I'm reviving this previously recurring feature, even though I failed miserably to keep it going for a full calendar year last time. I promise to maintain it this time, even during my occasional blogging blackouts (which will never happen again anyway, so it's a moot point). An asterisk preceding the film's title indicates a repeat viewing.
Friday Oct. 17
*Missing (1982): There are parts of Costa-Gavras' controversial, fact-based drama, about the U.S. government's involvement in the disappearance of an American (played by John Shea) during the Pinochet coup in 1973 Chile, that haven't aged very well. But the movie still grips me the way it did the first time I saw it, when I was a wide-eyed teenager, aghast at the role my country might have played in an unconscionable crime. Jack Lemmon's performance seems more artificial each time I watch the film, but Sissy Spacek comes off better and better with every viewing. The Criterion disc has some great extras about the real-life case.
Saturday Oct. 18
*Carrie (1976): Has anyone ever directed a more suspenseful sequence than the one leading up to the bucket of blood overturning? If so, I can't think of it. Every time I watch this one, I find myself hoping someone will manage to prevent Nancy Allen and John Travolta from carrying out their dastardly plan. Alas, it never happens. When Brian De Palma was firing on all cylinders, he was The Man. It's been a while, though. Sissy Spacek as Carrie White = Most Heartbreaking Teen Outcast Ever. Also, I doubt Hollywood would dare to portray a hardline Christian today with the same ferocity Piper Laurie plays Carrie's mom here.
Sunday Oct. 19
Them (Ils) (2006): First scary movie in ages that got my pulse racing: The five-minute prologue actually made me get up and make sure my front door was locked (I'm not exaggerating). I refuse to believe Bryan Bertino did not consciously rip off this one when he was writing and directing The Strangers, right down to the "based on a true story" business. Home invasions are scary. The ending manages to straddle the line between that fanciful, wholly unbelievable territory so many French horror films navigate in and the grimly realistic turf of Straw Dogs and old-school Wes Craven. Refreshing, too, to watch a horror flick that doesn't overstay its welcome. This one runs a brief hour and 15 minutes, and that's exactly the right length.
Monday Oct. 20
The Omen (2006): Better than I expected, although the fact that I started watching it at 1 a.m. during a bout of insomnia may have had something to do with it. Some hugely effective shocks (including the best movie decapitation ever) make up for the redundancy of this remake, which sticks to the original so closely, it makes you wonder why they even bothered. OK, never mind. The DVD includes an alternate ending that is infinitely better than the one they used in the final cut, although there is no explanation provided as to why they went with the wimpier version. Also, Mia Farrow needs to play more demonic nannies. She's really good at it.
Tuesday Oct. 21
Quantum of Solace (2008): Some sensational action sequences can't make up for the overall indifference I feel toward the entire James Bond series. Shrug. Expertly made and (especially) edited, although I kept thinking throughout that if it hadn't been for the Jason Bourne trilogy, 007 would still be operating in that ridiculous fantasyland where he drives invisible cars. Daniel Craig is a total badass, though. I'm interviewing him today at the Mandarin Oriental.