This may scare some people, but I watch a lot of movies each week. I generally average around 10 per week when I have a life, so in a week like this where I don’t, the number expands significantly. Because this trend of mine to watch more films each week than I can review causes me some grief, I’m going to negotiate with myself to post a weekly roundup where I chronicle the films I’ve seen each week, what their ratings are and a small thought about each one. I’ll do this on Sundays so this week will cover the 20th to the 26th of July.
If you are wondering what the ratings mean, my post here outlines what each of the 10 star ratings means.
Reds (1981) dir. Warren Beatty
★★★★★★★★★★ (10) – As a socialist, this film makes me happy. As a film-goer, this film makes me ecstatic. It is epic in scale and delves into the depth and occasional monotony and hypocrisy of radical politics. With four spectacular performances its obvious that this is one of the best films of the 1980s.
Dick Tracy (1990) dir. Warren Beatty
★★★★★★★ (7) – After Reds I was hoping I would adore this film as much as I adore Beatty’s sophomore effort. Its not a bad film, and really I would say that its important to the development of comic films. Really, Sin City would not exist without Dick Tracy. But the many technical issues with the film drop its score considerably.
Stereo (1969) dir. David Cronenberg
Both Stereo and Crimes of the Future are odd films. No soundtrack except for narration and they are both shot in black and white. I’m sure with serious study there is some deeper meaning to both of them, the technical aspects just don’t allow for that study to happen.
Crimes of the Future (1970) dir. David Cronenberg
Shivers (1975) dir. David Cronenberg
★★★★★ (5) – I can describe what happened in this film, I can’t really describe why or for what purpose.
King Kong (1933) dir. Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
★★★★★★★★★ (9) – This is the definitive version of King Kong. It is also proof that the power of pacing is not to be underestimated. Peter Jackson’s King Kong suffered from atrocious pacing even if the other technical standards were top notch. This film looks a little dated but the claymation is still incredible 80 years later.
Dracula (1931) dir. Tod Browning
★★★★★★★ (7) – This film would be far better if there was a score. I understand that the industrial needs of the time limited the film in that way, but it seriously compromises the suspense and horror the film provides.
Divergent (2014) dir. Neil Burger
★★★★★★★ (7) – The problem with this movie is that it doesn’t explain why being “Divergent” is wrong. All the divergents totally buy into the system of classes doing different things. Perhaps its explained in the books but in the film I kept asking myself “why?” because we never get a good explanation for the conflict.
Frankenstein (1931) dir. James Whale
★★★★★★★★ (8) – A very good film that holds up well despite its age. It also suffers from the lack of soundtrack but the effect is not as drastic as it is for Dracula.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) dir. George A. Romero
★★★★★★★★★ (9) – It is hard to believe that this movie was released in the 60s. Even with the end of the Production Code, having a black protagonist wasn’t going to be common at all until the 70s and this film uses his racial identity to extreme thematic effect. This deserves its place as one of the great pieces of Zombie fiction.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) dir. Tobe Hooper
★★★★★★★★★★ (10) –
There are few scarier films that this. I rarely give 10/10 reviews on a first viewing. In fact its a general rule that I don’t like breaking. But the sheer terror that this film inflicted on me juxtaposed against the beautiful cinematography, art direction, editing, and sound mixing makes me break that one rule. This is an utterly horrifying film. Other than possibly ‘The Birds’ it is the scariest film I’ve ever seen. Here’s my liveblogging of watching this for the first time along with an assortment of images.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) dir. Wes Craven
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) dir. Jack Sholder
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) dir. Chuck Russell
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) dir. Renny Harlin
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) dir. Stephen Hopkins
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) dir. Rachel Talalay
New Nightmare (1994) dir. Wes Craven
Freddy vs. Jason (2003) dir. Ronny Yu
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) dir. Samuel Bayer
The Mummy (1932) dir. Karl Freund
★★★★★★ (6) – This is not a horror film, at all. Just because a film features a “monster” does not make it a part of the horror genre (King Kong is also misclassified because of this). The Mummy is practically a romantic drama but generically should be classified as a Dramatic Fantasy. Its not bad though, Karloff gives an astounding performance as the Mummy. Its just not horror and the film also suffers from a lack of pacing.
The Invisible Man (1933) dir. James Whale
★★★★★★★★★ (9) – Holy crap this was an intense film. I’m not sure that horror is the best describer for this either but it has got its scary moments. I’d argue its better than Dracula and Frankenstein and has one of the best lead performances of the Universal Horror days.
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) dir. James Whale
★★★★★★★★★ (9) – When I first watched Frankenstein, I knew there were parts of it that felt off or missing. That’s because when we think of many of the iconic moments from Frankenstein, we are actually thinking of Bride. This is the iconic Frankenstein film and deserves more praise than it gets.
The Wolfman (1941) dir. George Waggner
★★★★★★ (6) – This was a let down. While Paul Raines gave a characteristically good performance, the rest of the film is a bit of a mess pacing wise and it feels far too long.
The Thing (1982) dir. John Carpenter
★★★★★★★★★ (9) – John Carpenter is the king of 80s horror. Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing, Christine, and They Live are all good or great horror films and this stands as his best.
Battle Royale (2000) dir. Kinji Fukasaku
★★★★★★ (6) – I enjoyed most of this film. The ending is a little infuriating though, abandoning and in truth never fully realizing the premise.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) dir. Philip Kaufman
★★★★★★★ (7) – Its dated for sure, probably more dated than the original. The soundtrack in particular doesn’t really hold up any more, but this is a really effective remake.
The Mist (2007) dir. Frank Darabont
★★★★★★ (6) – The narrative coherence of the first two acts is really muddled. But the ending makes up for that for the most part.
27 films in this past week is pretty impressive, but what’s more impressive is that 25 of those were over five days. There will be very few weeks that achieve this rate of film watching because, in spite of the appearance, I do have a life.