Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fool's Views (12/16 – 12/31)

So long, farewell, adios, auf weinerschnitzel...

And so 2013 comes to a close, but we managed to get some flicks watched in the final lap, pushing up over the 300+ mark. Next, the annual year-end extravaganza, so stay tuned!!!

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth - we'll make sure you get some change back.



Big Bad Wolves (2012) d. Kashales, Aharon / Papushado, Navot (Israel) (1st viewing)

I’ve been asked to hold my full review until the film is officially released January 17, but I can say that Kashales and Papushado’s follow-up to Rabies (one of my faves from last year) is a superb thriller that only stumbles when it gets a case of the cutes. Trying to ape Tarantino, we are subjected to a huge plot contrivance whose only purpose is to provide a bouncy Buddy Holly tune opposite grim onscreen action.


Candyman (1992) d. Rose, Bernard (USA) (3rd viewing)


Evil Dead (2013) d. Alvarez, Fede (USA) (2nd viewing)

Revisited this one to see if it would hold up outside SXSW’s festival setting. It’s got issues, but it’s still pretty darn entertaining.


Here Comes the Devil (2012) d. Bogliano, Adrian Garcia (Mexico/USA) (1st viewing)


Seduction, The (1982) d. Schmoeller, David (USA) (2nd viewing)



Animal Kingdom (2010) d. Michod, David (Australia) (1st viewing)

This glimpse into a low-tier crime family from Down Under is filled with dozens of quiet moments and even quieter menace. Jacki Weaver, in the breakout role that brought her international attention, is the sweet mother of a family of nogoodniks, but when the chips are down, she’s as lethal with a raised eyebrow as any goon’s baseball bat.

Harlan County U.S.A. (1976) d. Kopple, Barbara (USA) (1st viewing)

Oscar-winning documentary about a group of East Kentucky coal miners striking for decent wages and safety regulations, battling the coal companies, a corrupt union, and heartbreaking poverty. Recognized as one of the finest docs ever made and it’s hard to disagree.

Outlaw, The (1943) d. Hughes, Howard (USA) (1st viewing)

Extremely enjoyable and notoriously racy western produced and directed by the eccentric billionaire (with some uncredited assistance from Howard Hawks) is remembered most for Jane Russell’s heaving bosoms and artfully parted lips, but Jules Furthman’s economical script (which likely benefited from a polish by Ben Hecht) provides Jack Beutel, Walter Huston, and Thomas Mitchell (as Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and Doc Holliday) with some splendid repartee.

Raze (2013) d. Waller, Josh C. (USA) (1st viewing)

90 minutes of chick fights...ready, steady, go!


Stoker (2013) d. Park, Chan-wook (UK/USA) (1st viewing)

Many of my blood brothers-and-sisters-in-arms shoehorned this onto their “Best of 2013 Horror” year-end lists, and while I agree that the South Korean director’s English-language debut is dark and moody, with startling bursts of violence, I just can’t quite bring myself to put it on this side of the genre fence. It is, however, a superb twisted family drama, a suspenseful thriller, an artfully composed homage to Shadow of a Doubt, and a stunning exercise in style that will undoubtedly appeal to art house fright fans.

Van Nuys Blvd. (1979) d. Sachs, William (USA) (1st viewing)

I had no idea that there even was a “vansploitation” cinema subgenre. But apparently there was and, according to fellow cinephile Jason Coffman, this is the best of the lot. Directed by Sachs (who had given us The Incredible Melting Man just couple years earlier), this send-up of American Graffiti throws everything in the mix from hot chicks to ridiculous fashion choices to hilarious dance moves to outrageous automobiles. Rough edges all around, but never a dull moment.

Zombie Hamlet (2012) d. Murlowski, John (USA) (1st viewing)

When is a zombie movie not a zombie movie? When it’s a comedy about the making of a zombie movie. WAH-WAH.



American Hustle (2013) d. Russell, David O. (USA) (1st viewing)

Russell’s appropriating of Goodfellas’ aesthetics for his epic 70s caper flick is one thing, but watching a whole bunch of A-list Actors Acting really, really hard gets exhausting after a while. Like, wow, watch us Act. Do you see this costume I'm wearing? And this accent I'm doing? And this hairstyle I'm rocking? I mean, this is ACTING.

August: Osage County (2013) d. Wells, John (USA) (1st viewing)

The screen version of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a smorgasbord of familial dysfunction, putting everything from drug addiction to incest on the docket following the disappearance of an Oklahoma patriarch. Terrific ensemble work from an all-star cast, though it's been reported that much of the juice of the stage production gets lost in translation.  (I've only seen the film.)

Dallas Buyers Club (2013) d. Vallee, Jean-Marc (USA) (1st viewing)

Matthew McConaughey continues his renewed hot streak begun with 2011’s The Lincoln Lawyer, playing Texas hustler Ron Woodruff who, after contracting HIV in 1985 and finding little help from Big Corporate Medicine, led the charge in finding alternative methods of treating the disease as well as providing said methods to a frustrated and terrified public. An equally inspiring and infuriating true story.

2013 Totals: 306 films, 240 1st time views, 185 horror, 69 cinema

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