Sunday, August 3, 2014

July 2014 Film Wrap-Up

This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984) = 3.5/5

Rob Reiner satirises the excessive lifestyles and egos of hard rock musicians as well as the pseudo-profound documentaries that deify them. Much of the humour is subtle and deadpan, and I think the film works best as an exercise in mockumentary-making, rather than as a straight comedy. The most remarkable thing about the film is how Reiner blurs the line between fact and fiction. I became so invested in these characters that I forgot Spinal Tap didn't actually exist outside of this film (at the time, anyway).

Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993) = 5/5

It's a film I've seen many times before, and I can now say I have seen it on the big screen. Sure, the film may not benefit from a cinema screening as it's not the most visually exciting thing out there, but I just found it a lot more touching this time. It's a film about selflessness, and it is so rewarding to see Phil Connors (Bill Murray) transform from a bitter, irresponsible man into a kind, giving soul. I also admire the film for not explaining why Phil experiences the same day over and over again. It's a fantastic example of magic realism. 

Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, 2008) = 1/5

I can't even remember how this ended up on my watchlist in the first place. I think I recall some friends talking about it back in high school. I shouldn't have bought into their buzz. I just don't like movies that mostly consist of loud noises and explosions. There...I said it. I guess I was just expecting a lot more suspense and subtlety. Cloverfield serves as a reminder that even the fastest films can be boring; that a lack of depth, more so than slowness, creates tedium.  

Hannah Takes the Stairs (Joe Swanberg, 2007) = 3.5/5

By now, I know what to expect from a mumblecore film: a meandering plot, naturalistic (often improvised) dialogue, and basic production values. I know I probably won't be blown away, but I don't expect to get bored. Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies may be the only mumblecore film that has truly wowed me, but that was mumblecore on steroids. Hannah Takes the Stairs is one of Swanberg's earlier efforts, and while I didn't think it was amazing, it's still a pretty decent flick. Its realism is poignant and its characters are oddly charming. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984) = 4.5/5

So, I saw one of my favourite films on the big screen and, for the first time ever, I didn't completely love it. I don't think it has aged that well. The third act drags on quite a bit. The scares aren't as plentiful or as intense as I remember. I think it had a major impact on me for so many years because I first watched it around the age of six. Everything's scarier when you're six years old. Alas, it's still one of the most original horror movies ever made, and when it works, it is truly frightening. I think Freddy Krueger is the perfect horror villain because he's human enough to be a realistic threat, yet his supernatural qualities appeal to the intrinsic fear of the unknown. 

Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) = 3/5

It took me 21 years to see Ridley Scott's highly acclaimed Alien, and it turns out I could've waited many more years and not cared. On a technical level, the film never falters. Scott knows how to create a cold, mysterious atmosphere. Sigourney Weaver makes a great heroine in Ellen Ripley. The story, however, left me feeling apathetic towards the characters' fates. I just found the thing so long and boring. I've accepted that I find most sci-fi films uninteresting. I think I have a new rule: if the amount of time spent fighting an evil force is longer than the amount of time talking, I will generally lose interest in that film. 

In Summary - The Must-See Films (4.5 or 5 Stars)
* Groundhog Day
* A Nightmare on Elm Street