I have really lousy allergies. I’ve never gotten any specific testing done on my body but whenever I’m around freshly cut grass or dust or any fine particles of any sort, my throat swells, my head gets full, I cough without ceasing, and I generally feel miserable for a day or two. I happen to work in construction, which means I’m regularly around great piles of sawdust and freshly mowed grass. These things combined do not make the best life choices.
I’ve worked it out so that I’m not the one doing most of the wood cutting and I can usually time it right so that mowing the grass doesn’t send me into fits and spells, but every now and again, I put myself in a position where I’m down and out for a day or two. This week was one of those times. Due to some personnel changes, I had to clean up at a job site that was full of sawdust and due to the rain, I didn’t mow my yard until it was quite deep. Both resulted in me being knocked on my arse for most of yesterday.
I awoke at my usual time, worked for about an hour, and then went back to bed. Took a good nap and got up feeling pretty good. But by the afternoon I was down again for a three-hour nap. Went to bed at 9 in the pm and didn’t awaken until 8 this morning. I’m back on the mend today but even though I slept half of yesterday, I feel utterly exhausted.
I’ll likely spend most off the weekend laying about the house feeling crappy. But hey, that means more movies get watched so that’s something.
Anyways, here’s the cool stuff I watched this week.
It is hard to believe that this Tom Cruise series has been around for 22 years. Cruise was in his thirties when the first one came out and he’s just released Mission: Impossible - Fallout in his 50s.. For my money, the six films in the franchise make up some of the best action films made in the last few decades. With the release of Fallout, I decided to go back to the beginning and see how it holds up.
It holds up really well. Directed by Brian De Palma, the film contains more spy movie hallmarks than the rest of the series. The plot is notoriously labyrinth and difficult to decipher on first viewing. The series left most of that behind for more bombastic, action-filled set pieces. There are crosses and double crosses and more twists and turns than I can count. I’m still not sure I understand all of it, but I am sure I don’t really care. The film contains three major set pieces, two of which can still astound and the iconic Langley scene which has Cruise suspended from a wire remains one of the great sequences in any action film.
We watched Mission: Impossible 2 last night and it doesn’t hold up nearly as well. I’m looking forward to revisiting the rest of them, but the first one is certainly a high watermark.
Don’t Look Now
Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie star in this horror film from Nicolas Roeg that sneaks up on you in the best possible way. It's about a married couple who, at the beginning of the film, lose their daughter in a drowning accident. Some time later, they move to Venice ostensibly so Sutherland can restore an old church but also to help them get over their grief. While there, Christie’s character meets two old women, one of which is blind and has “second sight,” an ability to see ghosts and the future. She tells Christy that she can see her daughter and that she is happy, but that she and her husband must leave Venice immediately.
Roeg turns Venice into a labyrinth of dark dreams and horror just beneath the surface. The film moves back and forth in time and employees a series of visions that confuse more then illuminate. Much of the film shambles along seemingly without purpose but in the last act, it becomes darker and more threatening. The last scene both pulls together what seems to be a pretty loose film into a cohesive vision and is one of the most shocking twists ever.
What Have They Done To Your Daughters?
After making the excellent What Have You Done To Solange?, Massimo Pallamano delves back into the giallo genre. This time he mixes it up with a more police procedural where a naked teenage girl found hanging from the rafters leads them to an underaged sex ring and a black-clad killer hacking people to death with a butcher’s cleaver. It isn’t quite as exciting as Solange but contains enough killer moments to keep fans of the genre going. I'll have a full review up soon.
Doctor Who: Planet of the Giants
For a while, the wife and I were working our way through classic Doctor Who stories chronologically. Every month or so, I’d buy the next set on DVD and we’d enjoy whatever adventure came our way. Planet of the Giants is the first story of the second season. It did come out on DVD sometime ago but has long since been out of print. Used copies sell for a pretty penny, which is why its taking me so long to watch it.
Luckily, BritBox includes it with all their classic episodes. Even then, I’d been weary about watching it with my daughter due to it being in black and white and Hartnell is something of a difficult incarnation of The Doctor to take. I should never had those reservations because she loved it.
The Doctor plus companions Susan, Ian, and Barbara return to Earth but miniaturized down two about an inch in size. They uncover a plot to sell insecticide to the masses by covering up the fact that it not only kills harmful insects but all living things it comes in contact with. The story doesn’t go much deeper than that and it's pretty light all around. It is the set design that makes this serial a classic. Since they are so small everything around them - worms, flies, telephones, etc. - are all enormous. It's great fun watching them interact with all these normally small things at enlarged sizes, all of which makes it easy to forget that the plot doesn’t do very much at all.
Doctor Who: Tomb of the Cybermen
We now travel from William Hartnell’s first Doctor to Patrick Troughton’s second. In it, he, along with his companions Jamie and Victoria, travel to the planet Telos where they meet of group of humans who plan to dig up the Cybermen from their underground tomb. It is the first Troughton serial known to exist in its entirety and it also introduces the Cyber Controller and the Cybermats. It's also a great deal of fun. I’ve only seen a few Troughton stories. I find him one of more difficult Doctor’s to get a fix on. He’s known as the Cosmic Hobo for his scruffy appearance and childlike nature, but his personality tends to run from trickster to something much more dark and almost sinister. I really need to see a few more stories before I make greater proclamations about him, but I can say he was quite fun in this one.
This new Showtime series stars Jim Carry as a beloved children’s show host who starts to lose his mind after his family life begins to implode. It also stars Judy Greer, Frank Langella, and Catherine Keener, and was created by Michel Gondry. The trailer looks like the typical mix of light-hearted wonder and dark emotion we’ve come to expect from Gondry.