Quick Hits: Pre Summer Film Fest edition.

In a few weeks I will be celebrating my annual summer film festival which was the impetus for this website nearly two years ago. Of the 108 posts most of them are full length reviews with several of these Quick Hits it is a pleasure to still be writing here after all this time. That said I have not had much spare time over the past several weeks so my intake has been lower than usual, though, the quality was a touch higher.

don’t look now

dir. Nicolas Roeg – 6.67 – Don’t Look Now is the third Nicolas Roeg film that I have watched and is statistically the best. The elevator pitch for the film is a husband and wife, grieving the drowning of their daughter, get caught up with mysticism in Venice, and they have sex. I don’t typically try and use sexual intimacy as a selling point of a review but it feels like Roeg certainly did. It was fairly graphic, to a point of experiencing censorship issues, and a touch long.

The Black Cat

Lucio Fulci – 5.87 – There is about 15 minutes of this film that remind me of the Edgar Allen Poe story on which it is loosely based. There is little to be said about it. If you enjoy Italian horror films from the 70’s you have probably already watched it.

Center Stage

Nicholas Hytner – 5.73 – Whenever my wife wants to watch a movie I will usually watch it with her, if possible. We watched Center Stage years ago at the theater and, frankly, it is an alright film; not something I will work to convince others to watch, nor is it my favorite film about (or focusing on) dance. But, it is a good movie.

Serenity

Joss Whedon – 7.40 – You have already watched this if you are going to watch it so I will save myself a few keystrokes.

King of Kings

Cecil B. DeMille – 5.87 – As the film opens there is a message from DeMille stating that King of Kings is his entry in response of the Great Commission at the end of the Gospel According to Matthew. DeMille wanted to produce a film version of the passion of the Christ and it is one of the first of many films based on Biblical scripture. The film is very well made but I doubt there would be a long line of people lining up to watch it, today, considering that many of the modern films are considerably better.

Vampyr

dir. Carl Th. Dreyer – 6.73 – I have watched several Dreyer films and this one was a first. Most of the other films I watched are fairly religious. Vampyr is as well, to a point, but it more closely resembles the spiritual overtones of Day of Wrath. The film is visually stunning, if you can get around the fact that it hardly looks restored. Many of the effects and designs in the film are unique and appealing.

Y Tu Mama Tambien

dir. Alfonso Cuaron – 7.00 – What a filthy, filthy, movie. What an absolutely gorgeous film. I remember wanting to watch this movie years ago but never got around to it. Going in to it know I am familiar with the director Alfonso Cuaron but what really sold me on it was the Director or Photography, Emmanuel Lubezki.  I have long mentioned that Chivo is my favorite cinematographer and it is interesting to see one of his transitional films between your “standard” DP into the man Terrence Malick hires are frequently as possible. The content of the film reminds me of an 80’s sex comedy so take that for what it is worth to you. There are other Chivo movies I will watch before this one but it is a good time.

Clouds of Sils Maria

dir. Olivier Assayas – 7.53 – “Holy cats” was the first thing that spat out of my mouth when the credits rolled last night. I cannot say that I ever expected to be a fan of Kristen Stewart film but, holy cats.

Je tu il elle

dir. Chantal Akerman – 5.31 – Je tu il elle is a steamy pile of art. When I picture art films this fits my prototypical vision. While I recognize steamy piles are rarely good I don’t mean that here. Steamy because the last twenty, or so, minutes is a long lesbian sex scene. Overall it was art. There is a narrative but it is loves lost and the camera work is very limited.

The Freshman

dir. Fred Newmeyer – 6.20 Heh. Harold Lloyd flicks are great. It isn’t high art and exists for laughs. In The Freshmen Lloyd is a college freshman (spot on titling this) who tries to be someone he is not in order to be a man about campus. It is a delightful little movie that will make you smile if you need to. We can have a lengthy discussion about whether Lloyd, Chaplin, or Keaton are the masters of this art some other time but Lloyd has never disappointed.

Speedy

dir. Ted Wilde – 6.13 – See above… The aptly titled Speedy is about a man called Speedy who is just trying to do right by his family, and the New York Yankees. Unlike The Freshman, Speedy has a fair amount of high octane action which will match you giggles with your heart-rate, some really tops storytelling.

The Brood

dir. David Cronenburg – 6.00 – The Brood is my least favorite Cronenberg film that I have watched. It isn’t bad, per se, but it doesn’t have the same level of oomph that you get out of Cronenberg’s later body horror pictures. The themes come through strong but they are slightly overshadowed by the performances.

Center Stage: On Pointe

dir. Director X – 5.60 – Read Center Stage above. No really change, the dancing is a touch better in the original. The acting and screenwriter here is abysmal which forced me to notice a flaw in my rating system. I am judging performances so when a sub-par actor is a wonderful dancer their ratings can’t reflect their terrible line deliver or stone-faced performances. Dance is a saving grace to the film.

Feature Image from The Clouds of Sils Maria

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