Tuesday, August 03, 2010

What I Watched In July

I really wallowed in movies this past month sometimes getting in two in a single day. I caught five films in the theater with the best being TOY STORY 3 and the worst being the abomination JONAH HEX which I suffered through at the local second run theater. Words nearly fail me in describing the awfulness that is JONAH HEX. It took real strength of will to so mangle the character and concept (old west bounty hunter) so badly that it became impossible to understand what was happening onscreen. The film is so bad that there were moments when I wondered if they hadn’t accidentally spliced two different movies together in an attempt to be arty. The ONLY thing they got right was the casting. Josh Brolin and John Malkovich squaring off in the old west? Hot damn! Throw in a little eye candy, load up the six guns, saddle the horses and lets ride! But something went horribly, horribly wrong. Ignoring every single Jonah Hex comic book ever written they decided to concoct their own story. Only it’s not really their story. It’s the exact same damned story that was used in that freakin’ awful WILD WILD WEST movie a few years ago. You remember the film, right? The one so bad that even its star admitted after the fact that it was a mess. The one so bad that it may have erased decades of goodwill built up by the excellent, fun TV show it was based on. Well, the morons behind JONAH HEX seem to have thought the only thing wrong with the WILD WILD WEST film was that it was too intelligent! I can imagine the conversation. “If we just dumbed it down so the plot wasn’t so hard to follow I bet everyone would love it. And if we add a bunch of big ‘splosions to smooth over the slower moments it’ll be a huge hit!” Yeah. That was the problem with WWW. It was too cerebral with its asinine mechanical spider and lame-assed dialog. Not enough things blew up. Right. Also, the film wastes British actor Michael Fassbender as a tattooed bad guy. This is reason alone to punch everyone involved in the face- starting with the director. Please tell me when the line forms.

Thank you, Hollywood. Now we’ll never have a good Jonah Hex film. Good job. You managed to screw up a simple western. Damn.

In brighter news, I enjoyed the Hammer film THE BRIGAND OF KANDAHAR more than I expected. The print I have is a bootleg of a TV broadcast that crops the image down terribly but I still really got a kick out of the cast and story with Oliver Reed proving for about the 100th time he could make any scene better by sheer force of charisma. Damn, I miss that man. He was never less than excellent.

I revisited Fulci’s NEW YORK RIPPER on the amazing Blu-Ray disc. No film that sleazy should look that damned sharp and clear. A nice surprise was the spy film THE DEADLY AFFAIR. James Mason deals with some mysterious deaths and a cheating, nymphomaniac wife in this sharp and engrossing thriller with a nice character study at its center. I also dipped into my bag of 1970s TV movies to see SATAN’S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS (which was great fun) and the Marvel Comics adaptation DR. STRANGE (which was a bit too slow and long).

As the month wound down I hit a dark few days and to cheer myself up I retreated into rewatching one of my favorite British science fiction television series BLAKES 7. I was introduced to the show via bootleg tapes in my college days and having gotten my hands on the first two seasons on Region 2 DVD a while back the opportunity was there. A well written if under budgeted show I love its deadly serious nature where anyone can die and they often do. Hell! The entire series ended with one of biggest downer bloodbaths in TV history. And for me its comfort viewing. If that doesn’t show that there is something wrong with me I don’t know what would.

RELIGULOUS (2008)- 8
DARK FLOORS (2008)- 5 (OK Finnish horror effort)
THE HILLS RUN RED (2009) – 6 (not as good as it could have been but….)
LOGAN’S RUN (1976) – 7 (rewatch)
THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982)- 7 (rewatch)
NIGHTMARE COMES AT NIGHT (1970) – 6 (Jess Franco dream with just enough plot)
HELLBOUND (1993)- 3 (lousy Chuck Norris thriller)
GOLGO 13: KOWLOON ASSIGNMENT (1977) -5 (not bad but sloppy Chiba action)
TOY STORY 3 (2010)- 10
THE BIG WHITE (2005)- 4 (failed black comedy)
THE MASK OF SATAN (1989) – 5 (Lamberto’s modern variation on his father’s classic)
PREDATORS (2010)- 8 (damned good sequel!)
DEATHWATCH (2002)- 3 (boring, obvious WWI trench warfare horror tale)
SIMON, KING OF THE WITCHES (1971)- 8 (excellent supernatural tale)
SATAN’S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS (1973)- 6 (fun Devil worship TV movie)
DR. STRANGE (1978)- 5 (the best of the Marvel 1970s TV movies)
NINJA ASSASSIN (2009)- 7 (a blast of an action film - too much CGI blood but……)
THE WOLFMAN (2010)- 8 (director’s cut doesn’t make too much difference) (rewatch)
THE WORLD OF THE VAMPIRES (1961)- 6 (wonderful, creepy and silly Mexican horror)
MY SUMMER STORY (1994)- 5 (sequel to A CHRISTMAS STORY isn’t nearly as good)
DOUBLE VISION (2002)- 6 (pretty good Hong Kong cop story)
INCEPTION (2010)- 8 (Interesting, exciting if flawed tale)
THE NIGHTMARE MAN (1981)- 6 (not bad, if overlong BBC book adaptation)
INQUISITION (1976)- 7 (witch finder Naschy)
THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (2008)- 6 (not bad fantasy film)
KILLSHOT (2009)- 7 (tight, effective Elmore Leonard thriller)
SALT (2010)- 7 (80s style spy thriller- I feel old)
THE BRIGAND OF KANDAHAR (1965)- 6 (exciting Hammer adventure tale with good performances)
THE DEADLY AFFAIR (1966)- 9 (John le Carre spy thriller with an amazing cast)
STRANGE ILLUSION (1945)- 7 (Edgar Ulmer thriller)
BLUE SUNSHINE (1976) -7 (rewatch)
JONAH HEX (2010) – 2 (good GOD!)
THE BROTHERS BLOOM (2009)- 9 (rewatch) (even better on second viewing)
PUNISHER: WAR ZONE (2008)- 8 (rewatch)
PRETTY POISON (1968)- 8 (fascinating study of a criminal mind)


Kal said...

Hex was a piece of crap. I hope that is the final nail in the coffin that is Megan Fox's career. She annoys me worse than Lohan does.

I forgot what salt was about ten minutes after watching it. And how that starved skeleton did half those stunts I will never know.

I really enjoyed Punisher War Zone - it gave me the over the top violence I want and need from my punisher stories.

Rod Barnett said...

I don't actually have any problem with Megan Fox. You have to work much harder than she has so far to annoy me.

I describe PUNISHER: WAR ZONE as the action film Dario Argento never made. It s one of the most gorgeously art-directed bloodbaths in cinema history. Almost Bava-esque in its 'painted with light' beauty.