I watched eight movies this past week only one of which I’d seen before. Most of them were pretty good. Also, I did really well writing about a lot of these movies as I watched them. I’m proud of myself.
El Dorado (1966): I mentioned this one last week as it worked well as a double feature with Rio Bravo (1959). It follows a very similar plot structure as that movie with John Wayne playing a gunfighter for hire who teams with a drunk, a young buck with something to prove, and an old codger who stand against a villainous crew. It moves quicker than Rio Bravo and is funnier, but I’d give the earlier film a slight advantage.
Welcome to the Sticks (2008): A very silly, very funny comedy from France. I wrote about it here.
The Cariboo Trail (1950): A not particularly great western with Randolph Scott. I wrote a review which you can read here.
The Naked Spur (1953): A fantastic western with James Stewart, Janet Leigh, and Robert Ryan. I wrote about it here.
Sleepless (2001): Dario Argento’s late-career work has been fairly spotty, but this is a good one. I wrote about it in my Friday Night Horror column.
Looker (1981): I loved Michael Crichton’s books when I was a teenager. His method of blending slightly futuristic science with a very human story was right up my alley. As a director, his stories have remained interesting, but stylistically they tend to be pretty dull. Looker is my favorite of his films that I’ve seen so far.
I wrote a spoiler-y review of it on my Letterboxd.
Dark Phoenix (2019): I’d been putting off watching this film because the reviews have been generally terrible and I love the original comic. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but yeah, it is not good. It has been so long ago that I read the comic that I don’t have much to say about how faithful it is, except that it clearly added quite a bit of stuff. Which I get because the comic isn’t exactly cinematic.
I didn’t actually mind the story while watching it. Thinking back on it now there is a lot of stuff in it that doesn’t make much sense, but in the moment I followed along alright. But the direction, especially the many fight scenes, is just bad. It was directed by Simon Kinberg who has a long career as a writer/producer but had never directed a movie before. And it shows. The action is muddled and flat and really hard to follow.
The Big Trail (1930): Nine years before John Ford made him a movie star John Wayne got his first starring role in this Raoul Walsh western episode. I will be writing a full review soon but for now I’ll just say that while the story mostly didn’t work for me, Walsh’s use of the wide screen format and his depth of field is simply astonishing.