Here are some two sentence reviews of the movies I watched in October.
- Movies watched – 27
- Movies that were new to me – 20
- Horror films. – 8 counting Detour
- Monthly Masterpieces – The Old Dark House, The 39 Steps
- Gaslight (1944) – Great psychological drama where the villainous Boyer attempts to drive his wife insane to steal jewels hidden in her house. I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t give up the game so soon, but part of the fun is rooting against the evil scoundrel that Bergman’s character married.
- The Wolfman (1941) – Nice little horror film that, according to imdb, pretty much single-handedly invented the idea of the werewolf as we know it today. It is just too bad Lon Chaney Jr. is such a doofus of a leading man.
- The Old Dark House (1932) – Probably Whale’s greatest film, a macabre, funny, creepy film that just improves on each viewing. Saul Femm, the brother that is locked away in the house could have easily made my Top Five Movie Villains of All Time list.
- Breadcrumbs (2011) – I watched this one with the sound off at a party and still was able to understand everything. Everything that is except for where the villains in these slasher films seem to get their super powers.
- The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) – A strange combination of Shaw brothers’ kung fu and Hammer horror, this actually works pretty well. I wasn’t much impressed with the martial arts battles, but the film is fun enough.
- Troll 2 (1990) – I don’t really get why people love to watch bad movies, so I guess I am not really the target audience here. For me this was a complete waste of time that could have been spent spent watching a shitty rom com instead.
- Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009) – Harmless film about an estranged couple forced to spend time together in rural America. Possibly enjoyable if you can turn off that part of your brain that notices just how manufactured the stereotypes they are mine here are.
- Killer’s Kiss (1955) – The story isn’t anything special, but the cinematography and action scenes are impressively mounted. The final mannequin factory fight is especially brilliant.
- Detour (1945) – The coincidences of the script don’t really matter when you consider that this film is really just one long horrifying nightmare for its pathetic protagonist. One of the most sour films of all time.
- Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960) – This starts out as a somewhat strange, but lightly enjoyable family comedy. Sadly, the film then decides to focus on Doris Day’s relationship with her douchebag husband David Niven and just gets preachier and preachier until the end.
- Battle Los Angeles (2011) – This strictly adheres to the tropes of the war film genre, and is a better film because of it. Don’t get me wrong, the shaky cam makes 50% of it incomprehensible, the script is laughably cliched both in plotting and dialog and the science is ridiculous…but as the kind of armed forces propaganda that all good war films are, it really works pretty well.
- Red Desert (1964) – A woman’s alienation from the world causes her decent into madness…you know the drill. I’d say take a pass if that kind of thing doesn’t get you too excited were it not for the fact that this contains some jaw-droppingly amazing images and some of Antonioni’s best scenes of alienation.
- The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006) – Philosopher and psychoanalyst Zizek takes the viewer on an expertly crafted journey into (literally) a whole slew of famous films to see what they really mean. A bit eye rolling in places (and, like most things that try to read films this way, a bit too heavy on the Hitchcock and Lynch to make a compelling case for ALL films), but there are some impressive insights to be found here as well.
- Le Jour se Leve (1939) – A murder is committed and then the murderer flashes back to how it all happened as the noose of cops surrounds his apartment. Pretty depressingly fatalistic stuff, and if I’m going to have to have “depressingly fatalistic” I’d prefer the heist films this movie influenced rather than the more street level crime depicted here.
- The Prowler (1951) – Nasty little film about a bad dude and the woman he has in his clutches. Tight direction and a nice little script that builds to a great climax out in the desert give it a considerable boost.
- Fallen Angel (1945) – Great Preminger noir that is full of dark shadows and darker characters. I’m not sure who is better, Andrews as the no-good man, Darnell as the no-good woman or Bickford as the no-good cop.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) – I hear this get talked up as “dark” quite a lot, but it seems like just another movie aimed at a preteen audience to me. Maybe that isn’t fair, at the very least this is (to borrow from something I read in the Time Out film guide once) a movie aimed at European preteens instead of American ones.
- The Terminator (1984) – I tend to hate slasher horror films, so it is a testament to how well Cameron handles the action scenes in this one that I like this as much as I do. Of course the ridiculously charismatic Arnold doesn’t hurt either.
- Lover Come Back (1961) – Classic Day/Hudson vehicle that finds Rock trying to market a product that doesn’t exist and, as usual, tricking Doris into wanting to do him. Also as usual, the only flaw is that he really doesn’t give the viewer much reason to want Doris to like him aside from his excellent comic timing.
- What’s Your Number (2011) – I like everyone involved, it is just too bad the script isn’t more clever. Not that there aren’t good jokes to be found, but too many seem to be trying too hard to be “edgy and raunchy” to really work.
- Alien³ (1992) – This has some nice touches but the weak script makes it pretty unmemorable. Weaver is as commanding a presence as always, but this has nothing on the first two.
- The Accidental Husband (2008) – One of those rom coms where the motivation for the two main characters to get together remains a mystery to me. In theory I like all the leads, but things have a really tough time gelling in this one.
- The 39 Steps (1935) – Fantastic Hitchcock chase film that throws in everything from the kitchen sink to the farmer’s wife. That the overall plot hardly matters, well, hardly matters, because films like this are what cinema is all about.
- 50/50 (2011) – Like most of the Apatow style bromedies, this is really quite funny and is done well enough that it isn’t even so bad that the script follows the “Very Important Movie About Cancer” playbook a bit too closely for my taste. Also, Anna Kendrick is once again quite excellent, and makes up for the fact that Seth Rogen’s pig of a character is not nearly as deep-down loveable as the movie wants you to believe.
- Dead Man (1995) – This tale of Johnny Depp wandering around a surreal western dream world is probably a striking allegory for something. But, unfortunately the string of quirky guest stars and encounters make it inevitable that you will end up checking your watch by the end.
- Reign of Terror (1949) – A French Revolution adventure/chase film in the style of something like The 39 Steps. The film moves like a freight train, and the John Alton expressionist cinematography is a wonder to behold.
- Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009) – This turned out to have a much broader sense of humor than I was expecting, which, when you combine it with the all around horribleness of the main character, there isn’t much to like. Luckily Isla Fischer’s impressive charisma makes the whole thing just barely worth watching anyway.