Jul 10, 2016

WIWTW #54

Although I wish I could watch 12 movies every week, things settled back down this week to a more comfortable 7. In reality I suppose it's 5 movies since 2 of them are short films, but who cares?

Anyhow, it was an interesting week of two different movies; Catwoman and Dune. What do they have to do with each other you ask? Well both were critical and commercial flops. Dune only managed $31 million on a budget of $40 million and was famously hated on pretty hard by Roger Ebert. 20 years later, Catwoman thudded with only $40 million ($82 million worldwide) on a budget of $100 million. I don't need to go into how it did with the critics or audiences.

Point is, it's always interesting to see where movies end up, ~10, ~20 or ~30 years later. Catwoman is maybe a bad example to compare with Dune since there will never be any hope of it becoming a cult classic (right?). But let's say something like Only God Forgives. I could see that becoming a cult classic down the line. Crazy to think that a movie like 2001: A Space Odyssey was once hated by critics when it first came out and is now hailed as a masterpiece. Or that a movie like The Shawshank Redemption is now an audience darling after barely scraping into the black in 1994. Goes to show that you never know what can happen down the line.

Now on to this week's WIWTW.

But first...
 

Some News (That I Actually Care About)

  • A documentary crew secretly captured the reality of living in North Korea (risking some pretty harsh penalties I should think) and is probably very much worth seeing. @Los Angeles Times
  • Box office report: Movie over Dory, there's a new cat in town and it's The Secret Life of Pets which opened to an amazing $103.2 million. Crazy thing here is that the budget for the film is a scant $75 million, way less than the typical blockbuster animation and it should make Illumination/Universal very happy. Finding Dory floated to $20.4 million this week but became the highest domestic grosser of the year so far, so there's little reason to be disappointed. The Legend of Tarzan slid under 50% to $20.6 million for its second week and that's really not too bad honestly for a movie said to be the next big summer flop. It still has a long way to go before profitability but Warner Bros. must be feeling slightly relieved. Besides Pets, the other newcomer Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates finished in fourth place with $16.6 million on a budget of $33 million.
  • Bryan Cranston has some good things to say about the new Power Rangers movie which he describes as being similar as a gamechanger to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight@Flickering Myth
  • As a bizarre a deleted scene as I've ever heard, from The Legend of Tarzan to be exact @The Guardian
  • The Ice Cream Truck War of Salem, Oregon is being turned into a movie and what could be better than that? If it were the Glasgow one obviously. @The Hollywood Reporter
Video of the week:With all the unrest going on in the United States, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing seems extremely relevant at the moment.

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Number of movies watched: 7

Average rating: 5.43
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July 3rd

 

Sundae in New York (1983)

Rating: 6/10

What is it: A 4-minute animated short tribute to the Big Apple

Sundae in New York is the kind of movie that would probably be appreciated by New Yorkers. Back in the 80's that is. That's because a lot of the humour is referential jokes of the time and they flew right over my head. Scott Record voices a character who apparently is supposed to look like then-mayor Ed Koch. So if you happen to remember what he looks like, well maybe this one's for you. Record sings us an original version of New York, New York and I don't find it nearly as funny as it's meant to be. I definitely appreciated the claymation however which looks good and is impressively fluid. Beyond that I can't really recommend this animated short unless you're familiar with early-80's New York. 

July 4th

 

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

Rating: 6.5/10

What is it: A mockumentary satire on beauty pageants and Minnesota

Drop Dead Gorgeous is not on the same level as Christopher Guest's brilliant mockumentary masterpieces such as Waiting for Guffman or Best in Show. It is all the same quite funny on multiple levels as an exaggeration of small-town Minnesota and of course on teenage beauty pageants. Kirstie Alley is at the funniest I've ever seen her and you have some pretty big names playing the teenagers in Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Brittany Murphy and Amy Adams. OK, so I will admit that the running joke with the mentally handicapped guy is inappropriate and it certainly wouldn't fly today. Still, it's easy to overlook as the rest of the movie is a more than satisfactory dark comedy.  

July 5th

 

Catwoman (2004): Worst Movie of the Week Award

Rating: 3/10

What is it: One of the biggest failures in superhero and cinema history

Doing a female-led superhero movie after the success of Spider-Man and X-Men movies made logical sense. As long as you make her show a lot of skin and act super sensual, you wouldn't alienate men right? I'm guessing that's what WB executives were thinking, but I'm not too sure they were thinking at all after watching this disaster on film. From the nightmarish editing and cinematography work to the embarrassment that can be felt in the very pit of your stomach while watching Halle Berry pretend to be a cat, it's easy to label Catwoman as one of the worst big-budget movies of all time. I'm surprised that it didn't somehow kill the superhero genre which was still in its early to mid-infancy.

July 6th

 

Charade (1984): Best Movie of the Week Award

Rating: 7/10

What is it: A Canadian animated short and Academy Award winner

Charade stands to this day as the only student film to ever win an Academy Award. Records are meant to be broken, but John Minnis' animated short is funny and has the perfect runtime. The story is as simple as people playing a round of charades with one guy giving extensive and impossible charade descriptions without anyone getting the right answer while the other guy does a single action resulting in a correct guess right away. Frustrating? You should see how the first player takes it. While Charade doesn't instantly make me think Academy Award winner, it's certainly a memorable one.

July 7th

 

The Cave (2005)

Rating: 4.5/10

What is it: A horror film with cave diving, monsters and more

Although I was perhaps expecting a bit too much, I was really hoping for The Cave to be something like The Descent. It unfortunately has more in common with The Descent: Part 2. While director Bruce Hunt does a good job at capturing the creepiness and possibility of terror far below the surface, he fails in generating any real scares or tension once the film really gets going. There's a severe lack of originality when it comes to the cave meanies and the characters are all bland and unmemorable. The story also tries to do a little too much and crudely sets up an attempt at a sequel (which thankfully never happened).

July 8th

 

Chakushin ari 2 (2005)

Rating: 5/10

What is it: Sequel to Takashi Miike's Chakushin ari

With Miike gone as director, the sometimes ironic tone from the first film is all but absent here which is actually OK with me. However, I couldn't help but feel that Chakushin ari 2 fails to build on its predecessor in any meaningful way. The writers thought it wise to simply (and quite literally) double the danger and there's very little sense or believability in that. While there are smidges of scariness here and there, Chakushin ari 2 is a needless retread that never seems to really know where its going. Flashbacks are heavily used and it doesn't really help clarify all that much. The effects are actually pretty good though and I'd say that overall the acting is a step up from the first one.

July 9th

 

Dune (1984)

Rating: 6/10

What is it: Famed sci-fi epic bomb helmed by David Lynch

I had never seen Dune before and it was time to remedy that despite never having read any of Frank Herbert's novels. Overall I give Dune a pass because of how unique and imaginative it is. The special effects have aged nicely and the cast is an embarrassment of riches. Sting above all of course. But where Dune fails to me is in the storytelling which suffers from being squeezed by the 137 minute runtime. There's way too much going on to be able to present everything convincingly (or comprehensibly) and that's not really David Lynch's fault since he originally wanted a 180 minute runtime which would've helped. However, Dune deserves its cult status all the same.