Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekly Round-Up (10/12/14 - 10/18/14)

Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) **1/2 - Akira isn't the only notable Japanese director with the last name of Kurosawa, as it turns out. This is my first foray into the filmography of Kiyoshi Kurosawa. This is a horror film about a series of murders that were committed by people under hypnosis by a mysterious young man. It is an intriguing premise, kind of reminds of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in a way. Koji Yakusho is as usual excellent in the lead role as the police detective. Despite all that, I found it way too much of a slow burn without real pay off. The intriguing premise and interesting ideas I felt never really reached their full potential within this film. Though Kurosawa is an intriguing director though. I will be checking out his other works.

Love Me Tonight (Rouben Mamoulian) **** - I think among the Maurice Chevalier musical comedies of the 1930's, this is by far my favorite. I loved this film. A lowly tailor barges into the chateau of an aristocratic family trying to find the wayward count who owes him a lot of money then finds himself unwittingly posing as a baron and falling in love with the princess. Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald make for an great on-screen couple. It's often laugh out loud funny (a lot of the jokes hold up well). The songs, courtesy of Rodgers & Hart, are consistently excellent (past old Pre-Code musicals are hit & miss in the songs department) and the direction is top-notch. I will be watching this again someday. "Isn't It Romantic?" is stuck in my head now, damn it.

The Book of Life (Jorge R. Gutierrez) *** - Guillermo del Toro helped produce this Mexican-themed animated feature and his fingerprints are all over it! The film, focusing on Mexico's Day of the Dead about a love triangle that goes beyond the grave is not a bad film. It's not a great film either. I hate damning it faint praise since it is gorgeous to look at and the animation is imaginative, very stylized in the most wonderful way plus the story had some potential. It has all the earmarks to make it great but it never quite achieves it. It is just very good. It's worth checking out but I'm not jumping up and down.

Whiplash (Damien Chazelle) **** - Whoah. This is an intense, exhilarating (just like the blurb in the posters say) film. An ambitious young jazz drummer gets tormented both physically, psychologically and emotionally by a brutal teacher who pushes him beyond his limits in order to realize his full potential and achieve greatness. What follows is not an emotional, feel-good inspiring tale (well, not-so-much) but a brutally honest examination of what it means to achieve one's ambitions. The buzz around JK Simmons' performance is well-earned, IMO (Mr. Holland from hell or the music teacher answer to R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket, take your pick) but something has to be said for Miles Tellers' impressive performance. He further planted his flag as one his generation's finest actors. Oh and great editing too. Damien Chazelle is definitely a talent to watch.

White Zombie (Victor Halperin) **1/2 - This is a Pre-code horror film/pre-George Romero zombie movie about an American (white) couple who goes and marries in the house of a friend who wants the girl and of course in his desperation, he asks Bela Lugosi to turn her into a zombie. There are some creepy moments here and Bela is great as the villain and the story has some potential but the two other leads are kind of bad (even in the context of early 1930's type acting) and the story potential was kind of wasted.

No comments: