Last week, I noted that I had started several things and not finished them. My hope was to talk about them this week. As it turns out, I still haven’t finished some of them (damn, Andrei Tarkovsky movies are long) and the ones I did finish weren’t very good (I’m looking at you Lizard in a Woman’s Skin and Sacha Guitry). Next week, my in-laws will be in town which will further much with my ability to watch the things I want to watch. Unexpectedly, I still managed to watch and read some cool stuff this week. And away we go.
A Quiet Place
I have a MoviePass. That’s one of those cards that you pay a monthly fee to own and with it you can essentially watch as many movies as you want. I picked it up on the cheap, buying an annual pass for less than ten bucks a month which means if I catch just one movie a month it pays for itself. Sadly, that’s just about all I wind up watching. As much as I’d love to go to the cinema more often, it rarely actually happens.
This weekend my wife was taking the daughter to a friend's house for a couple of hours and I had the brilliant idea of sneaking in a film while she did it. A Quiet Place was the perfect film for such an occasion. John Krasinski stars in, co-wrote, and directed this horror movie set in a post-apocalyptic world in which giant monsters have killed just about everybody. The catch is they are blind but have extraordinary hearing, making every tiny noise you make deadly. Emily Blunt is his pregnant wife (a lot of tension is built over the whole giving birth to noisy babies just might be the end of them) and there are two young children to keep up with.
It falters a bit by maintaining a few too many horror-movie cliches, but when it succeeds, it's scary as hell. Krasinski smartly uses a lot of quiet spaces so that we really feel the noise when it happens (I was never aware of so many people eating popcorn around me than in this movie). However, and I’ll blame the intervention of Hollywood studio types for this failure, there is a bit too much musical score going on. I’d love to see a version with no music whatsoever. Matthew St. Clair has our full review.
Gloria Swanson stars in this silent film recently given a nice Blu-ray transfer from Kino Lorber. It's mostly pretty dull, romantic comedy stuff uty the introductory scene in which she is pushed and plodded on a subway is worth the price of admission. You can read my full review here.
I’m continuing to work through the many writings of Stephen King. This was one of the few true horror films I’ve read of his. King started out as and is mostly know as a horror author but somehow the books I’ve read have stayed in his more naturalist side. If his horror stuff is anything like Pet Sematary, I think I’ll be reading a lot more of them.
Though I’d not previously read page one of this, I knew the basic story. Obviously, there was a pet cemetary and I knew it brought things back from the dead. I knew a cat would find resurrection there and when it returned, it would be different. I also knew some human would get the same treatment. My very vague memory of the movie (I’m not even sure I’ve actually seen the whole thing, but I remember talking about it as a young lad) had the back-from-the-grave human turning pretty ghoulish. Even with this knowledge (or presumed knowledge), King managed to scare the bejesus out of me. He drags the actual return from the grave thing out, which builds the suspense and horror. He’s relying on good old fashioned tension over straight up gore and it really works.
I’ve just started reading King’s 1,200 page magnum opus It, which I figure will either turn me into a super-fan or push me away from reading anything else by him for a long time.
For its 40th anniversary, Fathom Events and TCM put Grease back on the big screen. I went in a little reluctantly. Grease is definitely not my favorite film in the world and it had been a rough week. But once the music started, I was all in. So much fun. You can read my full review of the experience here.
A Trip to the Moon
Georges Méliès practically invented the narrative film, the science-fiction genre in cinema, and more special effects that one can count. Sadly, a great many of his films were destroyed in a fire (started by Méliès himself who felt overlooked as cinema began changing later in his life) but what does remain is fantastic. His most famous film recently got a complete restoration and a new Blu-ray transfer. It looks marvelous. You can read my full review here.
I never saw the original Rat Pack Ocean’s 11 from the '60s. I wasn’t really a fan of the Steven Soderbergh remake (though I feel like I should rewatch it as I am very much a fan of the rest of the director’s work). I can’t say I was really pining for another remake/reimagining/sequel/whatever this is, but it's got a darn good cast (including Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Dakota Fanning, Sandra Bullock, Katie Holmes, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling and many more) and I’m a sucker for heist movies.