I watched 9 movies last week. That brings the total this year to 300 (plus 58 rewatches).
- Something in the Dirt is a strange, hallucinatory, paranoid, sci-fi/horror buddy comedy that reads almost like a deconstruction, if not parody, of Benson and Moorhead’s other movies, not least because they play the central (and to a large extent only) characters.
- Mazes and Monsters isn’t great. It is occasionally very bad—and certainly dated, with its weird stand-in for early Dungeons & Dragons and prominently featured Twin Towers. But it’s also occasionally not terrible, much less embarrassingly bad. This wasn’t anything like a star-making role for a young Tom Hanks, in only his second onscreen performance, but there is a natural likability to him here that helps ground a not always very believable character trapped in a generally dumb plot.
- Two Friends is a touching coming-of-age story, rich with detail, even if I’m not entirely sure the backwards-narrative structure adds a lot.
- Harold Lloyd often gets mentioned in the same breath as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, though it’s maybe telling that he’s almost always mentioned third. There are certainly some funny slapstick moments in The Freshman, but the movie feels dated in ways that not all silent movies do.
- Brian’s Song is certainly often schmaltzy like the TV movie that it was, but it’s nonetheless a touching story of friendship, helped enormously by a very strong cast.
- There isn’t a lot to Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and the limitations of both its budget and plot can’t help but show through, but there are enough haunted chills to understand how this TV movie became so well regarded.
- There are some good moments in The Wiz, particularly in Jackson’s performance and some occasionally clever set design, but it falls flat a lot more often than not.
- I’m not sure the handheld, fake cinéma vérité approach it often seems to be going for works for Snitch—and its surface-level indictment of drug enforcement can’t help but pale in comparison to something like The Wire, which I’ve been re-watching lately—but the movie offers good performances from both Dwayne Johnson and Jon Bernthal.
- Sometimes a television movie is elevated above its source and production values. And sometimes you just end up with Haunts of the Very Rich. Although it does at least have a good cast. It’s a bit like a first-draft Twilight Zone episode. Even if you didn’t know its surprise twist going in, you’d likely guess a couple minutes in and be disappointed by the way the movie fails to resolve it.