Films That I Saw is a self explanatory monthly column dedicated to cataloging each and every film I saw within that month. Each film will be given a grade and a mini review.
You can find previous catalogs here.
Film: The Fate of the Furious
Random thoughts/mini review: The Fast and the Furious is a series that inexplicably got better with each entry. Once they added the Rock and moved away from street racing, it slowly evolved into a superhero series and I would argue, that’s when it became great. But the franchise ended with the death of Paul Walker. The seventh film is a beautiful send off to not only the franchise but the actor and character. And this film pisses all over it. They had the perfect ending and they fucking blew it.
Film: Velvet Buzzsaw
Random thoughts/mini review: This film feels like an entire season of American Horror Story condensed into a single film. The horror is never scary, there’s far too many sub plots and the tone is all over the place. I’m starting to suspect Nightcrawler was an accident.
Film: Ant-man and the Wasp
Random thoughts/mini review: While never dipping into unwatchable, this is easily among the worst of the MCU. The action is forgettable, the main antagonist is super lame and the entire thing feels half assed. Ant-man’s entire motivation is to not break house arrest. That’s how low the stakes are.
Film: Street Smart
Random thoughts/mini review: The only reason Christopher Reeve agreed to do Superman IV was to get this film made. He purposefully signed on to do the worst film in his career to make one of his best. Reeve is pretty good as a journalist who’s fictitious article about a non existent pimp gets him in trouble with the FBI, as well as an actual pimp played by Morgan Freeman. The plot gets wrapped up a little too conveniently but it’s still worth a watch for Freeman’s yoohoo obsessed pimp.
Random thoughts/mini review: Man, I don’t think any actor has earned their paycheck as much as Hardy does in this. If this film was better, he’d be in the conversation of best comic book movie performances. He is doing everything he can to elevate the material and the film is watchable for his performance alone. It really should’ve been rated R though.
Film: Short Time
Random thoughts/mini review: I found this film on cable and thought “Dabney Coleman stars as a cop who, due to a mix up at the doctor’s office, thinks he’s dying and learns that his life insurance pays out more if he dies in the line of duty, he tries to make that happen. I love Dabney Coleman and that premise sounds hilarious. Sign me up!” Yeah, there’s a reason you’ve never heard of this film. When it’s not dumb, it’s boring and when it’s not boring, it’s not funny.
Film: Silent Rage
Random thoughts/mini review: This film is essentially Chuck Norris vs Michael Myers. If you aren’t excited by that description, this film isn’t for you.
Film: Short Time
Random thoughts/mini review: Based on a Miguel Pinero play, Short Eyes is, for the most part, a one location prison drama about a child molester and another inmates struggle with what to do with him. In any other film, the child molester would be the main character and the plot would keep whether or not he’s guilty a mystery but this film chooses to instead focus on the other inmates and their day to day life so that the viewer gets a better understanding of why some of them choose to try and help him, to rape him or kill him. It’s a fantastic character study with a bravura performance by Bruce Davidson.
This is my pick of the month.
Film: White Line Fever
Random thoughts/mini review: One of the best examples of hixploitation, White Line Fever is about a truck driver who decides to fight corruption by driving his big rig through buildings or popping sonsabitches in the head with his shotgun. It’s the perfect movie to put on when you got your drinking buddies over.
Film: Original Gangstas
Random thoughts/mini review: Blaxploitation only really worked from 72-76. After that, the stars pretty much became mainstream and Hollywood had changed. So a film reuniting the big stars of the genre in 1996, is already 20 years too late. That, coupled with a terrible script, bad acting and some of the worst directing of Larry Cohen‘s career, make Original Gangstas Un-Original Garbage.
Random thoughts/mini review: What if I told you that Walter Hill remade the Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Bill Paxton and William Sadler and instead of Mexican banditos, he cast Ice-T and Ice Cube as some killer gangsters? Still not sold? What about a script by the duo who wrote Used Cars, Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Still not sold, eh? Well, fuck off. If that doesn’t make you hard, your dick is broke and I ain’t got no time for no broke dick motherfuckers.
Film: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Random thoughts/mini review: The progenitor of the horror comedy and is still one of the genres best entries. My only complaint is that the Wolfman’s make-up is a bit shabby and that Lon Chaney Jr doesn’t get enough to do. But with that said, the comedy still holds up and I could see this scaring a kid back in the day.
Film: Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
Random thoughts/mini review: Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood is a documentary about Scotty Bowers, a World War II vet who is now considered an icon of sorts in the gay world, for his sexual proclivities in the 40s and 50s as a glorified procurer of Hollywood gay celebrities. He fucked em all and now he’s talking about it in glorious detail. He has a story about every celebrity you can think of from the golden age of Hollywood but when the documentary isn’t about the past and deals with Scotty now, it’s a whole hell of a lot less fun.
Film: The Gauntlet
Random thoughts/mini review: The first official action movie directed by Clint Eastwood (I have no idea how to categorize the Eiger Sanction), the Gauntlet is a pretty solid action flick that delivers on its premise: a cop is assigned to escort a prostitute into custody so that she can testify in a mob trial, while every cop from Las Vegas to Phoenix will try and stop them.
Film: The Lost Arcade
Random thoughts/mini review: The story of Chinatown Fair, the legendary arcade located in the heart of New York’s Chinatown. The Lost Arcade is a documentary that explores how the arcade became a shelter to a community of people who had nowhere else to go. It runs a little long at 90 minutes (there’s only about 30 minutes worth of story here) but it’s worth it for fans of old school arcades and anything to do with downtown NY.
Random thoughts/mini review: Remember Death Wish? How about the Punisher? Or what about Death Sentence with Kevin Bacon? The Brave One with Jodie Foster? Death Kiss with the Charlie Bronson lookalike? Or the three sequels of Death Wish? Vigilante? Peppermint is exactly like those but worse.
Film: Raw Meat
Random thoughts/mini review: Subways are one of the scariest locations on earth and are perfect settings for horror films but for some reason, very little films take advantage of the locale. Kontroll, Mimic and End of the Line are a couple of good examples. Raw Meat however, is not. There’s a cannibal who lives in the subway and occasionally kills people with a shovel and Donald Pleasance sasses every suspect he encounters. That’s the entire film.
Film: Oscar Nominated Short Film Collection
- Madame tutli putli
Dimensions of dialogue
The black dog
The flying books of mr morris lessmore
The mysterious explorations of jasper morello
Film: Oscar Nominated Short Film Collection
- The Cat Concerto
Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase
Film: Oscar Nominated Short Film Collection
- The Sand Castle
Tyll the Giant
Out of Sight
The Moon and Son: an imagined conversation
Film: Celebrating Mickey: 12 Mickey Mouse Shorts
- Steamboat Willie
The Band Concert
Thru the Mirror
The Brave Little Tailor
The Little Whirlwind
Mickeys Birthday Party
The Simple Things
Get a Horse!
Film: I Am a Hero
Random thoughts/mini review: There are few things as stale as a zombie movie. Only a handful of directors since Romero have done anything new or original with the undead, with Train to Busan being the last. Based on the successful manga of the same name, I Am a Hero is a zombie film that doesn’t reinvent the wheel but what it does, it does extremely well. It also might have the bloodiest finale since Dead Alive.
Film: Alita: Battle Angel
Random thoughts/mini review: Like William Dhalgren said in his review, the film would’ve worked better if they cut the romantic sub plot, removed a couple of characters, focused more on the relationship between Alita and Christoph Waltz and fixed the third act. It’s not bad but just messy.
Film: Raising Cane
Random thoughts/mini review: If Brian De Palma was a type of cheese, he’d be Velveeta. An acquired taste that works best when masked behind other flavors, I.E., when he isn’t the sole writer. Raising Cane is like taking a big ol’ bite of Velveeta with nothing to chase it down with. It’s so goddamn cheesy, it’s almost a fucking parody. Lithgow is amazing but the film is too ridiculous to take serious.
Film: Anna and the Apocalypse
Random thoughts/mini review: Imagine a two part episode of Glee dedicated to Shaun of the Dead but written during a writer’s strike. That’s this film. The songs aren’t bad but they’re not memorable, the characters are almost all annoying and unlikable and it doesn’t do anything interesting with its premise. It’s nothing but wasted potential.
Film: All the Money in the World
Random thoughts/mini review: Thank god Ridley Scott decided to recast the Kevin Spacey role instead of shelving the film because Christopher Plummer is far and away the best part of this movie. The editing is terrible (best example: Michelle Williams picks up her kid from Morocco and in the very next scene calls up Getty to tell him he was kidnapped. It feels like whole scenes are missing from the film), the characters are one dimensional and the marketing ruined the only interesting element of the film. Plummer is the only reason to see this film and he more than earned his Oscar nom. He out acts everyone in this film.
Film: I, Daniel Blake
Random thoughts/mini review: Eschewing the rah rah man vs the machine inspirational narrative of a Frank Capra film, to instead, depict a far more insidious Kafkaesque horror story, I, Daniel Blake is the story of one man getting relentlessly fucked by a system designed to help him. After a heart attack, all Daniel Blake wants to do is go back to work but due to an astronomical amount of red tape, he finds that almost impossible. On his journey, he befriends an almost destitute, single mother and the two bond over similar circumstances. I, Daniel Blake is a fantastic little film about the people the world continuously fucks over and how they try and deal with it. Highly recommended.
Film: The Sisters Brothers
Random thoughts/mini review: The Sisters Brothers is an occasionally humorous, sometimes action packed western that feels far too aimless. The performances are all fantastic but I never felt engaged or emotionally invested in the story. I just kept watching hoping it would get good but it stayed consistently ok throughout.