At the Mountains of Movie Madness — Week 13
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 Thirteen – Hello,
I Must Be Going
“We might have known from the first that human curiosity is undying…” – H.P. Lovecraft
Cockfighter (Monte Hellman, 1974)
Recommended by Matt Leer
I had a bias going into this one. Nothing about its quality, just the genre. Because it was Leer recommending it (with Aaron Wittwer having his back) and that being the title, I expected a crazy grindhouse movie. This is still a very 70s independent film, but it has more of a dramatic core than I expected. The world of cockfighting is violent and vicious, but that doesn’t always describe the men who take part in it. There is sometimes affection for their birds and often times not enough affection for the people around them. Really good movie that surprised me.
Counter Recommendation: Badlands
Dead or Alive: Final (Takashi Miike, 2002)
Recommended by Tim Irwin
Where to begin? This is the last part of a Dead or Alive trilogy that doesn’t make an ounce of sense. It’s an epic story of good vs evil but I don’t think any of the films connect. Unless the second one involved reincarnations of the original duo but even so this movie is about an android and a different dude. Are you following this? Doesn’t matter. The first two movies relied on giving up on plot to create a visual experience of fast editing and creative tangents. This one feels tired until the end where I think Miike realized this “good vs. evil” thing is pretty flat so he put the heroes in a giant penis robot and calls it a day.
Counter Recommendation: The Killer
The Tale of Zatochi (Kenji Misumi, 1962)
Recommended by Pedro Aubry
Samurai tales are awesome. I’m talking about the old fashioned samurai movies with stunts and fights that aren’t dictated by CGI. One of my biggest gaps in the genre are the Blind Swordsman films, which have over a dozen I believe. It all started with this one. As you can guess from the series name, it follows a samurai who is always underestimated because of his blindness. Yet he can still beat anyone in a sword fight. The rest of the story is the typical two factions against each other, but the character of Zatochi was so engaging I had a blast. Looking forward to watching more of these.
Counter Recommendation: Kagemusha
Goodbye Solo (Ramin Bahrani, 2008)
Recommended by Beau Thompson
This is one of the ones on the list that I was most anticipating so I saved it for the end so I always knew I had something great waiting. I’m a big fan of Bahrani’s first two films “Man Push Cart” and the masterful “Chop Shop.” His third film lived up to those high expectations. A cab driver thinks one of his regular customers is going to kill himself to he interjects himself into his life in order to show him what’s worth living for. This is the most plot heavy of his three films yet it still feels like a slice out of their lives. Everything is incredibly organic as their scenes move outside of the pace of any other film. Then, of course, the last ten minutes are just perfect.
Counter Recommendation: Umberto D
Fanny and Alexander: Television Version (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)
Recommended by Kenny Jones
When I had my wisdom teeth removed five years ago, I lied on my couch and watched the VHS library copy of “Fanny and Alexander” because of course I did. I didn’t mean to watch the theatrical version, but I had limited options. So as my final entry into this marathon, I embraced the five hour version of one of the most beloved Bergman films.
It’s hard to figure out what works more in this version. Did the Christmas sequence feel more relevant because we spent more time with the small moments of the family or is it because it’s my second time going through this story? Either way, this is still an incredible movie. Throughout the highs and lows and love and hate and ghosts, this is a movie that seems to always be about the power of imagination. Imagination is the fuel for hope as we discover a situation greater than the reality around us. At first the titular duo are filled with people who encourage their imagination through stories and art. Then as they grow up their lifestyle becomes…well…more like a Bergman film.
Then by the end, it’s one of the best films about growing up. Maybe not necessarily coming-of-age, but the physical act of aging beyond a kid. No one’s childhood is 100% happy or 100% tragic. That mixture and the ones you have around you will determine how well you will be able to come of age in the near future.
Counter Recommendation: A Little Princess (I’ll just assume that movie holds up.)
AND THAT’S IT! After 75 movies I have come to the end of my marathon. Let’s see all of the films I watched in order of preference.
1) Henry Fool
2) Goodbye Solo
3) They Might Be Giants
5) OSS 117: Lost in Rio
6) Fanny and Alexander: Television Version
7) The Man From Earth
8) The Believer
10) The Night They Raided Minsky’s
11) Mississippi Burning
12) Get Carter
13) The Story of Ricky
15) The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
16) Sophie’s Revenge
17) Local Hero
18) Inside Moves
19) Brotherhood of the Wolf
20) Radioland Murders
21) White Nights
22) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
23) Master of the Flying Guillotine
24) Hello Dolly
25) Cowboy Bebop
26) The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
27) Weighed But Found Wanting
28) The Tale of Zatoichi
30) Looking for Richard
31) Repo Man
33) Sexy Beast
37) The Stuff
39) Ghost Rider: Sprit of Vengeance
40) Foul Play
42) Someone Like You
43) Forbidden Zone
45) Humanoids from the Deep
46) The Moon is Blue
47) Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
48) The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia
49) The Life of David Gale
50) Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things
51) Hot Rod
52) The Notebook
53) The Day of the Locust
54) Dead or Alive: Final
56) Earth Girls Are Easy
57) The Last Unicorn
58) Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood
59) Red Eye
60) Battle Royale 2
61) The Dukes of Hazzard
62) Rumor Has It
63) Airplane II: The Sequel
65) Transylvania 6-500
66) Dark Harbor
67) Mac and Me
68) Skeleton Man
69) The Human Centipede 2
70) Zombie Nation
71) Dude Where’s My Car
72) Cool Dog
74) Digimon the Movie
75) Dragonball: Evolution
Also in addition to finishing this marathon, this shall be my last article for The Film Yap. I may sneak back in to give my Top Ten of the year or for a ramble about television, but for the foreseeable future this shall be the end of me as a regular writer for the Yap. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity given to me by the generous people at the Yap. If you want to continue to follow my misadventures, you can follow me at www.twitter.com/AustinLugar
Recognize the resource that is here at the site. In an age, where studios are throwing more and more money into movies where it’s nearly impossible to take chances and make a movie that is unique and personal, film criticism is even more essential to recognize the underseen films that deserve the attention as wondrous works of art. Every year has incredible movies; you just have to know where to look.
Enjoy the movies (and television!) and keep on yappin’.