Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Catching Up (If I Can)

I've been enjoying watching movies again.

Here are some mini-capsules:

The Sea Wolf (1941) was even better than I had hoped. There are some interesting parallels to The Master here and I wouldn't be at all surprised if PTA is a fan. My favorite moment is the romantic not-kiss between John Garfield and Ida Lupino. It's one of the greatest non-kisses in cinema history. The entire struggle between Everywildman Garfield and JeffHowardianSuperman Robinson is appropriately epic, sprinkled with the appropriate self-sacrificial efforts of a WriterMan Knox and increasingly passive worrying of Lovely Lupino.

Sound of My Voice (2011) is a waffle, wavering to and fro, cashing in on a vogue for ambiguity. It finds its own voice successfully about halfway through the film and becomes an almost interesting suspense thriller. I may be spoiling it to even say that twists follow twists, but I saw the end coming and it was unsatisfying because it played out as a "thought piece" instead of a satisfying resolution.

Out of the Past (1947) remains the representative perfect Noir film despite my ambivalence toward it. I keep watching it every few years, trying to understand why THIS film is the one that so many point out as The Perfect Noir Film. I can't fully get behind it. Part of it may be the flashback frame. Part of it may be how it shifts focus mid-film from a gritty romance to a sort-of revenge one last job get out of the business con the world film. I don't know. I like the film. I want to love it and I don't.

I've already written about Safety Not Guaranteed and The Prestige.

I watched two movies with the family: Charlotte's Web (2006) and Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005). I fell asleep during both. Any excuse to catch a nap. I watched the majority of both, though, and both are pleasant and fun movies.

Catch Me If You Can (2002) is one of Brandon's picks for Best Film of the Decade. It's really high on his list. Brandon's Appaloosa, if you will. Brandon and I used to talk about movies A LOT when we worked together every day. I remember his devotion to this film from back then. I probably saw Catch Me back in 2003 or 2004 on DVD. I liked it, but didn't think that it was a Great Movie. I'll say now that I was wrong. It is easily one of Spielberg's best and I'm okay with putting it up there with the best films of the decade. Its strengths are many, including the jaunty fun of watching a too-smart trickster character surviving on his own as he's lost in the world. The key, though, is that being lost in the world. Frank is running from he knows not what and heading toward he knows not where with he knows not what goal, except maybe to please his Father and win back his Mother. But, dang, he's doing it all in top style. DiCaprio had already proven his acting chops many times by 2002. He's great here. Hanks is also a tremendous presence. The Christmas Eve calls are beautiful. The strategic use of the one PG-13 f-bomb is probably the best PG-13 f-bomb ever. Knock Knock. My favorite comedy moment, though, in a movie filled with good ones, is the "Lutheran" prayer: There were two mice. A funny moment, but also the most revealing moment in the film, that Frank has no grounding except for what he's received from his father. It's become his unceasing lived prayer to keep afloat no matter what. Great pick, Brandon.

Finally, back to Mehsters of Horror. The last two Mehsters films that I've watched were both better than all of the other ones that had come before.

The Deer Woman
Directed by John Landis
Written by Max Landis, John Landis

Cigarette Burns
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by Drew McWeeny, Scott Swan

The Deer Woman is genuinely funny at times. Men are found trampled to death after walking off with a woman. This provides for humorous situations as characters discuss what kind of creature could be causing these deaths. It's still a stupid horror film, but I was surprised by how often it worked as a comedy. Landis delivers. Cigarette Burns, though, is an attempt at a self-referential cinematic pure horror. A film collector seeks out a film that has caused chaos and madness in each audience that has seen the film. Things end about as badly as they can as everyone gets what they want. This is close to what I like in horror. No one is happy and everyone is dead. Carpenter delivers. While I'm not really recommending either of these, they both stand out as better installments in what has been a disappointing series.

No comments: