Sunday, January 10, 2021

YEAR-BY-YEAR RANKING: 1929



  1. MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA
  2. BIG BUSINESS
  3. UN CHIEN ANDALOU
  4. SKELETON DANCE
  5. ST. LOUIS BLUES
  6. THE WITCH'S CAT
  7. THE LAST OF MRS. CHEYNET
  8. BULLDOG DRUMMONG
  9. A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR
  10. THE COCOANUTS
  11. THE RIVER
  12. BLACKMAIL
  13. BACON GRABBERS
  14. H2O
  15. AUTUMN MISTS
  16. SHROVE TUESDAY FOOTBALL GAMES
  17. SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
  18. THE 13TH CHAIR
  19. THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
  20. THE LETTER
  21. PLANE CRAZY
  22. RED NICHOLS AND HIS FIVE PENNIES
  23. THE MYSTERIES OF THE CHATEAU OF DICE
  24. ROY FOX THE WHISPERING CORNETIST AND HIS ORCHESTRA
  25. THE MANXMAN
  26. ALL AMERICANS
  27. BEHIND THAT CURTAIN
  28. THE HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929
  29. RHYTHMS
  30. FRED ALLEN'S PRIZE PLAYLETS
  31. COPY

Saturday, January 09, 2021

YEAR-BY-YEAR RANKING: 1928

 


  1. THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC
  2. LONESOME
  3. WEST OF ZANZIBAR
  4. SPIES
  5. THE LAST WARNING
  6. SHOW PEOPLE
  7. STEAMBOAT WILLIE
  8. SADIE THOMPSON
  9. SPEEDY
  10. STEAMBOAT BILL JR.
  11. THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (Jean Epstein version)
  12. KO-KO-S HAUNTED HOUSE
  13. SURE-LOCKED HOMES
  14. WOOS WHOOPEE
  15. GOOFY GHOSTS
  16. THE LIFE & DEATH OF 9413, A HOLLYWOOD EXTRA
  17. THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER  (Melville Webber version)
  18. LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING
  19. THE MAN WHO LAUGHS
  20. THE FRESH LOBSTER
  21. THE SEX LIFE OF THE POLYP
  22. BAMPTON BROOM AND MORRIS DANCES
  23. ABE LYMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
  24. EARL BURTNETT AND HIS BILTMORE HOTEL ORCHESTRA (III)
  25. HARRY WAYMAN AND HIS DEBUTANTES
  26. THE TREASURER'S REPORT
  27. EASY VIRTUE
  28. CHAMPAGNE
  29. THE FARMER'S WIFE
  30. BANJOLAND
  31. CHAZ CHASE, THE UNIQUE COMEDIAN
  32. JOSEPH E. HOWARD:  AMERICA'S POPULAR COMPOSER


Friday, January 08, 2021

YEAR-BY-YEAR RANKING: 1927

 


  1. THE CAT AND THE CANARY
  2. METROPOLIS
  3. 7TH HEAVEN
  4. THE LODGER
  5. MR. WU
  6. THE END OF ST. PETERSBURG
  7. LOVE
  8. DUCK SOUP
  9. PUTTING PANTS ON PHILIP
  10. LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (reconstruction)
  11. 600 YEAR OLD CUSTOM
  12. HOW TO USE THE DIAL TELEPHONE
  13. PHIL OHMAN & VICTOR ARDEN (PIANO DUETISTS)
  14. THE HAPPINESS BOYS
  15. WARING'S PENNSYLVANIANS
  16. ALICE THE WHALER
  17. HAWAIIAN NIGHTS
  18. TWINKLE, TWINKLE
  19. THE RING

Thursday, January 07, 2021

YEAR-BY-YEAR RANKING: 1926

 


  1. THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED
  2. A PAGE OF MADNESS
  3. MOONLAND
  4. THE MAGICIAN
  5. FAUST
  6. CRAZY LIKE A FOX
  7. THE NICKEL HOPPER
  8. EMAK-BAKIA
  9. THE BAT
  10. SLICK SLEUTHS
  11. THE BELLS
  12. ALICE'S MYSTERIOUS MYSTERY
  13. PETE'S HAUNTED HOUSE
  14. DANCES BY ILMINGTON TEAMS IN THE GROUNDS OF PETER DE MONTFORT'S HOUSE 1220 AD. FIDDLER SAM

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

YEAR-BY-YEAR RANKING: 1925

 


  1. BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN
  2. THE GOLD RUSH
  3. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
  4. STRIKE
  5. SEVEN CHANCES
  6. DR. PYCKLE & MR. PRYDE
  7. THE UNHOLY THREE
  8. CHESS FEVER
  9. ISN'T LIFE TERRIBLE?
  10. THE MONSTER
  11. KO-KO IN THANKSGIVING
  12. JUST SPOOKS
  13. OUR HEAVENLY BODIES
  14. KO-KO SEES SPOOKS
  15. THE PLEASURE GARDEN
  16. ALICE'S EGG PLANT
  17. ALICE IN THE JUNGLE


Tuesday, January 05, 2021

YEAR-BY-YEAR RANKING: 1924

 


  1. DIE NIBELUNGEN:  KRIEMHILD'S REVENGE
  2. THE THIEF OF BAGDAD
  3. HOT WATER
  4. SHERLOCK JR.
  5. AU SECOURS!
  6. DIE NIBELUNGEN:  SIEGFRIED
  7. WAXWORKS
  8. HE WHO GETS SLAPPED
  9. PICKING PEACHES
  10. BALLET MECANIQUE
  11. ALL WET
  12. THE HANDS OF ORLAC
  13. ALICE GETS IN DUTCH
  14. ALICE'S WILD WEST SHOW

Monday, January 04, 2021

YEAR-BY-YEAR RANKING: 1923

 

  1. OUR HOSPITALITY
  2. THE BALLOONATIC
  3. THE COVERED WAGON
  4. THE SMILING MADAME BEUDET
  5. RETURN TO REASON
  6. THE EINSTEIN THEORY OF RELATIVITY
  7. THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
  8. FELIX THE GHOST BREAKER
  9. ALICE'S WONDERLAND

Sunday, January 03, 2021

YEAR-BY-YEAR RANKING: 1922

 



  1. NOSFERATU
  2. HAXAN
  3. COPS
  4. THE ELECTRIC HOUSE
  5. DAY DREAMS
  6. KODACHROME COLOR MOTION PICTURE TEST
  7. THE FROZEN NORTH

Saturday, January 02, 2021

YEAR-BY-YEAR RANKING: 1921

  1. THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE

  2. THE GOAT
  3.  DREAMS OF A RAREBIT FIEND:  THE FLYING HOUSE
  4. NEVER WEAKEN
  5. THE BOAT
  6. THE HIGH SIGN
  7. THE IDLE CLASS
  8. DESTINY
  9. LICHTSPIEL:  OPUS 1
  10. GERTIE ON TOUR
  11. DREAMS OF A RAREBIT FIEND:  BUG VAUDEVILLE
  12. DREAMS OF A RAREBIT FIEND:  THE PET
  13. THE CENTAURS
  14. FLIP'S CIRCUS

Friday, January 01, 2021

YEAR-BY-YEAR RANKING: 1920

 HAPPY NEW YEAR AND WELCOME TO THE FIRST OF THE YEAR-BY-YEAR FILM RANKING PROJECT.  As stated in my previous post, we'll be starting off in the year 1920.




  1. THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI
  2. ONE WEEK
  3. CONVICT 13
  4. THE SCARECROW
  5. HAUNTED SPOOKS
  6. THE GOLEM
  7. THE PENALTY
  8. DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE (John Barrymore version)
  9. DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE (Sheldon Lewis version)
  10. THE OUIJA BOARD
  11. HER BRIDAL NIGHT-MARE
  12. GENUINE

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

100 YEARS OF FILM RANKINGS 1920-2020

 The last couple years I've been very lazy posting to this blog (other than the yearly Countdown To Halloween).  I've done more this year to correct that situation by posting more than I have in recent years.  So, because I want to Baron Frankenstein this blog with a jolt of electricity -- and because I'm out of my mind -- I've cooked up a project for 2021 which I've stolen whole hog from Sean Gilman's excellent website The End of Cinema


For years now, the co-host of the late, lamented "The George Sanders Podcast" (aka "The Frances Farmer Podcast" for a little while) has done a year-by-year ranking of all the movies he's seen.  Again, because I'm certifiable, I'm going to try to do the same here with slight modifications.  Sean Gilman begins his year-by-year rankings from 1900 to the present.  I'm (for now) confining myself to the last 100 years of movies i.e. 1920-2020.  It's interesting that both 1920 and 2020 had a lot of facemasks in 'em. 

So basically, there will be 100 posts during 2021 that will have my film rankings of movies that I've seen from each specific year from 1920 to 2020.  I figure I should probably be able to make 100 posts sometime in the 365 days.  We'll see.  So join me January 1st for my film rankings for the year 1920!

Monday, December 21, 2020

DARK HOUSE [2009]

 DEATH LIVES HERE. 



One of that bunch of Fangoria Frightfest films they were making about a decade back, DARK HOUSE is fun and entertaining up to a point but isn't quite fun and entertaining enough to be a hoot and a holler.  14 years ago a little girl named Claire went into a spooky old house -- only to find a passel of murdered children and a madwoman (the murderer) shoving her hand into the kitchen sink's garbage disposal.  Claire passes out and we fast forward to the present and Claire has no idea what they hell happened to her in that house . . . only that she somehow survived.  The now adult Claire (Meghan Ory) is an acting student in college.  During an acting class, a nutty guy called Walston Rey (the nicely nutty Jeffrey Combs) barges in and announces that he's hiring actors to populate his Halloween Haunted House that's going to have a big media blitz of publicity for him.  A group of the acting students (including Claire) agree to do it (there's quite a wad of pay up for grabs); unfortunately Rey has bought the same murder house from which Claire survived 14 years earlier.  Claire must face her fears.  


Rey's Haunted House-a-palooza is complete with a high-tech control room and sensors placed all around the house which, when they pick up fear and excitement from the punters, materialize life-like holograms of a bunch of monstrous . . . .well, monsters.  Evil clowns, claw-fingered ghosts, mad butchers and the lot.  Unfortunately, there also happens to be a real malignant ghost in the house:  Janet Darrode (Diane Salinger) the murderer of all those kids.  And she's out to get some more victims.  And she's pretty good at getting them too as Janet takes control of the holograms and somehow makes them lethally corporeal.  So when the holograms attack now . . . they really kill you!


Now, this is a pretty neat idea for a body count horror movie.  And it's almost as fun and entertaining as it needs to be.  Jeffrey Combs and Diane Salinger are wonderful as always.  Jeffrey Combs is . . . well . . . .God.  And Diane Salinger was the Penguin's Mom (in BATMAN RETURNS) so . . . . yeah.  She's wonderfully malignant and unhinged.  And this is good because the "pretty models" that populate the rest of the cast are pretty forgettable with not much personality between them. 

Meghan Ory is pretty good as our "heroine" Claire but tends to go a little OTT in the crying scenes; but otherwise she's perfectly good here.  The haunted house is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overlit but still looks pretty good since it's technically not supposed to be a traditional haunted house but one that's gonna have holograms jumping out at you . . . so I suppose you gotta be able to see dem.  The CGI effects are . . . well, laughably low rent and look like they are from the early 1990's instead of 2009.  Sure, they're awful but that's all part of the fun, right?  I'm not talking about the monster holograms here, though, because they're all realized with practical effects, makeup and costumes.  I keep using that word "fun".  And fun is what this movie is (with a few sections that lag).  If only things had been allowed to get a little more bonkers, this would be a bad movie classic.

HAMLET [2015]

 




Maxine Peake's HAMLET was praised to the statosphere when it stormed the box office for the stage performance.  Such hyperbole can be a little hard to live up to so I was cautiously optimistic when I popped in the DVD of the filmed performance (I was never lucky enough to see it live on stage).  While I do feel that the entire production was excellent, I can't help but feeling just a little underwhelmed by what I saw on the DVD.  Maxine Peake was excellent as Hamlet (with one exception which I'll come to later on) with John Shrapnel (as Claudius), Gillian Bevan (as the now female Polonia) and

Claire Benedict (as the Player King) particularly superb as well.  Katie West as Ophelia seemed not to make as much as an impact as her character usually does despite West's fine performance; I suspect maybe some of her lines or scenes may have been excised.  "The Mousetrap" scene by the roving players, which can often be a slog, was here excellently mounted in an exciting way.  Maybe it was too absorbing as Claudius' cry of "Give me some light!" was something of an anti-climax.  I also found very interesting the use of piles of assorted clothes to represent the dirt of the gravesite for the burial scene; indeed, even Yorick's skull was represented by a craftily-knotted sweater which approximated the shape of a skull.  All in all, quite a superb production.

Now, my (very) slight disappointment does not mean I was let down.  As I said, I thought the whole production was excellent.  There is only one problem I had and no other review of the DVD I've seen has mentioned it.  It seemed to me that Maxine Peake had a cold when this performance was recorded. 
I have no idea if this is true but her voice is terribly hoarse throughout; ranging from very hoarse to extremely hoarse such that, instead of finding myself absorbed in the play and the performances I was instead waiting for her voice to give out any second.  Peake's voice was also very thick and congested-sounding so that many lines were not as clear as they could be.  She can be seen wiping her nose often and seemed . . . well quite snotty and sniffy, I have to say.  Now this is a terrible shame because, if it is true that she was sick when this performance was recorded, it doesn't really document her "actual" performance in the role of Hamlet.  And yes, this would be a shame because her performance here on the dvd is nearly magnificent . . . if it wasn't for her seemingly congested and hoarse voice.  Everything else about Peake's performance is top notch and she brings many nice touches to the role including genuinely funny humour, a great command of the role and new angles to the "mad" scenes.  It's just that I feel her performance would have been titanic if not for her voice.  I've seen some reviews that call her performance on this dvd "shouty" and it's true; however, I think if she actually was sick then she had little choice but to shout many of her lines or else risk her voice totally giving out on her.  As I've said, I have no idea the facts of her health when this dvd performance was recorded but it's the only explanation I have for how Peake's voice sounded here.  And if she indeed had a cold or something like it, then we are not really seeing her true performance on this dvd.  And that's a shame.  Because Peake shows many flashes of brilliance which may indicate what her stage performance was truly like at the height of her powers.  And Maxine Peake's powers as Hamlet are way up there.  

Monday, December 14, 2020

LAURIN [1989]

A GRIMM'S FAIRY TALE SET AT THE TURN OF THE 20TH CENTURY. 


This Hungarian/German (actually West German at the time) co-production has something of the flavour of mixing VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS with Ray Bradbury's SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES.  Or not.  Only small flashes of those two appear in the 1989 film LAURIN along with the dark-forest atmosphere of the Brothers Grimm combined with David Fincher's ZODIAC.  Again . . . .or not.  But you may see now how many different angles the film manages to juggle and pull off well.  Laurin is our titular heroine:  a young girl growing up in a (I presume German) port town in a house in the woods along with her father Arne, her mother Flora and wheelchair-bound grandmother Olga.  Arne is a sailor who is often away for months at a time and he is off to sea again.  Flora walks Arne down to the harbour to see him off under the darkening skies of an impending storm.  Night falls and the storm breaks as Flora makes her way home . . .only she never gets there; she is discovered dead in the river.  Flora's death is put down to a terrible accident; however, other disappearances have occurred and the same night as Flora's death, Laurin glimpsed a young boy crying for help as he was being attacked by a mysterious man dressed in black.  Laurin is convinced there is an evil presence in the town; a feeling strengthened when another boy named Stefan disappears.


LAURIN is a gorgeously-photographed film by Nyika Jancsó with a wide colour palette depending on what is required:  a muted pallet for grey overcast skies, a warm orange glow for candlelit interiors, vibrant green in the dense forest or deep, saturated shadows for night scenes and vibrant red lighting for scenes of danger.  The film is truly a masterclass in cinematography.  The direction by Robert Sigl is deliberate and Peter Weiresque as the foreboding tale unfolds.  I also must bring up the masterful use of sound by István Wolf which creates quite a few jump scares which do not feel cheap or lazy but earned. 

At first, you might think that watching the film in German with subtitles would be the proper thing to do; however after about 10 minutes I noticed that all the actors mouths were speaking English so I switched to the English soundtrack.  Curioser and curioser.  In fact, this movie was full of surprises as I bought the German blu ray clearly labelled 'Region B' but, when I accidentally put it in my US blu ray player, it played!!!  Dóra Szinetár as Laurin isn't really the best child actor in the world but she is perfectly fine in what she is given to do; she has very little dialogue and most of her performance is in her eyes and her impassive gaze which convey exactly what the film needs.  Brigitte Karner as Flora Karner has limited screen time due to her early exit but she is excellent in portraying melancholy and genuine affection for her daughter - - - and she's the spitting image of Kate Nelligan which is OK by me!  Károly Eperjes is excellent as the town's new schoolteacher (and son of the town parson) Mr. Van Rees while Hédi Temessy is quite good as grandma Olga.  

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

GYPSY

Tonight we lost our sweet, loving cat Gypsy.  She had stopped eating and drinking and was suffering from liver failure, kidney failure and anemia.  So tonight we had to say goodbye.  We loved her so much and, as every pet owner knows,  the hurt is awful.  This comes only 5 months after we lost our other cat Tippy to a tumor.  All this on top of my friends having lost their two cats Frodo and Gandalf as well as their dog Bumbler all this year as well.  I knew and loved them their whole lives too.  So fuck this year.