A month considerably devoid of theater outings due to nice weather and general laziness, May was still a productive high point for me thanks to my and a friend’s ritualistic movie-watching Sundays – something I hope to make a feature out of here on this blog (witty title permitting). Speaking of features, I’m very much into the idea of tapping into a backlog of films I’ve watched, more specifically one that’ll be responsible for new weekly posts in either an essay, list or typical review format. Again, witty titling permitting, I’d like to broadcast a wider, more unique array of content to my very modest reader base for the sake of your entertainment and my desire to write! Let me know what you think, and full credit will be given to those with ideas I’m fond of! In the meantime, please enjoy my musings on the best films I saw throughout the past 31 days.
Mud (Jeff Nichols, 2012)
A subdued Southern Smalltown, USA-infused tale of modest scale, Mud is – if anything – an example of an on-the-rise filmmaker’s continued establishment of himself. Following two boys as their encounter with a hopeful dirt-smeared vagabond almost irreparably alters the course of their lives, Mud is a solid example of well-constructed and engaging if sometimes dull storytelling, admirably sidestepping melodrama but still maintaining a discernible emotional core. It’s not at all breathtaking, but like I said, Nichols is assuredly establishing a name for himself with a third consecutive well-rounded feature. Full review here.
John Dies at the End (Don Coscarelli, 2012)
At once an unexpectedly layered psychological sci-fi horror buddy comedy (holy genres!), John Dies at the End was and will most likely remain a delight upon a foreseeable re-watch. Front and center is David Wong’s source story about two friends’ increasingly alarming experiences with a synthetic drug known only as “Soy Sauce;” a story so appealingly creative in its bizarre, alternate dimension world-building intricacies that I couldn’t help but be wowed. While also humorous if undeniably flawed, director Coscarelli’s first feature-length film in a decade is a welcome surprise.
Kill List (Ben Wheatley, 2011)
A frequently brutal and taut character-driven crime thriller laced with intermittent bits of psychological terror, Kill List is shockingly unique despite the narrative’s more familiar base elements. Focusing on a financially strapped contract killer and his “coworker” (for all intents and purposes), a routine string of hits turns into something increasingly obscure as our main man’s sanity becomes compromised – a devastating yet effective latter act twist being expertly implemented to top off the unfortunate degradation. Wheatley’s tonally consistent genre-bending effort, needless to say, will inevitably haunt me long after that first-time viewing.
Star Trek Into Darkness (J.J. Abrams, 2013)
With its 2009 predecessor evoking a new found appreciation for a series I never took an interest in, Into Darkness expands upon the soon-to-be trilogy’s stellar blend of plain accessible and honorably true to the universe’s roots. Intelligibly wonderful production values, predictably grand action set pieces, a wholly committed cast of talented performers young and old and a rich, emotionally charged narrative permeate Into Darkness at very frequent intervals, proving that this sequel is another worthy addition to the Star Trek canon. Full review here.
Other first-time viewings (in alphabetical order):
Blazing Saddles (Brooks, ’74)
Bug (Friedkin, ’06)
The Crow (Proyas, ’94)
The Great Gatsby (Luhrmann, ’13)
Iron Man 3 (Black, ’13)
Total number of films watched (including re-watches): 10