Our Greatest Living Film Critic, IV

Vol. IV, December 2018

Notorious (1946)

Watched Notorious (1946), wherein Ingrid Bergman is the disgraced daughter of a convicted nazi agent, pressed into service to spy on her father’s co-conspirators, and treated rather shabbily by everyone, including her handler, Cary Grant. The influence of the Hayes codes is felt throughout the movie, as everything was smolderingly romantic but completely asexual. This is the only performance by Claude Rains I’ve ever seen that was good. When they were making the movie in 1945, nobody outside the military knew how to make an atomic bomb, but Hitchcock’s pseudoscientific version was not actually any dumber than the ones in movies today. If you like insert shots of peoples legs kicking things, this is the movie for you. Very tense. Good payoff for how the bad guy gets his just deserts, which allows the movie to end without really any denouement. I give it 4 foreshortened cups of coffee out of a possible 5 foreshortened cups of coffee.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

Watched The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), a Coen brothers western anthology. Of the six stories, the titular one is the least interesting and most disturbing, with Tim Blake Nelson playing a murderous cowboy version of Bugs Bunny. It doesn’t actually fit very well with the rest of them, come to think of it. The best is “The Gal Who Got Rattled”. A very Coen brothers thing is to sprinkle in thematic elements we can feel smart for noticing, but which do not necessarily add up to a complete message. Congratulations on losing the weight, Dudley! I give it 4 dog holes out of a possible 5 dog holes.

Aquaman (2018)

I watched Aquaman (2018), a DCEU movie in which Prince Namor the Submariner (Jason Momoa) fights to save Atlanta. Prince Namor (Aquaman) is a parseltongue — but with fish — and he’s very strong. It’s funny that though they were cast side by side in the same movie, I was happy for Dolph Lundgren and sad for Willem Defoe. There are no fewer than three scenes in this movie in which someone finishes saying their exposition, then the wall behind them explodes so that a fight scene can start. If a technologically advanced civilization has mastered fusion, why do they go to war by having thousands of people line up in ranks and run to the other side of a field while screaming? Honestly, I think a trident would beat a sword anyway. I give it 2 octopus drumkits out of a possible 5 octopus drumkits.

Krull (1983)

Watched Krull (1983), a fantasy movie that feels influenced by Flash Gordon (1980) and Barbarella (1968). In it, hammer-wielding polygamist Liam Neeson uses a very particular set of skills to help Colwyn (Ken Marshall) rescue a female protagonist whom I believe he knew for like 6 minutes before she was kidnapped. Line readings were stilted and delivered like the actors couldn’t see each other. Best sequence is The Widow of the Web: had both a translucent stop motion spider and actual stakes. They definitely shot that tiger up with real tranquilizers! I give it 2.5 flamethrower hands out of a possible 5 flamethrower hands.

Munich (2005)

Watched Munich (2005). Very good movie, not the best. Mossad agents retaliate to the Munich attacks by assassinating PLO leaders in a series of increasingly messy and morally compromised home invasions. Hard to miss the symbolism about homes in this movie, there sure is a lot of it. Eric Bana did fine, but for some reason I can’t care about whatever emotions he’s feeling. Oh look, Ciarán Hinds’ wang. At first, it looked like the movie was going to have an interesting episodic structure, but like the mission itself, it sort of drifted at the end. I give it 4 hunks of unpasteurized cheese out of a possible 5 hunks of unpasteurized cheese.