Aug 4 – 28
I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen.
7500 (2019) – Never leaving the cockpit in a hijacked-plane movie is a novel idea. Tensions abound. But it grows nauseating and trite as it goes along. Levitt is game as always but he isn’t quite the actor that levitates things to some other level. He’s a character actor amongst other slight actors and the piece is just a piece and that’s all it is; just an idea, competently executed.
Bit (2019) – Young women as vampires taking over the patriarchal power structure is exciting at times and a very contemporary, but the movie runs along the lines of Buffy kitsch, and it drowns itself in, at times, in the night-time-glamour-LA. Whatever that is to the audience, I don’t know. And the reveal of the Dracula character and his subsequent “scene” is enough to turn the damn thing off. But you don’t because you’ve come this far.
The House That Jack Built (2019) – The notion that America is an unfinished house filled with self-important serial-killers is pretty dead on. Maybe too dead on the nose. Dillon being that dead-on killer who’s work of art at the end seems all too obvious. The meandering narration he shares with Bruno Ganz as Virgil is too dead-on, as they make their way towards hell. If it seems dead-on again, it is. It seems Von Trier is saying everything about America at its core, is a bit too on the nose. We’re murdering, misanthropes living in abodes we can’t quite imagine, much less build. Considering the state of our infrastructure and our current mental state, it seems dead-on.
The Wanderers (1979) – Buffoonery abounds in this look at masculinity in the form of neighborhood tribes. It’s the early 60’s and there’s a massive holdover of style and pedantry from the previous decade. There’s a massive holdover as men as gorillas. Kaufman takes a cartoonish look at young maleness in crisis. And an even shallower look into a dated racial milieu. Don’t even mention the women, because the film hardly does. There’s a small, truncated moment at the end when the-times-they-are-a-changing is blatantly thrown in our faces, but even then, it’s too squeamishly physical to take to heart. It’s just a tongue and cheek ode to men who still use Dapper Dan and like to think romantically about anything but women.
Sun Don’t Shine (2012) – Sort of a throwback to the Indie days of the early nineties. It has that feel of that loose telephoto-lense-look. A lot of sweaty close-ups and hushed tones. Simple people on the run in Florida. Voice-overs that aren’t narrations but Malick-like ruminations. Thoughts put out there like poetry. Every lovers-on-the-run movie is aping Badlands and Malick’s ethereal film-language. But here it doesn’t quite reach that exquisite plain. It stays in the muck and mire of base beings without judgement. It comes off bland like maybe everyone is bored and decided to make a movie.
Extraction (2020) – Children are disposable in this part of the world where the melancholic white guy comes to the rescue. To the rescue of a high-school-aged kid who’s kidnapped for some reason I never quite got a hold of. Warring Indian mobs, right? It’s not about that, I guess. It’s about the action. A lot of long takes. Someone’s been influenced by Gareth Evans and all that Indonesian martial arts cinema. And it’s not a bad knock-off when you have someone like Hemsworth carrying the load. Also, kudos to the Thor vs. Hellboy fight.
Lucky Day (2019) – Roger Avary spent some time in stir, if you weren’t aware. He was sent up for manslaughter when he got drunk and decided to drive on the Pacific Coast Highway. Somebody died. A passenger. Here he makes prison-life art. He doesn’t do it very well. He’s just flippant and petty and too off the mark with his humor. Is he trying to work through any kind of guilt or embarrassment? It’s doesn’t look like it. Instead he seems to be geeking on his own work and taking sly, little potshots at bigger game (at one point there’s a shot on the street as a car pulls up to the curb and in the background there’s a sign for a store called Quentin’s Dupe Shop. What’s a dupe shop? More importantly, Avary’s still holding a grudge). His time in prison hasn’t given him more of an edge, just more faux loonyness and a need to tell people he’s still relevant and avant-garde-cool. Mostly he just proves that he can still make movies even after manslaughter.
Christine (2016) – Rebecca Hall is dynamite here. She’s brimming over the edges. Her eyes coiled back in her head like a wolf in a cave with its uterus falling out. She’s just on the edge of explosion. It’s in her every move and every steely-look she gives every man whose motives don’t align to her skeptical gaze. It’s unnerving performance about a woman whose endings have been cauterized at every turn. There’s no place for an eccentric in this world she finds herself in. The only thing she can do is go inward, further into the cave and seek implosion. Seek the only true attention anyone seeks in this oblivious construction, just to be seen and acknowledged.
Blue Steel (1990) – Before she shoots Tom Sizemore in one of the most satisfying deaths that ends with a man crashing through a window, Jamie Lee Curtis graduates from the academy and walks with relish down a New York City sidewalk. She walks between two women and they smile at each other. They smile at her because she’s got her police uniform on and her walk is just about the best dance you can see. It’s in recognition of femininity on the rise. A prideful knowing of what women are. But there’s always the maniacal male and the systems he has wrought on the world. Ron Silver is that patriarchal symbol writ large in the night. A brute expression of a rotten patriarchy. Not just rotten but perverse and twisted. JLC is doomed to fail as a police officer. Her own father spits negativity her way at the dinner table. This a movie soaked in misogyny. Soaked in blue light. Yet, JLC prevails with her laconic smile and lithe strut.
City of the Living Dead (1980) – Worms and maggots reign. The conqueror worm is back in Fulci’s mashup of Poe/Lovecraft lore. And Fulci gives you all the gore-goods anyone would ever need. A dead priest comes back to life in a down formally known as Salem. He’s got a real Frank Langella vibe and make women’s eyes bleed to the point their insides come up through their mouths. But he’s real gentle about it. His underlings, newly-back-from-the-dead are the rude and rowdy ones. Choosing to crush the backs of folk’s heads to get to the brains. Also, those alive are driven to madness to the point of paranoia killing a kid with an industrial drill. It’s all madness here, for the Great Nothing is coming.