3/31/2014

Dune (1984) ***1/2

I've never read the book(s), though I'd like to someday, but I've come to appreciate the film, in all its strangeness and despite its flaws, more and more with each viewing.

3/30/2014

Godzilla (Gojira) (1954) ***

I know it's a "classic", but I've always found it a bit clunky, boring and cheesy. It's just as melodramatic as anything by Kurosawa (whom I don't necessarily love every film by), Kobayashi and other legendary Japanese directors, but with inferior technique, ham-fisted, heavy-handed "message movie" dialogue (delivered poorly often times) and distractingly dated effects.

I recognize its cultural impact, but I can't pretend to think it's an excellent film because it's expected of me. Also, I'm just not really into kaijuKING KONG being an exception (and it doesn't technically count), which, in my opinion has better FX and was released 21 years before GOJIRA.

3/29/2014

Here Comes The Devil (2012) ***

What a frustrating film. So much about it is good or has/had potential. Parts of the score are excellent. But its schizophrenic nature, occasional poor sound mixing and dodgy FX work against it. I'm still giving it *** because it was well-made overall. But they hype surrounding this film is a bit much and not entirely deserved in my opinion.

The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears (L'étrange couleur des larmes de ton corps) (2013) ****1/2

This may well have beaten out THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL as my favorite film of the year. I need a second viewing of both though.

Even stranger, gorier (some scenes were incredibly intense and uncomfortable) and more Lynchian than AMER. Amazingly, I think AMER actually makes more sense. I can't pretend to have followed the "plot" (which involves a man looking for his missing wife, among lots of other bizarre shit) exactly, but as long as you can buy into art for art's sake, you will love this film.

Need I say visually stunning? I would liken this filmgoing experience (part of the Boston Underground Film Festival) with that of seeing BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (which I described as "2001 meets Eraserhead meets The Man Who Fell To Earth meets Amer meets THX 1138 meets Cronenberg meets Coscarelli meets Vangelis meets Tangerine Dream", 2 years ago, which I saw as part of the Independent Film Festival Boston. And just look at the gorgeous poster (which I'm dying to get a print of)!

3/25/2014

Media Meltdown Podcast: Focus On Film - Episode 15: June 2014 Criterion Titles

Focus On Film Episode 15 is up!
Download the MP3 here.
Don't forget to Like Media Meltdown Podcast on Facebook and subscribe on iTunes.

In this episode:

"Focus On Film Theme" & other music: Daniel Sardella

3/24/2014

The Driver (1978) ****1/2

Without doubt, some of the best car chase sequences I've ever seen, amidst a cool, calm and collected slowburner.

3/18/2014

The Killer Inside Me (2010) ****1/2

My third time watching this and each time my star rating went up a half star. One of the most accurate adaptations of a novel I've ever seen.

Jim Thompson 'The Killer Inside Me' (1952) ****1/2

My third and favorite Jim Thompson book so far. To steal the cover quote by Stanley Kubrick: "probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered." Thompson wrote the dialogue for Kubrick's THE KILLING and the screenplay for the director's PATHS OF GLORY.

I have not seen the 1976 film version of 'The Killer Inside Me', but I think the 2010 version is excellent and it is an incredibly accurate adaptation of the novel (literally every page is translated).

3/17/2014

Amer (2009) ****1/2

Recommended if you enjoy hypersensitivity, minimal dialogue, extreme close-ups, over-accentuated sound design, Mario Bava, close-ups of eyes, absence of narrative, Gialli, beautiful brunettes, creepy dudes, Alejandro Jodorowsky, "artsy-fartsy" films, fetishistic close-ups of female anatomy in sundresses, David Lynch.

3/16/2014

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) ***

The Getaway - Unrated Version (1994) **1/2

Planes, Trains And Automobiles (1987) ***1/2

The Danman Top 100 Films

After I (finally) finished watching all of the AFI Top 100 Films recently, I decided to take it upon myself to attempt the seemingly impossible task of creating my own top 100 films.

Picking out the 100 films was tough, but I set some criteria for myself:

1. I had to currently own the film. Naturally, this means that there are absolutely films that are missing from the list that would have been included (DOUBLE INDEMNITY, DIE HARD and PREDATOR  spring to mind, just off the top of my head), so substitutions were made. My reasons for not owning some of the films at the moment are varied and may include availability on Blu-ray.

2. I tried to limit the number of titles I chose by the same director. This was more difficult. Initially I thought that I should only include 1 title per director but that proved impossible (I mean, Kubrick, PTA, Wes Anderson, the Coen Bros., Spielberg - c'mon!). A sub-criteria I made for myself was to only include 1 title by any given director in my Top 10. So sacrifices had to be made.

3. I refrained from basing my inclusion of a title on my star rating alone. Many other criteria were considered, including influence, cultural significance, the number of times I've watched each film, nostalgia (you can tell I'm a child of the 80s - look at my Top 5 and the whole list in general!), etc.

The most difficult part of this project was numbering the titles. So what I decided to do after the Top 25 was to just list the titles in a completely arbitrary order. This saved me a lot of headache. So keep that in mind if titles with higher star ratings are lower on the list than ones with a higher rating and also remember that I don't focus on that as my top ranking method. What's important is that the titles are included.

Further, the most important thing to remember here is that this is MY top 100, meaning I wasn't bound by anybody else's opinion. If I wanted to include "bad" films (and, oh did I) that was my right. And I tried to include many genres, but you'll probably notice (if you didn't know already) that I am a horror buff. So you'll see "classics" amidst schlock and that makes me happy.

So, without further ado, I present to you The Danman Top 100 Films!
(Click the images to enlarge)


3/15/2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) ****1/2

I was wavering between a 4-star a 4 1/2-star rating for this film in my mind for some time, but decided to settle on ****1/2 because I think a repeat viewing will make me appreciate it even more. Because the first time I see a Wes Anderson film I'm usually just along for the ride and grinning almost throughout and the second (and subsequent) viewings are when I'm catching more dialog and nuances. And, unfortunately, there was a problem with the DCP for this film, so the audience I was with had to wait over an hour to restart the film where it had left off when it had issues (it was worth it).

It can be said that I am firmly in Wes Anderson's camp and have been since his second feature RUSHMORE (still my favorite of his) was released on home video. I think his style is all his own and I'm OK with him making very similarly-styled films. Only a couple of his films (THE DARJEELING LIMITED and MOONRISE KINGDOM) have struck me as being somewhat inferior to his other work, though I still think they are both great. My friend Brian said wisely that Anderson's films are like Disney-esque fairy tales for adults.

Looking forward to another viewing of this one, the only 2014 film I've seen so far and so obviously my top film of the year (so far).

3/07/2014

King Of The Hill (1993) ****

Bad Day At Black Rock (1955) ****

I was really impressed with this one. John Sturges directed 2 straight-up classics (that I've seen) - THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) &  THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963), but also a film, NEVER SO FEW (1959), that was too much like propaganda for me. Additionally, I need to see JOE KIDD (1972) one of these days because Elmore Leonard wrote the screenplay.

Getting back to BAD DAY, this is a gritty western/noir with a "man's man" cast and excellent dialog.

3/06/2014

Intolerable Cruelty (2003) ****

This film, along with BARTON FINK, THE HUDSUCKER PROXY, THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE and A SERIOUS MAN are the most underrated Coen Bros. films in my opinion.

The dialog is sharp as a tack (watch the video below). Clooney is perfect. The character names are ridiculous and fun (as in HUDSUCKER). Picture a modern version of HIS GIRL FRIDAY and other screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s. Don't be fooled by the lame poster and the way the film was marketed. This is pure Coens.


  video

The Visitor (Stridulum) (1979) ***