My Week In Movies: February 12-18, 2023

osterman weekend

Last week I did a My Weekend in Movies post. This week I thought I’d expand it to the entire week. I’ll skip the movies I watched last Sunday since they are covered in the last post. And some movies I will have already talked about it, but maybe this will be a way to briefly discuss the other movies I watched. Because I know you all just can’t wait to hear about what I’m watching.

One On Top of the Other (1969): Italian horror maestro makes a sleazy noir. Results are mixed. I talked about this one in my Foreign Film February post.

The Brasher Doubloon (1947): An early adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s The High Window. Here’s what I wrote on Letterboxd:

I’m a pretty big Raymond Chandler fan so I’m always excited to see an adaptation of his work that I haven’t seen before.

This sticks pretty close to the source material though they simplify Chandler’s complicated story quite a bit. The direction is adequate in that you can always tell what is going on and it looks nice, but there is nothing all that stylish or interesting about it.

It is clear that it was influenced by Howard Hawk’s take on The Big Sleep and John Huston’s version of The Maltese Falcon (which of course was written for the screen by Chandler). It feels like a low-rent version of those films, but it is passable in that regard.

The real problem is George Montgomery whose take on Phillip Marlow is bad. He’s too friendly for Chandler’s wisecracks to really snap as they should, and he’s not charming enough for the romance to work. He feels like he’s in a high school stage production rather than a Hollywood movie. The rest of the cast doesn’t fare much better though Nancy Guild does ok as Merle and Florence Bates is decent at the old villain. But the guys acting like Peter Lorre are just pale imitations.

Crimes of the Future (2022): David Cronenberg started out as a low-budget horror director who used a lot of body horror to make a point. Then he moved on to bigger budget dramas that have earned various awards. Crimes of the Future (the second film he’s made with the same name though neither has much to do with the other) is a return to body horror with lots of weirdness. Viggo Mortenson stars as a man whose body keeps developing new organs. Léa Seydoux is his partner who makes performance art out of the surgery she performs on him to remove those extra organs. It gets weirder from there. I’m not sure I loved it, but I do love that guys like Cronenberg are still stretching their boundaries in films like this.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974): I’ve been on something of a Sam Peckinpah kick lately, and I had never seen this one before. It begins with a pregnant woman who is brought before her Mexican gangster of a father who demands she tells him who the father of her child is. After some light torture, she says it was Alfredo Garcia. The father says the title of the film and then he sends some of his men to do just that.

They scour the country looking for him and run into Bennie (Warren Oates) a piano player at a dive bar who says he might know where Garcia is. Turns out Garcia is already dead, but Bennie needs to collect his head in order to prove the man is dead and collect his reward. The film takes a lot of turns and it never goes where I thought it was going. It becomes a treatise on capitalism and how the rich always get what they want, and the poor turn themselves inside out trying to get rich. It is funny, strange, sad, and brutal.

Capricorn One (1977): A classic 1970s conspiracy film that spoils the conspiracy from the get-go and winds up being kind of dull. Three astronauts (James Brolin, Sam Waterston, and OJ Simpson) are pulled from their space shuttle just moments before it launches on the first manned flight to Mars. They are told that there was a problem with their life support system, but that if the launch doesn’t go off as planned Congress will scrub future missions. So the shuttle launches without them and they are to shoot some video of them pretending to land on Mars and fool everybody into thinking they were really there. They play along for a while but James Brolin starts to have his doubts and wants to tell the truth.

A journalist (Ellliott Gould) suspects foul play and begins asking the kind of questions that will get him into trouble. It all turns into a big chase where the government goons want to kill the astronauts and Elliott Gould seeks out the truth. Most of it didn’t work for me. Had they kept the secret a secret to the audience and made the film about Elliott Gould trying to uncover the truth I think this could have been a classic. But as it is, it just wasn’t very thrilling.

Titane (2021): This weeks Friday Night Horror movie was disturbing, freaky, and quite fascinating.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967): My wife loves big Broadway musicals. I can take them or leave them, more or less. I have to be in the mood. I was in the mood on Saturday and we sat down to watch this one. It is a bit dated, especially in terms of its sexual politics, but the music is good and the dancing is great, and the sets are fantastic. A young Robert Morse plays the lead and I’ve only ever seen him as a much older man in Mad Men. So it was really fun seeing him sing and dance.

The Osterman Weekend (1983): Another Peckinpah. This one is a mess. It’s about a group of old friends who get together every year for a fun weekend. Except for this time, one of them finds out that the rest of them are Russian spies. He’s charged by a secret US agent to try and turn one of them into a double agent. Or something. The plot is all over the place and there are all sorts of twists that just muddle everything even more. They say the studio took it over from Peckinpah and edited it into oblivion. And it shows.

One thought on “My Week In Movies: February 12-18, 2023

  1. Having only ever seen Robert Morse in “Mad Men”, you had to appreciate the intentionally ironic casting of the youthful corporate rising star (Morse in “How To…”) as the aging founding owner of the corporate advertising agency Sterling-Cooper some 40+ years later.

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