Monday, September 18, 2017

7 Days in May | Big Golden Child in Little China

Brimstone (2016)

I'm gonna mention this on an upcoming Hellbent for Letterbox, but even then I'm not gonna say too much out of fear of spoilers. I watched this only knowing the IMDb summary and that was a pretty great way to go into it: "From the moment the new reverend climbs the pulpit, Liz knows she and her family are in great danger."

Learning why Liz is afraid pulled me into the movie, but what kept me there were the powerful performances, the gorgeous cinematography, and the intriguing, non-linear way that the story unfolds. It's a dark, disturbing tale, but it's so engrossing.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of specific moments as the film's wrapping up that I just couldn't stick with. Just quick things, but they were unbelievable enough that they ungrounded a movie that was otherwise all too real and scary.

Rogue One (2016)

This was the last of my rewatches of favorite 2016 movies.

I liked it quite a bit the first time, but I'm enjoying Rogue One more every time I watch it. This time it got me interested in watching it in context of the entire Star Wars series, so I'll probably try to do that before Last Jedi comes out.

The Golden Child (1986)

One of my favorite Eddie Murphy movies. A fun fantasy-adventure story with a hilarious and cool hero, an awesome villain (Charles Dance), and tons of memorable lines. And I'm still in love with Charlotte Lewis.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Rewatching The Golden Child got me wanting to see Big Trouble in Little China again, mostly because of the shared actors. I'd never made the connection (not even in 1986) how similar they are and certainly didn't know that Big Trouble in Little China rushed production to beat Golden Child to the theaters.

I still think that the similarities are superficial and I'm a fan of both. Big Trouble in Little China takes more chances though and is a crazier, more fun experience for it. It's hard to tell if the movie knows how awful its dialogue is and is in on the joke, but I like to read it that way. It's certainly aware of its tropes, because it's playing with them and turning some of them upside down. I was afraid this wouldn't hold up, but it totally does.

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)

I really wanted to like this because of how much I love all three of its main stars, but unfortunately it was another reminder that I really don't like screwball comedies that aren't What's Up, Doc?. This one almost entertains me (it certainly has its moments), but...

Look, any complaints I make are going to be about things that are specifically related to the genre. It would be like complaining about a horror movie because it's too scary. You would be perfectly justified telling me to just avoid the genre in the future. And one of these days, I'll remember to follow that advice.

Lured (1947)

A brilliant thriller. I love I Love Lucy, but I love Lucille Ball in these early, serious roles (see also: Five Came Back) even more.

In this one, Ball plays a dancer whose best friend goes missing, most likely as the victim of a serial killer. When Ball contacts the police, she's offered an undercover job. The killer lures his victims through personal ads in the paper, so the cops send Ball out to answer various ads and see if they can sniff out the murderer.

What I like is that not every ad leads to the murderer (of course), but that they're all interesting. It becomes almost an anthology, with Ball involved in multiple stories and situations. Boris Karloff plays one ad-placer (not telling if he's involved in the larger case or not) and George Sanders is a nightclub owner whom Ball would love to work for once the case is solved. The rest of the cast is great, too, especially Charles Coburn, Cedric Hardwicke, and George Zucco. And Alan Napier (Alfred to Adam West's Batman) has a small part as one of the police detectives.

Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947)

I didn't care for the one Dick Tracy serial I saw starring Ralph Byrd, but so far his feature movies are great. In this one, Boris Karloff plays the title villain who takes over a gang of bank robbers that uses freeze gas to commit crimes. Karloff feels dangerous, Byrd is charming, and Anne Gwynne's Tess Trueheart is resourceful and helpful to the case. There's actual mystery-solving and some cool twists. I'll be seeking out more of these.

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