Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching movies that deal, however loosely, with people (or monsters) hunting people. This is a pretty basic theme, and has been expressed in a variety of different ways. In the first place there are all the adaptations of the famous Richard Connell story “The Most Dangerous Game. ” Then there’s the Predator franchise. And then there are movies where people just go off into the woods and discover that the woods are no longer a safe place to be. Here’s the line-up:
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
A Game of Death (1945)
Run for the Sun (1956)
Predator 2 (1990)
Hard Target (1993)
Eden Lake (2008)
Beyond the Reach (2014)
The Purge: Election Year (2016)
More than a fixer-upper.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve been revisiting the Amityville Horror franchise, a series of terrible movies whose success is made all the more depressing by the fact that they were based on a tragic true story — by which I mean the DeFeo family murders, not the subsequent “haunting.”
The Amityville Horror (1979) is crap, but has some camp value today thanks mainly to James Brolin’s performance. Amityville II: The Possession (1982) is better made but is still crap, though it’s enlivened by a bizarre incest subplot. Amityville 3-D (1983) is in 3-D. The Amityville Horror (2005) is a fairly typical twenty-first century franchise reset. Casting Ryan Reynolds as George might have given things a boost, but it’s a gamble that doesn’t work. He just seems out of place.
Will you join in their parade?
2017 marks the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. For many, this remains a divisive historical event. Following some of the commentary about it online one can, surprisingly, still find those who defend it. Most of these take the position that (1) it overthrew a despotic political system, (2) it gave birth to a communist state that was able to beat Hitler, and (3) it provided an alternative to global capitalism. True enough, but the tsarist system was dying anyway and wasn’t nearly as despotic as what came after, Hitler’s Russian campaign was probably doomed from the start, if we’re playing historical counterfactuals, and as for being an alternative to capitalism, look at Russia today. Or China.
In any event, over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching some movies on the subject. First up is La révolution en Russie (1906), a short Pathé Frères docudrama that deals with the same events as Eisentstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925). It makes for an interesting comparison, though more for what it says about the evolution in film during this period than for its status as a historical document. Next up is October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1928), Eisenstein’s film loosely based on John Reed’s account of the October Revolution and the events leading up to it. And finally we have Reds (1981), Warren Beatty’s biopic of Reed, covering a lot of the same ground. All of these films, even the 1906 short, are sympathetic, if not propagandistic, about the Revolution. Would we make the same movies today, after the collapse of the Soviet Union? How much, politically and ideologically, has our world changed?
It’s hard to go wrong with such a classic look.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the first three Paranormal Activity movies — unimaginatively titled Paranormal Activity (2007), Paranormal Activity 2 (2010), and Paranormal Activity 3 (2011). They went on to make more, but I just wanted to look at the original trilogy because I think they work well as a self-contained series. And overall, I have to say they’re pretty good movies.
On the whole, I think I’ve had a fortunate life, yes. Happy? Not so much.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching a bunch of movies about tough cops who break the rules but get results. It’s rough justice, Hollywood style. The popularity of such films taps into myths of the frontier and even deeper yearnings for some kind of divine sanction from superhuman embodiments of the law. That’s at least one way of explaining the phenomenon. I don’t think the box office and longevity of the various franchises reviewed can be attributed to the quality of the movies themselves. For the most part, they’re pretty bad.
Dirty Harry (1971)
Walking Tall (1973)
Magnum Force (1973)
The Enforcer (1976)
Sudden Impact (1983)
Lethal Weapon (1987)
The Dead Pool (1988)
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
RoboCop 2 (1990)
Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)
RoboCop 3 (1993)
Judge Dredd (1995)
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
As a follow-up to my earlier post on rape-revenge movies, I’ve spent the last week over at Alex on Film watching some more. Included are I Spit on Your Grave (1978), Ms. 45 (1981), Baise-moi (2000) and I Spit on Your Grave (2010). I guess the original I Spit on Your Grave has some claim to our attention, being one of the most controversial films ever made. And Ms. 45 is actually pretty interesting in a number of ways. The other two should be avoided.
Over at Alex on Film I just posted my notes on The Beach. This is a mess of a film based on Alex Garland’s novel of the same name, which was actually pretty good. I think they needed to take it either a lot more or a lot less seriously.