The last ten films I’ve watched hit me where I live, although often in unusual ways. My Journey Through French Cinema is la cataire for French cinephiles – bring on Volume 2! Hype! reminds me of everything I loved about mid-’90s rock and why I still wince at hearing Nirvana covers. Call Me by Your Name was bucolic and sensual, Scum of the Earth! earns its reputation as cinema’s first “roughie,” and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a single-set pressure cooker of love and obsession, pleas and rebukes, victims and victimizers, and doms and subs. Perhaps most memorable was My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, which plays like Wes Anderson’s trippy remake of The Poseidon Adventure replacing the boat for a high school and its passengers with teenaged Peanuts characters.
- Scum of the Earth! (Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1963)
- Operation Lipstick (Umetsugu Inoue, 1969)
- The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972)
- Tales of Masked Men (Carlos Ávila, 2012)
- Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
- Elegant Beast (Yuzo Kawashima, 1962)
- My Journey Through French Cinema (Bertrand Tavernier, 2016)
- Hype! (Doug Pray, 1996)
- My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea (Dash Shaw, 2016)
- Tributes: Pulse (Bill Morrison, 2011)
I watched Tributes: Pulse in anticipation of seeing Bill Morrison speak at my local cinematheque about Dawson City: Frozen Time. Morrison provided various observations:
With just a few major films of 2017 still to see, I expect Kogonada’s Columbus (2017) to be my favourite film of the year. I naturally love the movie’s formal rigour, being full of compositional matches and self-reflexive treatments of architecture that draw in complimentary ideas about the nature of film (oh, those mirrors!), however I also found it emotionally clear and engaging. It helps that I live in a city with its own particular debt to modernist architecture. Is John Cho’s “brutal” comment when looking at Haley Lu Richardson’s concrete school an architecture joke? I hope so, because I laughed like it was.
- The Vampire and Sex (René Cardona, 1969)
- One Piece: Chopper’s Kingdom on the Island of Strange Animals (Atsuji Shimizu, 2002)
- Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
- Columbus (Kogonada, 2017)
- A Face in the Crowd (Elia Kazan, 1957)
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017)
- Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935)
- Kamikaze 1989 (Wolf Gremm, 1982)
- Snows of Grenoble (Jacques Ertaud and Jean-Jacques Languepin, 1968)
- 13 Days in France (Claude Lelouch and François Reichenbach, 1968)
A few final thoughts:
- I find it hilarious that the vampire in the Santo-starring The Vampire and Sex seems only able to drink the blood of women while they’re topless.
- I also find it hilarious how wrong that movie portrays mirrors.
- My wife put The Last Jedi at the top of her non-original trilogy list, but I felt almost nothing for it either way.
- You know that Marilyn Monroe is sexy when even a 4 year-old boy stops in his tracks multiple times to watch her giggle and bounce.
- I’m loving the Criterion Collection’s Olympic box and I’m very happy with my approach of starting in the middle and working my way outwards.
- One of these ten films will be my next MMC! proposal!
The last ten films I watched have two films that will certainly make my Top Ten for 2017 (Lady Bird and Coco), a pretty poor feature (Macabre Legends of the Colony), and a pair of movies that I’ve watched for a Christmas-horror film group (Better Watch Out and A Christmas Horror Story). And you heard it here first, Office Space and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad remain all-time masterpieces.
- Better Watch Out (Chris Peckover, 2016)
- The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (Nathan H. Juran, 1958)
- Macabre Legends of the Colony (Arturo Martinez, 1974)
- A Christmas Horror Story (Steven Hoban, Grant Harvey, and Brett Sullivan, 2015)
- Jabberwocky (Terry Gilliam, 1977)
- Coco (Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, 2017)
- Trash Fire (Richard Bates Jr., 2016)
- Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)
- J.D.’s Revenge (Arthur Marks, 1976)
- Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999)
We caught Coco early enough that were victimized by the lamentable, 23-minute short, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers, 2017). Putting aside that it stars a thoroughly obnoxious and lamentably indestructible character and that it ends up taking space usually devoted to a brilliant Pixar short film, OFA was way too long and far too unrelated to Coco to have any place ahead of the feature film. My little one was one of the wide chorus of kids asking “What is this?”, “Where is Coco?”, and “When is this over?” By the time the feature started, his patience was understandably worn thin waiting for Miguel to get to the Land of the Dead and a pee-break was naturally necessary two-thirds of the way through Coco. Like Frozen, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure was watched for the first time in what will be forever.
Despite it being November, the last ten films I’ve watched exhibit something of a Halloween hangover. Best in class goes to Over the Garden Wall, a Cartoon Network miniseries by Patrick McHale that wonderfully mashes-up Washington Irving, The Wind in the Willows, Van Beuren animation, Hayao Miyazaki, the teen drama, and countless other texts into a fantastical celebration of randomness and colonial Americana. It remains a favourite work of the new millennium and is quickly becoming a Halloween tradition for me.
- Five Came Back (Laurent Bouzereau, 2017)
- The Lure (Agnieszka Smoczynska, 2015)
- Three Tough Guys (Duccio Tessari, 1974)
- Raw (Julia Ducournau, 2016)
- Over the Garden Wall (Patrick McHale, 2014)
- Faces Places (Agnès Varda and JR, 2017)
- The Brood (David Cronenberg, 1979)
- The Super Inframan (Shan Hua, 1975)
- Dead & Buried (Gary Sherman, 1981)
- Blood Feast (Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1963)
Dead & Buried has long been a horror-blind spot and it didn’t disappoint when finally screened, being slick in look and surprisingly atmospheric. Five Came Back won with a great title sequence and a timely statement about defending American values without losing the capacity for compassion and humanity. Faces Places exhibited that typical Varda populism and generosity of spirit, while Blood Feast was cheaply alluring in a particularly Floridian way. A close second to Over the Garden Wall was another unusual fantasy, The Lure. This horror-musical about two mermaids coming of age in a Polish nightclub and set in the early 1980s is a wonder, being extravagant and audacious in its approach to genre, narrative, and visual style. Do nastepnego miesiaca!
Among the last ten films I’ve watched, top marks go to the traumatic chronology of Muriel, or The Time of Return and The Dust Bowl‘s heartbreaking ecology, while Nothing Bad Can Happen might be a feel-bad masterpiece if you can stomach its tortuous content. Those looking to kick off this Halloween month with a mix of class and trash might consider the double-bill of The Beauty of the Devil and Mystics of Bali, an unexpected celebration of supernatural deals gone wrong.
- Mystics in Bali (H. Tjut Djalil, 1981)
- The Beauty of the Devil (Rene Clair, 1950)
- The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
- Okja (Bong Joon-ho, 2017)
- Muriel, or The Time of Return (Alain Resnais, 1963)
- Fury of the Karate Masters (Alfredo B. Crevenna, 1982)
- Evil Ed (Anders Jacobsson, 1995)
- The Dust Bowl (Ken Burns, 2012)
- Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)
- Nothing Bad Can Happen (Katrin Gebbe, 2013)
Finally, The Royal Tenenbaums remains a sad, warm blanket ready for when I need it.
The star of the last ten movies I’ve watched is Bruno Dumont’s feature film/television mini-series Li’l Quinquin (2014). Twin Peaks fans finding themselves in withdrawal from their favourite surreal murder investigation should consider Dumont’s quirky take on the procedural, something my wife ably called “the Napoleon Dynamite version of True Detective, but French.”
- Creepshow 2 (Michael Gornick, 1987)
- Blood Simple (Joel Cohen, 1984)
- Li’l Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, 2014)
- George Best: All By Himself (Daniel Gordon, 2016)
- Hellish Spiders (Federico Curiel, 1968)
- Good Time (Ben Safdie and Josh Safdie, 2017)
- Ingrid Goes West (Matt Spicer, 2017)
- Hellish Love (Chûsei Sone, 1972)
- Kedi (Ceyda Torun, 2017)
- C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud (David Irving, 1989)
Moving past Li’l Quinquin, these last ten screenings found a number of very enjoyable films. Blood Simple remains a neo-noir classic with its spare story-telling and its misapprehended characters. Good Time is an exceptionally tense crime story that features an astonishingly captivating performance by Robert Pattinson. Creepshow 2 is a fun triptych of PG terrors wrapped up in an R-rated package. Kedi‘s presentation of the cats of Istanbul was utterly charming, while Hellish Love delivers a pleasingly familiar, period-set, Japanese ghost-lover horror story. And finally, Hellish Spiders is an incredibly fun Blue Demon vehicle with great wrestling, some atmospheric cinematography, and some gloriously wobbly science fiction staging.