On April 15, I told you I'd seen 7 movies so far in the month. Here they are.
45. (582.) 52 Pick-Up (1986)
Roy Schieder plays an adulterous engineer in this Elmore Leonard adaptation of a novel by Elmore Leonard. There are moments in this film that say, "hey, I'm an Elmore Leonard novel!" But there also moments in this movie that say, "hey, Elmore Leonard should stick to novels!" I'd recommend that you avoid this unless you are a Leonard, Schieder, John Glover, or Ann-Margaret completist. In those cases, you're already a masochist.
46. (583.) Five Easy Pieces (1970)
I didn't much care for this story — "a man on a quest to find himself" describes every movie Jack Nicholson is famous for — but the cinematography is breathtaking. The movie is filled to overflowing with really beautifully composed camera work credited to László Kovács. There's a 30 second shot of Nicholson waking up on a pier that is fantastic, and the credits roll over a painting of contemporary American life that could hang in a museum. Nicholson's character may live in a claustrophobic world, but it looks great.
47. (584.) GoodFellas (1990)
Remember that I recently said I'd never seen Scarface? After I knocked it off the top of my "must see" list, GoodFellas took its place. It's a big long (as Martin Scorsese films are wont to be), but it's easy to to understand why it's so popular. Surrounded by a bunch of bottom dwelling slime, the protagonist manages to look like a good guy as he beats people to death and becomes addicted to cocaine. Now what other movies has everyone else in America seen that I haven't? Philadelphia?
48. (585.) Philadelphia (1993)
All right, now I've seen Philadelphia. The movie works for two reasons (which I'm sure you already know): Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. These two actors could sell shit as Shinola.
49. (586.) Rancho Notorious (1952)
I watched this because I saw Fritz Lang directed it. Lang is the other filmmaker, besides Preston Sturges, that I've really taken a liking to in the past few years, so I was interested in seeing his take on the American Western. This is not his best work. He gets the look and mythology right but the pacing and characters wrong. It's not bad, exactly, it's just not as good as a lot of his other work.
50. (587.) Whistling in the Dark (1941)
Red Skelton's lead debut is a light-hearted mystery about a goofy radio star whose listeners think his murder-mystery plots are good enough to inspire an actual murder. In the days before television, this was the equivalent of Scooby-Doo.
51. (588.) The Cosmic Monsters (1958)
A scientist's experiment in manipulating the Earth's gravitational fields results in giant insects. When the scientist refuses to stop his experiments, he is killed by very polite aliens. It sounds better than it was.
More movies to come next month.