The Witch not of Halloween

This is the kind of Halloween movie I can get into.  I saw the trailer a couple months back, so was expecting it by the fall, but it’s not to be — we’ll have to wait until the end of February.  Perhaps because of the crowded field of horror films this fall.

It’s from A24, which is a good sign.

OH — and speaking of Halloween — the original Halloween (1978) is finally available via iTunes rental.  I’ve never seen it, so expect a report forth-with.  I saw a chunk on TV and became quite fascinated.

A Foreign Affliction: Ich Seh Ich Seh

Goodnight Mommy - poster

Ich Seh Ich Seh, marketed in English as Goodnight Mommy, is a captivating little Austrian psychological drama.  Though being marketed as a horror film, it is hardly anything of the sort.  It does a great job of throwing us in this intriguing world, a house set amongst nature.  Makes me want to visit Austria immediately!  And it does a good job building its story of two boys suspicious of their mother and her odd behavior.

But I don’t like it when a movie — in its final three minutes — yells out to the audience: “Ha Ha!  We got you!  We were lying the whole time!”  Oh yea, you got me.  Boy was I a fool to believe the entire movie up to that point.  Silly me.

Goodnight Mommy - text block215px-Uninvitedposter



And when the entire film is based on that lie, then the entire film collapses upon its revelation.  Something else – another lie, but a tiny white lie compared to the big one at the end: This film’s title is Ich Seh Ich Seh (English: I See I See).  Nowhere in the film is it titled Goodnight Mommy — so if you’re going to sell it like that, then put it in the movie.  Otherwise just translate the title, which is much more relevant to the film’s content.  A marginal thumbs-down because of the cop-out ending; 5/10

Comparison Notes (both recommended, and both much better than Ich Seh Ich Seh): Secret Window, The Uninvited

Film Brief: Sicario

Sicario - poster smallLeading contender for worst movie of the year.  Too bad, because I very much like Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Sunshine Cleaning) and Josh Brolin (Oldboy).  1/10

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PS For the way it really happens, try this on for size: “Raid on U.S.-Mexico drug tunnel: 22 arrests, at least 12 tons of pot seized”.  Not just (SPOILER ALERT!) blowing everybody away.  Reality, as compared to Sicario, aka El Stupido.

Funny coincidence that I happened across that article the same night I saw this movie, looking at the LA Times, which I rarely do, for news on Hillary and politics post-Congressional grilling.

Sicario - text block

VOD Log: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

The Three Burials - poster

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estradadirected by and starring Tommy Lee Jones, is a story of redemption, which itself was redeemed by the end.  Which is to say most of it is not terribly robust.  A mild recommendation, with all the normal caveats in place.  6/10

Availability: iTunes rental

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A Note on Home Viewing

I think that this movie would have had a greater impact on me had I seen it in the theater, perhaps even enough for a higher rating, which brings up a point I wanted to make about seeing movies in the theater versus at home.  Certain critics out there have a rating system which goes something like “Very Good, see in the theater”; “Good, but not great — wait and see it at home”, and “Don’t bother.”  A nice, simple, direct rating scale.  But a film will  have more impact in the theater than at home.  Even under the most ideal circumstances, there will likely be an interruption or two while watching at home — something that doesn’t happen in the theater.  In this case, I admit there were several interruptions, which served to weaken the impression Three Burials made on me.  So if anything, it should be “Good, but not great — make sure to see in theater because if you don’t there’s no point in bothering later.”  The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada — and many, many other borderline films fall in this category.

Point being, to say “This movie is good, but not good enough to see in the theater” is contrary to logic in my experience.  I understand this is said as a recommendation for someone not to spend as much money to watch a film of lesser quality, but in light of the quantity and higher-than-ever quality of original TV programming and selections available via VOD, this type of recommendation doesn’t hold water.  A movie that isn’t worth seeing in the theater isn’t worth seeing period.

VOD Log: An Honest Liar

An Honest Liar - poster

I felt An Honest Liar was good, compelling, and very interesting; ninety-five percent of what you want from a documentary.  But I knock it down a peg because the promise of The Amazing Randi as himself some sort of profound contradiction, or deception, went unfulfilled as far as I was concerned.  Still, recommended — and I like the title — it reminds me of The Unknown Known.  7/10

Availability: Netflix

The Walk: A Dream Come True

The Walk - poster

A breathtaking film that brought me to tears.

A rare matinee viewing on an insufferably hot day: the best movie of the year

I don’t really need to say more than that, but a couple notes.  First, this is movie magic.  I think Robert Zemeckis was inspired by this story, because he instilled in The Walk the same type of giddy wonder that he rendered way back when with Forrest Gump.

And the visuals — ahhh, the visuals.  There’s some vertigo in this film.  Just a tad.  I don’t know how well the film will convert to home viewing, but I strongly recommend seeing it on the big screen.  I suppose watching in 3D is the default here, and that’s how I experienced it, but I’m not sure it’s necessary, oddly enough.  But try to see it in the theater.

One final note.  I had seen the documentary (Man on Wire) a few years ago — but there is no comparison.  Familiarity with the story will not diminish your experience with The Walk in the slightest.  That’s because Zemeckis has so expertly crafted his movie, bringing to it all the wonder that Hollywood can muster when set on a divine purpose.  So often great true stories are botched: look no further than Everest or Black Mass.  Thank goodness, not here.  Zemeckis does this story justice, in only the way a movie can.  Best of the year so far.  9/10

PS I’m thinking about sneaking in the theater just to watch the final 30 minutes again.  Don’t tell the authorities!

Art and Craft on PBS POV

Art and Craft movie - poster

Wanted to point out this interesting documentary about Mark Landis, a quirky and talented art forger.  A few (not all) of the twists in this one: first, he gave away his forgeries to museums.  He never sought financial gain.  Secondly, this Landis is quite a character.  He has some mental health issues and is something of a hoarder, but then he goes out and hoodwinks intelligent people, sometimes in the guise of a priest.  Clever man, fascinating and contradictory.

And then there’s the museum worker who made tracking Landis down his obsession — much to his own detriment.  This is a fun little film.  I missed the first few minutes, and didn’t realize at first it was a full-length feature, so no rating — but I recommend it.

Art and Craft had a limited theatrical release, and is now available online via the PBS POV website and VOD app (site states available until Oct. 25); also available for rent on iTunes and other sources.