Right, so my staycation ended with me feeling under threat of a summer cold. I still feel like I’m on the verge of coming down with something, where the snot-hole in the back of your head feels iffy but you don’t have any actual symptoms of fever and runny nose and grossness. It’s horrible feeling like you might get sick with a cold when it’s 30C outside and it’s been going on for 3 days. So far I’m holding it off with pills. Keep thumbs held!
Due to potential oncoming sickness, I WATCHED MORE MOVIES! So you get two posts this week, you lucky lovelies! Here’s the start of August. AUGUST! Already August, what a crazy world we live in where months roll by so fast. Maybe it’s just me.
186 08-01 The Rolling Stones: Sweet Summer Sun – Hyde Park London (2013) 4/5
This one is a concert film featuring the last show of their fiftieth anniversary tour. Features mostly concert footage with some narration, it’s surprisingly solid considering the near mummified state of the band. The set list is pretty much all hits by this point, I can’t imagine any fans of the Stones being let down by this release. As old as they are, there really is no sense in them stopping if they don’t wish too, they continue to deliver the goods. I’d argue that they are performing better now than they did in the late 70’s, early 80’s, only with the added thrill of wondering if their emaciated, petrified like limbs might break off mid-song.
187 08-02 A Serious Man (2009) 2.5/5
This is another Coen brothers film, and the only one of theirs that managed to sneak by me when it came out. This one is basically about the life of a Jewish teacher in 1967 working on getting tenure or whatever they call it, and all the troubles that follow him. It’s a comedy, and it just isn’t all that interesting. You get a sense that it might be a bit biographical seeing as the Coens are Jewish and from the midwest, but it doesn’t really play that way either. It’s a bit of a broken thumb, following the also less than stellar BURN AFTER READING. Thankfully they’ll return more to form with their next picture, TRUE GRIT.
188 08-03 Game of Thrones Season 4 (2014) 3.5/5
It took 4 years, but the show finally got good! Not much to say since it’s still has way too convoluted a plot. It’s made up for it by balancing all the talking and intrigue with some action. So I’ll stick it out and go for season 5.
189 08-03 A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) 1.5/5
I heard that this one wasn’t very good, but really, how bad could it be? It’s DIE HARD! C’mon, fuckin’ John McClane ripping shit up in Russia! Ends up it’s pretty terrible. Willis couldn’t be less interested to be McClane one more time, with 80% of his dialogue being variations of “I’m on VACATION!” There is a plot, but it’s doesn’t matter when nearly the entire first third of the film is a car chase that makes no sense and is actually as boring as it is stupid. The look of the picture has such a digital polish that it doesn’t even look good. Even the poster sucks. Hopefully this picture kills the series. You can all make your own Die Hard jokes.
190 08-04 The Manchu Boxer (1974) 2/5
This one is a pretty typical Raymond Chow Kung-Fu production. The title character gets kicked out of his house when he accidentally kills a guy in a fight due to his training where he punches hot gravel. He then gets mixed up in a big brouhaha of a martial arts contest which he doesn’t want to be a part of in case he kills someone again. It’s a bit plodding, and none of the fights are all that memorable. Sammo Hung pops up an extra in a couple of fights, but it’s not worth watching just for him. Actually, the most fun thing in the movie is recognizing stolen music cues, unless Pink Floyd did license material to this.
191 08-04 The Big Parade (1925) 4/5
This one is King Vidor’s silent epic based on WW1. Seeing as it’s the anniversary of WW1 today, and I’m trying not to get sick with a flu that seems to be insisting on making me sick, I figured it was the perfect day to lay around and watch it. It’s widely considered to be one of the best silent films, and the first hour might have you wondering why. The basic plot is, WW1 is breaking out for America and a privileged do nothing signs up after being pressured by friends and his fiance. the first hour or so largely details his life in France, where not much happens as him and his two army buddies kick about waiting for orders. Once those orders come through, the whole picture shifts into battle mode and the horrors of WW1 trench style warfare start to knock the wind from you. A hell of a movie, with an incredibly natural performance by John Gilbert in the lead. Gilbert is mostly remembered now as the actor who lost his career when sound ended the silent era, and it’s a shame since he’s really good, including the odd performance I’ve seen of his in speaking parts.
192 08-04 Marty (1953) 4/5
This is the original, live on TV broadcast version starring Rod Steiger. He plays a 37 year old butcher who’s henpecked by pretty much everyone in Queens to get married. The ending is a bit of a let down, but the journey there is amazing. Steiger is all wounded emotion, and puts in an absolutely incredible performance. It’s amazing that this was broadcast live once, and then the tape stuck away in a vault until the late seventies. It’s kind of a shame that TV doesn’t do this type of live drama stuff more often.
193 The Skyhawk (1974) 2.5/5
This is on the same disc as MANCHU BOXER, and is a better movie. The Skyhawk is an older master of Shaolin Kung-Fu, or some such horseshit where he flips around a bunch when he fights, and his disciples (one of them Sammo Hung, again playing a character called “Fatso” in the crummy English dub) get mixed up in some crime intrigue while Skyhawk is visiting a relative in Thailand. It’s not the greatest chop-socky you will watch, but the fights are pretty decent and the film worked better than MANCHU BOXER did.
That’s probably it for this week. Time to take more pills and try to keep this cold away.