Ken’s Movie Diary 2017 – Week 19

Weekly Update: Unable to go to the movie theaters due to a serious injury. So for the next few weeks my new movie viewings will consist of mostly stuff I could find on TV or streaming.

Curious what else I’ve seen this year? -Click here to read the full list of movies viewed year to date-

152. Staying Alive (1983)

John Travolta returns in this sequel to Saturday Night Fever; it is now the early 1980s and dance music has gotten… shittier. Directed by Sylvester Stallone, who also co-wrote the movie, this film plays like a series of aerobics music videos intercut with dialogue.  Travolta’s character is kind of an unlikeable asshole, dating two women at the same time and without any real moment of recognition or recompense.

153. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Based on the Truman Capote novel of the same name, this film follows the life of professional New York socialite Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), who woos many men with the dream of finding a particularly rich one to marry.  This was early 1960s speak for high-class Prostitute, and the film dodges the sex for sale angle very carefully. What it doesn’t dodge carefully is the uncomfortably racist character of Golightly’s landlord Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney). This yellow-face depiction of a Japanese man was pretty dated even for the time, but for a modern audience it brings the film to a screeching halt.

154. The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

Peter Weir’s wartime romantic drama is set in Indonesia during the civil upheavals of 1965 which set the stage for a bloody civil war and genocide. Mel Gibson is Guy Hamilton, an Australian reporter on his first overseas assignment, charged with the task of reporting on the situation.  He seeks help acclimating to the country via fellow Australian reporter Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt) who uses his connections to team up and find the bigger stories. Meanwhile, Guy falls for British Embassy worker Jill (Sigourney Weaver), and and she for him in the midst of the political turmoil. This is a beautifully shot and sharply written commentary on Western involvement in Eastern political matters, with a convincing romance for good measure.  Add to that Linda Hunt’s unusual (but effective) casting as a male reporter, and her splendid performance with the material, and you have a tremendously compelling result.

155. Volcano (1997)

This expensive disaster film came out the same year as the somewhat more effective Dante’s Peak, albeit with a much bigger scope in mind; that of a Earth-shattering volcanic disaster in the middle of Los Angeles. Tommy Lee Jones is “Hero Man”, whose job it is to oversee rescue efforts and to save the city.  Ann Heche is “Science Woman”, whose job it is to give plausible explanations for the increasingly ridiculous things happening on screen.  Perhaps the film’s only real positive boon is the multimillion dollar special effects… So watch this if you like big shiny objects.

156. Micmacs (2009)

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a wispy, sentimental director, with a keen visual eye and a love of quirk. Micmacs continues in the mood of films such as Amélie. Micmacs tells the story of Bazil, a man who is rendered fatherless by a landmine and years later; jobless and homeless by a stray bullet. Both the mine and the bullet were manufactured by the same arms company, which Bazil discovers is operating and illegal arms smuggling ring. He uses the power of hobo ingenuity and an army of fellow hobos to reap hobo vengeance. I found Micmacs quite entertaining at the time, but looking back it isn’t particularly memorable.

157. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Joan Crawford is Blanche Hudson, a famous actress whose budding film career ended suddenly in a car accident. She lives with her older sister Jane “Baby Jane” Hudson (Bette Davis), who had a big career as a child actress, but has been living off of Blanche’s coattails ever since. The two sisters bicker with each other quite a bit, but lately Jane’s behavior has begun to sink to particularly dark levels. The real life Bette Davis and Joan Crawford despised each other severely, and tales of their off-screen antics makes this truly disturbing psychological horror movie feel all the more believable. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is seriously effective even today, highly recommended.

158. True Stories (1986)

David Byrne of The Talking Heads created this film as a concept music/film project inspired by stories told in tabloids. The film is presented in a sort of Documentary format, though with intentionally artificial elements that always linger in the background. It’s centered on the fictional town of Virgil, Texas, which is heading into its big sesquicentennial “Celebration of Special-ness”. The film is a mix of comic sarcasm, quirky humor, music-video sequences, and features prominent performances from a young John Goodman and writer-monologist Spaulding Gray.

About Oberst von Berauscht

Oberst Von Berauscht once retained the services of a Gypsy to imbue in him the ability to accurately describe the artistic qualities of a film up to seven decimal points. To maintain this unique skill, he must feast on the blood of a virgin every Harvest Moon, or failing that (and he usually does), he can also make a dog do that thing they do where they twist their heads slightly (you know, when they're confused about something) at least a few times a week. I've gotten way off track here... The point is, Oberst is one of the website's founders, so... yeah

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