This week has had a lot of writing done but none of it finished. I’ve got a piece working about The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy that I will likely put up on Sound on Sight when it is finished. I also have a piece on feminist readings of films and another looking at my favourite videos from Cracked.com that talk about film theory. On the other side of the world I have a sermon that I will be giving next Sunday (my first one ever which freaks me out) that I’ve been tweaking and editing over and over again this week. Like I said, lots of writing, very little of it completed.

On the movies end of things I saw 26 movies this week only four of which I had seen before. I also made it halfway through the filmography of David Lynch (I think its impossible to actually marathon all of his films) and finally completed that of Kathryn Bigelow (which will be getting a post of its own this week). Only two films made it on to the contenders list this week one of which I’m almost certain will move up once I re-watch it.

The Contenders

Lone Star (1996) dir. John Sayles

Strange Days (1995) dir. Kathryn Bigelow

Screenshot 2014-08-09 22.08.21
Just one of the great shots of food porn in Jon Favreau’s Chef (2014).

The Wicker Man (1973) dir.  Robin Hardy

★★★★★★★★ (8)

This film is bloody terrifying and can be read a number of different ways. It doesn’t really set up the Christian man as a protagonist but as a subject. This makes the conflict between him and the pagans really fascinating and the uncertainty all the more terrifying.

Paranormal Activity (2007) dir. Oren Peli

★★★★★★ (6)

Reasonably enjoyable and uses suspense to its advantage. It is not perfect and could probably have been shorter (and its already pretty short).

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) dir. Tod Williams

★★★★★★ (6)

Slightly better than the first.

Dawn of the Dead (1978) dir. George A. Romero

★★★★ (4)

After watching it all I wrote was “This movie does nothing for me.” I stand by that analysis.

Lone Star (1996) dir. John Sayles

★★★★★★★★★ (9)

This film is more than just a mystery. This is a film that deals with generational trauma in a way I’m not sure was possible. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant film and an obvious addition to the Contenders schedule.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) dir. Elia Kazan

★★★★★★ (6)

As a fan of The Glass Menagerie I found this to be super disappointing. Brando gives an incredible performance but the rest of the story does nothing for me and I mostly find Blanche to be intolerable. I was expecting so much from Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan, but this was seriously disappointing.

The Ghost Writer (2010) dir. Roman Polanski

★★★★★★★★★ (9)

I’ve never been much of a fan of Ewan MacGregor or Pierce Brosnan (outside of his first three Bond films) so I initially had no inclination to see this film. However, one of my favourite online critics put it in his top five films of 2010 and I’ve been interested in seeing more films from Polanski so I gave it a spin. The two lead actors along with a stellar supporting cast including Tom Wilkinson, Kim Cattrall, and Olivia Williams create a tense and intriguing thriller and character study with incredible political and social implications should one choose to read into it as such.

Eraserhead (1977) dir. David Lynch

★★★★★ (5)

I’m going to be one of those haters and just not like this film. Part of it is the general weirdness and lack of defined narrative. Part of it is that there isn’t anything enticing or interesting about either of the aforementioned problems.

The Elephant Man (1980) dir. David Lynch

★★★★★★★★★ (9)

Utterly beautiful film. Incredibly tragic but sympathetic in an unusually sincere way, The Elephant Man proves once again that men are the monsters in Lynch films. Monsters are just the misunderstood, the oppressed, the forgotten, and the hated.

Dune (1984) dir. David Lynch

★★★★★★ (6)

The exposition was done reasonably well and the middle act of the film was pretty entertaining. The ending though. Ugh. Horrid ending to an otherwise decent film.

Blue Velvet (1986) dir. David Lynch

★★★★★★★★★★ (10)

This is a really spectacular film. There is a good reason it makes it into my personal canon.

Wild at Heart (1990) dir. David Lynch

★★★★★★ (6)

If you are simultaneously nostalgic for 80s Thrash and Elvis, this is the movie for you. Lynch is a weirdo, obviously, but this is pretty darn enjoyable movie while also being pretty disturbing (in particular Willem Dafoe trying to look like a demonic John Waters).

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me + The Missing Pieces (1992) dir. David Lynch

★★★★★★ (6)

I highly suggest that fans of the show watch both the film and the deleted scenes. They function as a good companion piece to the series, providing context to the enigmatic Laura Palmer.

The Purge: Anarchy (2014) dir. James DeMonaco

★★★★★★★★ (8)

As I mentioned above, this is getting a full post. Nevertheless I did really enjoy this.

Fading Gigolo (2014) dir. John Turturro

★★★★★★★★ (8)

Highly enjoyable romantic comedy. Sidenote: the consensus on RT says that the film is “vulgar.” What era are we living in?

Chef (2014) dir. Jon Favreau

★★★★★★★ (7)

This is a hugely fun and touching movie. Sure its got its rough patches, but sometimes we need fluff, we need touching fluff, and this is exactly the touching fluff that I needed this August.

About Last Night (2014) dir. Steve Pink

★★★★★★★ (7)

The four characters are all great and (with the exception of Michael Ealy) consistent in their actions. This is a really really fun movie.

Draft Day (2014) dir. Ivan Reitman

★★★★★★★ (7)

Kevin Costner needs to remember to have fun. The last half hour of this movie is exhilarating and Costner displayed why he was one of the best actors of the 80s and 90s. It’s just too bad that the first eighty minutes of this movie he goes stoic and is completely boring. It’s a good movie for sure and shows why so many people (myself included) love football. It just could have been better had Costner loosened up a little.

The Double (2014) dir. Richard Ayoade

★★★★★★★ (7)

Jesse Eisenberg is on point as always while Mia Wasikowska shines in this role like none of her roles since In Treatment. Dark, funny, and totally enjoyable film.

The Graduate (1967) dir. Mike Nichols

★★★★★ (5)

While I admit the last ten minutes are pretty awesome, the 90 before it are pretty wretched for the most part. I’m not a fan of this particularly for Hoffman’s performance.

Midnight Cowboy (1969) dir. John Schlesinger

★★★★★★★★ (8)

This is a really really sad film. A great film, but a sad one.

Jodorowsky’s Dune (2014) dir. Frank Pavich

★★★★★★★★ (8)

This film’s greatest strength is showing that Jodorowsky’s Dune could never have actually been made, but that the art and beauty and meaning is still important to the history of film and science fiction. Its a remarkably documentary.

Blade Runner (1982) dir. Ridley Scott

★★★★★★★★★★ (10)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) dir. Robert Zemeckis

★★★★★★★★★★ (10)

Breathless (1960) dir. Jean-Luc Godard

★★★★★★★(7)

I certainly enjoyed this more on the second viewing. I still say that 400 Blows is better but this film get better the more you appreciate the films and people that inspired it.

Strange Days (1995) dir. Kathryn Bigelow

★★★★★★★★★ (9)

Fiennes gives a good performance here but Angela Bassett gives the scene stealing performance here and makes this movie awesome.

The Weight of Water (2000) dir. Kathryn Bigelow

★★★★ (4)

The ending ruins everything that came before it. Een a great performance from Sarah Polley can’t save this movie from its incomprehensible self.

K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) dir. Kathryn Bigelow

★★★★★★★ (7)

This is surprisingly better than the first hour lets on. Bigelow let the run time on the film go over two hours which easily is the film’s biggest problem. Once everything starts to go wrong in the plot, the film becomes really really powerful and you see the (unfortunately accented) performances of Liam Neeson and Harrison Ford shine. They represent two different models of leadership and both are respected, making the character arcs incredibly interesting as the conflict evolves.

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