Feb 1, 2014

The Month in Movies: January 2014

Films Seen: 48
First Viewings: 41

Film(s) of the Month
The General / Prime Cut
My two favourite films this month couldn't really be much more different.  The General was the first Buster Keaton film I had got around to seeing.  It will not be the last.  I loved the way Keaton combined slapstick comedy, action and more than a little pathos, often in the same image (such as when he's sitting on the axle of the train, near the start of the film).  What's really astonishing about The General is the fact it was made 88 years ago, but still manages to stage moments to make you say 'how did they do that'?  The answer, remarkably, is that they just did it, for real and that's what makes it so much more engaging than most stunt sequences in modern films.

Prime Cut couldn't really be much further from the critical adoration that The General enjoys, but for me it's about as good as exploitation cinema gets.  I've not seen much of Lee Marvin's work, but here he's great as a mob enforcer sent to collect on a debt who rescues Sissy Spacek from a sex slavery ring led by Gene Hackman.  The three leads all give performances that lift the film out of its genre ghetto and director Michael Ritchie crafts some exciting action (especially a scene in which Marvin and Spacek are chased by a combine harvester)

Worst Of The Month

Don't Mess With My Sister
I always wondered why, after making such a striking debut with I Spit On Your Grave, director Mier Zarchi seemed to disappear.  Here's why.  His belated second feature is not just 180 degrees from what you'd expect (it's a marital drama about an accountant who is annoyed because his brother's in law won't make him a business partner and cheats on his wife with a belly dancer.  Yes, really) it's also unstintingly terrible.  It's badly shot, laughably written with a plot full of loose ends and digressions and nothing that even resembles an ending, and acted by a cast who never seem to have heard words before, let alone spoken them on camera.  Unfortunately it's not even wild and crazy enough to become a Room style cult classic.  It's just shit.

I nicked these awards categories from my friend AJ, who has been asking people to fill them out each month for many years at the joblo.com message boards.  Only first viewings are eligible.

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street 
Best Actress: Angela Winkler - The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender - 12 Years A Slave
Best Supporting Actress: Geraldine Chaplin - Cria Cuervos
Best Director: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton - The General
Best ScreenplayVolker Schlöndorff - The Lost Honor Of Katharina Blum
Biggest SurprisePrime Cut
Biggest Disappointment: Inside Llewyn Davis
Most Fucked-Up Movie: Beau Pere
“I’m Pretty Damn Sure No One Else Has Seen This”: (and they should) Kiss Me, You Fucking Moron / The Ambulance
“Why Is He/She Still in Movies?”: Keanu Reeves - 47 Ronin
One To Watch: Eili Harboe - Kiss Me, You Fucking Moron
Best Scene: Jordan and the FBI on his boat - The Wolf Of Wall Street
Movie I Finally Got to Friggin’ See: Prime Cut
Coolest TitleKiss Me, You Fucking Moron
Hottest Lady: Sissy Spacek - Prime Cut

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