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.
The last ten movies I’ve watched include a violent yakuza tragedy, a French comic book spectacle, a lengthy basketball documentary, an anesthetic-induced erotic fantasy, and an animated mini-series.
- Hiroshima Honor: Hostage Rescue Tactics (Yûji Makiguchi, 1976)
- Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Luc Besson, 2017)
- Django, Prepare a Coffin (Ferdinando Baldi, 1968)
- Malibu Express (Andy Sidaris, 1985)
- Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies (Jim Podhoretz, 2017)
- Superchick (Ed Forsyth, 1973)
- The Freshman (Sam Taylor and Fred Newmeyer, 1925)
- The Masseurs and a Woman (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1938)
- Daydream (Tetsuji Takechi, 1964)
- Adventure Time: Stakes (Andres Salaff, Elizabeth Ito, and Adam Muto, 2015)
The best and worst film of this bunch is definitely Malibu Express, the ridiculous tale of a hunky detective with all the ’80s trappings (moustache, fast cars, houseboat, hand cannon), some Cold War espionage, a murder mystery, some salacious blackmailing, a few hired goons, a helicopter, a race car, a drag queen, a family of redneck yokels, and plenty of sexy Playboy Playmates and Penthouse Pets in various states of undress. As far as pubescent male fantasies go, Malibu Express is glorious garbage and will take its rightful place on my Mount Rushmore of terrible films.
Certainly the most prominent of the last ten films I’ve watched is Baby Driver. Edgar Wright’s reliance on musical conventions create some potential shortcomings – his characters are rather simply drawn, his romantic performances tend toward the syrupy, and the film’s early suggestions of a traditionally integrated musical (at least with regard to its main character Baby) sit uneasily with the rest of the movie – however Baby Driver‘s musically choreographed driving and action sequences (which makes up the majority of the film) are wonders, expertly constructed around a superb soundtrack and thrilling all the way to the movie’s edges. It’s essential summer movie-viewing, sure to be a mainstay on second-year film studies syllabi on the movie musical, and making for a very interesting ride home from the theatre.
- Oh, Hello: On Broadway (Alex Timbers and Michael John Warren, 2017)
- The Graceful Brute (Yuzo Kawashima, 1962)
- Psychout for Murder (Rossano Brazzi 1969)
- The Creeping Garden (Tim Graham and Jasper Sharp, 2014)
- Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017)
- A Report on the Party and the Guests (Jan Nemec, 1966)
- Never Too Young to Die (Gil Bettman, 1986)
- Taking Care of Business (Arthur Hiller, 1990)
- Blue Demon vs. the Infernal Brains (Chano Urueta, 1968)
- Jour de fête (Jacques Tati, 1949)
For those looking for quality international cinema, we recommend Yuzo Kawashima’s The Graceful Brute (about a family of con artists defending their ill-gotten lifestyle while their various embezzlements fall in around them) and Jan Nemec’s A Report on the Party and the Guests (an allegorical tale of totalitarianism set amid bucolic picnics and celebrations). Those looking for something more frivolous might consider Blue Demon vs. the Infernal Brains (where legendary luchador Blue Demon occasionally appears to do battle with nonsensical, super-science brain collectors).
Putting aside the Cousteau films, the last ten films I’ve watched trend toward middling-to-decent cult films. C.H.U.D. still entertains with Daniel Stern doing his best to steal the film from its monstrous creatures. Parents is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, a middle class nightmare that seems to channel David Lynch, John Waters, and Joe Dante all at once. And while still a terrible movie, I can’t say I disliked Suicide Squad nearly as much as I thought I would, although my opinion of Will Smith as being gratingly moralistic and woeful in his choice of projects remains unchanged. Highest marks go to 13 Steps of Maki, a solid, butt-kicking exercise in Japanese genre cinema sure to reappear here at MMC!
- 13 Steps of Maki (Makoto Naito, 1975)
- Beyond the Gates (Jackson Stewart, 2016)
- C.H.U.D. (Douglas Cheek, 1984)
- Voyage to the Edge of the World (Jacques Cousteau, Philippe Cousteau, and Marshall Flaum, 1975)
- World Without Sun (Jacques Cousteau, 1964)
- The Silent World (Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle, 1956)
- Blue Demon vs. the Satanic Power (Chano Urueta, 1966)
- The Legend of Jimmy the Greek (Fritz Mitchell, 2009)
- Parents (Bob Balaban, 1989)
- Suicide Squad (David Ayer, 2016)
I’m happy to report that the rest of my time has been spent finishing the first two seasons of Lucha Underground, watching highlights of the Natsu Sumo Basho (the May Tournament), and … starting the first season Twin Peaks! I’ve never seen Twin Peaks, having made the assessment as a kid when it first came out that it just weird for weird’s sake. Fast forward twenty-seven years and I’m all about weird for weird’s sake! So far, so good. I could even see this Twin Peaks thing catching on some day, maybe finding a little cult following of its own!
The last 10 films I’ve watched are about as solid a group of films as you’ll randomly find. While You’re Welcome, America shows some spottiness that perhaps mars its dizzying highs, the least of this 10 is The Odyssey, a French bio-pic about Jacques-Yves Cousteau that was completely off my radar. The Odyssey feels heavily formulaic, constantly checking off the boxes of bio-pic adversity, but it remains a very enjoyable watch, gorgeous to the eye and featuring Audrey Tautou stealing every scene she’s in. Certainly recommended for fans of JYC.
- Macunaíma (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1969)
- Planet Earth II (Various, 2016)
- Will Ferrell: You’re Welcome, America: A Final Night with George W. Bush (Marty Callner, 2009)
- The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (Emilio Miraglia, 1972)
- The World of Kanako (Tetsuya Nakashima, 2014)
- The Rapacious Jailbreaker (Sadao Nakajima, 1974)
- Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981)
- The Odyssey (Jérôme Salle, 2016)
- One More Time with Feeling (Andrew Dominik, 2016)
- Chopper (Andrew Dominik, 2000)
The Andrew Dominik double feature was by accident and I can’t say enough about the visual trick Dominik executes at the end of One More Time with Feeling, conjuring a ghost on the viewer’s retina with uncanny elegance. Possession lived up to its mind-blowing reputation, The World of Kanako felt like a lost Tony Scott film, and Macunaíma is recommended for those aiming for higher degrees of tropical whimsy and absurdity in their Herzog or Jodorowsky. Those looking for more straightforward thrills would be well-served by The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, The Rapacious Jailbreaker, and Chopper. Planet Earth II is listed on Letterboxd and so it makes the last 10 films I’ve watched despite obviously being a TV mini-series. The pigeon-eating catfish help too!
Movie watching has been slow-going of late, what with television dominating our screening minutes. MasterChef: Australia, Lucha Underground, The Venture Bros., and Guy’s Grocery Games: Supermarket Masters Tournament have been keeping it classy around MMC!. And it’ll be tough times for cinema with Jordskott, Five Came Back, Archer Dreamland, The Gorburger Show, and the NBA playoffs on the immediate horizon. Nevertheless, the last 10 movies I’ve watched are:
- Yakuza Hooligans 893 (Sadao Nakajima, 1966)
- A Touch of Zen (King Hu, 1971)
- The Naked City (Jules Dassin, 1948)
- Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2015)
- Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)
- Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1970)
- Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
- Deafula (Peter Wolf, 1975)
- Porco Rosso (Hayao Miyazaki, 1992)
- Shin Godzilla (Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, 2017)
This just in and you heard it here first – Toni Erdmann is really good. See it before Kristen Wiig and Jack Nicholson turn it into Dinner with Schmucks (Jay Roach, 2010), a movie that I do enjoy but takes some crazy liberties with its very entertaining source material, Francis Veber’s The Dinner Game (1998).
A Touch of Zen is dazzling to the eye and manages to feel measured and accelerated, dedicated and diverted, all at once. Shin Godzilla takes on the plodding monster that is political bureaucracy (with tongue firmly in cheek). Porco Rosso remains one of Studio Ghibli’s undervalued masterpieces. But a warning should be heeded – stay away from Deafula … far away. Its American sign language-meets-vampire movie premise can’t save it from the failings of its art house pretensions.
Lastly, you can still vote for the cult cinema genre to be featured in our next Arrow Video proposal. Please head over to our poll and vote for your favourite!!!