To mark our emergence from the Covid lockdown, my friend Steve and I ate barbecued bratwurst and watched a couple of movies which emerged from his big 3D TV screen: Owen Crump’s Korean war docudrama Cease Fire (1953) and John Brahm’s B-movie horror The Mad Magician (1954), Vincent Price’s threadbare follow-up to the hit House of Wax.
Criterion’s Blu-ray edition of Elem Klimov’s searing depiction of war Come and See (1985) is a superb presentation of one of the most emotionally harrowing films ever made.
Indicator’s fifth box set of Hammer movies moves away from the famous horrors to the fringes of the studio’s production, gathering a mediocre contemporary thriller by Michael Carreras and three entertaining historical adventures by John Gilling.
Social isolation and “working from home” mean a lot of time for movie-watching … and the volume far outstrips my ability to say anything substantive about many of the films I do watch: so here I mostly just acknowledge what I’ve been viewing in the past 4-6 weeks. Part two of four.
In 1964, Sidney Lumet’s serious movie about nuclear paranoia, Fail-Safe, had a tough time competing with Stanley Kubrick’s manic black comedy Dr. Strangelove, but it holds its own today as a portrait of a particular moment in social and political history. Meanwhile, Franklin Adreon’s pair of no-budget time travel thrillers from 1966, Cyborg 2087 and Dimension 5, are empty-headed entertainment which offer a touch of nostalgia to genre fans.
Continuing my notes on recently watched movies which I haven’t written about in depth …
Revisiting movies from the early 1970s, I recently watched Howard W. Koch’s rather ugly cop feature Badge 373 (1973), with Robert Duvall as a rule-breaking, racist misogynist NYC detective; Willard (1971), Daniel Mann’s adaptation of Stephen Gilbert’s dark horror novel Ratman’s Notebooks; and two features by George Roy Hill, his faithful adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) and his most personal, and best, film The Great Waldo Pepper (1975).
International hit men, a widescreen travelogue, Asian action, World War Two, sex with an immortal monster, the zombie apocalypse, necrophilia and interstellar space travel … another mixed bag of recent viewing.
Indicator’s third box set of Hammer movies highlights some interesting issues about the treatment of race in popular culture.
Three Blu-rays from Twilight Time span the espionage genre from World War Two to the fall of Communism in the late 1980s, each mixing personal drama with larger political issues in their own distinct ways.