Quick Hits

Battles Without Honor or Humanity

dir. Kinji Fukasaku – 5.8 – Who doesn’t enjoy a revenge, gangster movie? I knew this going in and it was only slightly disappointing. Don’t hear this a regret as this is certainly not the case but when I put all of the scores together the film is less than average. It doesn’t help that the film opens with sexual assault as an inciting incident. I am still planning on watching the other films in the series and expect that, over time, it will grow on me.

Tokyo Drifter

Seijun Suzuki – 6.5 – I watched this directly after watching Battles Without Honor or Humanity which did nothing to help my opinion of that film. In a design sense Tokyo Drifter could be considered a Wes Anderson yakuza film. It is not nearly as quirky but the colors pop off of the screen. It is elegantly designed and well worth the time.

The Great Beauty

dir. Paulo Sorrentino – 7.0 – Speaking of beautiful films you would be hard pressed to find an ugly shot in The Great Beauty. The film is a travelogue of Rome from the eyes of the wealthy. The substance is a touch weak in the same way that On Golden Pond would be. I recognize and understand the wisdom the film imparts but it is difficult for me to apply it to my life, today. Ask me again in thirty years.

The River

dir. Jean Renoir – 6.1 – The River is one of those right place/right time movies that changed people who watched it, or perhaps used to, maybe. This might be difficult to explain. The River is beautiful; it showcases vibrant colors and was shot on location in India so upon its release it showcased visuals that many had never seen. My first viewing The River did not give me that sense of majesty. (Note: I was in the ER shortly before watching the film so that might have affected my viewing)

The Long Good Friday

dir. John Mackenzie – 6.1 – The Long Good Friday is a British gangster film, which appears to be a trend over the last few weeks. It was good and it didn’t let up at any point in time. It will also change your opinion of Bob Hoskins if your opinion is based solely watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit dozens of times as a child.

The New World

dir. Terrence Malick – 5.9 – I have said this before but it is worth repeating, Emmanuel Lubezki is my favorite cinematographer and he did not disappoint. If nothing else The New World is a spectacle. Watching the film again will change my opinion, hopefully for the better.


dir. Peyton Reed – 5.7 – The Marvel flick factory extruded another film. The only thing that sets Ant-Man apart from the previous films is that it is a heist film wearing a Marvel mask. There is not much substance and without Paul Rudd’s humor it would have been a real drag.

Burden of Dreams

dir. Les Blank – 6.5 – If you want to see Werner Herzog’s actual march into madness it can be found in this film. Burden of Dreams is a documentary film by Les Blank made during the filming of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo. I do not regret watching the film.

The Graduate

dir. Mike Nichols – 6.0 – I had much higher hopes going into The Graduate. It holds up as one of the early slacker comedies but slacker comedies are not my favorite genres. The music was great though.

A Poem is a Naked Person

dir. Les Blank – 6.5 – Not one of the better ‘concert’ films I have sat through but there were a few decent scenes. Watch The Blues According to Lightning Hopkins to see Blank’s best musician profile film.

The Gold Rush

Charles Chaplin – 6.7 – I have never watched a Chaplin film which left me the worse for wear and The Gold Rush certainly did not fail me. It had been a very long time since I had laughed as hard.

Donkey Skin

dir. Jacques Demy – 6.5 – After watching part of Donkey Skin I went out to dinner with friends and told them about a really breathtaking French film I had been watching called Donkey Skin. The looks I received by half of the dinner party showed me what it would look like if I sat them down to tell them I was a serial killer, it wasn’t pretty. The movie, however, it very pretty including some of the best dresses I recall ever seeing in a film. The movie is a Cinderella story at heart and a bonkers musical in its soul.