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!!!
The only real disappointment amongst the last 10 movies I’ve watched was Searchers (1986), an Inuit take on John Ford’s The Searchers (1956). While having a fascinating sound design and an impressive arctic re-imagining of Monument Valley, it’s little more than home invasion genre exercise and is beneath Kunuk’s usual standard. Best in Show is shared between The Gate, a wonderful kids’ horror flick with stellar special effects, and Millennium Actress, an impressive survey of Japanese national and cinema histories told through a personal meta-narrative. The fact that there will be no more films by Satoshi Kon is tragic.
- The Gate (Tibor Takács, 1987)
- Sólo con tu pareja (Alfonso Cuarón, 1991)
- Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon, 2001)
- Santo vs. las lobas (Rubén Galindo and Jaime Jiménez Pons, 1972)
- Dead End Drive-In (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1986)
- Babo 73 (Robert Downey Sr., 1964)
- Searchers (Zacharias Kunuk and Natar Ungalaaq, 2016)
- Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
- Tora-san’s Lovesick (Yoji Yamada, 1974)
- I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
I saw I Am Not Your Negro and Get Out about 12 hours apart, making them into something of a double bill and I very much recommend that pairing. James Baldwin’s commentaries in I Am Not Your Negro movingly describe the challenge of living in an environment that is openly resistant to your presence, yet dubiously blind to that opposition. Taking Baldwin’s frustration and lament at being an alien within your own country and transposing that into the experience of Get Out is particularly informative, as the micro-aggression paranoia of this post-racial Twilight Zone episode encapsulates then allegorizes Baldwin’s view of American racial hegemony. Get Out isn’t a perfect film. It’s premise is easily foreseeable, making it slow to progress toward its reveal, then brief in its resolution, but its concept and execution display a confidence and an intelligence that makes Jordan Peele a rising new voice in feature filmmaking.
The last ten films I’ve watched boast various highlights – Takashi Shimura’s warm, paternal energy (Points and Lines), Marina Malfatti’s plunging necklines (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave), Amanda Donohoe’s long, lean torso (The Lair of the White Worm), the Black Hand’s pack of super-powered, little people henchmen (The Champions of Justice). Still, the biggest surprise of the bunch was discovering that the Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint of The Lair of the White Worm is none other than the constantly irritated, often sweary, and so very young Peter Capaldi!
- Points and Lines (Tsuneo Kobayashi, 1958)
- I Remember You (Ali Khamvaev, 1985)
- The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (Emilio Miraglia, 1971)
- The Lair of the White Worm (Ken Russell, 1988)
- Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler, 1969)
- Sausage Party (Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan, 2016)
- The Champions of Justice (Federico Curiel, 1971)
- Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (François Girard, 1993)
- The Autopsy of Jane Doe (André Øvredal, 2016)
- Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
While I enjoyed most of the films listed here, I felt particularly conflicted with Aquarius and The Autopsy of Jane Doe. While Aquarius features a wonderful performance by Sônia Braga, I thought her character was willfully blind to real issues connected to her “dog-in-a-manger” position on her apartment and the film’s Erin Brockovich-like ending was a clever bow tied up over a lot of undeveloped conflicts. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is an amazing concept with a very solid first act that is gradually allowed to deflate into nothing by the film’s conclusion. I could actually see myself watching Autopsy again in the vain hope that it will manage to suddenly live up to its splendid premise and will have somehow remedied its failure in my time away from it. Both films have great things going on in them, but nevertheless left me frustrated.