Ken’s Movie Diary 2017 – Week 21

Weekly Update: Still recuperating from a serious injury, which will take a few more weeks at least. 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-

164. The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

Filmed at the same time, and with much of the same cast and sets as King KongThe Most Dangerous Game is a simple, entertaining adventure story of a hunter stranded in a shipwreck. The hunter meets the island’s owner, Count Zaroff, who professes to be a hunter of some acclaim himself, although bored and feeling unchallenged by the sport. Zaroff’s preference now is hunting a more cunning game; MAN!  The film is a bit dated, but it moves along at a fast pace and is worth a watch for those who read the original short story, or are fascinated with the concept.

165. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) 

This movie follows a group of young women in a 19th century Australian finishing school dealing with the sudden disappearance of 3 of their fellow students and a teacher while on a field trip deep in the Outback.  Rumors and theories abound, many of which awaken a carnal side that their Victorian upbringing had long suppressed.  Director Peter Weir gives the film’s characters a strong sense of realism amongst a very challenging situation, which clashes beautifully with the often hyper-real elements of the cinematography and editing. Picnic at Hanging Rock quietly satirizes overly kept and sheltered European society by clashing it with the harshness of nature.

166. The Last Wave (1977)

Even more mind-bending than Picnic at Hanging Rock, but with a bolder direction. Peter Weir’s The Last Wave follows a big city Australian Solicitor (Richard Chamberlain) as he takes on a challenging case of Aboriginal murder. A handful of suspects are charged even though the actual cause of death is not clear, and as he digs deeper, the Solicitor begins to suspect that the death may have had some tribal significance, perhaps even foretelling a dark future. As the film goes along, the film moves away from the mystery of the murder into something far deeper and more oblique.

167. The Naked Prey (1966)

When a group of hunters on Safari insult a native tribe, the tribe’s warriors capture and kill all but one of the group. This man they set free with a head start, but proceed to hunt like an animal. The man learns much about the nature of hunting and the savagery of his own European colonial roots as he runs for his life. This simple premise and skillful presentation makes the film a thrilling and intense action/suspense movie. Highly Recommended.

168. Lumumba (2000)

Director Raoul Peck dramatizes the early days following the Congo’s independence from Belgian rule, as Patrice Lumumba becomes the first Prime Minister for only a very short 2 month period before his assassination. Eriq Ebouaney plays Lumumba, giving the character a drive and determination which feels natural. It is easy to see how this man became so popular, and how his unbreakable resolve ultimately led to his downfall. As Lumumba deals with internal strife, military unrest, and meddling from various international powers, he finds himself in an unwinnable situation, one that will ultimately leave him martyred and the country in chaos.

169. The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)

Quite an entertaining period-adventure story, if you can get past the way the film completely tramples on history. The film manages to find a tacit excuse to tie the wars on the Indian frontier in with the Crimean War. The action sequences are wonderfully shot and the stunts genuinely captivating even today; however, the film is notorious for causing the deaths of numerous horses and at least one stuntman, and the level of neglect regarding the animals made this film hard to find for years as a result.  If you want a harrowing classical adventure film set in the British Imperial era, stick to Gunga Din.

170. Headshot (2016)

A man who was shot in the head and left for dead wakes up months later with no memory of his past. As he pieces it together he discovers dangerous people trying to kill him for reasons he doesn’t know, and the more he finds out about himself, the less he likes. Headshot is a violent and fun Indonesian action flick that leans a bit into overlong territory and has some lulls in the action that slow the pace. But the action scenes and gore effects are excellent and the acting is solid.  Worth a view for fans of Asian action.

171. Young Winston (1972)

Richard Attenborough’s epic tells the story of Winston Churchill from his youth through his experiences as a fame-seeking officer in the British Army, up to his election as a Minister of Parliament.  Told through a series of flashbacks which are somewhat non-chronological and with some compelling documentary style “interview” segments from numerous characters, the movie doesn’t feel like any ordinary biopic. While the episodic nature of the film means some sequences are more compelling than others, the film picks up in a big way at the halfway point and really delivers. Simon Ward was a brilliant choice to play the young Churchill; it is fascinating how his voice evolves from his younger years into the vocal range of the famed Prime Minister at his peak.

172. North to Alaska (1960)

This film stars John Wayne and Stewart Granger as gold miners who hit it big during the Nome gold rush. Wayne travels back to Seattle on business, and to pick up Granger’s fiancee, only to find that the fiancee has left him and married another.  Wayne finds a “replacement” for Granger’s fiancee in an ex-prostitute, and offers her the chance to move up to Alaska and be rich. She tentatively agrees, but falls in love with Wayne in the process, complicating things considerably. “Light Comedy” is the best description for this film, as it is as inoffensive as it is unchallenging.  This is a film of yesteryear that will not translate well for modern audiences.

173. Sahara (1943)

This timely war film was released at the same time as WWII was beginning to heat up, and deals with early American involvement in the conflict. Humphrey Bogart plays a tank commander who along with his crew and a handful of British infantry venture out into the desert hoping to escape the German army after a military defeat. They pick up an Italian and German prisoner along the way, as well as a Black Colonial British officer. Sahara is notable for depicting various viewpoints on the war from the perspectives of soldiers from numerous backgrounds. With the exception of the German prisoner (undoubtedly for mid-war propaganda purposes), these depictions are free of demonization. The performances are uniformly solid and the desert cinematography gorgeous. Highly recommended.

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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