Last October, I watched a bunch of horror movies because, well, Halloween. I had a lot of fun watching things I’d not seen before and decided it was an excellent idea to create a theme for each month. November became Noirvember and I caught numerous crime thrillers. December obviously led me to Christmas movies except I don’t really like Christmas movies so I didn’t really watch that many. January was intended as Oscar month, and while I did watch a few Academy Award-nominated films, it wasn’t enough to really satisfy the requirements of the theme.
February is for foreign films and once again, I’m doing lousy at it. The trouble with Oscar movies was figuring out which films have actually been nominated (and I’m talking all-time not just this past year) and which ones are actually streaming somewhere. That’s easier with foreign-language films because that’s a whole category in most services. Except that most streaming services have a piss poor selection of foreign films. Never fear, I’ve got a pretty good collection of foreign films on DVD and Blu-ray. Except I forget to actually pull them out and watch.
I’m thinking March will tie in March Madness except instead of watching sports-related films I’m gonna watch angry films, maybe films of revenge or of men shouting they aren’t gonna take it anymore. We’ll see if I actually watch any of those films.
Anyways I did watch one foreign film this week plus some other cool stuff.
The Virgin Spring
Ingmar Bergman is one of the greatest filmmakers outside of the English language (he’s one of the greatest filmmakers of any language ever, but roll with me on this theme). He made great, beautiful, difficult films that dealt with deep psychological, existential, and spiritual themes. His films aren’t always fun to watch but they almost always stick with me.
The Virgin Spring is based upon an old Swedish folktale. It stars Max Von Sydow as the patriarch of a very religious family in medieval times. Terrible, horrible things happen to a family member and events transpire for him to enact revenge. But because this is a Bergman film, it does not focus on the violence (for a similar plot that focuses almost entirely on the violence see Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left) but rather the ramifications of it. After seeking his revenge, Sydow’s character immediately is beset by great guilt and begins to both questions God’s existence and seek his forgiveness. It is a thoughtful, gorgeous, meditative film.
Yorgos Lanthimos costume drama about Queen Anne and the Mean Girls-esque actions of two women seeking as much power as they can get is at once hilarious, disturbing, and ultimately moving filmgoing experience. Olivia Colman is magnificent as the Queen who spends the film in a perpetual state of grief and childish tantrums. Rachel Weisz plays the Queen’s childhood friend and her closest confidant who essentially runs the country since the Queen seems to have no desire for the affairs of state. Emma Stone plays a young woman who has lost her station in life and comes to the palace as a servant but quickly manipulates her way into the Queen’s favor.
It is exquisitely, and strangely shot (he uses a lot of fish-eye lenses inside the palace giving everything a wide, curved feel), wonderfully acted and filled with all sorts of interesting quirks that make it a movie I instantly wanted to watch again.
Freaky Friday (2003)
This remake of the Jodie Foster/Barbara Harris film stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan as the mother and daughter who switch bodies and learn life lessons. It is not a great film, especially considering the magic Chinese ladies who make the magic happen, but the two leads are a lot of fun and it has a certain family-friendly charm.
The King and I
I did work study for the dinner theater all through college. This generally meant that I took some part in most productions, especially the big summer musicals. I’m not a good singer and I have no acting talent so I usually played a warm body to help fill the stage or performed some service back stage. For The King and I, my duty was running the light board, or maybe just a spotlight. I can’t remember. I do remember sitting up in the balcony watching the show over and over and over again.
Usually on a Friday night, the family and I sit down to watch a classic Doctor Who story. The local college station runs the Tom Baker ones at 7, but tonight they were doing some cancer special so we decided to watch the movie version of that musical I watched so many times as a young man.
My memory was pretty fuzzy on the plot details but I sure remembered those songs. Yul Brynner won an Oscar for his betrayal of the King of Siam who wants to modernize but is stuck in his old ways. Deborah Kerr is the governess who comes to teach his children English, but ultimately teaches the King how to love. There are some pretty icky moments where this “savage” king gets taught how to live like a proper British gentleman, but the production values are good, the acting well done, and those songs kept me singing.
Nintendo Games of YouTube
My daughter and I tend to watch YouTube videos while I comb her (very tangled) hair after her bath. She loves cat videos, but I get pretty bored with that quickly and so I’m always looking for something else. Recently, I discovered videos of people playing old Nintendo and Super Nintendo video games that I loved as a child. We’ve worked our way through the Zelda series and are now going through all the Mario games. I don’t know what it is about watching some stranger play these games but it is somehow soothing. I still like to play them on my emulator and I’m both taking tips on how to beat certain levels and just enjoying the game play.
The Twilight Zone (2019)
Jordan Peele, who seems to be in everything now, is executive producing and narrating this new revamping of the classic CBS series. A trailer for it just dropped and while it gives us basically no information, it looks really intense and crazy and scary. Peele, who proved himself quite adept at creating interesting horror scenarios, is the perfect man to turn what could be another retread into our cultural attic into something really wonderful.