My numbers were down in September, but that’s largely due to putting together two large projects: a long article for The Dark Pages on Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, and my library presentation “How Did We Get from Casablanca to Superheroes and Sequels?” I also enjoyed talking about two classic film noir titles on the recent Film Don’t Lie podcast. In the midst of all that, I still found time to watch 23 movies. As always, recommended titles appear in bold, and I’ll focus on a few films I saw for the first time that really resonated with me. Here we go:
In the Fade (2017) Library DVD
The Maltese Falcon (1931) DVD
Top Hat (1935) DVD - The Great Movies at the Severna Park Library (3x)
I Am Not Your Negro (doc. 2016) Kanopy
Satan Met a Lady (1936) DVD
Jigsaw (1949) for an upcoming review at The Dark Pages (745)
Three Colors: Blue (1993) FilmStruck
The Party (1968) Blu-ray (4x) (watched at an actual party!)
The Maltese Falcon (1941) Blu-ray - Film Don’t Lie podcast (10x)
Revolt in the Big House (1958) DVD (745)
The Tall Target (1951) DVD (745)
Touch of Evil (1958) Blu-ray - Film Don’t Lie podcast (3x)
Soylent Green (1973) library DVD (2x)
One Way Street (1950) borrowed from a friend (745)
This Gun for Hire (1942) DVD (3x)
Spirited Away (2001) DVD (Ebert)
Tampopo (1985) FilmStruck
What a charming, odd little film that really owes its existence to… well, just about everything! The film contains elements of Seven Samurai, Shane, Educating Rita, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, spaghetti westerns, film noir, and so much more. It’s also hilarious. Thanks to my friend Tom L. for recommending this one to me.
Smithereens (1982) FilmStruck
Isle of Dogs (2018) library DVD
My affection for this movie has much to do with my being a dog lover, but I’m also a Wes Anderson fan. As much as I love his other stop-motion-animation film Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Isle of Dogs is equally impressive, perhaps even more so. Anderson has the rare ability to throw a multitude of ideas, concepts and bits of social (and multicultural) commentary and somehow manages to entertain the socks off of us.
The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) Kanopy
I’m at the point of wanting to see everything Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami ever made. His 1999 The Wind Will Carry Us is described by some as a comic masterpiece, and others as “minor” Kiarostami. If the latter's the case, I’m not sure I can handle “major” Kiarostami, because this one made me think on so many levels. The Wikipedia summary reads, “Behzad, Keyvan, Ali and Jahan, journalists posing as production engineers, arrive in a Kurdish village to document the locals' mourning rituals that anticipate the death of an old woman, but she remains alive. The main engineer is forced to slow down and appreciate the lifestyle of the village.”
While essentially correct, that description is about as accurate as calling Eraserhead “a bit odd.” Kiarostami is doing so much in this film on such a high level - I certainly need to see it again for a proper review. It’s easily one of my favorite viewing experiences of the year. I urge you to see it.
The Color of Pomegranates (1969) DVD
A Quiet Place (2018) library DVD
Hold the Dark (2018) Netflix streaming
Those expecting another Green Room (2015) or Blue Ruin (2013) will be disappointed to learn that Jeremy Saulnier has absolutely no intention of repeating himself or playing it safe with Hold the Dark. Wolf expert and author Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) has traveled to Keelut, Alaska at the request of a woman who thinks he can help her. Medora Slone (Riley Keough) claims her son was taken by wolves, the third such instance in her community. That’s really all I’m going to tell you about Hold the Dark, other than the fact that Core is totally out of his element and comes across information he’s not prepared to take in. This is a compelling, complex film which will probably require more than one viewing in order to fully appreciate it. I believe the rewards of such re-watches will be rich indeed.
That’s it for my September. I hope you’ll tell me about yours.
Photos: Janus Films, iSpot, YIFY, Bustle