Last 10

Sept 18 – Oct 3  

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. 

48Hrs (1982) – “I’m a ragtop man, myself.”  

Nolte’s Jack Cates says this at the end to Murphy’s Reggie Hammond in some tacit agreement that involves some stolen money (from whom is not really clear? The mob maybe?), prison terms and convertibles. The film is a bit of a ragtop itself. Hill is always shooting for the modern western. He gives you the rope-a-dope with the first few shots. Horses out on the range give way to a chain-gang and prison guards with cowboy hats and a big Indian with a prison break. An Indian breaking a white man out of jail. A white man springing a black man out of jail for two days to catch the cowboy and Indian. It’s screwball-action in Reagan-era America. A patchwork of lunacy that’s held together by Nolte and Murphy’s raw synergy. The Buddy-Cop movie some would call it, and its inception, but really its just an indictment of hate in America. 

The Miracle at Morgan’s Creek (1943) – The madness of the American mid-west during wartime. Sturges saw it coming and gives the baby boom it’s BOOM midway through the War. His screwball, hysteria is perfect for the war at home. Filled with local law enforcement and military staging points and the general mélange of people stuck at home during the war-time effort. It’s all psychological, as one character keeps as a refrain close to his heart. He’s some military boss keeping men in line and letting people know the state of the nation’s psyche is changing. Really, it’s just ramping up with competition stretching the frames of morality. Maybe seeing this world for what it really is; a chaotic clusterfuck that has no time for us. Especially the man who father’s sextuplets. A man who disappears in the night to go fight a war on foreign soil. This is the soul of Amercia.  

Cutter’s Way (1982) – And this is what happens to the white male in the end. He loses an arm and a leg and gets backed into his drunken corner. Depression levels out every step and desolation follows. It’s there in the music from the very beginning. It fringes on horror movie tones. It will not end well for a Vietnam vet with one eye. This movie is not so much about the whodunit but more about how the past is nothing but one long lament. A brutally, bleak film set in sunny Santa Barbara. It’s conflicting to the eye and wrenching to the soul. But Jeff Bridges continues his 80’s hunk-a-thon. Nobody wears blue jeans like he did in the 80’s. 

The Kid (2019) – “It’s the world we find ourselves in.” 

Ethan Hawkes’ Pat Garrett says this toward the end of this morality play. It’s just after one of his men has shot a child. It’s a tacit agreement we assume everyone made in the Old West. Anyone with a gun in their hand is free game. And the children are growing up fast these days is a familiar refrain in every era. The stories they are told are written by the victors, or the people left behind with their boredom. Hawkes’ Garrett seems to have good grasp of this. The story of Billy the Kid is the story of Rio Cutler. It starts with violence and end with violence. The stories they tell in between make no difference.  

Columbus (2017) – John Cho and Parker Posey are trapped in a mirror in one of Kogonada’s many long takes. A shot that acts as a fulcrum for how these characters feel and justly operate in this film. Modernist architecture sprouts up over the years in a small Indiana town. Cho and Richardson find themselves in an entrapment of awe throughout. Both trying to find some sort of spirituality in the things humans build. The push of modernity is but a prison we all find ourselves in. Best to push through it and find beauty in the art we make. It’s all we have, really. The notion of control comes in the form of building things. And we build and we build and we build. Becoming trapped in our own contemporaneousness. Building ourselves into a million-little boxes. It’s what we do. We build. It’s our only true gift. If you want to call it that. So, Cho and Richardson aren’t really looking for escape, really. They come to an understanding that the only true transcendence is not rising above it, but sitting in it, and letting it wash over you, and then maybe you can become a part of something.  

Alien Resurrection (1997) – Sexual metaphors are taken to their zenith when Ripley rips out the phallic-tongue-that-bites from a dead xenomorph and tosses it to Winona like a floppy dildo, as if to say, you’ll have to please yourself out in the void of space, I’ve gotten laid ONCE in five-hundred years. It’s hard out here for a clone. Ripley finds herself a lab experiment. When before, it was an experiment of maternal empowerment, now (in this film) it’s a strange mix of Whedon-retrograde and Juenet just of the City of Lost Children oddities. An off the mark mix for an Alien movie to say the least.  

Alien Covenant (2017) – At what point does Ridley Scott give up on trying to explain every nook and cranny of this universe? Not that I mind but this movie seems superfluous at this point. Do we need to know every iteration of the xenomorph? Yeah, we probably do. We can’t get enough of it. We can’t get enough of the creation egg. In Prometheus we were made fully aware that we were just a virus made by giant albinos. Here Scott can’t seem to get enough of Fassbinder. So much so that he has two Fassbinders, one who’s obsessed with perfecting another virus made by said giant albinos, and the other, who’s just a bore. A movie that is just superfluous at best. It’s almost as if Scott is telling us this is why he’s still making movies. Idle hands being the devil’s workshop and all. 

Capitol in the Twenty First Century (2019) – Here we are. For three hundred years we’ve wielded this thing with nothing but hopes and dreams. This is a slick rendering (cute movie cuts and all) of the anguish of life for most of us under capitalism. It’s too cute and chrome-like for its own good.  

Let the Corpses Tan (2019) – There’s so much style here that it becomes boring after a while. It’s so rambunctious that your attention starts to wander. You begin looking out the window for something more serene. Your bandwidth for jump cut is pu to the test. For what? Just pure flex, really. That’s all this movie is. It’s sheer muscular acumen. Filmmakers with something to prove. We all get it. It must be fun to have all the tools of film at your disposal and tell a story you want to see. But there’s nothing here that holds you.  

The Bedroom Window (1987) Curtis Hanson does his best Hitchcock by way of DePalma. It’s hard not to make a correlation to DePalma with how slick and post-modern this looks. But Guttenberg ruins every frame with his self-righteousness. His aw-shucks smile renders everything moot. There’s not a moment of this film that he doesn’t stick out like a clown at a funeral. It’s unnerving and at its best when the focus comes to the killer. When it’s actually leaning into the evil portent of the story. It actually becomes something more than Guttenberg’s untrusting smile. There he’s forced to deal with real evil. Or some film facsimile of it. Again, this film is just a duplicate of a distraction. So, there-in is the heart of Hanson’s critique of DePalma’s renderings of Hitchcock. Touche.  

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