January 2017 Movies (1/16/17-1/31/17)


Strictly Ballroom (1992)

Interesting contrast to Baz Luhrmann’s later grotesqueries, but apart from that…

I like the concept, at least, of movies depicting a super specific subculture and context (rather than aiming for universality or relatability, although they can still achieve that), and the Australian competitive ballroom dance circuit? Sounds amazing. The movie itself? Kind of whatever.

(And the way it begins as a mockumentary and then completely drops that conceit feels sloppy and unnecessary I wanted to blame Christopher Guest’s pervading influence for that, but I guess only This Is Spinal Tap was out at this point.)

Arthur (1981)

Sure, whatever. Man, looking at the list of Golden Globe nominees for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy–the ’80s were really not a good time for comedy, were they? Or, you know, not the type of comedies that the HFPA pays attention to. Anyway, Arthur won in 1981, and, like, it has its moments and maybe it didn’t seem quite as tired and formulaic 35 years ago, but really?

I’ve actually only seen three movies from 1981, but one of those is History of the World, Part I, and, well, what more is there to say:

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)

Eh, whatever.

Boy (2010)

Sure, fine. Definitely had some moments, but I’m not a huge fan of movies with child protagonists–Hunt for the Wilderpeople was a major exception in that regard, so I thought this might be as well? But not really.

I don’t know, despite the setting and some of Taika Waititi’s fun directorial choices, the whole coming of age via realizing that the father you worshipped is a deadbeat who will always disappoint you arc is not the most interesting to me?

A History of Violence (2005)

Yes, good.

Some Like It Hot (1959)

Sure. Would still prefer it in color, though.

(And I imagine the entire premise of the movie is considered Problematic now, but I thought it actually handled it more gracefully than expected? There were a lot of easy jokes that it didn’t go for, at least.)

This was maybe the first time I’ve actually seen Marilyn Monroe in action (as opposed to just photos), and okay, I guess I finally get why Marilyn Monroe was A Thing.

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Yes, good.

I’d seen the first 45 minutes of the movie at least twice before, but never the whole thing. It’s solid, but I’m also keenly aware that I’m only familiar with a lot of the tropes it’s parodying from other media parodying those tropes (e.g. Animaniacs) rather than the original sources (e.g. Hammer Horror films) and that I’m probably missing out on some level there.

My current Mel Brooks rankings, although I think I need to re-watch Blazing Saddles without falling asleep partway through (less of a mark against the movie’s quality, I think, than a testament to the comfort of my parents’ couch) in order to make a fairer assessment:

  1. Robin Hood: Men in Tights
  2. The Producers
  3. History of the World, Part 1
  4. Young Frankenstein
  5. Blazing Saddles
  6. Spaceballs
  7. High Anxiety–although the diegetic sound gag with the orchestra on the bus is almost enough to move it up a spot, especially when competing with the juvenile grossness of so much of Spaceballs

Have not yet watched: The Twelve Chairs, Silent Movie, Life Stinks, and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

Also, let’s just note that Brooks still gives an amazing interview.

The Beach (2000)

Pretty weird and occasionally dumb, but I think not quite completely deserving of the hate that it gets? I wonder how much of the negative critical response when this came out was due to the assumption that the main character was meant to be somehow likable, since he was being portrayed by (young) Leonardo DiCaprio? Because I do think that it provides an interesting and not at all flattering look at a certain type of tourism, the whole Finding Yourself through travel philosophy, and the hypocrisy of well-off people romanticizing simple living as some sort of moral choice (rather than the default for people who can’t afford any other lifestyle). And of course, the cinematography and location are beautiful (although, yeahhhh, the irony of the production damaging the natural beach they shot at in Thailand and probably drawing more tourists to it). Perhaps the novel it’s based on is deeper or more coherent and the movie suffers in comparison, but I haven’t read said novel, so…I don’t know. There definitely were some coherency issues, and it’s unclear how much of that was intentional, to show the main character’s mental decline, and how much was just not great filmmaking.

With this, I’m just one movie off Danny Boyle’s complete feature-length filmography (as director, anyway), and it would feel great to have 100% completion, but man, I really don’t want to see Millions. I wonder how T2 Trainspotting will stack up? Here are our totally definitive (lol, sure) rankings :

  1. Trainspotting
  2. 28 Days Later
  3. Shallow Grave
  4. Sunshine
  5. Steve Jobs
  6. Trance
  7. Slumdog Millionaire
  8. 127 Hours
  9. The Beach
  10. A Life Less Ordinary

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