Film Diary: September


September brought me to 300 movies logged in Letterboxd. I need to watch just over 20 each month now to make my goal, so it’s time to take my challenge semi-seriously again.

Lots of re-watches last month, and two of them I watched twice in the period! “The Visitor” and “Godzilla” were new acquisitions that I watched again during the monthly marathon with friends. (I brought “The Visitor” and Tim brought “Godzilla”.) Some re-watches were for fun (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, “Destroy All Monsters”), some to enjoy for the first time in HD (“All That Jazz”), and one by total mistake (“House at the End of the Street”, which I had apparently erased all memory of having seen).

The biggest surprise for me was “Aguirre: The Wrath of God”. A German film by Werner Herzog, it is set and filmed entirely in the Amazon. Just imagine wearing conquistador armor for a lengthy and arduous jungle shoot. No wonder everyone wanted to kill Klaus Kinski by the end of it.

The result is magnificent, though. The visuals are gorgeous, with the camera taking in all of the lush scenery. The story of renegade explorers seeking glory and riches is solid, and the sense of both the decay of morale and the folly of the endeavor grows with every scene. Most critically, Kinski is at his egomaniacal best as the deluded ringleader of the rebellion. It is a joy to watch him deny reality as it sinks in for those around him.

Another treat was Alejendro Jodorowski’s fictional auto-biography “The Dance of Reality”. Although starting with a basis in truth, the film places more weight on emotional and symbolic truth. Because his mother had wanted to be an opera singer, he casts an opera singer to portray her, delivering all of her dialog in operatic style. By the time his father (played by his own son!) runs off to become an assassin, you suspect that perhaps the film has veered wildly from historical accuracy. Indeed, Jodorowski admits in an interview that he wanted to give his father a chance for a spiritual awakening that he never had in life.

It’s a beautiful film, as confounding and captivating as his best. It made me wonder what adventures my own abusive father could have had to become a happy and fulfilled person, who no longer had to punish those around him for his inner turmoil. I’m betting it wouldn’t involve grooming the President’s horse, but I can’t be certain.

Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
All That Jazz (1979)
Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys (2014)
Boy Wonder (2010)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
City Lights (1931)
The Dance of Reality (2013)
Destroy All Monsters (1968)
Frankenstein’s Army (2013)
Godzilla (2014)
Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002)
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
The Graves (2010)
High Lane (2009)
House at the End of the Street (2012)
Joe Versus the Volcano (1980)
Jumanji (1995)
RED (2010)
The Return of the Prodigal Son (1967)
The Runaways (2010)
SAGA: Curse of the Shadow (2013)
Scanners (1981)
Schuhpalast Pinkus (1916)
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Stage Fright (2014)
To Be or Not To Be (1942)
The Visitor (1979)
The Warriors (1979)
The Wolverine (2013)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

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