Things I Saw in March

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1. Topaz (1969) Hitchcock’s long but intriguing political thriller. His most labyrinth story, with multiple characters doesn’t quite gel but has some great set pieces. *** out of 4

2. Family Plot (1976) Hitchcock’s last film is underrated, very enjoyable light crime caper. Written by “North by Northwest” scribe Ernest Lehman it’s old fashioned for the time it was made, but I wish more films could be this fun. Barbara Harris and Bruce Dern are a great duo. *** and a half stars out of 4

3. John Wick Chapter 2 (2017) Speaking of fun, this is so far the most fun I’ve had at the movies. “John Wick Chapter 2” felt more lighter and even more full of adrenaline than the last one. Can’t wait for chapter 3. **** stars out of 4

4. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) I’ve actually never saw this before. This campy right of passage for cult movie fans has its moments of camp and outrageousness. The performances are fun, some of the music is great to sing a long to. Maybe not my kind of cult movie but still worth a look. *** stars out of 4

5. Logan (2017) The supposed swan song of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is a great send off. Ultra-violent, shocking and real. This dark entry to the X-Men franchise is just what the doctor ordered to the bloat of super hero films. Jackman carries it with his charisma and dedication to the character *** and a half stars out of 4

6. Get Out (2017) Another great, entertaining movie I caught this month. This horror/thriller/comedy has twists and turns you don’t see coming. The high concept is the type you believe no matter how out there it gets. The hype is real for this. **** stars out of 4

7. Blonde Venus (1932) Marlene Dietrich is beautiful in the lush melodrama of a woman who cheats on her husband, runs off with her son and becomes a prostitute only to turn into a singing sensation. It might sound ridiculous but it’s rich in imagery and Dietrich is great. Cary Grant adds to the glamour. **** stars out of 4

8. The Hours (2002) The story of three generations of women who are all connected somehow to the story of  Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway”. Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep play the women. This is a bittersweet, sad movie or feminist repression, and regret. *** and a half stars out of 4

9. The Devil is a Woman (1935) Marlene Dietrich plays a woman who can lure men with her femininity only to ruin their lives. As in “Blonde Venus” Dietrich is in the hands of master filmmaker Joseph Von Sternberg who photographs the star beautifully here. The story seems choppy, but when the look of a film is this good who cares. *** and a half stars out of 4

10. The Flame of New Orleans (1941) Dietrich plays a woman ready to marry for money until she falls for a strapping young sailor. Slight comedy, but the players are game and the film is enough escapism to enjoy it. *** stars out of 4

11. Golden Earrings (1947) Dietrich is a gypsy who has to help British spy Ray Milland elude the Germans during World War 2. This film hasn’t aged well, but the two stars make up for the short comings. ** and a half stars out of 4

12. Kong: Skull Island (2017) Nice to see King Kong back on the big screen, this nice little monster movie is just what the doctor ordered filled with great monster fights and top notch special effects. The characters are one note for the most part, but when the pedigree is John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, and John C. Reilly among others, who’s complaining. Yes this is mindless monster movie fun, but I got a kinck out of it. *** and a half stars out of 4

13. Pauline at the Beach (1983) My introduction to French filmmaker Erich Rohmer is a great slice of life coming of age romance. A young girl visits her cousins beach side house, and romantic entaglements ensue. What can I say other than this is a very French film which is what’s great about it. It takes its time, nothing too dramatic happens, it’s all about finding love, philosophizing about life, and all that type of stuff the French can do so well. Rohmer hones in on his characters, and gives them the space to move, it’s a freeing film in so many ways. **** stars out of 4

14. Bojack Horseman Season 1 (2014) I started this animated comedy/drama about a washed up Hollywood tv star who also happens to be a horse. Season 1 starts off a bit slow, but it has great depth and insight as it goes along. Season 1 has some of the problems most shows have in the first season, but speaking as someone who has just finished season 2, those problems are rectified. *** stars out of 4

15. Five Came Back (2017) Netflix documentary series based on the book chronicling five famous Hollywood movie directors John Ford, William Wyler, Frank Capra, John Huston, and George Stevens who leave Hollywood at the start of World War 2 to join the war effort. They go with their cameras to document the war coming back with unforgettable footage that would go on to change the way we look at documentaries also film used as propaganda. The film is pretty even handed with commentary by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Paul Greengrass. I wish it got into more detail. This probably could’ve been a longer series, but it was riveting to say the least. *** and a half stars out of 4

16. The Witness (2016) Documentary about the case of Kitty Genovese who was famously murdered in New York with plenty of witnesses who did nothing to help her. The documentary follows Genovese’s brother who goes to find the truth about her murder. Not much is revealed and it feels like the film couldn’t make up its mind if it wanted to be an investigation into the murder or a study on the brother who seems to be finding closure. The finale where he hires an actress to play out his sister’s last moments in front of him was just kinda weird and unsettling. * star out of 4

 

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