Film Journal 2005

001.  (Jan 03) AN INJURY TO ONE (2002, Travis Wilkerson)*  65

002.  (Jan 13) ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHIDS (2004, Dwight H. Little)* 32
I guess hunting regular orchids are not scary enough for a killer snake movie.  Stupid and not in the fun way the original Anaconda film was (from director Luis Llosa who tends to make dumb genre pictures with just enough camp to make them fun, see also The Specialist), this one opts for an equally ridiculous snake and exceptionally annoying characters to pad time between killings.  Although, one could possibly say that the plot of Anacondas resembles the most recent Iraq War; a group of Americans go into dangerous territory (with token British involvement) guided largely by former military man that now specializes in dangerous deployment for hire (read: Mercenary) and they encounter a dangerous enemy that is able to hide among its surroundings and attack the group at will... but that would probably be too big of a stretch, so forget I ever said it.

003. (Jan 13) DAYS OF BEING WILD (1991, Wong Kar-wai)
Probably not the film's fault as I had just worked a 12 hour shift and was running on about 5 hours of sleep.  I think I was low 60s/high 50s before I started drifting away, but another viewing will definitely be in order (although sadly, it will have to be on dvd rather than theatrical).

004. (Jan 24) FRONTIER MARSHAL (1939, Allan Dwan) * 64
Certainly not comparable in quality to Ford’s superb My Darling Clementine but Frontier Marshal is pretty effective in its own right.  Significantly it is missing the Earp brothers, the Clantons and Clementine (Earp as played by a young Randolph Scott is asexual); also the final showdown at the OK Coral is very different here than it is in subsequent versions.  Dark photography and some interesting shading to the characters make this film stand out as a good and effective western.

005. (Jan 25) THREE ... EXTREMES (2004, Takashi Miike, Fruit Chan and Chan-Wook Park)* 71
The Box is the obvious stand out film here, with Miike taking the confidence of Audition and mixing it with the surrealism of Gozu (although minus the gore of the former or the goofy humor of the later) to make a terrifically eerie piece of cinema.  Miike keeps throwing curveballs to the viewer in this short; initially setting up a plot that seems fairly generic among the new wave of Japanese horror films (girl in haunted building is scared by a ghost) but then twisting it towards haunting family horrors which are not too far removed from those he dabbled in with Visitor Q, all the while Miike shifts the time-line and blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. 

Fruit Chan’s
Dumplings is least successful film collected here, at least in this version which has been shortened down from feature length to fit the anthology structure of Three … Extremes.  It takes an interesting premise and squanders it by never really developing into the Cronenbergian bodily horror film that it promises.  Instead, the horrific changes that her body encounters after her attempted rejuvenation is not delved into beyond a few surface drawbacks and the consumer/fashion satiric elements are withdrawn to the point that you wonder if Fruit Chan was even intending it.  As always, Christopher Doyle’s photography is beautiful and his brilliant eye for off-kilter framing patterns makes the film compelling beyond anything that Fruit Chan attempts with the plot elements.

Chan-Wook Park’s
Cut occupies the middle ground between the two previous films, never reaching the heights of The Box but always more compelling than Dumplings.  Park is as stylistically excessive here as he was with Old Boy (which is the only other film of his that I have seen to date), with the camera roving through walls and other barriers projecting a god’s eye view of the revenge soaked work that Park once again has his characters inhabit.  What Cut lacks however is the storytelling grace that Park employed in Old Boy and his tale of revenge is far less involving here because the film lacks compelling characters or motivation.  However, if Cut is a disappointment at all it is only because of its close relation to the superior Old Boy, as a stand-alone horror piece (especially at this truncated running time) it is effective and often exhilarating.

006. (Jan 27) THE BEYOND (1981, Lucio Fulci)* 56
Starts and ends well, but Fulci doesn't even attempt to make this film about anything beyond its copious gore effects.  When the film attempts to be scary or atmospheric it is effective, but the film keeps making detours eventually tying the film in so many knots that it doesn't make a lick of sense.  Still pretty hard to shake.

007. (Jan 27)
I can't remember the original cut well enough to speak in clear terms about why this is a nearly great film while the former was merely a good film.

008. (Jan 28) I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD (2004, Mike Hodges)* 61

009. (Jan 29) CELLULAR (2004, David R. Ellis)* 48

010. (Feb 2) NAKED (1993, Mike Leigh)* 83

011. (Feb 3) BAD EDUCATION (2004, Pedro Almodovar) 50
My second favorite Almodovar film to date (behind Live Flesh - which is his only film that I like) and so I must conclude that Almodovar and I don't gel.  This film is far too busy for its own good, with the story within a story within a story that pushes its post-modernist fun to the breaking point where it becomes tedious and annoying.

012. (Feb 3) SIDEWAYS (2004, Alexander Payne) 67
I am baffled by both the love and hatred this film has received in the months since its release, calm down folks.  This is a pleasant little character piece, sometimes funny and overlong by at least twenty minutes.  It is well acted all around and usually pretty smart; but the kind of smart film that does all the thinking for you - if that makes any damn sense at all.  I still think the Payne of Election-era would ridicule the middlebrow Payne of Sideways.

013. (Feb 4) ANATOMY OF HELL (2004, Catherine Breillat)* 71

014. (Feb 4) MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004, Clint Eastwood) 83

015. (Feb 5) HEAD-ON (2004, Fatih Akin) 69

016. (Feb 8) THE VILLAGE (2004, M. Night Shyamalan)* 45
A couple of great moments; first a beautiful shot of two characters talking on opposing sides of the frame while the mist-filled landscape separates them and the second scene a moment of violence that occurs mostly in close-ups. Also Shyamalan’s use of red here and his decision to clothe the creatures in red cloaks is a stroke of genius.  However, things grow increasingly silly in the second half with each plot twist until finally I just gave up caring about anything the film was trying to accomplish.  Sadly another case of Shyamalan sabotaging an interesting set-up with ridiculously lame screenwriting, I sense that he will make a good film as soon as he gets his hand on someone else material.

017. (Feb 9) THE GRUDGE (2004, Takashi Shimizu)* 47
I wasn’t a big fan of the original Ju-on and although this remake has a more coherent storyline (what I remember most about the original is that I had very little idea what was going on – possibly also due to being a midnight screening at the end of a long TIFF day) it is also less creepy, instead opting for louder boo moments.

018. (Feb 16) SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW (2004, Kerry Conran)* 41

019. (Feb 17)
MASCULINE-FEMININE (1966, Jean-luc Godard) 67

020. (Feb 18) SAW (2004, James Wan)* 28
Decent premise is completely undermined by increasingly inane plot manipulations and some unbearable hacktastic direction from James Wan (who never met a cheesy fast-motion montage he didn’t love).

021. (Feb 19) SHAOLIN SOCCER (2001, Stephen Chow)* 60
I thought I should  catch up with Stephen Chow before his much hyped Kung Fu Hustle opens this April and I was mostly impressed with the goofy charm of this film (the first of his that I’ve seen).  Highlights include a left-field musical sequence and the first soccer match against the team that fights very dirty, but a lot of visual gags have stuck with me even as the plot is designed to be disposable upon contact.

022. (Feb 19) I HEART HUCKABEES (2004, David O. Russell)* 75

023. (Feb 20) CREEPSHOW 2 (1987, Michael Gornick)* 43
First story is a complete failure, the second is a nifty suspense piece that overcomes terrible performances and the third is a throwaway horror-comedy piece but probably the highlight of the film.  Romero’s comic touch is missing, but so was the budget.

024. (Feb 21) TOOLBOX MURDERS (2003, Tobe Hooper)* 61
It’s nice to see the old horror pros from the 70s are still making vital films within the modern B-film genre niche; with Romero’s Bruiser, Gordon’s King of the Ants and now Hooper’s Toolbox Murders.  This film has a bunch of classic Hooper touches, from the planting of characters in completely hostile environments to his brilliant subtle skewing of horror clichés.  Angela Bettis is fast becoming the most versatile young actress in films and it will be a shame if she is condemned to just adding class to low budget horror and other cheapies, because she could easily become the new Holly Hunter if she were so inclined.

025. (Feb 23) CLOSE YOUR EYES (2002, Nick Willing)* 63

026. (Feb 24) SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984, Charles E. Sellier Jr.)* W/O
I guess I should note that this walk out was not because I was grossly offended but simply bored.  This film has a whole mess of tedious backstory before the Santa clothed killer even begins to attack and the first group of slayings were disappointing as suspense or gore satisfaction.

027. (Feb 26) PIGS AND BATTLESHIPS (1961, Shohei Imamura) 58

028. (Feb 26) NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988, Kevin Tenney)*
I would have loved this film when I was thirteen and in fact it seems steered entirely towards that audience.  The gore is copious and usually related to sex; with the obvious surreal highlight featuring a tube of lipstick being inserted into a nipple - the kind of image you would expect from Cronenberg and not from a mass-produced 80s horror film, but it is typical of the filmmakers' attempts at creating something unique within a niche market.  Cool animated credits and an excessive amount of nudity also highlight this film, which is approximately on the level with Return of the Living Dead (not great but certainly better than it needed to be).

029. (Feb 27) CURSED (2004, Wes Craven) 34
Wes Craven stumbled last time he attempted to twist an archetypal horror story in Vampire in Brooklyn and his take on werewolves here is almost equally wretched.  Part of the problem has to be laid on Kevin Williamson's script which doesn't ever find anything new to do with teenagers turning into werewolves (the wrestling scene is so Teen Wolf) and it is never smart enough to try to relate the werewolf transformation with puberty or other body horrors (a la Ginger Snaps), in fact very little is done with their transformations at all; Ricci looks hotter according to co-workers, Eisenberg starts to wear his hair down and wakes up naked in front of his house (which is mentioned but dropped).  Portia de Rossi's psychic appears a couple times to pronouncements of doom but is promptly forgotten (wouldn't both parties be a lot more concerned and try to come to terms with what she is saying?).  Some fun moments where the film almost veers into dry comedy (mostly performance-wise, like Ricci sucking the blood from Craig Kilborn's finger) but they are few and most signs of the once witty Williamson have been washed away in his sub-Dawson's Creek dialogue and character sketches.

030. (Feb 28) THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985, Dan O'Bannon)* 61

031 - 045. (Mar 2 - 12) 2005 CINEQUEST

046. (Mar 6) THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (1964, Jacques Demy)* 99

047. (Mar 10) EXECUTIONERS FROM SHAOLIN (1977, Liu Chia-Liang)*

048. (Mar 15) THE INCREDIBLES (2004, Brad Bird)* 35

049. (Mar 16) THE ONION (2005, Tom Kuntz & Mike Maguire)^ 21
Unfinished print - I doubt it will improve much.

050. (Mar 17) EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING (2004, Renny Harlin)* 44

051. (Mar 18) LORENZO'S OIL (1992, George Miller)* 74

052. (Mar 19) DROP DEAD FRED (1991, Ate de Jong)* 46

053. (Mar 22) NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (2004, Jared Hess)* 40

054. (Mar 24) REVENGE (1990, Tony Scott)*

055. (Mar 25) GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (1990, Joe Dante)* 81

056. (Mar 28) LOVE AT LARGE (1990, Alan Rudolph)* 54

057. (Mar 29) MIAMI BLUES (1990, George Armitage)* 66

058. (Mar 29) OLD BOY (2003, Chan-Wook Park) 76

059. (Apr 3) FEVER PITCH (2005, Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly) 67

060. (Apr 3) FRANK MILLER'S SIN CITY (2005, Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez) 73

061. (Apr 4) POINT BLANK (1967, John Boorman) 79

062. (Apr 5) LEFT OF THE DIAL (2005, Patrick Farrelly & Kate O'Callaghan)* 45

063. (Apr 5) GROSSE POINT BLANK (1997, George Armitage)* 64

064. (Apr 5) NOTORIOUS C.H.O. (2002, Lorene Machado)* 8

065. (Apr 6) SPANGLISH (2004, James L. Brooks)* 55

066. (Apr 7) THE CORPORATION (2003, Jennifer Abbott & Mark Archbar)* 74

067. (Apr 8) KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004, Stephen Chow) 66

068. (Apr 9) THE YES MEN (2003, Dan Ollman & Sarah Price & Chris Smith)* 36

069. (Apr 10) IZO (2004, Takashi Miike)* 64

070. (Apr 10) RED LIGHTS (2004, Cédric Kahn)* 79

071. (Apr 11) METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER (2004, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky)* 54

072. (Apr 12) WHO KILLED BAMBI? (2003, Gilles Marchand)* 63

073. (Apr 13) WITCHBOARD (1986, Kevin S. Tenney)* 60

074. (Apr 13) EROS (2004, Wong Kar Wai, Steven Soderbergh and Michelangelo Antonioni) 51

075. (Apr 14) DOMINO (2005, Tony Scott)^ 26

076. (Apr 15) HOTEL RWANDA (2004, Terry George)* 58

077. (Apr 16) THE STORY OF MY LIFE (2004, Laurent Tirard) 49

078. (Apr 16) REEFER MADNESS (2005, Andy Fickman)* 47
I’ve never seen the 1936 original mostly because my personal preference for bad films has them accompanied by commentary from the MST3K gang but this musical update is pleasant enough, but most of the musical numbers are forgettable and the comedy hardly ever crosses over from amusing camp to laugh out loud funny.  Kristen Bell’s performance is sometimes extraordinary though, earnest and funny without ever mugging or winking at the camera.

079. (Apr 17) MAD DOG AND GLORY (1993, John McNaughton)* 84
A lot of great stuff here; the way the film handles the friendship between De Niro and Murray, the supporting players all getting the right amount of business so they make an impact, the crime scene gallows humor (which has since become a staple on TV – but as used here is more closely resembles Altman’s MASH operation scenes).  The film is let down whenever it tries to go for big payoffs within these characters (the final fistfight works but the studio implemented payoff to the fistfight doesn’t ring true to the characters).  Still a near masterpiece, the kind that is most frustrating.

080. (Apr 18) SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISHER (1993, Steven Zaillian)* 91

081. (Apr 19) THE FUGITIVE (1993, Andrew Davis)* 80

082. (Apr 19) PALINDROMES (2004, Todd Solondz) 42
Solondz continues to spin his wheels after Happiness, this time he tries to challenge the nature of film characters while taking easy shots at pro-choice and pro-life camps, none of which are as sharp or funny as those Alexander Payne took in Citizen Ruth.  Instead here we get Christians passing freedom toast and performing handicapped dance numbers to gospel music, satire on the level of a lame episode of South Park.  There are a few funny moments and lines of dialogue, but this is clearly the work of someone without much to say.

083. (Apr 19) THIS LAND IS MINE (1943, Jean Renoir)* 56
Renoir does some beautiful things here and Charles Laughton gets to stretch his theatrical muscles, but nothing can overcome the trite Dudley Nichols screenplay which spells out everything and then supplies a speech to tell you how to feel about it.

084. (Apr 20) THE WOMAN ON THE BEACH (1947, Jean Renoir)* 63

085. (Apr 20) KINGS & QUEEN (2004, Arnaud Desplechin) 82

086. (Apr 21) THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE (2005, Scott Derrickson)^ 48

087. (Apr 26) BLADE: TRINITY (2004, David S. Goyer)* 30

088. (Apr 27) MELINDA AND MELINDA (2004, Woody Allen)

089. (Apr 28) BARRY LYNDON (1975, Stanley Kubrick) 88

090. (May 03) THE BAD NEWS BEARS (1976, Michael Ritchie)* 57

091. (May 07) LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF (2003, Thom Andersen) 44

092. (May 10) Z CHANNEL: A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (2004, Alexandra Cassavetes)* 39

093. (May 11) THE LEOPARD (1963, Luchino Visconti) 95

094. (May 14) DARKNESS (2002, Jaume Balaguero)* 47

095. (May 15) ALONE IN THE DARK (2005, Uwe Boll)* 8

096. (May 15) A MAN ESCAPED (1956, Robert Bresson) 97

s03. (May 17) WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE (1980, Les Blank)* R

s04. (May 17) WAITING (2004, Sky Hirschkron)* No Grade

097. (May 17) MINDHUNTERS (2004, Renny Harlin) 58

098. (May 18) ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (2005, Jean-Francois Richet)* 61

099. (May 19) THAT MOST IMPORTANT THING: LOVE (1975, Andrzej Zulawski)* 67

100. (May 27) KINSEY (2004, Bill Condon)* 39

101. (May 28) OCEAN'S 12 (2004, Steven Soderbergh)* 63

102. (May 30) WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971, Mel Stuart)* 82

103. (May 30) ISLE OF THE DEAD (1945, Mark Robson)* 65

W/O. (May 30) FUNNY HA HA (2003, Andrew Bujalski)*

104. (May 31) TWO FOR THE ROAD (1967, Stanley Donen)*

105. (May 31) HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943, Ernst Lubitsch)* 90

106. (Jun 01) MARATHON MAN (1976, John Schlesinger)* 57

107. (Jun 01) THE RAINMAKER (1997, Francis Ford Coppola)* 59

108. (Jun 02) FIELD OF DREAMS (1989, Phil Alden Robinson)* 53

109. (Jun 02) BROTHERS (2004, Susanne Bier) 68

110. (Jun 05) THE BIRDS (1963, Alfred Hitchcock) 76

111. (Jun 06) ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (2005, Miranda July) 74

112. (Jun 09) MURDER IN THE FIRST (1995, Marc Rocco)* 41

113. (Jun 10) DERSU UZALA (1975, Akira Kurosawa) 95

114. (Jun 21) 5 X 2 (2004, Francois Ozon) 41

115. (Jun 22) MYSTERIOUS SKIN (2004, Gregg Araki)

116. (Jun 23) THE FOREST FOR THE TREES (2003, Maren Ade)

117. (Jun 24) LAND OF THE DEAD (2005, George A. Romero) 63

118. (Jun 25) 2046 (2004, Wong Kar-wai) 79

119. (Jun 26) HOSTAGE (2005, Florent Emilio Siri)* 51

120. (Jun 28) WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005, Steven Spielberg) 48

121. (Jul 01) TIME OF THE WOLF (2003, Michael Haneke)* 74

122. (Jul 03) BATMAN BEGINS (2005, Christopher Nolan) 61

123. (Jul 04) THE JACKET (2005, John Maybury)* 56

124. (Jul 07) HIDE AND SEEK (2005, John Polson)* 28

125. (Jul 10) INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS (2004, Zak Penn)*

126. (Jul 13) MY SUMMER OF LOVE (2004, Pawel Pawlikowski) 38

127. (Jul 16) PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965, Mario Bava) 41

128. (Jul 16) IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958, Edward L. Cahn) 24

129. (Jul 17) THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED (2005, Jacques Audiard) 68

130. (Jul 19) OR (MY TREASURE) (2004, Keren Yedaya) 57

131. (Jul 22) THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (2005, Rob Zombie) 70


133. (Jul 23) JOINT SECURITY AREA (2000, Chan-Wook Park)* 58

s05. (Jul 24) THE BOX (2004, Takashi Miike)* R

134. (Jul 24) SARABAND (2003, Ingmar Bergman) 85

135. (Jul 25) LAST DAYS (2005, Gus Van Sant) 50

136. (Jul 26) TROPICAL MALADY (2004, Apichatpong Weerasethakul) 66

137. (Jul 30) TEAM AMERICAN: WORLD POLICE (2004, Trey Parker)*

138. (Jul 31) THE UPSIDE OF ANGER (2005, Mike Binder)*

139. (Aug 7) WEDDING CRASHERS (2005, David Dobkin)

140. (Aug 9) CONSTANTINE (2005, Francis Lawrence)* 36

141. (Aug 10) ASYLUM (2005, David Mackenzie) 43

142. (Aug 10)
WONDER BOYS (2000, Curtis Hanson)* 70

143. (Aug 13) BROKEN FLOWERS (2005, Jim Jarmusch) 68

144. (Aug 16) GRIZZLY MAN (2005, Werner Herzog)

145. (Aug 20) FRANK MILLER'S SIN CITY (2005, Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez)* 72

146. (Aug 21) THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN (2005, Judd Apatow) 65

147. (Aug 25) SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE (2002, Park Chan-Wook) 73

148. (Aug 28) MIDNIGHT MOVIES: FROM THE MARGIN TO THE MAINSTREAM (2005, Stuart Samuels)* 62

149. (Aug 28) THE BROTHERS GRIMM (2005, Terry Gilliam) 46

150. (Aug 28) RED EYE (2005, Wes Craven) 60

151. (Sep 04) THE QUICK AND THE DEAD (1995, Sam Raimi)* 64

152. (Sep 05) THE CONSTANT GARDENER (2005, Fernando Meirelles)

s06. (Sep 07) MELODY (1971, Jean-Christophe Averty)* R

153. (Sep 11) GRIZZLY MAN (2005, Werner Herzog) 78

154. (Sep 17) CRASH (2004, Paul Haggis)* 29

s07. (Sep 17) LOVESONG (2001, Stan Brakhage)* R

s08. (Sep 17) MOTHLIGHT (1963, Stan Brakhage)* R

s09. (Sep 17) WINDOW WATER BABY MOVING (1962, Stan Brakhage)* R

155. (Sep 18) LORD OF WAR (2005, Andrew Niccol) 62

156. (Sep 23) A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005, David Cronenberg) 80

157. (Oct 02) THE INNOCENTS (1961, Jack Clayton)* 84

158. (Oct 16) ELIZABETHTOWN (2005, Cameron Crowe)

159. (Oct 16) IN HER SHOES (2005, Curtis Hanson)

160. (Oct 22) CAPOTE (2005, Bennett Miller)

161. (Oct 23) THE SQUID AND THE WHALE (2005, Noah Baumbach) 73

162. (Oct 29) HOUSE OF WAX (2005, Jaume Collet-Serra)* 57

163. (Oct 30) KISS KISS, BANG BANG (2005, Shane Black) 77

164-173 (Nov 3-13) AFI Fest

174. (Nov 4) DOLLS (1987, Stuart Gordon) *

175. (Nov 10) THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (2005, Jason Reitman)*^

176. (Nov 20) SARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC (2005, Liam Lynch)

177. (Dec 4) SYRIANA (2005, Stephen Gaghan) 44

178. (Dec 4) GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. (2005, George Clooney) 58

179. (Dec 10) MR. AND MRS. SMITH (2005, Doug Liman)* 41

180. (Dec 11) THE SKELETON KEY (2005, Ian Softley)* 59

181. (Dec 12) MAREBITO (2004, Takashi Shimizu) W/O

182. (Dec 14) THE INTERPRETER (2005, Sydney Pollack)* 40

183. (Dec 21) BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005, Ang Lee) 67

184. (Dec 26) WOLF CREEK (2005, Greg McLean) 40

185. (Dec 27) HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (2005, Mike Newell) 55

186. (Dec 28) KING KONG (2005, Peter Jackson) 63

187. (Dec 29) THE NEW WORLD (2005, Terrence Malick) 88

188. (Dec 30) MATCH POINT (2005, Woody Allen) 80

189. (Dec 31) MUNICH (2005, Steven Spielberg) 33




* after title indicates film was seen on dvd/video
^ after title indicates film was unfinished.
Title in italic indicates that I had previously seen the film