Saturday, January 18, 2020

Funded by Nazi Gold?

Films: Marie-Louise
Format: Internet video on laptop.

I honestly don’t know how much I’m going to be able to say about Marie-Louise. This might well be the shortest review I’ve ever written and ever will write, and that’s saying something in a world where my reviews have dropped by a couple of hundred words apiece in general. In a way, I’m rather shocked that I got to see it at all. I did, though, and with some caveats, I’ll give a review the old college try.

Honestly, there’s only one real caveat here; I couldn’t find this with English subtitles. What I got was a film that was in German and French, with German subtitles for the French parts. What this means is that while I think I got the main gist of the story, I’m going to be very light on details. I can get at least some German when I read it, but speech goes by far too quickly for me to get much from it. So, ultimately, I got something like 40% of the story during the parts that had French dialogue where I could read the subtitles and get at least a portion of them.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Ants in the Pants

Films: Phase IV
Format: DVD from Champaign Public Library through interlibrary loan on The New Portable.

Phase IV is a movie that I’ve seen for some reason at some distant point in the past. It’s not one that I can say I was desperate to rewatch, but it is one that I was having a great deal of difficulty finding. I remembered very little about it. I knew that it was about ants, I remembered a scene where a scientist smashes a bunch of computers, and I remembered at least a part of the way that it ended. What I didn’t know back then was that this was directed by Saul freakin’ Bass. In fact, it’s his only feature-length film as a director.

As mentioned, Phase IV is a movie about ants. There is an unknown cosmic event that appears to have accelerated some part of their evolution. Out in the desert, there are a number of strange geometric structures that appear to have been created by the ants. A pair of scientists with a staggering amount of computer equipment, set up shop to study the ants. What happens is a battle between the scientists and the insects. It does not go well for the scientists.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Shot for More or Less Shot

Films: The Omen (2006)
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on basement television.
I can’t say that I was excited to see the remake of The Omen. The original, despite being included in the book “The 50 Worst Films of All Time,” is a horror classic and far better than that reputation would have you believe. There are some wonderful moments in the original version of the film, not the least of which being a decapitation specifically filmed in a way that even the people who closed their eyes would be almost forced to see it. Remakes of classics don’t tend to go over well. It always raises the question of why bother when the original is so good.

And yet, here we are, with the 2006 version of The Omen. I can’t be sure, but I’d bet quite a bit that this was made specifically so that it could be released (as it was) on June 06, 2006 (or 06/06/06). It’s a nice bit of marketing that might honestly be the best part of the entire film.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

They Don't Laugh Much, Either

Films: The Dead Don’t Die
Format: DVD from Byron Public Library through interlibrary loan on basement television.

When I found out that Jim Jarmusch was making a zombie apocalypse comedy, I was more than interested. I like a lot of Jarmusch’s work, and that’s evidently not something that a lot of people are willing to say. A lot of his films have been panned either critically or by the public or both, but a lot of his films really work for me. Naturally, The Dead Don’t Die was going to be of interest to me. This checks a lot of boxes for me.

Jarmusch called in a lot of favors here, or at least went back to a lot of people who he’s worked with in the past for roles of various sizes. The Dead Don’t Die was hardly a critical darling and was panned by the public as well, but you can’t fault the cast list. The cast includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Adam Driver, RZA, Carol Kane, Rosie Perez, Tom Waits, Selena Gomez, Caleb Landry Jones, and Iggy Pop. I don’t think all of those folks have worked with Jim Jarmusch in the past, but a lot of them have.