Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back in Town

Apologies once again, but I'm back in Los Angeles after having been in Denver for the last two weeks, helping my friend Dan Bleskan with his feature-length musical about broccoli. So here are just a few quickies:

Ugetsu: A really great film, 8/10.

Sansho the Bailiff: An even greater film, I think, it had more of an emotional impact on me, perhaps because of a slightly more nuanced and complex set of character relationships, but I'd need to see both films again to confirm or deny. 9/10.

The Dark Knight: I'll write a longer write-up on this one when I see it a second time sometime this month. I liked it quite a bit but my instinct is to go against the grain and point out the flaws, which include a certain tunnel-vision and airlessness in Christopher Nolan's directorial scheme which make the movie feel more like a lecture than a comic-book movie a little too much of the time. 8/10

Hell of the Living Dead: Similar schlock from the same director of Rats: Night of Terror, but more of a Dawn of the Dead ripoff this time. 3/10

Spies: A pseudo-sequel to Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse Der Spieler, another rambling concoction of assassinations, seductions, nefarious underworld syndicates, and chase scenes in rickety cars. Pretty good but a little redundant next to Lang's Mabuse films. 7/10.

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse: This one has more intensity and complexity on top of Lang's entertaining set pieces, featuring a couple of terrific, creepy scenes involving a major character going insane; Lang's instant mastery of sound cinema, apparent in the early suspenseful scenes; and his political insight about dangerous revolutionaries seeking to undermine societies through chaos. Excellent stuff, way ahead of its time while perfectly of its time. 8/10.

Step Brothers: Really funny (especially the sleepwalking sequence) but midway through it abandons really trying to take itself seriously to seek out the silliest gags and most ridiculous resolution. Still, pretty funny. 7/10

The Midnight Meat Train: I enjoy Clive Barker's particular brand of obsessive madness, and this one has enough parts that work (Vinnie Jones, Kitamura's clean yet bloody direction) to make up for the parts that don't work (the boring lead actor, a somewhat sluggish pace). I paid $1.75 for this one. 5/10

Pineapple Express: See that review up there for Step Brothers? Ibid. But funny and well-made enough for an 8/10.


Sam Juliano said...

I disliked PINEAPPLE EXPRESS intensely, but I've already been on that soapbox.
SANSHO THE BAILIFF is for me a strong contender for the greatest film ever made, and UGETSU is also a Mizoguchi masterpiece. The final scene in SANSHO, when the son meets up with the blind mother is one of the most devastating in the entire history of the cinema. I liked DR. MABUSE quite a bit and SPIES is historically sugbificant, but I agree with your grades on both.
Welcome back.

nick plowman said...

I LOVE "Sansho the Bailiff" and "Ugetsu"

And I thought "Pineapple Express" would have been better, but I guess it was not. For me anyway.