Incubus (1966) – The most beautifully filmed, most competently acted instructional language film ever made, made to demonstrate a language that can’t even be called dead because it was never alive.
To have a blinded character wander around shouting “Marco” is a test of the audience’s self restraint.
The Book of Life (2014) – That could have been a very good movie, except for some major problems. Putting aside the feminist problems for a moment (and that’s not easy, considering the main plotline centers around two men fighting over a woman, and surprise, it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test), it just fails on several basic technical and structural grounds.
The DVD was loaned to me with the warning that the music is terrible; it was terrible. One unnecessary cover after another, shoehorned into the story sideways. I was also warned that the framing device was obnoxious; it was. A framing device can be used effectively to bridge the real world to the fantastical story world. I do not need to be pulled from the story every five minutes to be explicitly told what I should be feeling. That makes me feel angry.
The movie is rife with characters and throwaway jokes we’ve seen a thousand times in Disney movies for twenty years or more. Just watch everything between The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas, and you’re all set.
The Innocents (1961) – With a governess, a housekeeper with dire-but-cryptic warnings, and creepy children, this is the quintessential gothic horror movie, and is really among the best I’ve ever seen.
Women Aren’t Funny (2014) – It’s an absurd assertion made by assholes that doesn’t even deserve a response. At least, the response shouldn’t just be listing off funny women but rather wondering how such a person with such views can still be a thing.
Seven Samurai (七人の侍, 1954) – With a running time of 207 minutes, that averages to nearly half an hour per samurai, which seems like a lot. But really, for such a long movie, it doesn’t feel wasteful, or long for the sake of being epic, as other directors might do (you know who you are, Peter Jackson). Even the stupid love story that nobody cares about doesn’t drag the movie down.
Albert Nobbs (2011) – Between The World According to Garp and Albert Nobbs, Glenn Close has shown herself capable of portraying the most heartbreaking characters and stories. And yet, for her six Oscar nominations, she has never won even once. It’s like she’s trying to outdo Peter O’Toole or something.
Faust (Faust – Eine deutsche Volkssage, 1926) – Emil Jannings as Mephisto is fabulous, in every sense of the word.
Fellini Satyricon (1969) – All the lush beauty you expect from Federico Fellini with all the perverse hedonism you expect from an ancient Roman erotic satire. I have yet to regret a trip to Scarecrow Video.
The World According to Garp (1982) – I say it a lot, but Robin Williams was at his best when he was scripted, possibly because he knew how to pick scripts better than he could improvise them.
I’m really surprised I hadn’t seen this before now. I hadn’t even heard much about it, and there’s so much to discuss. Why haven’t you guys been talking more about this? It’s been more than thirty years. For fuck’s sake, it had a sensitive, unsensational portrayal of a trans character.
Suffice it tosay, this may be my favorite movie this Lent.
The Warriors (1979) – Not a bad adaptation of a Greek epic, but you really need to keep that in mind or it becomes less good and watchable.