Films That I Saw: May 2018

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.


 

May 1

Film: Pastoral: Hide and Seek

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: a surreal metaphorical (although not entirely autobiographical) trip through the director’s past that’s not as good as Jodorowsky but less obtuse than Lynch. It’s great if you’re into bizarre shit.

Grade: B


 

May. 2

Film: Roar

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: a strong contender for the craziest film in existence. One half intense horror, one half wacky kids adventure, all parts insane. James Franco eventually turning the making of this movie into one of his crazy art projects, is almost a forgone conclusion.

Grade: B


 

May. 3

Film: The Émile Cohl Animation Collection

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: Émile Cohl is one of the most important figures in animation, producing over one hundred animated shorts a decade before Winsor McCay created Gertie the Dinosaur. I watched all of his shorts.

Grade: N/A


 

May. 4

Film: The Road Movie

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: the second contender for the craziest film in existence. Comprised entirely of footage caught on dashboard cameras, this Russian documentary is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s almost hypnotic in it’s depiction of chaos.

Grade: B


 

May. 5

Film: Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: when it comes to Studio Ghibli, it’s Miyazaki and everyone else. And although this isn’t exactly a Ghibli production, it’s close enough to count. It has all the elements of a Miyazaki picture but is missing that element of magic that separates Miyazaki from everyone else.

Grade: C


 

May. 6

Film: Lowlife

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: a pretty good Tarantino inspired crime thriller that would’ve been more successful if it focused on the luchador, instead of having an anthology structure.

Grade: C+


 

May. 7

Film: Birdboy: The Forgotten Children

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: I have a soft spot for animated films that trick you into thinking they’re for kids, when in actuality, they’re depressing as fuck. Birdboy doesn’t have a scene as emotionally devastating as Grave of the Fireflies or When the Wind Blows but is as unrelentingly bleak as Watership Down. Not for kids.

Grade: B


 

May. 8

Film: Ursei Yatsuri 2: Beautiful Dreamer

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: I knew nothing about the show or previous film before watching this and even though I was lost for large chunks of it (I eventually caught up), I really dug the films unique premise.

Everyone on earth minus a handful of friends have all suddenly vanished without a trace. Can our hero figure out what caused it before they’re all erased as well? What’s causing the disappearances is unique and could easily be remade today. You’d just have to cut out the fact that the hero’s girlfriend is an alien that married him because he beat her at a game of tag. Anime is weird.

Grade: B


 

May. 9

Film: They Were Eleven

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: Agatha Christie in space! The Academy has set a test for ten of its applicants to survive on a spaceship for 2 months. But the cadets immediately realize there’s an eleventh member aboard. Is this a test or has a spy infiltrated the group? The insanely underrated Vlci Bouda (aka wolf’s hole) makes better use of the premise but They Were Eleven gets points for doing something original.

Grade: C+


 

May. 10

Film: A Jester’s Tale

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy from the director of the Outrageous Baron Munchausen and the Fabulous World of Jules Verne.

Grade: B+


 

May. 11

Film: Hello, My Name is Doris

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: a delightful romantic comedy about an older introvert trying to go out with a much younger extrovert. Sally Field imbues Doris with a believable warmth that melts away the unavoidable frustration you’ll have with the character. She’s a flawed human being. She’s not prefect, aggravatingly so but she never feels false and Field keeps her from becoming unlikable or unsympathetic.

Grade: C+


 

May. 12

Film: The Kissing Booth

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: this film fails on every conceivable level. The direction, the script, the acting, the pace. It’s beyond terrible and is the kind of film you resent the person who made you watch it.

Grade: F


May. 13

Film: My Twentieth Century

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: twin sisters are separated as children and by fate or circumstance, happen to fall in love with the same man, even though both lead drastically different lives. There’s also shit invoicing Edison or something.

Full disclosure: it made me fall asleep and I didn’t bother rewinding to see what I missed. I’ve had root canals that were more entertaining.

Grade: F


 

May. 14

Film: Barefoot Gen 2

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: a follow-up to one of the most intense animated films not involving tentacle rape. Nothing in this film Isn’t better explored in the first one. It doesn’t do anything to justify its existence.

Grade: C


 

May. 15

Film: Black Sun

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: Hugues de Montalembert, a French artist living in New York City in 1978, is viciously attacked by a group of thugs and is left permanently blinded. This doc is about what happens next narrated by Montalembert himself. While the film itself didn’t do much for me, his story is nevertheless affecting.

Grade: C


 

May. 16

Film: The Cruise

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: an  affectionate portrait of New York City filtered through the prism of a fast talking, tour bus driver cum philosopher Timothy “Speed” Levitch. You will know within five minutes whether this film is for you.

Grade: C


 

May. 17

Film: Beaches

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: a Lifetime movie with a great cast and a famous song that’s better than the film it’s in.

Grade: D+


 

May. 18

Film: Path of Blood

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: picture a show Cartman would watch on South Park but stretched to feature length and that’s Path of Blood. It’s hyper violent, ultra bloody and is comprised entirely out of paper cut outs. It’s Lotte Reiniger meets Zatoichi.

Grade: B


 

May. 19

Film: Sounds of Silence

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: a forgotten relic of the days of VHS, Sounds of Silence is a pretty good episode of Are you Afraid of the Dark? extended to 90 minutes.

Grade: C


 

May. 20

Film: Ninja Busters

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: Part of a wave of crazy ass films that were discovered and then saved from oblivion: Miami Connection, Massacre Mafia Style, The Astrologer Gone With The Pope, Jungle Trap and Dangerous Men, Ninja Busters is arguably the least well known of the group but is definitely the most entertaining. It’s legitimately funny and the last act is the most satisfying half hour of film I’ve seen this month.

Grade: C+


 

May. 21

Film: Batman Ninja

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: the plot is crazier than a shit house rat who’s constantly huffing acetone and I loved every second of it.

Grade: B+


 

May. 22

Film: Medusa

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: a retelling of the medusa myth set in modern day Greece. It bored me to tears.

Grade: F


 

May. 23

Film: Devil’s Express

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: it took me years to finally watch a good copy of this film. I bought it three times and even tried watching it on Amazon Prime but every copy was blurry beyond comprehension. That is, until the new Blu Ray came out. I can now finally see the titular devil the main character has to fight in the subway and if the fight lasted a good ten minutes longer, this would be one of the great hidden gems. But I’m still recommending it based on the fact that the main character is played by an actor named Warhawk Tanzania.

Warhawk. Tanzania.

Grade: C+


 

May. 24

Film: Game Night

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: the only complaint I have with this film, is it’s clunky 3rd act. The film was essentially over but then 20 more minutes gets tacked on for no reason. But other than that, it’s a really rock solid comedy.

Grade: A


 

May. 25

Film: Little Man Tate

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: Chris Evans starred in a very similarly themed film released last year called Gifted. It’s as forgettable as a film can be but I still enjoyed more than Little Man Tate.

Grade: D


 

May. 26

Film: Making Fun: The Story of Funko

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: 30 minutes of the history of Funko (a toy company you either love or hate) and then an hour of talking heads gushing about how much they love Funko. The various collections are the only interesting thing in the doc and the film barely shows them. For fanatics only.

Grade: D


 

May. 27

Film: The New Kids

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: Straw Dogs meets Home Alone but for the pre-teen crowd. It isn’t great but Spader is fantastic in it.

Grade: D+


 

May. 28

Film: Goodbye, 20th Century

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: starts off as a Robert Rodriguez-esque action movie and then takes a hard left turn into Jodorowsky surrealism. The title of the film is the key to unraveling its plot. It’s an analysis of the need for a destruction of false idols, icons, or illusions, most notably Jesus and Santa Claus. It doesn’t all work but it’s certainly unique.

Grade: C


 

May. 29

Film: The Creeping Garden

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: 90 minutes of various scientists and mold enthusiasts essentially saying, “slime molds are weird, yo” over and over again. Fascinating for about ten minutes but then gets repetitive.

Grade: D+


 

May. 30

Film: Demon Lover Diary

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: a behind the scenes look at the making of an independent horror film titled Demon Lover. Not as entertaining as American Movie but should be required viewing for anyone trying to make a no-budget film. Stories involve a guy cutting off his fingers for the insurance money to help finance the film and the cast and crew having to leave Ted Nuget’s house after he allegedly shoots at them. It’s fucking crazy.

Grade: C


 

May. 31

Film: Deadpool 2

Random Thoughts/Mini Review: I don’t understand why they keep limiting their comedic scope. You have a character who can break the fourth the wall and with the exception of some pop culture related shit and some sight gags, they don’t do anything visual with the concept. The premise allows for unlimited freedom but the writers and/or director refuse to leave the kiddie pool. It’s cliche, hardly funny, the plot is unfocused and most of the best gags are lifted from better films. The X-Force bits were great but at that point in the film, it was almost a case of too little, too late.

Deadpool is like a chocolate cake made by your significant other who can’t bake. You desperately want to love it because It’s made with passion and a need to please you but It’s far too short in some places, way too long in others and shouldn’t be served as an entreé.

Look for my actual review shortly.

Grade: C+