Pencilstorm contributor Rob Braithwaite is watching 366 movies this year, so you don't have to, here is part eight of his continuing 2016 rundown......
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = I can’t see giving anything that I’ve seen once five stars
★ ★ ★ ★ = get to the theater / move it up in your queue
★ ★ ★ = “three stars is a recommendation” - The Empire [magazine] Podcast
★ ★ = if the remote is too far away, you could do worse
★ = if the remote is too far away, get someone to move it closer then throw it at the TV
Gilda (1946) ★ ★
stars: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready
director: Charles Vidor
A crooked gambler, fresh off the boat to Argentina, goes to work for a casino owner who happens to marry his ex. That’s a big coincidence considering the exes weren’t from Argentina. There’s still a hateful passion between them. Sabotage, self and outward, run rampant. No one is likable. And there are two musical numbers.
Fresh off the Boat is a funny show.
watch The Shawshank Redemption instead
The Ascent (1977) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Boris Plotnikov, Vladimir Gostyukhin, Anatoliy Solonitsyn
director: Larisa Shepitko
Two Soviet partisans search for food in German-occupied Russia during World War Two. What begins as a mission for sustenance for their group becomes a exploration of what it means to survive in an occupied land. Leaning on the idea that righteousness is death and compromise fuels guilt, it’s a tough call.
double feature pairing: Red Dawn (1984)
Notorious (1946) ★ ★
stars: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
director: Alfred Hitchcock
The U.S. government whores out the daughter of a German spy to infiltrate a Nazi collective in Rio de Janeiro. She falls in love with her U.S. handler. He loves her. They would run away together if they would only tell each other how they feel. But they don’t, so she goes on with the mission and he acts like a hurt puppy because she’s “going all the way” (read: sex).
Jesus. This is a classic? I’ve always been too critical of Brian De Palma because of his sometimes on-the-nose camera work. I’m aware of his Hitchcock influence but thought he lead the audience much more. My apologies. Hitchcock is just as bad.
watch The Boys from Brazil instead
Breathless (1960) ★ ★ ★
stars: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg
director: Jean-Luc Godard
A man kills a policeman after stealing a car. Risking capture, he returns to a girl he’s infatuated with in hopes that she will run off with him despite not knowing each other that well.
I liked this much more thinking about it afterwards than when I was watching it. His checking the latest version of the newspaper for details of his crime was subtly tense. And the long bedroom scene is great in retrospect.
double feature pairing: Miami Blues
Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Corinne Marchand, Antoine Bourseiller, Dominique Davray
director: Agnès Varda
Cleo is a singer with a few hits on the radio. Her pampered lifestyle is shaken during an afternoon as she awaits test results from her doctor. Her world and mindset free from a restrictive state as the afternoon rolls on. The set design and camera work in her apartment are brilliant.
double feature pairing: Nick of Time
The Browning Version (1951) ★ ★ ★
stars: Michael Redgrave, Jean Kent, Nigel Patrick
director: Anthony Asquith
A stick-in-the-mud Latin teacher of a prep school is leaving for health reasons. The kids are happy. His adulterous wife couldn't care less. He lives with regret of not being better or fully understood. The movie is fine. He makes some nice inroads with a student and his wife’s lover. There’s a reason Latin isn't taught in high school anymore: Bor-ring.
double feature pairing: Dead Poets Society
Captain America: Civil War (2016) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan
directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Finally! Someone’s punching something! Whoa! That totally blew up! HAHAHA!!!
This is the best Marvel movie*. The action is great. It’s really funny. And there is emotional weight. I never would have guessed the best Marvel series would have been Captain America’s.
“That sounds great,” you say. “I’ve never seen a Marvel movie.”
Well, don’t start here. We’ve reached the point where you can’t jump in and still get the full impact. You’ll be able to follow it, sure — events and personal ties are referenced — but showing is always better than telling.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to watch the twelve others. Six will do…
triple double feature marathon (+1): Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron
*confirmation in 5-10 years.
Dealin’ with Idiots (2013) ★ ★
stars: Jeff Garlin, Bob Odenkirk. J.B. Smoove
co-writer/director: Jeff Garlin
What if the camera filming The Bad News Bears were pointed the other way, filming the parents? Then I’d say to turn the camera back around.
There are funny people saying funny things. If it was a straight forward presentation of the personalities of little league parents it might have been better. However, Garlin’s character tells the parents he wants to interview them for a movie he’s researching. This forces some of the interactions in an artificial way that makes the scene look just like that, a scene.
double feature pairing: The Sandlot
Remember (2015) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Christopher Plumber, Martin Landau, Dean Norris
director: Atom Egoyan
An Auschwitz survivor with dementia goes on the hunt for the Nazi-in-hiding who killed his family.
Don’t watch the trailer. It gives too much away.
Don’t believe the poster being used for the video release. This isn’t a Taken movie.
Christopher Plumber is amazing. And there are turns I wasn’t expecting.
double feature pairing: Memento
The Family Fang (2015) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman, Christopher Walken
director: Jason Bateman
The Parents Fang used The Siblings Fang as instruments in their real-world art projects. Now grown, the siblings are less-than-stable when their parents disappear. One suspects this is another art piece, while the other is prepared for the worst.
I hope Jason Bateman continues directing. Bad Words is good, and this showed some style. It was nice to see Nicole Kidman in something again. Christopher Walken wasn’t the caricature I’ve come to expect.
double feature pairing: The Royal Tenenbaums
The League of Gentlemen (1960) ★ ★ ★
stars: Jack Hawkins, Nigel Patrick, Richard Attenborough
director: Basil Dearden
A retired military officer recruits fellow military men for a bank heist, the idea for which he got from the plot of a novel. No joke. These men, each their own brand of shady, robbed a bank like it happened in a book. Where was the Outraged Parents Society in 1960? Books are a path to criminal activity!
The movie is fine. Good bank robbing technique. What was the name of the book again?
double feature pairing: Heat
In a Lonely Place (1950) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy
director: Nicholas Ray
A screenwriter with a short fuse is accused of murder. He enters into a relationship with his new neighbor who provided his alibi. She begins to wonder if his jealousy, paranoia and fits of rage aren’t the makings of a murderer after all.
Based on one throw-away line and a 21st century eye, this has an undercurrent of a man suffering from PTSD. I don’t think that is intentional, but it certainly helps in finding some sympathy for an unlikable lead, expertly performed by Bogart.
Includes a descriptor that you don't hear much these days: he made all his money before the income tax.
double feature pairing: Seven Psychopaths
Murder on the Orient Express (1974) ★ ★
stars: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam
director: Sidney Lumet
Murder was the train that they gave me.
Maybe this movie wouldn’t have been such a grind if there weren’t as many characters. After an epilogue, we meet fifteen to sixteen people. There’s a murder. Then there are thirteen interviews. There’s a resolution. Then we watch eleven people individually toast two others. Guh, get on with it!
watch Clue instead
The Trust (2016) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood
directors: Alex Brewer, Benjamin Brewer
Two cops rob a mysterious vault.
Nicolas Cage has muddied his filmography a great deal, so saying this is his best movie in years isn’t saying much. But, it is his best movie since Joe and his best comedic and vibrant performance since Kick-Ass.
The motivation of Cage’s character is heavily inferred. The movie seems to rely on the viewer knowing this genre to pick up on certain things. It was off-putting at first but I think I liked it this way. As the story progresses, we learned who this person really is, just as his partner does.
If nothing else, this gave me one of my favorite montages.
double feature pairing: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Hell in the Pacific (1968) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Lee Marvin, Toshirô Mifune
director: John Boorman
American Soldier washes up on an island shore that Japanese Soldier solely inhabits. How will they react to one another as World War Two rages on with out them?
The lack of subtitles allows us to share in the men’s frustration in dealing with each other. The cinematography and framing are artful. The performances are impressive. The ending is abrupt and, if IMDb is to believed, a complete fabrication of the studio without John Boorman’s approval. The director’s superior ending is on the DVD as an extra and is in keeping with the rest of the movie.
double feature pairing: Enemy Mine
Poltergeist (2015) ★
stars: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris
director: Gil Kenan
What was the point?
watch Poltergeist (1982) instead
Night and the City (1950) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers
director: Jules Dassin
A hustler who's always on the lookout for the next big score finds himself in a position to become a successful wrestling promoter if he can orchestrate some powerful people the right way.
An impressive noir story that doesn’t involve a single gun. The way the plan falls apart is very unique.
Gene Tierney is second billed but has very little to do as the put-upon girlfriend/club singer. Her chummy neighbor is introduced for the sole purpose to make sure she has a man to pick her up at the end. A sign of the times, certainly genre. At least now, she would have… eh, maybe it wouldn’t be too different now. Someone of lower stature would have had that role instead.
double feature pairing: Barton Fink
120/366 movies (16 movies off pace)
17/52 movies directed by women
THE TOP THREE