Monday, May 5, 2014

What I've been watching lately in four sentences or less

Repost from 2011.

The Fall of the House of Usher (1929 || Dir. Jean Epstein || France)
Not nearly as surrealist as some would have you believe.

Blood and Roses (1960 || Dir. Roger Vadim || France)
A slightly more heteronormative-incestuous take on Carmilla, but still interesting.

Au Hasard Balthazar (1966 || Dir. Robert Bresson || France)
Poor donkey.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011 || Dir. Joe Johnston || USA)
The most watchable and fun out of the Marvel Studios films released this year. No daddy issues ('sup, Thor?), and it doesn't take itself too seriously ('sup, X-Men: First Class?). It honestly has Cap jumping a ramp on a motorcycle, away from an exploding Nazi camp. Cap runs away from explosions quite a few times in the film, so it almost cancels out the terrible creepiness of the first 30 minutes consisting of Chris Evans being made to appear shorter and skinnier through CGI.

The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962 || Dir. Jess Franco ||France-Spain)
Jess Franco's first film, a slightly sleazier retread on Eyes without a Face. It's not a very entertaining retread and the era it takes place in is indeterminable.

The Spirits of the Dead (1968 || Dirs. Roger Vadim, Louis Malle, Federico Fellini || France-Italy)
European artsy-sleazy takes on Poe stories with pretty people? Bet you didn't know Fellini could do head decapitations, did you? I would like to frame most of the shots in Fellini's segment "Toby Dammit" and put it on my wall because that man could do Technicolor. The anthology is pretty good, although Malle's story isn't that great except for being able to look at Alain Delon and a brunette Brigitte Bardot.

Faceless (1987 || Dir. Jess Franco || France-Spain)
Another retread of Eyes without a Face by Jess Franco, this one being better, if a bit repetitive and drawn out. There are nods to The Awful Dr. Orloff.

Flyboys (2006 || Dir. Tony Bill || USA)
A dull movie that takes itself too seriously, despite what the trailer would have you believe sometimes (i.e., guy running away from explosion on top of a zeppelin). I fast-forwarded through much of the last hour and was a better person for doing that. Someone should have told James Franco that there were no frosted hair tips during World War I.

Punisher: War Zone (2008 || Dir. Lexi Alexander || USA)
The most comic book out of all comic book movies - the colors, the over-the-top violence and characters (complete with bad NYC accents for the villains), the cinematography  - all comic book. Sometimes the film drags a little, but then there's another insane set piece. 

Don't Open 'Till Christmas (1984 || Dir. Edmund Purdom || UK)
I watched this because the guy who played the dean in Pieces stars and directed this movie. I guess if the idea of a serial killer killing people in Santa suits sounds good, check it out. Otherwise, I can't recommend it because that's really all the film is: killing Santas and some police procedural - it's as if the movie was being written as it was filmed. This movie makes Silent Night, Deadly Night look profound.

Burnt Offerings (1976 || Dir. Dan Curtis || USA)
Many of the daytime scenes were very washed out looking and I am not totally sure why. It's perhaps better than most haunted house movies, if a little slow sometimes (this is a high compliment from me, considering that I've never been one for haunted house films). The ending is quite good and dark.

C.H.U.D. (1984 || Dir. Douglas Cheek || USA)
Not a terribly bonkers horror film, but it has a good "future stars" cast, good special effects, and it fits in well with other early 1980s gritty NYC horror films.

Children of the Corn (1984 || Dir. Fritz Kiersch || USA)
While I haven't read the short story since I was probably 12, this is not a good movie. It's like a moralistic, somewhat dull, and ballsless version of Who Could Kill a Child?. The film also has this bizarre dichotomy of the two good, non-cult children being cute, while the majority of the children in the cult are either awkward-looking or ugly.

The Bride Wore Black (1968 || Dir. Francois Truffaut || France)
Bet you didn't know that Truffaut did semi-Hitchcockian revenge films, did you? This is not a bloody film, but quite clever.


  1. Thanks for the heads up on Captain got right at the issues that usually annoy me about these things.

    I want the old Bat Man back...the one in full costume that tells the bartender at a house party he'll have what every one else is having because he doesn't want to stand out.

    The ugly as bad...pretty as good thing can really work as a visual moral representation can work really well. I always think of how the child molester in Sin City literally takes on the form of a monster but...hamfisted way to send a terrible message.

  2. While I kind of dig that Christopher Nolan tries to have Batman act like an outlandish playboy to deflect rumors that he's Batman, so little of screentime is devoted to that idea that it ultimately doesn't matter.

    Apparently Punisher: War Zone is faithful to the Punisher comic books. I don't know really, since I've never read Punisher.

    Yeah, Sin City did that with the child molester and Benicio Del Toro's character. I guess Mickey Rourke's character was supposed to be cartoonishly good looking, therefore a good guy? I'm not sure, I was mostly weirded out by his appearance. Elijah Wood played the psychotic guy and looked pretty normal except for one really long fingernail. If you want to look at it, 300 did the ugly/weird looking = bad, attractive = good thing too, so maybe it's another motif of Frank Miller's.

  3. Man it always astonished me how badly I can mangle my own thoughts with a key board.

    300 is a very good have what is obviously meant to be a form-like representation of humans against a group of faceless automatons. Individual freedom v mutilating tyranny. The visual worked better than any of the hammy dialogue.

    I'll have to check put Punisher.

    I hold out hope that somebody will give one these comics the BAM POW treatment again. Like the old Flash show that didn't shy away from the camp.

  4. Yeah, I think 300 is at times a very painterly film. It's very pretty sometimes, and probably better to watch with the sound off.

    Punisher was kind of campy! Superviolent, though.

    A few years ago, I bought this comic of...I forget what it was called exactly...Herculthor vs. Thorcules? Basically, Hercules and Thor switch bodies. I bought it just because it included all the old sound effects, like "THRAAAAAANG!"