Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What I Watched In December


December saw me spreading my viewing around to nearly every genre in the film universe. I saw westerns, romantic comedies, epics, super hero movies, spy movies, giant monster films, thrillers, Christmas movies and even a damned fine silent Viking movie.

The best surprise was the theatrical flop THE WARRIOR’S WAY. A bizarre combination of western and eastern ideas it involves ninjas, a group of circus misfits, a monosyllabic swordsman, an abandoned desert town (with a unfinished Ferris Wheel) and an adventurous/romantic tone sure to drive the majority of modern audiences screaming for the door. I’ve seen it criticized for everything from its sets, casting, storyline, action and dialog but all I can say is that I felt it worked perfectly. A grand western legend told AS a legend its very artificiality is its biggest advantage. From the too perfect look of the glorious CGI skies to the half finished buildings of the deserted desert town to the amusingly arch characters the film is constantly telling you it knows it is a Tall Tale. The villains are evil in the nastiest ways possible, cruel and heartless enough to make anyone wish for their defeat while the heroes are good people with dark secrets but good intentions. I understand why too many people will sneer at a film such as this but for those same reasons it renewed my faith in cinema.

Equally as affecting was the amazing Pre-Code GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 – a musical comedy that stands as one of the sexiest, funniest and most entertaining movies I saw in 2010. I recommend it to lovers of classic cinema very, very highly. David Lean’s epic DOCTOR ZHIVAGO turned out to be a bit overblown and dry but I’m glad to have seen it for its grand beauty. TRON: LEGACY was about as good as I expected, which is to say it was OK. It was about as good as a sequel to TRON could honestly be expected to be. BURIED was a tense and extremely well done thriller that inventively stays confined to one very small location. David Twohy’s incredible THE PERFECT GETAWAY managed to be one of the best ‘whodunit’ type mysteries I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve always been impressed by Twohy’s work and with this film he showed that he can play the audience like a well tuned piano inverting and subverting expectations by the fistful. One hell of a cast plays every note brilliantly bringing real satisfaction to the final crescendo.

After having had a copy for months I finally watched Paul Naschy’s final screen role in the Spanish horror movie THE VALDEMAR INHERITANCE. It is a very good movie that, while containing a few flaws, is a marvelously creepy Lovecraftian story I’m interested to show to others. Its biggest problem is that it’s constructed as Part One of a two part tale leaving things hanging in a frustrating fashion but it was so well done I just want to see the rest as soon as possible.

TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975)- 5 (poorly plotted but still fun monster stomp)
SUPERMAN/BATMAN: APOCALYPSE (2010)- 8 (another great animated movie)
DISTRICT B13 (2004)- 9 (rewatch)
SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964)- 3 (rewatch) (My favorite crappy Christmas movie)
THE WARRIOR’S WAY (2010)- 10 (amazing combination of elements)
THE BURROWERS (2008)- 8 (excellent horror/western)
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933)- 10 (wonderful musical comedy with many sexy ladies)
BATMAN BEGINS (2005)- 9 (rewatch)
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE (2009)- 6 (not as good as the first)
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)- 7 (beautiful but……)
OSS 117: LOST IN RIO (2009)- 8 (very funny sequel- bring on another one!)
THE VALDEMAR INHERITANCE (2010)- 7 (excellent Spanish period horror film- bring on part 2!)
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. RX (1942)- 6 (mystery with a dash of horror)
TRON: LEGACY (2010)- 6 (not too bad)
BURIED (2010)- 8 (tense, downbeat and unique tale)
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944)-8 (excellent Fritz Lang noir- even with the cop-out ending)
SCROOGE (1971)- 10 (rewatch)
HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS pt. 1 (2010)- 7
THE X FROM OUTER SPACE (1967)- 3 (silly, stupid, clumsy and inept- but not without its good points)
UP IN THE AIR (2009) – 8 (well done)
REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940) – 8 (excellent Christmas tale)
THE VIKING (1928)- 7 (silent two-strip Technicolor adventure film)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938)- 6 (solid but too brief version)
SCROOGE (1951)- 9 (excellent version with great cinematography, a strong cast, fine direction)
WONDER WOMAN (2009)- 8 (very good animated origin of the classic character)
THE CAPE CANAVERAL MONSTERS (1960)- 1 (from the man who made ROBOT MONSTER!)
THE HOLCROFT COVENANT (1985)- 7 (interesting spy thriller with a crappy score)
MACABRE (1958)- 4 (William Castle piffle that doesn’t make any sense at all)
PANIC BEATS (1983)- 7 (rewatch)
THE PERFECT GETAWAY (2009)- 9 (damned good thriller)
BLOODY NEW YEAR (1987)- 2 (abysmal British horror film)

4 comments:

Kal said...

I know now why I swiped this topic. You do it so well that what you say leave me thinking about the post long after I have moved on.

I am giving Warrior's Way a rewatch. It is stuffed with so many great stuff and so many NEW things for a western. The circus element alone is terrific. I also can imagine many sequels as the child grows up, is trained, loses her father sensei and then returns to Japan with a revenge most violent on everyone who turned her life into one wandering after the other. She will have her peace or die in the attempt. Woe be to anyone that get's in the way of that mission.

Okay - just another reason why Kal should be writing movies. The higher the concept, the higher the film makers need to go full retard on the execution.

I expected more than I had any right to expect because the film was that high of a high concept.

I hope my second view rectifies my harsh treatment the first time round.

This is why I follow you buddy.

Elena said...

You know that Buried is Spanish too? :P

Rod Barnett said...

Elena- yeah, BURIED is a Spanish made film but it doesn't feel like a foreign production, if you know what I mean. Hell! It takes place in a box! Damned good film.

Kal- your idea for a sequel is pretty damned good. Sadly i feel it will go the way of the mused about KILL BILL sequel about the aging Bride dealing with the fallout of her rampage. And high expectations can be a killer with film. Just ask the TRON fan base.

Elena said...

Well, to tell you the truth i haven't seen it yet but I really want! :)