7/15/2014

Stereo (1969) **

I had seen this before and didn't remember much about it. Now I remember why that was. Zzz...

Scanners (1981) ***1/2

I like this film a lot, but I feel as if I'm forgiving of aspects that I would find obnoxious if it weren't a Cronenberg film. I would certainly rank many (re: most) of his films above it, but there is a definite charm, iconography and staying power about it, despite some atrocious wooden, soap operatic acting from its lead Stephen Lack ("lacking", for sure), poor pacing and no true surprises. And, gorehound I may be, I actually find the phone booth scene the most thrilling, ingenious and ahead-of-its-time aspect of the whole film.

SCANNERS has more than a few things in common with De Palma's THE FURY (which was released 3 years earlier), including a head explosion (and THE FURY's is more climatic and better, if you ask me) and both of them are flawed films, but I like THE FURY a bit better overall. All that said, this one is fun, is definitely "Cronenbergian" and it features a typically excellent score from Howard Shore and great special f/x from Dick Smith (THE EXORCIST) and Chris Walas (THE FLY).

Here's to very much hoping that Criterion does release THE BROOD (a better film) as rumored and that they include Cronenberg's CRIMES OF THE FUTURE in 1080p (it's only been released in 480p by Blue Underground on their DVD & BD releases of FAST COMPANY, as they did on this Blu-ray release with STEREO.

Rock 'N' Roll High School (1979) ***

7/12/2014

Judex (1963) ****1/2 [Criterion Double Feature Pt. 1]

This one was simply great. It's like Dick Tracy/early 20th century century crime serials, silent cinema, DIABOLIK and 60s French New Wave all rolled into one, bolstered by a fantastic Maurice Jarre score and excellent B&W cinematography and f/x. And now I'm dying to see the original 1916 silent serial by Louis Feuillade, who also directed the serials LES VAMPIRES and FANTÔMAS, both of which I am extremely interested in visiting someday as well.

7/09/2014

The Exterminator (1980) **1/2

A decent revenge film with a few great gore scenes, but if only the film were as good as the poster.

7/03/2014

West Side Story (1961) ****1/2

The first time I watched WSS, I gave it ****. I was surprised that I liked it that much. I was going to give the film the same rating this round and then changed my mind because, despite some shortcomings, it's pretty astounding. 

The technical achievements are overwhelming - the choreography, the music/score, the lighting/colors, the mind-blowing direction/cinematography. It features one of the best opening and closing credits to any film I've ever seen (thanks to Saul Bass). 

It's also incredibly dark for its time and for a musical, in general. It's not "feel good" at all. And it's unique while still being essentially a classic 'Romeo & Juliet' tale.

A Hard Day's Night (1964) ***1/2 [CCN29]