At the Mountains of Movie Madness — Week Twelve
Last year I took part in an experiment in recommendations. Typically when a friend recommends me something, I remember it but I also get to it when I get to it. So I spent one month last year sampling every TV show people recommended to me. I found that to be a blast so I’m stupid enough to do it again this summer but this time with movies.
Since so many movies were recommended, I’m not going to be able to get this done in a month. Every Tuesday I’ll write about which ones I’ve watched and what I thought about them. The only rule to the recommendation was that they had to pick a film I haven’t seen. Some used that to pick great movies they know I haven’t watched yet and some used that to pick movies that look so awful they know I wouldn’t watch it. Either way, I’m watching them now.
Week Twelve – The Calm Before the Storm
Dark Harbor (Adam Coleman Howard, 1998)
Recommended by Jackie Jones
Jackie actually told me not to watch this recently. I tried to say I’m sure I’ve seen worse films for this marathon and I like how they ended up with 75 recommendations so I don’t want to cut one. Ten minutes in I regretted my decision. The films that angered me were entertaining on that level, but with this I just rolled my eyes until they were sore. This is a film that thinks it’s a novel, but doesn’t know it’s utterly terrible. Not only are the three characters incredibly unlikable, they commit the cardinal sin of not being interesting while being unlikable. It’s never dangerous only vapid. It looks like this ended this writer/director’s career which the TOD was marked at when he said that Alan Rickman could pull off an American accent.
Counter Recommendation: Carnage
Insiang (Lino Brocka, 1976)
I no longer trust Lino Brocka’s opening scenes. The last film I watched of hers opened with a brutal abortion while this one has a horrifically slaughterhouse. They serve as warnings for what’s to come because while they were physically violent there is plenty more discomfort to come from the social setting of the community. A young woman is raped and she wants revenge. This is a tighter put together story than “Weighed But Found Wanting” but I found myself more invested in the latter. Another very solid entry of Filipino cinema.
Counter Recommendation: The Woman in Black
Transylvania 6-5000 (Rudy De Luca, 1985)
Recommended by Nikki Phipps
I really didn’t like this one. This is my second recommendation where Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis are sex symbols, with Goldblum playing a Vince Vaughn role 20 years early. That’s more confusing because the script clearly wants them to be a more grounded/boring Abbott and Costello running into all of the horror monsters while researching a story in Transylvania. For if Goldblum and Ed Begley Jr. don’t get a fantastic story about Frankenstein while in Transylvania, they’re fired.
That’s confusing because Frankenstein is a doctor from Germany, but that doesn’t matter because they end up finding the bolted creature. Way too much of the comedy bombs and it only starts to be entertaining when all of the creatures are running around at once. Then the film immediately ruins that with last minute twists. Ugh.
Apparently this writer/director’s career seemed to die as well with this movie.
Counter Recommendation: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (Duh)
Battle Royale II (Kenta Fukasaku & Kinji Fukasaku, 2003)
Recommended by Denny Sullivan
“Battle Royale” is a damn awesome movie. It has all the brutality and fear that’s missing from the neutered “Hunger Games”. It was a big hit in Japan so the director was all set to make this new one, but died from cancer after only filming one scene. So his son the screenwriter took over from the director’s chair and the results are…flat. The first one took its satire and made you care about the characters and every scene began with an uneasy sense of no one being safe. This one is way too convoluted to feel any of that. There are way too many new rules to the game and the kids are being killed off too quickly for you to care. Adding a political element was a good way to keep the story fresh, but it never gelled together. Very disappointing.
Counter Recommendation: REC2 (That’s how you repeat the gimmick, but still be fresh.)
Radioland Murders (Mel Smith, 1994)
Recommended by Joshua Carroll
I love farces. Love love love them. I like my comedy fast and silly and that’s what this movie does so well. Sure, most of the characters are some sort of archtypes but that fits perfectly with the radio shows they’re producing. You don’t tune into those shows for complicated nuances, but for the thrills and adventure. In this movie dozens of characters are running around in one night trying desperately to put on a radio program while people keep getting murdered. It’s filled with so many fun character actors who are able to bring so much to their limited time they’re allotted. At one point, I lost track of how the mystery made any sense but that’s okay!
Counter Recommendation: A Prairie Home Companion
Next week (or whenever I finish these because seriously look up how long that last one is) I shall watch the final five recommended films: “Dead or Alive 3”, “Cockfighter”, “The Tale of Zatoichi”, “Goodbye Solo” and “Fanny and Alexander (Television Version)”