My Month in Film: August 2014

I’ve decided to drop the True Detective reviews; a lot of digital ink has been spilled analyzing it seven ways to Sunday and I can’t imagine I have anything particularly insightful to say that someone else hasn’t already said. (My final analysis is: it was pretty good, but I wasn’t as impressed with it as I assumed I would be.) In its place, I’m thinking of doing The Leftovers. We’ll see.

• Last month, I instituted a new rule: “Nothing gets five stars without a second viewing.” Since then, I’ve granted five stars to both Under the Skin, the original version of Oldboy, and…well, you’ll see. Rules are made to be broken, I guess.

This month’s content…

New or recent releases:

Retro reviews:

Episode 30 of the podcast dropped at the beginning of the month; the movies were A Field in England (my pick), Here Comes the Devil (Jori’s), and 100 Monsters (Drudgie’s). Episode 31 will release on September 1 and feature both versions of Oldboy along with Holla if I Kill You.

I made another appearance on the LAMBcast this month: #232, “Whatcha Been Watchin’ Lately?: TV Edition,” hosted by Robert of To the Escape Hatch! along with Lindsay of French Toast Sunday, Elwood of From the Depths of DVD Hell and Matt of Simplistic Reviews. The show I picked was, Hannibal, of course, because I am a monkey. I seem to remember we also discussed The Leftovers, Louie, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, and…something else which I don’t remember.

Coming in September: A piece on the Drive-In Massacre (which will happen this weekend) should run next week. I also hope to attend at least one day of the Chicago Horror Film Festival, and that coverage might run in September as well.

As far as movies go, I have a backyard-horror movie coming up soon. After that, I’ll do at least one or two of the following: Cheap Thrills, The Double, Enemy, Errors of the Human BodyEscape from Tomorrow, Melancholia, Proxy, and Snowpiercer. I’m also planning at least one Retro Review: Abel Ferrara’s Ms. .45, which I’ve not seen in about twenty years or so. Towards the end of the month, I’ll resume a strict-horror focus which will last through the Hallowe’en season and probably well into November.

*   *   *

Other movies I watched this month include..

A scene from SPACESHIP!

The Lego Movie (Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, 2014)


My rating: Pro.

sigh. Okay, I’ll do it properly.

A scene from THE LEGO MOVIE

The Lego Movie (Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, 2014)

Pretty much everyone I know loves this, and this time, pretty much everyone I know is right.

Yes, it’s beautiful, and funny, and exciting, but what really puts this one over the top is the twist that comes about three-quarters of the way through the film. What those two elements give the film is a layer of depth it’s rare to get in any sort of family film nowadays. You expect a movie like this to have a moral, you don’t expect that moral to be something other than an empty platitude. You don’t expect it to be genuinely thought-provoking and you don’t expect the resolution to actually teach something to the audience.

Without those two elements it’s one of the best animated films of recent years. With them, it’s one of the best animated films of the last couple decades, right up there with The Iron Giant and Pixar’s best work.

My rating: Pro.

Holla if I Kill You (Mark Polonia & John Polonia, 2003)

(Couldn’t find a screencap. No huge loss.)

Garbage, poorly-made garbage, sub-MST3k fare. It’s worth watching if you want a bad movie to make fun of. Actually…no it isn’t. It’s too much of a stationary target.

Bottom line, don’t bother.

My rating: Con.

Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin star in LABOR DAY

Labor Day (Jason Reitman, 2013)

I wanted to like this one, I really did. I like Kate Winslet and I like Josh Brolin.

But aaaaaaaargh it is just so goddamn frustrating. Particularly annoying is how the story is structured to keep the viewer from knowing the truth of the “murder” that Brolin was imprisoned for until the middle of the third act. I get that we’re supposed to see the story from the kid’s eyes but I’m just amazed that he doesn’t get any details from the news reports that are apparently being broadcast 24/7.

I also would have liked an explanation as to how what actually happened turned into a 20-year murder rap.

My rating: Mixed.

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