Thursday, March 03, 2011

What I Watched In February

February was a strange month that had me watching several short, older films instead of venturing out to the theaters much. This usually happens to me in the winter when my desire to nest gets really strong and working up the energy to go out is hard to do. I tend to snuggle down onto the couch, drink a lot of hot tea and watch black & white films as a buffer against the cold weather.

Of the films I saw last month I had one good surprise – SOLOMON KANE – and one bad one- HOWARD THE DUCK. Holy crap! I had heard for years that HTD was a terrible film but I had no idea just how awful it would turn out to be. There is nothing good about the movie. Nothing. The only moment I don’t want to flush completely out of my memory is the sight of Lea Thompson in her panties. What a total waste of good source material. Had anyone involved even read the damned comic books?

On the plus side was THE INVISIBLE which I almost didn’t watch because I thought the trailer had given the entire story away. I was quite impressed that there was a good deal more to it than I had assumed and ended up very happy with it. I need to eventually see the film it is a remake of to compare them. On the other hand, the remake of IT’S ALIVE was only so-so. It has a number of points of interest but the film is directed in a deliberately flat way that muted the story’s highlights. The ending is good but the pace and tone were too slow and off putting. THE OUTFIT is another adaptation of a Richard Stark ‘Parker’ novel and it’s a good one. It screws around with the book a good bit, adding unnecessary characters and presenting a series of crimes in a different manner but overall its fairly close to the book and sometimes lifts whole scenes straight out. Walter Hill’s spare, sharp modern noir THE DRIVER was fantastic. I love 1970s crime movies and the fact that I only just got to THE OUTFIT and this one proves that I haven’t seen them all yet. I think that’s a good thing! It means there is more good stuff out there to track down.

I was able to finally see the fourth season of 'Dexter’ and really enjoyed it. The final reveal in the closing moments seemed a little off but it didn’t spoil a brilliant run. Bring on season five! I also got in a Tarzan movie, three westerns, a Charlie Chan classic and an Arabian Night’s style film with an heroic Rock Hudson working hard to convince us that he’s …….. of Middle Eastern descent. (You thought I was gonna say something else, didn’t you?) Ah yes- variety is the spice of life.

FULL HOUSE FOR THE DEVIL (1968)- 5 (OK spaghetti western)
THE INVISIBLE (2007)- 7 (damned good- now I need to see the Swedish original)
MEGAMIND (2010)- 7 (good and quite funny animated film)
VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1972)- 8 (rewatch)
THE DRIVER (1978) – 8 (amazing 70’s crime film)
THE LADY IN THE MORGUE (1938)- 6 (fun B-mystery)
THE GOLDEN BLADE (1953)- 6 (fun, colorful Arabian nights adventure)
THE CASE OF CHARLES PEACE (1949)- 6 (interesting if slightly flat telling of a mostly true tale)
SOLOMON KANE (2009)- 8
OUTLANDER (2008)- 8 (rewatch) (went up a notch on second view)
HUNDRA (1983)- 6 (rewatch)
IT’S ALIVE (2008) – 5 (unnecessary remake – not bad but not good either)
CHARLIE CHAN’S SECRET (1936)- 7 (rewatch)
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)- 9 (rewatch)
TARZAN TRIUMPHS (1943)- 7 (Tarzan vs. nazi)
HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (1973)- 7 (rewatch)
ARMY OF SHADOWS (1969)- 8 (excellent- the ending snuck up on me)
HOWARD THE DUCK (1986)- 1 (poorly conceived, overlong, unfunny, stupid and a defilement of the source material)
THE TOURIST (2010)- 4 (middling, silly piffle)
THE MOMENT TO KILL (1970)- 8 (damned good spaghetti western)
THE MALTESE FALCON (1931)- 6 (the story reduced to a short programmer)
WILD BILL (1995)- 8 (rewatch)
THE PATIENT IN ROOM 18 (1938)- 6 (fun mystery B movie)
LA MOUSTACHE (2005) – 7 (fascinating trip into a man’s mind)
THE VELVET VAMPIRE (1971)- 4 (slow, kind of pointless and not scary)
THE OUTFIT (1973)- 7 (good crime film with great cast)

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