Films I've Watched
One of the great Pixar films. Original, inventive, heartwarming, funny, and wonderfully balanced. A true gem.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
One of the strangest of Disney’s entire animated features lineup. As much as they shaved the jagged edges from the original plot of the novel, this is far from being children’s fair. At the same time, perhaps in an attempt to balance the heavy thematic elements, the cartoony bits feel extra madcap. The result is uneven but quite fascinating, and some of the music and visuals are top notch.
Henri-Georges Clouzot is a master of suspense, as I first discovered when watching The Wages of Fear. This film has you on the edge of your seat throughout, with plenty of mood, intrigue, and a twist I never saw coming.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Tis a silly movie, but full of charm. I really like it when a fantastical scenario is used to explore the mundanest of human situations.
I watch a lot of old movies, and for the most part I’m able to accept antiquated attitudes and values for an artifact of their time without too much judgement. But, jeez, this movie is all about grooming and looking at young girls as little more than marital chattel to be desired and bargained for. Yuck.
Certainly a very interesting and engaging production of the play. Ian McKellen and the rest of the venerable cast is excellent (Annette Bening excepted unfortunately), and it doesn’t suffer the staginess of so many Shakespeare films. On the other hand, it’s pretty over the top at points; the tank that crashes through a wall in the opening scene really sets the tone in that regard.
All in all, I’d categorize this as a fascinating take on the play, but most definitely not a superlative portrayal.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Stylish and moody, the most fully realized and psychologically complex portrayal of Batman on the big screen just happens to have been in this children’s cartoon.
One of the most wonderfully bizarre movies I think I’ve ever seen. With production design as mad as Mad Max: Fury Road’s, a quirky and idiosyncratic score, cinematography that leans heavily on fisheye lenses and swirling bokeh, and a strange and strangely inspired story. Macabre, funny, challenging, and subrisingly heartwarming.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Chris Columbus was the perfect director to capture the mix of whimsy and child-like horror of the first two Harry Potter films. Rewatching it after quite a few years, I’m struck by the perfection of each and every casting choice, the strength of the production design, and the delicate balance of elements.
Such an effective movie, with amazing practical effects and a story very well told. Definitely an artifact of its era, but in the best possible way. One of my favorites.
The Shop Around the Corner
A cute little romance held together by the charm of Jimmy Stewart.
2001: A Space Odyssey
One of the greatest films ever made, and certainly one of the most groundbreaking. The use of the camera, sound, sets, color, all of it creates an impression and an impact that few movies have ever matched. Breathtaking.
The Boy and The Heron
Dreamlike is the word I’d use to describe this film. Even more so than for Miyazaki’s other movies. Dreamlike in it’s logic, its imagery, in its exploration of the interior of a phyche in pain.
A meticulously directed and powerfully performed film that takes its time and isn’t afraid to be subtle. A meditation about power, culpability, and art that creeps up and gets into your head.
Good Ol' Freda
A minor but enjoyable entry into the canon for Beatles fans. There’s nothing particularly profound or impactful about the tale of the band’s secretary, but it’s charming and nostalgic.
One of my favorite films of all time. A masterwork of tension, paranoia, and descent into evil. Better on every viewing.
A Room with a View
This kind of chamber romance really isn’t my bag. I can appreciate the phenomenal cast though, and there is some enjoyable dry humor.
This movie is such a classic that I can quote nearly every line. It’s so iconic and it’s just so apt. And now that I’m a working stiff as an adult, it hits all the harder. Mike Judge just has a talent for making characters and situations that ring so very true in their absurdity.
Killers of the Flower Moon
There are three themes that dominate Scorsese’s filmography: the experience of under classes and minoritized groups, the psychology of people who do evil things, and a love for cinema and its history.
Killers of the Flower Moon sees his exploration of the first theme extended beyond European immigrant groups to native people, which is fantastic. As he does so well for subjects closer to his own experience, he portrays the Osage people with depth and contradictions and humanity.
When it comes to the theme of the minds of evildoers, that same complexity works here in a way that is in many ways more horrifying than the madness of Travis Bickle. And because it is a true story (made very real by the book), that horror lingers. How could anyone do such things, you find yourself asking again and again.
There’s not so much in the way of cinema history in this film, save for perhaps just a nod at the end.
Sean of the Dead
One of the tightest screenplays ever written. I’ve watched this movie perhaps a dozen times, and every single time I discover new setups and new callbacks. Hilarious and a very solid zombie film to boot.
The plot trope of the assassin betrayed by his employer is so well worn as to have become a furrow. But Fincher makes it work. Like the eponymous (anti) protagonist, Fincher is methodical, detailed, subtle in all his films, and the effect is mesmeric. You find yourself leaning in toward the screen, the slow tension crawling through your muscles, begging to be released.
Thrillers can be rather rote affairs, but the genre is once again elevated in this filmmaker’s hands. The thematic content is all underneath the surface, rippling in the lush cinematographic shadows, just out of sight, but felt in every meticulous frame.
The Big Sleep
Having just finally gotten around to reading the novel, I thought it was time to revisit this noir classic. The mood conjured by the film is legendary, and of course Bogart is Philip Marlow. But the main thing that stands out when comparing the film to the book is the rare instances where they deviate from the otherwise verbatim plot.
Many of the changes are clear salves for the censors, and some are to give Bacall more screentime, and the final act is for a more Hollywood ending. But when you add them all up, it definitely takes the film down a few pegs in comparison to the source material.
Still a fantastic movie, but, as the so often are, many of the best things about the book are lost in adaptation.
A Haunting in Venice
Kenneth Brannagh is kind of the Michael Bay of literary films: he has some great filmic techniques he likes to use, but he has no sense of how to use them appropriately or with subtlety. There are plenty of moody and evocative shots, with wide angle lenses, dutch angles, and stark lighting aplenty. And all of those wonderful things are use as hamfistedly as you can imagine.
Speaking of hams, he’s also really good at producing hammy dialogue and getting hammy performances from the cast. Not to mention always shoehorning in hammy, melodramatic inner turmoil for the hero.
And yet, for some reason I keep watching these Poirot movies. I think I’ve just always loved the character, and his charm still shines through all of Brannagh’s awkward choices.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
It’s probably been twenty years since I last watched this movie, and it is even more delightful than it was then. I don’t know that I previously appreciated just how great the direction is, how perfectly Tim Curry chews the scenery, or how much it influenced the development of my own deviant mind.