Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Movie Status

I saw 8 new movies, re-watched 1 other, and re-watched two TV show seasons in the month of September. 

I managed to get a couple of “Very Long Wait” DVDs from Netflix for the TSPDT list, and one of them was among the longest movies I had left.  I also was able to track down a few more of the ones I was having trouble getting from Netflix.

With TV shows coming back in September they release the sets for the prior season as a marketing gimmick to remind people of them.  I spent a sizable amount of time rewatching the entire seasons for a couple of shows.  That cut into my movie viewing quite a bit.

Here are the 8 new movies I saw in September.  Highlighted films are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.

TSPDT (5): Heaven’s Gate (1980), Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954), Entr’acte (1924), The Thief of Bagdad (1940), They Died with Their Boots On (1941)

Other Movies (3): Mosquita y Mari (2012), Sixteen (1973), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Rewatches (1): Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

TV (2): Marvel’s Agents of Shield Season 1, The Big Bang Theory Season 7

Mosquita y Mari (2012) – Interesting film with some potential but unfortunately the director didn't seem to know where she wanted to go with it. The two actresses do a good job with what they are given to work with. I just wish there was a better overall story for them to be a part of.  2.5 stars

Sixteen (1973) – Hicksploitation film from the early 1970s ostensibly starring Oscar nominee Mercedes McCambridge, but really more a film looking for an excuse to show off Simone Griffeth's beauty. She plays a daughter of a swamp family. The whole family goes to a carnival where she is seduced by an older male performer, while her teen brother is seduced by an older female performer. 2.5 stars

The Amazing Spider-Man (2014) – The first Spider-Man retread was really poorly written - laughably so - and yet they chose to bring back the same writers for the sequel.  This time around they decided to repeat almost everything wrong with Spider-Man 3. Too many villains running around? Check. One of them Harry Osborn as the Green Goblin, pissed at Peter? Check. Completely forced relationship breakup? Check. Too many different subplots, leaving them all undeveloped? Check.  2 stars

Heaven’s Gate (1980) – Beautifully filmed, but incredibly bloated, movie. This is a basic story of the Johnson County War, with a love triangle thrown in. There's about 90 minutes of story, but director Cimino famously delivered a hugely overfilled movie. The official version is three hours and 39 minutes long.  And the sound mix is horrible. There were many times where the background noise drowned out the dialogue. There were no English subtitles on the DVD I got from Netflix to help with the sound problem, either.  2 stars

Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954) (aka Honor Among Thieves) – This isn't a heist film - that's already happened before the movie opens. Instead, it's a movie about what happens afterwards. In these kinds of films either the criminals turn on each other, or one's an idiot who blabs too much to others and gets everyone in trouble. This movie is the latter.  Jean Gabin is terrific as the world-weary mastermind whose partner gets them both in trouble. Watch also for an early in her career Jeanne Moreau as a showgirl who finds out about the heist.  3.5 stars

Entr’acte (1924) – Think Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali invented film surrealism? Think again. Rene Clair made this short 5 years before they did Un chien andalou.  I am certainly no fan of surrealism, but the imagery in Entr'acte is actually entertaining and in some cases even kind of fun.  3 stars

The Thief of Bagdad (1940) – I’m sure I would have liked this film much more if I had seen it as a child.  It has adventure and characters to root for.  Unfortunately, I saw it for the first time just now.  It’s a simplistic story that does not hold up to even the slimmest amount of thought.  Everything is overacted.  The score is incredibly loud and irritating – to the point where I literally had to hold the remote the entire film, increasing the volume to try to hear the dialogue, but then decreasing it to try to not get my ears blasted by the score.  It’s a very colorful film and some of the special effects, such as the magic carpet ride, still hold up today.  And if you like male beauty, this is the film for you.  2.5 stars

They Died with Their Boots On (1941) – Even by the standards of film biographies of the time this movie is pure Hollywood hokum.  About the only thing they got correct with this bio of General Custer is that he died at Little Big Horn.  Everything else is fiction.  Errol Flynn as Custer has charisma oozing out of every pore, and Olivia de Havilland once again joins him on screen, but even they couldn’t quite rise above the “gee whiz and aw shucks” scenes.  I would like to note this might be the earliest made film I’ve ever seen that is reasonably sympathetic to American Indians, even referring to them once as “the only true Americans.”  2.5 stars


  1. Which DVD of Heaven's Gate did you get? The one I own is the Criterion version which does improve the sound mix and has subtitles for the hearing impaired as it also is presented in a slightly trimmed cut approved by Cimino. I was mixed about it when I first saw but the recent re-watch that I did made me enjoy the film though it is still flawed.

    1. It definitely wasn't Criterion. It had little for extras on it.

    2. Oh, I should have asked - what do you mean by "slightly trimmed cut"? The first cut was over 5 hours. This was trimmed to 2 and a half hours for theatrical release. The version on the DVD I watched was the "Director's Cut" which was three hours 39 minutes.

    3. The eventual final cut of the film that premiere in 1980 had a running time of 219-minutes. The new version that Cimino would do for the Criterion Collection and its 2012 limited theatrical re-release trimmed the film by three minutes where it removes the intermission and a small scene where Nate Champion confronts Frank Canton about the death list.

      On a visual scale, it look much more beautiful as it's the version I would recommend in seeing as I realized what Cimino was trying to do and I think he was mostly successful. After all, it had been 9 years since I first saw the film where I was mixed about it. In its restored version, I began to realize what Cimino was saying about American Imperialism as well as a dark chapter in American history.

  2. The more I hear about Heaven's Gate, the more I am discouraged to see it. But I feel like I have some morbid curiosity in me jus to experience it. Like I really want to see The Room one day, just to see how bad can it be. :)

    1. Well, The Room is simply bad. Not "so bad it's good"; just plain bad.

  3. Like SDG, I've always wanted to see Heaven’s Gate, the box office flop reputation has discouraged me up to now. Maybe when I do another western marathon! I should get the criterion version Steven mentions.

    The Thief of Bagdad: I do that sometimes as well, turning volume up and down with old movies. They weren't made for watching with headphones :) I think there's also a 1924 version with Douglas Fairbanks, I don't know which of the two I'll decide to see.

    1. That definitely sounds like a better DVD of the movie.

      Well, I preferred the 1924 version, but they are almost apples and oranges. Despite the titles and very general things like setting, they are really two different movies. And of course the 1940 one has both sound and color. Fairbanks was a lot more dashing in the 1924 version.