Last Week’s Films (12/03 – 18/03)

Considering I only watched 1 new film the week before, I certainly made up for it last week. You’ll see…

Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002) 

This was one I had to watch for class. It was fine, I saw it described as a “quirky, enigmatic mood piece” and that’s pretty accurate, but it’s not really something I have any interest in revisiting. 5/10

Dark Star (John Carpenter, 1974)

There are a good few John Carpenter films I enjoy a hell of a lot, but this wasn’t one of them.  This was his first theatrical feature and it’s impressive what he was able to do on such a small budget, but even at 80 minutes or so it still felt like it went on too long and not that much was going on. Interesting to see where Carpenter started but again, not one I’ll be going back to. 5/10

The Man Who Fell To Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)

After recently re-watching Don’t Look Now I had the urge to check out some more of Nicolas Roeg’s work, and settled on The Man Who Fell To Earth. David Bowie plays an alien who has come to Earth to try and find water to save his home planet. It’s beautifully made, but very strange and slow. I think Bowie’s performance fit the film very well too, and I’m glad I watched the film, but it doesn’t compare to Don’t Look Now as Roeg’s best (out of the ones I’ve seen, anyway). Also, I didn’t realise Roeg had directed The Witches, the 1990 adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel. I watched that all the time when I was little and never noticed… 6/10

Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)

I had been looking forward to this one for quite a while 2015’s Ex Machina by the same director but found this disappointing to say the least. The production design was excellent and everything inside “The Shimmer” looked great, but the kind of decisions made by the main characters took me out of the film. I won’t go into specific examples so as not to spoil anything but one thing that struck me is if you realise you are suffering from memory loss inside this place, why not use the video cameras you have taken with you or even just simple writing to record what is happening so you won’t forget? It felt as though it was going for something lofty and intellectual, which is commendable in today’s cinema landscape, but for me at least it fell flat. 4.5/10

The Monster Squad (Fred Dekker, 1987)

This one was a bit more fun, with the titular “Monster Squad” being a group of horror film-loving children who have to defeat Dracula and other classic Universal horror monsters like the Mummy and Wolf Man who have arrived in their town to destroy an amulet that is keeping evil at bay. While not in the league of the likes of The Goonies, I’m still sure I would have enjoyed this a lot as a child, and had a bit of fun with it as an adult anyway. Some good jokes and nice sequences even if some of the characters are a bit cliched, enjoyable overall. 6/10

Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)

I had heard a lot about this being the first DC film since they rebooted their universe that is actually good, but wasn’t really compelled to watch it since all these superhero films are basically the same to me regardless of whether or not they happen to be well reviewed. This was true of Wonder Woman as well, for me. It followed the same sort of bad guy set on destroying world story as most of them do, and it was fine, I guess. The fish out of water sections/jokes were probably the most enjoyable parts of the film, and the Wonder Woman character was fairly well realised and believable in the comic-book world the film is set in. Superhero films aren’t really made for me, but this one was at least as watchable as the other well-received ones recently. 5.5/10

Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017)

Another one I had heard a lot of praise for but hadn’t yet gotten around to watching. I didn’t enjoy it as much as others seem to, but it was good. The sound editing in particular was excellent, and there are some great chase sequences in it as well.  It ended up getting The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat” stuck in my head again too, so there’s that. 6/10

The Ox-Bow Incident (William Wellman, 1943)

Starring Henry Fonda, this film was a little like a western version of 12 Angry Men (although released around 15 years earlier, of course). It follows Fonda’s character as he joins up with a posse in a small Wild West town who are searching for cattle rustlers. The posse captures 3 men and the group are divided on their guilt and what should be done with them. It is a well-told and simple story with a powerful message about mob-justice and its dangers. The last ten minutes or so are especially powerful. I won’t give anything away, and instead just urge anyone who hasn’t seen this to do so. 7.5/10

Multiple Maniacs (John Waters, 1970)

Having seen Pink Flamingos in the past I had an idea what to expect with this one, and this film delivered on that front. I found myself laughing a fair bit in the first few scenes surrounding the “Cavalcade of Perversion” but after that everything seemed so stretched out and boring. Probably the most infamous scene with the “rosary job” felt like it lasted forever. This is a film I found to be distasteful not because any of it offended me (it didn’t), but because I was bored. 4/10

Serial Mom (John Waters, 1994)

This is a more mainstream (i.e. not filled with over-the-top trashy-ness) John Waters film and I have to say I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a black comedy with Kathleen Turner as a housewife who happens to be a crazed serial murderer. Turner is excellent in it, particularly in the court scenes, and the film is just the right amount of silly and nonsensical. 6/10

Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, 2017)

An animated film depicting events from the life of Vincent van Gogh. It’s done in the same style as his paintings (it was shot live then the frames individually oil-painted to create this effect) and this is beautiful to look at, but the story of the film leaves a bit more to be desired. It’s told in more of a crime/detective style than a biographical one, with the main character of the story attempting to deliver a letter after Van Gogh’s death and finding out about the end of his life from the people who knew him around that time, and it’s not particularly compelling. 5/10

A Boy and His Dog (L. Q. Jones, 1975)

A post-apocalyptic film following…a boy and his dog, who communicate telepathically. Set in 2024 after World War IV, it follows the two as they navigate the wasteland caused by nuclear wars. The best part about this film was probably the interactions between the boy, Vic, and his dog, Blood. I especially liked Blood’s dry sense of humour. The costumes and roving bands of raiders made me think a little of Mad Max (although not so BDSM-y) and I had fun watching this. The sequence near the end set underground was a little slow, but still interesting to look at, and the ending was suitably grim and dark-humoured. 6/10

Cria Cuervos (Carlos Saura, 1976)

This was another one I had to watch for class, and I don’t really have much to say about it. It was fine, I suppose. 5/10

Halloween II (Rick Rosenthal, 1981)

I love the original Halloween, it’s an incredibly well-shot and paced slasher film, and the lighting in it is incredible. I had never seen the direct sequel, so decided to rectify that. It is set directly after the first Halloween film (and I mean directly, it’s still the same night), and follows Michael Myers as he tracks down Laurie Strode and tries to finish the job he started. The film dragged a little in parts, but there are still some nice creepy shots and sequences that bring to mind the original. Donald Pleasence’s Sam Loomis character seems crazy in this as well, which was a bit distracting but still fun. Overall I’m content to have seen this but don’t feel as though I had missed anything by not watching it for so long. 5.5/10

 

So yeah, I watched a fair few films last week I suppose. I imagine it won’t be so many this week as I’m going to try and finish my first “Best Films I’ve Ever Seen” post, but we shall see.