Worth Watching March 2013

Here is the round up of all the films that I did not feature in depth elsewhere on the site for the month of March. A couple of really fantastic older films, perhaps strangely not on the 1001, managed to outweigh the sour taste of some of the newer entries on this list. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Worth Watching:

  •  The Indian in the Cupboard (1995), Frank Oz – I have vague recollections of my old man taking me to see this when I was a kid. And re-watching it now, I see why I loved it back then. Tis really creatively shot and put together, with some noticeably fantastic sound design. Not to mention Richard Jenkins! (No, I can absolutely not review a movie he features in without mentioning him). The film actually has some really interesting themes for kids to see, mixing in a little darkness and commentary about Native Americans on film at times. This is a really great fantasy tale grounded in the reality of family life. I recommend it highly.
  • The Dish (2000), Rob Stich – Sam Neil is an utter dude, such a great actor. This gentle Australian comedy masterfully creates a sense of time and place. It chronicles the moon landing and the pivotal role the small Aussie town of Parkes played in it. Some wonderful characters to root for and a rich vein of very Australian humour make it worth your time.
  • Holy Grail: The T206 Honus Wagner (2013), Colin Barnacle and Nick Barnacle – I can’t remember on whose site I first saw this, so thanks for the tip whoever you are. A cracking short which illuminates baseball history through discussion of baseball cards, including the titular holy grail. Crams a lot of interesting stuff into the short time: fraud, the philosophy of trading cards and shady business dealings. 
  • Predator (1987), John McTiernan – I can’t believe I have left it so long to see this film. A great sense of humour and a great cast. I’m talking Arnie in cigar chomping mode, Apollo Creed and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura. Vintage 80s ham, yet it really nails the sci-fi by way of straight war film feel. A really awesomely stylish and violent action film that I consider a classic.

Predator

  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), John Moore – As far as action flicks go, this one is old skool and very loud. It is also just action packed enough to overcome a story that is both a bit flat and a bit nonsensical at times. The big set pieces, especially an extended car and truck chase early on, are what stand out here.
  • Cleopatra Jones (1973), Jack Starrett – A cracking entry into the blaxploitation subgenre. Tamara Dobson is amazing as the central, titular spy. Cleopatra is a great, karate skilled spy who answers to no one. Really cool to see a film where both the hero and villain are female. A killer car chase and a convincing exploration of the racial politics of the time round out a satisfying film.
The awesome Tamara Dobson in action

The awesome Tamara Dobson in action

  • Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), Sam Raimi – It’s not as epic as it could be and Franco is all hammy and not his usual self. But this is really quite a good film. Michelle Williams gives a wonderfully nice performance and a talking monkey played by Zach Braff which I thought would blow is a really fun character. The film looks incredible too, with the 3D being really vibrant and popping off the screen.
  • Cloud Atlas (2012), Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski – Epic in length, this actually feels longer than its 3 hour running time. But the ending somehow manages to tie all the strands of this tale together exhilaratingly. In fact the entire film somehow manages to be not at all difficult to follow, a testament to the script by the three directors. The boldest choices here – separate directors and actors in multiple roles (across multiple genders and races) – pay off in spades.  

Not Worth Watching:

  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), Stephen Sommers – Ugh. What an incredibly loud and stupid film. The whole thing has a horrid CGI look to it. The actors here are either really terrible, or slumming it for some reason (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brendan Fraser lead the latter brigade). One of the crappier films ever made.
The craptacular team of Joes

The craptacular team of Joes

  • Sarah Palin: You Betcha! (2011), Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill – To be clear, Sarah Palin is an idiot. But this film is pervaded by a snide, mockingness that I really don’t like in my docos. I am not really sure what Nick Broomfield is aiming for in this. He inserts himself in the film and just comes off as amateurish. Is that what he was going for? The film has no legitimacy, with numerous assertions made but not backed up in any way. More a succession of personal attacks on Palin.
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013), Don Scardino – There is very little incredible about this film which is decidedly average at almost every turn. The lone exception is Jim Carrey’s hilarious extreme magician. But is it too much to ask for a hollywood comedy that is not uber sexist. I don’t understand what Olivia Wilde and especially Gillian Jacobs are doing here. And I have no time for the any attempt at having the word rapist used in a comedic context.   

If you only have time to watch one Predator

Avoid at all costs G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

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