Weekly Update: This week was a weird one. I started the week watching a pair of made for TV movies starring Danny Glover, then Roger Corman’s violent gangster film answer to Bonnie & Clyde, and then finally watched the entire full feature presentation of Uganda’s first ever action movie. To end the week, I watched Kong Skull Island, followed by a couple of old school Kong-related films.
Curious what else I’ve seen this year? -Click here to read the full list of movies viewed year to date-
83. Buffalo Soldiers (1997)
TNT television in the late 1990s did a lot of Westerns and historical films. This film stars Danny Glover as the Sergeant in a company of black soldiers fighting the war with the Apaches during the late 1800s. They contend with life or death on one side, and with the constant racial tension against the whites who command them. The plot isn’t anything particularly new or special, but it tells a story from a rarely seen perspective of Western Expansion, and it’s relevant as an aid to teaching.
84. Freedom Song (2000)
Another made for TV historical film starring Danny Glover. This time dealing with the rise of Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) movement, through the eyes of a High School student in a Deep South community. The movie deals with not just the struggles between black and whites, but also that of the young and old, as the students deal with their own parent’s fears against rocking the boat.
85. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967)
Roger Corman made this quickie gangster drama to capitalize on the recent success of more violent crime pictures. The result is a strange blend of new and old, as this film feels like The Public Enemy or White Heat, but with blood and gore. Take a Drink: every time the narrator introduces a character.
86. Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010)
Made on a budget of about $200 by a group of residents of a Ugandan slum, this film nevertheless found a degree of success when the trailer played on Youtube. Who Killed Captain Alex is rough and unpolished, but charming and thoroughly entertaining. What makes the film even more fun is the VJ (Video Joker), a sort of live running commentary track that spans the film. The VJ is apparently a common aspect of the filmgoing experience in Uganda. The VJ provides humorous barbs at the film’s expense, while also explaining (or trying to explain) some of the plot for those who don’t speak the same language as the characters.
87. Kong: Skull Island (2017)
The phrase I’d use to describe this reboot of the King Kong franchise is “Acceptable”. With the exception of John C. Reilly, there were just no actual characters. Overall, the movie managed some visual splendor, but also some very weak storytelling, with a predictably base plot that seems tailor-made for following in between loud popcorn crunching.
88. Son of Kong (1933)
This quickie came out less than 10 months after the original King Kong film. More a comedy than anything else, the film feels just as quick and cheaply made as you’d expect from a film sequel released in the same year as the original. While the movie is by no means on the same level as the original Kong, it has some charms, most notably through Willis O’Brien’s stop-motion work. The young Kong is a cute thing that is hard to not have fun watching, though the film’s drastic and dramatic ending sort of ruins the fun.
89. Mighty Joe Young (1949)
This charming film by producer Merian C. Cooper continues in the spirit of King Kong, with yet another tale of a big ape. This time, though, the Ape is the lovable “Mr. Joseph Young” an enormous Gorilla raised from childhood by Jill Young, the daughter of an African Colonist. A show promotor sees the way Jill is able to handle Joe and immediately fills her head with stories of Hollywood, eventually convincing her to sign on with him. This features the work of famed Stop Motion master Willis O’Brien, who entrusted a large amount of his work this time to his protégé Ray Harryhausen. Mighty Joe Young is a gigantic technical achievement, and a truly lovable family adventure story.
90. Mighty Joe Young (1998)
This Disney remake of the 1949 original manages to tell a unique enough story to distinguish it from the first film. Where the first film used groundbreaking stop-motion model effects, this film brought Rick Baker to front stage to create an advanced Gorilla suit with animatronics. The film uses some digital effects by ILM, but mostly as enhancement. The vast majority of what you see in the film is a combination of suit effects, motorized animatronics, and forced perspective to make the Gorilla appear larger than life. The film is given depth through solid lead performances by Bill Paxton and a young Charlize Theron. A rare remake that is as memorable as the original.