Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Month at the Movies: August 2015

Grandma's Boy (1922 - Fred C. Newmeyer) 7/10 - Another one caught off of TCM during a double bill of Harold Lloyd films they aired one night. I liked The Kid Brother enough, when I watched it for THE BOOK, to go ahead and set up the DVR for this and For Heaven's Sake. It took me a minute to ease into this one, but once I did, it was pure entertainment. Several laugh out loud moments and (I've said it before) that's big with me, cause it takes an awful lot to get me to actually LOL.

The Hitchhiker (1953 - Ida Lupino) 6.5/10 - TCM again. I liked this well enough. I will say it started out better than it finished. By the end, I was sort of ready for it to be over. I think it lacked one or two (or three) REALLY suspenseful moments, where the captive ALMOST escape their captor, but fail just short. The whole thing with giving the killer a bum eye though, so the kidnapped never knew when he was asleep or awake was pretty damn cool! Mild recommendation...

Tightrope (1984 - Richard Tuggle) 7/10 - We'll call that BARELY a '7' as it just sneaks into that upper echelon of ratings. I dug the grittiness of it, the jazzy score and the New Orleans shooting location acted as another character to enhance the atmosphere. I will say this though...


Why did they take careful consideration to keep the murderer's face covered throughout the whole movie, if, when he was revealed, he wasn't someone we'd recognize? It seemed like this was all leading to the police sergeant or even Eastwood's partner getting revealed as the culprit, only for the mask to come off's just....some guy...Otherwise, really decent mystery/thriller.

Brute Force (1947 - Jules Dassin) 6.5/10 - A '6.5' for a prison movie is actually pretty atrocious, considering it's me - the one who's a sucker for a good prison flick. I just couldn't settle into this and about the only thing I'd say is worth praising would be Hume Cronyn. Prior to this, whenever I thought of Cronyn, I thought of that little man in Shadow of a Doubt who was preoccupied with murder. From now on, I will always look at him in a different light. The scene where he roughs up the inmate is a doozy!

My Dinner with Andre (1981 - Louis Malle) 5.5/10 - I'd been wanting to see My Dinner with Andre for YEARS. I'd always known the premise - two old friends sit down to dinner and talk, that's it. I'm such a sucker for dialogue that this is one that has been on my watch list for years and now I've seen it and I really didn't like it. It's just that it's filled with such mumbo jumbo that I had a hard time believing that anyone really had actual thoughts like this or really talked like this. Was this Andre Gregory being totally himself? If so, wow, what a turkey! It got to the point that when Wallace Shawn finally speaks up at the end and basically calls Gregory out on his bullshit, I sat up a little straighter and perked my ears a little higher. It was a definite, "you tell him!" moment. Of course, Gregory fights back and eventually derails Shawn's thought process, but it did get a bit interesting at the end. I could've done with more dialogue coming out of Wallace Shawn and a more back & forth style of dialogue. Instead, we get about 3/4 of Gregory spouting off and then Shawn speaking up at the end, when it's too late to salvage any sort of viable rating. Approach with caution.

Cujo (1983 - Lewis Teague) 6/10 - I had just finished the novel and as any lover of both books and films will do when finishing a novel, you watch the movie. It just so happened that my wife is a fan of this one, so we owned it on DVD. I will say that it wasn't that bad and give kudos to the filmmaker's for at least trying to get this as close as they could to the novel. However, all kudos go flying out the window when....


...Tad lives! God forbid we send an audience home with a tear or a frown! I'd still love to see someone remake this, someone who had the creative control and artistic ability to make it right. You'd have to still set it in the 80s, as if it were made in a present day setting, one cell phone call would turn this into a short film.

One thing I did notice about the movie, that also irked me was that they never really mention the heat. It's not enough to just have the characters sweating, you need to constantly be having them comment on how hot it is. Think 12 Angry Men, think Do the Right Thing. I don't remember a trickle of sweat, but I remember Danny Aiello's griping about the hot summer day.

Two Days, One Night (2014 - Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne) 7.5/10 - My first Dardenne brothers film is met with praise! I really liked this and hey, it got me and my wife having an actual, meaningful discussion about what we'd do in the situation that Sandra puts her co-workers in. I think me and my wife were in agreement that 1) no matter how poor we were, it would be too embarrassing to go to these people, some glorified strangers, and beg for them to give you a vote over their bonus. I personally am way too socially awkward to do anything like this and even asking someone to sacrifice more money for my sake...wouldn't do it. 2) In this particular situation, I think I'd vote against her. It was CRYSTAL CLEAR that she wasn't particularly reliable, due to her depression. She had several episodes where her voice gave out on her and she had to ride down the street with her head hanging out the car window, like a dog, just to be able to go on functioning. I feel like, if put in this exact situation, I'd look at someone like that and say "Why would I give up my bonus for someone who very easily may not last at the job anyway. She clearly has issues and any day now, she could crap out on us again, be readmitted into the hospital, be fired and then we'd have given up our bonus for nothing". I hate to sound like a complete asshole, but that's really how I feel. However, if put on the spot, if visited by a co-worker, I may react differently. I guess it would also depend on how close I was to said co-worker. If they were a friend, sure, I'd keep them around. But otherwise, it would take some serious thought and I suspect I'd lean toward the greedy route.

Also, how great is Marion Cotillard?

Grizzly Man (2005 - Werner Herzog) 6.5/10 - I decided to go ahead and extend HERZOG WEEK to include a documentary of his that was streaming on Netflix and one I'd wanted to see for ages. Also another one that brought up a lot of discussion between me and my wife. At first, I was easily on Timothy Treadwell's side, but as the movie got going, I started to turn on him. I guess you could sort of compare this to Aguirre: The Wrath of God, except this is a real account of a man going into nature and disturbing it. Here, Timothy, not Aguirre, is the Wrath of God and it just so happens that he strikes himself down with his own wrath. The guy seemed kind of bonkers and seemed like he had another agenda, aside from "protecting the bears". He seemed to always be auditioning for a television spot that he'd never get, constantly hosting his own nature show that, as far as he knew, no one would ever see. Again, I hate to sound like an awful person, but I feel like Treadwell sort of got what was coming to him. He shouldn't have been where he was and having no prior nature experience or formal training around wild animals, he was putting himself in even more danger. It's awful that he died, but was he really trying to protect animals or was he only out to make himself into a star in his own mind?

Not a bad doc and I wouldn't mind seeing more Herzog docs.

The Circus (1928 - Charles Chaplin) 7.5/10 - Really good Chaplin. I'd say it's even better than the very popular City Lights myself, but not on par with The Gold Rush, nor Modern Times. Plenty of LOL moments and clearly this is Chaplin in his prime. I SERIOUSLY need to see out and find the rest of the man's filmography as I'm sure there's not a bad one in the bunch.

Frances Ha (2012 - Noah Baumbach) 8/10 - Only the third NON-BOOK movie I've given an '8' or higher to in the past three months, Frances Ha was an absolute gem of a movie, as was it's star and co-writer Greta Gerwig - so good, I now want to seek out everything she's ever done and consume it like the Cookie Monster tackling a bag of Chips Ahoy! I also clearly need to see the rest of Noah Baumbach's filmography, as both this and The Squid and the Whale have been big hits for me this year.




  1. Rather a lot to cope with in one lump! So I will be brief.. and leave 'Last Picture Show' for later..
    Grandma's boy .. I rate Lloyd as a strong No.2 after Keaton, so pretty much with you on this..
    Hitchiker .. a Noir with Ida Lupino.. what can go wrong..
    Tightrope .. not known to me.
    Brute Force. I was thinking of you and your love of Prison Movies when I saw this fairly recently.. So surprised, but in agreement that this wasn't a great film.
    Dinner with Andre .. Seen it, but struggling to remember much about it.. but I seem to recall liking it . As you say, 'conversation' movies appeal..
    Cujo. Not seen, and no real intetion to do so..
    Grizly Man. Totaly agree with you on this.. One's sympathy should be with TT all the way. but he was .. what did you say .. The guy seemed kind of bonkers and seemed like he had another agenda, aside from "protecting the bears" .. Certainly. I know saying 'sort of got what was coming to him' sounds harsh .. and I may soften it by saying something mealy mouthed and rather PC like 'Architect of his own fate' .. but .. you are right.
    Circus . well, it's OK, but I still have the need to put Chaplin well below Keaton & Lloyd.
    Frances ha .. Sorry, I know nothing of it at all.. I will see about checking it out.

    1. Thank you for the well thought out comment Ray. Always a pleasure!

      I actually thought I was being too picky at not liking Brute Force. Glad to see I'm not alone. Seems we agree a lot on these, for the most part.

  2. If you like Harold Lloyd I would recommend Safety Last. I am not sure if you have seen it, but it is one of my favorite silent comedies.

    1. Yeah, I've definitely heard of it. I still have one more on my DVR - For Heaven's Sake, I think it's called.


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