The Things I’ve Seen (April 2014 Edition)

Here’s what I viddied on a screen in April 2014.

Gravity: A spectacular real-time (or close enough) story of survival. I admired Sandra Bullock’s performance as a rookie astronaut struggling to live long enough to make her way back to Earth after one disaster touches off a regularly scheduled spate of subsidiary disasters. Definitely worth seeing.

Advise and Consent: An all-star cast affair from the early 1960s about a close confirmation battle in the U.S. Senate. Henry Fonda plays a Secretary of State nominee with a radical past that he wants to keep concealed. Charles Laughton plays the reactionary southern senator who’ll resort to any means to expose him. It’s a tricky film where, as in real politics, everybody ends up looking a little dirty, and it’s hard at the end to figure out exactly what was accomplished. It’s worth seeing primarily for the performances, and for those who want to know how accusations of homosexuality were seen not too long ago.

Do the Right Thing: I somehow missed this film when it came out in theaters. (I remember seeing a lot of movies in 1989–the better to avoid my college roommate–but somehow I missed this.) I’m glad I finally corrected this mistake. Spike Lee’s film, like a Greek tragedy, unfolds on a single day in Brooklyn, the hottest day of the year. Over the course of the day, long simmering resentments boil and end in a series of shocking, though inevitable feeling, violence. It’s amazing how many finely layered performances Lee managed to bring together here. If you somehow missed this movie when it came out, or you’re too young to remember it, check it out.

Quest For the Lost City (a.k.a The Final Sacrifice): Rowsdower! The movie that stands as a rebuke to all those who think that being lumpy and bewhiskered or skinny and ineffectual are barriers to save the world from bloodthirsty Canadian cults. This is one of the masterpieces of late season MST3K. Do not drink liquids while watching unless you enjoy the sensation of spraying them from your nose.

Until May is over…

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