January 19

Desperation Rising (1989, d. Jason Holt)

What is that down there? Oh, that’s just Desperation Rising.

Rented Lips (1988, d. Robert Downey)

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January 14

Retroactive (1997, d. Louis Morneau)

January 9

Blood Run (1994, d. Boaz Davidson)

If Eugene O’Neill wrote Basic Instinct. Can you tell that one of the actors feels a little out of place? I’ll give you a hint: it’s the one who looks kind of like a movie star.

Out Cold (1989, d. Malcolm Mowbray)

If Thornton Wilder wrote Blood Simple. A quaint pleasure.

January 7

Too Much Sun (1991, d. Robert Downey Sr.)

Johnny Handsome (1989, d. Walter Hill)

January 6

Thunderball (1965, d. Terence Young)

I never expected to see a James Bond film as dark and funny as Thunderball. Usually, I expect James Bond films to look like Batman: The Movie. This one is a masterpiece.

January 4

Madman (1982, d. Joe Giannone)

Roxanne, you don’t have
To turn on the red light…Rox
-anne, you don’t have to…

This might be the ultimate slasher film. It has a painfully unsatisfying ending (an affirmation of the power of campfire folktales, but nothing more), but it is the best expo of conventions/tropes of the style. It has no novel innovations to distinguish it from films like The Burning and Friday the 13th, but it has a series of extended sequences of stalking and dispatching which become especially masterful in the final third of the film. The above image is from a stretch of about eight minutes in which a woman is being stalked in what must be a 500 sq. ft. set of a few small rooms.

December 31

Young@Heart (2007, d. Stephen Walker and Sally George)

Ridiculously powerful, strange way to end the year. I rarely give myself over to films that stink of sentimentality, but I have to admit a love for the Johnny Cash American Recordings, that profound sense of discontinuity that some fatalistic pop songs take on in aged voices. Here, the highlights are unexpectedly weighty covers of Sonic Youth and Coldplay. And I’ve always liked the album Born in the USA, but I never thought I’d see an 85-year-old singing “You sit around getting older / there’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me.”