Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Troy McClure's pre-ordered blu-ray


A sweet and atypical melodrama, standing astride a very thrilling thriller, that still doesn't mix all its elements as well as it clearly must think it does.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Written by Vanessa Taylor and Guillermo del Toro
With Sally Hawkins (Elisa Esposito), Octavia Spencer (Zelda Fuller), Richard Jenkins (Giles), Michael Stuhlbarg (Dr. Robert Hoffstetler), Doug Jones (the Amphibian Man), and Michael Shannon (Col. Richard Strickland)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Darren Aronofsky, part VII: Wet dreams


Upon returning to Noah after three years, I find the opposite of what I thought it was.  Now I know: it's one of the most philosophically-engaged religious films ever made.  That doesn't mean it's one of the best, but it is one of the better ones made lately.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Dr. Ari Handel and Darren Aronofsky
With Russell Crowe (Noah), Jennifer Connelly (Naameh), Douglas Booth (Shem), Logan Lerman (Ham), Leo McHugh Carroll (Japheth), Emma Watson (Ila), Frank Langella (Og), Nick Nolte (Samyaza), Anthony Hopkins (Methuselah), and Ray Winstone (Tubal-cain)

Spoiler alert: high, I guess, but also N/A

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Rey from nowhere


Even with this many self-imposed handicaps, it's still the best Star Wars movie the franchise's new cycle has so far produced.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson
With Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Gen. Leia Organa), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), Domnhall Gleeson (Gen. Nux), and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren)

Spoiler alert: severe

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Darren Aronofsky, part VI: Nobody's ever asked a ballerina for a footjob, I can tell you that; certainly, not more than once


Moving from one medium of the performing arts to another, Aronofsky arrives with an even harder-core portrait of the artist than the last, and that one was about a suicidal wrestler.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Andres Heinz, Mark Heyman, John MacLaughlin
With Natalie Portman ft. Sarah Lane (Nina Sayers), Barbara Hershey (Erica Sayers), Vincent Cassel (Thomas Leroy), Winona Ryder (Beth MacIntyre), and Mila Kunis (Lily)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Darren Aronofsky, part V: I ain't as pretty as I used to be


The Wrestler may be close to a one-man show, but Mickey Rourke puts on a damn good one in what turns out to be the Aronofsky movie with the lightest touch of them all.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Robert Siegel
With Mickey Rourke (Randy "The Ram" Robinson), Marisa Tomei (Cassidy), and Evan Rachel Wood (Stephanie)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Darren Aronofsky, part IV: Death is the road to awe


This is what actual art looks like, and hardly anybody even recognized it at the time.  Honestly, it figures.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Dr. Ari Handel and Darren Aronofsky
With Hugh Jackman (Dr. Tommy Creo/Tomas/Tom), Rachel Weisz (Izzi Creo/Queen Isabella I of Castille and Leon), Mark Margolis (Fray Avila), and Ellen Burstyn (Dr. Lillian Guzetti)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Darren Aronofsky, part III: Hoodoo horseshit


You'd think it would be way easier to set a horror movie on a submarine than the results of Below seem to indicate.

Directed by David Twohy
Written by Lucas Sussman, Darren Aronofsky, and David Twohy
With Matthew Davis (Ens. Douglas Odell), Olivia Williams (Claire Page), Zach Galifianakis (Wally), Jason Flemyng (Stumbo), Scott Foley (Lt. (j.g.) Stephen Coors), Holt McCallany (Lt. Paul Loomis), and Bruce Greenwood (Lt. Brice)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Darren Aronofsky, part II: Winners don't use drugs


Because drugs are bad.  But the movie's still great.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Hubert Selby, Jr. and Darren Aronofsky (based on the novel by Selby)
With Ellen Burstyn (Sara Goldfarb), Marlon Wayans (Tyrone Love), Jennifer Connelly (Marion Silver), Jared Leto (Harry Goldfarb), Keith David ("Big Tim"), and Christopher MacDonald (Tappy Tibbons)

Spoiler alert: mild

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Darren Aronofsky, part I: Irrational constant


Darren Aronfsky smashes his way onto the scene with one thunderously energetic debut, pondering the "nature of genius" in an almost-offensively schematic way, but really only using that as a blind to get to the heart of the human endeavorand the way that the thing that makes us the masters of our world can become, without us even realizing it, the thing that drives us mad.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Sean Gullette, Eric Watson, and Darren Aronofsky
With Sean Gullette (Maximillian Cohen), Mark Margolis (Sol Robeson), Samia Shoaib (Devi), Pamela Hart (Marcy Dawson), Ben Shenkman (Lenny Meyer), and Stephen Pearlman (Rebbe Cohen)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Just a little housekeeping appendix

Existing to provide a home for the filmmaker's retrospectives I did before switching to my current, superior format, as well as for any less-than-complete "selected works" collections I've done.

10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (1/10)
9.  Alien 3 (5/10)
8.  Panic Room (5/10)
7.  The Game (5/10)
6.  The Social Network (9/10)
5.  Zodiac (10/10)
4.  Fight Club  (10/10)
3.  Seven (10/10)
2.  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (10/10)
1.  Gone Girl (10/10) (spoiler review)

Gone Girl (non-spoiler review)

10.  Batman Begins (5/10)
9.  Following (6/10)
8.  The Dark Knight Rises (6/10)
7.  Interstellar (6/10)
6.  The Dark Knight (8/10)
5.  Memento (8/10)
4.  Inception (9/10)
3.  Insomnia (10/10)
2.  Dunkirk (10/10)
1.  The Prestige (10/10)

WILLIAM ALLAND (selected works)
It Came From Outer Space (8/10)
The Creature From the Black Lagoon (8/10)
Revenge of the Creature (3/10)
This Island Earth (5/10)
The Creature Walks Among Us (5.01/10)
Tarantula (7/10)
The Deadly Mantis (4/10)
The Land Unknown (3/10)
The Space Children (4/10)
The Colossus of New York (7/10)

JACK ARNOLD (selected works)
It Came From Outer Space (8/10)
The Glass Web (8/10)
The Creature From the Black Lagoon (8/10)
Revenge of the Creature (3/10)
This Island Earth (5/10)
Tarantula (7/10)
The Monolith Monsters (7/10)
The Incredible Shrinking Man (10/10)
The Space Children (4/10)
Monster On the Campus (7/10)
No Name on the Bullet (9/10)

DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS (selected works)
The Mark of Zorro (7/10)
The Three Musketeers (4/10)
Robin Hood (4/10)
The Thief of Bagdad (10/10)
Don Q, Son of Zorro (6/10)
The Black Pirate (9/10)
The Gaucho (5/10)

MASAKI KOBAYASHI (selected works)
"My Sons' Youth" (6/10)
Sincere Heart (7/10)
Samurai Rebellion (9/10)

GEORGE PAL (selected works)
Destination Moon (7/10)
When Worlds Collide (6/10)
The War of the Worlds (6/10)
The Naked Jungle (7/10)
Conquest of Space (4/10)
The Time Machine (8/10)

RIDLEY SCOTT (selected works)
Alien (9/10)
Blade Runner (10/10)
Legend (8/10)
Kingdom of Heaven (8/10)
Prometheus (7/10)
The Counselor (9/10)
The Martian (7/10)
Alien: Covenant (5/10)
Blade Runner 2049 (10/10)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Masaki Kobayashi: Don't take my wife... please!

Joi-uchi: Hairyozuma shimatsu

Maybe not every samurai movie is about how lousy samurai society actually was, but most of the good ones are.  Rebellion is one of the best.  As you'd expect, frankly, given the man who made it.

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Written by Shinobu Hashimoto (based on the novel Hairyozuma shimatsu by Yashuhiko Takaguchi)
With Tohsiro Mifune (Isaburo Sasahara), Yoko Tsukasa (Ichi Sasahara), Go Kato (Yogoro Sasahara), Michiko Otsuka (Suga Sasahara), Tatsuo Matsumura (Lord Masakata Matsudaira), Shigeru Koyama (Geki Takahashi), and Tatsuya Nakadai (Tatewaki Asano)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Friday, December 1, 2017

Land of the forgotten


Despite suffering badly under the weight of the usual sins of 21st century animation, The Book of Life shines even so.  And it's definitely the best cartoon about Dia de Muertos they've made so far, Pixar.

Directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez
Written by Doug Langdale and Jorge R. Gutierrez
With Diego Garcia (Manolo Sanchez), Zoe Saldana (Maria Posada), Famed Latino Actor Channing Tatum (Jaoquin Mondragon), Hector Elizondo (Carlos Sanchez), Ice Cube (The Candlemaker), Kate del Castillo (La Muerte), and Ron Perlman (Xibalba)

Spoiler alert: moderate