Monday, September 01, 2014

Movies Watched in August 2014

I managed to see ten movies in August, many of them movies I own on DVD or Blu-ray, looking at them with an eye to get rid of several in my ongoing goal to clear clutter. So here’s what I saw:

The Warped Ones (1960) Koreyoshi Kurahara [Criterion’s Eclipse Series 28: The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara]

Sort of a Japanese take on Breathless, Rebel Without a Cause, and the whole French New Wave, The Warped Ones chronicles a young man Akira (Tamio Kawachi) and his violent, criminal and sexual appetites. Pretty tame by today’s standards, still interesting, but probably not interesting enough to keep this Eclipse set (unless the rest of the films really knock me out).

3.5/5 Let It Go

Ghostbusters (1984) Ivan Reitman [DVD/Blu-ray] (5x, easily)

Hey, it’s the 30th anniversary! We showed this at the library earlier this month and it was great to see adults revisiting this film and bringing their kids to see it for the first time. 

4.5/5 Keep It

Gorky Park (1983) Michael Apted [DVD]  

Based on the famous Martin Cruz Smith novel of a Soviet murder investigation, Apted’s adaptation might have been more convincing if everyone in it didn’t sound so British. A fairly compelling murder mystery that unfortunately can’t escape its 80s look. (Yes, that's William Hurt on the left.)

3.5/5 Let It Go

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) James Gunn [in theaters]

For what it is - a fun, action-filled Marvel movie - Guardians is hard to beat. Previously discussed here


Quicksand (1950) Irving Pichel [DVD Film Noir Collection]

Mickey Rooney has both money trouble (bad) and woman trouble (worse) in Quicksand, a slightly better-than-average noir film that could’ve benefited from more scenes with Peter Lorre. 

3/5 Let It Go

Enemy (2013) Denis Villeneuve [Library DVD; streaming]

I plan to blog more - much more - on this strange film. Stay tuned.


Planet of the Apes (1968) Franklin J. Schaffner [Blu-ray] (3x, at least)

Even with the popularity of the newer films, I think a lot of people have forgotten just how good - and groundbreaking, for the time - this first film really is. The religious, scientific, social and philosophical implications will keep you thinking for a long time. I’m sure they did upon the film’s initial release. Plus it’s just a great story. 

4.5/5 Keep It

Mayerling (1936) Anatole Litvak [DVD]

I remember pledging Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (music fraternity) in college and having to interview all of the members of our local chapter. We had specific questions we had to ask, after which we could ask any questions we liked. I, of course, asked everyone to name their favorite movie. This was the early 80s, so most guys named Caddyshack or Airplane, something along those lines. One guy told me his favorite movie was Mayerling. I’d never heard of it and thought little of it until I saw it included in a Criterion Essential Art House box set. It only took me 33 years to see it, but I’m glad I did. 

Mayerling is the story of the Crown Prince of Austria (Charles Boyer) and his scandalous decision to fall for the 17-year-old daughter of a baroness (Danielle Darrieux). The film has a great period look and even though it’s not my thing, it’s done quite well.

4/5 Let It Go

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (NF 2011) David Gelb [streaming]

This documentary of Jiro Ono, the world’s greatest sushi chef at 85-years-old, is must-see viewing for anyone who wants to excel at anything. You may not want to imitate Jiro’s life step by step, but then again, you might just consider it. Inspiring on many levels.  


Léon Morin, Priest (1961) Jean-Pierre Melville [Criterion Blu-ray]

I’ve only seen three Jean-Pierre Melville films, and all three were stellar. Léon Morin, Priest was supposedly to be Melville’s most approachable, audience-friendly film. If so, it certainly doesn’t dumb anything down or pander to the viewer. 

An atheist woman (Emmanuelle Riva) in Nazi-occupied France goes to see a priest to make fun of him. Yet she finds a good-looking young priest (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who makes her rethink a few things about faith, God and people. An absolutely fascinating film, one that doesn’t go where you think it might and gives you plenty to reflect upon. The Blu-ray edition is out of print, but the DVD is available right now at an outrageously good price

4.5/5 Keep It