I didn’t have a chance to see any new releases this week, which is a bit disappointing to me because of the great new films (like BlacKkKlansman) or awesome dumb films (I really want to see The Meg, you guys). However, I did manage to see a whole litany of classics this week, to a litany of results.
I started this week with the John Wayne classic Red River, and found it rather enjoyable – especially the river-crossing sequence – although I would be lying if I said I didn’t find Montgomery Clift to be infinitely more talented and charismatic throughout. Still, it’s hard not to watch the film, which ends with a woman angrily yelling at two men to kiss already, and not feel that it’s the perfect Western for 2018. And while we’re talking Westerns, I also finished off the grand epic How the West Was Won. I enjoyed the scope that the three directors were working on, and the general ideas behind it, but I can’t say the film really captured my heart, outside of Debbie Reynolds. Also, it was fascinatingly odd to hear known progressive Spencer Tracy reading lines like “They saved the land from the noble savage.” It was…groan-worthy, to say the least. I then took a brief respite from my sporadic movie-watching in order to focus on a specific theme. More specifically, I watched two films in order to prepare for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, whenever I get the chance to see it. The first was Lee’s 2006 film Inside Man, which I wanted to like more, but undeniably found exhilarating and exciting. The second was the granddaddy of Blaxploitation (and one of Lee’s favorite films), Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Overall, I found it an interesting watch, although the opening sequence was hard to get through, but the editing was lively and exciting, and the fact that I could see sequences blatantly referenced in projects as varied as Lee’s own work and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was a wonderful treat. After this brief detour, I turned my attention to Filmstruck, in order to finish some films I’d been meaning to see before they expired. The first was Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, a film I had heard was wonderful, and had started before, but never finished (it’s three hours long). However, I’m glad I did, because it is truly magical filmmaking, from the writing to the directing to the music to the all-time great ensemble, led by a Tom Cruise performance that is truly one of the greatest I’ve ever seen. It’s worth the watch, you guys. Less entertaining was Falling Down, which I’d heard about before, and seen parts of on TV, but never actually buckled down to finish. And now that I have…hoo, boy. I have so many questions about this film. I mean, there’s a few good ideas here (I like certain aspects of the Whammy Burger scene), but…it just feels so wrong, from the top down. It’s not very well made, and its ideas about a white guy who threatens his wife and is angered by immigrants taking his job being the hero for shooting things up just doesn’t feel right. I’m not saying that idea couldn’t be good. I’m just saying I don’t think Joel Schumacher did a good job pulling it off, and created something bad and kinda disgusting. Still, at least my week ended on a slight stronger note, thanks to Akira. I won’t lie and say that I loved all of Akira – the final twenty minutes or so really get away from the filmmakers. However, from the Blade Runner-esque production design to the perfectly rendered animation, it is a mature, intelligent film for much of its runtime, and one that understandably earns its title as a cult classic.
I didn’t really watch a whole lot outside of these movies, but I did manage to branch out every once in a while. For example, I’ve spent my drives to and from my day job catching up on the podcasts I’ve fallen behind on, like Pop Culture Happy Hour and Little Gold Men. And on TV, I’ve been watching a few reruns of The Office, including the greatest episode of the 21st century, “The Dinner Party.” That episode never gets old.
That does it for this week’s What I Watched, What You Watched. I’m hoping to see at least two movies this week, and maybe even a third one if time permits it. In the meantime, you can leave a comment about what you’ve been watching, what you think about the films I’ve been watching, and more. See you all next week!