This is just turning into a blog about me watching a lot of films over a month, isn’t it?
Anyway I had something close to 80 films that needed to get through so I made a couple of lists. One of January made up of a bunch of films, and a second list for October of films made before 1980. Then I cut them up, set some movies aside to watch later in the year and before October. So here we are, 31 films ranging from Hitchcock films I needed to watch, to recent horror/dark fantasy films, to cult films from Japan and Sweden, to classic Hollywood. You ready?
January 1st-3:10 to Yuma from 1957 (Director: Delmar Daves, Writer: Halsted Welles Based on Three-Ten to Yuma 1953 short story by Elmore Leonard, Stars: Genn Ford, Van Heflin and Felicia Farr, Runtime: 92 min)
The Western classic about a cattle rancher who needs money and agrees to help move a known criminal onto a a train headed to a prison in the town of Yuma. It’s as simple as that but through simplicity you can create great atmosphere. Glenn Ford plays he criminal Ben Wade and Van Heflin plays the determined rancher Dav Evans. Their scenes are the meat of the film. Especially in the hotel as they wait for the train to come by hoping to avoid Ben’s posse. Ford and Heflin are legends and the work between them to his great. I actually saw the remake to this film years ago, and while I liked it, I remember little of it in the years passed. So U think maybe the original stands alone.
I’m not a Westerns kind of guy, but I’d recommend this one.
January 2nd-Cleopatra Jones from 1973(Director: Jack Sarrett, Writer: Max Julien and Sheldon Keller, Stars: Tamara Dobson, Bernie Casey, Shelley Winters and Antonio Fargas, Runtime: 90 mins)
Cleopatra Jones is an undercover agent who is involved with the destruction of a poppy field. Crime lord Mommy goes after her friends who run a house for troubled youth (I believe, I was a little lost. Maybe just a community center). Mommy uses corrupt cops and a local gang leader to screw with Cleo to lure her out to be killed. But Cleopatra is a hero in blaxploitation movie so she obliviously karate chops her way to victory and safe streets. The movie was okay. Lead Tamara Dobson is a tall beauty, a stand out presence however at times she lacks the smoothness in which she delivers the hip, jive blaxploitation talk. Actors Bernie Casey (RIP) and Antonio Vargas who’ve had long careers and are good in their respective roles. Two time Oscar winner Shelly Winters is hamming it up, but its alright. The cartoonish white villain is a perfect fit, and they didn’t go overboard with the evil lesbian trope here so props for that. This film is considered a classic of these films, and its looks good and pretty fun but nothing I’d recommend or watch again. One mroe thing, I’ve only seen a few blaxploitation films but the music is always good.
January 3rd-I, Tonya from 2017 (Director: Craig Gillespie, Writer: Steven Rogers, Stars: Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, and Sebastian Stan, Runtime: 120 mins)
The story of Tonya Harding, whose then husband was involved with an attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan. This biographical film is based on interviews of Nancy, her mom, her coach, her ex-husband and his friend. It’s a fascinating, frustrating, and tragic film. Nancy’s mother was verbally and emotionally abusive. Her first marriage was a mess of physical and verbal abuse. On both sides it seems. Her struggles to make it in skating when she was poor and did not fit the image that the skating associated wanted to present despite her obvious talents pissed me off. Overall, this was a very good film. Looked good, great performances, and moved at a brisk pace. I think this is one of the best films I’ve seen from 2017 and Margot Robbie is flawless in it.
January 4th-Gambit from 1966 (Director: Ronald Neame, Writer: Jack Davies and Alvin Sargent with Story by Sidney Carroll, Stars: Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, Runtime: 109 mins)
A thief and his artist partner convince a Eurasian dancer (played by the not at all Asian Shirley MacLaine) to help them in a scheme. This involves stealing a priceless bust from the worlds richest man. As all heist movies go, twists and turns. There is a scenario by the theif of how the plan should go. When they get to it, it goes nothing like it. Obviously. The heist is actually pretty smart, the twists are clever, and Cain and MacLaine are good. But overall, kind of a throw a way film. But it did get some Oscar nods in the technical categories and you can see what. Nice design and art direction. This was Michael Caine’s first US film by the way.
January 5th-Get Out from 2017(Writer/Director: Jordan Peele, Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener, Runtime: 104 mins)
Black man goes to meet his white girlfriends family. I’m not going to spend too much time talking about it since I’m sure you’ve seen the great reviews. It’s like close to 100% on Rotten Tomatos, didn’t get the that number because some white people got pissed off about white people being shown as bad guys. You know how it is. This is an uncomfortable, at times brutal, at times funny piece of art. The biggest question is this-why the fuck did it get a Golden Globe nom for Comedy or Musical film? Make sure to check it out if you haven’t already seen it. But really, great debut for Jordan Peele with great performances.
January 6th-Rebecca from 1940 (Director: Alfred Hitchcock, Writer: Screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison with Adaptation by Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan & Based on Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Stars: Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, Runtime: 130 mins)
It’s amazing to think of how few Academy Awards Hitchcock and his collaborators won. This being the only of his works to win Best Picture. Actress Joan Fontaine would be the only actor to work him him to earn a performance Oscar years latter in Suspicion.
This gothic classic finds an assistant falling in love with a rich widower and moving into his giant mansion. There the weight of his husband’s previous marriage is felt. By the way the the housekeeper acts around her, to the the way her husband is troubled by a cabin by the docks, and the mysterious Farvell who pops up. Plus the late Rebecca’s room and the way Danvers goes on about her. The film starts at a place of quick, sweeping romance and builds into something dark with Laurence’s Maxim trying to keep it together and his new wife played by Fonatine is trying to keep them together. It’s an impressive film. Not sure I’d put it on the top of my Hitchcock list but its a beautiful and haunting film.
Should be noted that David O. Selznik, producer and reported asshole was upset with things and reshot scenes and performances. Hitchcock was also an asshole too but he’s Hitchcock so…
3:10 to Yuma