Saturday, August 2, 2014

July Movie Status

This post is a day late.  I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy last night instead.  Marvel delivers another real winner.  Unless you hate fun, entertaining movies you should go see it.  Trust me.

I saw 28 new movies in the month of July.  After some months of watching very few films because I was working on my book, I got back into the swing of things a little in July.

For whatever reason I didn’t have much interest at the beginning of the month in working on my remaining Oscar Best Picture nominees.  I decided to concentrate on the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They list.  I got the 2014 version of the Top 1,000 movies and went through it.  There’s a lot of volatility from year to year, but my overall totals seen for both the 2013 and 2014 lists were very close. 

I decided to see if I could knock off the remaining films I had not yet seen that were in the Top 500 of these lists.  I didn’t quite make it.  I was one short on the 2014 list and three short on the 2013 version.  I’m just under 850 seen on both lists.  I did manage to knock off a few of the very longest remaining entries.  I’ve still got 8 titles that are at least three hours long on the 2014 list, 3 of which are at least 6 hours long, and 1 of those is the TV miniseries Heimat which is almost 16 hours long.  The 2013 list has all of those remaining, plus four others, for a total of 12 entries at least three hours long.

Here are the 28 new movies I saw in July.  Highlighted films are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.

TSPDT (20): After Life (1998), Providence (1977), Naked (1993), Wagon Master (1950), Miracle in Milan (1951), The Round-Up (1966), La Terra Trema (1948), Xala (1974), The Silence (1963), Faust (1926), Ludwig (1972), Fantomas (1913), As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000), Days of Being Wild (1990), Kagemusha (1980), Black Girl (1966), Don’t Look Back (1967), The Red Circle (1970), The End of Summer (1961), The Hawks and the Sparrows (1966)

Other Movies (8): Christmas Magic (2011), A Bride for Christmas (2012), Queen of Outer Space (1958), Dogtooth (2009), 30 for 30: Slaying the Badger (2014), The Great Gatsby (2013), Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006), Non-Stop (2014)

Rewatches (0):

After Life (1998) – This could go either way on recommending or not recommending.  There’s some interesting stuff, but ultimately it fell a little short for me.  2.5 stars  tspdt

Providence (1977) – A werewolf, a soccer player, tons of non-sequiturs, and just a complete mess from beginning to end.  1 star  tspdt

Naked (1993) – a loafer sponges off his friends and acquaintances and nothing much of anything happens.  2 stars  tspdt

Wagon Master (1950) – John Ford and his usual cast of character actors tries to get a Mormon group across hostile territory to a new valley they plan to settle in.  3 stars  tspdt

Miracle in Milan (1951) – a fantasy about how an orphan and gifts from God helped save a squatters’ community from the Italian government.  3 stars  tspdt

The Round-Up (1966) – a pretty similar film in style and content to the director’s later film The Red and the White.  2.5 stars  tspdt

La Terra Trema (1948) – unhappy story about the tough lives of fishermen on Sicily, played not by actors, but real fishermen.  2.5 stars  tspdt

Xala (1974) – Supposedly a comedy (according to professional critics, not me) about Africans taking over control of their own country’s government.  We follow one man in particular who makes a mess of his life.  2.5 stars  tspdt

The Silence (1963) – A Bergman film, which means it’s about death, religion, and/or suicidal depression.  In this case it’s the last one.   3 stars  tspdt

Faust (1926) – Well done film from F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu).  It presents the tale of the man making a bargain with the devil and, of course, coming to regret it.  3.5 stars  tspdt

Ludwig (1972) – Opulent sets and costumes, but ultimately it’s nothing more than a nearly four hour long soap opera about a 19th century German king.  2 stars  tspdt

Christmas Magic (2011) – Hallmark movie I happened to catch while flipping though channels.  They were having a “Christmas in July” series of films.  3 stars

A Bride for Christmas (2012) – Same note as above.  Neither of these will stretch your brain in the slightest, but they are heartwarming.  3 stars

Queen of Outer Space (1958) – The film that Amazon Women on the Moon was clearly spoofing.  This one plays the story seriously of some astronauts ending up on Venus and meeting gorgeous militant women in high heels and short skirts.  2 stars

Fantomas (1913) – Early French film serial about a master criminal.  The five episodes total more than five hours.  In a lot of ways it is similar to Les Vampires, but I liked this a little more.  3 stars  tspdt

As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000) – Nearly five hours of randomly edited, few seconds long per scene, silent home video footage of people I did not know, nor ever came to know.  The “director” even says at the beginning that he was going to organize the footage but then couldn’t be bothered.  What a colossal waste of time.  1 star  tspdt

Dogtooth (2009) – A father is basically leading a small cult with his wife and three teenage children locked in a compound that they can never leave.  They are completely under his control.  Problems ensue.  2 stars

Days of Being Wild (1990) – Wong Kar Wai (In the Mood for Love) delivers another take on relationships in early 1960s Hong Kong.  In fact, it’s possible that Maggie Cheung’s character is the same one in both films.  3 stars  tspdt

Kagemusha (1980) – Late career attempted epic from Kurosawa.  It has incredible scenes of extras and costumes, but ultimately it’s somewhat bloated.  It’s still Kurosawa, though.  3 stars  tspdt

Black Girl (1966) – It is considered the first film by a sub-Saharan African man.  Unfortunately, it’s an early, obviously amateur effort from Ousmane Sembene (Xala, Ceddo).  1 star  tspdt

Don’t Look Back (1967) – Footage from Bob Dylan’s tour of England in the mid 1960s.  Unfortunately, the director almost never showed Dylan performing an entire song.  Instead we get snippets more than anything.  However, he did show Dylan being pretty much a full time dick to most everyone, including a couple separate scenes that run uncut for more than 10 minutes of him giving reporters a really hard time.  We got that instead of musical performances? 2.5 stars  tspdt

The Red Circle (1970) – Better than average heist film from Jean-Pierre Melville.  If it hadn’t relied on extremely improbable coincidences and events I would have rated it higher.  3.5 stars  tspdt

30 for 30: Slaying the Badger (2014) – Good documentary on the competition, both physical and mental, between teammates Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond at the Tour de France in the mid 1980s.  3 stars

The Great Gatsby (2013) – The book didn’t do much for me in high school, and the Redford film sucked, so I didn’t go into this with much hope.  It turned out to be a decent movie, with DiCaprio playing Gatsby as a nicer person than in the book.  3 stars

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) – Recommended by Steve Honeywell because I liked Man Bites Dog.  This is quite similar for a while, and I was laughing out loud at some of the macabre humor, but the ending devolved into a generic horror film.  It’s still well worth seeing if you liked Man Bites Dog, though.  3 stars

The End of Summer (1961) – Yet another late Ozu film about a family trying to get a daughter married off.  Jane Austen has nothing on Yasujiro Ozu.   3 stars  tspdt

The Hawks and the Sparrows (1966) – I’ve yet to see a Pasolini film that I’ve had any use for (Salo, Teorema, The Gospel According to St. Matthew) and this is no exception.  Supposedly a comedy, but I didn’t crack a smile once.  1 star  tspdt

Non-Stop (2014) – Yet another exciting film starring Liam Neeson in his improbable late career shift to action hero.  The suspense on who is manipulating events on a non-stop flight from New York to London is very well done.  The reveal was a surprise to me.  4 stars

Looking forward into August I’ve already seen a film (Guardians of the Galaxy) that will clearly make my Top 10 of the year list.  I should have no problem achieving the TSPDT goal I mentioned at the top that I didn’t quite make in July.  And that’s even with the fact that I have a week’s vacation coming up where I will be doing a lot more hiking than movie watching (assuming the weather is good.)  I’ll try to knock off a few more of those really long entries, too.


  1. Faust (1926) I was especially impressed by the visuals during the first hour. The man who turned the sky black with his dark cloak was an amazing image. For me, the second half of the film was not quite as dazzling, but still pretty good.

    Naked (1993) a bit depressing, and not my favorite Mike Leigh, though the dialogue is well-written I would argue.

    Fantomas (1913) Would you say it only makes sense watching the entire series (335min), or its it divided into separate stories for each of the 5 episodes?

    1. I agree on Faust's visuals.

      You could decide to stop watching Fantomas after each episode, if you chose. You should definitely watch them in order, though. Don't just skip to an episode that sounds the most interesting.

  2. I'm happy you liked Leslie Vernon. I don't see it as devolving into a typical horror movie--it devolves into the stereotype, which is kind of the point. It's a movie that plays with its genre in the way Scream or Hot Fuzz do. I think it's really smart.

    I've got Naked coming up this year at some point. This does not bode well.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. It took quite a while to make it to the top of my Netflix queue.

      You may like Naked more than I did. The lead character is someone I wouldn't put up with in real life, so following him around, watching others put up with him was not that entertaining for me.