Weekly Movie Roundup

I watched 6 movies last week. There was something like a theme to them:

One Crazy Summer Two Lovers Three on a Match
  • One Crazy Summer sometimes feels like an ’80s teen comedy, sometimes like a spoof of one, and sometimes like a cheap cartoon. It’s silly enough and sometimes fun but largely forgettable.
    • I’m struggling to decide if Two Lovers has a happy ending. Along the way, it’s a well-acted drama about damaged people trying to find something that will make them feel whole.
      • Three on a Match is interesting, if only because it’s so very much a pre-Code movie, but it also feels overly melodramatic, with several good performers struggling to give good performances.
      Four of the Apocalypse Five Graves to Cairo Six-String Samurai
      • I’ve never really been a fan of Lucio Fulci’s horror movies, so it was something of a shock to discover how much I enjoyed Four of the Apocalypse, one of only a small handful of spaghetti Westerns the director ever made. It’s a surprisingly poignant film, with the low budget and questionable dubbing you expect from the genre, but with a lot to recommend it.
        • I’d have cut the last ten or fifteen minutes of Five Graves to Cairo, which I think do a little worse than gild the lily. But it’s otherwise it’s a very smart and tense little spy thriller, with good performances, particularly by Erich von Stroheim and Akim Tamiroff.
          • If Six-String Samurai was maybe a third as long, you’d say it was a promising enough student film, with some occasionally clever moments, and then probably never think about it again. At an hour and a half, though, it’s really tedious and repetitive—well shot, for such an otherwise no-budget affair, but with almost nothing even approaching a script.

          It was a silly theme—you’d be surprised how few, good, movies there are that start with some numbers—but because of it I wound up watching at least a couple of movies I might never have even heard of otherwise, and which I quite enjoyed.

          I also re-watched Trainspotting, which I don’t think I’d seen since it was in theaters. I don’t think it’s as shocking or original as it seemed some thirty years ago, but it really does hold up.

          Weekly Movie Roundup

          I only watched four movies last week.

          Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem Run Rabbit Run Extraction Asteroid City
          • Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is the kind of movie you put on in the background and forget that you’re watching. It’s probably the kind of movie they started making and forgot that they were filming.
            • Sarah Snook is good in Run Rabbit Run, even if the movie is much better at making you feel unsettled from frame one than at really resolving or saying anything.
              • There are moments in Extraction that play like a deliberately un-stylized version of John Wick, which makes you realize immediately why style is so much of why the John Wick movies work. There’s a fast-paced brutality to it that’s briefly effective, and Hemsworth isn’t bad, playing some of the same world-weary energy he brought to the much better Blackhat. But it’s just kind of tiresome by the end—and that’s even without the problematic white savior element baked into it.
                • Asteroid City is strange and goofy and sometimes off-putting, in a way you pretty much have to expecte with a Wes Anderson movie. I’m not entirely convinced the odd framing device adds anything beyond a chance for even more actors to work with Anderson again, and it’s an overstuffed cast, but they all seem to be having fun.

                I also re-watched Inside Man, which I think maybe works a little bit better when you don’t know yet how it ends, but which is still a really solidly directed movie with some very good performances.

                Weekly Movie Roundup

                After the last couple of weeks, when I didn’t have a lot to do except watch movies, this past week, I only watched the normal half dozen:

                One Way Passage Tales of Terror The Suspect
                • William Powell is charm personified, and he’s well-teamed with Kay Francis—with whom he co-starred an incredible total of twenty-one times—but One Way Passage is a little forgettable.
                  • Tales of Terror isn’t the best of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, but it’s got a fun performance by Peter Lorre and at least a couple by Vincent Price.
                    • While The Suspect maybe acts more as a character study than a tense thriller, Charles Laughton is very good in the title role.
                    The Big Heat Hell Drivers The Petrified Forest
                    • There are a lot of reasons to watch the terrific noir The Big Heat, but the best might be Gloria Grahame’s energetic performance.
                      • Hell Drivers would be interesting just for all the British actors early in their careers—William Hartnell, Patrick McGoohan, David McCallum, Sean Connery—but it’s also a terrifically exciting working-class British noir.
                        • The Petrified Forest held fewer surprises than I expected, but it has a really nice central performance by Leslie Howard and a nice villain turn by Humphrey Bogart, in the movie that arguably made him a star.