Thursday, February 3, 2011
Fool's Views (1/10 – 1/16)
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I watched some movies. Here's what I thought about them.
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Landlord, The (2009) (3rd viewing) d. Hyde, Emil
The Chicagoland indie horror comedy is even funnier when dubbed into German, especially when viewed with a crowd in a Chicago/German pub.
Predators (2010) (1st viewing) d. Antal, Nimrod
So, having knocked out a revisit of the original on January 1, I felt appropriately prepped to take in this Robert Rodriguez-produced sequel that didn’t really burn up the screens last year during its theatrical run. As expected, it’s not terrible, but not awesome either, the very definition of “a rental.” Adrien Brody is buff as hell, but the awesomeness of Arnie remains impossible to top. Laurence Fishburne, on the other hand, has become a solid wall of flab – guy’s neck is two foot wide these days.
KRYPTIC ARMY JANUARY CHALLENGE: EDGAR ALLAN POE:
Evening of Edgar Allan Poe, An (1972) (1st viewing) d. Johnson, Kenneth
Not really a film so much as a recorded concert reading of Vincent Price at his Vincent Priceyest, tearing into four Poe short stories for the benefit of the camera on what seem to be leftover sets from a traveling production of OLIVER! The howling histrionics will either delight or dismay, depending on one’s temperament, not to mention Price’s puzzling pronunciations of words like “bosom” as “BOOOZUM.” But for those who enjoy the “Merchant of Menace” at his hammy best, Uncle Vincent slices it thick and serves it sizzling.
Pit and the Pendulum, The (1991) (1st viewing) d. Gordon, Stuart
Re-teaming with frequent screenwriter and partner in crime Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon whips up another blend of comic yuks and graphic yechs for the Band boys (Charles and Albert). But like most of Gordon’s horror comedies following the one-two punch of RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND, it’s fairly uneven in tone and never really seems to know what it wants to be. Unless what it wants to be is a harsh and cruel Inquisition story following Lance Henriksen’s deeply disturbed monk, armed with a sadistic streak and a serious yen for Rona de Ricci’s female form (and hey, who can blame the guy? Chick is hot, and occasionally naked…), who just happens to be surrounded by the biggest bunch of bozos this side of Ringling Bros. To the point, Henriksen, de Ricci and her onscreen beau Jonathan Fuller seem to be the only ones taking the story seriously, as the rest of the hooligan cast (including Stephen Lee, Tom Towles, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon , William J. Norris and Jeffrey Combs) mug and swan about the place. That lovable lush Oliver Reed even shows up for a cameo, only to be walled up a la Cask of Amontillado. Oh, yes, as far as this being a faithful Poe adaptation…not so much. There is a pit, and a pendulum (a really sharp, spark-throwing one, too), both of which figure mightily into the full-steam climax, but the rest is pure Paoli pudding.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) (1st viewing) d. Herzog, Werner
Not bad, but having heard that it was the perfect storm of over-the-top Nic-Caginess and Herzog-wild, my expectations may have been a little too high. I’d like to revisit the original bad-boy teaming of Keitel & Ferrara now. Been meaning to see this for ages and I’m glad I finally got around to it. This might finally be my Herzog year (I’ve got a ton of his stuff I’ve been meaning to see/revisit).
127 Hours (2010) (1st viewing) d. Boyle, Danny
What’s funny is that I would have preferred Boyle’s film about a guy with his arm trapped under a boulder to have been less kinetic, without all the hallucinations and flashbacks, etc. James Franco is fine, and much like CAST AWAY, one man shows tend to be Oscar bait. Haven’t yet seen Ryan Reynolds’ BURIED, but I’m wondering if he wasn’t as deserving in similar terrain.
True Grit (2010) (1st viewing) d. Coen, Joel/Coen Ethan
Seems everyone took a big ol’ bite o’ chaw and figgered they was gonna give us a rootin’ tootin’ dirty ol’ Western, with lotsa real smokehouse and rawhide flavah. It’s a good ‘un.
Man on Wire (2008) (1st viewing) d. Marsh, James
French guerilla performance artist stages the mind-blowing feat of high wire walking between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the early 70s. Winner of the Best Documentary Oscar.
This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006) (1st viewing) d. Dick, Kirby
Ever wonder who the MPAA, those who decide who should see what and how far is too far, exactly are? Or how they make said decisions? The answer, or lack thereof, is an exercise in frustration, but the documentary itself is feisty stuff.
JOHN HANCOCK TRIPLE FEATURE:
Bang the Drum Slowly (1973) (2nd viewing) d. Hancock, John D.
California Dreaming (1979) (1st viewing) d. Hancock, John D.
Suspended Animation (2001) (1st viewing) d. Hancock, John D.
In prepping for WildClaw’s screening of LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, I decided to dig into the writer/director’s CV a little deeper. While BANG is known primarily as the “one” in the one-two punch that introduced Robert DeNiro to the mainstream world (the latter being MEAN STREETS, released a few months later), it also features a superlative supporting cast and a sublime lead performance by Michael Moriarty. DREAMING pulls off a similar feat by introducing Dennis Christopher (who would headline BREAKING AWAY later that same year). The overall film lacks cohesion, but it gives viewers more than a few glances of a young bikinied Tanya Roberts. ANIMATION, Hancock’s last completed feature to date, has a surprisingly mean streak, even more surprising in that the director’s wife, Dorothy Tristan, scripted. Cannibalism, sadism, incest, genetic psychosis and snowmobiles all get their moment in the sun.
Seeing Double #2: THAT IS THE QUESTION
To Be or Not to Be (1942) (2nd viewing) d. Lubitsch, Ernst
To Be or Not to Be (1983) (1st viewing) d. Johnson, Alan
Lubitsch’s Nazi-mocking classic is about as picture perfect as could be, with Jack Benny and Carole Lombard (her final film) at the top of their form. By contrast, husband and wife team Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft (in their first feature together) give the story a much slapstickier approach, telegraphing jokes and making “improvements” that measurably diminish the comedic antics. Charles Durning got an Oscar nod for this?
2011 totals to date: 26 films, 18 1st time views, 10 horror, 1 cinema