The Sure Thing (1985) Rob Reiner (3x)
Shout! Factory Blu-ray (1:35)
Even when I saw The Sure Thing for the first time during its initial release, I knew there was something that separated it from typical teenage sex comedies. In fact, despite its title, The Sure Thing is not a sex comedy. Sure, there’s talk of sex (the entire plot depends on it) and there’s comedy, but it’s not really a sex comedy.
It’s a love story. And as corny as it may sound, it’s the kind of love story they don’t make anymore.
If you missed the previous installments of The Beckie Project, or are wondering what in the world it is, you can get caught up with Parts I, II, and III. Continuing now with Part IV, which may be the most interesting pairing we’ve run across so far. (These discussions may include SPOILERS.)
Beckie’s pick for me: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015) directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
My pick for Beckie: Paris, Texas (1984) directed by Wim Wenders
This will be brief. I plan on a future post exploring this film more fully, but for now I urge you to watch Christian Petzold’s Phoenix (2014), a movie now streaming on Netflix.
The time is 1945. Nelly (Nina Hoss) is a Jewish cabaret singer who has survived the horrors of Auschwitz, although with a disfigured face. After reconstructive surgery, she returns to Berlin to find her Gentile husband (Ronald Zehrfeld) who may or may not have betrayed her to the Nazis. Although he won’t recognize her post-surgery, she’ll recognize him.
That’s all I’m going to tell you about the film, other than it’s amazing, multi-layered, brilliantly acted, and…. I must stop. Phoenix is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. (It might just be the best.)
Although Phoenix was released in 2014, it didn’t come to U.S. theaters until Summer 2015. In addition to being available on Netflix, Criterion released Blu-ray and DVD editions of the film in April 2016. This immediately goes to the top of my “to buy” list. You may feel the same way after watching it. Again, look for a full review in the near future (after I’ve watched the Criterion Blu-ray).
Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir (2000) Arthur Lyons
Da Capo Press
Trade paperback, 224 pages
Some of the best film noir movies are lean, no-nonsense productions that get you in and out usually in under 90 minutes. Death on the Cheap takes a similar approach, giving readers a quick but thorough history of film noir before tackling the rise and fall of B movies.
Just a quick word or two about these new releases. I hope you find these monthly lists helpful. If you’ve been following these posts for awhile, you know that some months are pretty slim and others are exploding (like this month). Although I could include releases from many other countries, I’m going to limit myself primarily to those released in the U.S., UK, and France. I know the European discs will (usually) only work for those with a region-free player, but I hope some of these releases will cause you to consider a region-free device. If you know of any releases of interest outside of these three countries, please feel free to add them in the comments section. Thanks, and thanks for reading.
Now, gear yourself up for an amazing June:
Things have been pretty busy around here lately, so May looks to be a rather light month. But we do what we can. Here are some of the films I watched during the first half of May.
The Straight Story (1999)
Directed by David Lynch
Produced by Pierre Edelman, Neal Edelstein, Michael Polaire, Mary Sweeney
Screenplay by John Roach, Mary Sweeney
Cinematography by Freddie Francis
Edited by Mary Sweeney
Casting by Jane Alderman, Lynn Blumenthal
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
Buena Vista Pictures
Walt Disney Home Video DVD – library
The David Lynch Project Part VIII
(The complete David Lynch Project so far)
“Odd” is a word that no doubt comes up frequently when discussing anything related to David Lynch, but a G-rated David Lynch movie produced and distributed by Disney gives odd a whole new meaning.
It gets more odd…
The Hitch-Hiker (1953) Ida Lupino
Kino Classics Blu-ray (1:11)
This post is part of The Great Villain Blogathon hosted by Ruth of Silver Screenings, Karen of Shadows & Satin, and Kristina of Speakeasy. Thanks to all these ladies for accepting this post!
The term “villain” implies that there must also be present within a story, a hero or heroes. The villain (other synonyms include scoundrel, reprobate, cur, miscreant, rogue, louse, brute, renegade, and significantly in our case – devil) is meant to be someone so diametrically opposite from the hero that he (or she) is immediately recognizable, yet completely foreign to the protagonist. How disconcerting to discover that the villain may, in fact, be someone very much like ourselves. This disturbing realization is part of what lies at the heart of Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker, brought about through its villain Emmett Myers.
Other than Jack Kirby, no comics creator has meant more to me than Darwyn Cooke (1962-2016). After having been out of comics for years, I discovered Cooke’s graphic novel adaptation of Richard Stark’s (aka Donald Westlake) novel The Hunter (1962) in 2009, the same year it was published (by IDW). For years I’ve loved hardboiled novels, film noir, and anything related to those works, so when I discovered Cooke’s adaptation, I felt I had stumbled upon a wonderland of crime fiction that was simply too good to be true. The Hunter is the first book in the Parker series, which ran for 24 novels, so I was looking forward to many more Parker graphic novels for many years. I was also looking forward to meeting Cooke at a convention, hoping to tell him how much his work means to me.
As we all know now, that will never happen, not in this lifetime. Cooke passed away on May 13, the victim of an aggressive form of cancer at the age of 53 (just a few months younger than I am).
Artist Darwyn Cooke has died, losing a battle to an aggressive form of cancer. I plan on posting my thoughts on this great creator soon, but things are simply too busy right now and I’m not sure I can organize any coherent thoughts into words just yet. I’m simply say that no one since Jack Kirby has excited me and made me feel so strongly about comics more than Darwin Cooke. Thoughts and prayers to the Cooke family.
Photos: CBC News, 4thletter!, Multiversity Comics