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Film Friday: July 2017

It’s not all comic books here at Longbox Graveyard (and it’s maybe not even comics any more — I did just kill the blog). My recent movie to Canada — sans family — has left me with idle hours in the evening, and my new job ensures that come dark I’m creatively drained, too. What’s a poor Moleman to do?

Watch a lot of movies, of course. Here’s a list of the films screened at Longbox Graveyard Secret HQ this past month.

(Note that despite the image below, this post is pretty much bereft of comic book content — go here for that)

In Theaters

Spider-Man: Homecoming: Perfectly reliable, mid-tier Marvel entertainment. The Captain America PSAs were a scream. I did coincidentally catch the Doctor Octopus train fight from Spider-Man 2 on cable the other day, though, and Spidey 2 blows Homecoming out of the water in pretty much every way.

Baby Driver: Caught it alone in a Vancouver movie theater, killing time until the Canada Day fireworks started. Walked out of the theater brilliantly focused, alert to every sound and color, like I’d emerged from the most effective meditation session of my life. I guess you could say the movie captured my attention. Favorite picture of the summer.

War For The Planet Of The Apes: Yeah, sure, OF COURSE we are living in an era where talking monkey movies are legitimately in the discussion for the best film trilogy of all time. Watching the scenery in this movie, all I could think was … this has got to be British Columbia. Yep, it was. Journeyed out to the Othello Tunnels the next day to experience one of the locations. Caesar Is Home.

Dunkirk: Doesn’t fully live up to the rapturous reviews — and I say this as a WW2 buff and a Christopher Nolan fan — but I did enjoy this human-scaled epic. It was chilling to see bodies bombed on a beautiful beach, and ships sink on a clear and untroubled ocean. That’s probably just how it felt, the juxtaposition of life and death. Thinking back on it, though, I’m inclined to agree the movie is “at heart a high-stakes drama about proper queue etiquette.”

On Cable

Cabaret (1972): One of those genre classics I’d managed not to see in my half-century of being a film fan. Despite my love of the Silver Surfer, I’m not mad for musicals, but I enjoyed the melodrama. Never really got Liza Minelli, either, but I can see how this picture helped make her an EGOT superstar.

On Netflix

Hell or High Water (2016): Held up on re-watch, originally saw this in the gloriously shitty little La Paloma theater in Encinitas last year. Grim, gritty, and pulls off the trick of getting you to root for some pretty awful heroes. Didn’t realize until today that this film shares a screenwriter with Sicario, another recent favorite, and now I’m anxious to see that selfsame screenwriter’s directorial turn in Wind River. Chris Pine was also pretty good here …

Star Trek Beyond (2016): … but Chris Pine is only so-so here. Same with poor Idris Elba and everyone else who wasn’t Sofia Boutella. Second or third time I’ve seen this movie and I still don’t know what the hell is going on. I’ve been a supporter of the JJVerse in general, but each picture is proving worse than the one before.

John Wick (2014): Worst-Russian-Accents-Ever. I fell asleep.

Army of Darkness (1992): Like it a lot less than Evil Dead 2, but this is good dumb fun, and the Klaatu barada nikto gag is genius. Speaking of which …

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951): … the original still packs some punch. Not so much for the “Earthman, get off my lawn” bit so much as for how it made me long for a prosaic time where White Men In Uniforms might be trusted to pay attention when confronted with unimpeachable evidence of Impending Doom.

The Hunt (2012): The always-great Mads Mikkelsen learns what W.C. Fields knew all along — never work with children.

Force Majeure (2014): Can’t stop thinking about this one. Fate confronts a couple with an ugly truth, and then their lives unravel, one thread at a time. Unsparing and uncomfortable — reminded me a bit of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster in that regard. Director Ruben Östlund is one to watch and now I’m eager to view his Palme d’Or-winning The Square.

On Filmstruck

Shock Corridor (1963): Working hard to develop an appreciation for Sam Fuller. I admire that he tried to elevate his material with political and racial commentary … but pulp is pulp.

Genocide (1968): Deeply strange Japanese picture where a hot-but-insane American temptress escapes a Nazi death camp to join the East Bloc to create a strain of insects that can destroy the world. Ripped from today’s headlines! Would have had the bleakest ending of any movie I saw this month if not for …

Shoot First, Die Later (1974): Come for the crazy car chases, stay for the fashions, casual violence, cat murder, sexism, and the frozen-faced beauty of a leading man who looks like he walked off the set of Team America World Police. And that ending! Oy.

Rules of the Game (1939): The outrages that shocked French society upon this film’s release have largely faded with time, but what remains is a masterfully constructed comedy of manners. Sweeps you up as only a classic old movie can do.

8 1/2 (1963): Fellini clearly has problems with women, but at least he puts them all in full view. No one shot a dream sequence better. In a crazy sum-of-the-parts way, this movie does depict the experience of being a director (at least to the degree that I’ve come to understand it directing video games). I love the part where Mastroianni’s knees give out while his producer hauls him toward his ridiculous, overbuilt spaceship set.

L’Atalante (1934): A dreamy, aimless cruise down the canals of France. Remarkable for its slice-of-life filmmaking — like a time machine, really. Plus, it has lots of cats.

Persona (1966): Overall I think Bergman’s reputation for being challenging, dour, and remote is overstated — I find his movies insightful and full of life. But Persona is … challenging, dour, and remote. And brilliant! This is what you get when Bergman decides he’s not concerned for the commercial success of a film (a masterpiece).

Plus Some TV

Enterprise, season one, which I like despite myself; Batman Brave And The Bold (which is the best Batman); and the Black Mirror Christmas Special, which is the most messed-up goddamn thing ever broadcast.

More next month, maybe.

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About Paul O'Connor

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978, published once a month or so at www.longboxgraveyard.com!

Posted on July 28, 2017, in Film Friday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I didn’t mind Spider-Man Homecoming, but I agree with you, Spider Man 2 is waaay better. Not had chance yet to see War For the Planet of the Apes or Dunkirk yet, hope to soon. 🙂

    Like

    • To be fair, just about every superhero film is going to be downhill from Spider-Man 2.

      Just in watching that action scene alone, though, I was taken by how much more “realistic” the motion seemed, particularly for Spidey (who felt a bit weightless for me in Homecoming). And rarely as a director been been matched with his subject than Sam Raimi and comic books. I wish Raimi would get behind the camera again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Back already – I knew it! 🙂
    Next, you should start renumbering the posts at #1 Paul.

    Enjoyed this, particularly the way you felt free to roam across whatever you’d seen without feeling the need to stick to the genre comic book films that might be expected.

    You’re right about Spidey 2, although the best tv Batman will always be Adam West.
    And Dunkirk is surely at heart a film about brexit…

    Like

    • Renumbering my posts is a diabolical idea! Just reboot the whole damn blog. BUT … I’m trying to get to #200. BUT … I could reboot, then revert to “legacy numbering” in the run to 200!

      Hmm …

      Like

      • Legacy numbering… have your cake and eat it Paul!
        You could go meta while you’re at it and make first issue mania the subject of the new #1 post.

        Like

  3. Wow, that’s a pretty big move to Canada, especially sans family!

    I am waaay behind on my movie watching, having not seen to many new movies since our kids were born, in the past few years. I still haven’t seen Spider-Man: Homecoming. I loved Spider-Man 2, but I’m the rate one who actually preferred the first Spider-Man movie.

    I didn’t care for the first JJ Abrams Star Trek movie (nor his Star Wars movie) so I haven’t bothered to watch the sequels.

    Your Filmstruck movies look interesting. Rules of the Game in particular is one I’ve wanted to watch for a while now.

    Like

    • Rules of the Game is a grand film, fully deserving of it’s status atop all those “best of” lists. I don’t think I love it — it isn’t something I will see again and again like, say, The Maltese Falcon — but it is masterfully crafted, wonderfully acted, warm and meaningful, well worth your time. It was my first Renoir and won’t be my last.

      Like

  4. I love Spider-Man 2., Easily my favorite superhero movie. So Homecoming was going to have to do a LOT to top it. And while it didn’t, I still think it’s the best Spidey move since Spider-Man 2.

    I also liked Star Trek Beyond, if only because they tried to tell an original story this time around instead of a re-telling of Wrath of Khan. (Seriously, I’m tired of how every movie that comes out, the pre-hype is someone involved telling us that it will equal or better Khan. I wish they’d look at WHY Khan worked so well (great characters, good story, felt like Trek) and try to emulate that instead of trying to figure out how to one-up or it clone it without our knowing. Seriously, how many nebulas near-by can there be?!?) Coming out of the JJVerse films, my first thought is — dang, I wish we had a series now to explore these characters and the universe that’s set up. Instead, we only get to see that epic highlight every couple of years.

    Like

    • I’m with you there, Michael — Star Trek really is an episodic experience. Bloating Trek up to movie-length either distracts with a lot of spectacle, or falls short with a story that “feels like a TV episode.”

      What I want is more episodes of the original series, with the original cast, with (most of) the sensibilities of the original show. And that ain’t happening … for another decade or so. Then I fully expect we will have a camera-real, all-CG series with convincing simulacrums of the original cast (and I probably will still find something to complain about).

      Like

  1. Pingback: Film Friday: September 2017 | Longbox Graveyard

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