Los Angeles, Netflix and Summer Under The Stars: August 2014 in Films
So much like last month, I did a lot of television watching in August (The Knick, Outlander, The Leftovers, You’re the Worst), but I also did a lot of rewatching. Some were thanks to TCM’s Summer Under the Stars (I rewatched Marty, The Blue Dahlia, Shane, Citizen Kane, Portrait of Jennie, The Third Man and several others. I just couldn’t help it!) I also went to a screening series at AFI called Reel Grit Six Shooter where they played six films (mostly in 35mm), each film being introduced by an AFI alum and they didn’t tell you what the film was til right before. As it turns out, I had seen 5/6 of the films before and three of those five I’d seen on the big screen before, but it was still a delightful series and I got to see Rocky on the big screen for the first time and there was lots of tears (“What’s gaps?”), so I can die happy now. As always, below you’ll find all the new-to-me films I watched last month and a short discussions of my favorites. Although, most of I watched last month was great and I had trouble narrowing it to five, so I actually talk about more films than normal.
- A Guy Named Joe
- Daniel Deronda (2002)
- Border River (1954)
- Devil in a Blue Dress
- Night Catches Us
- Pulp: a Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets
- Rabbit-Proof Fence
- Bound for Glory
- Lady By Choice
- Twentieth Century
- What If
- Klovn: The Movie
- Tomorrow Is Forever
- Rage in Heaven
- Middle of Nowhere
- Pillow Talk
- Love Is a Racket
- Two Smart People
- Los Angeles Plays Itself
- Across the Wide Missouri
- Night of the Comet
- Small, Beautifully Moving Parts
- Wildcat Bus
Although I’m not going to write about it here, I do suggest you watch You’re the Worst on FX if you aren’t already. It’s so damn good. Especially if you are a young person living in Los Angeles. So I refused to pick just five movies this month (really could have written about most of the films I saw last month), so here are the seven films I watched that I feel y’all need to watch too!
Devil in a Blue Dress, 1995 (dir. Carl Franklin)
This movie is not only one of the best neo-noir films ever, it’s also just plain one of the best detective films ever. There are several Easy Rawlins books (by Walter Mosley) and I am so pissed that Denzel didn’t get to reprise this role in more films. It’s also a part of L.A. that we don’t see often – especially in period films. Just a must-watch for everyone. I was so enthralled and in love with this character, that I immediately bought the book and read it in like two days. This is still on Netflix, so give it a watch!
Rabbit-Proof Fence, 2002 (dir. Phillip Noyce)
This is also on Netflix and it will break your heart. What’s so great about it is it breaks your heart honestly. It shows you the horror of Australia’s Stolen Generations, but tells the story on a simple, small, TRUE scale. You won’t be the same after it’s over.
Bound for Glory, 1976 (dir. Hal Ashby)
I got to see this one on the big screen at the Autry museum here in L.A (my new favorite place!) as part of a Route 66 exhibit they have going right now. It’s so good and David Carradine gives a performances for the ages. Even if you don’t know a lot about Woody Guthrie, you’ll get swept up in this film. One of the best sequences shows you exactly why they called it The Dust Bowl; absolutely horrifying. It also shows you the way the Valley used to be – like my parents always tell me it once was, with miles and miles of orange groves and other fruits. But it doesn’t look back with just fond nostalgia – it’s Hal Ashby, so he shows you the dark as well as the light.
Battleground, 1949 (dir. William A. Wellman)
I have seen 460/514 Best Picture nominated films and this was one of the most recent ones I’ve seen and it was SO DAMN GOOD. Like, how is this movie not talked about amongst the great war pictures? Why is it so forgotten? (I think this about a lot of Wellman’s films). If you love war pictures, this is a must. If you love thrilling storytelling that is as action-packed as it is personal, you will love this movie. If you love goddamned stellar black and white cinematography, you will love this movie. I think Saving Private Ryan, owes a lot of debt to this film.
Middle of Nowhere, 2012 (dir. Ava DuVernay)
I watched this and Tanya Hamilton’s Night Catches Us on Netflix and they’re both simple stories about relationships told efficiently and effectively, but with such deft, personal touches that they linger long after you’ve finished watching them. I want to see more from them both. Sadly, Night Catches Us is Hamilton’s only feature film and according to IMDb, she doesn’t have anything in development right now. Middle of Nowhere is DuVernay’s second film and later this year her third film Selma is coming out (it’s released on Christmas day and I will be first in line!)
Los Angeles Plays Itself, 2003 (dir. Thom Andersen)
I got to see this at Cinefamily and I am SO GLAD they brought it out so people who missed it last time it played the rep rounds could see it (apparently most of their screenings were sold out!) It’s a three hour video essay about the depiction of Los Angeles on film from the very early days of film up to 2003. I doesn’t show every film ever (there were lots of things I was expecting that were left out), but what he does chose to show really highlights some interesting aspects of how L.A. has been used in cinema, both popular and in the fringes. Definitely recommend this if you can find it.
Night of the Comet, 1984 (dir. Thom Eberhardt)
This was actually one of the films featuring in Los Angeles Plays Itself and I cannot believe I have never seen it before. It’s everything I love in one handy little film. Most write ups you’ll read about this film – even the positive ones – will dismiss it as 80s cheese and will disrespect the leads because they are teenage girls from the Valley, and that is just not fair. This is a smart film, with complex women at its core (they just happen to speak with Valley girl accents) who are dealing with a major tragedy (basically everyone is dead because they went outside to look at the same comet the killed the dinosaurs; irony at its finest) in the best ways they know how. This is a truly great film and should garner more respect than it does (even from those who love it).
So that was August. I dunno what’s going to happen in September. Hopefully I get my butt out to more cinemas (I think I saw maybe one new release last month?) and see some great things. I’ll probably also watch too much TCM again. Haha. Oh! and Boardwalk Empire is back for its final season! Keep on keepin’ on folks!
Posted on September 1, 2014, in 2014 in Films and tagged Battleground, Bound For Glory, Devil in a Blue Dress, Los Angeles Plays Itself, Middle of Nowhere, Night of the Comet, Rabbit-Proof Fence. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.