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.
Killer Condom (Kondom des Grauens, 1996) – For some years, I’ve been strongly encouraged to watch some Troma movies, and I’ve managed to avoid it so far. Killer Condom will have to count for now, although it was only distributed in the US by Troma Entertainment. But if this is any indication of the studio’s quality, I’m in for more. Even in 1996, it’s remarkable to have a gay protagonist (and several gay supporting characters) that aren’t the butt of a joke. Germany: making us look backwards and regressive since the late ’40s.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014) – When a genre grows tired, there will inevitably come along a comedy that makes the tedium almost worth it. For zombies, there is Shaun of the Dead, for spy movies, there is the OSS 117 series, and for vampires, there is What We Do in the Shadows. The mockumentary format, however, has always been lazy, and is now getting stale, but maybe someone will make a comedy about making a mockumentary, and I’ll be back on board.
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) – So first of all, this movie is not for me. It says so right at the beginning that it is “Dedicated to all the Brothers and Sisters who had enough of the Man”, and while I certainly have some disdain for the Man, I don’t qualify as a Brother or Sister in any way that it was intended here. Even so, it was a fun movie to watch, and I’m glad I finally did.
It’s not great on feminism, though. More than once, a woman in a position to help Sweetback only agrees to do so in exchange for some of his sweet sweetback. And there’s also the very graphic, very underage sex scene that starts the movie. But other than those things, it’s pretty good.
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.