Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mansion of Blood (2015)

IMDb plot summary: Millionaire Mason Murphy renovates the haunted Mayhew mansion. He plans a tremendous lunar eclipse viewing party to celebrate his return to his hometown of River Ridge Iowa. At the party, magic runs out of control and the party guests are murdered one by one.
Directed by Mike Donahue. Starring Gary Busey, Robert Picardo, Ray Quiroga, and Tom Tangen.

Well, this is one of the most hilariously ridiculous movies I've ever seen. I kept questioning whether it was meant to be deliberately bad a la Sharknado, but there were so few failed attempts at comic relief. The editing is horrendous, the writing is laughable, the acting is so very bad, back stories don't make sense, characters pop up out of nowhere and then disappear without ever making it clear who they are or why they matter in this film. By the end of it, though, I found myself almost sucked into the goofy awfulness of it all. And the theme song is pretty awesome. So it's definitely terrible but probably worth a so-bad-it's-good watch (and an extra half-star) because I laughed a lot.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Mansion of Blood < The Fortune Cookie
Mansion of Blood < Dinner for Schmucks
Mansion of Blood > Hollywoodland
Mansion of Blood > The Talk of the Town
Mansion of Blood > Man of Steel
Mansion of Blood < The Forgotten
Mansion of Blood < Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Mansion of Blood < The Balloonatic
Mansion of Blood < The Best Years of Our Lives
Mansion of Blood < Willow
Mansion of Blood < The Lone Ranger
Mansion of Blood > Metal Tornado
Final spot: #1862 out of 2385.

Three Colors: White (1994)

IMDb plot summary: Second of a trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society shows a Polish immigrant who wants to get even with his former wife.
Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski. Starring Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy, Janusz Gajos, and Jerzy Stuhr.

Now I've finally seen the entire Three Colors trilogy. This one might be my favorite. I empathized so strongly with our central character, and as his story went on and he changed his life circumstances, I was with him rooting for him all the way. The visuals are subtle but lovely, as with his other two films; the chosen color is all throughout the movie, in the snow and the sky and the clothing choices. I was also extremely struck by the movie's ending, which went in a somewhat unexpected direction but was very fitting for how the rest of it had been playing out. A really solid movie, and I'm glad I got around to seeing it finally.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Three Colors: White > The Fortune Cookie
Three Colors: White < Murder by Death
Three Colors: White > Winnie the Pooh
Three Colors: White > Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Three Colors: White > sex, lies, and videotape
Three Colors: White > An Education
Three Colors: White < Idiocracy
Three Colors: White > Oldboy
Three Colors: White > The Return of Captain Invincible
Three Colors: White < Lethal Weapon
Three Colors: White < They Came Together
Final spot: #619 out of 2384.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954)

IMDb plot summary: Julie, an American on vacation in Mexico, spots a giant, one-eyed amoeba rising from the ocean, but when she tries to tell the authorities, no one believes her. She finally teams up with a marine biologist in an attempt to destroy it.
Directed by Wyott Ordung. Starring Anne Kimball, Stuart Wade, Dick Pinner, and Jonathan Haze.

Got a chance to watch this weird little B-movie, and it's definitely cheesy. It's also got plenty of 1950s sexism. Despite the fact that the female lead is going out of her way to hunt down this monster on her own and being generally awesome, the amount of times people tell her to essentially not worry her pretty little head about it was frustrating to me, even though there was a quasi-apology for it at the end.

The story itself is coherent, if not compelling, and I have to say that the appearance of the monster was not nearly as goofy as I thought it would be in a movie like this. By blurring the monster underwater and focusing solely on the glowing eye, it actually achieves a pretty ominous feel, even if the final rescue scene doesn't really work.

Overall, not a terrible movie for what it is, though certainly not great cinema or anything I'd watch again.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Monster from the Ocean Floor < The Fortune Cookie
Monster from the Ocean Floor > Redline
Monster from the Ocean Floor < Mystic Pizza
Monster from the Ocean Floor < Paint Your Wagon
Monster from the Ocean Floor < In the Company of Men
Monster from the Ocean Floor < The Rescuers
Monster from the Ocean Floor > The Professional
Monster from the Ocean Floor > Top Gun
Monster from the Ocean Floor < Sahara
Monster from the Ocean Floor < Howl's Moving Castle
Monster from the Ocean Floor < The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Monster from the Ocean Floor > The Watcher in the Woods

Final spot: #1758 out of 2383.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Captain Blood (1935)

IMDb plot summary: An enslaved doctor and his comrades in chains escape and become pirates of the Caribbean.
Directed by Michael Curtiz. Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill, and Basil Rathbone.

Swashbuckling Errol Flynn is completely delightful in this movie, as is the rest of the cast, and it ends up being a really entertaining adventure flick. I appreciate that it takes its time getting to what might be termed the premise of the whole movie -- there's a good 45 minutes to an hour of set up before he ever gets to be a captain. That gives us enough time to learn about him as a character, and as the movie continues on and he continues to succeed we're wholly on his side. Overall, a really solid classic adventure, and one that I'm glad I finally got around to watching!

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Captain Blood > Melinda and Melinda
Captain Blood > Rurouni Kenshin
Captain Blood < Whiplash
Captain Blood > Schindler's List
Captain Blood > A Single Man
Captain Blood < Inside Out
Captain Blood < Knights of Badassdom
Captain Blood > Agora
Captain Blood < Clue
Captain Blood < Evil
Captain Blood < Juno
Captain Blood < Pitch Perfect
Final spot: #361 out of 2382.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Brooklyn (2015)

IMDb plot summary: In 1950s Ireland and New York, young Eilis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries.
Directed by John Crowley. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Domnhall Gleeson, Michael Zegen, and Emory Cohen.

I got a chance to see this at the Mill Valley Film Festival this past weekend with a co-worker. I was first interested in it because it was written by Nick Hornby, whose writing always draws me in, but this movie is worth seeing in and of itself. It begins as a very ordinary story that's been told many times, but lovely writing, gorgeous cinematography, and charismatic performances from all the actors elevate this up to something much more special than it could have been. Eilis is a tremendously likable protagonist with a lot of depth to her story (always delightful in a female-centered, male-written story) and the final 15 minutes or so are a perfect conclusion to the narrative. Definitely worth a watch.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Brooklyn > The Circus
Brooklyn < Rurouni Kenshin
Brooklyn > The Absent-Minded Professor
Brooklyn > We Need to Talk About Kevin
Brooklyn > Eve's Bayou
Brooklyn > Don't Drink the Water (1994)
Brooklyn < Lethal Weapon
Brooklyn > Kick-Ass
Brooklyn < 21 Jump Street
Brooklyn < Atonement
Brooklyn > Oldboy
Final spot: #620 out of 2381.

Dr. No (1962)

IMDb plot summary: A resourceful British government agent seeks answers in a case involving the disappearance of a colleague and the disruption of the American space program.
Directed by Terence Young. Starring Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, and Jack Lord.

Jacob and I watched this for the 1960s blockbuster week of the 2015/16 Letterboxd Season Challenge. I've seen a few other Connery Bond films, and this one is... just OK. It's definitely not as entertainingly over-the-top as From Russia With Love. Of course, it was just starting out the series so it's not like I can complain it was deviating from Bond format or anything like that, but it certainly isn't one that grabbed my attention. I think it's about on par with Goldfinger, which also had a few interesting scenes scattered throughout to spruce up an otherwise uninteresting spy story. But I'm glad I've finally been able to cross it off my list.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Dr. No < Melinda and Melinda
Dr. No > Unknown
Dr. No < Total Recall
Dr. No > The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Dr. No > Bus Stop
Dr. No > Persona
Dr. No < The High and the Mighty
Dr. No > Davy Crockett and the River Pirates
Dr. No < Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins
Dr. No < The Prince and the Pauper (2000)
Dr. No > Brother Bear

Final spot: #1512 out of 2380.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sanjuro (1962)

IMDb plot summary: A crafty samurai helps a young man and his fellow clansmen save his uncle, who has been framed and imprisoned by a corrupt superintendent.
Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Starring Toshirô Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi, and Yûzô Kayama.

Watched this as part of the Letterboxd Season Challenge, and it's definitely on par with its predecessor Yojimbo. Toshiro Mifune is wonderful as always, his leisurely character a delightful contrast to the high-energy ones around him. I've been paying closer attention to Kurosawa's framing and composition choices with each one of his movies I've seen, and there were some stunning shots here. With so many characters present in nearly every scene, it would have been easy to make it seem crowded or unruly. But there is beautiful elegance in how the nine samurai especially are arranged around various characters. The movie didn't wow me as a whole like Seven Samurai or Rashomon or Throne of Blood, but I liked it and would recommend it.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Sanjuro > Melinda and Melinda
Sanjuro < The Red Violin
Sanjuro > Nothing in Common
Sanjuro > We Need to Talk About Kevin
Sanjuro > Eve's Bayou
Sanjuro < You Can't Take It With You
Sanjuro < Seven Up!
Sanjuro > Before Sunset
Sanjuro > My Date With Drew
Sanjuro < The Great Mouse Detective
Sanjuro < I Heart Huckabees
Final spot: #655 out of 2380.