Monday, November 19, 2007

The Year of Watching DVDs, Part 31: Some DVDs I Watched This Year

Hi there. I watched the entire IMDb top 250 list and now I'm watching everything else. All reviews so far.

Solaris (2002)
Hollywood remake of the Soviet classic (reviewed in Part 12). Not as good as the original (SHOCKING, I know). Still, it has its moments, and, at 97 minutes (a little more than half the length of the Tarkovsky film), it doesn't overstay its welcome. The story is solid and spooky, and Clooney is a likable actor. (Here's what I'm wondering: Has Steven Soderbergh ever made a really good film?)

Body Double (1984) (repeat)
Body Double, or, as I like to call it Body Boudlbe, because that's what I accidentally typed at first, is a unique movie in that everything about it is disgusting. Gregg Henry, Melanie Griffith, the music (both score and pop soundtrack), the masks, the smiles, the fashion, the hairstyles, the editing. Evertything - right down to such details as the telephones and TV sets. They're all disgusting! Director Brian De Palma is of course thoroughly disgusting himself, but even among his ouevre it's rare to find such a consistently disgusting film. Great stuff!

Romeo and Juliet (1968)
A classic. But in all honesty I bought it because the kids watch it in the last episode of Freaks and Geeks. If you're not familiar with it, IMDb's Plot Keywords will wet your appetite: "Female Nudity / Tragic Love / Bare Butt / Obsessive Love / Balcony".

Citizen Kane (1941) (repeat)
Has anyone heard of this? It's a pretty ingenious film by Orson Welles. I'd recommend it to people.

The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) (repeat)
The Coen brothers' film noir homage, starring Billy Bob Thornton as a hapless barber. I watched the color version, which isn't quite as elegant looking as the one in B/W. Slightly too long.

Rabbits (2002)
David Lynch's bizarre and menacing sitcom pastische. Permeated with a sense of foreboding (much of that may be the score), but it wears thin after a couple of segments. I also watched some other early Lynch, like The Grandmother. It's available on the Internet for free. Google it.

Jekyll (2007) (TV series, 6 episodes)
Had the makings of a great mini-series - James Nesbitt in the lead is excellent (see image at the top of this post) - but on the whole it fails. There are some nice touches, but I think the whole conspiracy angle, which comes to dominate the series, is a mistake. A "straight" update of the original story might have worked better.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) (repeat)
Dark animated superhero tale for children. Ultimately inconsequential, but full of pathos. Includes scenes and details from Miller/Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One, and also from Year Two, and probably some other places.

O Lucky Man! (1973)
Lindsay Anderson's masterwork, I guess (or maybe if...'s better? It was shoddily reviewed in Part 13/14). Full of classic scenes, but goes on longer than it should. Still, almost Great.

The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005) (repeat)
Apatow. Lots of heart. My fave characters are Cal and Dave (Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd, pictured above). I would sacrifice any three of my current friends to have either of those two as a friend. But that's not saying much, because I would probably sacrifice any three of my friends for a club sandwich.

The Birth of a Nation (1915)
AKA The Clansman! The first half is relatively inoffensive, being a fairly straightforward account of various happenings in the South before the Reconstruction (although it's probably worth noting that even at that point, the one guy who believes in equality between the races is portrayed not just as a villain, but possibly insane). Then it gets worse. From the end titles: "Negro action monitored by American Humane Association."

Team America: World Police (2004) (repeat)
Libertarian Jerry Bruckheimer meets Thunderbirds.

Superman: Doomsday (2007)
Direct-to-DVD adaptation of the 1990s Death of/Return of Superman storylines. Pretty fun, but for a Bruce Timm production, it's disappointing. There's plenty of flaws, not the least of which is the presence of Mullet Superman!

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc / The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Silent film by Carl Dreyer about the imprisonment and trial of Jeanne d'Arc. Lots of close-ups. Crappy YouTube version here:

Nixon (1995)
Oliver Stone's unflattering, but probably not entirely inaccurate, portrayal of Tricky Dick. At 3h 3min, it's definitely overlong (and that's not even the director's cut!), but always interesting. Great casting, especially Anthony Hopkins in the title role, and James Woods and Powers Boothe as Haldeman and Haig.

Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)
In this silent classic, DW Griffith shoe-horns stories from various eras into the title subject. He repeats the word as often as he can on the title cards, and even uses made-up words like "intolerate" and "the Intolerants". You know what would have been fun? If he had used Birth of a Nation as one of his examples of Intolerance. Ambitious, spectacular, boring.

The Office Series 1 (2001) (TV series, 6 episodes)
The Office Series 2 (2002) (TV series, 6 episodes) (repeat)
OMG I love it so much.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957) (repeat)
Burt Lancaster is the coolest columnist in New York, Tony Curtis is his dog. Very fun, rapid-fire dialogue.

C'era una volta il West / Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) (repeat)

The Office Christmas Specials (2 episodes (2003) (repeat)
The concluding specials are less ha-ha funny than the regular series, but more emotionally satisfying than pretty much any TV finale I've ever seen. The scene with Dawn opening her present was enough to make me teary-eyed.

The Usual Suspects (1995) (repeat)
Good performances, especially by Spacey. I've seen it a number of times, but I don't think I was bowled over by the "twist" ending even the first time. It's nicely edited but not very satisfying. Some elements of the plot are just too darn artificial. You have to assume that Keyser Söze is brilliantly calculating, but at the same time stupidly careless.

Dirty Harry (1971)
Some kind of classic, though hard to take seriously. Sometimes very amusing, but it's difficult to say for sure how much of the humor is intentional.

You Kill Me (2007)
Ben Kingsley is alcoholic Polish hitman Frank Falenczyk and SUPERBLOG!! favorite Téa Leoni (Sammy loves her) is his love interest.

Gattaca (1997)
Science phobic scifi action-y drama about man with heart condition who fakes his identity to be an astronaut in Teh Future. The film has its moments, but the emotional climax and much of the denouement is ridiculous. Jude Law's character is faintly interesting.

1 comment:

mookster said...

>Body Double (1984) (repeat)<
>Great stuff!!<

LOL. I remember my words after we saw that movie being very similar to those you've just written. It'such a nasty film. It's like De Palma managed to concentrate just about everything BAD about the 80's in it. The nastiness completely overshadows everything storywise. In most 80's flicks there are only one or two irritating details, but this movie is ALL about the irritating details.