Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Films I Saw in March

The Wonders

The Best:

1. The Wonders - A+
2. The Shootist - A
3. This Is Not A Film - A
4. Harper - A
5. The Big Country - A
6. Chi-Raq - A
7. The Trip to Bountiful (1985) - A-
8. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison - A-
9. Cop Land - B+
10. The Ruling Class - B+

The Rest:

A Brilliant Young Mind - B-
Chilly Scenes of Winter - B+
Cocoon - B
Coming Home (2015) - B-
Crimes of the Heart - B+
The Enemy Below - B
Escape from L.A. - C
The Farmer’s Daughter - B
Glassland - B-
In the Heart of the Sea - B
Infamous - C
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet - B-
King Kong (1976) - B+
The Ladykillers (2004) - C
Law Abiding Citizen - C+
Legend (2015) - B-
Macbeth (2015) - B
A Man Called Peter - B
Nell - B
The Paper Chase - B+
Starman - C
The Whistleblower - B-


The Big Chill - A+
Lost River - A-
Maps to the Stars - A
Pan - B+
Youth - B

37 Films Watched - 32 New, 5 Rewatched


  1. Looks like a good month. Finally watched Chi-Raq. Still working through my feelings on it. And a B+ might be the best grade I have ever seen for King Kong '76. I recall liking it, but I was like 8 when I last saw it. Need to revisit.

    1. Chi-Raq is so messy, but I loved every minute of it. Haha, I really enjoyed King Kong. So much fun.

  2. Some really interesting films this month.

    I really like Harper, it’s such a star vehicle for Newman but a solid detective story as well and that supporting cast is just a WOW!

    I’m variable on John Wayne but when he was on and the role fit he could be tremendously moving and I don’t know if he ever made a film, outside of The Searchers, that was more suited to him than The Shootist, what a great swan song. Although it wasn’t her last film The Trip to Bountiful was Gerry Page’s last great part and I can’t imagine anyone playing it more beautifully than she, I didn’t love the overall film but she makes it a classic. Speaking of what should have been final films Gloria Grahame is just wonderful in Chilly Scenes of Winter, the best thing about it for me, and since she didn’t live long after it came out I wish she could have ended on such a grace note rather than the abominable piece of trash The Nesting.

    The Farmer’s Daughter is a nice enough piece of pap but Loretta Young winning the Oscar for it is beyond ridiculous, especially in a year when so many better performances didn’t even make the cut.

    I see you watched two that looked at religion from different viewpoints, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison and A Man Called Peter. I liked both, Mitchum and Deborah Kerr always paired well, but preferred Man Called Peter. I liked that it looked at a man of great faith and neither mocked him nor made him a plaster saint, both Richard Todd and Jean Peters’s performances did a great deal to put the film across.

    The Big Country is well named, the scope is vast and Burl Ives is a potent presence in it, though I thought his work in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was more deserving of the Oscar.

    I don’t know if I’d rate Crimes of the Heart quite that high, more along the lines of a B-, but Keaton, Lange and especially Sissy Spacek make the most of their quirky characters. I’d say the same for The Paper Chase which John Houseman walks off with, I don’t want to diminish his work which is excellent but he didn’t have too much competition to steal the film with such a lackluster lead as Timothy Bottoms to play against. Again I don’t think I’d give The Whistleblower that high a mark, I found it difficult to watch, grisly and depressing to the point of distaste but Rachel Weisz was tremendous in it and gave the film whatever value it has.

    I just watched Legend this week, Tom Hardy was terrific in his dual role but the picture itself left me cold.

    The only picture of the ones I’ve seen that we would be miles apart on is The Ruling Class. I detested that movie!! I struggled through hoping against hope that it would improve, it did not.

    One that I’ve been searching for years to find and finally caught up with this month I’d highly recommend if you haven’t seen it, Night Has a Thousand Eyes. It’s a lower budget noir that’s heavy on atmosphere with Edward G. Robinson giving a performance full of nuance and Gail Russell at her ethereal peak.

    1. Harper might be the most entertaining Newman film. It's a blast.

      I think Wayne's performance in The Shootist is my new favorite performance from him. He's in my Best Actor lineup that year, but I need to update my ballot. Page is terrific in Bountiful, and John Hurt is my new '85 Supporting Actor win. He was amazing in the final moments of the film. I also really liked him (and Grahame, of course) in Chilly Scenes.

      I don't have much invested in Loretta Young's win, as I liked the film a lot, but it definitely wasn't the best performance.

      I can't believe Richard Todd missed a nomination for A Man Called Peter. He's SO good in it.

      The Big Country is much better than I thought it'd be, and Ives' win is understandable. Though, I completely agree that he was more deserving for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

      The performances from Spacek, Houseman, and Weisz slightly elevated those films for me, but I could go a little lower on each one, actually.

      Hardy made Legend worthwhile. He was brilliant - twice.

      Ha, The Ruling Class seems like a divisive one, but I quite liked it. O'Toole's fine performance didn't hurt.

      Oh, I hadn't heard of Night Has a Thousand Eyes. I need to check it out.

    2. I caught Night Has a Thousand Eyes on this absolutely amazing site I just discovered within the last month. It has an incredible amount of hard to find films just waiting there.

      Be prepared, it's a rabbit hole!! It's easy to navigate but once I started looking around I found hidden treasures all over the place.

      For instance I was initially disappointed that it seemed there were no Gail Russell films since she had no link but I discovered about five, they were just listed under her costars names. That happened many times.

      I'm not complaining...it was like a late Christmas present. I found the '49 version of The Great Gatsby, the Douglas Sirk directed comedy The Lady Pays Off with Linda Darnell, the totally nutso Song of Scheherazade with Eve Arden & Yvonne de Carlo and masses of other titles I've been on the hunt for years for. And I've barely scratched the surface!!

      Anyway here's the link for Night, hope you enjoy it if you watch.


    3. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. I need to see Harper so much. I kept putting it off (God knows why) but I'll get on that ASAP.

    And you saw The Ruling Class! What did you think of O'Toole? I still think it's his best performance.

    1. Yes, you MUST check out Harper. Easily one of my favorite Newman films and performances.

      O'Toole is on point. He'll be in my 1972 lineup when I update it. :)

  4. I was wondering if I should give Chilly Scenes of Winter a try, as the main character is in his 30s(like me). What are your (spoiler-free) thoughts on it?

    By the way, your banner from Kieslowski's Blue is stunning. Looks great!

    1. Chilly Scenes of Winter is a little gem, actually. It's a bittersweet love story, with a great performance from John Heard. Watching films like that, The Trip to Bountiful, and Cutter's Way makes me wonder how he never received any awards attention for his film work.

      Thanks! I've made several other banners over the past couple of years, so I figured I'd finally put up a new one. :)

  5. Hello Josh! Glad you're still watching a bunch of movies even though you haven't been reviewing stuff as often. I've only seen The Big Country out of your top 10 and I'd have given it an A as well.

    I wasn't too impressed w/ Macbeth either, it's probably more of a 3/5 for me. As for Law Abiding Citizen, I actually thought it was decent, I think I gave it 3/5 also, definitely not as atrocious as London Has Fallen.

    1. Hi Ruth! I think I'm a little burnt out, but I'm trying to stay somewhat active in the blogosphere.

      Glad you liked The Big Country as well. Macbeth and Law Abiding Citizen were a little disappointing, but I wasn't expecting that much from the latter. Ha, I'm looking forward to seeing London Has Fallen on DVD, as I enjoyed the first film.