Iron Sky is a very tongue in cheek kind of movie. So much so, in fact, that a sizable number of people took it way too seriously and got offended by it. When you’ve got a partially fan funded Finnish film, starring Germans and Americans, shot in English, and filmed mostly in Australia, you know right there it’s going to be at least a little different from the norm. And if that isn’t enough of a clue, then the basic premise should have screamed “we’re having fun here”. It’s about Moon Nazis who attack Earth. I was in the right mood when I saw this. I had a grin on my face for much of the film.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
I saw 48 new movies in the month of November, plus 2 TV show seasons, plus a re-watch of a Web series season. Last month I mentioned I had found myself working on several different movie lists and as a consequence had some films that I simply could not locate. I asked for help in finding them and was the beneficiary of the generosity of multiple people. After being pointed towards a free trial of Hulu Plus last month I also examined a few other lists I have in order to see both what was hard to locate and what was available via Hulu Plus.
Where I stand right now is that I am actively working on the following lists: Oscar Best Picture Nominees, the six 101 [Genre] Films YouMust See Before You Die lists, They Shoot Pictures Don’t They, Empire’s lists of the Top 100 World Films and Top 500 Films, Roger Ebert’s Great Movies, and three different lists of the Top 100 British films of all time, which yield a total of 178 different entries. Many of these overlap, but I am showing films under only one list’s count in the details below.
If you have a good memory you know that I was working on the Sight and Sound Critics’ Top 250 Films list last month, but have not mentioned it yet. That is because I am in a state of limbo. I have now watched every film on it, except one – Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks – which is one of the films that I cannot locate anywhere. So I have not completed the SSC list, but I have gone as far as I can with it. I will have to consider this list dormant until such time that that film ever becomes available.
All of these different lists can be seen by clicking on the names of them. They link to my Lists from Chip posts on them.
THE FILMS I CAN’T FIND:
Last month I listed 19 films that I was unable to locate. With the help of people who responded to that post, plus some extreme internet searches on my part, I was able to locate and see 7 of those. There are two others that someone has said they will get to me when they have a chance. I did have to add two new films from other lists, though, so the net total of movies that I am hoping someone can help me find is now 14.
Here are the films that I simply cannot track down, but need to in order to complete various lists. Note – the only pay services I have looked at so far are Netflix and Hulu Plus. I suppose if enough show up on another pay service it might be worthwhile to join to see them. I’m hoping to keep costs as low as possible, though. If you have a good source for them, but do not want to tell the world by leaving a comment here, then please email me at email@example.com with your suggestions.
Here are the films I was able to see, along with where you can get them, too.
The Red Badge of Courage (1951) – I finally found it.
Out 1, noli me tangere (1971) – thanks to james1511 of The Cameraman’ Revenge
Out 1, Spectre (1974) – After further research on my part it turns out that this is not a follow-on to the 1971 TV minieries. It is actually an attempt to release the 13 hour original as a four and a half hour theatrical movie. Considering that I saw the entire thing, combined with the lack of availability of the theatrical cut, I am going to consider this entry as being completed, too. Yes, there were a few comments I found that said the theatrical cut used different takes in some scenes, but honestly, after 13 hours of watching people do acting exercises like rolling around in a pile muttering gibberish, I don’t think a different take of it will be any more enlightening.
Kings of the Road aka Im Lauf der Zeit (1976) – I finally found it.
aka Hai shang
hua (1998) – A post for it appeared about a week after I did last month’s
status. By the way, if you are looking
for foreign films, especially Asian ones, and most especially South Korean
ones, then this site may be a godsend for you. Shanghai
Flanders aka La kermesse heroique (1935) – thanks to
Steve Honeywell of 1001plus. He pointed
out that this was available via Hulu Plus.
If you have never signed up for this service you get a one week free
trial. I discovered how to make it a two
week free trial by going as far as putting in my contact information, but not
my credit card, then canceling out. They
then sent me an email offering to double the time of the free trial. I accepted it.
The ones I am searching for:
101 Genre Films:
City Streets (1931) – a gangster film with Gary Cooper, directed by Rouben Mamoulian
The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960) – a gangster film directed by Fritz Lang. I have had someone say they will make this available when they get a chance.
Sight & Sound Critics Top 250: (This is the only film I have left to complete the list.)
Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (2003) – a nine hour documentary on the falling industry in a region of
from director Bing Wang.
They Shoot Pictures Don’t They:
Empire (1964) – Andy Warhol’s experiment to see if he could do anything and still get film critics to fawn over him. It worked. This is an 8 hour static shot of the
from dusk to
3:00 AM. I suppose I could just stare at
a picture of the Empire State
for 8 hours and call it good. J Empire
Anatahan aka Ana-ta-han (1953) – a Japanese film from Josef von Sternberg
Minamata aka Minamata: The Victims and Their World aka Minamata: Kanja-san to sono sekai (1971) – a Japanese documentary on industrial chemical poisoning. I swear that this exists only on the TSPDT list and on IMDB and nowhere else on the internet. Even IMDB has little information on it.
Liebelei (1933) – an early Max Ophuls film
Doomed Love aka Ill-Fated Love aka Amor de perdicao (1979) – a six episode Portuguese TV mini-series from Manoel de Oliveira retelling Romeo and Juliet. Believe it or not, I tracked down the video. Unfortunately it has Portuguese audio and hardcoded Italian subtitles only. I’ve searched and English subtitles do not exist, but I found one comment that said that someone had done a rough translation of the Italian ones embedded in the video and had posted them at karagarga.net. Unfortunately, that site appears to require that you be invited by someone else to even view the forums. I don’t need an invite, but if you have access to it, could you please save the English subtitles to someplace where they are available? Or you could email them to me since the files should be small. Thanks to an anonymous responder last month I now know that there is also a theatrical version that runs about 30 minutes less than this. I would take either version and be very happy.
Dust in the Wind aka Lian lian feng chen (1987) – a period film from director Hsiao-hsien Hou.
Under the Bridges aka Unter den Brucken (1946) – a film from Helmut Kautner
Variety aka Variete aka Jealousy (1925) – a film from E.A. Dupont
The Italian Straw Hat aka The Horse Ate the Hat aka Un chapeau de paille d’Italie (1928) – a film from Rene Clair. I have had someone say they will make this available when they get a chance.
Now, the two new ones:
Roger Ebert’s Great Films:
A Woman’s Tale (1991) – a film from Paul Cox
Top British Films:
Gallivant (1997) – a sort-of documentary/travelogue where director Andrew Kotting drives around England with his 90 year old grandmother and 9 year old daughter.
Any help you can provide in tracking these down will be most appreciated.
THE FILMS I SAW IN NOVEMBER:
Here are the 48 new movies and TV show seasons I saw in November. Highlighted movies are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five. I will single out the four and five star films, as well as the worst films, in the paragraphs below the lists.
Oscar Nominees (5): David Copperfield (1935), The Informer (1935), Les Miserables (1935), One Hour With You (1932), Crossfire (1947)
101 Genre (12): The Innocents (1961), Grey Gardens (1975), Lacombe, Lucien (1974), High Tension (2003), Sonatine (1993), The Dinner Game (1998), The Red Badge of Courage (1951), Phantasm (1979), Reefer Madness (1936), Foxy Brown (1974), The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912), When Worlds Collide (1951)
SSC (6): Kings of the Road (1976), A Canterbury Tale (1944), Melancholia (2011), Flowers of Shanghai (1998), Colossal Youth (2006), Out 1: noli me tangere (1971)
TSPDT (12): Alice in the Cities (1974), Carnival in Flanders (1935), Princess Yang Kwei-fei (1955), The Tenant (1976), Spies (1928), Sauve Qui Peut (la vie) (1980), Purple Noon (1960), Il Grido (1957), Il Posto (1961), Out 1: Spectre (1974), In a Year with 13 Moons (1978), Alexander Nevsky (1938)
Ebert (2): The Fall of the House of Usher (1928), Souls for
Other Movies (11): Thor: The Dark World (2013), Micmacs (2009), Terribly Happy (2008), The Croods (2013), White House Down (2013), The Way Way Back (2013), The To Do List (2013), The Internship (2013), Red 2 (2013), R.I.P.D. (2013), People Will Talk (1951)
TV Series (2): How I Met Your Mother Season 8, Eureka Season 5, Web series The Guild Season 6 (re-watch)
I had no five star movies in November. Here are the four star films I saw:
Les Miserables (1935) is superior to the recent musical version in two main ways. First, Charles Laughton is fantastic as Inspector Javert. He brings some humanity to what often becomes a two dimensional role. Second, the ridiculous innkeepers that were so out of place in the musical barely appear in this version.
One Hour with You (1932) is a lot of pre-Code naughty fun from director Ernst Lubitsch and stars Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. The two play a happily married couple who are tempted by others. I loved the very suggestive song Three Times a Day that was sung by Chevalier and Genevieve Tobin, whose character is trying to seduce him away from his wife.
Sale (1923) might be the earliest parody of Hollywood that I have
seen. A newly married woman thinks twice
about her husband and leaves him. (Good
instincts since he’s going to kill her for her money.) She ends up in the desert and comes upon a
sheik on a camel. It turns out he’s just
an actor, who is also a great seducer of women. (The resemblance to Rudolph
Valentino is completely intended.) She
ends up becoming a film star. There are
numerous cameos from big names, like Charlie Chaplin, actually making films of
Micmacs (2009) is another piece of strange, happy weirdness from director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. A man whose father was killed by a land mine, and who has himself been the victim of a drive by shooting, seeks revenge against the two arms merchants who made the weapons. He gets helps from a bunch of people living on the fringes of society. By the way, the title does not refer to the Indian tribe from
Maine and Atlantic Canada. Apparently “micmac” is a slang term for a
prankster in French.
I recently reviewed Thor: The Dark World (2013). It is a big step up from the first film and a worthy successor to The Avengers (2012). You can read that review here.
I had two one star films in November. Reefer Madness (1936) is a “cult classic” that I finally got around to seeing. I’m guessing that the people who are entertained by it are probably smoking reefer while they are watching it. It’s not a “so bad it’s good” kind of film; it’s just plain bad. Colossal Youth (2006) is an extremely slow and boring movie where all the characters talk AT each other in an artificial manner instead of talking TO each other. Pretty much everyone in the film is a non-actor, too. Want to watch a 15 minute long, unbroken shot of a woman complaining about the birth of her child, all while the other person in the scene looks very bored, then screws up his line towards the end, calling the character by the wrong name? Then this is the movie for you.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
When most people think of “monster movies” they have images of fun but dumb movies, standard characters, perhaps cheesy special effects, bad accents, etc. Academy Award level acting probably is not something most people expect when they sit down to watch one. (Yes, the 2003 film Monster earned Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar, but the title refers to her character’s actions, not a physical monster.) Well, in the perhaps unique case of the 1931 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, based on the Robert Louis Stevenson 1886 novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, lead actor Fredric March won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in both title roles. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any other Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Invisible Man, Jekyll/Hyde, Zombie, Godzilla, etc. film that had someone win an Oscar for their acting in it.
Monday, November 25, 2013
When Spider-Man came out in 2002 it was wildly successful. I thought it was very entertaining and watched it more than once. The questions began almost immediately – would the inevitable sequel be able to keep up, or would it disappoint? As it turns out, the sequel didn’t just match the first one; it surpassed it. It had all the right elements in it, some great acting in key scenes, and a very satisfying ending. In fact, until The Avengers was released in 2012 I considered Spider-Man 2 to be the best superhero movie that had been made.
Note: this review will contain spoilers for Spider-Man (2002).
Friday, November 22, 2013
James Whale is probably best known for directing Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), but he also brought to the screen another of the classic horror characters – The Invisible Man. Unlike the two Frankenstein movies, this 1933 adaptation was much more faithful to H.G. Wells’ 1897 short novel. The movie not only pioneered some special effects techniques, but it also launched the film career of Claude Rains who “appeared” as the title character. The film was a sensation and has spawned over a dozen versions of the concept since it was released, including comedic, horrific, and even erotic ones.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Burke and Hare is a dark comedy from director John Landis (Animal House, An American Werewolf in
London). It was his first feature film in more than
ten years. The film uses the real life
case of William Burke and William Hare and how they “procured” cadavers for Dr.
Robert Knox, a professor at Edinburgh Medical School
in 1828. There had been a 1970s movie on
the subject, but I had never seen it. I
had also never heard of this case, so the film was entirely new to me. While it did play some with motivations, my
understanding is the principal facts are generally accurate in this. I like twisted humor, so this movie was right
up my alley. The subject and tone of
Burke and Hare also fits in well with its other Ealing Studios counterparts
such as Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and The Ladykillers (1955).
Monday, November 18, 2013
Years ago I was in a store and came across The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari on a bargain DVD. It cost me next to nothing so I bought it even though I had not seen the movie and knew nothing about it other than it was old and I recognized the title. Predictably, the DVD transfer wasn’t in very good shape, but I was still able to watch it. And what I saw was quite a surprise to me. I was not expecting much and instead I got what may very well be the oldest film there is with a surprise twist/reveal in it. I did not see it coming at all. Don’t worry. I will not be spoiling it in this review.