Weekly Update: This week I didn’t watch too many films, but got in a couple of John Hurt movies as tribute to the late actor, and a few newer films to keep my 2016 list going.
Curious what else I’ve seen this year? -Click here to read the full list of movies viewed year to date-
41. Frankenstein Unbound (1990)
Roger Corman’s last directoral feature to date, this film is perhaps far more interesting for its parts than the whole. John Hurt is excellent as the film’s lead Dr. Buchanan, carrying the necessary weight to drive the narrative, silly as it can be. Hurt never winks, but sometimes gives a nod to the schlockier aspects of the story. Raúl Juliá is splendid in his role as Dr. Frankenstein, if a bit underutilized. The story, which inserts time travel into the narrative, is a bit ponderously handled, but the world building is compelling and more than enough to recommend for most viewers.
42. 1984 (1984)
Rarely straying far from the original story, 1984 (sometimes stylized as Nineteen Eighty-Four) stars John Hurt as Smith. Smith is the citizen of Oceania; a totalitarian regime that holds sway over every aspect of their people’s lives. Led by the never seen in public but ever-present “Big Brother”, cameras and microphones monitor everything, and the worst crimes are thought crimes. Hurt is a perfect fit for the role, embodying the everyman citizen while displaying the crushing weight of a regime which cannot be overcome alone. The original novel is classic, but this film serves as an excellent summary of its themes and story. Bonus points go to Roger Deakins for the stellar visual style which highlights how important lighting, framing, and color saturation is to setting mood.
43. Paterson (2016)
Director Jim Jarmusch’s film about a week in the life of a bus driver/poet is a quietly humorous look at the creative drive. Paterson (Adam Driver) lives in Paterson, NJ with his wife Laura and their dog. During his daily routine driving the bus for the city, he uses his observations of the day to fuel his writing. Meanwhile his wife stays at home working on any one of several craft projects, always with a new idea. Jarmusch is a master of building a character-driven story around a simple premise, and this might be his most entertaining effort since 2005’s Broken Flowers.
44. Gimme Danger (2016)
Director Jim Jarmusch also released this documentary about Iggy Pop & the Stooges in 2016. The story of The Stooges was a wild ride of creative inspiration, depravity, drugs, and dissolution. The documentary allows the surviving members to tell their side of the story. Though it would have been interesting to hear from some of the others, I doubt there is much archival interview material from them.
45. A Man Called Ove (2016)
Ove is an aging widower living in a small neighborhood in rural Sweden. He’s a cantankerous, officious man who makes the daily rounds policing every perceived problem with his community, from leaving gates unlocked, to driving cars in restricted areas, to pets roaming about untethered. Behind this behavior is pent-up anger for some short hands his life was dealt, and as he tries (multiple times) to kill himself, he also looks back on his past, and finds a new lease on his future.