July 2, 2013

Retroview: Tuff Fest I: Wrap-Up Mega-Post 1

A Retroview Review. 
Luke here, back with a new limited series where I talk about like 60 movies over the next 60 days. Click here for an explanation. Read on for the quick and dirty review!

The Secret of NIMH - If you saw it as a child, feel reassured that it is still as adorable and chillingly terrifying as you remember it. I was not lucky enough to have known what I was in for. It's like the Rescuers meets H.P. Lovecraft. Okay, not that crazy, but still dark.

Cronos - I was surprised that it wasn't set during the Spanish Civil War, as many of Del Toro's other movies are, but it's a better tale set in the modern era. Del Toro's movies generally concern mortals coming in contact with the other side. Cronos follows suit, looking deep into the heart of man (or maybe just this one man) when he is given something even he already knows well enough not to call a gift. It's as twisted and inventive as Del Toro's other movies, but on a slightly smaller scale, which feels natural and inviting.

Many more after the break!

Princess Mononoke - This was another animated feature I hadn't seen as a child that I feel as though I ought to have. I started watching more and more anime during my highschool years (post 2000), and by that time, though only 3 years old, Mononoke was already known to everyone as a staple. As I watch it now, nearly 15 years later, I can see how basically everything I watched in HS ripped it off pretty bad. Not to discredit the things I enjoyed in HS, but, rather, to add to the praise already given to this stellar movie.

Real Steel - Real Steel is a Hi-Five and a Half. Yes, it is as predictable as you think it will be. Buuuut it's still really fun! I honestly didn't think I'd have as great a time watching it as I did. It's a cute, sappy story with robots fighting ... how can you go wrong? I know your answer to that: Transformers. Trust me, you won't have to suspend your disbelief for Real Steel as you do for Transformers. Plus, this Twilight Zone Episode was based off the same short story by Richard Matheson! The sequel will surely blow.

Drive - A smooth, cool movie. It's the least pretentious piece of celluloid I've seen in a while. There is no more, and no less, "movie" in this movie than there absolutely has to be. There's not a superflous moment in the entire thing. It's also action pact, deliberate, and charming as hell. One of my new favorites.

Naked Lunch - Yep, it's just as crazy as you've heard. I was won over almost instantly when Peter Weller showed up playing our protagonist "Bill Lee" (read: William Burroughs). But what really made me love this movie was that it is, as you probably well know, absolutely bonkers. I love the absurd. I do have to say though, it was a little long. Also that David Cronenberg never disappoints.

Sphere - I can definitely see why people either 1) have no idea what I'm talking about when I mention this movie, or 2) think I'm crazy for liking it. When people hear "Sci-Fi" they picture space explosions, not submarine psychodrama. But I really liked it, mostly because I like how odd the cast/characters were and how much fun it was to watch their world, quiet sensibly, fall right apart.

They Live - Break out the Bru-dogs and hunker down for one helluva ride. I can solidly confirm that They Live is wholly worthy of the hype it has garnered. Yeah, see it, you'll think of it about once a week for the rest of your life, and you'll be thankful for that.

A Serious Man - The Coen Brothers are not, by any means, Gods. They certainly have made a handful of essential movies. A Serious Man is a fine movie, but not essential. It's well shot, the acting is spot on, and the story is cringe-every-few-minutes tragic. But it's joyless, which is ultimately it's downfall

The Iron Giant - I have a tendency to write off animated movies as being kid schlock, even though I know full well that I ADORE likea billiun animated movies. This movie doesn't come up in conversation very often, for maybe the same reason that The Lord of the Rings doesn't: Everyone already knows it's the best thing ever, so we don't need to talk about it. It's pure, brilliant, and unbelievably sad. I definitely cried at the end, but "good cry" kind of cry.

Winter's Bone - Apart from stellar acting, I don't get the hype. I just wasn't compelled by the story at all. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood after watching The Iron Giant. That's a heck of a hard movie to follow up.

True Stories - David Byrne driving around Texas, pedantically learning about life in the fictional town of Virgil. I did like his "serious/not serious/serious/not serious" glazed over stare he employed when talking to the characters in his movie, though, if these characters had been real people, it would felt a little pretentious. If anything, this movie is worth it for the music (supplied by, of course, the Talking Heads), and John Goodman's performance.

The Virgin Suicides - A great experiment in tone, The Virgin Suicides had me not wanting to become acquainted with the characters, for I knew their fate, but, alas, I could not help but become overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia while watching the story unfold. While I grew up no where near the 70's, the movie did a perfect job of transplanting me right in the height of that fateful sepia-tone 70's summer.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest I
Again, for an explanation, click here: Introduction to Tuff Fest I
To suggest movies I should schedule for Get Tuff Fest II, e-mail me: TheeLuke@gmail.com

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