I realize I haven’t done an entry in Scott’s Film Geek Journal in the last week. There are reasons for this. Some of them are personal and some of them are professional. Nevertheless, the Journal is not going away. In fact, I have some very big plans for Scott’s Film Geek Journal, as well as other Film Geek Central-related projects. So, let’s get the show on the road. What have I been looking at?
DAY 20: FEBRUARY 6, 2013
KING SOLOMON’S MINES (1950) – Based upon the H. Rider Haggard novel (Well, kind of. There are some Hollywood additions – like one of the main stars. Okay not quite based on the H. Rider Haggard novel. Nevertheless, this is the classic story of the great explorer and adventurer Alan Quatermain (Stuart Granger) searching for the husband of Beth (Deborah Kerr), who disappeared searching for King Solomon’s fabled diamond mines.
I’m a sucker for old school adventure and this is one of the best ones to come around before Indiana Jones picked up his whip. In fact, it’s a safe bet that Indiana Jones wouldn’t even be Indiana Jones without the influence of this film (Also inspired by JUNGLE JIM and TARZAN and the like but come on, the influence is undeniable.). Granger and Kerr have great chemistry and the Technicolor cinematography is fantastic. So much so that this film wound up getting pillaged for stock footage to use in dozens of lower-budget knock-offs over the next couple of decades. KING SOLOMON’S MINES is an old favorite of mine, a treat. ★★★½ (out of ★★★★)
PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) – An alien race, wishing to communicate with the Earth, has grown sick and tired of the powers that be refusing to acknowledge their existence. In order to let us know they mean business, they unveil “plan 9,” which entails them re-animating the dead and controlling the zombies via remote to do their bidding.
Most of you have seen this film and most of the rest of you at least know of it. It’s a classic. It was once called the worst film ever made. But that was coined by Michael Medved, a.k.a. the worst film critic ever published. It’s certainly got more than enough goofs to send the audience rolling will laughter. However, I contend that the worst film ever made would not be merely amateurish, but boring. It would be an ordeal to sit through. It would be boring. PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE may be many things, but it is never, ever boring. The film continues to have a mixture of energy, pure fun and yes gross incompetence to make it a blast to watch. But also, just enough charm left in that story so that you actually wind up getting involved with the storyline. This one gets watched at least once a year over as Casa del Davis and I recommend a similar tradition for everyone else. ★★★★ (out of ★★★★)
SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (2012) –first viewing – Colin Ferrell is a struggling alcoholic screenwriter (perhaps based on this film’s writer-director Martin McDonagh) who wants to write an action-packed script, but one that winds up valuing peace and ideas over senseless bloodshed. His friends played by Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken run a dog kidnapping business – abducting dogs and then posing as the people who found them in order to get cash rewards (Don’t worry, fellow dog lovers. The pooches in this film aren’t treated too bad here.). When Rockwell kidnaps the dog belonging to a psychotic gangster (Woody Harrelson), everyone’s life is put in jeopardy.
McDonogh’s follow-up to IN BRUGES is similarly a dark comedy involving criminals – some of whom have said “adios” to sanity and some of whom wind up having no real heart for violence. It’s a funny, spirited film with a great cast. Walken is given his best role in ages and it’s nice to see him not playing either the villain or a harbinger of doom. He’s wonderful in those parts of course, but too few people remember that this guy won an Oscar for THE DEER HUNTER and then followed it up by playing protagonists in such films as HEAVEN’S GATE, THE DOGS OF WAR and BRAINSTORM. Ferrell is great as usual. The superstardom Hollywood has been courting with this guy for the past decade hasn’t happened yet. But I applaud people for insisting. He’s one of those great versatile performers like Mickey Rourke or George Clooney – more concerned with the development of the character rather than the box office it brings in. Rockwell threatens to steal the show as a goofball with some pretty startling revelations of his own.
SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS does have a tendency to segue into non-sequitors. Most of these are welcome, such as the varying storylines of Ferrell’s screenplay. Some of these don’t add much to the story however. For instance, I am a huge Tom Waits fan and his involvement here is what made this a must see. Waits continues to be incredible, but I couldn’t help but feel that the film would have been better off without his storyline, no matter how entertaining.
Probably my favorite facet of the film though was in how it skirts playfully along the edges of meta territory. It actively critiques the strengths and weaknesses in its own narrative, and the film is steered by different characters at different times, all of them with different priorities. You think that the film short-changes the women in its cast? So does Christopher Walken’s character. You think that the film should take a break from the bloodshed and get in touch with its spiritual side? So does Colin Ferrell’s character. You think that a film called SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS simply must have a climactic shootout in order to stay relevant? So does Sam Rockwell’s character. It’s a pretty ingenious twist and it takes a skilled hand to navigate these tricky waters so well. ★★★ (out of ★★★★)
Total films watched in 2012 so far: 63
My soundtrack for February 6, 2013: “You have the right to food money. Just as long as you don’t mind a little investigation, humiliation and then if you cross your fingers, rehabilitation.”