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

Image © Legendary Pictures

Image © Legendary Pictures

How often do you revisit movies these days? More than ever, about the same for as far back as you can recall, or hardly at all? Me, I’m rewatching far fewer movies than at any other time I can remember. Just recently, when I added a movie to the list I’ve been using to write this column since March 2012, I found that I had seen exactly 2000 new (to me) films since the column began. It’s likely that the number is even higher now, but I have no desire to check.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve wasted my life. I certainly thought about that a few weeks ago, when I was reading comments about the mediocre RT score for Godzilla: King of the Monsters in a Facebook group I belong to. While I don’t think you should just inherently agree with critics, or let them guide your ultimate opinion about a movie, I did feel a little like too much was being made about bad reviews from critics who don’t really like kaiju movies in the first place. I think film criticism is important. To that end—and I realize this is just me being overly sensitive—it’s depressing to see passionate vitriol from people who just happen to disagree with you.

Is their snobbery infuriating? Maybe. Obnoxious? Absolutely. In the end, losing your goddamn mind over something like this doesn’t seem like something that really accomplishes anything. All we really do is create more divides among people who like to watch films, any sorts of films. As dumb as this sounds, in terms of any writing about movies that I do, I’d rather be a film conversationalist, as opposed to a film critic. I want to contribute to conversations about films.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): B+

Just in case you were wondering what I thought of this new, thicc Gojira. Despite the clunky connection to Legendry’s first Godzilla movie, released in 2014, King of the Monsters is one of the few pure pleasures of the summer movie season. It demands very little of you and rewards you with a spectacular series of monster brawls between Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, and the rest of the gang.

Humans? Yeah, there’s a bunch of them. Some of them, such as Millie Bobby Brown and Ken Watanabe, turn in good performances with paper-thin characters. Still, the show, and the world itself, belongs to the monsters. Mike Dougherty, who also directed the classic Trick ‘r’ Treat, turns in a decidedly glorious tribute to classic Toho Godzilla films, while simultaneously presenting something that stands well on its own. King of the Monsters is so enjoyable, I’m actually looking forward to next year’s Kong vs. Godzilla meetup.

The Horse’s Mouth: (1955): A+

When you see the late Alec Guinness in something like The Horse’s Mouth, you start to understand why he was a little frustrated by the attention he received from Star Wars. One of the very best actors of the 20th century, the 1950s and ’60s showcase his most impressive range of roles to be found anywhere. The Horse’s Mouth, the story of an artist who defines his entire life by chaos and painting, is one of his best.

If you only know Guinness for Obi-Wan, this is a great way to add to that. Guinness was an actor capable of absolute transformation into his characters, and in a way that was never showy. He created dozens of unique, believable characters, and Gulley Jimson is one of them. You should also stick around for Kay Walsh, a supremely underrated actress, as Gulley’s long-suffering companion.

Black Girl (1966): A+

Character-driven social commentaries don’t get much more searing than Black Girl. Directed by Ousmane Sembène, the story of a young black woman named Gomis Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop), whose journey from Senegal to a job as a maid in Paris makes for an emotionally devastating look at the ongoing destruction of colonization. The movie doesn’t need to be particularly overt about that. It simply comes through in Diouana’s story of isolation that creeps, grows, fills the lungs, and eventually destroys.

At only 55 minutes, Black Girl comes and goes like a slow-burn hurricane. Diop’s performance frames a larger story and issue, one still going on to this day, with sorrowful perfection.

Bad Dreams (1988): C-

A dead cult leader (Richard Lynch) starts haunting a young woman (Jennifer Rubin, about a year removed from A Nightmare on Elm St. 3), freshly woken from a decade-long coma. While Bad Dreams has a lot of interesting ideas, and particularly picks up in the second half, there’s still a whole first half where nothing particularly interesting happens. What we are left with is a good cast, including Rubin, Bruce Abbott (Re-Animator), Harris Yulin (still doing great work at 81 years old), and E.G. Daily (recognize her voice?), wandering around with scenes that feel like monologue assignments for an acting class.

A recent discovery on my part, I supposed I was hoping for a diamond-in-the-rough minor classic. The concept is certainly there for something interesting. The film ultimately just takes too long to get started.

F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story (2018): A-

The case for Uwe Boll, director of some of the worst films ever made, has always been that if nothing else, at the very, very least, movies like Postal and House of the Dead (two of Boll’s many video game adaptations) are not boring. That is technically true, although few filmmakers have gone after satire and exploitation with quite the same degree of reckless cynicism as Boll. Perhaps that’s the compliment we should be paying him, if we’re going to say anything nice at all.

Yet the documentary does indeed succeed in humanizing Boll, in spite of his efforts over the years to emphasize what a brutal asshole he is. The notion of Boll as a cynical hack is also explored. What we wind up with is the notion that maybe, although a hack, Uwe Boll is not cynical. F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story shows a man who seems to be genuinely liked by many of the people he’s worked with. Actors like Keith David and Clint Howard—whose affection for Boll is far more endearing than you might think—weigh on in their experiences. Everyone admits Boll could be, uhm, challenging at times. At the same time, everyone seems to agree that taken as a whole, he’s a fascinating individual.

God help me for saying this, but F*** You will probably leave you with a slightly more complex appreciation for Boll, or at least for what he represents. He’s proud of his movies. There’s a good argument that he shouldn’t be, but nonetheless.

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.