Friday, November 2, 2012

Viewing Log: October 2012

Theatrical Screenings

Argo: Solid, if uneven, thriller. Affleck both growing and stagnating as a director.
The Birds: Second, big-screen viewing made all the difference. One of Hitch's purest works.
Killer Joe: Friedkin, working with Tracy Letts' words, is operating at the top of his game.
Lawrence of Arabia: Fathom Events never pulled off a live event this good. A masterpiece that can only be fully appreciated on a big screen.
Looper: Above-average sci-fi movie with fine performances and showy, but never wowing, direction. Already fading from the mind; perhaps my younger self is changing our fate as we speak.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925): The scale of the sets is jaw-dropping, and the mixture of longing and animalism in Lon Chaney's eyes adds levels of danger and savagery foreign to those (like me) raised on the the musical version. Seen live with an organ accompaniment. Heaven.


Butter: Lame, condescending satire confirms every notion of Hollywood's elitism held by those it seeks to lampoon.
Nobody Walks: Ugh. Just, no thanks.
The Revisionaries: Compelling, occasionally sidetracked documentary about the creep of politics into every aspect of life, and whether that's inevitable.
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning: Just about a masterpiece of the action genre. Simultaneously purifies the genre down to its essence and shatters it.
Vamps: Delightful, touching film grows out of too-cute anachronistic jokes. Full review forthcoming.

New Viewings

Cactus River: One of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's several new shorts. Enigmatic even by his standards. Still mulling over its evocative, fluid imagery.
Death and the Maiden: Polanski said this was his hardest movie to film, and even though he later made a film more directly about his WWII experiences, it's not hard to see why he said that of this movie.
Detective: Godard goes New Wave for old times' sake, has a ball.
The Devil's Rejects: A great movie, and that is not a statement I expected to make during its first 20 minutes.
Dionysus in '69: Full review coming later this month. Spotty but fascinating early experiment for De Palma.
Frantic: It's never not enjoyable to watch Roman Polanski put a character through the ringer, especially when it makes a deadpan, unresponsive actor like Harrison Ford LOSE it.
Hard Target: Oh, John, and Jean. Let's just move on, shall we?
The Heartbreak Kid (2007): Almost as good as the original. No, really, I talk about both here.
King Lear (1987): New favorite Godard. I need a rewatch and some research before I can write my review.
Knife in the Water: Roman Polanski lived and breathed cinema even from the start.
Macbeth (1971): Brilliantly, brutally pared down take on Shakespeare's play. Makes you wonder why anyone would go to all that grotesque trouble to be king.
Marnie: Like The Birds, this is Hitch at his most "come at me, bro."
A Perfect Getaway: One of the best Hollywood thrillers of the last few years. Just grand.
Pola X: Carax stripped down and dolled up. Successfully subsumes his stylistic flourishes into a more static no less less overwhelming upheaval. This is a master, people.
Red Line 7000: The brutal machinery spinning underneath Hawks' oeuvre. The usual Hawksian group is made sluggish and ultimately asphyxiated by the car fumes. A raw variant of Only Angels Have Wings' abstract on the precariousness of the director's usual characters.
The Tenant: Polanski's self-martyring, and self-lacerating, Apartment Trilogy capper. One of his finest.
They All Laughed: One of the best films of the '80s.
Unfaithfully Yours: Does for screwball what Monsieur Verdoux did for slapstick. As black as black comedy gets. I'm really coming to adore Preston Sturges, even if I still don't lose my stuff for The Lady Eve or Sullivan's Travels.
We Own the Night: James Gray is a modern treasure and he should be treated better.
What's Up, Doc?: "I'm a doctor." "Of what?" "Music." "Can you fix a hi-fi?" "No." "Then shut up."
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?: Frank Tashlin, where have you been all my life?

Repeat Viewings

Death Proof: A deconstructive masterpiece. Until Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino's best.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The same suffocating darkness that makes it such a daring kid's movie also lures me more than its saccharine qualities. Felt better about this viewing (on the new, excellent Blu-Ray) than I did for any other, including when I watched this as a child.
I'm Not There: One of two major opinion reversals I had with a rewatch this month. Helps, may even be essential, that I know now enough about Dylan to follow along.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Its racism still offends, but the audacity of its technical craft rates it among the director's finest aesthetic achievements. So torn, though I'm much more positive and appreciative of what it does well than in this old review.

Magic Mike: Stand by this rave from earlier in the year.
Prince of Darkness: See this review? Ignore every last word of it. I was wrong: this is one of Carpenter's best directed, most focused works of pure, unnerving dread. Honestly don't know how I missed the mark so badly on it the first time, but it's never to late to set things right. Possible new review may be forthcoming.
Young Frankenstein: Honestly, if you don't like this, there's the door.

Total Films Seen in 2012: 346
New to Me Films: 239
Theatrical Viewings: 34

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