Friday, December 9, 2011

My 2011 Movie Odyssey - Part VI

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)
There are some interesting images in this early talkie from Fritz Lang that would have been better as a silent film.

The Country Girl (1954)
Grace Kelly goes plain and won an Oscar in this OK movie. Wait, what am I saying? Grace Kelly is supposed to illuminate the screen in gorgeous gowns by Edith Head. This is a terrible movie.

Three’s a Crowd (1927)
Having seen most of the important silent comedies from Keaton, Lloyd, and that other guy, I was interested in checking out the work of Harry Langdon. My first foray into his films was a major disappointment. The movie is not very funny and the plot is seriously flawed. But the biggest issue I have with the movie is one of missed opportunities. There is a comically long flight of stairs leading up to Langdon's apartment, which he does absolutely nothing with. Chaplin would have walked up and down the stairs in a funny way, Lloyd would have almost fallen off them, and Keaton would have built a whole sequence around them, but Langdon lets them sit there begging to realize their comic potential.

The Chaser (1928)
Fortunately there were two Harry Langdon movies on the disc, and The Chaser was quite funny. Langdon manages to make doing mundane housework and even just sitting there very funny. The plot is rather ridiculous, but I enjoyed Langdon's performance and am eager to check out more of his work.

The Fly (1958)
Constructed more as a murder mystery than a monster movie, The Fly is very entertaining and manages to avoid being hokey like many of its contemporaries. And the final scene is still quite chilling.

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
This movie is terrible. King Kong looks like a man in a bad monkey suit and his face makes him look incredibly stupid. The fight scenes are uninspiring, the models look like models, and the whole idea of electricity making King Kong stronger is just laughable.

Samurai Cop (1989)
This is a gloriously bad movie. The action scenes fail at being thrilling or believable, the cinematography is shoddy, the dialog is awful (with lines like, “I will bring you his head and I will place it on your piano.”), and it even features Robert Z'Dar and his incredibly huge face. Samurai Cop's sidekick can't decide if he's the stoic silent type, or the wise-cracking black guy, and he manages to pick wrong in every single reaction shot. But the best part about Samurai Cop is the Samurai Cop's hair. The actor sports gloriously long 80s locks, but halfway through filming he cut his hair, so wears cinema's worst wig for half the movie. The great thing is that it switches back and forth between real hair and wig throughout the movie, even in the middle of some scenes.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
This is the kind of movie tailor-made to win cinematography awards. It looks great. Unfortunately the film is way too long for its own good and drags far too often, especially in the final act.

Monster Camp (2007)
This documentary tries to tell the real story behind the people who participate in Live-Action Role Playing (or LARPing), but the production value is amateur, the subjects aren't particularly interesting, and it never manages to really explain how LARPing works or tell much of a story.

Little Caesar (1931)
Maybe its just too much of a precursor, but I found the story to be unengaging and the tough-guy dialog felt hokey. I guess I only like my classic gangster movies to star James Cagney.

No comments: