Tuesday, May 01, 2007

2007: The Year of Watching DVDs, Part XV

THE MISSION is dangerous and foolhardy, some would say insane. You see, I have undertaken to watch all the movies on the Twofifty list, and the IMDb top 250 list, and every other movie in existence. If I fail, the rivers will run red with the blood of innocent people. So I must not fail. Thus far, I've watched a bazillion movies but there's still one on two I've missed.

Novecento / 1900 (1976) [AB list]
Fascists (Donald Sutherland as a killer of cats and kids) versus commies (Gerard Depardieu as a peasant with a big nose) versus rich landowners (Robert De Niro). It's over five hours long, which is a bit much, don't you think? But it's okay. Best moment: Sutherland headbutting a cat as a statement of principle. It was also interesting to see a scene where a hooker (actually, she's an actress) plays with De Niro's and Depardieu's dicks. Synchronicity: The kid who aims a gun at De Niro is called Leonida. The lead actor in MirrorMask is Stephanie Leonidas which I reviewed last week. What ARE the odds? (Three to one at BEST.)

La Strada (1954) [IMDb list]
Carnival strongman Anthony Quinn is slightly mean (not very) towards impish Guilietta Masina. I've never understood what's so great about Fellini. I'll give it three Willises.

The Fortune Cookie (1966)
In contrast, I've always understood what's so great about Billy Wilder. His movies are phun with a capital P. In this here moving picture, Jack Lemmon is slightly injured by an American football player. His brother-in-law, Walter Matthau, convinces him to pretend to me hurt worse so they can sue. I liked it until the end, which was stupid. So turn it off fifteen minutes from the end, and imagine your own ending.

Lung fu fong wan / City on Fire (1987)
I'd heard a lot about the similarities between this and Reservoir Dogs. And sure, Tarantino obviously ripped off half a dozen cool moments (it would be stupid of him to deny it, the fat fucker!), but they're all confined to the last 20 minutes of the original, so the overall feel is quite different. It's even got some actual women (mainly Chow Yun-Fat's fiancée)! And it's got horrible, horrible Eighties-style music, with saxophones and shit. And clichéd excessive police violence and excessive police stupidity. But it's certainly not uninteresting. Synchronicity: It's just a few days since I watched Infernal Affairs, another Hong Kong action movie about an undercover cop that served as the the inspiration for a Hollywood remake. (Andrew Lau, the cinematographer on City on Fire, co-directed Infernal Affairs.)

Boxcar Bertha (1972)
Early Scorsese. It's a Bonnie and Clyde rip-off about a commie, a whore, a coward and a Negro. The title character is as charming as only uneducated country girls can be.

Al Franken: God Spoke (2006)
Unspectacular documentary about Franken's slow transition from opinionated comedian to would-be senator. Okay to watch if you like Franken, which I do.

Wild at Heart (1990) (repeat)
One of David Lynch's coolest (but not best) films. It's a road movie starring Nicolas Cage as Elvis Presley, with touches of The Wizard of Oz. A bit too slow-moving and muddled, but with some exceptional scenes.

Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972) [IMDb list]
Spaniards who speak German searching for El Dorado.

Big Fish (2003) [Twofifty list]
Just lovely. Did you know Michael Keaton was BATMAN in movies directed by Tim Burton? So he can't be all evil.

Walk the Line (2006) [Twofifty list]
Johnny Cash biopic, focusing on his courtship of June Carter and his battle with an unspecified drug addiction (amphetamines). Follows the standard formula for reality-based Hollywood dramas, including touches of mawkishness, but very satisfying in the end (which takes place circa 1968). Phoenix and Witherspoon are great in the leads.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
It's good. Yeah, Brett Ratner is no Bryan Singer, and certainly a much better movie could have been constructed from the same building blocks. And yeah, if you wanted to do The Last X-Men Story (which I guess this basically is, even if it leaves itself open to sequels by two tiny epilogues - the latter of which comes after the end credits) there are more fitting stories to adapt than the Dark Phoenix Saga (like Grant Morrison's "Here Comes Tomorrow" or the semi-classic "Days of Future Past"). But it's entertaining enough, and not overly stupid. I like the X-Men in small doses, and this is just small enough. And I even like X-Men newcomers Kelsey Grammer and Ellen Page (who was great in Hard Candy, reviewed in Part VIII), and Vinnie Jones does what's expected. (Bonus linkage! What Juggernaut's "bitch" line refers to. And here's the Wikipedia entry.) Hey! Why was Olivia Williams uncredited? / Keen-Eyed in Kentucky

Warlock (1989)
Julian Sands and Richard E Grant are a witch and witch-hunter (respectively) who travel to the 1980s in search of a Satanic Bible in what may be the best film to get a rating of less than 6.0 on IMDb. Here's a picture gallery. Sure, the effects are crappy in that Eighties way, and Grant's Scottish dialect is not very convincing, but the plot is excellent and there's never a dull moment. I don't know if I'd recommend watching it entirely sober, though.

Twofifty finally updated so I lost a bunch of films but gained some others. Current standing: 242 out of 250. We'll get there, don't worry.


Moocko said...

Warlock seems very interesting. I really like that picture from it, and the 2nd movie in the series have always been something of a "cult fave" among my friends when I was in "mellanstadiet", so I guess should pick the first one up.

Koala Mentala said...

Ha! I picked that image because it makes the movie look like typical B movie crap! Anyway, the sequels don't have Richard Grant so I can't imagine them being any good.

Moocko said...

I think it's quite striking mise-en-scene, with those patterns in the background - the monster's so-so, but not bad. Can we expect more high scores for "crappy B movies"? :-)

Koala Mentala said...

It's not a monster, it's a woman. Are all women monsters to you?

To answer your question: Probably not. But I do plan to catch a few B movies in the near future. Watch the skies.