Row Three Narcissism: Movies We Watched

Movies We have WatchedSo, the third entry in the biweekly column of Movies We Watched. These are films that one or more of the writers managed to partake of over the previous fortnight. While they didn’t get any formal write-up on the main site, they perhaps deserved honourable (or dishonourable) mention in the sidebar section:

Mad Max (1979) 3/5

Not quite as thrilling as I had hoped. It’s got its fun moments to be sure, especially the opening car chase, but there are so many scenes in here that just drag and drag unfortunately. It’s been years since I had seen this and I look forward to finishing off the trilogy in weeks to come. It’s alright, but go spend the ten bucks to see “Doomsday” instead. It’s got much more bang for your buck! -ANDREW

He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not (2002) 3.5/5

Quite a different role than might be expected from Audrey Tautou. Told in a non-linear style, it gives different perspectives throughout the film, changing the entire storyline on a dime. Don’t look for a romantic comedy here; although the final act is devilishly comedic. The first time I’ve ever heard the term erotomania as well. Nice. -ANDREW

Dune (1984/1990 extended cut) 4.5/5

While it is very much flawed in terms of pacing/narrative-cohesion, this is the one and only David Lynch epic blockbuster. And it is very much a David Lynch film. As a bonus Dune features some of the best production design ever accomplished for a sci-fi film. The dark analog future of this film lingers, as does many of the superbly realized moments. Better than Star Wars for this fellow. -KURT

All The Real Girls (2003) 4/5

Quirky, honest, ugly, beautiful and manipulative – and I mean these adjectives as compliments. David Gordon Green’s serene act of juggling so many things results in a rather conventional story told in a compelling and fresh way. The leads, Paul Schneider – who cowrote – and Zooey Deschanel, have sizzling chemistry confidently shown right from the very first scene. -KURT

Hatchet (2006) 2/5

I had a lot of fun with this movie. The humor is spot-on, and caused me to laugh out loud a number of times. I also liked the way they built up the legend of Victor Crowley, a brand new maniacal movie monster along the lines of Jason and Michael Myers. In Hatchet, director Adam Green has created a throwback, a film that contains all the best elements of the slasher movies of the 80’s. A real blast! – 4/5 DAVE

And in contrast, I thought every single element of this film, acting, humour, homage, lighting was 100% amateur hour, I HATED, HATED, HATED this film, in no small part due to its hyperbolic claim of ‘old-school horror’ which it most certainly is not…merely bad imitation. – 0/5 KURT

Dinner at Eight (1933) 4.5/5

A star-packed movie from the early 30’s, in much the same vein as 1932’s Grand Hotel. The Barrymore brothers, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler and Jean Harlow live it up in high society, yet find themselves always one step away from the poor house. The men are superb, but Dinner at Eight belongs to the women (Harlow is great, but Dressler, in one of her last roles, is even better…stealing just about every scene she’s in). -DAVE

The Kite Runner (2007) 4/5

Having loved the book, I was hesitant to watch this, but I’m thankful to say it was not only kept the spirit of the book, but it was a very good movie in its own right. Going with a cast full of mostly unknowns was a great choice on Marc Forster’s part and thankfully the studio agreed. -JONATHAN

Drillbit Taylor (2008) 2/5

Basically, this is a less raunchy, less funny, more junior high friendly Superbad. -JONATHAN

I Heart Huckabees (2004) 4/5

Not at all what I expected, but I enjoyed the hell out of it still. It could probably use another viewing though. – 3.5/5 JONATHAN

The Screwball Comedy lives! Watch for a sneakily wonderful performance from Mark Wahlberg. – 4.5/5 KURT

Suspect (1987) 3.5/5

Watching this now is pretty dull and fairly cheesy. Not to mention predictable. It is fun watching a much younger Dennis Quaid and I’m always a fan of Cher’s acting ability. Liam Neeson can’t talk in the film, so what’s the point of that? Though he does what he can. Don’t bother unless you’re a REALLY big fan of one of these actors. However, back in the day I can see why people might’ve liked it in a “A Few Good Men” kind of way; so it gets an extra half star for that. -ANDREW

Breaking and Entering (2006) 4/5

Aside from a TV movie and his bit in “New York I Love You,” this was Anthony Minghella’s final film before death. Two of Europe’s finest play roles that are intriguing and more than a bit heartbreaking. Couple this with a sort of a coming of age story and a pretty good drama is churned out. Sadly, The Office’s Martin Freeman is underused and I’m not sure what Robin Wright Penn is trying to do with the accent, but otherwise quite a nice little film. -ANDREW

Becket (1964) 5/5

A fantastic film from start to finish. Richard Burton shines as the ill-fated Thomas Becket, but it’s Peter O’Toole who steals the show as Henry II of England (a role he would repeat in the equally great 1968 film, A Lion in Winter). A textbook example of what an epic film should be. -DAVE

Turkish Delight (1973) 4/5

This early Paul Verhoeven film is not afraid to go to extremes. Sometimes raunchy, other times just plain disgusting, Turkish Delight is nonetheless a very touching love story. Rutger Hauer owns the screen as Eric Vonk, a sex addict who falls in love with a beautiful redhead (played by the lovely Monique van de Ven). This was Hauer’s first starring role, and he makes the most of it. I can’t promise this will be an easy film for you to watch, but if you can make it through to the end, you won’t be disappointed. -DAVE

Kurt Halfyard
Resident culture snob.

17 Comments

  1. On that, we fully agree. I was mucho surprised by the brilliance of this film. Of course I have a real thing for Zooey Deschanel, and that is a bigger problem now. :)

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  2. While I'm not sure I'd say it is better than Star Wars, I've always had a soft spot for Dune. And Becket IS fascinating. Definitely one of O'Toole's best performances (he must have a real gift for playing Henry II).

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  3. Ha John. I've been having nearly the same problem. Pushing my way through the John Adams mini-series on HBO. Damn fine stuff. Though I'm almost caught up now, so back to the movies.

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  4. I could not have unhearted I Heart Huckabees more. Having some grasp of the philosophical ideas posed in the story it is painful to see such a dumbing down for not even cheap laughs, but uncomfortable silence. Bad concept, bad execution. and the director is a dick, on top of it.

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  5. Got to agree rot. I don't remember much of it, but I remember scratching my head pretty hard walking out of that screening.

    On the other hand, "All the Real Girls" is one of my favorites that I caught up with last year. Definitely worth a watch for Zooey/Schneider fans. Great atmosphere and heart. I think I even watched it with commentary. A movie with a slightly similar tone is called "Diggers", which also takes place in the autumn in the northeast. Liked it a lot.

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  6. Huckabees, Southland Tales, Lady Killers, Dogville/Manderlay, Idiocracy, Tristram Shandy, Dear Wendy, — I think I have a thing for muddled satires….well, except for Roman Polanksi's Hammer Horror satire anyway…

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  7. Kurt, you are far too willing to overlook the flaws of a film if it is trying something new… a glass half full mentality. I am not so willing to give a pass to anything, it has to first work as a film prior to all of the contextual significance one imports on it.

    That said I think Dogville/Manderlay, Tristam, Dear Wendy all work as films in their own right, its not the gimmick/novelty that need elevate them.

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  8. @ Rusty Well, perhaps In that case I'm confusing muddled with blunt. Still, it's blunt in a good way. I'm a big fan of both those films, Dancer in the Dark too.

    @ Henrik – You a fan of Chris Boe or Nicholas Winding Refn? Pusher Trilogy kicks all sort of ass, and Reconstruction (and to a lesser extent Alegro and Offscreen) are great. Likewise on Wilbur Wants to Kill himself, Adams Apples and other Jensen flicks. Yea, I'm a fan of the Danish flickers…

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  9. I have yet to see one of Hr. Boes films, I hear good things though. Mostly from Lynchophiles, and not being one myself, he's not particularly high on my priority list.

    Of the Pusher trilogy I have only seen part 2, it was pretty typical, boring stuff I thought. I do enjoy the Anders Thomas Jensen-directed stuff. Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself is a Lone Scherfig film though, didn't watch that either.

    Danish film is regressing though. The 90s were definitely a highpoint with plenty of good stuff being released, but now the success have become so big, the budgets are expanding, the pandering is becoming obnoxious. I just watched last week the most expensive danish production ever called "Flammen & Citronen", and it was fucking atrocious. I am campaigning (silent protests mostly) that the director Ole Christian Madsen be imprisoned for his crime.

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  10. I love Marie Dressler's double take at the end of Dinner at Eight when Jean Harlow mentions that she read a book. I've had the chance to see this a couple of times theatrically back when they had several revival houses in NYC.

    Also, I read the comments, and I also recommend the films of Boe.

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  11. What Boe accomplishes with Reconstruction, throwing down the cinematic gauntlet with the opening narration, then succeeding to constantly toy with the audience (4th Wall (and on some strange sci-fi level, 5th wall) breaks abound) – If Funny Games were a Rom Com, then it would be Reconstruction.

    The chemistry of Nikolaj Lie Kaas and the gorgeous Maria Bonnevie (where's my copy of Insomnia?!) is fabulous, particularly the scene near the beginning in the bar. The film is gorgeous to boot. It's a gem.

    (http://kurtscomment.blogspot.com/2005/09/kbt-pres…)

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