My men will not be doing manual labour!
The Man from Snowy River (1982, George Miller)
Called a western from Down Under, this Australian movie doesn’t really feel like a western, more like a romantic movie with lots of horses. Apparently based on an epic poem, the story is only so so, but the cinematography of the Outback is breathtaking and there are a couple of incredibly horse stunts. Also features a dual role for good old Kirk Douglas (who sued the producers when the movie became an unexpected hit). The director is not the man with the same name who was responsible for MAD MAX.
Beautifully made, but a bit fluffy, 3/5
Grudge Match (2013)
A lot better than I’ve expected. Better than Expendables (all of them), better than most of the movies De Niro has made in last 15 years or so. And Kim Basinger looked better in 2013 than 15 years or so ago.
Best line: The Kid (De Niro) appologising for some embarassing medicament comercial he has made: “I didn’t really need it. What can I do, I’m a great actor”
Not exactly the last I watched, but almost: AMSTERDAMNED - and here is my review:
Yeah, have the Blue Underground blu-ray on my amazon wish list along with The Lift and Down
Nice to see some attention for this movie and its director. The Lift and Amsterdamned are good thriller-horror movies, even if they have cheap feel hanging over them. Yes, Maas is/was a crowd pleaser, rather than an original talent (like Verhoeven). Amsterdamned was made on a 6 million budget (guilders, not euros), which was very decent for a dutch movie from the period. The film also features the best performance by its star, Huub Stapel. many thought he was destined to become the new Rutger Hauer, but his career never really took off.
Spent the last few nights watching some films with the great Charles Bronson.
Had not seen these in a long while.
The Mechanic (1973)
The Stone Killer (1973)
Death Wish (1974)
The Valachi Papers (1972)
Overdue, spontaneous, rewatch of Ghost in the Shell. Wow… but still, my favorite anime will be Metropolis… I am open to other recommendations though
Try the works of the late Satoshi Kon. Perfect Blue (1997), Millennium Actress (2001), the left-field but heartwarming Christmas tale Tokyo Godfathers (2003), Paprika (2006) or the thirteen-episode tv series Paranoia Agent (2004). Lots of psychological drama and dream logic. Quite Lynchian in many respects.
In the last four weeks or so:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Yates, 2007) - No. They’re just not for me. I mean, this was maybe the best yet, but… no.
The Hateful Eight (Tarantino, 2015) - I had a feeling when I first saw this picture that I’d probably like it less over time and with subsequent viewings but, actually, the opposite is true. Feels far shorter to me than it is.
Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958) - Hitchcock’s finest? It’s my favourite of his, certainly.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (Lynch, 1992) - Hm. I found the (old) TV show - which I also revisited recently - not to be as easily enjoyable as I’d previously found it, but I found this movie to be significantly more interesting and entertaining than I’d ever thought before. I guess my tastes have changed over the years.
102 Minutes That Changed America (2008) - Watched this on the 9/11 anniversary last month. Sad, sobering stuff.
Ninja Scroll (Kawajiri, 1993) - Classic anime, aged very well indeed.
My Amityville Horror (Walter, 2012) - Documentary looking at one of the Lutz family kids today as the emotionally frought adult he has become. I veered between finding him a bit of a dick and feeling sorry for him.
The Purge: Anarchy (DeMonaco, 2014) - Best of the Purge pictures so far, imo.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (Oliva, 2011) - One of the very best “DC Animated Original” movies, putting a terrific dark twist on many DC stalwarts.
Starcrash (Cozzi, 1978) - Utter crap. And I love it!
Batman and Harley Quinn (Liu, 2017) - Utter crap. And… nothing. It was just utter crap. Undoubtedly the worst “DC Animated Original” movie I’ve seen yet. I simply don’t get the wildly popular appeal of Harley Quinn as a credible antagonist (or ally) for Batman. I mean, it’s easy to make her a sexy character (although that’s not the case here; this film has a very cartoon-like style), but, is that it? Really? Pfft.
Watchmen (Snyder, 2009) - Divisive picture, this, but I love it. For my money, the second-finest superhero picture made thus far.
Alien: Covenant (Scott, 2017) - another fairly divisive picture it seems, but I like this one, too. The franchise is in danger of overdosing on Fassbender but, nonetheless, this is imo the best Alien movie since the initial trilogy and its definitely on a par with Aliens and Alien³.
The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008) - Even if it wasn’t the finest Superhero movie made thus far - and it is, imo - The Dark Knight would still be an absolutely cracking psychological crime thriller.
Kill Command (Gomez, 2016) - Underrated low-budget sci-fi pic about a bunch of drone robots going crackers at a military training facility. Very 2000ad.
The Devil’s Candy (Byrne, 2017) - Good-not-great horror flick concerning a family moving to a new house in which resides a devilish entity which caused the previous incumbent to kill his mother. And the previous incumbent is on his way back home. And he still serves his dark Master.
A Dark Song (Gavin, 2017) - More housebound supernatural shenanigans, from the UK this time. A woman is determined to connect with a deceased loved one, and hires an occult specialist to help her. Pretty good stuff. Very slow to start but builds to a decent final third.
The Monster Project (Mathieu, 2017) - Oh dear. Found-footage horror in which some YouTubers decide to interview some poor deluded souls who believe themselves to be Monsters. Problem is… they ARE monsters! That sounds way better than the movie deserves. It was shit.
Django Kill (Questi, 1967) - Never heard of it.
Gone in 60 Seconds (Halicki, 1974) - Lot of fun once it got going. Terrible acting, fantastic 70’s fashions and hairstyles.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Perkins, 2017) - Best horror of the year, imho.
Pet (Torrens, 2016) - Young man develops an obsession with a former schoolmates and winds up stealing her diary, upon which he abduct her and locks her in a cage in a room at the zoo where he works, in order to “save” her. But who’s the Monster here? Glossy and well made, but not scary in the slightest and not for me. Probably a horror for a younger demographic.
The Witch (Eggers, 2016) - Best horror of last year, imo.
The Cannonball Run (Needham, 1981) - Slice of silly, fun nostalgia. Everyone seems to be having a blast.
Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 (Gunn, 2017) - Not quite as good as its predecessor but it’s still a fun pic and it improves as it goes along.
American Pie 2 (Rogers, 2001) - It was on telly last night and I wound up sticking with it. Haven’t seen it in years (I’ve only ever watched the first three, I’ve no desire to catch any of the others), but whilst the film was not at all as good as I remembered (in my mind I had it on a par with the first movie it isn’t), the soundtrack holds up very well indeed, even if those tunes are deeply rooted into their late 90s/early 00s timeframe.
Last week’s viewing:
Morgan (2016, Luke Scott)
A SF-thriller about a corporate troubleshooter (Kata Mara) who is sent on a mission to investigate an incident with a artificially created human being called Morgan by its creators. She will have to decide whether Morgan must be terminated or not. Luke is Ridley’s son and he has inherited his father’s visually strong style and feeling for fascinating premises, but not yet developed the old man’s talent for compelling story-telling. It’s all there, but somehow young Scott fails to make it work as well as it should. Reminded me a little of last year’s Ex-Machina, but this movie plays more like a horror movie and is nowhere nearly as thought-provoking.
3+ (out of 5)
Le Gendarme et les Extra-terrestres (1979)
The penultimate movie in the long running gendarme-series starring French comedian Louis De Funès. The seaside resort of Saint Tropez is visited by aliens: they can take the shape of normal human beings, but drink oil and sound hollow when touched. A lot of predictable mayhem ensues. Not as good as some of the earlier outings, but often considered to be the best of the later gendarme movies (the series went downhill after the first few movies). Far from great, but enjoyable when watched in the right mood (and if you like De Funès’ hyper-active style)
2+ (out of 5)
Arrival (2016, Denis Villeneuve)
A thinking man’s science fiction movie, an adaptation of ‘Story of your Life’, a brilliant short story by Ted Chiang. Aliens visit the earth and a linguist and a physicist (Amy Amis and Jeremy Renner) are asked to communicate, or at least try to do so. The central idea of Chiang’s story - the contact with the aliens - is respected but some of the scientific background has vaporized: in Chiang’s story it’s Fermat’s principle of least time that is the key to (basic) understanding but the film makers probably thought that too much emphasis on mathematics would scare viewers off. Still a intriguing movie that has a few things to say about determination and our concept of past, present and future.
Just watched Stendhal Syndrome, review will follow on furiouscinema.com, quite a movie.
Quite good, but from his post 80’s films always had a soft spor for Non ho sonno
Green Room - Jeremy Saulnier
A not foreseeable thriller with a hearty slasher attitude, about a leftist punk band which gives a concert amongst neo-Nazis in a small venue deep in the woods. Things escalate after they witness a murder. The film owns the intense and angry melancholy of a punk concert, followed by an excessive party night and ending in the early morning, when the colors are still undecided, in a hangover (a Katzenjammer). “Tell one who gives a shit” is the splendid last line spoken. 9/10
“A CIA interrogator is lured into a ruse that puts London at risk of a biological attack.”
This little-known flick was better than I expected because of the stellar cast. Noomi Rapace is quite good as a spy operative called upon to thwart a terror attack. It was enjoyable for the most part, with good acting, good action and a few plot twists thrown in for good measure.
Yesterday: Baby Driver (Wright, 2017)
Prodigious young getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) works for Doc (Kevin Spacey), an Atlanta gangster and heist specialist, in order to pay off a long-standing debt. That debt is almost clear however, and Baby is looking forward to a zero-pressure future delivering pizzas whilst cultivating his burgeoning relationship with diner waitress Debora (Lily James). Still, just because his debt’s clear doesn’t mean Doc wants to dispense with Baby’s considerable services anytime soon; Doc wants Baby in on another job alongside lovestruck Bonnie-and-Clyde duo Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza González), and the unhinged Bats (Jamie Foxx). Can Baby extricate himself and his new girlfriend from this lifestyle and start afresh, or is his tale doomed to end in a jail cell, or even in a hail of bullets?
Baby Driver has garnered a lot of praise from all corners, but I think it’s been somewhat overrated. I’m not sure how keen I am on writer/director Edgar Wright, whose OTT bombast sits decently enough inside self-aware comedies like Spaced or the “Cornetto” trilogy but which distracts otherwise. His “look how well I’m directing” style often makes Edgar the star of his own pictures and whilst a recognisable directorial style is usually a plus, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. More isn’t necessarily more. As to the movie itself: It certainly improves after the first hour as the plot ramps up and Wright’s audio/visual jiggery-pokery settles down slightly but it devolves into typical fare by the climax and, ultimately, it’s just too derivative of the glut of oh-so-pleased-with-themselves Reservoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction knock-offs which sprang up everywhere for the next decade following Quentin Tarantino’s dynamite first two pictures. You know: Things to do in Denver When You’re Dead (Fleder, 1995), 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (Schulman, 1997) et cetera, maybe up as far as Lucky Number Slevin (Mcguigan, 2006). And the central USP to Baby Driver - that Baby has tinnitus which he has to drown out with ceaseless playlists - doesn’t really have any bearing on the wider plot at all, it’s just a device to choreograph a few scenes directly with the soundtrack, like a musical. That’s it.
That much-vaunted soundtrack’s overrated too, imho. I adore The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion but Bellbottoms is far, far from their best track (I did enjoy hearing Know How by Young MC, though. Haven’t heard that in years).
Caught Blade Runner 2049 (Villeneuve, 2017) tonight. A lot to digest. It’s beautiful looking in that grotesque, run-down-future style long established in Ridley Scott’s preceding classic from 1982. I liked it a lot for the most part (Jared Leto’s pantomime villain performance wasn’t doing it for me if I’m honest, and Harrison Ford has returned to all of his most iconic roles fifteen years too late). I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it as much as the original and, even accounting for the length of time I’ve loved the earlier movie versus the single viewing I’ve had thus far of the new picture, I doubt I’ll ever love Blade Runner 2049 like I love Blade Runner, but there’s no shame in that; 99% of all of the movies ever made aren’t as good as Blade Runner. This new one covers a lot of the same ground philosophically and thematically as many sci-fi movies and TV shows including Ghost in the Shell, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, I, Robot, Her, Automata, The Matrix, Humans, Westworld, Battlestar Galactica, elements of the Alien franchise and even parts of the Terminator movies (what qualifies true humanity if all of it can be replicated? Is a perfect humanoid facsimile entitled the same rights to life and choice and free will as a real human? What constitutes a “real” human if duplication is 100% accurate? Et cetera), but Blade Runner 2049 covers this ground well. It’s smart, thoughtful, and consistently interesting enough that it doesn’t feel as long as it is. It’s not an equal to its predecessor - the quotable dialogue simply isn’t there; neither is a character as compelling as Roy Batty - but it’s a worthy sequel, and it’s probably one of my favourite pictures of the year so far.
Still rewatching ans re-evaluating the original Blade Runner. I have written about a lot of aspects of the movie over the years, in various languages, but I want to limit myself to a couple of essential views and ideas this time. I need to lake up my mind before watching this new movie
You might want to take in these three officially-sanctioned short movies too scherp, which touch briefly on some key events which take place in the years between the events of the two movies. They’re not vital but they might help ground you a little more with regard to one or two concepts posited by the new movie.
But he was responsible for Neverending story II and (uarww) Andre.