Monday 26 December 2016
Ok, so I've had a lot of time to watch movies in December. This batch is the second five (of fifteenish), and I'll have at least one more wrap up to go.
110. (1048.) The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)
Apparently, this weird romance/crime noir hybrid is best known as Kirk Douglas' first movie role. He plays a sniveling leech, not the sort of role he would become known for. I have to say, he was pretty damn good, even at the beginning of his career.
111. (1049.) Funeral in Berlin (1966)
This is the second of the Harry Palmer spy movies featuring Michael Caine. (Palmer is far more believable than James Bond. When the woman comes on to him, he realizes she has to be a plant. Because who would come on to him?) Of the three made in the 60s, I think this one is the best of the bunch, though it does make "British Intelligence" an oxymoron. (The Soviet plan is obvious almost as soon as Colonel Stok is introduced.)
112. (1050.) Billion Dollar Brain (1967)
The third and final theatrical Harry Palmer movie (there were two more made for television in the 1990s) is the weakest I've seen by far. It strays too far into James Bond territory with a ridiculous villain in his own army and hidden lair. With everyone behaving so bizarrely, I often found myself cheering for Colonel Stok, the loyal Soviet returning from Funeral in Berlin. (It wasn't his funeral.) This was not the right direction for this franchise.
113. (1051.) Quintet (1979)
I admit that I watched this because it was a Robert Altman sci-fi movie, and I wanted to see how his near religious devotion to film realism (and Paul Newman) would translate to a dystopian environment. Surprisingly, it was that realism that elevated this material above its Buck Rogers-style plot whose moral is "life sucks, don't play." Wow. Thanks for that.
114. (1052.) Head (1968)
I was charmed by this, the only feature film starring The Monkees. It's incredibly endearing to see them try so damn hard to bite the hands that created them. There's a lot of fun and insightful stuff here (proudly penned in part by Jack Nicholson (yes, that Jack Nicholson)), including great use of Coca-Cola product placement in a metaphor for the market forces that created The Monkees for mass market consumption. Sadly, because it's not paced well, long stretches of this film can be a bit of a dull watch. I recommend liberal use of the fast forward button.
More to come.