Here are some two sentence reviews of the movies I watched in November.
- Movies watched – 17
- Movies that were new to me – 8
- Percent rom coms. – almost 25%
- Monthly Masterpieces – Nosferatu, Kiss Me Deadly, The Long Goodbye, Dazed and Confused
- Blade Runner (1982) – Some like to claim that this film is merely a triumph of production design with little substance beyond that. And even though the ending is just kind of a boring action chase, I don’t think you can so easily write off a movie that has so firmly embedded the images of cyberpunk in the modern collective unconscious the way Blade Runner has.
- Save the Last Dance (2001) – If you can get past the sappy beginning and a few over-emphasized points, this is actually a pretty smart and complex film that doesn’t take the easy way out on any of its tough issues. Julia Stiles, is, of course, simply phenomenal (as always).
- The Tower Heist (2011) – Pretty average multiplex fare that is at least inoffensively watchable (if that counts as a good thing). Things pick up for the heist segment, but for a semi-comedy I only counted a couple actual laughs.
- Taking Woodstock (2009) – True story of how Woodstock happened based on the book by the title character. Really quite a charming film that manages to be all about the Woodstock Festival without ever actually seeing anyone play.
- Dazed and Confused (1993) – Even though I’ve seen this around 20 times, it is still an utterly engrossing piece of film making. Amazingly I’m still catching little details–like the Abe Lincoln poster in Tony’s class, the fact that Shavonne was talking about Jodi in the car, and the revelation that Pink’s belt is a pipe.
- I Was a Male War Bride (1949) – Though it is more an extended (and rather uptight) riff on coitus interruptus than a real comedy classic, this minor Hawks film is still agreeable enough. Though I don’t know whose bright idea it was to have Cary Grant play a Frenchman.
- Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008) – Cute documentary about an aging metal band that never quite hit the big time. Heavily influenced by Spinal Tap–which is a good thing aside from the minor problem of some of the situations feeling a bit staged.
- Blood Simple (1984) – One of the great directorial debuts, this is the usual Coen Brothers tale of a crime that just spins out of control. M. Emmett Walsh steals the show as the slimiest private eye of all time.
- Crimes of Fashion (2004) – Let’s get it out of the way that this is not a good movie, it is, in fact, a pile of shit. Still, Penny from The Big Bang Theory manages to hold things together with her charm (and, her legitimately excellent comic timing) despite the pratfalls, weak script, and a male romantic interest that is really trying to be John Cusack.
- The Long Goodbye (1973) – Though set in the modern day and featuring the bizarre choice of Elliot Gould as Philip Marlowe, this may be the most pure expression of what a private eye film should be. A masterpiece despite the single flaw of the totally out of character final scene.
- Incident at Loch Ness (2004) – Herzog gives a powerhouse performance as “himself” in this quite successful mockumentary. It maybe gets a bit silly towards the end, but overall the quality of the jokes is really quite high.
- Best Worst Movie (2009) – Kind of a “where are they now” for a group of people who acted in Troll 2, a film that has attained a sort of bad movie cult status. Unfortunately, aside from a few colorful personalities, the documentary is pretty superficial.
- Management (2008) – A very strange movie considering the protagonist is a brain-dead stalker. Thus it is an impressive feat that it actually feels sweet when it all works out in the end (even if it does take a few too many wandering digressions on the way there).
- Kiss Me Deadly (1955) – Brilliant “private eye” film that follows all the conventions of then genre and still feels 20 years ahead of its time anyway. Meeker is perfect as the brutal asshole you hate to admire, Mike Hammer.
- Nosferatu (1922) – A man and his wife squirm under the dark shadow of the animalistic Count Orlock in this high point (yes, in 1922) of the horror genre. For anyone complaining about a lack of naturalism in silent film, direct them to this movie.
- How Do You Know (2010) – A refreshingly uncliched romantic comedy, unfortunately, you are forced to choose between a stalker, a pig and whatever Reese Witherspoon’s character is going for as your romantic subjects. Admittedly, there are flashes of good stuff; for example, the rather brilliant hospital proposal scene.
- America’s Sweethearts (2001) – Everything is a bit too knowingly precious in this featherweight commentary on the Hollywood star factory that stars a rather unlikable John Cusack. Consequently, I found myself not caring if he gets together with Julia Roberts, who, for some reason, I don’t much like either.
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