May Film Diary


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 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:

Year to date: 219 films


12 thoughts on “May Film Diary”

  1. That’s interesting that The Man From UNCLE dragged for you. I know people who are obsessed with this movie, but I have often been unimpressed after receiving similar recommendations, so who knows what I’ll think. Anyway, I actually have the disc and was planning to watch it tonight. Now I’m super curious to check it out!

    1. It could just be that I had a bad day and needed something different, I’m always open to giving things another go when that’s the case. In the meantime I’m interested to see how you feel about it!

      1. Went it to it with low expectations, came away pleasantly surprised. Two thoughts: A lot of it was about the score, for me, which is a brilliant mix of periods and genres. I could watch this movie with my eyes closed.
        Two: If you didn’t burst into hysterical laughter at the line, “We don’t pay you enough to put truffles on your risotto,” you probably are going to miss most of the jokes. I’d say don’t even bother giving it a second chance in that case.

        1. Yeah that was a good line, and the music (so far as I stuck with it) was good. One of these days I’ll put it on again and start fresh.

  2. You have to check out Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac if you’ve never seen it. Man from Grandma’s Son left me cold, but I liked the soundtrack more than the film. Also, Arrow Video has a NICE set of gialli coming to add to the lovely stuff they’ve put out to date. I’ll post something in a few days and shoot over a link.

    1. I’m getting my giallis! I have Deep Red here to watch next, made my list of the best known ones, but any and all suggestions are welcome, thanks! Have not seen Cul-de-Sac nor The Tenant so I’ll check both out. Saw most of his later stuff but after Fearless Vampire Killers I decided to catch up on the early ones. With Man (nice title there btw) I think my big obstacle is that Henry Cavill, however great looking, is just dullsville to me.

      1. Yeah, Cavill is a handsome hunk… of stone, lol. And yes, The Tenant is awesome. Goes quite well with Repulsion. Anyway, what’s on your gialli list so far? I don’t want to send you a list of films you already have queued up.

        1. I’ll try to find: Blood & Black Lace, A Bay of Blood, Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Tenebrae, Bird w the Crystal Plumage, What have you done to Solange, Don’t Torture a Duckling…

          1. Nice! Add in The Black Cat (1981), Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Death Walks at Midnight, Death Walks on High Heels, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, and The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave to that list.

  3. Must confess that ‘Vanilla Sky’ irritated me in a way that very few movies manage to do, thought it was so poor. How anyone could remake a Pedro Almodovar film and suck all the life out of it I just don’t know. Think I am about due to revisit some of Almodovar’s films again. Haven’t seen ‘The Man From UNCLE’ yet, I remember seeing the trailers for this film and it appeared that much of the humour of the series was absent. Your monthly round-ups always give me an idea or two regarding modern films, so easy for us classic films to write off modern films but there are some fine films being made in this era, sometimes difficult to cut through all the hype and find them

    1. Yeah VS just tried way too hard for me, but I’m really eager to see the Almodovar now, I haven’t seen any of his, maybe I’ll end up thanking VS for leading me to something new. It’s a neat movie for a male actor in the tradition of the beautiful movie star in the disfigured/”ugly” role. But it felt shallow in many ways, mainly in convincing me that one-day romance supposedly changed his life, which it should, even if that’s explained away by the twist. Classics vs modern, to me a movie is a movie and there are always lots of good ones in any era, I sure find great ones everywhere 🙂 thanks again!

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