Showing posts from January, 2018

Deadly Eyes (aka Night Eyes) (1982) ***

Deadly Eyes(1982) is a solid little ratsploitation flick, a bite above Rats: Night Of Terror (1984), but a tail short of Of Unknown Origin(1983).

Jim Thompson "Cropper's Cabin" (1952) ***1/2


Rawhead Rex (1986) ***

Rawhead Rex (1986) is not a "good" film, but it’s awfully (literally) good fun. Full of hammy acting, cheesy makeup (though some of the f/x are decent) and half-baked ideas, it’s more fun to laugh at it than to glean anything thought-provoking from it. It’s like a C grade An American Werewolf In London(1981). And that’s OK - cheesy monster movies have a place in the world too. But I think Clive Barker would have preferred that viewers have a more meaningful experience. Which is why I think that this story could be adapted again with more successful results (whoever tackles it should definitely keep the golden shower scene though). 

Wiener-Dog (2016) ***1/2

Wiener-Dog (2016) sits comfortably in Todd Solondz's universe (Dawn Wiener even makes an appearance, this time played by Greta Gerwig), following a dachshund as she passes from one owner to the next. There's the expected black humor and self loathing you get with a Solondz film, yet this one has a veneer of hopefulness that doesn't feel forced.

The Lift (1983) ***

The Lift(1983) is an effective Dutch thriller about technology gone amuck, featuring an appropriately moody atmosphere, a pulsing synthesized score and some nice cinematography. For fans of Jaws (1975), Christine (1983), and The Terminator (1984).

Zardoz (1974) ***

Zardoz (1974) has a lot of ideas about a lot of things (life, death, utopia, consciousness, war, religion, politics) and it’s incredibly entertaining, but I think perhaps not for the reasons intended by director John Boorman. More often than not the cheesyfashion, laughable performances and cheap props hamper a deliciously bizarre surrealist film. And maybe more of the humor was intended than I know. It's just frustrating because I think buried underneath the goofiness is a possibly brilliant piece of art (sort of like an even less coherent Alejandro Jodorowsky). All that said, there are some cool visuals and interesting lighting choices and camerawork throughout this oddball sci-fi headtrip.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) ****

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid(1982) is a hilarious parody in the tradition of Young Frankenstein(1974). As much as I like The Jerk (1979) and even though I've seen that film many times and have only seen this film for the first time tonight, I think it's my favorite Reiner/Martinpairing. Maybe it's the ingenious incorporation of old noir films, maybe it's the loving tribute to the "genre" (the voiceover in particular is perfect) or maybe it's just because I laughed out loud so much.

The Handmaiden - Extended Edition (2016) ****


Blade Runner 2049 (2017) ****1/2

Viewing #3 and this film holds strong. With Blade Runner 2049(2017), Denis Villeneuvemanages to accomplish the typically impossible task of honoring and referencing the film that came before it whilst creating his own strikingly beautiful and original film (with a little help from a brilliant man named Roger Deakins).

The visuals are absolutely stunning (every frame like a digital painting), the sound design is incredible (the Atmos track on the Blu-ray is immersive; Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch's score gave me shivers at times), the performances are all strong, and the f/x are seamless. A truly satisfying and moving film experience.

I do think that it's necessary to have seen Blade Runner to get the most out of 2049but if you see this film and don't like it, you can simply ignore it. It operates on its own playing field and doesn't tarnish the 1982 film in any way. I actually found that 2049 explores its themes on a deeper level than Blade Runner did, without…

Amuck! (aka Alla Ricerca Del Piacere) (1972) ***

Amuck!(aka Alla Ricerca Del Piacere) (1972) is a solid giallo but never really goes all in with any of the elements that it dabbles in — gothic, melodrama, sleaze. It's entertaining, well shot, and features plenty of nudity (it is a 70s Italian film starring Barbara Bouchet, after all), but don't look to this one for bodies piling up, impressive set design or flashy camerawork.

You can find my Giallo Feature Films Ranked list here.

The Boy Friend (1971) ***1/2

The Boy Friend (1971) finds Ken Russell using the stage play from the 50s as a backdrop for the story of the players performing said play to a sparse matinee audience that happen to include a big-shot Hollywood director.

When the lead actress breaks her leg, the assistance stage manager Polly (played by 60s fashion model Twiggy) must step into her role. The action of the film follows the players' relationships, hopes/dreams, etc. At times we're watching the play itself, at times we're watching the audience observe the play, at times we're watching the backstage goings-on, and at times we're watching elaborate fantasy sequences.

I've read criticisms of this film that stated that Twiggy doesn't carry the film well, but I found her sad look and earnest nature very charismatic and appropriate to the story. Admittedly, said story is a bit scattershot at times and it's a bit on the long side, but I still found the film endearing as a whole. Not to mention the…

The Post (2017) ***

In The Post (2017), Spielberg(obviously) channels All The President's Men(1976) (there's even a nod to that film at the end), but there are hints of his own other works from the 2000s as well, including Munich (2005), Lincoln (2012), and Bridge Of Spies(2015). The performances are strong, the direction is assured, and the film remains interesting throughout, but it's overwrought and a bit on the nose at times with its politics and how they pertain to current times.

Check out my Steven Spielberg Feature Films Ranked list here.

The Man With The Screaming Brain (2005) **

Despite Bruce Campbell doing his best Peter Sellers-esque physical gags and a decent amount of comic relief from Ted Raimi, Man With The Screaming Brain(2005) falls into that unfortunate category of bad films that are neither so bad they are good or so bad they are bad, but instead so middling they are simply "meh."

Twin Peaks (2017) ****

I don't typically rate/review TV shows on the blog, but seeing as David Lynch himself considers Twin Peaks(2017) to be an "18-hour film," I figured I'd jot down a few spoiler-free thoughts after "Take 2."

The first go through, I watched TP as it was broadcast weekly, like the rest of the world, not counting the premiere of the first 2 episodes at the Luna Theater, which I attended in character as Cooper (my friend Becky was Lucy). The initial watch of the series was a very frustrating experience. Some plot lines and characters seemed to go nowhere. Some elements were straight up silly, in my opinion. But there was so much to appreciate still. So many great characters, moments and emotions. And don't get me wrong - I wasn't expecting a rehash. I know Lynch better than that. I'm also a massive fan of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), which has been known to divide fans of the original series.

On a rewatch, a lot of stuff that bothered me the …

Happy 7th Birthday, Blog!

My blog is 7 years old today!

Continuing the yearly trend, here's how many films I've watched (since I've been keeping track):

2005 - 338 films (updated from 339)
2006 - 368 films (updated from 369)
2007 - 274 films
2008 - 269 films (updated from 270)
2009 - 233 films (updated from 234)
2010 - 188 films
2011 -237 films (updated from 236)
2012 - 254 films (updated from 253) 2013 - 352 films
2014 - 349 films (updated from 347)
2015 - 337 films
2016 - 270 films (updated from 269)
2017 - 265 films

Interestingly, Letterboxd tells me that I watched 4 more films than I recorded in my personal file (see screenshot below). I've been making more of an effort to write reviews (of a sort) for most things I watch.

(click the image above to access my Letterboxd profile)

Focus On Film: Annual Episode 5 – Top 5 Criterion Releases Of 2017

Focus On FilmAnnual Episode 5 is up!

​It is with heavy hearts that we lay the Focus On Film Podcast to rest. We want to thank you for your support over 5 years and 65 episodes (60 monthly, 5 annual). The episodes will live here on for at least roughly the remainder of the year, so filter by the “Focus On Film” label on the left or below and download those eps! We hope you enjoy our final episode!
Download the MP3 HERE In this episode: Criterion Collection New Year's DrawingTop 5 Criterion Releases of 2017"Second Run" (Runners-up) Criterion Releases of 2017Best non-Criterion Release of 2017

Suspiria (1977) ****1/2

Dario Argento's Suspiria (1977), the first and best film in his Three Mothers Trilogy, is best enjoyed if you let the gorgeous visuals and dreamlike quality wash over you and focus less on the absence of plot or dialogue. A blood-soaked adult fairy tale with an all-time great score by Goblin.

Check out my Dario Argento Feature Films Ranked list here.

Screenshots from Synapse Films' stunning 4K mastered Blu-ray

Night Of The Werewolf (El Retorno del Hombre Lobo) (1981) ***

Night Of The Werewolf (aka El Retorno del Hombre Lobo) (1981) was my first Paul Naschyfilm. While there is certainly a fair amount of cheesiness and bad dialogue in this film, there are also some incredibly atmospheric shots and cool camerawork to appreciate. A gothic Spanish smorgasbord of cult monsters.

Behind The Candelabra (2013) ****

I've seen Behind The Candelabra (2013) three times now and it's lost none of its pizzaz, charm, pathos or humor. Michael Douglasis perfect as Liberace, the supporting cast is fantastic, and Soderbergh's pacing and cutting is brilliant.

Check out my Steven Soderbergh Feature Films Ranked list here.

Top Albums Of 2017

1.   MewVisuals****1/2
2.   Fujiya & MiyagiFujiya & Miyagi ****1/2
3.   Rainer MariaS/T ****1/2 (Review)
4.   Fever RayPlunge **** (Review)
5.   QuicksandInteriors **** (Review)
6.   SpoonHot Thoughts****
7.   The Life And TimesThe Life And Times****
8.   Daniele Luppi & Parquet CourtsMilano **** (Review)
9.   GoldfrappSilver Eye**** (Review)
10. St. VincentMasseduction**** (Review)
11. Charlotte GainsbourgRest **** (Review)
12. UNKLEThe Road: Part 1****
13. FailureFantastic Planet Live ****
14. BeckColors ***1/2 (Review)
15. Queens Of The Stone AgeVillains***1/2 (Review)
16. PrimusThe Desaturating Seven***1/2 (Review)
17. Electric SixHow Dare You ***1/2
18. The Octopus ProjectMemory Mirror ***
19. John CarpenterAnthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998)***
20. Trans AmCalifornia Hotel *** (Review)