Lockdown movies 39-45, reviewed and rated

My quest to watch at least 50 movies during lockdown continues – a mixture of old, new, and all the ones in between. One huge lesson I’ve learned is that I only really like watching films on my own – otherwise I spend far too long worrying what other people (ie. my wifey) think, rather than just immersing myself in some artistry.

Is that normal? Can someone please ask a doctor? Or are they a bit busy at the mo?

Anyway, with this seven added to the list, my total moves to a very respectable 45. I’m getting closer!

Pauline at the Beach (1983) – another one from my new favourite director (big up Eric Rohmer) – the master of taking relatively normal unspectacular characters, and making you care about them (for about an hour). The Pauline in the title is a young wise-beyond-her-years teenager on holiday with her much older cousin, the Beach is a stretch of sand in north-western France. As with that other Rohmer classic Claire’s Knee, a couple of bits scan a little creepily by modern standards, not least when Pauline’s cousin Marion is trying to pimp her out to her older male friends, but come on, it was a different time apparently!

Covid Rating: 14 (19 being amazing, 1 being shitballs)

Saturday Night (2010) – a documentary by the moderately shamed actor James Franco (one of the best actors of his generation, imo, just avoid his dodgy “sex scene classes”). This is a relatively unfiltered diary of high pressure TV comedy, following a week at Saturday Night Live (SNL to its friends), from the giddiness of pitch meetings, to the bizarre working hours, to having to perform around a desk to your workmates, to the live show at the weekend. John Malkovich plays the part of “guest host John Malkovich” with typical assurance.

Covid Rating: 12

Breathless (1960) – the Jean-Luc Godard cop-killer classic – before this coronavirus pandemic kicked off, I’d recently taken the steamy Richard Gere version for a walk, and I’d put them pretty much neck and neck. This one’s all cool jazz, negging chicks (did Godard trail-blaze that awful pulling manual The Game?), and chucking fag ends out of the window. Gere’s is more about reading comic books, listening to rock n roll, and getting the ole todger out. Both fantastic films, but truthfully, I’d take the 1983 version.

Covid Rating: 14

I Like Killing Flies (2004) – excellent doc, recommended by my pal Leo. It follows Kenny Shopsin, the notoriously barmy owner/chef of Shopsin’s restaurant in New York, as he steamrollers his way through life barking at his family/customers while battling various existential conundrums. “All of our chefs wear condoms” reads the poster on the wall, and thoughtful observations from my new favourite grubby intellectual include how fusion cooking is like “putting your dick in the wrong hole” – not necessarily a bad thing – how his clunky customised oven “looks like a whore’s ass”, and how “the first duty of everybody in life is to realise they’re a piece of shit.” It’s a very good point.

Covid Rating: 16

Bait (2019) – a beautifully crafted rally against gentrification, there’s a certain irony that the core viewership for Bait would presumably be the kind of artsy bohemian toffs who like to summer in Cornwall, making it the equivalent of releasing a beat poem denigrating hipsters on vinyl only. But that’s all by the by, is it a good film is the question? And yes is the answer, it’s great, and also quite unsettling, mainly because the the sound was dubbed over after filming, giving it an unnerving doom-laden dream-like quality. Every scene is as pretty as a postcard.  

Covid Rating: 13

After Hours (1985) – one of Scorsese’s lesser-discussed films, out a couple of years after King of Comedy and a little while before Goodfellas (and probably not quite as good as either of those). It plays like a series of strange vignettes, as a data entry worker (great job in the 80s) attempts to find his way home from SoHo – the New York version, not the London one. Teri Garr is in it, and she’s always great.

Covid Rating: 11

The Trouble with Harry (1955) – my second lockdown Hitchcock, chosen solely for the running time – a nice digestible 95 minutes, making it perfect for an afternoon on the sofa (and probably about as soporific too). A young Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) and an even younger Shirley MacLaine help an old fella get rid of a body. Or do they? Classic Hitchcock territory.  

Covid Rating: 10

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