Cinema Penitentiary Diary: May, 2015

I write these monthly diaries at the end of the month, rather than daily, so that I only write about what is remembered from the 75 or so movies seen on the monthly average. This month was way below average, so maybe I’ll remember more of what I have seen.  If I wrote a piece on a movie, I’ll  put Reviewed next to the title.

  1. Headhunters (don’t remember what this was about or what motivated me to watch it, but I have the faint recollection that it wasn’t bad
  2. The Eichmann Show (reviewed)
  3. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (When asked my favorite Tim Burton movie, I always answer ‘Ed Wood.” but I realized this month that wasn’t true. My favorite Tim Burton movie was, and always will be “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.”   I was crazy about it when it played in theatres, and this month’s  encounter with it on DVD proved that, while Pee Wee had no staying power, his first and only decent movie, does.   Stands with “Stop Making Sense” as the 1980’s answer to Jerry Lewis.)
  4. Gunman’s Walk  (a badass western by badass director phil karlson)   .Excalibur (reviewed)
  5. The Incredible Shrinking Man (I’m not kidding when I cite Jack Arnold as one of the best directors of the 1950’s. “The Incredible Shrinking Man” is as good  as any 1960’s European film when it comes to depicting anxiety and alienation.  Grant Williams can hold his own with any Antonioni anti-hero (but is still a far cry from his heroines.)   And  Arnold’s use of confined space here is just as imaginative and exacting as his use of open space in his “Tarantula.”)  Colorado Territory (had been reading a lot of articles claiming that raoul walsh’s western remake of his crime classic “high sierra” was better than the original.  those writers were crazy.  it is inferior in every way.) The Pajama Game (im always game for a doris day picture)
  6. It Follows (reviewed)   Away All Boats (notable for the kamikaze attacks alone)  Bombers B-52 ( love these movies about guys who cannot retire from military service. there’s always something new they want to be in on)
  7.  Miami Blues (one of the few neo-noirs of the 80’s that was any good)  Catfish (can’t remember a thing about it) Mo Better Blues (another excellent spike lee movie, this one about jazz)  Body Heat (if this kind of crap turns you on, you are hopeless)

     8 Anchors Aweigh (decent military musical about mismatched couples who straighten in out in the last reel)  Maggie           (reviewed)

9. Grand Canyon (its funny that people who hated crash loved this piece of crap that set the mold for the arbitrary                  intersection of anecdotal scenes)  Happy Accidents (i was thinking about this egotistical creep i used to know who           was always bragging about his screenplay.  about five years after i knew him, he had the lead in an indie picture and           was wondering if he had done anything since, and this was on his resume.  he had one scene in what was otherwise           a pretty good picture.) Under the Electric Sky (ridiculously enthusiastic advert for rave culture)

  1. Sara (im drawing a blank) Darby O’Gill and the Little People (a favorite from childhood with a pre-bond sean connery.)

11. La Nuit de Varennes (why has this art house hit from 1981 been forgotten?  mastroianni as casanova, harvey                   keitel as tom paine, and jean louis barrault as a porno author.  and i havent even got to the girls yet.)Cut throats                 Nine (gory but boring italian western)

  1. Hell’s Angels 69 (just in the mood for an authentic biker movie) Strange Magic (this cartoon is way more psychedelic than yellow submarine)  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (johnny depp as hunter thompson.  what more do you want?)
  1. Last Days in Vietnam (documentary about civilian evacuations at the end of the war. the funny thing about this one is that there is no mention of the fact that the US had lost the war. this picture tried to make the military look like they were successfully liberating  the southerners, who were prisoners in their own country. Dead Ringers (evidence that david cronenberg is a very dull director when he doesnt have gross out effects)  Miss Julie (Reviewed)
  1. Mad max 4 (Reviewed)  Mad max 3 (absolutely unwatchable) Chappie (Reviewed) Ulysses (why do they always say joseph strick is a terrible director?  i though he did a nice job dramatizing these scenes from joyce’s novel, both cinematically and as literature.)
  1. X-the Man with X-Ray Eyes (roger corman is an under-rated director. this is an almost perfect little movie)
  2. Run All Night ( action movies usually bore the shit out of me, but for some reason always enjoy watching liam neeson getting chased) I Want to Live (one of the best anti-death penalty movies, thanks to susan hayward, who was an unusual jewel of an actress who was nominated four times for an oscar before they finally gave it to her for this.)
  1. Clouds of Sils Maria (Reviewed)  Curse of Chucky (garbage)
  1. Q&A (this is usually thought of as lumet in is decline, but i don’t think so. he could have used some help polishing the script, but his direction is rough and ready.) Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (in spite of its ridiculous casting, this isnt a bad movie about older people retiring abroad)
  1. Tea and Sympathy (being a sissy doesn’t make you gay) Escape from East Berlin (the cheapness of the production gives it a neo-realist feel) The Lazarus Effect (something about bringing the dead to life, or something along those lines) The Glass Bottom Boat (more Doris Day. this one not so good)
  1. The Rose (my god, bette midler is hideous. and her imitation of a janis joplin type character in her tina turner phase is pathetic. much better to see on a small screen, the smaller the better, with the sound down low.)Revenge of the Cheerleaders (the funniest, weirdest, nastiest cheerleaders of them all)
  1. Gorgeous (one of jackie chan’s few bearable movies.)Hideous Sun Demon (i saw this on a dvd with idiots cracking  dumb jokes all through it, a poor mans Mystery ScienceTheater, or whatever that stupid series was called.  absolutely ruined what i remember as a pretty decent nuclear mutant movie.)
  1. If I Stay (girl in coma runs around the hospital , trying to decide if life without a family is worth living) The Black Room (one of those sulfurous movies that makes you feel it was made by real satanists)
  1. Faust (if murnau wants to give this classic tale a happy ending, let him do what he wants. he is a master and this movie is awesome)  Ex-Machina  (Reviewed)
  1. Agony and the Ecstasy (this is not an epic. it is a pageant. at only 2 hours and twenty minutes, minus a five minute intermission and a 20-minute prologue, the meat of the story runs under two hours, but it had to be presented as an event to get audiences in a respectful enough mood to enjoy it. it is essentially a two character play devoted to a running argument between Michelangelo and the pope on whether the artist is a sculptor or a painter and, if the latter, how long it will be until the ceiling of the Sistine chapel is finished.) Journey to the Far Side of the Sun  (the idea doesnt get interesting until the movie is almost over, and until then it looks like a made-for-tv job)

25,Wild River (one of elia kazan’s lesser efforts. although there is no chemistry between lee remick and montgomery clift, the old lady who refuses to vacate her home even though the government is about to sink the island upon which it is built held my interest.  and the racist subplot revolving around the issue of blacks getting the same pay as whites leads to some entertaining confrontations.)

  1. The Battle of Chile (Reviewed)
  2. So Close (my favorite Hong Kong escapist action picture) Deadly China Doll (average Hong Kong action, with a crackerjack ending) The President (Reviewed) Trapeze (memorable circus drama with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, directed by Carol Reed, whose movies after Odd Man Out and The Third Man have not received their due)_
  1. Aloft (Reviewed) Canturbury Tales (Pasolini believes that farting,  fornicating, drunkeness, and murder are the stuff of life’s joy, as long as it all occurs in the  pleasantly savage  world of the poor.  After seeing this and the other two film in his Trilogy of Life several times over the past 40 years,  I am beginning to  get his point, especially when the priests are blown out of the devil’s ass and fly to hell on the wind of his farts.)  Slaughterhouse Five (Billy has become unstuck in time, and is subject to being randomly tossed from one life event to another, the conceit is somewhat inaccurate, as his war experiences are consecutively chronological, giving the film a linear plot with fleeting digressions to  pre and post war moments) Hangmen Also Die and Ministry of Fear  (After seeing these two riveting anti-Nazi thrillers, you might share my feeling that Hitchcock’s reputation as master of suspense is unfair to Fritz Lang.  Both of these pictures are superior in that department to anything Hitchcock directed in the 1940’s.)
  1. In Another Country, Bewitching Attraction, Hill of Freedom (it has been well over a decade since Moon So-Ri won the best actress award for “Oasis”  at the Venice and Seattle Film Festivals.  It is probably due to the failure of the Korean film industry that her subsequent career has been disappointing.   These three movies are equally banal, incoherent, and uncinematic. There is, however, something fascinating in their badness.  “In Another Country” and “Hill of Freedom” play like surrealistic soap operas, while “Bewitching Attraction” is a grotesque erotic thriller in search of a salvage editor.)  Wreck of the Mary Deare (the first half is a sea adventure that goes on too long, but it gets more interesting when the drifting ship comes out of the storm and the villainous plot surfaces.)
  1. Aliens (This picture is visually more advanced than “Interstellar,” and was made 35 years earlier. Where is the progress?)

31. It Follows (It is not exactly a good movie, but  is heads above the crap that passes for horror films today. Reviewed)


5 thoughts on “Cinema Penitentiary Diary: May, 2015

  1. not so busy really. i was pretty lazy this month and only watched 72 movies. do you really enjoy the look of CGI over sets built from real materials and dressed by real-world art directors?


  2. i have to admit that,not only interstellar, but all of chris nolan’s pictures have catapulted my imagination, not toward the screen, but in the other direction, as i fell asleep to enjoy my own, private DGI (dream generated images)..except for the dark knight rises, which was too loud to sleep through.


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