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FILM / Captain Canada's Movie Rodeo / January 2019 / Gabriel Ricard

Image © AMPAS

Image © AMPAS

The films reviewed in Captain Canada’s Movie Rodeo are pulled from a list of films that was started when the column started. The list covers everything I’ve seen for the first time between 2012 and the present.

To be fair, I don’t think anyone really needs to host the Oscars. It’s a gig that doesn’t seem to work out for anyone whose name is not Bob Hope. Or Billy Crystal, but that last time seemed to give his legacy as one of the all-time best Oscar hosts a swift kick in the nuts.

So with the exception of Bob, and some younger Billy Crystal, the whole Oscar host thing has been, at best, forgettable. At worst, a shitty host has aggressively sidelined the ability to even pretend we’re all having a good time watching a three-hour industry aware show. Looking at you, James-Why-Isn’t-My-Hand-A-Bong-Franco.

I’m being a little mean. I can absolutely get into watching the Oscars, even if it’s getting harder to give a giddy goddamn, as I barrel helplessly into my mid-thirties. It doesn’t change the fact that the host does set the tone. They are responsible for getting us from one shimmering display of nonsense to the next. Not having a specific person to be there for every transition will probably be fine. God help us, it may even help the show. Since Kevin Hart stepped away from the job, after being ASTONISHED to discover that some old homophobic tweets came back to haunt him, there have been several contenders batted around. Of all of the possibilities, I could probably get behind The Muppets.

Why the hell not? It couldn’t be worse than James Franco, Whoopi Goldberg, Alec Baldwin, or pretty much anyone who isn’t Bob Hope.

Or younger Billy Crystal.

Tokyo Twilight (1957): A+

Image © Shochiku

Image © Shochiku

While I wouldn’t personally start here, if you’re new to the movies of Yasujirō Ozu, Tokyo Twilight is nonetheless one of the most intense dramas of the director’s extraordinary career. Ozu movies are famous for being minimalist affairs. That quality is very much in play here. At the same time, owing to the weight of the film’s plot (in which two sisters reunite with their mother after a long absence), the movie has an emotional punch that makes it somewhat different from other dramas Ozu made. Many Ozu regulars fill the cast, including the iconic Setsuko Hara and Ineko Arima as the sisters, and Chishū Ryū as their father. Isuzu Yamada (who worked with Kurosawa a lot), as the long-lost mother, gives the movie the devastating emotional core that you would expect from such a story. Don’t expect a happy ending, and don’t expect to have a dry eye in the house.

And here’s some useless trivia: Tokyo Twilight was the last movie I watched on the late, beloved FilmStruck.

The Headless Woman (2008): B+

Although technically not a horror movie, Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman is nonetheless as creepy as just about anything that might be more firmly rooted in that genre. The basic plot is not terribly complicated, at least in the beginning. A rich, unremarkable woman (Maria Onetto) finds her life suddenly placed in front of a disintegrating heat lamp, when she comes to believe that she struck a child with her car one afternoon. As she struggles to decide what really happened that day, everything else around her begins to collapse at a slow-burn pace that tempts you into impatience. Don’t be. Let the movie unfold slowly, painfully, but often beautifully. The attention to detail from Martel, both in her screenplay, as well as in terms of her direction, makes it impossible to look away from the nightmare this woman finds herself in. Things get even worse, when she becomes convinced that everyone in her life is taking steps to make her believe nothing ever happened. Did it?

I’m not gonna spoil it one way or the other. The truth of the matter is that I’m not entirely sure myself. What I know for certain is that The Headless Woman offers some of the most tangible dread you will ever experience from a movie.

Ride the High Country (1962): A+

The second film directed by the legendary Sam Peckinpah, Ride the High Country might be his most satisfying movie. Certainly, it is probably the most upbeat movie he ever did. A veteran ex-lawman (Joel McCrea) hires an old partner (Randolph Scott) and his young sidekick (Ron Starr, still alive as of this writing) to transport some gold from one location to another.

The story takes a leisurely pace, as Scott and Starr clearly have other plans for that gold. McCrea is a roughshod, weary man, but his convictions remain as sturdy as the knees of the younger man he used to be. The film largely focuses on the nature of getting older, but there is a good deal of intrigue, suspense, and the standard love story, featuring (Mariette Hartley, who is still working as of this writing). As far as Ride the High Country is concerned, even the stuff that feels a little cliched is charming. There is also an incredible supporting cast of R.G. Armstrong, L.Q. Jones, and Warren Oates (all of whom would work with Peckinpah through the years). For fans of westerns, this is an essential watch. To be honest, if you don’t like westerns, you’ll probably still enjoy this.

Stalker (1979): A+

Image © Mosfilm

Image © Mosfilm

Like any other Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris) movie, I would suggest setting aside at least three hours to watch this. The movie clocks in at roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes. The other 20 minutes can be spent sitting quietly in front your screen, wondering what in the hell just happened.

I mean that in a good way. Stalker is a weird fairytale that takes three men into a nightmarish world to find something that will allegedly grant one’s deepest desire. The movie mostly consists of these three men journeying deeper and deeper into this forbidden zone. They bicker and discuss their plans, and it seems as though very little of their ramblings actually mean anything. It’s hard to say. You spend so much time in the evolving mystery of this world and its story, you lose track of time. Tarkovsky messed with people like that a few times. Stalker might just be his strangest, but it’s a unique ride all the same.

Bewitched (2005): F-

Well, if nothing else, I have something that can bond me to fans of the Bewitched TV show. Why I finally decided to watch this wretched, painful reboot/remake of the classic sitcom is beyond me. It’s a small piece of evidence that I have perhaps finally hit rock-bottom in the ol’ day-drinking department.

Nah, can’t be that.

This movie crops up on Amazon Prime and elsewhere from time to time. You might be tempted to watch it. You might think “Will Ferrell is generally a pretty safe bet, and can you really go wrong with Nicole Kidman, Michael Caine, and Shirley MacLaine (the only person in the cast who shouldn’t be brought up on war crime charges)?”

Apparently, you can go wrong with all of those people. The story is a disgusting, pathetic effort to bring the show into the then-present of 2005, while respecting the foundation and appeal of the original show itself. Nothing in this movie resembles joy or humor. I can’t even promise you that hard drugs can get you through this. If you’re one of those people who likes to watch movies that set your bowels on fire with a desire to die at any cost, I recommend The Human Centipede. Yeah, that movie sucks, too, but at least practically everyone is dead by the end.

Gabriel Ricard writes, edits, and occasionally acts. His books Love and Quarters and Bondage Night are available through Moran Press, in addition to A Ludicrous Split (Alien Buddha Press) and Clouds of Hungry Dogs (Kleft Jaw Press). He is also a writer, performer, and producer with Belligerent Prom Queen Productions. He lives on a horrible place called Long Island.