Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fool's Views (4/1 – 5/31) (Part 1 of 2)

Howdy folks!

Ahem. So, here’s what happened.

During the month of April, I was either a) enjoying a trip to Alaska with my lovely bride to celebrate 10 years of wedded bliss (and setting foot in the long-elusive 5 th state in my U.S. travels – yeah, been to ’em all now), b) memorizing lines for The Woman in Black, c) rehearsing Woman in Black, or d) commuting back and forth between Chicago and Rockford, IL (where WIB was being performed at Artists’ Ensemble Theatre). As a result, I saw a grand total of five, count ’em, five films the entire month. Even so, I had plans to write up that quintet and get them posted....

Then May came along and I was still commuting back and forth doing the show on the weekends, but I also had free time to be, oh, WATCHING movies again and given the choice, I’d always rather be watching than scribbling. As a result, I let the month roll by, even as the last few days of it saw me traveling to Barcelona, Spain for another happy reunion with my Enlightened Warrior Training Camp family (and logging another four movies en route) and a glorious couple weeks of watching folks shatter their personal barriers and go to the next level of their lives.

But here we are, halfway through the month and on the eve of starting rehearsals for yet another show (The Hero’s Wife at 16th Street Theatre), and it occurred to me that unless I put fingers to keypad, another month would be in the rearview with naught to show for it. Considering the wealth of flickers that rolled by (including mini-fests of Steven Soderbergh and Kurt Russell), I thought it would be a shame not to try to get something on the boards. By no means do I consider this to be my finest hour of critical contemplation; instead, consider it a fella just jotting down a few notes and sharing them with friends – more the beginning of the conversation than the final word.

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



Baskin (2015) d. Evrenol, Can (Turkey) (1st viewing)

There was a whole lotta noise about this Turkish freakfest when it touched down on our shores a few years back. It was decidedly weird, I’ll give it that, though I don’t know that it was as original as it (or everyone else) thought it was. Points for casting the strangest-looking antagonist we’ve had in while.

The Bat (1959) d. Wilbur, Crane (USA) (2nd viewing)

Watched in honor of Vincent Price’s birthday (5/27), but I was pleasantly surprised/reminded of a what a fun little whodunit murder mystery it is. I’m genuinely curious to track down the original stage play now; since I’m on a roll with horror shows, maybe this can be my next gig!

The Canal (2014) d. Kavanaugh, Ivan (Ireland) (1st viewing)

Serviceable ghost story/slipping into madness yarn, and Hannah Hoekstra who plays Rupert Evan’s wife is quite the little number. The final moment packs an unexpected punch below the belt.

A Cure for Wellness (2016) d. Verbinski, Gore (USA) (1st viewing)

Sumptuously produced mad-doctor flick from the guy who gave us The Ring remake (and all those Pirates of the Caribbean movies), though the casting of a wildly unsympathetic Dane Dehaan in the lead role seriously hobbles matters and the 2+ hour running time doesn’t help.

47 Meters Down (2017) d. Roberts, Johannes (UK/USA) (1st viewing)

It ain’t The Shallows, but still manages to be a decent enough “chicks trapped in a shark cage and the oxygen is running out” flick.

Gerald's Game (2017) d. Flanagan, Mike (USA) (1st viewing)

Like Stephen King’s source novel, I found this to be a great high-concept dragged out far longer than it needed to be. Fine performances and direction, but GET ON WITH IT.

He Never Died (2015) d. Krawczyk, Jason (USA) (1st viewing)

Henry Rollins (who also exec produced) is perfection as an immortal so completely over his own existence, yet consistently caught up in trouble with hoodlums and thugs and forgotten children. Steven Ogg and Kate Greenhouse offer fantastic support respectively as a small-time kingpin and a frustrated waitress.

Life (2017) d. Espinosa, Daniel (USA) (1st viewing)

Big budget amorphous-alien-aboard-a-spaceship thrill-ride works surprisingly well, even if we’ve seen it all before, right down to the twist ending.


The Beguiled (2017) d. Coppola, Sophia (USA) (1st viewing)

Gorgeously realized remake of the Don Siegel/Clint Eastwood Southern gothic drama about a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) trapped in Confederate territory and taking refuge at a boarding school for young ladies. Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning are the ladies with eyes for the handsome stranger; whether they are willing to share creates the conflict.

Cosmopolis (2012) d. Cronenberg, David (Canada/France) (1st viewing)

Considering my affection for the director’s oeuvre, I’m surprised it took me as long as it did to finally catch up with this. That said, I found it an interesting diversion at best and fairly pretentious and preachy at worst.

The Foreigner (2017) d. Campbell, Martin (UK) (1st viewing)

Jackie Chan resurrects his inner badass as a grieving father hunting down the IRA terrorists who killed his daughter in a bombing, with excellent support from Pierce Brosnan as a politico who may or may not be involved. Probably the best work either has done in years. Kudos.

Justice League (2017) d. Snyder, Zack (USA) (1st viewing)

I didn’t hate it. Didn’t really love it either. It was on the flight home from Alaska. That’s all I got.

The Little Hours (2017) d. Baena, Jeff (Canada/USA) (1st viewing)

Hilarious and naughty and sexy and clever and weird and probably blasphemous and sexy and naughty and hilarious, with an amazing cadre of players perfectly cast. SEE THIS MOVIE.

Personal Shopper (2016) d. Assayas, Olivier (France) (1st viewing)

“Thinking person’s ghost story,” with Kristen Stewart tendering a sharply crafted performance in and out of her designer clothing.

Phantom Thread (2017) d. Anderson, Paul Thomas (USA) (1st viewing)

I’m not sure I ever really needed to see Daniel Day-Lewis play a fussy dressmaker. It’s a character unlike anything else he’s done before, so points for that, but soooooo hard to care. Anderson has not been pitching to my plate lately.

Unacknowledged (2017) d. Mazzola, Mike (USA) (1st viewing)

You always knew there were aliens and UFOs and there was a giant freaking cover-up and our government is not not not our friend and here’s all the evidence you need to become completely paranoid (which is not to say you were wrong to be paranoid) and spend the rest of the night with your head under the covers building your tinfoil helmet.

The Wolfpack (2015) d. Moselle, Crystal (USA) (1st viewing)

Documentary about a curious clan who never leave the house, spending their days recreating scenes from (or the entirety of) their favorite movies. Equal parts weirdness, human resilience, and tragedy.



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