I do these posts every so often to keep up with films that I haven’t had a chance to blog extensively about. This one’s a laundry list. Embarrassingly, some of these I saw back in 2012!
The Border (Richardson, 1982)
Underrated film from an underrated director, The Border is further proof of Jack Nicholson’s range and features some really great, quiet character development.
Sorcerer (Friedkin, 1977)
A film that has famously gone from neglected to celebrated, it’s a rare instance of a remake of a beloved movie (of mine: The Wages of Fear) that’s still tremendously tense and successful.
The Bad and the Beautiful (Minnelli, 1952)
A pretty, classy film about backstabbing that’s anything but, this might be my favorite Vincente Minnelli movie.
Murder by Decree (Clark, 1979)
You’d think that the director of Black Christmas would have a better riff on Holmes, but even Christopher Plummer and James Mason can’t save this wooden Jack the Ripper-narrative that features outmoded transitions and some hammy acting.
The Murderer Lives at Number 21 (Clouzot, 1942)
Though my discovery of another Clouzot thriller is ultimately better than the film itself, The Murderer Lives at Number 21 is a small film that feels like testing ground for the great director getting his feet under him, which will start immediately thereafter with 1943’s Le Corbeau.
Cold Fish (Sono, 2010)
I know Shion Sono for Suicide Club, and Cold Fish is equally as violent and absurd; it’s also one of the worst representations of women I’ve seen in awhile: they’re all sex and obsequiousness.
Night Across The Street (Ruiz, 2012)
A beautiful end for a great filmmaker, Raoul Ruiz’s Night Across the Street – which is, fittingly, an old man making a film about an old man – features many of his trademarks: time and memory, split shots and composite images to mimic deep focus.
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (Gessner, 1976)
A great, creepy turn from Martin Sheen, whose character could be Freddy Kruegger pre-burning, this movie feels like it should be from the 80s and not the 70s given its odd humor and offbeat tone.
Flight (Zemeckis, 2012)
Flight starts so strong – with a tense plane crash and a narrative that could go down any path – and ends up as a melodramatic sob-story pitch for AA.
Computer Chess (Bujalski, 2013)
Probably my favorite Andrew Bujalski film, Computer Chess is really wryly funny and its lo-fi look (was this shot on VHS?) gives it a deceptively amateurish quality that makes the characters in it feel like your uncle at a Christmas party.
The Gambler (Reisz, 1974)
A solid film by Karel Reisz, with James Caan as a gambling-addicted college professor, I still feel like I’ve seen The Gambler before, in another earlier film, though I can’t put my finger on which one.
Sister (Meier, 2012)
I loved Ursula Meier’s Home, and Sister, while not quite as good, is a really compelling, subtle film that reminds me a bit of Nobody Knows.
Room 237 (Ascher, 2012)
A feature documentary that should’ve been a great short, this The Shining-obsessive/conspiracy-theorists doc plods after about 25 minutes of repetition and poor structure.
Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin, 1995)
I like Carl Franklin’s moody, sweaty 1995 neo-noir, which feels a bit like the movie listed below, and Denzel gives a strong performance.
The Long, Hot Summer (Ritt, 1958)
My admiration for Martin Ritt continues (and Paul Newman, of course) as he directs in yet another genre – that of Tennessee Williams – and brings the sultry south to vivid life.
Grand Budapest Hotel (Anderson, 2014)
Featuring all of Wes Anderson’s tricks, Grand Budapest Hotel is certainly pretty to look at, and it contains more horror elements than any other of the director’s films to date, but it feels like parody with all of the cameos and rehash of the far superior Moonrise Kingdom, which has a nearly identical structure.
Chinese Roulette (Fassbinder, 1976)
A really strong Fassbinder film that is designed to look restrained and contained, but is bursting with chaos as though it were a reimagined Rules of the Game.