Monday, March 10, 2008

An Off Week.

A bit of an off week for me.

65. Dario Argento's second installment for the Masters of Horror, Pelts (2006), is more recognizable as the work of Argento. In terms of production design and mise en scene, it might as well have been signed by the director. In other respects, though, it has more in common with the late Lucio Fulci. This sucker is red meat city. Meat Loaf plays a furrier who comes into possession of the pelts of some mystical racoons. The pelts drive all who come into contact with them to a bad end. Some of these "bad ends" are, um, creative. I'm not entirely sure which is more gruesome: the guy whose face is bitten off by a bear trap or the denoument, which involves a vest of human skin. In any event, the whole thing is ridiculously over the top, which is probably wise, because the material is too silly to take seriously.

66. Gregory Wilson's adaptation of Jack Ketcham's The Girl Next Door (2007) is a grim, un-fun movie. It's not necessarily bad, but it's a relentless downer. And it's based on a true story, too. Lovely. Hide the razor blades. It's also vividly nasty. There's a scene with a blowtorch that suggested to me that I should turn off the tv and go for a walk. I didn't, but there was the urge. If the acting were better, it might well be unendurable, but every so often, someone would emote and I would be blissfully reminded that I was watching a movie. Take that however you like.

67. I've said some bad things about Goldfinger (1964, directed by Guy Hamilton) in the past, mainly concerning the influence it holds over subsequent Bond films, but in spite of that, it really is a marvelous film. Every piece fits together seamlessly. There are no throw-aways. In particular, I'm fond of the shot of Felix Leiter as one of the "victims" of Goldfinger's nerve gas--a knowing wink to the audience that things aren't playing to plan, if you catch it. And Goldfinger's plot to irradiate Fort Knox is second in my affections among supervillain schemes only to Lex Luthor's plot to sink California. Great fun.

68. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, directed by Nicholas Meyer) is the best of the Star Trek movies. Not coincidentally, it's the one with the least social commentary on its mind. It plays as pure adventure. Plus, it has what most of the Star Trek films lack: a terrific villain. Only Alice Krige's Borg Queen in First Contact survives a comparison with Ricardo Montalban's Khan, here re-invisioned as a refugee from a Mad Max movie. The battle between the Enterprise and the Reliant in the nebula remains one of the best such duels in science fiction movies, even if it IS a retread of every submarine film you've ever seen.

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