Quick Takes – 09.18.11

The Killing (1956)

Grade: A | 1st Viewing

We already reviewed this movie on this week’s podcast, but since I did not watch much this week outside of theatrical releases I thought I would include some additional thoughts. While I agree with most that The Killing is an excellent achievement, but does not quite match the best films in Kubrick’s oeuvre. You can see the emergence of his bleak outlook towards humanity especially in the final moments of the film. However, as I said on the podcast, this movie feels like a more sympathetic Kubrick than I had previously seen.

There is the Jay C. Flippen character who seems to have genuine compassion, potentially even love for his good friend played by Sterling Hayden. Kubrick seems to revere their relationship and have great sympathy for Flippen’s unrequited love. There is also the great Timothy Carey scene where his character is a generally kind person, but has to resort to racial epithets in order to prevent another character from getting involved with their heist scheme. The cinematography is also beautiful, which makes this film a must.

Straw Dogs (1971)

Grade: A | 1st Viewing

I am seeing Rod Lurie’s re-make today, but beforehand I thought I should see Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 original. Already I can predict what some of the major differences between the two will be considering what filmmakers are comfortable portraying today versus the general rawness of the 1970s. There are two particular scenes that are absolutely devastating in Sam Peckinpah’s that I doubt would be as gritty if portrayed today. The first is a brutal rape scene that is played out in a few long takes with only brief cuts away for psychological effect. Peckinpah inserts some Freud as he shows the victim imagining her husband while cutting away to the actual footage of her husband alone in a field. The whole scene is one of the most painful to watch that I have ever experienced.

Then there is the actual siege of Trencher’s Farm where Dustin Hoffman makes the transition from passive-aggressive American to all-out vigilante. The bleakness of the scene is present throughout because as an audience we are fully aware of what the man he is trying to defend has done. However, just like Hoffman’s character, we know that the violence is about a lot more than the man hidden in his farmhouse and there is sympathy for his character as a result.

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  • Jose

    The Lion King
    10+ viewing
    Yes, I was one of the many who attended the re-release.

    The Kid (1921)
    1st Viewing
    One of the sweetest movies I’ve ever seen. Someone needs to explain that dream sequence to me though.

  • 1. American Beuaty – A
    6th viewing
    an outstanding movie :)

    2. Heat – A-
    1st Viewing
    i liked it because it was different from other crime heist movies.

    3. Saving Private Ryan – A+
    2nd viewing
    intense and realistic war movie.

    4. Angles & Demons – C+
    10+ viewing
    i have no idea what on earth is so good in it that i watch it almost every month ;p

    5. Slumdog Millionare – B+
    5th viewing
    i still think it was slightly overrated.

  • How did you get a copy of the original Straw Dogs? The last time I checked it wasn’t available on Netflix. I would love to check it out sometime, since it’s an essential New Hollywood film.

  • Not an enormous fan of “The Killing”. It’s all right, I suppose, but I found the characters uninteresting. The plot itself was fascinating, though. I’d go with a B for that one.

    “Drive” (A-): Superb stuff. Ryan Gosling is the best actor working today, in my opinion. Mulligan is also Oscar-worthy, as is the direction.

    “Sunset Boulevard” (B): Won’t say much about this, since I’m reviewing it on the blog tomorrow. My main gripe has to do with Swanson’s performance, as well as the rather ridiculous ending.

    Might watch Mamet’s “House of Games” today, and since October is right around the corner I’m certainly going to tackle a few new horror films: including “Suspiria” and probably the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.

  • “Boogie Nights” (B+/A-; First Viewing): Strong breakout into the spotlight for P.T. Anderson. Crazy energetic style well suited to 70s/80s crossover subject matter. Startling at times, and it’s then that you see the Anderson people will remember.

    “Magnolia” (B+; First Viewing): Wildly ambitious and building towards a truly shocking and emotional conclusion, Anderson nonetheless buckles occasionally under the weight of his story and his own wild stylistic choices. Doesn’t display the discipline of his later flicks.

    “The Town” (B; Third Viewing): A well minded popcorn action film, while straightforward and simply, doesn’t keep itself from being involving.

    “Drive” (A-; Second Viewing): That’s right! I saw it twice in one weekend. Really wanted a closer look. Refn mindfully uses tools like focus, slow-mo, and saturation to boost the overall affect rather than overshadow it. Everyone brings something to the table that augments the script from being something simple and turns it into something absorbing and intoxicating.

  • Jose

    Brandon, the original Straw Dogs came to Blu-Ray last week.

  • @Brandon – My local library. I don’t share my love for the library enough. My local branches have made me seriously contemplating cancelling Netflix.

  • Cool, I didn’t know it had a blu-ray release.

    And I just came back from seeing Drive. Excellent movie. I would probably give it an A. Great performances, interesting characters, etc. One of the best action movies I’ve seen in a while.

  • Jose

    I feel left out for being the only one who didn’t see Drive this weekend.

  • Jose

    More films I saw last night

    Blue Valentine
    2nd Viewing
    Something I find interesting, if you see the film with only the stuff that take place in the present, then Dean comes off as the bad guy. With the flashbacks, this all looks as if it was Cindy’s fault.

    Becoming Jane
    1st Viewing
    This was one late last night after the Emmys on FOX instead of Elvira’s Movie Macabre like it usually is every sunday. I thought the chemistry between Hathaway and MacAvoy was hot, other than that the film wasn’t special.

    The Invisible
    1st Viewing
    Elvira, please have this movie on your show.

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