The Last Unicorn (1982) – The Rankin-Bass films are kept alive only by the memories of the people who were children at the time of their original release, and they threaten to someday be lost under a century of Disney merchandising. I wouldn’t likely seek out these movies except for their status as the relics of an erstwhile underdog studio. Rankin-Bass will keep my Lents well stocked for years to come.
The Virgin Queen (1955) – Hoo-boy. Obviously, Bette Davis was better than this, but there’s no way around the fact that this movie exists, and she’s in it. The script could have been passable, except that it feels like someone wrote the script, then ran it through the Elizabethanizer, a machine that replaces “my” with “me” and throws in a few clunky robotic attempts at flowery poetic lines.
My husband brought me the DVD with a warning: “It does not speak to her majesty.” The Virgin Queen should have been, by all rights, a great film. Rarely has such a disappointment been committed to film.
The Ice Storm (1997) – Ang Lee doesn’t tend to mess around with unknown actors, does he? Even the children in The Ice Storm had already established themselves in the business. Now, twenty years later, all but perhaps one of them are still working and well-known. I like to see filmmakers take chances on the unknown, but this approach pays off for Ang Lee.
And although I love the entire cast, I feel like calling out Joan Allen in particular. She’s like the MSG of acting; most people might not really know about her, but she significantly enhances the flavor of anything she’s in.
Bell Book and Candle (1958) – As far as Kim Novak/Jimmy Stewart movies go, this beats the hell out of Vertigo, but maybe I was just in a bad mood for Vertigo. This makes it sound like a low bar to clear, but to avoid being misunderstood, I really loved Bell Book and Candle. The script is great, the actors are well cast–even the supporting cast is spectacular–it’s hard to find fault with anything here.
Okay, uh… how about… the door of the Zodiac nightclub only has ten signs of the actual zodiac around it. There, that’s a flaw.
The Wave (Bølgen, 2015) – I don’t watch enough Scandinavian cinema. I’ve certainly not seen enough Scandinavian disaster movies. Are there more? Recommendations, please. Although some of the characters may have made decisions I think I would not make in the same situation, I never felt like I had to suspend my disbelief to accept that they made those decisions. The reluctance of the other scientists to act on troubling sensor readings had shades of the Jaws mayor’s refusal to close the beach in the height of tourist season, but it at least felt like calculated risk rather than movie villain crap. Everyone in town seems to know exactly how long it will take for a wave to make it to them, though, and it was exactly ten minutes. I had a problem with that.
3:10 to Yuma (2007) – It took longer than usual, but I fell so far behind on these writeups that I’ve forgotten a lot of the opinions I had about this movie.
Let’s see… Russell Crowe, not bad for a Russell Crowe, at least he wasn’t being passed off as some kind of singer. Christian Bale didn’t bore me as much as he usually does. The rest of it… it’s a western. Gritty and dark with a lot of ideas about duty and what’s the right thing to do. I blame the movie for my forgetting it.
Dazed and Confused (1993) – The intersection of the high school movie and the recent period piece gives an excellent chance to prey on the emotional vulnerabilities of two generations at once. Current teenagers see a reflection of what they’re currently going through, while those who were teenagers at the time of the movie’s setting get to relive their youth in a stilted, idealized version of what their youth actually was.
The soundtrack is easy to compile, just get whatever songs were popular at the time and then match them roughly with whatever’s going on in the movie (“School’s Out for Summer” over the scene of students leaving school for the summer, for example). You can sell this soundtrack to people who have been listening to the same music for the last X years or decades, and all you have to pay is the royalties for existing songs.
Grease 2 (1982) – I find it odd the movies that people will tell me I should watch. I mention that I want to watch Battlefield Earth, and people tell me no, it’s terrible, you’ll hate it, and I tell them yes, I understand that, but I still want to watch it, and they say no you don’t, and I say don’t tell me what I want, and then we have a fight. But then someone brings me Grease 2 as if that’s not going to trigger a murderous rage/boredom before the closing credits.
Teorema (1968) – Every once in a while, I watch something mid-Lent which turns out to be something I could have watched for the End of Lent. The Christian themes are not subtle in Teorema, but the rarer feat is in making those themes interesting and worth watching. It probably deserves another watching; parts of it were confusing at best, but I at least got the sense that everything was deliberate, and the things I found confusing would be cleared up. But I don’t have time for this right now. I have more reviews to write.
Fantasia 2000 (1999) – I appreciate the idea behind this, reviving one of the greatest animated films ever as homage to the original intent of keeping it alive, but… there are problems. I don’t get the feeling that the same love and attention–or funding–of the original were put into this revival. The difference is even clearer when they show The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the most iconic piece of the original, and all of the phoned-in elements of the other segments stand out.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying everything has to be hand-drawn like the old days, but maybe ease up on the CGI until we can be sure that it will look as beautiful. A pod of whales flying through the clouds should be like a Lisa Frank poster come to life. It should not look like an arrangement of gray polygons among some white fluff. In fact, maybe in 1999, the CGI should have just been outsourced to Pixar.