ReelSociety Forums


Your home for all Reel and Real discussions.

The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Like a book club, but for movies instead. Hosted by NSpan.

Moderators: Buscemi, BarcaRulz, Geezer, W

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Shrykespeare » July 18th, 2013, 1:55 am

I loved Daylight, but I seemed to be in the minority. It's probably his only good action film (in the lead role that isn't an ensemble cast) after Cliffhanger. I remember Amy Brenneman in her pre=Judging Amy career being very good as well.

And yes, I do remember Viggo, who I had only seen as a supporting player in Crimson Tide before that point.
Happy 60th birthday Viggo Mortensen! (10/20/18)
User avatar
Shrykespeare
Site Admin
 
Posts: 11898
Joined: September 12th, 2009, 11:38 pm
Location: Glendale, AZ

Advertisement

 

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 18th, 2013, 1:57 am

I wouldn't say Daylight was Stallone's only good film post-Cliffhanger. Judge Dredd is campy fun (though nowhere near as good as Dredd) while The Specialist is an good movie when you're in the mood (it's also got a great cast, where else can you find a film with James Woods and Rod Steiger together?).
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Chienfantome » July 18th, 2013, 3:43 am

Well, December '86 wasn't a great month for me. The only film of your list I have actually seen is "No Mercy", and I can't say I remember very fondly of it. The others, I must say I barely heard of them for some.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
User avatar
Chienfantome
The Terminator
 
Posts: 8737
Joined: May 29th, 2010, 4:22 am
Location: Paris, France

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 18th, 2013, 4:41 am

This was a month where I had to push it a bit. At least I didn't have to resort to including King Kong Lives.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 23rd, 2013, 4:46 am

Special Episode: Cinerama Releasing

In the 1950's, Hollywood was coming up with all sorts of new ideas to lure people away from television. Some were practical, like giveaways and live appearances. Some were more ambitious, like 3-D. But one thing changed Hollywood completely and revamped the filmmaking methods completely. It was called Cinerama. Based on an idea envisioned in the 1930's, Cinerama combined three cameras to create an ultra-wide image based on how the human eye sees. To project Cinerama, a movie theatre needed to be fitted with three projectors, the ultra-wide screens and the best sound system (a 7.1 format) at the time. When the first Cinerama production, This is Cinerama, premiered in 1953, the film made waves immediately and led various other widescreen processes to be formed.

Image

By the 1960's, Cinerama was still popular but beginning to lose traction to cheaper formats to install. To make Cinerama more economically feasible, it was decided to make the format a single projector process. Around 1963, Cinerama was sold and the new owners decided to start a new chain that played nothing but Cinerama productions (two of these theatres still survive, one in Los Angeles and the other in Seattle). Though the theatres were successful, the declining number of Cinerama productions led the owners to try something new: film distribution. Thus, Cinerama Releasing Corporation was born. Distributing mainly films from other production companies (such as ABC, Amicus and Bing Crosby's production company), this was a label that distributed a bit of everything. A comedy here, a drama there, some action, a pinch of horror and even foreign and arthouse fare. Between 1968 and 1975, Cinerama was involved with over 100 films (distributing a film just about every month) but despite some hits, Cinerama left distribution in late 1974 and their last films were released with American International Pictures.



Today, Cinerama either survives as memories or through the two surviving theatres in the US (though some recreations have been done at 70mm festivals in Europe). The rights of Cinerama's films are scattered across various companies (Disney owns a number of them and licenses to MGM). In this special episode, I will cover eight (I had planned to do seven but at the last minute, I noticed I did eight) Cinerama productions. I know that I will miss several good ones so I will mention them now.

For Love of Ivy (1968)
The Killing of Sister George (1968)
Take the Money and Run (1969) - this one was the hardest to leave out, since it is one of my favorite Woody Allen films
They Shoot Horses, Don't They (1969)
What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969)
Le Boucher (1970)
Goodbye Gemini (1970)
Derby (1971)
The Grissom Gang (1971)
The Last Valley (1971)
Say Hello to Yesterday (1971)
When Eight Bells Toll (1971)
The Assassination of Trotsky (1972)
Bluebeard (1972)
Junior Bonner (1972)
The Mack (1973)

Charly
Image
Why I Chose It: besides having a great performance by Cliff Robertson (who won an Academy Award for his performance) and being a strong adaptation of the story "Flowers for Algernon", I chose this one since it was the first Cinerama production I remember seeing. I was in eighth grade and we watched the film in class (I forget which class). I remember my teacher trashed the film for how 1960's it was (and fast-forwarded through the scenes where Charlie is on his own) but I found the film interesting for the questions that it raises (such as: Is science good or bad? and Should a man accept reality or dream of a better life?) and how Robertson and the white rat played off each other. In short, the film may have not aged well but it's still worth watching.

Ring of Bright Water
Image
Why I Chose It: if you know my tastes, you've probably figured out by now that have a soft spot for movies about animals. This film, the second Cinerama production I remember seeing (Take the Money and Run was probably the third), reteamed the stars of Born Free but instead of lions, you have an adorable little otter named Mij. Loosely based on a true story of the relationship of an otter (in the story, the otter was a rare breed while in the film, the otter is a more common breed) and his owner, much of the plot is driven by the little guy in the Scottish coast after him and his owner move from London (the sequences of Mij in his owner's apartment have be some of the funniest sequences involving an animal) and the otter's fight for survival in the outside world. Though some may see the film as a typical animal film, I feel that it is one of the best animal films ever made. A mix of funny and sad, cute and heartfelt, it's the kind of film that many of today's family films wish it could be.

The Honeymoon Killers
Image
Why I Chose It: if not for the people at Criterion, I probably wouldn't have been aware of this film. Based on a true story (which was also the basis for the 2006 film Lonely Hearts), this depicts the crime spree of Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez, better known as the Lonely Hearts Killers. Though this film didn't have the flash of Bonnie and Clyde or the style of Badlands, the film manages to work extremely well due to the film's grittiness (an advantage of the film's low budget) and refusal to glamorize the content. As a result, you probably have one of the last great black and white crime films and the film serves as a strong stepping stone between the cinema of old and New Hollywood.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Image
Why I Chose It: based on the Russian novel of the same name, this small but effective drama set over a single day features a great performance by Tom Courtneay as the title character, a prisoner in a gulag and his struggle to survive against oppression and the cold weather. While watching the film, I kept thinking of Peter Weir's The Way Back but this film managed to be even better (maybe it was the different genres but who knows). The film has an excellent screenplay by Ronald Harwood (who would reteam with Courtneay 42 years later on Quartet) while Sven Nykvist's cinematography takes us into the rigors of what that time was like (even in the confines of an air-conditioned bedroom during a warm night, I could still feel the coldness of the film's setting), giving it more of a documentary feel than a film. Though the film is super-rare (I saw it on YouTube) and definitely not for everyone, track it down.

Willard
Image
Why I Chose It: though obscure today (the 2003 remake with Crispin Glover is better known due to being on DVD while this has been out-of-print since the early 1990's), this was the film that started the whole "killer animal" craze in the 1970's. Well-cast (Bruce Davison played Willard, Ernest Borgnine played his boss and Elsa Lanchester played Willard's mother) and effective, it is a mix of terror (I have an inherited fear of rats so this becomes extra scary for me) and a case study of a man, brought down by the world, who finds solace with the rodents. One could say the film sounds similar to Charly above but here, there's a lot of killing. Another highlight of the film is Alex North's score, who scores it more like a drama than a horror film (it's not often when a composer takes a horror film and handles it like an Oscar-worthy film). So if you can find it, watch it and compare with the remake.

Straw Dogs
Image
Why I Chose It: Though this film is very well-known (and was the basis for a surprisingly good remake in 2011), I included it as it was distributed by Cinerama through their deal with ABC (yes, a television network that seems bent on avoiding controversy financed one of the most violent films of the 1970's) and it is a damn good movie. Directed by Sam Peckinpah, the film allows Dustin Hoffman (who admitted that he did the film for the money as he normally prefers not to do violent films) to stretch his acting ability and unlike his roles in The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy, feels a bit more restrained. It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that many of his roles after this one were dramas. As I mentioned, the film is extremely violent (reportedly, many of the film's action sequences were later adapted into Home Alone) but the scenes work since they got a master like Peckinpah to direct instead of a hack who would have put the violence ahead of the emotional core. I believe the story of a man being pushed to the limit and forced to become someone he doesn't want to be is why the film is remembered today. Without that theme (and Dirty Harry opening around the same time), we wouldn't have gotten all of the quality revenge films that defined the 1970's.

Walking Tall
Image
Why I Chose It: possibly of the first "hicksploitation" movies (it also had considerable success outside of the South), it is also a compelling drama loosely based on the life of Tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser (no, that was really his name) and his fight to rid his town of the cesspool of crime that lurked there. Though some may trash the film for its cheese and excessive violence, there is a charm that comes from it being an product of its era. Joe Don Baker (whom you probably remember recently appearing as the revenge-seeking father who wants Matthew McConaughey dead in Mud) does well as Pusser and while watching the film, you become engrossed in seeing what the character will do next, no matter how extreme (in a way, you can think of Pusser as a down South version of Dirty Harry) while the supporting cast is serviceable. Since it is a low budgeted film, you have to forgive some of the shortcomings but it's not a bad little film.

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud
Image
Why I Chose It: one of the final Cinerama productions (it was released by American International), this is the kind of film that Hollywood doesn't make anymore: the high-budgeted horror film. Based on a best-selling novel, it is about a professor who begins to have dreams that soon become reality as he finds out that he is a reincarnation of a murder victim. Now, he must put all the pieces together before it happens again. Due to the supernatural plotline, it manages to feel different than many of the thrillers of the era. And like many of the bigger horror films of the era, it has strong production values (something lacking in today's horror films). The cast is decent if not great but J. Lee Thompson's direction, the eerie atmosphere and Jerry Goldsmith's unnerving score help make things work. Over the past several years, David Fincher has talked about remaking the film but I hope it doesn't happen (as I believe he would end up making the same kind of film he always makes but his fans would blindly worship it as they believe he can do no wrong).

Coming Thursday: January 1984.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Chienfantome » July 24th, 2013, 3:53 am

Hum, well, truth is, I haven't seen any of these, not even Straw Dogs, strangely.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
User avatar
Chienfantome
The Terminator
 
Posts: 8737
Joined: May 29th, 2010, 4:22 am
Location: Paris, France

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 24th, 2013, 4:01 am

The rights history of the Cinerama titles are checkered, as I mentioned. In the US, many of their films are easy to find.

Meanwhile, I'm surprised that you haven't seen The Honeymoon Killers. It was one of Francois Truffaut's favorite films.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Chienfantome » July 24th, 2013, 4:31 am

I know The Honeymoon Killers, but I've never actually seen it, no.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
User avatar
Chienfantome
The Terminator
 
Posts: 8737
Joined: May 29th, 2010, 4:22 am
Location: Paris, France

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby BanksIsDaFuture » July 24th, 2013, 5:17 pm

I haven't heard of, or seen, any of these pretty much, but I am enjoying your write-ups on them. :D
Alexandra Daddario: Eyes of a Demon, Face of My Future Ex-Wife
User avatar
BanksIsDaFuture
Alex
 
Posts: 5994
Joined: October 23rd, 2009, 4:09 pm

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 25th, 2013, 1:08 am

This Week: January 1984

While Terms of Endearment and Sudden Impact were continuing to tear up the box office and Broadway Danny Rose began a strong limited run (which led to a wide expansion), here are other films that came out during this time.

El Norte
Image
Why I Chose It: Along with 2008's Under the Same Moon, I believe this film to be the best film about the experience of today's immigrants. Visceral and gritty, the film shows the harsh realities of getting to the promised land and finding that dreams are easier thought up than living them. A huge advantage of this film is that the filmmakers did not sugarcoat the content and showed you what things are really like but in the end, you have to fight those odds to get there. Today with the constant battle over immigration, the film is more timely than ever and shows you that today's immigrants are just like Americans of previous generations (most of which came from another country): in a struggle to be happy and comfortable in a place they can call home.

Angel
Image
Why I Chose It: possibly one of the best B-movies films of the 1980's, the entire premise is sold on the tagline, "High school honor student by day, Hollywood hooker by night". Not taking itself seriously, the film manages to be entertaining and surprisingly not as exploitative as one would expect (though there is still plenty of violence, as expected with a film set in the Los Angeles of the era). Donna Wilkes is cute in the lead role while the grittiness of the location shoots adds to the feel of the film. The films was popular enough to get two sequels but they are broad (and much campier) compared to the first (also, each film had a different lead).

The Loveless
Image
Why I Chose It: the directorial debut of future Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow, it is more or less a 1980's arthouse version of many of the drive-in movies of the 1950's but still manages to be entertaining due to having enough variations from the films that inspired. Willem Dafoe does well in the lead role, deciding not to emulate the stars of the 1950's and instead choosing to do his own thing (besides, would you want it any other way) while Bigelow (co-directed with Monty Montgomery) embraces the B-movie style of the film. However, it is more than just a B-movie. It is also a study of the biker culture of the era and goes deeper than films such as The Wild One. In a way, you could think of it as "Terrence Malick does Thunder Road or Rebel Without a Cause".

Love Letters
Image
Why I Chose It: a Roger Corman production, this is a much more polished effort that the kinds of films he was known for (and indeed, Corman was very proud of the end result). Starring Jamie Lee Curtis in one of her earliest against-type roles (when she filmed it, she was best known for her work in the horror genre) as a young woman who despite her best intentions, finds herself repeating a past that she never wanted to be involved with. Curtis here shows herself to more than just a scream queen (seven months before, Trading Places showed that Curtis could do comedy well too) as she handles the material extremely well. James Keach (Stacy's brother) also does well as the love interest in the doomed relationship. Though this wasn't the genre launching film that Corman expected it to be, it is still a film that is worth watching some time.

The Lonely Guy
Image
Why I Chose It: one of Steve Martin's lesser known films, I picked it as it is still an entertaining little romantic comedy. Set in a "what if" scenario of the concept of a single but desperately seeking man being a known thing (and a surprisingly profitable business), the film (written by Neil Simon) manages to succeed on Martin's charm and a great (and almost unrecognizable) supporting turn by Charles Grodin as Martin's friend, who may be even more desperate than the film's hero. Though Martin at the time was best known for farcial comedy such as The Jerk and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, the film manages to serve as a precursor to later Martin fare such as L.A. Story (which also adds in satire of the yuppie culture along with its lonely man premise) and shows us that Martin is a man of many styles of acting.

And the Ship Sails On
Image
Why I Chose It: one of the last films from Federico Fellini, I picked it since I figured that it wasn't as well-known as some of his other films but it's still an entertaining little film nonetheless. Set on a luxury ocean liner, it depicts the reactions of the death of a beloved opera singer and how the people close to her. Filmed and designed like a movie from the early days of filmmaking, it is an affectionate tribute to the old days with a strong cast and great direction by Fellini. The premise in a way feels like Fellini doing an Altman film with the diverse cast of characters making up smaller plots to expand what seems like a minor plot at first and in the process, it could be seen as the last truly ambitious film of his career (Ginger and Fred was more of a crowd-pleasing comedy while his final two films were more experimental). I'd suggest pairing this one with a film from Fellini's glory days (or Altman's Europe phase).

Slayground
Image
Why I Chose It: one of a number of adaptations of Donald E. Westlake's Parker series (other adaptations have included Point Blank, Payback and this year's Parker), this one is interesting for being the only UK adaptation of Westlake's novels. Though much of the location shoot is actually a double for New York, it is a breath of fresh air to do an American-styled thriller in the UK. Peter Coyote is an interesting choice for the lead (named Stone, which isn't much different from Westlake's pen name of Richard Stark) but he fares well while the rest of the cast shows off the film's cultural identity. The action and the dark tone of the film also add to the proceedings. In terms of the best Parker film, I'd probably rank this as the lowest (Point Blank wins out every time) but it's still a entertaining little movie.

Next week: December 1995.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Chienfantome » July 25th, 2013, 3:42 am

Heck, another series of films I barely heard of, and haven't seen any of. High School student by day, Hollywood hooker by night. Ha.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
User avatar
Chienfantome
The Terminator
 
Posts: 8737
Joined: May 29th, 2010, 4:22 am
Location: Paris, France

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » August 1st, 2013, 1:10 am

In December 1995, movies like Jumanji, Father of the Bride Part II and Waiting to Exhale were tearing up the box office while Sense and Sensibility was setting up for a long run (and a second Oscar win for Emma Thompson) in the big cities. Here's a little bit of what else opened then.

White Man's Burden
Image
Why I Chose It: Fresh off of Pulp Fiction and Get Shorty, John Travolta teamed up with Harry Belafonte to do this "what if" drama on race (produced by an unbilled Quentin Tarantino). Set in a world where racial prejudice is reversed (black men have the power, white men are considered a second class), Travolta plays a factory worker who is wrongly fired and goes through Hell in the process, leading him to kidnap his boss (Belafonte) in an act of revenge. Though on paper the film sounds like a racist tirade written by a white man (which it isn't, since the writer/director is of Japanese ancestry), it is a surprisingly good movie. Belafonte does a great job as the antagonist and really gets to show off his acting ability here (Belafonte is of course best known as a singer) while Travolta, though not as good as his was in Pulp Fiction or Get Shorty, still does a decent job in the lead. It's possible that the film may have too out there for 1995 but I believe today, it could have more relevance. Check it out.

Wild Bill
Image
Why I Chose It: nine years before Walter Hill directed the pilot to Deadwood, he did another project involving the story of Wild Bill Hickok. Set during the final days of Hickok's life, this is a film that was seemingly inspired by the considerable success of Unforgiven but manages to feel much different than that film. For one, this one is told in a non-linear style. And two, Bill is depicted as a drug addict, making the film a lot darker than many other revisionist Westerns. Though the strangeness of the film could get a lot of people to hate it (and MGM barely released it, so it seems even the studio hated it), I believe that it gives the film a rather unique look that makes it stand out against other Westerns at the time. Another advantage is the cast that Hill assembles for the film. Jeff Bridges is very well cast as Hickok (you could see the casting as a precursor to Rooster Cogburn in the True Grit) and he gets a strong supporting cast with Ellen Barkin as Calamity Jane, John Hurt (who also narrates), Diane Lane, Bruce Dern, Christina Applegate and Keith Carradine (who would play Hickok on Deadwood) as Buffalo Bill. Even David Arquette is decent here. In short, it's not Unforgiven or Tombstone but it works.

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead
Image
Why I Chose It: though this film has developed a bit of a following in recent years, I chose it because it is still a rather little known flm (and it's probably known more for the title, which comes from a Warren Zevon song, than the actual film). Anyway, this is one of the many hip crime films that came in the wake of Pulp Fiction but this one is a cut above the rest. For one, it is a darker film than the others. And second, they actually got some decent people behind the camera (Scott Rosenberg, who later wrote Beautiful Girls and Con Air, wrote the script while Gary Fleder, director of Runaway Jury and the forthcoming Homefront, directed). Anyway, a huge advantage of the film is the cast. Where else are you going to find a film with Christopher Walken, Treat Williams and Christopher Lloyd among its cast? And of course, it's got one of Andy Garcia's better performances. Lately, I've been wanting to watch this one again but I can't find my DVD copy of it. Maybe I should since I just recommended it.

Nixon
Image
Why I Chose It: the second of three presidential films directed by Oliver Stone, this one didn't seem to get as much love as JFK due to the fact that 1. it opened in a very crowded field and 2. it was more of a straight biopic than the thriller that JFK was. But anyway, the film is still a compelling biopic on the controversial President with Anthony Hopkins giving doing my favorite version of Richard Nixon (I know I got some flak for saying that a few years back but I stick to it). And like JFK (and later W.), Stone manages to get a great supporting cast, with actors such as Joan Allen, James Woods, J.T. Walsh, Powers Boothe, Ed Harris, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Hoskins, Madeline Kahn and Larry Hagman making appearances. Other highlights is John Williams' pulsating score (I remember when the film's trailer would run on television or VHS tapes, the music of John Williams made sure you that had to see the film) and the sheer scope of the story. Even if you absolutely hate the things Nixon did (and there are a lot of things), there is still enough to like about the film.

Cutthroat Island
Image
Why I Chose It: though this film is known as the biggest money loser (in terms of percentages) of all-time, it still doesn't change the fact that it is perhaps one of the most fun adventure films of the 1990's. The film has amazing production values and has a fast pace that never stops. Geena Davis is strong as the lead, a pirate who sets out to find a treasure before her uncle (Frank Langella) can his hands on it. Along the way, she is paired with a con artist (Matthew Modine) and the search for the treasure thickens. Davis and Modine (who got the role after a number of actors, such as Michael Douglas and Keanu Reeves, turned the project down) are a fun screen team and the action harkens back to the days of Errol Flynn. Another highlight of the film is John Debney's incredible score (which was perhaps the best film score that year). If given the choice between this film and Pirates of the Caribbean, I'd pick this film any day of the week.

Four Rooms
Image
Why I Chose It: after the box office successes of Pulp Fiction and Desperado, I think the last thing that people were expecting Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez to do was a comedic anthology. And because of that (combined with the weak first segment), I believe the film was unfairly maligned by critics. Because once you get past those pre-conceived beliefs, you will see a funny comedy with a strong physical performance by Tim Roth (the only actor to appear in every segment). Intentionally meant to be goofy, you should enjoy the film as long as you don't expect it to be the next great American movie. It is simply a case of actors (and directors) having a few days to make something work. The highlight of the film is not surprisingly the Tarantino segment (which features an unbilled Bruce Willis and a darkly hilarious ending) but the segment directed by Alexandre Rockwell deserves notice too for its approach (feeling like a highbrow Blake Edwards film in places). The Rodriguez segment (which led to the creation of the Spy Kids series) is decent but tails off towards while the Allison Anders segment is the weakest segment (also, making it the first segment was a huge mistake on the filmmakers' part). In short, a mixed bag but the good far outweighs the bad.

Richard III
Image
Why I Chose It: though there have been many Shakespeare adaptations (this was the second of two to open in 1995, the other was an adaptation of Othello with Laurence Fishburne), this one is unique for the fact that it takes place during World War II and Richard is reimagined as a leader of the Nazi Party. Ian McKellen (who also co-wrote the film) is brilliant as Richard (it's a shame that he wasn't nominated for an Oscar) and he is supported by an excellent cast (including Annette Bening, Robert Downey Jr., Jim Broadbent, Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith) that even with the updated setting, still gives the film an artistic flair that many updates of Shakespeare lack. The film also has top-notch art direction and is well-directed by Richard Loncraine (who also wrote the script with McKellen). In short, one of the best adaptations of Shakespeare's work.

Next week: April 2001.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » August 8th, 2013, 1:20 am

While Bridget Jones's Diary became a sleeper hit and Along Came a Spider filled the thriller quota at the box office, here is some other movies that opened in April 2001.

Beautiful Creatures
Image
Why I Chose It: not to be confused with the recent attempt to ape the success of Twilight, this is a dark comedy starring Rachel Weisz (who looks great as a blonde) about two women in abusive relationships who end up with more than they bargain for when one of them murders her boyfriend in self-defense. And that's only the beginning. Considered by some a comedic Thelma and Louise, I'd say that this film is a lot more lighthearted due to the fact that it is a comedy and that it mixes absurdity with the crime plotlines. Though some may not get much out of it, it is a film that kept me interested (and not just because of Weisz, who is given far more opportunities in European cinema than American cinema) and I hope that others can also.

Josie and the Pussycats
Image
Why I Chose It: one of the first adaptations in the ongoing comic book boom, I feel that this is a misunderstood satire on the music industry. Updated from the 1970's to modern-day, it manages to be a fun skewering of the bubble gum corporate pop that was controlling the industry at the time and manages to be more than just an adaptation by adding dimension and substance to what could have been a basic cash-in. The three leads do well (yes, even Tara Reid is decent) while Alan Cumming is entertaining as a villainous record producer. In a way, you could see the film as Phantom of the Paradise but with more camp and less horror. In short, a better film than the reputation suggests.

The Circle
Image
Why I Chose It: today, Jafar Panahi is best known as the filmmaker who was put under house arrest for his criticism of the Iranian government (and made a very good documentary about his sentence). But Panahi is also a damn good filmmaker (well, except for the incredibly boring and pointless Offside) and this is another example of why, along with Abbas Kiarostami, he is one of Iran's best. Cast with amateur actors, the film shows the struggles of women in Iran and how they are forced to put up with the oppression. Almost the complete opposite of his earlier The White Balloon (a really good family film that I recommend anyone with children watch), the film's grittiness and social importance shows why Panahi is not only daring but brave to make a film that spits in the face of his country's draconian policies. And if you are force to choose this one or Offside, please pick this one.

The Luhzin Defence
Image
Why I Chose It: for some reason, chess seems to be a good sport to adapt to the screen despite its reputation as a boring game for high-class people. In the past, you have had Dangerous Moves (an Oscar-winning French film) and Searching for Bobby Fischer entertain with their strong plots and good performances. And here we have this film, based on a novel by Vladimir Nabokov (the author of Lolita) and starring John Turturro as a successful but troubled chess player who is willing to push himself to the limit to win, even if it means losing his already waning sanity in the process. Turturro (probably one of the most underrated actors alive) is great in the film and Emily Watson does well in support as Turturro's love interest, of which the main character's obsession with her also adds to his fragmented normalcy. At first glance, it is not a film that seems like it could be good (and the title makes it sound like a bad spy thriller) but it's definitely a film worth seeking out.

With a Friend Like Harry
Image
Why I Chose It: also known as Harry, He's Here to Help, this is an interesting French thriller about a mysterious man who, along with his girlfriend, forces himself into the lives of an old acquintance and his girlfriend and turns their lives into a living hell. This is the kind of plot that often seemed to appear in American thrillers in the 1990's but here, new life is breathed into the "(insert here) from Hell" premise and instead of glamour and jump scares, the film is heavy on atmosphere. Another plus is that unlike most American thrillers with such plots, the film has a good emphasis on dark comedy. And Sergi Lopez is one creepy villain as the title character. In short, ignore the misleading cover art (for the US release, that is) and dig in.

The Center of the World
Image
Why I Chose It: Wayne Wang is an odd duck. Beginning his career in slice-of-life indie dramas followed by big studio movies and back, you never know what he going to come up with next. This film (co-written by Miranda July!) came inbetween studio films and may be the most unusual film of his career. Set during the dot com boom, it is told in a non-linear format and focuses on the relationship between a hot-shot computer whiz (Peter Sarsgaard) and a stripper (Molly Parker) over a three-day tryst. I don't know what it is about movies about strippers or prostitutes but I always seem to find such stories fascinating and this is no exception. Parker gives a really strong performance as the stripper, who sees the relationship as just a job and isn't in it for love. Sarsgaard is good (but hadn't shown the strength he would in later performances) as well as the socially awkward hot-shot, who sees their relationship as more than just three days and $10,000. The film is also controversial for its graphic sexual content (one theatre in Cincinnati got in hot water for showing a cut version and lost its print as a result) but I feel that only makes the film more daring for showing what Hollywood won't show you. In short, a fascinating film on the relationship between hookers and johns.

One Night at McCool's
Image
Why I Chose It: throughout movie history, the dark comedy has been a hard sell. Even if you cast a big name or give the film lots of marketing, you will still have a hard time selling the film since general audiences don't like comedy mixed with murder or crime. I picked this film because it is a funny movie and because it was ignored due to its dark content. Supposedly based on true events in the St. Louis area, the film focuses around three men (Paul Reiser, Matt Dillon, John Goodman) and their relationship with a woman (Liv Tyler, who is very attractive as a redhead) with all three stories told in different viewpoints. The film is interesting in that all three stories are told in completely different ways, with each character represented as one type in one story and the complete opposite in the next one. The dark humor is also a plus, with some inventive death scenes (this could be the first film to have a guy be killed by a falling dumpster) and some smart screenwriting. And Michael Douglas is good as usual in his few scenes. In short, a little diamond that needs a discovery.

Next Week: November 1992.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » August 15th, 2013, 1:10 am

While Aladdin and Bram Stoker's Dracula were pleasing audiences and big cities were starting to learn the secret of The Crying Game, here is what else opened in November 1992.

Jennifer 8
Image
Why I Chose It: after directing two highly acclaimed comedies, Bruce Robinson ventured into Hollywood and was writer and director on this underrated little thriller about a cop investigating a murder case involving blind female victims and his relationship with the killer's next possible victim. Though Robinson disowned the finished film (and chose not to direct for many years afterwards), it is still an thrilling movie with strong lead performances by Andy Garcia (as the cop) and Uma Thurman (as the blind girl) and Robinson showing that he is more than just a comedic director (of course, he was already an Oscar winning screenwriter before then). Though some may find the plot cliched, I enjoyed the film and I imagine thriller fans would get enough out of it as well.

Flirting
Image
Why I Chose It: the sequel to The Year My Voice Broke, this film isn't as good as its predecessor but it is still an entertaining follow-up. Set during the high school years of the main character, he is now seen as an awkward teenage boy but since this is a coming-of-age film, things get better and worse at the same time as while he overcomes his social problems, he also enters the racial and social battles of the era with his latest crush. Featuring a number of actors before they got famous (Nicole Kidman, Thandie Newton and Naomi Watts) is it not only a good "spot the famous actor" film but a well-made teen film as well. Ignoring the cliches of 1980's (and early 1990's, this was filmed in 1990) teen cinema, it is a strong period film and a refreshing study of teenage life at that point. It's too bad that John Duigan has been relatively silent in recent years (only making two little-seen films since 2004) as here (and many other times before and after), he showed that he could be one capable director.

Becoming Colette
Image
Why I Chose It: before Danny Huston became known as a character actor (and a guy who somehow managed to score with Olga Kurylenko), he followed in the footsteps of his famous father and was a director. Beginning his directing career with the opening sequence of Under the Volcano, Huston has three films to date. This is the second, an erotic drama about the literary world in the 19th century, is light on plot but it has some great sex scenes. By this point in time, films driven on eroticism were being reduced to straight-to-video but this could be one of the last high-quality erotic films given a theatrical release. The sexiness of Mathilda May (probably best known as the naked space vampire in Lifeforce) here sells the film and the artfulness of the scenes makes this film not smutty or excessive, despite what the premise may tell you. In short, not for everyone but better than expected.

Fathers and Sons
Image
Why I Chose It: this is a little obscure and reviews are often negative but for some reason, I really liked this one. Jeff Goldblum (good as usual) plays a man who has difficulty communicating with his son who ends up finally connecting with him when a serial killer comes between the two. Mixing family drama, mysticism and thriller, it is an unusual film that manages to be exciting and well-performed by the cast (Rosanna Arquette, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli and Famke Janssen are also in the film). I can understand people hating the film and seeing it as a typical paycheck movie for its stars but the film left an impression on me and that is why I'm recommending it.

Tous Les Matins Du Monde
Image
Why I Chose It: an hit at the arthouses when it was first released (grossing over $3 million in fewer than 100 theatres), this is a beautiful drama about musician Marin Marais and events that may have shaped his life (I mention "may" in the fact that it is a fictional story but uses historical accuracy for elements that are known). Filled with passion and beauty, the romance of Marais and his loves explodes on the screen and his music moves the viewer as he or she watches. Gerard Depardieu and his son Guillaume both play Marais well and give the man justice (I didn't know who Marais was before seeing the film but their performance got me interested). Though there isn't much in the way of a plot, it is still a very strong film and even if you hate subtitles, you shouldn't have a problem enjoying it.

Malcolm X
Image
Why I Chose It: though a relatively well-known film, I feel that it has been forgotten in favor of Spike Lee's lesser work in recent years and Denzel Washington's box office success (and his totally undeserved Oscar for Training Day). This is the film that Denzel should have won his Best Actor Oscar for. Though people have complained about its near three and a half hour run time (and Spike Lee casting himself in a major role created for the film), it is still a powerful film on the civil rights leader and Washingon delivers as the title character (his supporting cast is also one of the best assembled of the 1990's, rivaling the casts of Oliver Stone's biopics). Though some may disagree, I believe that a man who was larger than life deserves his own larger than life movie and in 1992, Spike Lee was perhaps the only filmmaker that could pull it off (indeed, he even believed he was the only one could do the film justice). And here, he did it.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Image
Why I Chose It: sure, the film was a huge success at the box office but I chose it in that I feel the film is often dismissed as being a retread of the original film. Sure, it could be considered as such but I believe that it is also a great case of serial escalation. The traps this time are more dangerous and the stakes are increased with the larger setting (New York of course replaces the house in the Chicago suburbs), making the proceedings a lot more fun than it should be. Now, some people may complain that the film is too much of a cartoon with the excessive violence but it's only a movie. And part of the entertainment is watching bad things happen to Harry and Marv. In the end, it's a good final chapter to the adventures of Kevin McAllister (too bad Chris Columbus's idea of Kevin being the bad guy in Home Alone 3 never got produced).

Next Week: June 1998
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » August 21st, 2013, 10:34 pm

This week's installment will be delayed to next week (where there will be a double edition) due to a full plate (class just started up). Happy waiting.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

PreviousNext

Return to The Movie Club

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest