Pacific Rim (2013) – Visually impressive, although I’m not really sure about the scale of certain objects being tossed around a city in some scenes. I don’t want to trash this movie too much–that’d be cheap, and too easy–but writing Pacific Rim was apparently also cheap and too easy. Someone could have stood to challenge themselves, Travis Beacham.
Ex Machina (2015) – In another case of trailers completely failing to convey the true sense of a movie (or possibly another case of me not paying much attention), I misjudged Ex Machina based on its trailers. I expected something that would be more in place in the 1970s sci-fi world, where some simplistic statements are made about the nature of humanity and the dangers of technology, wrapped up in some really tiresome statements about the nature of men and women (but especially women, am I right fellas). To be clear, that’s not at all what I came away with from Ex Machina. If anything, it made some statements about expecting those kind of things from it.
The Mermaid (美人鱼, 2016) – That The Mermaid is not getting a broader release in the United States is a shame. If you have the opportunity to see it, you owe it to the people who can’t to make the time and go. It’s not world-changing cinema or anything, but it had me giggling like an idiot for longer than my body is typically comfortable doing so.
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) – I don’t know why I ever thought so little of her in the first place, but I love Marilyn Monroe more and more every time I see her in something. Sure, she’s very pretty, but she had a comedic sense that she really should have been just as famous for.
And Lauren Bacall, even though a lot of her best-known works were in her 20s, just seems older than that. Perhaps its her voice and a bit of her bearing, but I get the sense that she must have been born with a glass of bourbon in her hand.
On the Town (1949) – I have managed thus far to not fall behind more than a day, but here I am now, writing almost a week’s worth of write-ups. I guess this will have to be fast.
On the Town is a very 1940s musical, with some iconic songs you’ll recognize, and some other numbers of questionable sensitivity level which would never be approved for production in this millennium. Altogether a good, fun time, especially when you consider Gene Kelly’s butt in sailor pants.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (دختری در شب تنها به خانه میرود) (2014) – Okay, first of all, trying to integrate right-to-left text into a left-to-right paragraph is a surprising hassle. I’m not one for imperialism or the obliteration of cultures or languages, but could the UN maybe resolve to just pick a direction to write?
The vampire genre is tired, but when applied carefully to a setting or a religious background, it can be used very effectively. In many ways, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night reminds me of Dracula. The original novel had a lot to say about women’s autonomy and sexuality in a society that the words “sexuality” and “women” were not only completely unrelated concepts, but concepts not fit for polite conversation. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night seems to make similar points, where a woman wears the garments of modesty, but rides a skateboard and drains a pimp of all his blood. This is what a vampire story should be. It doesn’t even require jump scares or excessive gore to be proper horror.
The article that pushed me to watch this one is here, by the way. If you live in Seattle, give Scarecrow your business; they are good people.
Eyes Without a Face (Les yeux sans visage, 1960) – Totally-not-interesting fact: both of the French mid-century horror movies I watched for Lent so far this year have scenes of someone identifying a body in the morgue. And in both cases, the person being identified is not dead (sorry, I don’t think that counts as a spoiler in either case).
Anyway, Eyes Without a Face feels much, much older than it is. I haven’t read up on it, but it feels like a classy homage to the campy, low-rent B-film horror of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, even though it’s not far removed, temporally, from the end of that era. Without being overtly horrifying, the woman walking around with the blank-faced mask is one of the most unnervingly creepy things I’ve seen in a movie in a long time.
Before we begin with the review, I feel it is about time to announce the final movie this year. Long, long ago, before I even started the Lent traditions, I was defeated by a movie so boring that I was compelled to stop watching partway through. All these years since, my defeat at the tedium of that movie has haunted me. I know now that I am ready to once again face that movie, empowered by wine and fatigue, with some number of friends backing me up. On Saturday, March 26, I will be watching my 440th Lent film, The Robe, and as God is my witness, I will get to the end of it fully and technically awake. If you are interested in joining me, let me know, we’ll work something out.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986) – So hey, some white people made a movie about Chinese culture. In the 1980s. That went about as well as you could expect, but not as badly as you might expect. When pseudo-Chinese mysticism is paired with 1980s neon, the results can look like a very ill-conceived shopping mall in Miami.
Kwaidan (怪談, 1964) – Now that is some good old folktale telling. Perhaps some parts of the stories are a lot scarier if you have a background in Japanese culture, or maybe there was a very different purpose to telling these scary stories than I’m used to, but most of these stories managed to at least unsettle me a bit.
And above all else, it was fucking gorgeous.
House (ハウス, 1977) – So. Well then. Japan. Wow.
Maybe I hadn’t heard enough about House before seeing it, but somehow I got the impression it was a serious, scary kind of horror. So I decided to make this the earlier of two Japanese horror movies I watched. Instead, I was met with the campiest of ’70s camp.
I probably could have gone to my deathbed having never seen House and still have lived a fulfilling and rewarding life.