Short thoughts on everything else I watched last month.
Knife in the Water (1962) and rewatch of Rosemary’s Baby (1968), will do a roundup after watching some more early Polanski.
Southpaw (2015) good boxing melodrama, surprisingly unsentimental for all the tragedy and loss, liked Jake Gyllenhaal’s transformation for this, and the work his character does relearning discipline and focusing his anger. Good, not cutesy, scenes with the actress who plays his little girl. Wish Rachel McAdams had more to do, and interested to see how it compares to Creed.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), I confess I got bored and quit halfway through, but friends with good taste urge me to give it another shot. Feel free to add your thoughts.
Man of Tai Chi (2013), Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut, plays a reclusive and ruthless tycoon whose international pay per view Truman Show-style fight club is broken up once his latest star finds his way back from corruption by money and anger. Not totally successful but a cool concept with great and nicely varied fight choreography.
Return to Sender (2015) Rosamund Pike as a rape victim out for revenge, sounded promising, but bland waste of a good cast.
The Transporter Refueled (2015) nice-looking but insipid, made me miss Jason Statham and the previous movies’ outlandish action.
The Battery (2012) super-low-budget original look at boredom and loneliness of baseball buddies in a post-zombie-apocalypse world. Like The Last Man on Earth, it’s always “another day to live through” with dull routines, growing tension, and finally doom brought by the desire for companionship with other humans.
Taffin (1988) Pierce Brosnan as an intellectual debt collector who battles crooked developers. Fun action, classic western plot in Ireland with glorious 80s hair/fashion, and a bizarre, shouted line reading for the ages: see it here. Thanks to thejamesbondsocialmediaproject.com for putting this on my radar.
The Presidio (1988) routine buddy-lawmen thriller complicated by old grudges and over-the-top bombshell Meg Ryan. Some great scenes between Sean Connery and Jack Warden. Best part for me was Connery using only his thumb to beat up a bully and destroy an entire bar.
Vanilla Sky (2001), aggressive mind-bender about vanity and the search for happiness. Deft and visually impressive but underwhelming, and apart from the sci fi twist explanation, provides thin motivations for the obsessions of Tom Cruise’s character. Cameron Diaz was great with her psycho breakdown. Interested in seeing the original Spanish film.
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)…from some colossally intrusive boundary-violators. Witchy Alexis Smith bullies little Jodie Foster, who’s trying to keep her loner life secret while fending off Smith’s notoriously pervy son Martin Sheen. Canny, supremely patient and steely Foster stands up to their attacks until she can sweep threats under her heavy cellar door. Helpful aspiring-magician friend is a good way to coax backstory out of Foster, who shows in that great final scene that she knew very well it was poison all along.
Fantastic Four (2015), Marvel’s first family of bold, optimistic explorers, still in search of a decent movie adaptation. The YA angle, casting, and the first half were all ok, even promising, but studio tinkering just made this a joyless mess. Too bad this is a generation’s intro to the FF.
Had a De Palma triple feature with Sisters (1973), Obsession (1976), The Fury (1978), more to come on those, then I rewatched his Mission: Impossible (1996) and ended up spending a weekend watching sequels 2-4. Ghost Protocol, which I liked better (and II less) on rewatch, has that neat garage battle and the skyscraper climb with its failing sticky-hand gadgets and epic urban Tarzan swing back into the open window. Jeremy Renner’s a bit of a drag though. The third movie’s got that good Vatican sequence and a personal mission for Ethan. Love the first one’s classic thriller feel, and the way De Palma fills in the truth of the disastrous mission via explanation and then mental review. The CIA break-in still thrills, and now that I’ve seen De Palma’s amazing Femme Fatale it was fun to spot everything those two films have in common.
The New York Ripper (1982) I like polizittescchi and Italian horror, so it’s high time I try some giallo. After listening to this Wrong Reel podcast episode, a crash course on the genre’s elaborate killings, voyeurism and artful, excessive violence, I naturally went straight for the one with the Donald Duck-voiced slasher. Minimalist, not so much plot or character development but enough to set up a mystery with a few good suspects, follow some (mostly naughty) victims to their gory demises (one is especially graphic), and provide a good twist ending. Made up a watch list of more gialli to see.
Movies I posted on in May:
- Whiplash (1948), The System (1953)
- The Outriders (1950), Saddle Tramp (1950)
- The Big Parade (1925)
- The Battle at Apache Pass (1952), Five Guns West (1955), The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958)
- The Outfit (1973), Defiance (1980), Best Seller (1987)
- 3 More Joel McCrea Westerns
- 3 Joel McCrea Westerns
- Pleasure Cruise (1933) & Double Harness (1933)
- 3 Basil Dearden Films
Year to date: 219 films