The Resident Bitch's Movie Log - Volume 2

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The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)
Imdb

Date Watched: 03/24/2020
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame, I'm guessing Captain Spaulding? Even though I guessed him for Drive
Rewatch: No.


I'm not even sure what to say about this truly bizarre film. It definitely falls into that category of things I don't usually watch. It had a premise that was at once very original and really stupid. It was funny, but more in a WTF kind of way than a laugh out loud kind of way. It was creepy, but more in a gross out kind of way than a chills up the spine kind of way. It had effects that were at once impressive but also cheesy and dated. It had a mulleted Jeff Goldblum trying to be simultaneously nerdy and sexy while also failing but weirdly also almost succeeding at both? ...What? I don't even know what I'm saying here.

What I can say with absolute certainty though is that at no point in the movie was I ever bored by it. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I genuinely enjoyed it, I was much too conflicted for that, but I do think it has the potential to really grow on me if I ever watch it again. Considering that this is a Sci-Fi Horror movie, I'd say that's pretty high praise coming from me.

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"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."





A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
Imdb

Date Watched: 03/25/2020
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame, I'm guessing Cricket?
Rewatch: No.


*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Before yesterday, I had only ever seen one David Cronenberg film: Maps to the Stars. That film is bizarre, unsettling, and darkly funny but in ways that are quite different from The Fly. So going into A History of Violence - and knowing next to nothing about it other than that it is also a Cronenberg film, I was kind of expecting something that was also bizarre and darkly funny.

That's not what I got. Instead I got a taut drama about a family man whose unsavory, secret past catches up with him when an act of heroism brings him unwanted media attention and he is recognized by people he'd long left behind. There's no humor in this film and the story is fairly straight forward, but - like the other two Cronenberg films I've seen - it is an unsettling watch. Viggo Mortensen turns in a strong performance the film's protagonist, Tom - a man who is at once a dedicated family man and a brutal, skilled killer with ties to the mob. He is complex and colored in many shades of gray and that's how I like my characters to be.

But as much as this film has going for it - and it has a lot going for it - I did not love it. For all Mortensen's efforts, his character came across as little too stoic for me to develop a strong connection and thereby become truly invested in his fate. But, however tenuous it may have been, there was some connection for me here and I'll probably revisit this at some point.

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Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, 2003)
Imdb

Date Watched: 03/27/2020
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame, No clue who chose it, but thanks!
Rewatch: No.


I'd seen part of this film well over a decade ago but never finished it and never felt the urge to try again. I'm not sure why that is, exactly. It has a strong cast - Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laura Linney - and although I don't like Clint Eastwood as an actor, I do respect him as a director.

But I guess it's better late than never and Mystic River is just the kind of movie I was hoping to be exposed to in this Hall of Fame. Characters don't get a whole lot more complicated than this and the cast - Sean Penn and Tim Robbins in particular - turn in exceptionally strong performances.

The film features two stories - the first is the story of a man with a violent past (Penn) reeling from the murder of his oldest daughter and the other is the story of a shell of a man (Robbins) struggling with a lifetime of personal demons stemming from trauma he suffered when he was abducted as a child. Their lives and stories intersect and collide in some pretty shocking and heartbreaking ways.

And if the film had kept its sight focused on those two stories, I would've rated it higher. But there's a third, much weaker story in the film as well - that of a state police officer who is investigating the murder of the girl. Kevin Bacon does a fine job of portraying a man struggling with professional burnout, a personal life that's in shambles, and with the pressure of trying to keep his personal connection to the case (he and the other two men were all childhood friends) from clouding his judgement. The fault here is not in Bacon's hands, but the whole subplot of his absent wife was annoying, time-wasting, and unnecessary and it really dragged down my enjoyment of this otherwise fine film.

Still, I'm glad to have watched it. While its flaws will probably keep it from being a big personal favorite, it's a strong contender for #1 on my Hall of Fame ballot.

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25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
Imdb

Date Watched: 03/28/2020
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame, No clue who chose it
Rewatch: No.


I remember watching Do the Right Thing years ago and thinking that it had strong performances and a lot of tension, but it somehow just left me feeling cold. I was really hoping for a different outcome here.

That didn't happen. Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson and Brian Cox all gave strong, convincing performances (I suppose Anna Paquin did, too, but I found her very annoying - which is typically what I think of her anyway), but failed to really draw me in. The only one of them that I felt even a little for was Hoffman's character, and that really was only because his so-called "friends" were so s***ty to him (I mean, come on, if you're going to be a douchebag, fine, but at least have the decency not to be one to the people you claim to like).

Ultimately, this is one of those films that falls into the category of things I respect but don't actually enjoy.

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Judgment at Nuremberg (Stanley Kramer, 1961)
Imdb

Date Watched: 03/29/2020
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame, No clue who chose it
Rewatch: No.


I don't especially care for courtroom dramas and that's for much the same reason as why I generally dislike films that rely heavily on narration: I want to see what happened, not be told about it. I haven't got the attention span to sit there for hours listening to a story. I don't watch movies to just hear people talking - and oh boy is there a whole lot of talking in this three hour long film.

Which is not to say that the film is bad. It isn't. If I were one for this sort of film, I'd probably love it. The performances are strong - if a bit too melodramatic at times - and the story is an important one, but the incessant talking, punctuated by moments of deafening shouting, kept me from feeling more than a vague sense of sadness and anger.

In fact the only time I felt any truly strong emotion was when it showed actual footage from the camps - footage of the bodies of victims being bulldozed into a mass grave, of more emaciated bodies piled high awaiting disposal, of skeletal remains in the "ovens," and of the still living victims with their haunting stares and gaunt faces. But how much credit can I really give the film for that? It is not a documentary, it's a drama. I acknowledge the fact that its makers had the guts to use such footage when others of the time might have shied away, but in the end Judgment at Nuremberg also falls onto that long list of films that I respect - and I respect it a lot - but don't actually enjoy.

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