Monday, March 05, 2012
What I Watched In February
Without a doubt the most amazing film I saw last month was THE ARTIST. I’ve been a fan of the movie's director and star because of their pair of brilliant OSS 117 spy comedies but with this ode to silent cinema and the joys and pitfalls of performing they reached a higher level of (dare I say it?) artistry. It's funny, touching, beautiful to look at and perfectly played. I was thrilled that the film picked up as many Academy Awards as it did and even more thrilled to read people bitching about it. I love disagreeing with people who can’t love a film so glorious. This is a throwback to an age of filmmaking that rarely seems connected to what is made today. THE ARTIST is a film for film fans – not movie goers. I can’t wait to see it on Blu-Ray.
I also saw the new version of THE WOMAN IN BLACK from the reconstituted Hammer Studio. It is their return to gothic horror and a fantastically creepy tale told with much atmosphere and style. They stacked the financial deck by casting Daniel Radcliff guaranteeing a big opening weekend but positive word of mouth keeps sending audiences to the theater - and not just screeching, texting teenaged girls. Spielberg's animated THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN turned out to be an excellent adaptation of one of the classic comic strip tales. I've read very few of the original stories but this film was bright, exciting and very fun. I know this was produced with the knowledge that it would have a limited appeal in the US but I was completely charmed even without much background with the character. I would love to see a series of such movies made if the same voice cast could be signed on.
TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL was as good as I had heard it would be. Flipping the standard backwoods slasher tale on its head was a great idea and luckily the writers and director were smart enough to cast well and follow through. It is a slyly funny movie that succeeds with solid performances and a sense of humor and real wit. I was surprised by how charmed I was by a comedy/horror story made in this era of dumbed down writing. Just as fascinating was the documentary MACHTE MAIDENS UNLEASHED about the B-movies made in the Philippines in the 1960s and 70s. I'm always interested in learning more about the history of exploitation movies and this interview heavy film was informative and entertaining. It was made by the same folks responsible for the earlier doc about Australian exploitation cinema NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD so if you enjoyed that one I suspect you'll like this one too.
OPERATION: MANTIS (1985) - 4
TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL (2010)- 9 (very good horror/comedy with excellent performances)
MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED (2010)- 8 (great documentary)
OPEN HOUSE (1987)- 3 (amateurish slasher with Adrienne Barbeau)
STRANGE AWAKENING (1957) -6 (pretty good mystery)
THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2011) - 8 (excellent gothic remake)
CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE (1966) - 3 (Larry Buchanan mess)
GHIDORAH, THE THREE HEADED MONSTER (1965)- 6 (a fun monster bash weighed down by the silly idea of the monsters communicating and cooperating)
THE ARTIST (2011)- 10 (excellent in every way)
NAVAJO JOE (1966) - 6 (Sergio Corbucci western isn't as good as his later efforts)
PSYCHIC KILLER (1975)- 6 (interesting thriller with good cast)
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011)- 8 (great fun - bring on the sequel)
CHAINED HEAT (1983- 4 (nudity & sleaze make it watchable- barely)
TARZAN GOES TO INDIA (1962)- 5 (OK Tarzan tale- nothing special)
DRAGNET (1954)- 6 (the original hard-boiled Jack Webb post radio version)
LAKE MUNGO (2008)- 7 (interesting documentary style horror story)
SEVEN MURDERS FOR SCOTLAND YARD (1971)- 6 (rewatch)