SLACK SUMMER SPECIAL
Blue Ruin (2013)
A lo-fi revenge movie of the highest order but don't expect fist pumping victory vengeance. The vengeance here is so poorly planned by Dwight Evans (Macon Blair) it goes terribly awry. I really enjoy crappy criminals on film, it just seems so much more real. This flaky dude hasn't studied the fine details of what to do about his vengeance, he's just feeling it and hoping for the best. Dwight has been living a transient life in his car since his parents were murdered 20 years ago. Then he is told that the killer Wade Cleland is being released from prison. The drama spirals out of control from there. This is a top lil crime film that will take you on an odd bittersweet journey. One of my favourite films of the 10s.
Mr Sleep (2019)
Well out of the four Stephen King movies of 2019 this is the best one but that wasn't a particularly hard achievement as the other three were not so good. Mr Sleep is a sequel to The Shining (1980). I can't say I loved it but I believe it's pretty faithful to the book so King fans are going to be pretty satisfied. It was entertaining enough while it was on to keep from being distracted. Director Mike Flanagan also seems to be trying to appease the Kubrick fans too, somewhat less successfully though. I mean last time I watched The Shining (1980) ten years ago I thought it was an OTT classic and I'll probably watch it again soon. I doubt I'll ever watch Mr Sleep again though. For Stephen King devotees.
The Nice Guys (2014)*
This isn't the laugh riot I was expecting so I just looked at it differently. The Nice Guys works well as a goofy private eye/neo-noir/buddy movie kinda thing. I felt like I was dreaming or tripping as all these recent obsessions of mine were all connecting up to this film somehow. When you think of LA neo-noir Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye (1971) is The one. Margaret Qualley is here and she's on LA streets and in cars on LA roads which is bit reminiscent of Once Upon A Time...in Hollywood (2019). We also get a hell of a lot of driving around LA Model Shop (1969) sylee plus there's scenes on those windy roads in the Hollywood hills like in Lost Highway (1997), Family Plot (1976) etc. At one stage a lady calls Holland March's (Ryan Gosling) daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) a strange hippy which is more connections with the Tarantino film ie. Rick Dalton's (Leo DiCaprio) contempt for hippies. John Boy from The Waltons (1972-81) is a character here and I've been crazy obsessed with The Americans (2013-18) TV show of late. Agent Gad from The Americans is played by Richard Earl Thomas who played the original John Boy which I only found out a week ago. I fucking hated The Waltons as a kid and wouldn't even watch it. Australians, or is it just me ?, don't understand the attraction to corny bullshit, it's just not in our DNA. Nice guys also has parallels to another LA private eye film Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice (2014) which I can't stop thinking about ever since I watched it a month ago. The Nice Guys also taps into the LA porn scene ala Boogie Nights (1997) another PTA film. Rusty Crowe and Ryan Gosling are not bad together as LA Private Eye duo reminiscent of film partnerships like those in Hickey and Boggs (1971) or Busting (1974). There was also a bit of Christmas in one bit which had me thinking of Christmas in LA Die Hard (1988) stylee which is weird as I attempted to watch that the other day...blah blah blah.
Apart from all that we get some incredible action scenes particularly towards the end. The Burbank Hotel scene and that amazing sequence where the film canister is finally found. The Nice Guys could have almost been a classic but it just doesn't deliver on its promise. I mean it's light and breezy, it's not unfunny but it's rarely laugh out loud. The Nice Guys is almost charming but there's something not quite right about it all, something's a bit off. All of these issues will probably eventually make it into a cult film one day. Who knows? If any of this has you curious have a look.
* I am under no illusions that this is good writing. It's just a rough ramble through my thoughts.
Umpteenth watch of this very re-watchable film. Linus Roche is amazing. He's got to be one of the most under utilised actors in cool movies ever. I mean apart from some good telly what good movies has he been in between Priest (1994) and Mandy (2018)?
Die Hard (1988)*
It was Christmas so I thought I'd give this another go but this film is for other people. I'm just not in the Die Hard gang. How people can enjoy Bruce Willis is one of the world's great mysteries so I don't get why every man and his dog loves this movie. Do any women? Anyway I don't have to get it because it ultimately doesn't matter. I don't like The Shawshank Redemption (199?) or The Big Lebowski (199?) either so...
*I'm not trying to be deliberately polemical because that's boring. I've given those 3 films several viewings in the hope that I might catch a glimpse of what other human specimens see in these films but to no avail.
It Follows (2014)
The vibe right from the get go is very unsettling, making you squeamish. It Follows is very well executed. A sexually transmitted curse haunts the lives of a bunch of youngsters in run down suburban Detroit. How are they going to overcome the malevolent masked entity or are they doomed? Early Cronenberg + Halloween + The Thing = excellent 10s horror movie.
The Grey (2011)
The Grey is an average Man Vs Wolf movie. There was an amazing scene of ten pairs of wolf eyes in the pitch darkness which was unforgettable and unnerving. It's too bad the rest of the film wasn't this cool. At least half an hour of fat could have been trimmed off this. The Grey was leading up to a final battle between John Ottway (Liam Neeeson) and the pack of wolves but it stupidly ends before the final showdown. That would have been the most fun and best part of the film. The audience would have loved seeing Ottway getting torn apart by a pack of wolves. We were left unsated, hungry like the wolf (...er, sorry).
Under The Skin (2013)
You will not forget this Jonathan Glazer film once you've seen it. It's a modern classic, perhaps the best film of the 2010s. Very good weird with a disturbing ending. This film is not for everyone and is pretty uncategorizible. An alien disguised as a female human (Scarlett Johansson) is on earth it seems to to lure men into her dark liquid pools of death. Along the way she ends up trying to be empathetic like some humans are. Perhaps that was part of her mission or maybe humanity just got under her skin. Under The Skin has hardly any dialogue. The nude Scarlett Johansson scene isn't the sexy scene you imagined it would be. In fact it is curiously un-erotic as she plays this robotically cold alien flawlessly. There are mysterious motorcycle men who I guess are her alien accomplices. Nothing is explained. You can read a whole lot of stuff into this film such as gender politics, the nature of rape, race relations, partisan politics or whatever you want really. Maybe just get off your head and enjoy the exquisite sound and vision synergy. Mica Levi provides one of the most off kilter, eerie and perfect soundtracks of all time.
More unforgettable weird from Jonathan Glazer. Birth is compelling, mysterious, creepy and surreal. A ten year old boy Sean (Cameron Bright) shows up at a party that Anna (Nicole Kidman) is attending claiming to be the reincarnation of her dead husband. Things get more strange from there. Birth is just so unusual I still don't know what to make of it. I like its uncanny vibe. If you haven't seen Birth it is well worth a look as it's a rare film experience seriously like no other.
This is an instant pop culture moment. The Joker is so engrossing and spectacularly put together the thought of checking your i-phone will never cross your mind. You cannot turn your eyes away from today's greatest working actor Jaoquin Phoenix. Joker is a bombastic cross between Taxi Driver (1976) and King Of Comedy (1982) thinly disguised as comic book film, probably so it could just get made. Joker is a disturbing family/crime/horror/drama. Phoenix puts on an incomparable virtuoso acting performance. He is scaling heights in acting that have rarely, if ever, been reached before.
The Bourne Identity (2002)
I don't really need to talk about these nifty action thrillers. We've all seen them and we all seem to enjoy them. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) wakes up with amnesia but slowly discovers he's some kind of spy. An entertaining game of cat and mouse ensues across Europe.
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Is this the best Bourne movie? Two years later Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still suffering from amnesia despite some stuff slowly coming back to him. He realises he's some kind of assassin who worked for the CIA. Despite being at the ends of the earth some other assassins have tracked him down to a beach in India. Action and antics ensue. It's got all the good fun stuff car chases, identity theft, being framed, kidnapping, bombings, murder, phoney fingerprints, theft and more. Quite possibly the best action film of the 00s.
Don't Fuck With Cats (2019)
Emma couldn't handle the grim animal cruelty being described so this had to go after a few minutes. I haven't got around to watching it on my own yet, I doubt I ever will.
Parasite aka 기생충 (2019)
Every film commentator I respect has been telling me to stop what I'm doing and immediately go watch this film for ages now. It's just that when I see the words South Korean Movie I want the word "revenge" in there. Parasite has been called so many things a drama, a mystery, a comedy, a crime film, a thriller, a black comedy etc. So the word crime finally gave me something to hang on to in the hope that I might like it. One day there is going to be a sub-genre named retroactively called tangent films. This will fit right in there. I would like to say to the dickhead who wrote that this just seemed derivative you are so so wrong. The Joker: That's derivative. If someone can name me a story that resembles anything remotely close to this I'd like to know about it and I'd be very surprised. Sure there is brutal violence and incredible style that we've seen previously but this is a story that's not been told before. South Koreans seem incredibly adept at coming up with amazing and innovative stories to chuck into their genre flicks. Although there has been no consensus of what Parasite's genre actually is. An unmotivated family of four who are lacking in the funds department accidentally come up with a plan to start earning some money off a wealthy family in an innocent scam. Things take a devious and sour turn as unpredictable events unfold. The climax is something there is no way you could have predicted at the beginning of this movie. Masterful cinematography, acting, writing and direction. If Parasite is a message film and it does feel like one it's not quite clear to me what that message is, unless it's one of utter nihilism. Anyway I don't need anybody to tell me what to think, I already know. I'll stick to this just being a brilliant story, exhilarating entertainment and a fantastic artistic achievement. This has already entered the South Korean film canon hasn't it? I'd probably have it somewhere in my South Korean top 3 films of the 10s along with The Villainess (2017) and I Saw The Devil (2010).
Two Popes (2019)
This should have been called Two Popes Go To Confession. This is an ok lil cheesy drama about the old pope and the new pope. It's basically two actors actoring. Is this what they call a chamber piece? If you dig two characters talking to each other for two hours you might like this. Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) describes some of his bad deeds while they both do confession on one another but Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) seems to get off scot-free as his confession is muffled out in the sound design. I wanted to know more about his evil Nazi background. I like my catholic films with a bit more sex and violence than this I'm afraid. Two Popes won't be topping the catholic film charts anytime soon because how can you beat the all time masterpiece The Passion Of The Christ (2004)?
Without Warning (1980)
A don't go in the woods movie with a twist. There's no monstrous serial killer on the loose but there is a killer alien throwing frisbee aliens at anyone who dares cross its path. How can the aliens be overcome? Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Kevin Peter Hall and David Caruso star in this sci-fi/horror gem directed by Greydon Clark. Late night movie of the week.
Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
OK I've had a turnaround on my judgement of this flick. Previously I have not been able to make it to the end. My old stance on Friday The 13th films was that only the first four were worth watching and the order from best to worst was II, I, IV then III. Currently I would have this on as the third best of the first five with IV now being my least favourite. Stay tuned for where I stand now on VI & VII. Anyway this one is the most gutter-scuzz of the lot. Don't look here for an uplifting heartfelt human triumph of a story, instead expect some of the most base and lowest humans can go type of behaviour. Speaking of shit this film has a leather boy going for a shit in the woods as well as a dude doing a poo in an outhouse after he he ate a dodgy burrito or was it an enchilada? Unlike in Friday The 13th III we don't actually get the audio this time of faeces splashing in the toilet water. Enough of the scatology, what about the rest of the movie? This time round the setting is not a summer camp but a mental asylum near Crystal Lake with very relaxed rules about what the inmates can do. We get Jason's grave being dug up, plenty of wrong sexy time, murder, more murder and some more gruesome murder. This movie surely has the highest body count of all The Friday The 13th movies up to this point. Perhaps because of the amount of kills the emphasis on gore isn't as high as in the previous four, unless I saw some old censored or cut version. It was on one of the major streaming sites though. Who knows?
TOP 16 or 17 HORRIFIC/DISTURBING MOVIES OF THE 2010s
I Saw The Devil (2010)
Under The Skin (2013)
The Perfection (2019)
The Invitation (2015)
It Follows (2014)
Black Swan (2010)
You're Next (2011)
Starry Eyes (2014)
The Loved Ones (2010)
The Shallows (2016)
All The Conjurings/Annabelles/Nuns (2013-2019) etc. are all intermingled in my brain so I can't recall which ones were the best but there were 2 or 3 really good ones.