Il Sorpasso (1962; first-time watch) — Bruno is an unbearable asshole. He’s a self-centered mooch who constantly ticks off, endangers, robs from, or otherwise makes the world a worse place for everyone around him (and especially for the audience who has to sit through this endurance test of a movie) Roberto is a law student without any hint of a backbone, so naturally Bruno walks all over him. They meet when Bruno, inconsiderate as usual, is running a couple of hours late and decides that it might be a good idea to call the people he’s supposed to meet. He uses Roberto’s phone, and then he uses Roberto’s money and time and patience. Bruno, ignoring Roberto’s protests, drags him away from his studies to get a quick bite to eat, which turns into a two-day road trip. And the movie is so unpleasant, that it almost feels like we’re experiencing every second of those two days.
Angel Face (1953; first-time watch) — Frank (Robert Mitchum) is an ambulance driver. He’s called to the house of a wealthy family in response to a woman who was nearly killed by a gas leak. While there, he meets the woman’s stepdaughter, Diane (Jean Simmons), and he’s instantly attracted to her. Despite already having a serious girlfriend, Frank lets himself get involved with Diane and soon finds that he’s in much deeper than he expected. It’s a decent noir film that’s often funny and has a heck of an ending.
Mimosas (2016; first-time watch) — An old Sheikh is at the end of his life and wants to be buried with his ancestors. The problem is that there’s a mountain range between him and the city where his ancestors are buried, so he sets off in a caravan through the mountains. He dies soon into the journey, and most of the people in the caravan decide not to continue with the journey. Instead, two people (Ahmed and Saïd) agree to take the body on, and they’re joined by a young, inexperienced, and possibly mildly retarded holy man (Shakib) who has been sent to accompany the body. It’s a good film if you’re on board with its deliberate pacing, but it does get frustratingly cryptic near the end. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/03/mimosas/.
Serenity (2005; rewatch) — Picking up where Firefly left off, the crew of the Serenity finds themselves in the crosshairs of the Alliance. We learn more about River (Summer Glau), how Simon (Sean Maher) rescued her from a secret government facility for brainwashing and enhancing her psychic abilities, and how they’re concerned that she knows things she shouldn’t. They’ve sent an assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to kill her, but Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and the rest of the crew (including Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, and Jewel Staite) might have something to say about that. It’s an amazing and fitting conclusion to the television series that was canceled before it really got a chance for it to get the following it deserves.
The Last American Hero (1973; first-time watch) — Elroy Jackson (Art Lund) makes moonshine. His son Wayne (Gary Busey) helps him make it, and his son Junior (Jeff Bridges) delivers it. Junior is an incredible driver with a particular talent for eluding the police, but they always know it’s him. One day he goes too far and, in retaliation, the police arrest Elroy and destroy the still. To help pay the lawyer and make sure that his dad’s jail time is as pleasant as possible, Junior starts racing professionally. First, on a small-time track (run by Ned Beatty), but soon upgrades to a bigger circuit with the likes of William Smith, Ed Lauter, and Lane Smith. It starts out feeling like White Lightning (also released in 1973), then morphs into Fast Company.
Catfight (2016; first-time watch) — At a party celebrating her husband’s new government contract, Veronica (Sandra Oh) has too much to drink and isn’t very pleasant when she runs into her old friend, Ashley (Anne Heche), tending bar. Things escalate quickly, and they end up having a knock-down, drag-out fight in the stairwell that leaves Veronica in a coma for two years. During that time, Veronica’s loses everything, while Ashley’s art career takes off, and she and her partner Lisa (Alicia Silverstone) prepare to have a baby together. When Veronica wakes up, she must come to terms with her new life, and then she wants revenge. It’s hard to adequately describe the film succinctly, but I suppose you can think of it as While You Were Sleeping meets Idiocracy inside a Road Runner and Coyote cartoon. It’s funny and far more violent than its name would imply. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/05/catfight/.
Forrest Gump (1994; rewatch) — Forrest Gump is a simpleton (adult version played by Tom Hanks) who keeps falling into highly unlikely circumstances that lead him to experience many of the major events of the second half of the 20th century, including meeting three presidents, going to war, striking it rich, and running across the country. His best friend Jenny (Robin Wright) experiences things differently, but their lives keep intersecting. Also featuring Sally Field, Mykelti Williamson, and Gary Sinise, it’s a film that probably earned too much acclaim when it was released, but Master Pancake Theater does a great job of taking it down a peg.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986; rewatch) — Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is visiting a friend (Wang Chi, played by Dennis Dun) in Chinatown when they find themselves caught in the middle of a Chinese gang war. One side, led by David Lo Pan (James Hong), has mystical powers and needs to find a girl with green eyes to be Lo Pan’s bride. It just so happens that Wang Chi’s girlfriend Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) has green eyes, and so does Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), a lawyer who also gets caught up in the matter. Lo Pan kidnaps Yin and Law, and Burton and Chi need to rescue them. It’s fun and funny, and Russell’s role is definitely not that of the traditional tough guy hero.
Overboard (1987; rewatch) — Joanna (Goldie Hawn) is rich enough that she doesn’t have to care about what other people think. People like Dean (Kurt Russell), who she’s hired to remodel the closet on her yacht, and who she stiffs on the bill because he didn’t do the job to specifications that she never gave him. But shortly after leaving port, Joanna falls overboard and loses her memory. Dean sees the story on the news and convinces the authorities that she’s his wife. He’s going to make her take care of him and his four children for a month to pay off what she owes him for the closet, but then things get complicated. Also featuring Edward Herrmann, Mike Hagerty, Roddy McDowall, and Katherine Helmond, the movie is so funny that it’s easy to overlook the obvious moral problems and just take it for the purely enjoyable experience that it is.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974; rewatch) — Four men (Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, and Earl Hindman) hijack a New York City subway. Communicating with transit police officer Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau), they demand one million dollars for the release of the hostages. It’s a stupid plan, since there doesn’t seem to be any possible way they can escape, but they’ve demonstrated their willingness to kill and their ability to come up with creative solutions to problems. Also featuring Jerry Stiller and Doris Roberts, it’s an incredible heist film, a great Matthau performance, and a terrific ending.
Hardcore (1979; first-time watch) — Jake VanDorn (George C. Scott) is a devout Calvinist, just like his daughter Kristen (Ilah Davis). When the youth from their church take a trip to a convention, Kristen goes missing. Jake hires a private detective (Peter Boyle) to find her, and he’s able to locate a pornographic film that features her. Jake must enter a world that he knows nothing about and detests in an attempt to find her. It’s Paul Schrader’s follow-up to Taxi Driver, and it’s even darker and more disturbing but undeniably good.
I, Daniel Blake (2016; first-time watch) — Daniel (Dave Johns) is a carpenter who’s out of work after a heart attack. He had been on the British equivalent of workers’ compensation, but a bureaucratic mix-up caused him to lose that when the government says he’s fit to work but his doctors say that he isn’t. Daniel meets Katie (Hayley Squires), a single mom who’s new to the area, is also have a very hard time making ends meet, and is also not finding the government to be very helpful. Daniel tries to help her and her kids out while they both keep trying for government assistance. It’s full of bleakness and anxiety, but it’s very good. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/07/i-daniel-blake/.
Ringu (1988; rewatch) — A reporter learns of a mysterious cursed VHS tape. As soon as you watch it, you’ll get a phone call saying that you have one week to live. She tracks down a copy and watches it, and then her ex-husband watches it. Together, they research the tape in the hope of discovering its origin, lifting the curse, and saving their lives. It’s the original Japanese film that inspired The Ring, and it’s just plain better than the American version. It proceeds slowly at times, but it maintains tension throughout.
Galaxy Quest (1999; rewatch) — Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) was the star of Galaxy Quest, a Star Trek-like television show that also featured characters played by Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, and Daryl Mitchell. The show has been off the air for years, but they still attend conventions and make appearances. A race of aliens (featuring characters played by Enrico Colantoni and Missi Pyle) has been receiving the television signals for years, believes them to be real, and has created a real working version of the spaceship. When the aliens are under attack, they turn to the actors they believe to be the real crew for help. It’s very funny, making fun of those kinds of television shows while also being respectful toward them and their fans.
The Witches (1967; first-time watch) — An anthology of five short films, all starring Silvana Mangano, wife of producer Dino De Laurentiis. An overlong sequence involving an actress at a mountain resort. A very short sequence with a woman taking an injured man to a hospital. A funny segment about a father and son looking for a new wife/mother. Another very short sequence in which a woman sets up many people for death. And a slow segment with Clint Eastwood as a husband who’s lost that loving feeling. There are good parts, but as a whole, it’s kind of meh.
The Mummy (2017; first-time watch) — A pair of soldiers (Tom Cruise and Jake Johnson) use their station in the Middle East to steal antiquities and sell them on the black market. They come across a tomb in the middle of Iraq that contains an Egyptian princess who was killed for trying to summon the god of death. Through a series of highly unlikely and non-believable events, Tom Cruise and the mummy end up in the UK, which just happens to be where the items needed to complete the summoning are located. It’s an absolutely terrible film, and not just because it features Russell Crowe as Jekyll and Hyde. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/09/the-mummy-2017/.
Detour (1945; first-time watch) — While hitchhiking across the country, Al (Tom Neal) catches a ride with Charles (Edmund MacDonald). It’s a long trip, and Al drives part of the time. While Al is driving, Charles dies, and Al is convinced that he’s going to be blamed for it. He ditches the body, and with the help of Vera (Ann Savage), hatches a plan to pretend to be Charles so that they can sell the car without arousing the suspicion that would be associated with just abandoning it. It’s a very good film, even if the premise seems rather thin and the final sequence feels tacked on just to comply with the production code.
It Comes at Night (2017; first-time watch) — The world has been overtaken by a mysterious illness. Paul (Joel Edgerton) lives in a house in the woods with his wife Saray (Carmen Ejogo) and son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), where they’re trying to ride it out and go unnoticed by the rest of the world. But that last part doesn’t work so well when Will (Christopher Abbott) shows up looking for water and supplies for his family. Fearing that he might come back with reinforcements, they hesitantly invite Will to move in with them, along with his wife Kim (Riley Keough) and toddler Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner). It’s a crappy slow-burn horror with no payoff and no emotional involvement with any of the characters. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/10/it-comes-at-night/.
A Quiet Passion (2016; first-time watch) — Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon) loves writing, and especially writing poetry. She is so committed to it that she gets up at three a.m. to do it while she has the house to herself. She’s also a very principled woman who sticks to her guns regardless of what others think of her, which probably explains why she’s single. But as she struggles to get people to read her poetry, she also struggles with Bright’s Disease, a disorder of the kidneys. There are things to admire about the film, but it is ultimately a period costume drama that is every bit as mind-numbingly boring as just about every other period costume drama ever made.
Split Screen (1997–2000; first-time watch) — In 1997, John and Janet Pierson created a television program that is a kind of video magazine intended to showcase the works of independent filmmakers. It originally aired on the IFC channel but is now available via the FilmStruck streaming service, and the Piersons presented a selection of thoroughly interesting content from their show.
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016; first-time watch) — In 2008, when most of the giant banks were getting slaps on the risk for engaging in illegal and dangerous behavior involving mortgage loans, the government turned to the tiny Abacus Federal Savings Bank to use as a scapegoat. The Abacus bank had caught one of their loan officers stealing money from clients. They fired the responsible party on the spot and reported it to the proper authorities, and for their trouble ended up as the only financial institution to be taken to court. This documentary covers a very interesting case, although it does present things in a very one-sided manner and muddies the water with arguments that don’t really pertain to their guilt or innocence. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/12/abacus-small-enough-to-jail/.
Predator (1987; rewatch) — When a government official goes missing on the wrong side of the wrong border, a secret elite team of soldiers (including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, Shane Black, and others) goes into the jungle after them. But they find that while they’re hunting for their man and the people who might have taken him, they are themselves the prey for some mysterious creature. It’s a fun action movie that oozes with machismo and is full of quotable lines.
The Night Caller (aka Fear Over the City; 1975; first-time watch) — A serial killer who goes by the name of Minos (Adalberto Maria Merli) is tormenting his victims with phone calls before he kills them. Letellier (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is the detective in charge of the investigation, and he’s determined to do whatever it takes to catch him. Even if that means putting himself or the public at risk. It’s got a couple of slow points, but it really pays off with some big action sequences.
This House Possessed (1981; first-time watch) — Gary (Parker Stevenson) is a wildly popular folk singer who’s been touring so hard that he finally collapsed from exhaustion. Sheila (Lisa Eilbacher) is his nurse at the hospital, but he hires her to be a live-in nurse for him when he is released but is still under orders to take things easy. He also needs a house, so he buys one. It’s a smart house with a lot of automation, but it’s also possessed. Also featuring Slim Pickens and Joan Bennett, with bit parts for Barry Corbin, David Paymer, Amanda Wyss, and Philip Baker Hall. Although my preferred “automated house with a mind of its own” horror movie is still Demon Seed, this one is also fun and is more likely to get a song stuck in your head.
Last Men in Aleppo (2017; first-time watch) — In the midst of a civil war, Aleppo (Syria’s largest city) is under heavy attack from government forces supported by the Russian military. The city is bombed repeatedly and relentlessly, without regard for civilian casualties. A group of men called The White Helmets have taken it upon themselves to be a search and rescue team to dig out and recover survivors, dead bodies, and parts of dead bodies from the rubble that remains after a bombing. It’s a very good documentary, but one that is very difficult to watch. You’ll see more than your share of dead children and severed limbs. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/14/last-men-in-aleppo/.
The Stepfather (1987; rewatch) — After killing his previous family and taking on a new identity, Jerry Blake (Terry O’Quinn) marries Susan (Shelley Hack) and becomes the stepfather to her daughter Stephanie (Jill Schoelen). Stephanie doesn’t like him and begins to suspect what he might have done in his past life, but he’s ready to do it again and move on to a new family. It’s a thoroughly entertaining film with a good amount of tension in all the right places.
Mechanical Violator Hakaider (1995; first-time watch) — Jesus Town is a place with no crime. That’s because it’s run by an angelic creature named Girjev who will implant a chip inside the brain of anyone he thinks might disobey him. He’s also got an army of enforcers and an ultra-powerful cyborg to help keep everything in line. But Hakaider is also an ultra-powerful cyborg, and he’s got a bad history with Girjev. Hakaider is coming to clean up Jesus Town. It feels surprisingly long for such a short movie (55 minutes), Hakaider doesn’t seem to encounter much difficulty on his quest, and there are an inexplicably large number of feathers, but it’s got some enjoyable moments.
Mafioso (1962; first-time watch) — Antonio “Nino” Badalamenti lives in Milan, but he’s taking his wife and children on vacation to visit his relatives in his Sicilian homeland. He instantly feels right at home, but his wife is very much a fish out of water in a very funny Ellen Griswold sort of way. His boss in Milan asked Nino to deliver a package to Don Vincenzo, a very powerful and respected man (with obvious ties to the mafia) in Sicily. Nino soon finds himself faced with an offer he can’t refuse. Hilarious at the beginning, serious at the end, and terrific throughout.
The Blue Dahlia (1946; first-time watch) — Johnny (Alan Ladd) has just come home from the war. He goes straight home to his wife, only to find that she’s having a party and it sure seems like she’s been cheating on him. He gets upset, the party ends, and he leaves. Later that night, his wife ends up dead, and he’s the primary suspect. We know he’s innocent, but not which of the other suspects might have done it. It’s a fun, alcohol-fueled whodunit and a noir classic.
Black Orpheus (1959; first-time watch) — Eurydice has just arrived in Rio de Janeiro to visit her cousin Serafina, and to try to evade a mysterious person who’s trying to kill her. It’s Carnival, so the city is absolutely crazy. Eurydice catches a ride on a trolley and draws the attention of the conductor, Orfeo. But Orfeo is betrothed to Mira, and she’s very jealous. It’s based on the classic Greek tale, but thanks to Carnival, every advancement of the plot is accompanied by at least ten minutes of dancing, which really interferes with your ability to enjoy the film to its fullest.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969; rewatch) — Butch (Paul Newman) is the leader of the Hole in the Wall Gang, an infamous group of robbers. After robbing the Union Pacific railroad one too many times, Butch and his best friend Sundance (Robert Redford) find themselves being pursued by an all-star group of lawmen. After finally giving them the slip, they decide to head to Bolivia, which Butch heard is flush with minerals. It’s a classic western heist movie with a great script, great acting, and an extremely likable pair of stars.
Stalker (1979; first-time watch) — The Zone is full of dangerous traps and general weirdness, but it’s also got The Room, which is said to be able to grant anyone’s true wish. Only special people, called stalkers, have the ability to navigate The Zone and get people to The Room, and this film takes us on one such trek with a writer and a professor. Although it’s undoubtedly a classic work of Soviet film, its three-hour runtime is far longer than it needs to be, and it never really does anything to demonstrate the dangers (or really even the veracity) of The Zone.
Salon Mexico (1949; first-time watch) — Mercedes Gómez works at a dance hall, entertaining men and doing whatever she can (legally and otherwise) to earn enough money to help put her younger sister Beatriz through boarding school. After winning a dance contest, her gangster partner Paco refused to give her any of the winnings, so she stole it from him while he slept. This upset Paco very much, but it also drew the attention of local police officer Lupe, who learned why she took the money and felt tremendous respect for the sacrifices she was willing to make for her sister. It’s a wonderful film that is as tragic as it is engaging.
In Cold Blood (1967; rewatch) — While in prison, Dick (Scott Wilson) heard about a rural Kansas farmhouse with a safe full of cash. He and Perry (Robert Blake) decide to steal the money, but it doesn’t go off as they had planned. The family ends up dead, and Dick and Perry are on the run from the cops. It’s a tense, gripping, and exquisitely filmed version of Truman Capote’s book based on real-life events.
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999; first-time watch) — Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) loves birds and samurai stuff. When he was younger, a mobster named Louie (John Tormey) helped him out, and Ghost Dog felt indebted to him. Since then, he’s become a master assassin. Now, another mobster has been messing around with Louise (Tricia Vessey), the daughter of the big boss, Ray (Henry Silva). Ray tells Louie to take out the thug, and Ghost Dog handles it. But since the guy was also a mobster, they couldn’t let his murder go unpunished, and now Ghost Dog has become the scapegoat. It’s surprisingly good for a rap-infused modern samurai tale, but then again it’s directed by Jim Jarmusch, so maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise after all.
The Uncanny (1977; first-time watch) — An author (Peter Cushing) has written a book warning of the dangers of cats and is trying to sell it to a publisher (Ray Milland), and tells three cautionary tales. A wealthy old woman is killed just after changing her will, and her horde of cats make sure the guilty parties don’t get away. A recently orphaned little girl (Katrina Holden Bronson, daughter of Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland) turns to witchcraft after her jealous cousin tries to get her aunt and uncle to take her cat away. An actor (Donald Pleasence) kills his wife in an on-set “accident” and immediately convinces the producer (John Vernon) to re-cast his girlfriend (Samantha Eggar), but didn’t count on his wife’s cat seeking revenge. It’s very over the top and makes for the best kind of bad movie.
[REC] (2007; rewatch) — While a TV crew films a night in the life of a firefighter, a call to help an old woman in trouble turns deadly. An infection has broken out, and everyone is quarantined in the building while each person who gets bitten goes crazy and becomes extremely violent. It’s an intense Spanish zombie horror that is not only great, but also manages to be great while also telling the story through found footage.
Paper Moon (1973; rewatch) — Addie (Tatum O’Neal) has just lost her mom. Moses (Ryan O’Neal) is a grifter who shows up at the funeral because he knew the deceased (and may well have been Addie’s father) and finds himself tasked with delivering her to her relatives in another state. Addie is a natural at separating people from their money, and Moses begins to soften in his opinion of her. It’s a wonderful comedy that’s reminiscent of classic films and has become a classic in its own right.
Warriors of the Wasteland (aka The New Barbarians; 1983; rewatch) — In a post-apocalyptic world set in the year 2019, Scorpion is a lone wolf in his fight against the Templars, led by One and Shadow. Except that Scorpion’s ability and luck don’t match his confidence, and he constantly finds himself in need of assistance. Much of the time, that assistance comes from Nadir (Fred Williamson) and his explosive arrows. It’s obviously a cheap Italian knock-off of The Road Warrior, complete with heavy spaghetti western influences, but it’s fun enough.
The Passionate Thief (1960; first-time watch) — It’s New Year’s Eve, and Lello (Ben Gazzara) is a thief who needs to come up with 50,000 lire overnight. He enlists his unwilling friend Umberto (Totò) to help with the task, but Umberto is trying to entertain his actress friend Tortorella (Anna Magnani). Lello’s attempts to steal keep getting thwarted in various ways, but rather than being funny, the outcomes are mostly obvious and not all that fun to watch.
Kiss Me Deadly (1955; rewatch) — When detective Mike Hammer picks up a hitchhiker, he unwittingly gets himself stuck into a murder mystery. The woman is caught up in something much bigger than she is and brings Hammer along with her. It’s a well written and well-acted noir classic with a fairly baffling ending that mostly comes out of nowhere.
The Bad Batch (2016; first-time watch) — Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) has been exiled into a desert wasteland where she is promptly attacked by cannibals, who take one of her arms and one of her legs. She escapes and makes her way to an oasis called Comfort where she recuperates, then sets out for revenge. It sounds like there may actually be some action in this movie, but that’s just an illusion because it’s one of the most boring films ever made. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/24/the-bad-batch/.
Ugetsu (1953; first-time watch) — Genjurô makes pottery. He’s gotten a taste of wealth and has become very greedy for more. His friend Tôbei is intent on becoming a samurai and is very happy to help Genjurô with his pottery and earn money on the side to help buy weapons and armor. Both become successful, but at the expense of their families. It’s a beautiful film, and it’s hard to describe in more detail without spoiling anything.
Little Fugitive (1953; first-time watch) — When their grandmother suddenly falls ill, Lennie and Joey’s mom has to leave them alone for the weekend to go visit her. After being tricked into thinking that he shot and killed his older brother, little Joey runs away from home and ends up at Coney Island. Lennie has a day and a half to find Joey before their mom returns. It’s an early American independent film that is a fun movie that works for all ages.
Beatriz at Dinner (2017; first-time watch) — Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a masseuse and holistic healer. After her car breaks down at a rich client’s house, she’s invited to their dinner party in honor of real estate mogul Doug Strutt (John Lithgow), a real asshole who is hated by virtually everyone who doesn’t matter to him. When their personalities clash, dinner gets awkward. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/26/beatriz-at-dinner/.
Desperation Rising (1989; first-time watch) — A bunch of scenarios feature people trying to get money. Financial people chanting “insured municipal bonds”. Gangsters expressing a desire for “small electronic appliances”. Women are hooked on drugs and forced into prostitution. All wrapped into a largely incomprehensible film with terrible video and audio quality. There are several moments of joy that stem from unexpected occurrences, but everything is shrouded by a complete inability to understand what might be going on.
Band Aid (2017; first-time watch) — Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) fight all the time. They consider themselves failures, and their attempt to have a child didn’t end well. Therapy isn’t working. They strike upon the idea of turning their fights into music, and it seems to go well enough that they form a band with their neighbor, Dave (Fred Armisen). Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/30/band-aid/.
Full Metal Jacket (1987; rewatch) — After an intensive period of training with a hard-driving drill instructor (R. Lee Ermey), Marine Private Joker (Matthew Modine) is sent to the war in Vietnam. He’s a journalist who gets cushy assignments at first, but he soon finds his way to the front lines and into the thick of the action. Also featuring an impressive performance from Vincent D’Onofrio, it’s a terrific film from a master director.
Apollo 13 (1995; rewatch) — Captain Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) and his crewmates Fred Haise and Ken Mattingly (Bill Paxton and Gary Sinise) are assigned to the Apollo 13 mission, which is the third to put a man on the moon. When Ken is disqualified over fear that he might have the measles, Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) takes his place as pilot, and he’s at the helm when an explosion disables the craft, making it impossible for them to go to the moon and highly unlikely they’ll make it back alive. It’s a tense and well-crafted depiction of the real-life disaster.
Not of This Earth (1988; first-time watch) — An alien (Arthur Roberts) comes to Earth in search of blood. He goes to Dr. Rochelle (Ace Mask) for a transfusion and ends up hiring his nurse (Traci Lords) to administer the daily treatments. As strange things happen, the humans around the alien start to get suspicious. It’s a very dumb movie made on a very tight schedule that’s loaded with unnecessary nudity and cheesy effects, but it is thoroughly entertaining and right up my alley.
Bless Their Little Hearts (1984; first-time watch) — Charles Banks (Nate Hardman) is out of work. He’s able to pick up the occasional odd job, but that isn’t enough to support his wife and three children. When he works, he works hard, but he’s not always as motivated as he should be. He’s also not as faithful to his wife as he should be. It’s a bit slow at times, but it’s made with heart and feels very real.
Surviving the Game (1994; rewatch) — A homeless man (Ice-T) is tricked into becoming the prey for a rich group of hunters (Rutger Hauer, Charles S. Dutton, Gary Busey, F. Murray Abraham, John C. McGinley, and William McNamara). It’s not a good movie, but it is fun to watch, especially when McGinley is trying to to out-overact Busey.
After the Fox (1966; first-time watch) — A criminal mastermind called The Fox (Peter Sellers) is in jail when his friends tell him about a gold heist that they’ve pulled off, but need help transporting it out of the country. Excited at the opportunity, he breaks out of jail and stages a movie production with his aspiring actress sister (Britt Ekland) and an aging movie star (Victor Mature) as cover for the getaway. It’s a fun, Pink Panther-ish screwball comedy with a lot of physical gags.
The Beguiled (2017; first-time watch) — During the Civil War, a student at a Virginia all-girls school happens upon a Union soldier (Colin Farrell) who has been shot in the leg. She helps him make his way to the school, where her teachers (Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst) clean and stitch up the wound. After some discussion, the women decide that the best thing to do is to give him time to heal before they hand him over to be taken prisoner by the Confederate army. But that’s not exactly what happened. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/06/30/the-beguiled-2017/.
The House (2017; first-time watch) — Scott and Kate (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) need money to send their daughter Alex (Ryan Simkins) to college. Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) gambled all of his money away and lost his wife Raina (Michaela Watkins) in the process. They all need money in a hurry, so they turn Frank’s house into an illegal casino. It’s a movie full of comic actors, but fairly devoid of comedy. Full review at https://nawilson.com/2017/07/01/the-house/.