Touch of Evil (1958, 1998 edit) – To clarify, what I watched was the 1998 edit based on Orson Welles’s lengthy memo to the studio detailing what they’d done wrong with his vision. More information on what was changed and why can be found here.
Knowing what the studio changed in their edit, I’m glad I watched the reconstruction. It was slow in places, and I know I would have very quickly lost interest with what the studio thought would be a good story line. At least the studio can’t undo the beautiful cinematography.
And of course we’re going to talk about Charleton Heston playing a Mexican. Being in black and white, we were at least spared the full horrors of one of Hollywood’s whitest men caked in bronzer. He had clearly been… darkened, but color would have made the effect worse. Still, if there’s someone who can get a decent performance out of Heston, I guess it’s Orson Welles.
Saturn 3 (1980) – Like a lot of sci-fi of its era, Saturn 3 is seemingly less concerned with trying to explain any of the science behind what they propose so that they can get on with the story, which I appreciate. The setting serves largely as a premise to isolate the three to four characters, and the real sci-fi element is a contemplation on AI and the nature of thought and being.
Like most sci-fi, Saturn 3 comes down on the side of caution at best, technophobia at worst. Black Mirror has been described as “What if phones, but too much?”, and that’s always where my mind goes with cautionary tales of technology gone wrong.
Connie and Carla (2004) – Ten years prior to Connie and Carla, this would have felt bold and progressive as a concept, because it would have beaten out The Birdcage by two years. Connie and Carla borrows heavily from other, more inventive movies (The Birdcage, Some Like it Hot, Victor Victoria), feeling more like a movie looking over another movie’s shoulder to cheat on a test rather than as any kind of homage. It’s not a bad movie by any means, just unoriginal.
Incidentally, Nia Vardalos never really looks to me like an actual drag queen (although I suppose that’s its own kind of drag). Toni Collette at least seems to fully embrace drag makeup.
Another Thin Man (1939) – My box set of Thin Man movies is running low. If almost everybody involved in this movie weren’t dead, I’d insist that they bring me more, but alas, the Thin Man movies are a limited resource. And yes, I checked, the entire cast is dead, including the baby.
The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince, 2015) – I loved the original book when I read it in my high school French class so many years ago, and in a lot of ways, the story doesn’t really hold up for me. Even so, I’ve been disappointed by other adaptations in the past, and was excited to see this one. I’m not sure if the version Netflix put out there is edited down from the original French release, but there are definitely pieces missing in what I saw, and it’s odd to think that a story was edited for time when a large chunk of the movie is padded out with another story entirely. And at least one of those chapters–the lamplighter–would have fit very neatly into the story they appear to be trying to tell, but it is only obliquely referenced toward the end in a way that makes me wonder if the original French release included that character but lost him in the move to Netflix.
I also appreciate that the filmmakers managed to make the mother a driven, goal-oriented, pushy parent without making her a heartless monster, as it is too easy to do in children’s movies.
The Fog (1980) – So ends my streak of horror movies, especially John Carpenter. It’s been fun, but I had hoped it would all have been a little scarier. Oh well. I’m not done with horror completely, but it’s time to give it a rest, at least for a couple days.
The Thing (1982) – Now this is some high-quality horror. Motivations make sense for the most part, which makes the fear more reasonable. I think the only actions I really had a major problem with was that of the Norwegian team in the archival footage. But they’re dead, so who cares.
Saw (2004) – This wasn’t, by a long shot, the outright torture porn I was led to believe it was, but even so, I’m not especially impressed. For one thing, the cops saying he never “technically” killed anyone, as if the worst thing Jigsaw could be charged with would be kidnapping or something. To be clear, most of the things Jigsaw has done to people would get an easy conviction for murder or attempted murder, and I’m not even a law-person.
Also, Cary Elwes should not attempt an American accent again. It’s a surprisingly difficult accent, you guys.
In the Mouth of Madness (1994) – My husband doesn’t care for horror movies, so I rarely get to see them since we like to watch things together. But he’s out of town, so let’s start with this one.
In the Mouth of Madness is a competent blend of Stephen King and H. P. Lovecraft. I don’t really like either of those authors very much, but I’ll at least acknowledge the competence of this mixture.
13th (2016) – Well, this isn’t an easy one to write about, especially after ranting for 200+ words about one of the stupidest movies I’ve ever seen.
13th is heartbreaking, and would, in a better world than we have, inspire reform of the American justice system. Take the time to watch it. It’s on Netflix.