Weekly Update: This week was set aside for some weirdness, whether it be guys in gorilla suits, R-rated body horror, or a new movie starring Captain America and his NERD kid…
Curious what else I’ve seen this year? -Click here to read the full list of movies viewed year to date-
118. Sylvio (2017)
Sylvio is a Gorilla who works for a collection agency in the Baltimore area. He is disillusioned with his job, and depressed with where his life has been heading. The only thing that keeps him going is his video series “The Quiet Times with Herbert Herpels” featuring a hand puppet he designed himself. One day he stumbles onto the set of a local TV show and has to deal with his newfound fame. Sylvio is low-key filmmaking at its best; as silly and quirky as it is heartfelt. One of the most satisfying films of the year.
119. Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-In Movie (2013)
The drive-in theater is a uniquely American invention, combining the thrill of riding in cars with that of the cinema. This fascinating documentary charts the rise and fall of this unique institution, and its small-scale comeback. The film features interviews with the owners of drive-in theaters, as well as the filmmakers whose B-movies catered to the unique sensibilities of the drive-in audience.
120. The Void (2017)
A group of people become trapped in a rural hospital under siege by robed cultists, and under attack by a strange creature right out of Lovecraft. In fact, there are a lot of references to other horror movies in The Void. The Keep, The Thing, The Beyond… all of the “the” movies. While The Void begins with a compelling mystery premise, it soon drowns in references to already existing properties.
121. The Kentuckian (1955)
This piece of family fare was Burt Lancaster’s only credit as sole director for a film. The plot focuses on a mountain man and his son who venture into civilization for the first time in years with plans to board a ferry to take them to Texas. The two intervene to buy an indentured woman’s freedom from a miserable master, which leaves them no longer able to pay for the ferry. They stick around town to work and soon discover that their knowledge of the wilderness isn’t enough to make it in the civilized world. While there are some milquetoast moments that remind you this was a film made in the 1950s, the performances and story carry things through quite nicely. The movie notably features the first screen performance of Walter Matthau, as a bullying bartender with a knack for a bullwhip.
122. Gifted (2017)
123. Quo Vadis (1951)
This big-budget Hollywood epic was one of the most elaborate of its time, featuring colorful costumes, a cast of thousands, and gigantic sets with matte paintings so brilliantly detailed they hold up against any modern production. The story centers on the rise of Christianity during the dark reign of Emperor Nero, through the eyes of Roman Legionary Marcus Vinicius. Peter Ustinov gives a career-best performance as Nero, who is portrayed as a cowardly man whose delusions of grandeur led to his downfall.
124. Cry, The Beloved Country (1995)
Set in South Africa in the 1940s, Rev. Stephen Kumalo (James Earl Jones) learns that his son has gone missing, and ventures to Johannesburg to find him. He soon finds that his son is accused of the murder of Arthur Jarvis, an anti-apartheid activist. Kumalo soon crosses paths with his father James Jarvis, who coincidentally has been a landowner living very near to Kumalo’s parish for years. As Kumalo becomes more aware of the ravages of the race policies that are destroying his country, James is given an education on his son’s true nature, and discovers empathy within him he never knew existed. The movie is imperfect, with some directorial choices that tend towards melodrama. Since this is a remake, I ordered a copy of the 1951 original, and look forward to comparing.
125. Red Hill (2010)
This contemporary Western brings a story of brutal revenge to a small touristy town in rural Australia. Shane Cooper is beginning his first day on the job in the small town of Red Hill, only to find that an escaped convict is heading to town, bent on violence. As Shane fights for his life alongside the other police and deputized townsfolk, he begins to suspect the town hides a dark secret. Fans of classic Westerns will immediately appreciate the film’s style and the simple but effective storytelling. Nothing is particularly new, but it is a solid entry for genre fulfillment.