Backlog, Part 4: The Big One

It’s been a while since I posted any movie summaries. However, that does not mean I have not been watching movies on the list. Therefore, in order to keep my resolution to do a writeup on every movie I watched from the list, this post will catch me up through the end of the year.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
As the title suggest, the movie is about a serial killer named Henry. Michael Rooker provides a haunting depiction of a man that kills without remorse and without reason. The film was done with a small $110,000 budget with produces a raw depiction of violence and abuse.

Nine Queens
A day in the life of two con artists that happen upon a job that will make them both rich. Juan is a young independent who runs smaller spontaneous scams as opportunity presents itself. Marcos, on the other hand, works bigger jobs and has a number of conspirators who can help him out in bit parts. Over the course of the movie, the two get a feel for how the other works and band together to make the job a success.

The Last Picture Show
It’s small town Texas in the early 50s. High school seniors are attempting to figure out what they will do with their lives when they graduate. Since getting out of the little town is a hard feet to accomplish, the kids they look at their relationships and where that will lead them for the rest of their lives.

Last Year at Marienbad
A french film from 1961 that paints a picture of three people at a resort hotel. A man pleads with a woman to convince her that they had met a year ago at the same hotel and had a love affair. Another man is also at the hotel and repeatedly beats the first man in a series of logic games. That description may make it seem like everything is straight forward, but the plot is far from that. The entire film has a dream-like feel in which any scene may not have happened. The possibilities of false-memory, lie and dream sequence are all options. The first act is tough to watch because there is so much ambiguity. However, as things progressed, I got a feel for how things were being presented and what the point of the movie might be.

The Thin Blue Line
A documentary about a man convicted for a murder and sentenced to die for a murder he did not commit. Over the course of a number of interviews, the story is told that described all the events that lead up to Randall Dale Adams being convicted of killing a police officer. The documentary features a number of reenactments of the crime. As new information is presented to the audience, the reenactment is presented again with minor alterations based on details that have come to light.

The Hole
A prisoner is transferred into a new cell with a number of men who are planning an escape. The men have no choice but to include their new cellmate in the plan. As the men dig to freedom, they must rely on each other to watch their back and keep the guards at bay.

The sky has been blacked out, crops are scare and meat is a privilege only the rich can afford. That is, unless, you are willing to partake in some of the world’s less used meats (mainly human). The film follows a butcher who is willing to take such steps and his tenets that live in the apartments above his shop. The film was Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s debut, of Amélie fame. In the same vain, the film features quirky antics and unusual relationships between the cast of characters.

Withnail & I
Two unemployed actors live in a rundown apartment as they wait for their big break. Eventually, they hit a boiling point and Withnail decided they should take a vacation at his uncle’s cottage in the country. The vacation is far from restful as neither man is used to the country life and feel at odds with a colorful cast of characters living in the near by town. Things only escalate from there when Withnail’s uncle joins them and has taken a liking to Withnail’s friend.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
A theatrical depiction of a gangster who has made a lavish restaurant his place of business and entertainment. The thief is an oaf and is at odds with his wife, the chef and many of the other patrons on the restaurant. Tired of being berated, the wife begins a love affair with another regular guest of the restaurant. All of these actions begin to build up and lead to the eventual conclusion of the patterns depicted earlier in the film.

The Beautiful Troublemaker
A retired artist is convinced to return to work and attempt to complete his masterpiece that he had given up on years ago. However, this is not an easy process as tries to use a woman who has never modeled before as the inspiration for his painting. The two must come together in order to achieve the full potential of the work. The film is quiet long, as it includes a number of extended takes the just show the artist’s hands as they sketch or paint. Another aspect of note is that the model, played by Emmanuelle Béart, does not wear any clothes for the majority of the film.

Days of Heaven
Bill is a poor labor who travels to Texas with his younger sister (Linda) and girlfriend (Abby) to work harvesting for a rich wheat farmer. Bill and Abby claims to be brother and sister in order to prevent gossip among the field hands. As the farmer watches over the harvest, he begins to have feelings for Abby and unforeseen tensions arise. The movie has a distinctive feel as little artificial light was used and a number of scenes were shot during the magic hour (after the sun has set, but before darkness takes over).

The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Depression hits the Midwest and farmers all over have been pushed off their land. Tom, having just been paroled from prison, find his family just before they head to California in look for work. The story stays fairly close to that of the book, as the audience follows the family as they struggle to stick together and survive.

Brandon and Phillip are educated young men and former classmates. Being men of character, they decide to commit a murder to prove that they could get away with it. After killing another classmate, they hold a party with the body still hidden in the room. The film is edited in a way so that each scene is a long take (with most of the cuts being hidden by having the camera move behind an object in the room).

Doctor Zhivago
The epic tail of life, love and war in Russian in the early 20th century. Yuri Zhivago is a doctor and a poet. His medical skills keep him occupied during the wars, but his poems are scene as a threat during the rise of communism. The film is similar to Gone With the Wind in a number of ways: opening to a still image and music, extended running time and following a tale of romance during years of military unrest.

Zero Kelvin
Two men (Randbæk and Jakob) work as trappers in a remote part of Greenland when a they are joined by another man (Henrik) in order to achieve the increased demand for the next year. Living in isolation and harsh conditions, the men must find a balance as they must survive together over the next year. Henrik and Randbæk clash with each other immediately as Henrik aspires to be a poet and Randbæk has been hardened by years in the arctic.

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