Friday, September 7, 2012
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 7
Tales That Witness Madness (1973; dir. Freddie Francis) File this one away for Scary Movie Month. I love horror anthologies, even though most of them aren't very good. This one features Donald Pleasance as a psychiatrist whose patients have creepy stories—with appearances by Kim Novak, Joan Collins, Jack Hawkins, and a bunch of British people who make the movie scarier than it might be if they weren't British. Those interested in joining Anglophobics Anonymous should let me know in the comments below ("One day at a time, guv'nor!").
Winter's Bone (2010; dir. Debra Granik) Before she was Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence was Ree Dolly, a tough, relentless girl trying to save her family’s property. Winter’s Bone is set in the impoverished Ozarks, and it never lets the viewer forget it. I mean that in a good way. The film fully put me in the Ozarks – and while I did not want to stay, I certainly wanted to see every part of Ree’s story. The acting is great, and from what I have read, the story it not too far from reality. It really stayed with me after I saw it in the theater, and I think the time has come to re-visit it.
The Up Series (1964... dir. Michael Apted) Wow! I cannot believe that these are available on Netflix. The most ambitious documentary film project ever got its start when 14 British schoolchildren were chosen to be filmed for a documentary about the class system, titled 7 Up. Since that time Michael Apted has returned every seven years to document their lives in the subsequent films 7 Plus 7, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up, 42 Up, and 49 Up. Watching the entire panoply of these children's lives unfold in front of you is both thrilling and sobering. The next installment of the series, 56 Up, is set to be released this year. What are you waiting for? Watch 'em all!
Red Cliff (Theatrical Version) (2008; dir. John Woo) Martial arts movies released in North America tend to be smaller in scale, mostly vendettas or hero’s journeys. In Red Cliff, you have a martial arts epic that is worthy of every square inch of the cinematic tapestry on which it is painted, as a usurper invades two kingdoms, forcing a battle wrapped in naval skirmishes, subterfuge, and clashing infantry. It’s definitely not just “you killed my master” and annoying dubs. I also find it personally satisfying that I can take some hope in the return of John Woo’s fastball. You can do it John! Just ditch the doves.
Private Parts (1997; dir: Betty Thomas) I was not a fan of The King of All Media before I watched Private Parts for the first time in 1997. Fifteen years later, there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not listening to The Howard Stern Show. Needless to say, Private Parts had an impact on me.
Switchblade Sisters (1975; dir. Jack Hill) A tough, nasty movie that's not afraid to be tough and nasty. There's nothing campy about the way Jack Hill made exploitation movies. He meant it, and that makes his work cool instead of silly. As Lace, leader of the girl gang The Dagger Debs (no doubt the name of four or five underground all-girl punk bands in New York), Robbie Lee doesn't look the part but makes for a surprisingly mean and intimidating villain. Only she's not really the villain, because the Dagger Debs are kind of the heroes. Joanne Nail is a FOX. God, this movie kicks ass. So easy to kill. So hard to love.