Monthly recap: Watched in September

As always, my ratings are what I think the films should be rated on IMDb. I intend to share lots of horror mini-reviews during October, so I hope you stop by for those posts. Anyway, let's look back on September viewing




Blue Jasmine (2013)
While the theme of infidelity is not exactly new in a Woody Allen film, he makes the story somehow fresh again, and the performance by Cate Blanchett is probably the best I’ve seen all year. There are more unlikeable than likeable characters, but the film stayed with me after the credits had rolled.
Rating 7.7





Mud (2012)
Overlong, yet fairly involving coming-of-age drama. I liked it, and some good performances. Story does a good job of making the characters likeable. The weakest part of the story was the teenage boy’s older girlfriend.
Favorite quote: “You’re a good man Elis, you meet a girl half as good, you’ll be alright”
Rating 7.8





Trance (2013)
Danny Boyle’s latest. You can’t trust the world you’re in, it should really be watched as a thriller/noir. Trance messes with your head, as much as it messes with its protagonist's head. There are unexplained things I’m still confused by. Thanks in part to cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, the film looks really beautiful, almost Blade Runner-esque, in terms of background colors. For me, the story was quite entertaining, yet a bit implausible.
I found it a little difficult to believe that both Vincent Cassel and James McAvoy both would be obsessed with Rosario Dawson’s character.
I liked the soundtrack quite a lot.
Favorite quote: “We keep secrets from lots of people, but most of all we keep them from ourselves, and we call that forgetting”
Rating 7.0





Disconnect (2012)
I liked it, despite it feeling like an extended tv-episode. About internet bank fraud, internet identity pranks. To be honest it’s mainly pessimistic about the internet.
The second hour isn’t as captivating, but overall well worth your time, because the themes are so contemporary.
Favorite quote: “Ben’s at that age, huh. When you have to pull every word out of him. He’s 15”
Rating 7.5





500 Days of Summer (2009)
A cute depiction of falling in love, and struggling to define the relationship. Very quirky and stylized, with a nice soundtrack. I liked all the little references to music and movies. My favorite scene is when they go to the karaoke bar.
Favorite quote: “I just don’t feel comfortable being anyone’s girlfriend, I actually don’t feel comfortable being anyone’s anything, you know”
Rating 7.7





Gone Baby Gone (2007)
It’s an ugly subject matter, and I didn’t like the characters in Gone Baby Gone, but it’s a well-told story, with twists and turns, and the ending does make you think. It sort of reminded me of tv-show The Wire, so it was no surprise for me to read that Lehane wrote several episodes for that show. My favorite part of the film is the intro voice-over. Even though I didn’t love Gone Baby Gone, I can still appreciate that it’s a good first feature. I just prefer The Town (2010), of the films Ben Affleck directed.
Apparently, the novel by Dennis Lehane is Ben Affleck’s favorite, Lehane also wrote Mystic River and Shutter Island.
Favorite quote: “I always believed it was the things you don’t choose, that make you who you are. Your city, your neighborhood, your family. People here take pride in these things, like it was something they had accomplished”
“He lied to me. I can’t think of one reason bigger enough for him to lie, that’s small enough not to matter”
Rating 7.4





Oldboy (2003)
By the guy who directed Stoker, Chan-wook Park. A man is imprisoned in a room and doesn’t know why.
Unique movie, with some nice editing tricks. Famous for the scene when he eats an octopus. The main character is easy to root for, because he has been wronged, but he’s not someone I can actually say I liked.
I could have done without the tooth scene, and the tongue scene. A good film, but maybe because of the torture, I didn’t love the film as others have.
It was quite a heavy watch, I needed to take a few breaks, so it took me half a day to finish it. What I liked most was the editing and visuals.
Rating 7.5





The Night of The Hunter (1955)
The use of shadows and lighting is extraordinary. That singing by Robert Mitchum is pretty creepy. Good story, and probably the best film I saw this month.
Rating 8.0





Paris, Texas (1984)
Winner of the Palme d’Or. For me, the film has a strong beginning, surprisingly weak middle section, and strong ending.
I really liked the first 25 minutes (which might have made a great short film?), but once Travis started talking it lost a bit of magic for me. During the middle section of the movie I was actually bored. Once the two go on a road trip towards the end, it picked up again. The walkie-talkies thing was cute.
Spoiler: The long monologue near the end is powerful, but I had a tough time believing that it took two visits for her to recognize his voice in the booth? Maybe the first visit she knew it was Travis, and was simply blocking him out? I also struggled to imagine the young woman falling for a dull Harry Dean Stanton. The end scene feels unresolved, why does he go off without them?
Favorite quote: “I wanted to see him so bad that I didn’t even dare imagine him anymore. Anne kept sending me pictures of him until I asked her to stop. I couldn’t stand the pain of seeing him grow up and missing it. (…) I didn’t have what I knew he needed”
Rating 7.5





Stalag 17 (1953)
Directed by Billy Wilder. What I would call a “hang out movie”. It has a lot of snappy, entertaining dialogue. Set during WW2, we are a fly-on-the-wall in a Prisoner of war camp.
I liked it, especially the first hour, when the characters and setting are introduced.
Rating 7.4





Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
Entertaining war actioner, about a team that is recruited to steal gold behind enemy lines. Surprised by the title, since the soldiers are not what you would call war heroes, but have selfish motivations.
Stars Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, in fact many of the same actors from The Dirty Dozen (1967).
Favorite quote: “Do me a favor, don’t call me Barbara, my name’s Babra!”
Rating 7.6





Rififi (1955)
An influential film noir. It wouldn’t go on my top 10 film noir list (probably top 15). The planning of and execution of the heist was the best thing about it. The end scene when he drives around, out of control, also stayed with me.
Rating 7.5





Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
A “Hitchcockian” thriller/noir/western, with a solid cast. A man (Spencer Tracy) arrives in a small town in the middle of nowhere, the community is secretive, and don't welcome outsiders.
The scenes that stuck with me: when he makes a bomb using oil from the car, only with one arm. Also the bar brawl between Spencer Tracy and Ernst Borgnine.
Favorite quote: “I believe a man is as big as what he’s seeking. Why would a man like you be looking for a lousy jap farmer. Maybe I’m not so big? Yes, you are, I believe a man is as big as what will make him mad, nobody around here seems big enough to get you mad”
Rating 7.7





Divorce Italian Style (1961)
I guess I didn’t get the humor of this Italian comedy. It was creepy rather than funny, that these older guys were chasing girls half their age.
The husband imagines his wife’s death in various dream sequences, those scenes are visually quite imaginative. Also, good performance by Marcello Mastroianni.
Rating 7.3





Purple Noon (1960)
Based on the book The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955) by Patricia Highsmith, a decent adaptation. Personally I thought Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) was a bit more entertaining and captivating.
There are differences, as 3guys1movie pointed out, Marge is much more trusting of Tom in Purple Noon. In the 1999 film Marge suspects Tom almost immediately.
Alain Delon’s performance as Tom Ripley is very assured, yet also quite cold, so maybe that’s why I prefer Matt Damon in that role.
Rating 7.0





The Fury (1978)
Brian de Palma’s follow-up to Carrie (1976). The Fury is decent, but overlong. The psychic elements I couldn’t take seriously(I suppose it was sci-fi?)
But it has a few good scenes, the intro by the beach, a chase scene in the city involving Kirk Douglas in disguise, and also a few “psychic” scenes: speeding up an amusement ride, reading minds, etc. The first half of the film is stronger than the last half.
The theme is about learning to harness your talent, and not let others take advantage of and corrupt your special abilities. Using your power for good rather than evil. With all the crazy stuff happening feels more like Cronenberg movie than de Palma movie.
Rating 6.5


Seen anything great this month? Have you watched any of the above films? Agree or disagree?





My Top 5

1.) The Night of The Hunter (2013) (8.0)
2.) Mud (2012) (7.8)
3.) Blue Jasmine (2013) (7.7)
4.) 500 Days of Summer (2009) (7.7)
5.) Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) (7.7)

6.) Kelly’s Heroes (1970) (7.7)
7.) Paris, Texas (1984) (7.5)
8.) Disconnect (2012) (7.5)
9.) Oldboy (2003) (7.5)
10.) Rififi (1955) (7.5)
11.) Gone Baby Gone (2007) (7.4)
12.) Stalag 17 (1954) (7.4)

34 comments:

  1. I agree with you. I liked Talented Mr Ripley more then I did Purple Noon. Yes Robert Mitchum in Night of The Hunter was very creepy. Glad you enjoyed Blue Jasmine, well at least Cate Blanchett. I might check out The Fury this month for Halloween.

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    1. @Jason: Thanks, glad we agree on some things. I think I enjoyed Blue Jasmine more than my review indicated ( : A return to form for Woody Allen, so don't let yourself be dissuaded by what I wrote.
      The Fury (1978) is worth a look, with some interesting ideas, but not as good as Carrie (1976).

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  2. You are 100% right on Mud. You said exactly what I think of it, still one of the best films of the year.
    500 Days of Summer is one of my favorite films of the genre. It's quirky but I thought it was charming in its own way. The narrative structure was very interesting. It had good performances and one hell of a soundtrack.
    Oldboy blew me away. The story, the performances, visuals and how they handled that twist. I loved it.
    I have seen Night of the Hunter this month too. I liked it more than you did. '
    Stalag 17 isn't my kind of film. It was good, but I don't see myself seeing it again any sooner. I was mostly curious to see why William Holden won an Oscar for it. And he delivered.

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    1. @Cristi B: Mud will probably be in my top 10 this year. So far, The Place Beyond The Pines is leading the way. Can't figure out where to rank Before Midnight.

      I struggled with the quirkiness of 500 Days of Summer a couple years ago, gave it a second chance, and liked it a lot more this time. Yep, has a lot of charm and nice soundtrack.

      I think I enjoyed Stoker a bit more, but Oldboy is a fine film too.

      I’ll look out for your upcoming thoughts on The Night of the Hunter.

      Stalag 17 has a lot of fun dialogue, it might have made a bigger impression on me, if I'd seen it with subtitles, who knows.

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  3. Oh shit, I'm going to watch The Fury next month along w/ another de Palma film. Oldboy is a fucking classic. I need to get the entire Vengeance trilogy DVD box set soon.

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    1. @thevoid99: wow, lots of interest in The Fury in the comments ( : Have to say it’s not Brian de Palma’s best, especially the last 15 minutes didn’t really work for me, but it has some good sequences.
      Talking of those directors, I’m going to watch Chan-wook Park’s Thirst (2009) and Brian de Palma's Sisters (1973) for October's horror marathon.

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    2. I'm going to watch Sisters as well for October.

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    3. @thevoid99: I saw Sisters not so long ago, and enjoyed it. Review later. Hope you like it too.

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  4. A lot of good ratings, but no extraordinary ones... Anyway I guess it was a good month! I love 500 Days of Summer, it's so different from many movies of the genre.
    Also really want to watch Blue Jasmine because, well, Woody Allen and of course Oldboy. Looking forward to the horror mini reviews, hope I'll have the time to read some.

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    1. @Mette: You’re right, there are many “likes” and not so many “loves” for my September viewing, I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes. Gave many 8s last month.
      500 Days feels unique, I agree. You should see Blue Jasmine, I liked it. Hope you find time to drop by for the horror reviews!
      On a side note, cool you’re doing podcasts, and even branching out to the Lambcast. You must be getting quite pro at it. The new podcast where you guys discuss Sofia Coppola I must get round to listening to, because I love Lost in Translation.

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    2. Oh, thanks! It's just something that's easier to do instead of writing because I have a lot of things of my mind in this last year of high school. Glad that you like it! And on another side note, thank you so much for recommending How I Live Now, I looooved it. So much that I even wrote a post on it, although I had decided not to post much expect the monthly wrap ups.

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    3. @Mette: Cool when recommendations work out like that! I noticed "How I Live Now" is based on an award-winning young adult novel, which you probably know by now.
      The sci-fi themed podcast with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner I'll be giving a listen, two of my favorite films right there.

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  5. Mud is one of my favorites of the movies I've seen this year. I'm glad you liked it too. I am really looking forward to Blue Jasmine. It came to our theater downtown, but I missed it so I'll have to wait until it comes to Netflix.:-)

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    1. @Steph: I enjoyed Mud too. Woody Allen films are hit or miss for me personally,but I would recommend his latest Blue Jasmine

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  6. Nice mix of films here Chris! Glad you saw Gone Baby Gone also, I probably give it a higher grade though. I agree about Mud, the girlfriend of Tye Sheridan is awful but overall I thought it was excellent, it was my film of the month in August :)

    I so want to see Blue Jasmine as I love Blanchett! I don't always love Woody Allen films but I'd give this one a shot because of the cast.

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    1. @Ruth: Yep, I an see from your review you liked Gone Baby Gone more than I did.
      I agree Mud is one of the best recent films, I should think it will appear on my year-end top 10, if nothing better comes along.
      Hope you enjoy Blue Jasmine, if you love Blanchett, you’ll see a knock-out performance from her :)

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  7. You've watched two of my all time favorite films: The Night of the Hunter and Paris, Texas. I also liked (500) Days of Summer a lot!
    Looking forward to Blue Jasmine and Mud.

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    1. @MichaĆ«l Parent: Night of The Hunter would be my pick of the three you mentioned, but they’re all good :)

      Will look out for your reviews of Mud and Blue Jasmine.

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  8. Wow what a month of great movies! I loved Gone Baby Gone and 500 Days of Summer. Really want to see Mud and Rififi.

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    1. @Pete Turner: Thanks man! The dvd of Mud was released in September on amazon.co.uk

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  9. Mud: One of the best films of the year for me too. Tye Sheridan was a revelation in it. I didn't think it went too long but I understand anyone feeling so since it certainly takes its time arriving to the point. I was just too engrossed in 3 love stories around him.

    Gone baby Gone: Love this movie! That ending takes my breath away. Yes, characters aren't likable but I don't think they are meant to be either and greyness of these characters is probably the best suite of the film. I don't think it would have worked if we sympathized with Amy Ryan's mother from the beginning.

    Oldboy: I like it as well but I could have done without a lot of it as well. Don't mean it's unnecessary or it's bad but it's just too much. Lets see what Spike Lee does with it.

    The Night of the Hunter: Now that's something that didn't go down well for me. I seem to be alone in thinking so but Mitchum's character rubbed me in a wrong way. He felt too over the top to me but that's just silly me!

    Paris, Texas: Yes, it does slow down in the middle and sure that was the weakest part of the story but I guess they needed it as a natural progress of Stanton's character. And I think there is a definite spark in Jane's eyes the first time they talk but I guess she shrugs it off as they haven't talked in so long or maybe even she doesn't want to believe. BUt that conversation just breaks my heart off. So beautiful but so heartbreaking.

    Stalag 17: It's a fine film but for couple of reason, it didn't make much impression on me. One, I think we have many similar themed films and I quite like some of them and two, probably most importantly, I think it fades off if you consider Wilder directed it. Nothing bad but in comparison to Wilder's classics, not much special either!

    I must see Blue Jasmine soon! Keep it up, man!

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    1. @SDG:
      Mud: I was impressed by the performances too. Maybe it needed to be slow, because life in that area is slow-paced. I just thought could have been edited 15 minutes shorter.

      Gone baby Gone: True enough, characters aren't meant to be likeable. But I love likeable characters, so that's a dilemma for me :)

      Oldboy: I think we agree. Don't know if I want to see the Spike Lee remake.

      The Night of the Hunter: Hmm, I actually had the opposite reaction, that Mitchum's character was not over-the-top. Oh well, I'll be seeing it again in future, and will consider what you said.

      Paris, Texas: Yeah, that middle section sucked the life out of the movie for me, glad it picked up again towards the end. I didn't notice the spark in Jane's eyes the first time they talk, have to rewatch one of these days :)

      Stalag 17: Yep, me too, it's ok, but there are other prison dramas I prefer.

      Will keep an eye out for your Blue Jasmine review.

      Thanks a lot for the encouragement and support!

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  10. After all this time you actually never seen 500 days of summer ?? Oh my, I thought you already did :) Glad that it managed to be in your top 5 of the month. Now I am looking forward for Blue Jasmine, now that I see your score. And nice you loved Mud too.

    Have Disconnect on my list already!

    It seems you didn't watch a lot like usual this month? I'm seeing less too.

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    1. @Andina: 500 Days I attempted to watch couple years ago, but it was too quirky for me, so I didn’t finish it then. I know it’s your favorite, so that’s why I felt I should give it a 2nd chance, and I enjoyed it this time.
      You know what? Now I have to convince you to watch my favorite film 2001: A Space Odyssey :)
      Yep, it does look like my viewing is down, but actually I’ve been watching a few horror movies for reviewing during October. First post is up with my thoughts on Warm Bodies(that I remember you watched)

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  11. I'm gonna wait for Blue Jasmine until it comes on DVD, I've been too disappointed with Allen's movies lately to pay for cinema ticket. Awesome you liked Mud, it's one of my favorites of the year so far.

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    1. @Sati: You don’t have to see Blue Jasmine in theatre(no special effects). I think Blue Jasmine is a return to form for Allen.
      Lately, it feels like Woody Allen makes a good one, followed by a bad movie, so I’m kind of expecting his 2014 effort to be mediocre :)

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  12. I liked Disconnect a lot more than I thought I would. Grillo, man... that guy kills. I agree, I thought The Fury was waaay overlong. That one didn't do much for me at all.

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    1. @Alex Withrow: Yes, Disconnect was pretty good, wasn't it? The Fury was indeed overlong. I think the studio wanted Brian de Palma to do Carrie again(the , psychic elements), and the result was less than stellar.

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  13. Somehow I thought I have commented here but I think your blog ate my comment :(

    MUD made my Fave Movie of August, such a great little film. I so want to see Blue Jasmine because I adore Blanchett, not surprised she's the best thing about it.

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    1. @Ruth: Just took 2-3 days off from the blog. I'm back now :)

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  14. I'm with you on Mud. A little long, but still a really enjoyable film. One of my favorites so far this year.

    Trance was a bit too convoluted, but I liked the way it wrapped up.

    I have been seeing a lot of positive reviews for Disconnect. Just noticed it's on DVD so hopefully I'll finally get the chance to check it out.

    The Night of the Hunter blew me away the first time I saw it. I caught a little bit of it again on TV recently, and it was just as good.

    Nice to see you also watched Rififi recently. Probably the best heist film I have ever seen.

    Bad Day at Black Rock sounds intriguing. Had never heard of it, but you sold me at "Hitchcockian."

    Good month overall!

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  15. Eric @The Warning Sign: Mud was enjoyable, but maybe it could have been trimmed a bit in the editing room. Probably on my year-end top 10 list as well.

    Trance was good, messes with your head. To me the story felt stylized, something you only see in a movie, sort of like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Inception or Memento.

    Disconnect is worth it, expect something like a tv-show, rather than a movie. And I mean that as praise.

    Happy you also loved The Night of the Hunter

    Yes, I saw Rififi because you recommended it. The heist was so well-done.

    Bad Day at Black Rock is worth seeing

    Yep, thanks for stopping by!

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  16. Good month of films, Chris. Nothing under 6.5 is a successful lineup. LOVE that The Night of the Hunter topped your list. I really must watch Oldboy, Rififi and Paris, Texas.

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    1. @Josh: I didn't see anything really bad, which is nice. The Night of the Hunter deserves the classic tag.

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