Saturday, December 04, 2010

What I Watched In November

A fun November of film watching with some real surprises. I did not expect to watch the RUSH documentary all the way through in one sitting but once I started watching it I could NOT stop. Fascinating for its entire running time BEYOND THE LIGHTED STAGE was an incredible peek behind the scenes of a band I’ve love since my youth and I can recommend it wholeheartedly. BOOK OF BLOOD turned out to be another good example of adaptation and an interesting addition to the Clive Barker film list. I suspect it will not be loved by hardcore fans because of its slow burn nature but I found it to be a pitch perfect tale of terror.

It was an even split on my trips to the theater this month with RED being a fun if flawed ride but Wes Craven’s MY SOUL TO TAKE turning out to be a crap implosion. I know Craven is a smart, educated fellow but he waaaaaaayyyyy over thought his latest scare flick. When I’m rolling my eyes at your sad, clumsy attempts at animal symbolism you have failed to reach any level of deeper/hidden meaning and have entered the area we call ‘dipshit’. I would suggest Craven direct someone else’s script next time but since he did that with CURSED maybe its best he simply retire.

Two recent comedies were another split for me. PINEAPPLE EXPRESS was a genial waste of time and effort with a few laughs and several good ideas that just never seemed to add up to much. It often felt like it was going to advance to the level of truly funny but its artificial feeling just kept it flat. On the other hand THE HANGOVER was brilliantly funny with each amusing revelation leading to the next and the next on until the end. Rarely does a modern comedy feel so well thought out and consistently funny with a lot of the laughs coming from reactions to events rather than the events themselves. Well done.

MADE MEN is a shockingly good thriller with a great film-buff’s cast. RED BELT is a David Mamet film with his typically twisty plotting and an amazing cast supplemented by some great fight scenes. LEATHERHEADS is a period football film I can only imagine about 50 people in the world loving as much as I loved it. Very much in the realm of films of its period setting it hits every note exactly the way it should and has the effortless grace of a fine athlete in its prime. I laughed enough to ignore that it was made 70 years after its tale would have seemed new or fresh much less have appealed to a wide audience. Maybe I’m just an old film and football nut but I loved it!

THE EVIL (1978)- 7 (rewatch)
BOOK OF BLOOD (2008)- 7 (good Clive Barker adaptation marred only by a slow pace)
POPCORN (1991)- 5 (not awful but not well done either)
FRAGILE (2005)- 7 (rewatch)
V FOR VENDETTA (2006) – 8 (rewatch)
RED (2010)- 6 (not as good as it should have been but solid)
HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944) – 7 (rewatch)
SATANIK (1968)- 6 (strange Euro-trashy mad science/killer woman story)
PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (2008)- 5 (kind of OK)
THE TIME TRAVELLERS (1964)- 4 (silly, slow but interesting post apocalyptic SF)
PHILIP K. DICK: THE PENULTIMATE TRUTH (2008) - 8 (good documentary)
CULT OF THE DAMNED (1969)- 5 (fluctuates between interesting, pretentious and silly)
PAYMENT IN BLOOD (1967)- 6 (spaghetti western with a great score)
RUSH: BEYOND THE LIGHTED STAGE (2010)- 10 (great documentary about one of my favorite bands)
THE HANGOVER (2009) – 9 (damned funny film)
WEREWOLF IN A GIRL’S DORMITORY (1961)- 6 (good krimi-like horror tale)
MY SOUL TO TAKE (2010)- 2 (Craven shits the bed)
BLINDMAN (1971)- 6 (good spaghetti western take-off on the Zatoichi films)
MADE MEN (1999)- 7 (damned good crime/action tale with Jim Belushi, Timothy Dalton & Steve Railsback)
IDIOCRACY (2006)- 6 (not bad but the seams really show)
REDBELT (2008)- 8
DR. ORLOFF’S MONSTER (1964)- 7 (Jess Franco black & white awesomeness)
THE KILLER HAS RESERVED NINE SEATS (1974)- 8 (excellent Italian thriller)
LUCKY, THE INSCRUTABLE (1967)- 8 (Franco’s excellent spy comedy)
GRIZZLY (1976)- 5 (silly low budget JAWS rip-off is pretty fun)
STARCRASH (1979)- 5 (is it a 10 or a 1? I split the difference and love every minute of it) (rewatch)
MEGAFORCE (1982)- 1 (how can a film be so damned dull with that title?)
OCTAMAN (1971)- 4 (terrible, but in a goofy way)
THE UNDERTAKER AND HIS PALS (1966) -2 (unfunny and dragged out to barely an hour)
LEATHERHEADS (2007)- 8 (old style football tale set in 1925- I have no idea why it got made – I’m just glad it did!)


dr.morbius said...

Craven tends to "overthink" most of his movies. I sometimes think that he's more interested in post-modern games than he is with actually scaring someone. My favorite Craven projects--his episodes for the 1985 version of The Twilight Zone, The Serpent and the Rainbow--tend to be written by other hands. There's a lesson in that.

I need to see Red.

Rod Barnett said...

I still actually love Craven's two NIGHTMARE films and I have some respect for a few others but overall 'overthink' might as well be his middle name.

RED is flawed with a couple of scenes that felt like a low budget 1980s TV movie but its not bad.

Kal said...

This is my favorite post that you do. I always find movies that I want to see and I appreciate your ratings.

Rod Barnett said...

Calvin! I didn't even think to mention the Rush/Canada thing. An obvious connection to cross pollinate the blogoshpere! :-)

And thanks for your kind words.