Sunday, February 5, 2023

Fool's Views (1/1 – 1/31)

I know, right? Who the holy heck is this?

Yup, giving this another go, after two years of lax and laze. The intention is that it’s going to be a bit more freewheeling and fun, with less self-imposed pressure to deliver the game-winning pass every time. Instead, we’re going to run this ball down the field yard by ever-loving yard and that’s about it for the sports metaphors.

We started off the year with a smattering of old and new in many regards, with the current prestige pics mixing with the 1970s schlock, amply supplemented with a nosh of noir. In other words, it’s business as usual around the Doc’s office, and we hope you enjoy the buffet.

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



Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) d. Argento, Dario (Italy) (3rd viewing)



The Monster (2016) d. Bertino, Bryan (Canada) (1st viewing)

Been meaning to catch up with this for a while, but after discovering Bertino’s latest effort, The Dark and the Wicked (which landed in my Top 10 for last year), I knew I wanted to swing back around and check it out. Luckily, Redbox had it streaming for free, so that was quite easily managed (despite the fact that they are lousy with ads every 10 minutes). The concept is simplicity itself: a young mother and daughter are ending their troubled relationship by taking the latter to live with her father, only their car breaks down en route in a deserted wooded area where there resides – wait for it – a monster that is a lean, mean, eating machine. While they hide out in their car, tow truck drivers and paramedics get munched, because we can’t very well have our two main characters get consumed because where would the movie be then? The creature design is quite awesome, as are the practical blood effects, and while the flashback-laden screenplay (also by Bertino) feels a little padded, it manages to keep things afloat. Worth checking out.

Theater of Blood (1973) d. Hickox, Douglas (UK) (7th viewing)



The Wicker Man (2006) d. Labute, Neil (USA) (2nd viewing)

When this atrocity first emerged back in the mid-aughts, I was affronted and appalled that Nicolas Cage and Labute would so violently put their own stamp on this cult classic as to make it laughable. Now, with Cage having jumped the shark 9-10 times back and forth, it’s somehow less tragic. Listening to the commentary with Labute, it seems like he really thought he was making a good movie, which is weird, and it also seems like Cage (who also produced) was responsible for many of the out-there choices. Ah, well.


Doomsday (2008) d. Marshall, Neil (UK/USA) (2nd viewing)

Similarly, I saw this back in the day and found it wanting, especially from the guy who had blown my socks off with Dog Soldiers and The Descent. Nowadays, I think I understand the joke a little better, that the reason it feels like a mash-up of every B-movie ever made in the '80s and '90s is because that’s what Marshall was going for. It’s cheap and ridiculous and that was the point. I still wish it was a bit more fun and/or transcendent, but there are some decent action sequences amidst the cliched acting choices and dumb-dumb lines.

Takeru Yamato (aka Orochi the 8-Headed Dragon) (1994) d. Okawara, Takao (Japan) (1st viewing)

This was a big teaser because in spite of the fact that there is an 8-headed kaiju which is AWESOME to behold, it doesn’t show up until the last 10 minutes. The rest of the time it’s a pretty solid fantasy adventure flick with some swordplay and kung fu. Seriously, though, we came for the dragon.


Casino Royale (2006) d. Campbell, Martin (UK/USA) (4th viewing)

Kicked off 2023 with some comfort food. Nothing more or less. Much like the Brosnan era, the first Craig was the best.

Pig (2021) d. Sarnoski, Michael (USA) (1st viewing)

Ended the year with a mini Nicolas Cage fest, so this was just an extension of that, catching up with a few select titles I’d heard good things about. This delivered. Very surprising arc that never goes where you think it’s going, with a restrained Cage buried beneath a giant beard and an increasing number of head wounds.

RBG (2018) d. Cohen, Julie / West, Betsy (USA) (1st viewing)

Terrific documentary about the Supreme Court Justice who made dissenting a gesture of national integrity.

Shoplifters (2018) d. Koreeda, Hirokazu (Japan) (1st viewing)

Winner of the Palme d’Or, this marvelous yarn about a makeshift modern family has many moments of humanity and beauty.

Silent Running (1971) d. Trumbull, Douglas (USA) (3rd viewing)

Sci-fi classic with Bruce Dern saving the trees in space, set to the tunes of Peter Schickle and Joan Baez. Only in the '70s, folks.

They Only Kill Their Masters (1972) d. Goldstone, James (USA) (1st viewing)

Speaking of which, remember that brief moment in the 1970s when there was a spate of Doberman exploitation flicks? Well, this wasn’t one of them, but they were happy to cash in on the craze by sticking their canine star on the poster with James Garner. It’s a fairly straightforward murder mystery with a crazy supporting cast of former Hollywood stars all picking up a paycheck in a movie that’s been understandably forgotten.


Ad Astra (2019) d. Gray, James (USA) (1st viewing)

First Man (2018) d. Chazelle, Damien (USA) (1st viewing)

Both of these seemed to come and go, despite their star power (hahaha), one being a docudrama about Neil Armstrong’s journey to becoming the first man on the moon (thanks, it seems, to his ability to shut off his emotions), the other being a fantasy about an astronaut traveling to Neptune to track down his renegade father (thanks, it seems, to his ability to shut off his emotions). No room for big feelings in space. However, there is always room for space monkeys.


Joe (1970) d. Avildsen, John G. (USA) (1st viewing)

Joe (2014) d. Green, David Gordon (USA) (1st viewing)

The aforementioned Nic Cage fest led me to Green’s hard-hitting drama, which delivers all the notes that PIG does not, complete with anti-heroic showdown as climax. This is not a bad thing, by the way. Meanwhile, I finally worked up the gumption to check out Peter Boyle’s breakout role as a racist conservative who is down on the youth generation and up on the upper crust businessman who accidentally bumps one off. Goofy and melodramatic, with an ending that is equal parts surprising and inevitable.


The Hot Spot (1990) d. Hopper, Dennis (USA) (1st viewing)

Kill Me Again (1989) d. Dahl, John (USA) (1st viewing)

Phantom Lady (1944) d. Siodmak, Robert (USA) (1st viewing)

So Dark the Night (1946) d. Lewis, Joseph H. (USA) (1st viewing)

How’s this for a quartet of lesser-known crowd-pleasers? Each has its secret pleasures that come out of nowhere, so I won’t say anything more except check ’em out.


The Fabelmans (2022) d. Spielberg, Steven (USA) (1st viewing)

It’s fine. What it’s doing with all the nominations, I have no idea.

The Whale (2022) d. Aronofsky, Darren (USA) (1st viewing)

Brendan Fraser gives a great performance in a film that can’t transcend the melodrama and monologues of its stage origins. Also, any accusations of fat-shaming are entirely justified, because in this film, it’s the absolute worst thing you can be.

Women Talking (2022) d. Polley, Sarah (USA) (1st viewing)

I respect what Polley is doing here. I don’t know that it works as a dramatic whole. I’d honestly rather see a straightforward documentary, especially one that discusses what happened after the closing credits.

23 Total Films, 17 First Time Views, 4 Horror, 0 Cinema


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