Aug 2, 2014

The Month In Movies: July 2014

Flickan / All Good Children
No, those stills aren't both from the same film, but despite major differences in their stories Flickan and All Good Children do have a somewhat similar look and feel.  Flickan [The Girl] is a Norwegian film, set in 1981, about a 9 year old girl who has to stay behind when her family goes to Africa for the summer because she's too young to go along.  Initially she's looked after by a flighty aunt, but she soon leaves with a boyfriend, leaving the girl (who is never named) to fend for herself.  Sometimes funny, sometimes tense, and filled with beautifully observed moments, this is a great low key coming of age film.  Blanca Engstrom, who plays the girl, has done nothing since, but she's amazing here; an expressive and soulful performer, captured beautifully by Hoyt VanHoytema's Malick-esque visuals.  You should track this one down.

All Good Children starts off in a rather light mould, with two kids of about 13 (Jack Gleeson and Imogen Jones, both excellent) becoming friends and seemingly starting to fall in love for the first time, but things take a darker turn after their first kiss and the film builds slowly and credibly into a tale of obsession and possessiveness.  Director Alicia Duffy gives the visuals an impressionistic feel that gives the film a feeling of rose tinted childhood memories turning sour.  She and the cast capture the confusion of first love in an immediate and truthful, if heightened, way.  It's a real pity neither Duffy nor Imogen Jones have made a film since.

Circle Of Two / Argento's Dracula 
In my ongoing viewing of many, many coming of age movies I saw two films this month in which Tatum O'Neal ends up romancing an older man.  Little Darlings is often fun, Circle of Two is cringemakingly awful.  O'Neal isn't a bad actress, but she simply can't make the fact her character is supposed to be in love with Richard Burton, who is more than 3 times her age, anything other than laughable.  Burton is hammy and awful throughout, but it's not as though the banal and frankly icky screenplay helps.  The nadir comes when O'Neal strips to try to seduce Burton, who kicks over a paint can while yelling "put your clothes on".

Sometimes I wonder whether Robert DeNiro has been replaced by a talent deficient doppelganger.  I'm certain that Dario Argento has been.  Even by his miserable recent standards, his take on Dracula is beyond abysmal.  The acting is shockingly awful, ranging from a Jonathan Harker more wooden than Keanu Reeves to Miriam Gionavelli's hilariously dreadful vampire, but the visuals are what sink this film.  Overlit to the point of being outright painful to watch (in service of the 3D presentation) and with an ugly digital sheen, the film looks more like a cheap TV show from about 2002.  The effects are laughably chintzy, with ill fitting vampire teeth that make some moments look like a filmed school play.  And yes, Asia Argento gets naked in yet another of her Dad's movies and no, it hasn't stopped being creepy.

I nicked these categories from my friend AJ, who has been asking people to fill them out each month for many years at the message boards.  Only first viewings are eligible.  If there is a tie films are listed in the order in which I saw them.

Best Actor: Andy Serkis - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Best ActressBlanca Engström - Flickan
Best Director: Alicia Duffy - All Good Children
Best ScreenplayAlicia Duffy - All Good Children
Best Visuals: Flickan
Biggest Surprise: All Good Children
Biggest Disappointment: Ping Pong Summer
Most Fucked-Up Movie: Nice Girls Don't Explode
“I’m Pretty Damn Sure No One Else Has Seen This” (and they should): Flickan
“Why Is He/She Still in Movies?”: Dario Argento [Director] - Argento's Dracula
One To Watch: Imogen Jones - All Good Children / Ingrid Bolso Berdal: Hercules
Movie I Finally Got to Friggin’ See: Claire's Knee
Hottest Lady: Bettie Page - Bettie Page Reveals All

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