Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A month of $1 cinema

All movies fall into four categories. There are those that I will see full price in the cinema, as soon as possible. There might be as many as two dozen of these every year and they rarely disappoint.

Then there are those that I can wait for on DVD, and get them out as soon as they become a new release. Sometimes I will see them in the cinema, but usually I can wait.

TV movies are right down the bottom. If they are on when I'm seriously bored, they might be worth a look, but I won't go out of my way for them.

And then there are the dollar DVDs. The local video store has a fantastic selection of back-catalogue DVDs that can be hired for $1 a week. While it has a superb range of TV shows that I have been greedily snapping up, it's the movies that I end up getting out week after week.

With less than three months from new release to back catalogue, I can wait for almost anything and the vast majority of the movies I watch tend to come from that $1 selection.

I might end up with a eclectic group of films, ranging from none-more-arty European films from the 50s that I've never got the chance to see, through to the latest blockbusting mediocrities. I watch them all. I can't help it.

In the last month, these have included:

Seraphim Falls
With meaty acting and enough narrative drama to keep the whole thing ticking along nicely, Seraphim is a small treat of a movie. Liam Neeson wants to kill Pierce Brosnan for somethin' he did during the Civil war, and Brosnan might just give him that death, if he can stop running for long enough. It's all leading to a slow crawl of a trek across a harsh desert, but pays off with an ending that is suitably cathartic.

Felt like it was just getting going, but then it stopped. What happened to the bit where it all turns to shit for Little Johnny Rambo and he gets tortured, and then breaks out and goes 'Raaaaa!'? It's just not a Rambo film without that.

There Will Be Blood
An essential watch at the cinema, but one that required a second viewing to determine whether I actually liked it or not. I honestly could not tell the first time and I'm still a bit fuzzy about many of my feelings after a second viewing. Although it was a hell of a lot funnier the second time.

Creepshow 3
Who even know this existed? While I have an inordinate amount of fondness for the first two Stephen King-led movies, it was an utter surprise to see this sitting on the shelf at the DVD store. Unfortunately, it is absolutely awful. Terrible acting, zero sense of style and stories that make no kind of narrative sense in any way. Good gooey effects, though.
(Thirty seconds of research has revealed that the directors of this were responsible for the execrable Day of the Dead 2: Contagium, so I really only have myself to blame.)

Sukiyaki Western Django
Tarantino was painful to watch, but those poor Japanese actors forced to spout mangled English were even worse. It sure looked nice and had a suitably chaotic and ridiculous climax, but all the shrieking can get a bit much.

The Wave
Punk teacher shows German students how easy it is to fall into fascism by turning them into fascists. Surprisingly, it all goes horribly wrong.

The Right Stuff
Hired because it's fucking awesome and the wife had not seen it. I keep meaning to buy a copy, but have never seen one for sale around these parts and couldn't wait any more. The wife and I both have a total crush on early-80s Sam Shepard now.

The Inglorious Bastards
The original film, given a spanking new release in the wake of Tarantino's effort. Even though it never got a theatrical release back in the 70s and features some appalling Italian acting, it is still a ruthlessly entertaining film as the titular bastards mow down hundreds of German soldiers with glee. It's clumsy and sometimes stupid, but is wonderfully relentless. That's enough for me.

The last X-Files film
Bloody hell, that was boring. No spectacle, no real spark and Mulder remains the worst FBI agent ever, constantly doing stupid things that put himself in danger because the plot needs him to.

Rogue Assassin or War or something
You can usually get something out of movies that involved Jet Li and Jason Statham beating each other up, but this film didn't quite cut it, no matter what title it was given. Maybe it was because the two men never really fought each other until the climax, which got a bit dreary and lacked the touch of the spectacular it needed. That twist was rubbish too.

Lost Boys 2
Oh dear. Using Kiefer's brother to play the lead vampire in this must have seemed like such a good deal in theory. Shame he turned out to be an utter charisma vacuum.

The Exterminating Angel
Luis Bunuel's 1962 film has a bunch of upper-class people inexplicably unable to leave a room after a dinner party, reverting to natural savagery as the food, water and medicine runs out. It might be a scathing indictment of the bourgeois, but it's also the freakiest film I've seen in a long, long time. There was something deeply creepy about the way nobody could leave or
enter the house it was set in, and the lack of any explanation for the mystery and the understated way it affects all those around it really hits home.

10,000 BC
Couldn't even bear to watch it properly by the halfway point and set the fast forward for the rest of the film, with added subtitles to keep track of what the score was. There was apparently some shouting and yelling and people making faces at each other.

Straight To Hell
Alex Cox's film features horrible people doing horrible things to each other and freaked me out in a way only low budget films made in the 1980s can. And yet, the bit where the entire cast sings Danny Boy was oddly moving and has remain stuck in my head for weeks. Even the dirtiest, messiest and nastiest films can have a heart.

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