Here are some two sentence reviews of the movies I watched in May.
- Movies watched – 13
- Movies that were new to me – 4
- Sergio Leone films – 3
- Monthly Masterpieces – The Conversation, Man’s Favorite Sport, Fargo
- The Conversation (1974) – Brilliant, moody, slow-burn of a movie that is definitely going to warrant repeat viewings. I especially love that long, quiet, increasingly frantic final sequence.
- Fool’s Gold (2008) – A silly bit of fluff about a greasy himbo searching for sunken treasure in the Caribbean that is far more fun than it has any right to be. What more can I say but that this is the third time I’ve watched this, and it is just as enjoyable as the first.
- Man’s Favorite Sport (1964) – Late period Hawks, drawing on elements from his earlier screwball comedies (especially Bringing Up Baby), and showing that the master has lost none of his touch. Hudson is perfect as usual, the direction is effortless, and there are more than enough whacky mishaps to keep any screwball comedy fan thoroughly satisfied.
- Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) – Excellent gritty and realistic British drama about a hard drinking factory worker and the trouble his “fuck it” lifestyle gets him in. The excellent central performance really helps anchor this naturalistic (and, thankfully, never preachy) film.
- Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – Leone’s final western in the increasingly inaccurately named Dollars Trilogy, this seems like it could be the best of the bunch, but ultimately falls a bit short. Maybe it’s the slow middle section, maybe it bites off more thematically than it could chew, or maybe it’s just that it is never quite able to top the brilliance of the two jaw-dropping set pieces that open the film.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) – The ultimate expression of Leone’s style, it’s staggering to witness the sheer volume and quality of the set pieces in this film. Every single scene is memorable, the soundtrack one of the all time greats, and Eli Wallach’s performance even manages to steal the show.
- For a Few Dollars More (1965) – Great neo-western, full of plenty of nihilistic violence and stylized closeups. A little draggy in parts, but still highly recommended.
- Magic Mike (2012) – Sure, there’s a lot of skeevy dance sequences, but at its heart this is really just a sweet, expertly made romance film. For all the ups and downs in Soderbergh’s career, this is one of the good ones.
- The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) – Brilliant documentary of the 1980 LA punk scene that thankfully (in most cases) doesn’t skimp on the music. Watching this is like viewing a film about a ruined post apocalyptic earth, only it’s real.
- Triumph of the Will (1935) – A lot of masterfully edited sequences, even though it can get draggy as the many speeches get a bit samey at times. Still, this undeniably cinematic documentary is obviously made by a filmmaker who knows her filmmaking.
- O (2001) – Modern take on Othello (except in a high school, and with basketball) that plays everything very straight to excellent effect. Stiles is wonderful, as always, but Hartnett’s Iago is the real MVP here.
- Walk of Shame (2014) – I love “one crazy night” movies like this, but unfortunately this one has a few too many misfires to be considered even a moderate success. The performers (all of whom I like) are up to the task, but all too often the script is not.
- Fargo (1996) – Classic, elegaic ode to the failures of criminals, there is no doubt you are watching something special with this one. Brilliant cinema, everything works together so smoothly it will bum you out that other movies can’t be this good.