Three directors, eight movies, two masterpieces and six terrible movies (three of which I will love forever). After suggesting masterpieces I think that is a word that is overused. Certainly in this specific case they are Picasso’s when comepared to a sloppy paint-by-numbers that I painted.
Days of Heaven – dir. Terrence Malick – 7.3 If you are not familiar with Terrence Malick I whole-heartedly recommend that you make the time. Days of Heaven is his sophomore film after Badlands. It tells a story similar to the story of Abraham and Sarah in the Bible. Bill and Abby, played by Richard Gere and Brooke Adams are two unmarried lovers who travel to a farm in search of work in the breadbasket in 1916. To remain together while on the job they pretend to be brother and sister which work fairly well until the owner of the farm, Sam Shepard, falls in love with Abby.
This melodrama is something that typically turns me off and it would have here were it not for Malick’s ability, along with DPs Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler, to capture one of the most beautiful mid-west films I have ever watched. Every single shot gave something special and almost unique (which is troublesome when filming in a wheat field). I can hardly recommend Days of Heaven enough.
The Thin Red Line – dir. Terrence Malick – 7.0 I feel confident in saying that The Thin Red Line is in my top five war movies along with Saving Private Ryan, Lawrence of Arabia, The Grand Illusion, and Rome, Open City (I prefer war-time dramas). The Thin Red Line tells a story of the Guadalcanal battles during World War two and includes one of the few performances of Sean Penn that I enjoy. Penn stars alongside Jim Caviezel, Adrien Brody, Ben Chaplin, George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson and Nick Nolte. It is a fascinating cast and, like all Malick films, is beautifully shot and you can start to see his philosophies come through. Excellent film.
The Decameron – dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini – 4.9 Part one of Pasolini’s Trilogy of Life kicks off into a rough start. While I understand that Italian film at the time had sync issues, presumably because they didn’t want to shoot and re-shoot shots because of dialogue flubs. Whatever the reason the sync is incredibly distracting and wounded my experience of the film. There is little from the film that is sticking with me as I write this aside from the knowledge that Pasolini has a thing for feces. Leave it.
The Canterbury Tales – dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini – 4.4 The second part of the Trilogy of Life shows Pasolini’s comical assumption about England during the medieval era. The costumes, the store, and the sendoff to Chaplin are the only saving graces in this film and that really is not enough to recommend.
The Arabian Nights – dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini – 4.0 One thing that I never expected to say is that I would much rather watch Salo: 120 Days of Sodom a dozen times before The Trilogy of Life (primarily because the quality of Salo is heads above the trilogy). I was very afraid that this would be a wholly racist piece of garbage but I was surprised when it was not too racist but was a rape-filled piece of garbage. I could not make it all the way through. Perhaps don’t watch the three back to back to back.
The Evil Dead – dir. Sam Raimi – 5.5 The fact that someone said, “man, this is great, let’s give Sam money to make a new movie,” blows my mind. First off, I love this movie, but really, it’s terrible. Second, I love Bruce Campbell. The acting was dreadful. Third, it is my number two favorite horror film. (Number one is Dawn of the Dead) Oh the effects, just awful. The Evil Dead is probably the most important horror movie for people interested in making horror movies should watch. It is imperfect to say the least but it is proof that if you get a bunch of friends together you can, theoretically, re-write history.
Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn – dir Sam Raimi – 4.8 The fact that someone said, “man, this guy just took our money and remade his first movie into a comedy, let’s give him more money,” blows my mind. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn is a horribly made hilarious horror movie that deserves to be watched every couple of years. There are other people in the movie but you only really go to see Sam Raimi torture Bruce Campbell and that is okay.
Army of Darkness – dir. Sam Raimi – 6.2 The face that someone said, “THIS IS THE GUY I WANT TO MAKE SPIDER-MAN,” blows my mind. Army of Darkness is a direct continuation of the Evil Dead 2 and stomps its predecessor’s face in the mud to climb over it. Hilarious and quotable this is the sort of movie that aggravates your partner after watching since you will likely start squinting your eyes and saying groovy for no reason. The effects are often rotten but it doesn’t matter if you love it and I love it.
Halloween – dir. John Carpenter – 7.1 Halloween is one of the only slasher flicks that fills me with anxiety from the first note straight through to the dénouement. It is a great movie that spawned dozens of sequels and knockoffs. This movie is dynamite.