Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Birthday Party (1968)

IMDb plot summary: The down-at-heel lodger in a seaside boarding house is menaced by two mysterious strangers, who eventually take him away.
Directed by William Friedkin. Starring Robert Shaw, Patrick Magee, Sydney Tafler, and Dandy Nichols.

I had no experience with or understanding of the play at all prior to this, but it sounds like something I wouldn't get into at all. It does that thing I dislike about David Lynch films, in that it teases you with some sort of logical narrative by being pretty coherent moment-to-moment but just feels like it's leaving out a piece, and if you knew what that one piece of lost information was, you'd understand the whole plot. I found myself zoning out during the film, and whatever emotional response I was supposed to take away from it, I didn't. Not my type of play or movie.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Birthday Party < Blow Out
The Birthday Party < A Farewell to Fools
The Birthday Party < Gigi
The Birthday Party < The Book Thief
The Birthday Party > The Incredible Journey
The Birthday Party > Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
The Birthday Party < The Lake House
The Birthday Party > Atlantic Rim
The Birthday Party > Island in the Sun
The Birthday Party > One for the Money
The Birthday Party > Men in Black II
Final spot: #2863 out of 3027.

Inspector Clouseau (1968)

IMDb plot summary: A string of robberies has occurred in Britain and it's up to Inspector Clouseau to catch the criminal.
Directed by Bud Yorkin. Starring Alan Arkin, Frank Finlay, Delia Boccardo, and Barry Foster.

Given my mediocre response to most Pink Panther movies, I expected to have a mediocre response to this as well, but it was... well, still mediocre, but a step above. I wasn't irritated by it at any point, partly because the silly comedy doesn't have a giant spotlight on it as much as just subtly weaving its way into the plot. That isn't always an improvement, but it is here. It's not a stellar movie by any means, but it's a decently entertaining one.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Inspector Clouseau > Run Fatboy Run
Inspector Clouseau < An American Werewolf in London
Inspector Clouseau < Brothers
Inspector Clouseau > Pitch Perfect 2
Inspector Clouseau < Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles
Inspector Clouseau < The Prestige
Inspector Clouseau > Le Week-End
Inspector Clouseau < Jesus Christ Superstar (2000)
Inspector Clouseau > Mudbound
Inspector Clouseau < The Revenant
Inspector Clouseau > Arctic
Final spot: #1291 out of 3026.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Red (2018)

IMDb plot summary: Under the watchful gaze of his young assistant, the artist Mark Rothko takes on his greatest challenge yet: to create a definitive work of art for an extraordinary setting.
Directed by Michael Grandage. Starring Alfred Enoch and Alfred Molina.

This is now my third encounter this play, after studying it in a class and seeing a production of it after I left college (starring my acting prof, which was a sort of surreal experience). I have yet to really find my way into this story, and it is not particularly helped here by Alfred Enoch's performance, which remains perpetually in the same range of vocal inflections and makes it near impossible to break through into actual character. Molina is great as Rothko, of course, as he is great in anything, and I'm almost willing to sit through an hour and a half of him just ranting -- but not quite. I'm still not convinced this play is doing as much as I think it's doing, largely because I think it relies too heavily on characters talking *about*, a cold, distanced analysis of the meaning of art that rarely breaks through into the lives we see play out on stage. It's all right, but it just doesn't get to me.

This movie is not yet on Flickchart.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Patsy & Loretta (2019)

IMDb plot summary: An original movie about the friendship between country-music stars Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn.
Directed by Callie Khouri. Starring Megan Hilty, Jessie Mueller, Kyle Schmid, and Janine Turner.

Well, this did exactly what a musician's biopic is probably supposed to -- it made me want to go seek out these artists' music. I really have no knowledge of or connection to Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn, so I have no clue how accurate this is to their lives, but I did find myself fairly engaged in their stories. This is largely due to musical theater veterans Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller being very compelling performers. The script seems to go back over and over again to the same predictable beats, but their performances make it (mostly) work.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Patsy & Loretta > Blow Out
Patsy & Loretta < An American Werewolf in London
Patsy & Loretta < Brothers
Patsy & Loretta > North by Northwest
Patsy & Loretta > Hamlet (2009)
Patsy & Loretta > Lifeforce
Patsy & Loretta < Alice (1990)
Patsy & Loretta < 12 Angry Men (1997)
Patsy & Loretta < EDtv
Patsy & Loretta < John Wick
Patsy & Loretta > Disturbia
Final spot: #1179 out of 3025.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Swiss Army Man (2016)

IMDb plot summary: A hopeless man stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home.
Directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe.

How do you even really review a movie like this? It is strange and gross and creepy but it also has some really lovely moments tapping into pieces of humanity from a very strange side-angle. It reminds me of something like Lars and the Real Girl and The Beaver, except with maybe more magic realism and a lot more gross body function jokes. The latter is the piece that keeps me from really loving it. I see how the idea that humanity is kind of gross as a whole is part of the movie's point, but it also makes me want to not watch the movie again any time soon. I guess I haven't watched Paul Dano in anything in a little bit, because I'd forgotten how truly great he is as an actor. The soundtrack should also get a mention. It's beautifully ingrained into the fabric of the film, and the one true laugh the movie got from me was a background song where the lyrics were a very literal description of what was happening on screen.

I have no idea where this is going to land.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Swiss Army Man > Blow Out
Swiss Army Man < The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Swiss Army Man > State and Main
Swiss Army Man < All's Faire in Love
Swiss Army Man < Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Swiss Army Man > My Date With Drew
Swiss Army Man < Before Sunset
Swiss Army Man > The Horse's Mouth
Swiss Army Man > Hamlet (1990)
Swiss Army Man > Let the Right One In
Swiss Army Man > Roma
Final spot: #1064 out of 3024.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Petulia (1968)

IMDb plot summary: An unhappily married socialite finds solace in the company of a recently divorced doctor.
Directed by Richard Lester. Starring Julie Christie, George C. Scott, Richard Chamberlain, and Arthur Hill.

This is not a French movie, but it has a very French New Wave feel to it, in its near-incomprehensible character choices and its awkwardly nonlinear storytelling. It has a few moments of resonance (Petulia's relationship with her husband had some fascinating moments) but on the whole it's a movie at a distance, but from a distance these characters are muddled and I can't figure out why I'm supposed to be watching them.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Petulia < Blow Out
Petulia > A Farewell to Fools
Petulia < Definitely, Maybe
Petulia > The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Petulia < Blue Valentine
Petulia < Fame (1980)
Petulia < Highlander
Petulia < What Lies Beneath
Petulia < Sorry, Wrong Number
Petulia < 12 Days of Terror
Petulia > Talk to Her
Final spot: #2077 out of 3023.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Star! (1968)

IMDb plot summary: A musical biography of Gertrude Lawrence, who led a hustling and bustling life on the stage.
Directed by Robert Wise. Starring Julie Andrews, Richard Crenna, Michael Craig, and Daniel Massey.

A year or two ago, I asked my Facebook friends if they could think of any gender-swapped versions of the "awful man is awful but he's a genius so the women in his wife choose to support him anyway." This COULD have been an example of that, but instead of embracing or really even emphasizing Gertrude Lawrence's talents, it spends a lot of time trying to teach her that she's doing it wrong and needs to be brought down a peg. It's kind of a messy script, too. Watching Julie Andrews sing and dance is always a delight, but this is a strange, muddled script that really doesn't play to her strengths as an actress and pushes her into a lot of very broad comedy, which she tackles with far too much elegance to be convincing. A weird, messy flick.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Star! < Blow Out
Star! > A Farewell to Fools
Star! > Definitely, Maybe
Star! < Cellular
Star! < Anonymous
Star! > Thoughtcrimes
Star! > Company (1997)
Star! > Ready Player One
Star! < SpaceCamp
Star! > Jack Strong
Star! < Lovelace
Final spot: 1802 out of 3022.