'd never seen, around the time he died, and intended to watch it as a tribute, but for whatever reason I just wasn't in the mood for crap at that moment - because of course a pretty large portion of Reynolds' well-known stuff was crap. Total crap. I'm not sure there's ever been a star as big whose output is so typically across-the-board poor. Maybe Adam Sandler. Of course a lot of it is a matter of taste, and those who like things like Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run will probably respond more positively to this dumb action-comedy about an aging stuntman (guess who) and the younger dude who comes along to supplant him (Jan-Michael Vincent). And this is far from the worst of Reynolds' (or director Needham's) output - the fact that it focuses on stuntmen, something ex-stuntman-director Needham was intimately familiar with gives it a little more authenticity than the typical Reynolds comedy, and the relationship between Reynolds and Vincent is actually done fairly well - there isn't the typical antagonist-then-buddy setup like we'd usually see. And the stunts and action sequences really are pretty good, and I'd forgotten just how nice Sally Field looked in short-shorts at this time (she doesn't have a lot to do acting-wise, unfortunately - she usually doesn't in her then-boyfriend's films; ending that relationship certainly was a good career move). But still it just isn't my kind of movie, isn't terribly funny (I'm not nearly as fond of drawn-out bar fights as many action-comedy lovers for one thing, and the gay jokes are pretty dated), and felt long even at about 100 minutes.

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (Roger Corman, 1967)

I think this puts me up to 30 Cormans seen - over the halfway mark now. Several unseen ones probably still qualify for the low ratings challenge, so maybe I'll finish him off this year. It's been a fun journey and I continue to be amazed at what he could do with the budgets he had, though this was clearly one of his more expensive films. It was shot on soundstages and back lots rather than in Chicago like Corman wanted to do it originally, and Jason Robards certainly doesn't seem like he was the likely first choice to play Al Capone - too old, too thin, not Italian (then again nearly all Capones have been too old - the real-life mobster was just 30 when the events of this film took place) - but it all comes together with Corman's typical no-nonsense efficiency into something pretty entertaining. Capone and Bugs Moran (Ralph Meeker in one of the better performances here) wage a war for control of the city in the late 1920s, culminating in Capone's decision to hit Moran at a garage on February 14th, while he himself is conveniently in Florida. It doesn't quite go as planned and Moran is spared, but the repercussions are felt throughout the crime and criminal justice worlds, and the US begins to take the gangster threat more seriously. This has a sort of docu-drama feel, particularly at the end when a portentous narrator intones variations on "and so Peter Gusenberg, on the last morning of his life" while we watch Moran's men get dressed, say goodbye to loved ones, and head out towards doom.

The Specialist (Luis Llosa, 1994)

Re-watch, maybe? I don't know, maybe I saw part of this on TV at some point. Anyway my 80s-90s action theme of the last few weeks continues with this mediocre Sylvester Stallone vehicle, in which he's called on by Sharon Stone to help her take revenge on the three men who killed her parents when she was a child, and protect her ultimately from the bad guy behind the scenes, James Woods - who was Stallone's ex-partner before Sly ditched the federal boys and went out on his own. This is a terribly silly film, with Stallone living in a massive high-tech apartment hidden next to a bridge in Miami, ginormous explosions all over the place, lots of neon, and Woods playing one of the more extreme versions of the typical Woods persona, so much that he's laughable - or would be if I didn't know he was basically the same scumbag in real life. Not terrible, and Stone is at her most beautiful and Sly at his most buff, so there's some enjoyment in the sex scene, and in the nice use of Miami locations. But overall very meh.

La collina degli stivali / Boot Hill (Giuseppe Colizzi, 1969)

Next year's Cat and Hutch follow-up, also with a trio of American stars (Woody Strode, Lionel Stander, Victor Buono), is unfortunately much less successful. While this is also billed as a comedy and Spencer and HIll are playing the same characters, it really doesn't have a lot of humor and it's overall fairly unpleasant, even depressing. It's also set largely in and around a travelling circus, and I"m not much of a circus fan (at least in movies) so that may be part of it for me. Strode is really good and is the heart of this film, as the acrobat who more or less manages things under owner Stander. Something here just didn't gel, and I started to forget about it almost immediately after finishing it. Meh.

Sylvia Scarlett (George Cukor, 1935)

TCM. This has been a priority viewing for me for a long time, mostly because of Jonathan Rosenbaum's rapturous writing about it, but also because I do really like or love all three of the later pairings of stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. And while I can't say after one viewing that I think it's the masterpiece that JR does, I do see some of the transgressive and original qualities that he so admires, and I gotta wonder what this film might have been had it been made a year or two earlier before the Production Code. Perhaps the not-so-subtle homoeroticism on display as regards Hepburn's boyish and boy-pretending role, and for that matter many of the other roles and performances in the film would have been rendered even less subtle; not sure how that would have worked. At any rate this story of a con-artist father (Edmund Gwenn) and daughter (Kate) teaming up with an obnoxious cockney thief (Grant) and eventually roaming the countryside and meeting the sophisticated Brian Aherne is full of odd twists and turns and mood changes that make it a bit hard to get your head around in just one viewing; like many of the best comedies from this era it assumes we're all able to follow it from slapstick to tragedy to romance and enjoy the whole ride. Not entirely sure I did, but there's enough there that I'll be back for another go at some point - hopefully with subtitles as even a native English-speaker like me found it impossible to keep up with a good chunk of the dialogue.

Road Agent (Lesley Selander, 1952)

I've seen just a handful of Tim Holt's many westerns. Like Allen Ladd he wasn't exactly physically prepossessing, but made quite a good career in tough masculine type roles, though never ascending to anywhere near Ladd's level of stardom, consigned almost entirely to the b-western with just a few exceptions like The Magnificent Ambersons and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. I don't know anything about the guy's offscreen life but he really seems to have aged a lot more than a decade in between his youthful Ambersons performance and this very middle-aged seeming typical cowpoke role. It doesn't help that the film in question is really week, a mixture of low comedy - often at the expense of slow-witted stereotypical "Mexican" sidekick Chito (Richard Martin) and fairly stupid plotting, involving cowpokes Tim (he goes by his real name here, something fairly common in these kinds of 1 hour westerns made for pocket change) and Chito having to pay a toll to pass by the ranch of the big cheese in the area, deciding they don't want to pay, and becoming Robin Hoods to give back the toll money to the other ranchers in the area. Really weak and silly.

Navy Seals (Lewis Teague, 1990)

Pretty much irredeemable rah-rah propaganda schlock, with Michael Biehn and Charlie Sheen leading a group of Seals against terrorists who've got a bunch of US (non-nuclear) missiles and are threatening yada yada yada yawn. Joanne Whalley (-Kilmer at the time) is along as a completely unnecessary bit of eye candy/ love interest, and Bill Paxton provides at least a little color as the sharpshooter of the outfit, Dana AKA God though he's not in it enough to bring this up even to "mediocre". Predictable, racist, stupid, and the action is just OK. I think in some ways this might be one of the parody influences on Hot Shots!, made the next year. The Delta Force does much the same story and is a lot more fun with it's rousing Alan Silvestri theme, and motorcycle-mounted rocket launchers.

Lara Croft Tom Raider: The Cradle of Life (Jan de Bont, 2003)

Tiresome sequel to the tiresome first film which I saw maybe 10 years ago and barely remember. Here we have my least-favorite variety of villain - the guy (Ciáran Hinds) who basically wants to destroy the world because he's a psycho; in this case the method of destruction is none other than the mythical Pandora's box itself which will unleash all manner of terrible plagues and evils on the world if found and opened. Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie, every bit as smirking and smug in this role as Tom Cruise is in the male equivalents) of course has to find it first and keep it away from him, with the help of unreliable Gerald Butler. Some OK action, some very badly dated CGI monsters, an entirely predictable and tiresome resolution.

¡Mátalo! / Kill Him! (Cesare Canivari, 1970)

Interesting and very highly stylized film involving a gang that holes up in a mysterious ghost town, apparently inhabited only by an old woman, after the (apparent) leader of the gang has been busted out of jail, murdered all the people who busted him out, then joined up with the other two scumbags, with loads of gold. There's also a beautiful young woman (Claudia Gravy), and a mysterious boomerang-wielding stranger (Lou Castel) and lots of other weirdness... at times this feels more like a gothic horror film, with a weird soundtrack by Mario Migliardi that doesn't bear much resemblance to the typical Morricone or his disciples, and more jarring uses of zooms and fast pans than we see in Leone. It's hard to say what it all adds up to, it's rather incoherent at times and has a certain drugged-out feeling to it, but it's certainly one of the more interesting genre films I've seen lately.

Cutthroat Island (Renny Harlin, 1995) (re-watch)

Second viewing. Did not see this when it came out; I was in the midst of my most anti-blockbuster phase, and the film, a notorious flop, probably didn't play for very long even in a big city like Chicago anyway. I'm fairly sure the first time I saw it actually was with a couple of friends on their (then very impressive) big TV in Minneapolis on the night of Y2K. And I rather enjoyed it though it didn't really stand out in any way. Given that this has been a month of disappointments, including several disappointing re-watches, I'm more happy than I should be to report that I liked this a little bit more this time around - because really, it's not that great a film. BUT it has some of the most impressive production design and FX for any film of this era - and very little of it is digital, you can definitely see where the massive $96 million (probably more than double that today) budget went. The story isn't anything special - Geena Davis is a pirate captain, daughter of a man betrayed by the film's adversary, Frank Langella, and along the way she teams up with thief Matthew Modine, and there's loads of action and betrayals and explosions. The acting isn't anything special though I can't join the several critics who single out Langella for being terrible - I thought he was perfectly fine in a role you can also imagine being played by Christopher Lee or Alan Rickman, the mustache-twirling villain who will kill his own man just for talking back. But you don't watch this for acting or story, you watch it for the visuals and they are really just about the peak for big-budget just-before-digital action. And that's enough.

Joko invoca Dio... e muori / Vengeance (Antonio Margheriti, 1968)

I fell in love with Margheriti a few years ago when I re-watched Il mondo di Yor - liking it much more than I had back in the 80s - and watched most of his 60s science fiction work, particularly the "Gamma Quadrilogy" from 1966-7. Margheriti, like so many Italian genre directors of the era, did whatever paid the bucks, but like many others he had his own interests and specialties - science fiction/fantasy in his case, just as the Sergios specialized in the western and Mario Bava in horror. And when most of these guys step outside of their comfort zones, the results usually aren't the best. Case in point - while this tale of (you guessed it) vengeance is competently told, and offers a nice hero in Richard Harrison, it's basic plot of a man out to kill the five men who are responsible for his brother's death (which opens the film and is definitely a highlight) is pretty old and tired, and one that needs somebody really committed to juice it up. This just doesn't cut it though it's watchable enough.

Joe l'implacabile / Dynamite Joe (Antonio Margheriti, 1967)

Significantly more entertaining, Margheriti's first western (of a half-dozen total) concerns, basically, a guy named Joe Ford whose trademark is his use of dynamite to save all of life's pesky problems, like bandits and basically just any old bad guy that most people would shoot. Joe it turns out is actually a US government agent, tasked with protecting a huge shipment of gold from raiders that have been plundering the mail and stage routes. Turns out (this should be no surprise) that one of the people he's working for is actually behind it all, and wants to set him up as the traitor. Lots of crossing-double-crossing, explosions, and some secret-spy-stuff as well - this has more than a little Wild Wild West or even James Bond flare to it - Margheriti also made quite a few Eurospy films starting around this time, so no surprises. American actor Rik Van Nutter (nope, I hadn't heard of him either), who spent nearly all of his career in Europe, is a charming lead here, and the film definitely gives the vibe of being part of or the beginning of a series, though it wasn't. Pretty cool overall.


BOOB TUBE

Frasier Season 4

4th or 5th run-through. Not necessarily an improvement on the excellent previous season, but certainly maintaining the same level. Niles gets closer and closer to Daphne, particularly in "Mixed Doubles" where she briefly dates his duplicate to hilarious and frustrating effect, and "Daphne Hates Sherry" where a hot night with no air conditioning and a Daphne who can't stand Marty's loud girlfriend almost make his wishes come true...Also the old-time radio parody, maybe the funniest episode of the season, and lots of other good stuff. This continues to be my favorite pick-me-up, something I seem to need a lot of now. Wonder what the show's psychiatrists would say bout that?

Post Reply