January (2016) Movies, Part 1   1 comment

This might be a new blog feature or it could easily be a one-off…hard to tell, but I’ll see how it goes.  Anyway, we’ve been catching up on movies this past month and the more we see the more we realise we’ve missed.  We both feel like anything more than an hour a day spent on non-news tele is excessive so it took the holidays and an extended battle with the Dreaded Lurgi to push us over the energy barrier; now that we’ve started, though, we are ploughing through cinematic DVDs and TiVo captures at, for us, an astonishing pace.  Plus, the Oscar nominations are about to come out and we have not seen a single likely suspect (until Amy, below) and felt compelled to at least make an effort on those.  So, here’s the selections for the first ten days in January:

Babette’s Feast (1987):  When this was originally in Atlanta theatres, I missed it (one of those, “I’ll see it next week,” things).  Later that year, a local restaurant reproduced the feast for New Year’s Eve (and still do annually to this day); there was no way we could afford it, then, and it tends to be booked years in advance, now, so I had to settle for this bit of food porn.

Starters for the feast

And, great food porn it is.  The story centers on a woman who refugees out of Paris to a remote and insular town in Jutland in the late 19th century.  Decades pass as she house keeps for two sisters in charge of a Protestant sect then one day she hits the lottery back in (now much calmer) Paris and offers to cook a Parisian meal for her hostesses in honour of their father who founded the sect.  The food she turns up with horrifies the townsfolk when they see it but, as they are all fond of her, they make a secret pact to choke it down without comment.  (Turns out, before the Communard issues, Babette was the head chef at the most exclusive — and expensive — restaurant in Paris and the meal, to put it mildly, was a success.)

Finally seeing this after carrying it around for so many years (I have a 25-year-old VHS tape in the attic on which a recorded copy from a PBS broadcast sits) stirred the chef in me.  It also makes me want to re-watch things like Chef (2014) and Big Night (1996) — the latter for the food AND Isabella Rossellini.




True Romance (1993): About 10% of the way through this I commented, “looks like someone is doing a great impression of a Tarantino flick;” this was NOT meant as a compliment.  Turns out, the story of losers stumbling into a suitcase full of drugs and then trying to flip this without getting killed by the rightful owners nor imprisoned by the cops couldn’t be ruined by either Tarantino (who wrote the film but had nothing else to do with it) nor Christian Slater rehashing his role in Heathers (1988) and, for that matter, everything else he’s ever appeared in.


Legion score card


Legion (2010): Gripping while you’re watching it, but hit pause to refresh a drink and your first thoughts are, “what a load of horseshit” (or as autocorrect would have it “a lode of horseshit”).  Action film-cum-apocalypse film, Archangel Michael renounces his commission as one of the heavenly Generals (I shit you not) to protect the human race at a diner out in the most remote reaches of the Mohave Desert.  There’s lot’s of violence and kind of a thin plot but there’s lot’s of violence (and the violence is fairly well done, as these things go).  Don’t go out of your way either to avoid it nor see it; enjoyable enough but you might feel a bit dirty afterwards (often a side effect of a good experience, btw).




The Aviator (2004): A child of the 60’s/adolescent of the 70’s (some would argue the 80’s through now), I have always had a minor interest in Howard Hughes.  I was eager to read the Clifford Irving hoax just before it came out that it was a fake autobiography (finally working through an internet copy while in grad school); then, there were all the rumours of his mental health or lack thereof that, mostly, turned out to be true.  This was a pretty good biopic covering the period from the 1920’s until the 60’s; a bit overlong, the better docudrama on Hughes (although his character appears but briefly) is Melvin and Howard (1980).


Blazing Djangos


Django Unchained (2012): Tarantino.  What can you say?  Jackie has this problem with historical accuracy so if I want to watch something set in ancient Egypt I have to get her to leave the room or agree to ignore the stirrups on the horses (for instance).  “Stirrups” has now become shorthand for film anachronisms.  D.U. is full of these stirrups, but is also dumb on so many other levels.  The action/violence might have carried the picture (the lack of any spark in the romantic storyline sure didn’t) if it hadn’t been done identically in Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs, and every other Tarantino flick so far.  Stylish once, pap the second time, and yet he’s built a career on it (granted, most scientists I know are no more self-aware or capable of shame).


The original, worth a look as well (or read the book!)

The original, worth a look as well (or read the book!)


The Quiet American (2002): I like it when Brendan Fraser is forced to act; I really like it when Michael Caine bothers to act.  Both were on form in this ‘Saigon before the Americans were all in’ pic, and not one character comes out as a good person.  Brilliant twists bring this realisation about for the audience and the cinematography is such that you can almost smell the jungle decay and pre-environmentalist petrol fumes.


EntWeekly Behind the Candelabra


Behind The Candelabra (2013): When this was out (no pun intended) a couple of years back, everyone in the press spouted lines about how brave Matt Damon and Michael Douglas were to play gay characters.  I didn’t get that, but the way Hollywood is I did find them especially brave to play fat characters.  Like Howard Hughes, above, I knew more about Liberace than folks born after the 60’s would (and more than anyone, at anytime, should).  It brought back fond memories, though, of sitting around the folks’ house eating mom’s pharmaceuticals (she always had plenty to spare) and reading American tabloids like the Weekly World News and National Enquirer until the dope kicked in.  Speaking of which…


amy on stage


Amy (2015): GREAT documentary about Amy Winehouse (1).  Sorry, I meant to says that this is a GREAT documentary about Amy Winehouse (2).  That’s right, a GREAT documentary about Amy Winehouse (3).  And, a GREAT documentary about Amy Winehouse (4).  Finally, a GREAT documentary about Amy Winehouse (5).  Oh, what the hell, here’s video number (6): Amy Winehouse.


SSBSSFOSSB or the-bling-ring


The Bling Ring (2013): Alternate title, “Stupid Shallow Bitches Steal Shit From Other Stupid Shallow Bitches” (above).  Verdict: I’ve got to find out how TiVo determines what it is going to record without my explicit consent.


And, although not really theatrical releases I’m including these two indulgences:

Californication (binge watching first 2 seasons, have the rest ready for later in the year): This is the story of reprehensible folks and is greatly compelling.  Ducovny is a hack writer (at least I HOPE that’s the subtext), and his agent’s wife is constantly on drugs (and played by the woman who does Bobby Hill’s voice in King of the Hill).  Every description of Californication that I ever read has turned out to be completely wrong (based on what I’ve seen so far), so this is all you get from me.  A guilty pleasure, but a pleasure.


bleak expectations

Dickensian: This is still being broadcast but the hook is this: every Dickens character lives within a 1/4 mile of the Three Cripples Pub and someone has murdered Jacob Marley, Miss Haversham’s brother has hired a gigolo to con her out of the fortune he thinks is rightly his, Scrooge is quite a bit more of a piece of work than I remember and Fagin in quite a bit less so.  It is fantastic fluff and the creation of a guy involved heavily with the Eastenders, the bleakest soap opera I have ever seen.  And, it’s not the first Dickens pastiche we’ve gotten caught up in.

Posted January 11, 2016 by Drunken Bunny in Books and Movies

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  1. Pingback: Feb (2016) Movies | The Endless British Pub Crawl continues...

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