|DVRfest 2014 (11.07.14 - 11.10.14, 18 movies)|
|11.07.14||Antichrist||Lars Von Trier||Hello, future me. Remember way back in 2004 when you started keeping notes on all the movies you saw? Well that was TEN FREAKING YEARS AGO!!!!! I can think of no better way to commemorate that then sitting down, cracking a coke zero, and watching as many movies as I possibly can over the next three or four days. Yes, my friend... you read that right. It's time to start DVR FEST X!!! WITH X MEANING 10!!!!!!|
Yes, ten short years ago I built this site because I was sick of forgetting whether I actually saw all of the Friday the 13ths or wondering how often I actually watched The Big Lebowski or watching a movie for the second time and hating it and thinking "what was I thinking liking this the first time i saw it!?" Now I still do all those things (see my notes for Fast & Furious 4) but I have a permanent record to display my shame.
Nine and a half short years ago I moved to Austin and between September and October I went to QTfest 6, the first Fantastic Fest, and Austin Film Fest. I loved them all so much that, come early November, I was going through festival withdrawal. I noticed that I had a bunch of movies on my DVR that I'd been meaning to watch so I decided to recognize the anniversary of this site by clearing them all out. Thus DVRfest was born. Like every festival, it has since evolved to include a slightly wider criteria (namely netflix, my DVD rack, and movies off the internet) but I believe I am the only film festival to successfully keep the attendees list at one. Getting a badge is a real bitch.
Since this is the tenth year and I happen to be laid off and have some time on my hands I decided to put some thought into the programming this year and truly make it an occasion (for myself). The whole spirit of this fest has been to catch up on things I've been meaning to see so this year I've selected a ton of films from the following bins: movies on my DVR that I haven't gotten around to seeing (classic DVRfest staying true to my roots), movies that I've missed at the various festivals across the years that I've always meant to go back and watch but never have, and some movies that have been sitting on my DVD shelf for years and years that I have never seen. Also, following custom I'll pick one movie that I've seen before and throw it into the mix.
So... without further ado, I am kicking off the fest with one of my most egregious omissions. Can you imagine someone who has been to every Fantastic Fest never having seen ANTICHRIST!? It's time to let chaos reign up in this bitch!!! I'll be back in a few hours.
Well that was fun.
The one thing that surprised me about this film is how beautiful a lot of the photography was. When he wants to, Von Trier can certainly compose a shot. Mostly though it was what I thought it would be: 90% morose depression and 10% cringe-worthy violence. I have to say it's not my thing. I respect Lars Von Trier as a creative force and like the idea of his films but rarely actually enjoy watching them (hence why I don't do it often). I must say this was no different. Still, I saw it... check it off the list... moving on.
Next up is decidedly lighter fare starring a youngish Peter Sellers
|11.07.14||The Mouse That Roared||Jack Arnold||According to my man Robert Osbourne The Mouse That Roared was Peter Sellers' breakout role in the states. He plays multiple roles representing a tiny European nation that declared war on the U.S. in order to surrender and get reparations... Jean Seberg is also in it just before she got really cool in Breathless.|
This was a frivolous goofy comedy from the late 50s for the most part... very light-hearted and fun if not so so funny these days. I did like how they had the Columbia woman get scared of a mouse at the beginning and run off her pedestal. It reminded me of how the MGM lion didn't feel like roaring at the front of Strange Brew. I love it when movies are allowed to manipulate the studio logo.
Also... there's like a thematic cameo by a fox in this. He's looking and kind of laughing as Peter Sellars gets his foot caught in a trap. I thought that was a nice coincidence following the fox from the last film.
Unfortunately, the end of the movie turns into a total disarmament message complete with a "we hope" after "THE END." I guess stuff like that firmly places it in context but I also couldn't help but groan a tiny bit. I think that makes me terrible.
Anyway, this was definitely a fun change of pace and I'm ready for more! Next up is a double feature of horror movies!
|11.07.14||Horror of Dracula||Terence Fisher||So at this point I think I can comfortably say that I've seen a lot of horror movies. And in the past ten years I've really covered a lot of bases in terms of subgenres that I wasn't really familiar with before moving to town. One subgenre that I still haven't touched however is the Hammer horror films.|
That changes tonight with a double feature starting with this classic Christopher Lee Dracula movie! So... the thing I had always heard about the Hammer films was that they traded a lot of the literary source material for the blood and gore. That Christopher Lee's Dracula was brutal and animalistic and perhaps the scariest portrayal of the character. On the other hand, this movie came out in 1958 which is like a year after I Was A Teenage Werewolf and shit.
So I tried to keep that in mind while watching and yeah, compared to stuff like the Vincent Price Poe movies and stuff like that this did show more blood... but I think for me personally I am so familiar with the core Dracula story that I was bored by it. I kind of put it on par with the Vincent Price stuff... but really just a few years later we get Psycho and Peeping Tom, Black Sunday and Village of the Damned. Next to those this seems psychologically tame regardless of how much Technicolor red blood you have dribbling down your chin.
|11.08.14||The Curse of Frankenstein||Terence Fisher||I completely fell asleep halfway through this last night so I picked it up today. I liked this one more than Dracula I think. That's probably because I've seen fewer Frankenstein adaptations. Cushing is great as the mad scientist. At one point he even uses teaching someone science as a threat. Be careful or I'll introduce Elizabeth to science!!! I still don't think I'm in any rush to watch the whole canon but at least now I can say I've seen a couple.|
Next up is... shit what's next. Something random!?
|11.08.14||Send Me No Flowers||Norman Jewison||This is another one that's been on the DVR forever. It's a Rock Hudson/Doris Day comedy where Hudson plays a hypochondriac convinced he's dying so he tries to find a suitable replacement to take care of his wife. Tony Randall is the only part that I found still funny (he plays drunk for most of it and one bit where he repeats Hudson's speech about appreciating life to a bartender had me chuckling... "Have you ever felt a table? It's so smooth!"). Mostly I got a real wave of Idealized 60s life from this. The sets and locations they use for the house are pretty insanely Wealthy White America. I mean they have a phone in the backyard? And like 3 cars and the house has 4 stories and all they seem to do all day is hang out at the club and play white people sports. I know that was part of the effect of these movies... a little innuendo with a lot of wholesome innocence and happy faces.|
Have you ever looked at a tree?
Anyway... this was supposed to be the matinee but I'm kind of running behind so I think a little juggling is in order and I'm going to dive back into the world of British horror with another double feature, this time with Hammer's anthology-friendly rival studio!
|11.08.14||Torture Garden||Freddie Francis||I'm a tad more versed in Amicus than I am in Hammer but I'm still not exactly an expert. When I saw these coming on TCM before Halloween I thought they'd be a fun addition to this fest and I was right. This one is structured around a carnival attraction where Burgess Meredith plays a character named Dr. Diablo who, for five pounds, exposes patrons to a figure of Atropos and her shears of fate. As each person gazes at the shears they see some dark glimpse of what lay ahead. Some of these were more effective than others for me. Ok the only one I really liked was the last where Jack Palance plays a Poe fantatic visiting Peter Cushing's private collection of Poe memorabilia. The rest of them waver from familiar (a witch in the form of an evil cat forces a man to kill) to ridiculous (an evil piano gets jealous of some girl and ends up pushing her out a window). In the middle is a vaguely Ira Levin-esque tale of the secret behind Hollywood's biggest stars. The whole thing is written by Robert Bloch.|
This was fun but also serves as a good example of what I like and hate about anthologies. At least one is always a pain to get through but they're all short and keep it moving.
Let's keep it going with one more shall we?
|11.08.14||The House That Dripped Blood||Peter Duffell||This anthology revolves around a single house that, according to the real estate agent who talks directly to the audience at the very end (spoiler alert), reflects those that live in it. Actually the only thing that all four stories have in common are that they take place in A house so it might as well be the same one right? Because then you get an awesome title like The House That Dripped Blood.|
I ended up liking this one the most out of all 4 british horror films this weekend. All four stories have something to like (Denholm Elliot, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and a great performance by Jon Pertwee who plays an old pro horror actor). Yes Christopher Lee's story got a little slow for me but it ended strong as did all the rest.
So that ends the Amicus double feature although for the midnight movie (ok 2AM movie) I have one more anthology to watch. This one recently played at the Marchesa and it's been on my list for a while so I felt especially guilty for missing a 35mm screening of it. Let's hope I don't fall completely asleep for...
|11.09.14||Night Nurse||William A. Wellman||Kwaidan! Well, two minutes into Kwaidan I discovered that TCM's broadcast of the movie was in both letterbox and pillarbox... and that it was almost three hours long. So I swapped it out for this which was another movie that AFS played that I felt bad for missing. It was half as long as Kwaidan and I still fell asleep. I'm old!|
Finishing it up this morning, I really liked this one. Some of the plot resolution is hurried and painfully convenient but it's also oddly brutal which I liked. This is a great example of a pre-Hayes code movie in that it contains some surprisingly risqu? moments like Stanwyck in her unmentionables and a pre-mustache Clark Gable beating up women. Plus casual mention of bootleggers and hospital practices date the film in a wonderfully nostalgic way. I guess back then bootleggers were a viable archetype because they were around and everybody saw them in their dapper suits!
And there's this unabashed hatred of ethics that goes on... I don't know if maybe the medical industry was pretty unreliable before the A.M.A. was formed (whenever it was formed) or what but these goddamned ethics really get Barbara down! She's unbelievably beautiful and sexy in this by the way. Ouch.
So this was great. I do with it were about fifteen minutes longer and had a real ending but whatever... not bad for an early talkie. Not bad at all!
Next up... I'm on the fence about watching Kwaidan like that or renting the criterion disc and that's the last movie on the DVR so I think I'll change formats and watch a movie that should make for an absolutely perfect Sunday matinee.
|11.09.14||A Town Called Panic||Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar||I was sorry to miss this when it played Fantastic Fest a few years ago and seeing the Christmas special at this year's fest reminded me that I should track it down and give it a watch. I'm glad I did.|
This is a Belgian stop-motion movie about a cowboy, and Indian and a Horse and the various adventures that they get into. It's all very creative and surreal and cute and you can't help but love every second of it.
There is so much to love in here... from the horse pianos to the fish-mom's obsession with waffles to the robut penguin scientists to the weird horse ballet interlude. So great.
Next up is a little break followed by a night of extremes.
|11.09.14||The Italian Connection||Fernando Di Leo||Ever since QT6 I've tracked down a decent number of Di Leo gangster movies and liked most of them. I have a couple box sets on my shelf even but since they are now readily available to me I haven't gotten around to seeing them. This is the last of the first box set that I haven't seen and it's been sitting on my shelf for years now. Time to fix that!|
So... I've come to expect certain things from a Di Leo movie and this does not disappoint. Beautiful women scantily clad? Check. Funky score? Check. J&B Scotch? Check. Sleazy low-level gangsters back stabbing each other? Double Check. I'd say what this one has that others don't is headbutts. Lots of headbutts.
Actually I like whoever this main Italian actor is. He's a total gorilla guy (kind of reminds me a tiny bit of the Milano Calibro 9 guy) but really gives off sympathy as a low level pimp sacrificed to the gangster gods and running for his life. Henry Silva and Woody Strode play hitmen from America being escorted around by a smoking hot lady in a sheer shirt. In the end there's a chase/shootout that feels an hour and a half long and it doesn't really end well for anyone. It fits the oevre perfectly.
I really don't think I can pick a favorite between the four movies in this box set. This, The Boss, Mr. Scarface, and Milano Calibro 9 are all amazing. Once again I have no good idea why I didn't watch this earlier... but that's what this fest is all about!
I'll have to crack the other boxset soon. I'm sure those are good as well although they are lesser known to me.
Anyway, looking at what I have left I think tonight will be a triple feature of music films from radically places, but first it's time to put some time in with the girlfriend and not act like I've been holing myself up all weekend watching movies and eating junk food.
|11.09.14||Once||John Carney||I think this played South By the first year I went and I missed it and heard it was great but the singer/songwriter-ness of it always kept it pretty low in the queue. Now that it's been made into a musical and a tv show I thought it would be a nice fit with a few other music movies I have on deck. It's pretty much what I expected although I have to say the music is really good. Considering it's really not my type of music I wasn't annoyed or bored by any of it and found a few songs genuinely enjoyable. So for someone who normally likes this type of music I can see them being blown away.|
I did quite like the ending. Not to spoil it or anything (although it is getting close to 10 years old) but it's not what I expected and that made the emotion that much more resonant and complex. It reminded me a bit of Lost in Translation's ending where you don't really know what you want from the two characters but you know you want SOMETHING and sometimes all life affords is one more whisper in the ear. This movie is really quite lovely... and I'm such a sucker for unlikely bands making a success. The Commitments is one of the best movies about that I think. A Fish Story. Hell, Eddie and the Cruisers a little bit... The whole sequence with the band in the studio in this movie is also quite great.
sniffles... ok on to the next. With this movie I've just seen love blossom. Now I'm going to watch it die.
|11.09.14||Let It Be||Michael Lindsay-Hogg||I'm being a bit dramatic in my lead in but seriously... I thought this was the doc where it basically showed The Beatles break up. Snippy arguments and passive aggression and outright blow-ups and all that. Maybe there's a different cut or something because what I saw was a bunch of rehearsal and studio time followed by a few semi-music videos and the famous rooftop concert. I guess the stories from that period are so famous that they've melded with the film itself? Or maybe the subtle looks and silences between cuts tell a different story and I didn't see it because I watched a bootleg copy that wasn't the best quality? Who knows. I was surprised. It's like 96% performance anyway... |
It was really good to finally watch this. I got into the Beatles very late and I think I've had this on my computer since the discs were re-released and the Rock Band game came out a few years ago. Even though this is the end of their professional relationship they can still play, man. The rooftop footage is just great.
It's already 3:30 so there's no way I'm making it through the next one but I want to start it just to make the triple feature official. The Alamo used to play this every year around Christmas time and I've never seen it even though I loved their show as a kid. Time to hit the DVD shelf and pull down...
|11.10.14||Head||Bob Rafelson||There was no hope of making it through this last night. I was expecting something drugged-out and psychedelic but there is... NO plot. It's full on unadulterated from the first frame to the last hippie freakout shit. Not that that's a bad thing... just too much for 4AM.|
The Alamo used to show this every Christmas for their High for the Holidays series and I always wished I could go but was at home with my parents for the holiday. Furthermore I have this amazing criterion set about the BBS that I barely know anything about and have yet to crack the box on so it's fitting to include here.
This is a total 60s trip of a movie that I won't even pretend to understand. What I will say is that the tone and apparent message are pretty are surprisingly complex. I think that was the point... to take something as light-hearted and manufactured for fun like The Monkees and deliver a surreal exploration of America and popular culture. It's at once playful and angry, nonsensical and message-y, a commentary on fame and a celebration of it.
Of course, I also think this is the type of movie that's more fun to write and talk about than actually watch. I found it pretty hard to get through - mostly because of the whole "no plot" thing - but am really glad to have finally seen it. A great example of this is this note that you're reading right now. I'm writing it with 20 minutes left in the movie. Well Before Victor Mature comes to the party to explain everything about the black box and nothingness. Frodis?
Well then. Next!
|11.10.14||Duck, You Sucker||Sergio Leone||Finally finally finally get to cross this off the list. Somehow I'd heard this was an overt comedy like almost slapstick. It really wasn't but it did kind of bridge the opera of Once Upon A Time in the West with the excess of Once Upon A Time in America for me. It's just a bit too long, too many explosions, too much face. Or maybe it's that faces like Eastwood and Van Cleef and Wallach and Fonda and Bronson are more interesting to look at than Rod Steiger's. In any case, this was good... probably really good compared with a lot of Italian westerns, but not as good as Leone's other stuff.|
Lots of explosions. lots and lots and lots of explosions. But also lots of revolution talk. For whatever reason... the sly trickery between Steiger and James Coburn didn't play for me like that between Eastwood and Wallach. I can't really say why... maybe if Good, Bad, Ugly didn't exist then I would find this great...
ok... let me see if I can fit one more in before tonight's International Thrills triple feature to end the fest. I've seen this next movie before but got a Blu of it during Fantastic Fest and have been looking for an excuse to revisit it ever since.
|11.10.14||Hardware||Richard Stanley||Yep, still love the fuck out of this movie.|
I don't think there was a movie that had more for the highschool version of me to like: post apocalypse, cybernetic hands, evil robuts, industrial music, blood and gore, hot redheads... Iggy Pop as the radio DJ... come on. Man...
It still works I think although sometimes you can see the budget... but still. The depth of the world, the unique quality of the style and design... the creativity of the whole thing is really impressive both for it's time and for today. If you look at a movie like Riddick which I think is pretty comparative, you get the CG stuff but where are the extreme close-ups of hurped-up sweaty lips and robut-vision nudity? And wipperly wopperly songs? Man... the love affair continues. What a great movie.
I can't wait to devour the special features on this as well. Richard Stanley's appearance at the fest proved to me that he is a fascinating storyteller and I'm sure there's a lot of stories on this disc. That will have to wait though... because tonight I'm going to try and end this fest with a bang.
|11.10.14||Razorback||Russell Mulcahy||And so we come to the last leg of the fest: International Thriller Night. A few years ago Fantastic Fest featured several Ozploitation movies in support of Mark Hartley's great doc Not Quite Hollywood. While I feel like I could do a whole weekend of Brian Trencard Smith movies that I haven't gotten around to seeing, I wanted to pick one from this country and I was shamed at this year's Fantastic Fest for having still not seen this. Thanks, Chris.|
Anyway, this movie is fantastic. Yes it's basically Jaws with a pig and yes the movie goes into full on slasher mode at the ending with the crazy pet food factory set lit entirely in blue but other than that this is a beautifully-shot tightly-paced horror movie with good make-up, wonderful scenery and decent performances. Really great work and it's no surprise that the director came out of music videos. It's not exactly realistic lighting but beautiful nonetheless and nobody gave Tony Scott shit for filtering the bejesus out of his movies so who cares.
Really good. I'm shamed all over again that it's been on my shelf for so long without me seeing it.
Next up we're going from Australia to France for another festival screening that I skipped because I'd just seen There Will Be Blood and didn't feel like fitting in one more movie.
|11.10.14||Inside||Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury||So this French horror movie is about a pregnant lady being terrorized by this other lady who wants that baby. For most of this movie I was hoping against some psychological twist toward the end. With stuff like Martyrs and Haute Tension I guess I've come to think of French horror movies as having to have something weird about them. While the realism in this movie did break down in the end I was happy that she wasn't fighting herself or some bullshit like that.|
But still... the one cop with the nightstick really ruined it for me. Everything else I bought with movie-logic but that was too much.
Aside from that though, I liked this one a lot. The make-up effects were great, the performances were nice, and they almost used enough blood.
And... now for the final film of the fest. This next one played a South By I didn't attend but heard about the minute it was over and felt bad for missing the screening immediately. I heard enough about it to download as soon as it was available but it's been sitting on my hard drive unwatched for several years now. I can think of no better way to end the fest. So for my International Thriller night I started off in Australia then went to France and now I will end the evening in Serbia.
|11.10.14||A Serbian Film||Srdjan Spasojevic||Well that was fun...|
I'm certainly glad I finally saw this. I had already heard about most of the shocking bits but it's still good to sit down and see the stuff in context. While there's some films I'll never do that with (The Brown Bunny, Nymphomaniac probably), this one I am. It reminds me a bit of a Breillat movie mixed with a Miike movie. The outrageousness is definitely there to draw a response but there's also a humor to it that I think, once I get over the shock, is very funny. I still don't understand exactly what the social commentary is, but I get that the producer guy is calling this art.
But still... oh and also I know this is wrong but hot damn the wife was hot. I'm not saying the brother was justified or whatever but... I'd take a bathroom trip as well if you know what I mean.
So there we have it. Somehow I managed to start the fest with Antichrist and end it with A Serbian Film. I feel like I should somehow thank Tim League for that. I didn't get to The Girl Next Door or whatever else ultra-disturbing movie I've managed not to see yet but oh well, there's always next year.
So another year down. I think what I learned from this is that I'm too old for excess. I had a grand plan to just binge all weekend both literally and figuratively but the junk food made me sick and I had a few other things on my plate which kept me from rolling from movie to movie like I hoped. In the end I threw in an extra day but still didn't top DVRfest 2, and poor Kwaidan got sacrificed to the aspect ratio gods until some future date. Next year, no matter how much time I have, I think I'll cap it to 15 movies and enjoy myself rather than feel this pressure to outdo myself. I just wound up falling asleep.
So here are the rough stats for this tenth year of my site. I've seen 18 movies in the past week, 33 in the past month, 221 in the past year, and 2701 total. That equals out to a weekly average of 2.57, a monthly average of 1.1, yearly avg of 0.61, and a total average of 0.74 movies a day. Remember when it was above 2? Those were the days. Let's see... some other notable stats: I've seen 15 Oliver Stone movies, 13 Werner Herzog films and 10 Coen brother movies (in 17 screenings). 643 Netflix movies, 337 at Alamo South Lamar, 262 from the DVR. 250 comedies, 246 dramas, and 229 docs.
And thus ends another DVRfest. I'm getting pretty close to ol' Petey Bogdanovich... although I have yet to make a Last Picture Show.