Thursday, August 04, 2011

What I Watched In July

Man! I watched a lot of stuff in July that I had already seen. I guess rewatching things (often with friends) was the main theme of the month. I used to spend a lot more time revisiting films to delve a little deeper into the reasons why they affected me one way or the other but in recent years the desire to see the unknown wealth of the newly discovered stuff has pushed much of that form movie watching away. This summer has been a return to older kinds of entertainment in a few ways – I’m reading ERB’s Mars novels again for one thing - so it just seems natural.

One revisit that proved my initial response to have been a bit too positive was my second viewing of THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. At the time of its release I thought it was certainly not a good film but after the sloppy formlessness of HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES it seemed a step further along the road for Rob Zombie to eventually making a good movie. Now, six years after the fact, with Zombie having shit the bed with two pathetic HALLOWEEN films TDR is looking even worse than it did at the time. I remembered thinking that he had no idea how to use classic rock songs as part of a narrative and listening to him cram song after song onto the soundtrack like some lunatic DJ trying to impress a jaded audience is sad. Also, I think that there is no worse writer of dialog working today in American film. Across four movies I don’t think he’s written a believable exchange between two characters yet.

Of the ‘new’ things I caught this up with the most fun were three classic El Santo movies. All three were incredibly entertaining but THE MUMMIES OF GUANAJUATO was easily the best of the lot. The film primarily features lesser known masked Mexican wrestlers Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras fighting a reanimated, zombie like group of mummies but Santo shows up in the third act to put the fiery smack down on the monsters. Who knew Santo had his own Q Branch?

SERAPHIM FALLS is a fantastic, low key western that, even though it’s about the old standbys of revenge and justice, finds fascinating ways to present its ideas. The acting from Peirce Brosnan and Liam Neeson is excellent as well. I recommend the film for anyone looking for a fresh take on old themes.

I only got out to the theater twice in July but both movies were good. BRIDESMAIDS was very funny if a little haphazardly directed. It might have been an even better movie if it had been directed by a surer hand but its delights outshine its minor problems. CAPTAIN AMERICA was dammed near exactly the movie I had been hoping for when Marvel announced they were making it. Set almost completely in the WWII era it smartly gets you invested in Steve Rogers as the good man he is before turning him into the muscled hero he eventually becomes. And since the hero is only as good as the villain he faces the film brilliantly gives us Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull. So evil the Nazi party is only a jumping off point he comes across as the bad guy destined to give even The Avengers a lot of trouble. It really is a great comic book movie and one I can hardly wait to see again- maybe at the drive-in!

THE OMEGA MAN (1971)- 7 (rewatch)
SANTO VS. LAS LOBAS (1972)- 7 (great color El Santo film- thank goodness for the subtitles)
ULTIMO DESEO (1976)- 8 (Spanish cut of PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK is even better)
ALIEN 2: ON EARTH (1980)- 3 (rewatch) (I love this terrible film!)
THE BIG BIRD CAGE (1972)- 8 (rewatch)
BRIDESMAIDS (2011)- 7 (very funny)
MOONLIGHTING MISTRESS (1970)- 7 (German thriller)
CLEANER (2007)- 8 (damned good thriller with Samuel L. Jackson and Ed Harris)
SANTO AGAINST THE STRANGLER (1965)- 6 (more padded than usual but a fun one anyway)
THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971)- 8 (rewatch)
HEARTLESS (2009)- 7 (interesting, thoughtful horror film)
THE INVINCIBLE BARBARIAN (1982)- 1 (miserable with nothing going for it)
GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD KNIGHT (2011)- 7 (good animated, episodic tale)
DEATH RACE 2000 (1975)- 8 (rewatch)
WOMEN IN CAGES (1971)- 6 (rewatch)
SERAPHIM FALLS (2007)- 8 (fine, intelligent western)
THE CAVE OF THE LIVING DEAD (1964)- 5 (rewatch)
JACK KIRBY: STORYTELLER (2005)- 8 (great documentary about The King)
THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997) -8 (rewatch)
MOH: CIGARETTE BURNS (2005)- 8 (rewatch)
THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005)- 3 (rewatch) (worse than I remembered)
GALAXINA (1980)- 2 (terrible sci-fi comedy)
EXORCISM (1975) – 6 (rewatch)
REC 2 (2009)- 6 (not as great as the first but pretty good)
PITCH BLACK (2000)- 8 (rewatch)
THE MUMMIES OF GUANAJUATO (1972)- 7 (mad Mexican wrestling fun)
THE NIGHT STALKER (1971)- 9 (rewatch) (the classic start of Carl Kolchak)


Brian Lindsey said...

I wasn't planning on seeing CAPTAIN AMERICA until it hits Blu-ray later this year (I haven't seen a film in a theater since Feb. 2010)... but your positive assessment tempts me to actually get out of the house!

CJG said...

Fantastic post. I am an El Santo Fan, as you can see by my profile picture. As I type this I am re watching Devils Rejects. Captain America was probibly my avorate of the Marvel Films.


Rod Barnett said...

Brian- there have three good comic book films this summer with my personal favorite being X-MEN but CA is a good place to start.

CJG- I'd in interested in your opinion of TDR- I think its a major mess with a terrible script-- but I guess I already said that! And there cannot be enough Santo fans. Viva El Santo!

CJG said...

The devils rejects. To put it mildly is a mess. It looks fantastic as do all of Zombies films and he succeeds in making a 70s style road/exploitation picture but the dialog kills the film. To his credit he did use a very odd choice of soundtrack but it works. He'll he even had DDP in the film in a good part but nothing helps kindergarten Charles Manson style dialog. I would give it 2 out of 5 stars but will say it's better then Sucker Punch

Rod Barnett said...

I actually feel the opposite in regard to THE DEVIL'S REJECTS and SUCKER PUNCH. SP stunned me and TDR disappointed me and then got worse over time. I gave TDR a 3 and SUCKER PUNCH an 8. I think after the initial flurry of hate SP will be reevaluated as much more intelligent than its being given credit for now. Its not nearly the film its being painted as in the fan media and the 'pile on' mentality is in full force.

CJG said...

Take a look at my last blog post. I describe in detail why I hated Sucker Punch. Also is that a real Captain America poster or did you photo shop it? If its real where can I buy one? I collect movie posters.

Rod Barnett said...

Its a real poster but I'm not sure where to get it. I'll be glad to read your post but I fear it will be more of the predictable negative stuff I've read since it was in theaters. No offense! I know people that hated CAPTAIN AMERICA.

CJG said...

Captain America was the perfect summer movie. Old school cliff hanger style action. I loved every minute of it, and being I'm a comic book nerd I loved the Avengers Trailer. Made me forget all about the Dark Knight Rises.

Rod Barnett said...

I loved getting a look at the Avengers too. But I've even heard so folks bitching that 'some of them weren't even in costume'! I swear geeks are never fucking happy.