Over/Under-rated movies: the redux

What we need … is a supercop !

2 Likes

Iranian (really from the US, but apparently set in Iran and in Farsi) vampire hipster love story.

No idea what so many saw in this. Well, I sort of do because it does look great, but it’s also pretentiously slow, with a shallow undeveloped story and a pair of dull affectless leads. There are some nice bits here and there, but overall nothing special. Great cat, though.

4 Likes

Flynn - Rathbone - Korngold - Curtiz - Technicolor

3 Likes

watched Sunset Boulevard the other night. it’s so infamous, but we had never seen it. omg, what a great movie that is… worthy of its decades of notoriety. “Mr. Demill, i’m ready for my closeup…!” :eyes:

4 Likes

Indeed.

2 Likes

I recently re-watched the 1923 “Scaramouche.” It’s a great film. I wrote about it a few months ago. There is one thing about the movie that still bothers me: Although it is titled “Scaramouche,” André-Louis Moreau does not actually spend much time in the guise of that eponymous character. For only a short while he was a wanted revolutionary disguised as a masked actor in a farcical play. More should have been made of that situation. A more fitting title for the movie would have been “A Young Lawyer Learns How to Sword Fight.”

Perhaps the blame belongs to Sabatini. No matter.

I needed to immerse myself deeper into a Parisian theatrical setting. So I decided it was time to rewatch “Les Enfants du Paradis” for a second time. I saw it for the first time about a year ago, but I had forgotten many of the plot details.

This is a very noteworthy film. It’s big. So big is comes in two parts. Also it was, I believe, the first big-budget movie to premier in newly-liberated Paris. It’s interesting to think that such a big, lively movie could have been filmed largely under German occupation.

It’s a fictional story about three real people: Frédérick Lemaître, a reckless charmer who became a star of the grand theater. Baptiste Deburau, an introspective perfectionist who revolutionized the art of pantomime. And Pierre-François Lacenaire a poetic psychopath who would go on to turn his trial for multiple murders into a political event.

These three men’s lives are tied together by a fictional woman named Garance, comme la fleur. Men flutter to her like moths around a flame, she has no future but, oh, what a past. She is looking for something more from life, yet life has taught her how to exist in the world without letting it touch her.

Baptiste admires Garance greatly. In fact he is obsessed. He sees her as an ideal woman. She does not agree. This, as you can imagine, makes his eventual marriage to Nathalie rather difficult.

Some people consider this to be the greatest movie ever made. I think that’s a bit extreme. It’s a very good movie, but it does have some faults.

One of the problems is the character Baptiste. As brilliant as Jean-Louis Barrault’s performance is, Baptiste comes across as a bit of an obsessed jerk. I know he’s supposed to be a tortured, sensitive soul, but Dr. Zhivago was in a similar situation and wasn’t so whiney about it.

There is a promising charter named Jéricho, who is a chand d’habits. Jéricho is a large, unkempt man who peddles used clothes and talks loudly into people’s faces. He can appear everywhere and seems to know everyone’s secrets, but he eventually disappears. He was a very intriguing character who could be edited out of the movie, and nothing would change.

The ending tries to be ambiguous, but isn’t. It feels instead like it’s setting-up a third half. The movie would be much better, I think, if it ended about five minutes earlier when Nathalie leaves her and Baptiste’s son waiting in the alley, saying “when I come back I’ll bring you a surprise.” We would have the child standing there in the shadows with the carnival raging behind him. A slow fade-out and the word “Fin.” But instead of that we have a few long speeches followed by Baptiste ripping-off the New Year’s Eve scene from “The Singing Fool,” as he runs after Garance’s carriage.

But I don’t want to give the wrong impression. I really like the movie. The cast is excellent. The dialogue is excellent. And the humor is très drôle.

I give this movie les bises.

3 Likes

It is deservedly a classic

2 Likes

See China and Die, Larry Cohen’s 1979 TV pilot starring Esther Rolle as a mystery solving housemaid. The series never happened and the pilot apparently took two years to air on NBC. Not too bad, but not too good either, with some rather awkward filming. (Cohen was generally not the savviest low budget guy with a camera, but he always seemed better than this.) The IMDb lists this at only 60 minutes, so maybe this version was padded out for European theatrical release. From a glitchy VHS print, but if you’re a Cohen completist, here it is.

Now dare I seek out As Good as Dead, Cohen’s ‘90s TV movie with Judge Reinhold and Traci Lords?

3 Likes

Don’t know if it’s on Kanopy, but have you seen Machete Maidens Unleashed:

4 Likes

alas I have not seen neither but one will we viewed soonish.

2 Likes

I went ahead and watched it. It’s ok. This one trades the clunky if sometimes charming amateurism of See China and Die for the slick blandness of a USA network world premiere movie, which this was.

Crystal Bernard forms a quick bond with new found friend Traci Lords, so tight a bond that after having only known her a couple weeks, she lets Traci borrow her identity, so that Traci can take advantage of her medical insurance to get a much needed but minor operation. Crystal goes on a week long vacation and comes back to find out that Traci is now dead. Which means that she is dead…

Predictable plotting but reasonably diverting performances.

2 Likes
4 Likes

It’s ok, but I prefer every other Jodorowsky film I’ve seen. He just tries to cram too much in it I think, not in a film geeky way which could work, but as many mystical/philosophical symbols he can. It just comes off as overly pretentious with absolutely no intellectual heft behind it at all. And no traditional genre excitement either.

I much preferred his next film The Holy Mountain which has enough great spectacle to overcome any qualms I had about the pretensions, but my favorite is Santa Sangre, where Claudio Argento, Dario’s brother, helped with the screenplay.

4 Likes

Speaking of weird westerns, I just watched “Johnny Guitar” again.

Both Joan Crawford and Sterling Haydon play their parts in a way that can only be described as “interesting,” but they have zero chemistry with each other. There are some moments were there is a sudden bust of quick editing that just seems random and meaningless. And then there’s a scene where Vienna and Johnny are riding in a buggy, and the back-projected scenery is clearly filmed from a train. The time of day completely changes from moment to moment. Mercedes McCambridge’s unending shouting could cut through rock without a weirding module.

I feel like there must be a two hour director’s cut of this film that actually makes sense.

But I must say the cinematography is beautiful.

3 Likes

Harumph.

1 Like

I’d rather have a cup of coffee and a good smoke.

1 Like

15-year-old Jennifer Connelly as the sleepwalking, insect loving daughter of an international film star, just recently sent to a Swiss boarding school. Donald Pleasence as a wheelchair-bound Scottish entomologist. A chimpanzee with a straight razor. The bastard son of one maniac. A pool full of rotting corpses and maggots. Gratuitous defenestration. Gratuitous Iron Maiden. The director working out his issues with his soon-to-be-ex. 33 more minutes than the original US release. And Patrick Nicolas Jean Sixte Ghislain Bauchau.

Good times.

3 Likes

I remember this one vaguely. Probably on video at some high school age party/sleep over/event sort of-thing.

1 Like

I think I may pull this out of my DVD library. Because it’s great. I think it’s underrated. Great leads, great supporting actors, good characterizations…

2 Likes

I saw it, under the title Creepers, back in the late ‘80s. I didn’t think much of it at all back then. It may be changes in me, but it could easily be those missing 33 minutes. The film is more than somewhat incoherent either way, but I think the flow may be better in the long version. Slow patches have been retained which gives one a breather before the next dose of insanity.

1 Like