Watched Journal: September 2023
I spent September patching some holes in both my Blu-ray collection and among two of my favorite late directors, William Friedkin and Michael Cimino.
I've been reading Charles Elton's excellent biography, 'Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate and the Price of a Vision' that attempts to unravel the mysterious life of the infamous New Hollywood auteur, tracing his rise from conquering Madison Avenue and triumphing at the Academy Awards to his epic downfall with 'Heaven's Gate', his lavish, over-budget follow-up to his masterpiece, 'The Deer Hunter'. Cimino never recovered after the fallout of the 'Heaven's Gate' box office and critical disaster in 1980, directing only four films with his last being 'Sunchaser' in 1996.
Of those four final films, I had yet to watch 'Desperate Hours' and 'The Sicilian' - the former a remake and the latter based upon a 'Godfather' book by Mario Puzo. Although 'Desperate Hours' features a spicy performance from Mickey Rourke, it's a formulaic and forgettable quasi TV movie, with a lack of style uncharacteristic for Cimino. With only 'The Sicilian' left to see, I just picked up the Vestron VHS of the 146 minute director's cut, which feels like the right way to watch it for the first time. Shot on location in Sicily, the movie has a terrible reputation, with an odd casting of Christopher Lambert in the starring role and a script co-written by Gore Vidal. From reading Elton's book, 'The Sicilian' was the last film in which Cimino was spellbound by a vision and once he lost sight of that, he faded into his own world.
My favorite watch from September was 'Colossus: The Forbin Project', a prescient '2001'/'Dr. Strangelove' hybrid from 1970 about an AI that is hooked up to the United States nuclear defense system in which Murphy's Law comes to bear. With taunt direction from the craftsman Joseph Stargent, who would go on to direct one of my all time favorites, 'The Taking of The Pelham One Two Three', 'Colossus' takes some surprising turns and is a gorgeous film to look at, with its mid-century modern aesthetic and retro future tech. 50 years later, the film's premise seems entirely plausible and it's likely some agency has already fed ChatGPT top secret intel.
What I watched in September:
9-1: Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie [Shout Blu-ray]
9-2: The Last Run (1971, Richard Fleischer) Criterion]
9-4: Fear Is the Key [Criterion]
9-5: Swimming Pool (2003, Francois Ozun) [Amazon]
9-6: Mr. Saturday Night [DVD]
9-9: Knock at the Cabin [Prime]
9-10: Desperate Hours (1990, Michael Cimino) [Freevee]
9-11: Killer Joe [Prime]
9-15: The Boys in The Band (1970, William Friedkin) [TCM]
9-16: Friedkin Uncut [Freevee], Death of Nintendo [Altered Innocence Blu-ray]
9-18: The French Connection (William Friedkin commentary) [Blu-ray]
9-20: Kafka (1991, Stephen Soderbergh) [Amazon]
9-22: Hide in Plain Sight [TCM]
9-24: Mighty Peking Man [Arrow Blu-ray]
9-25: Colossus: The Forbin Project [Criterion]