Yes, it’s been yet another busy month for me. Sorry about that; I’ll try to get some actual reviews out next month. Hope you all are doing well!
Films watched in October 2020:
- The Great Escape (John Sturges, 1963)
- The Fortune Cookie (Billy Wilder, 1966)
- High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952)
- Boyz n the Hood (John Singleton, 1991)
- Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
I suspect I’m one of the very few people in this day and age outside of film buffs who ended up seeing La Grande Illusion before The Great Escape. I say this because I could definitely see a lot of parallels between the two films in how they both treat soldiers on both sides of the conflict as ordinary people. The early-to-mid 1960s was a rough time for films, as it was when Hollywood’s golden age was coming to an end, but I have little doubt that The Great Escape was one of the era’s last classics.
In The Fortune Cookie, Luther “Boom Boom” Jackson of the Cleveland Browns injures cameraman Harry Hinkle. Harry’s brother-in-law, a crooked attorney named William H. Gingrich, considers a scheme to get a large indemnity from the insurance company.
The Fortune Cookie isn’t the first film that springs to mind when discussing Billy Wilder, but I would go as far as saying it’s one of his best films along with Sunset Boulevard. By 1966, the Hays Code was about to expire, and the New Hollywood movement had, depending on your point of view, just begun or was just around the corner. It’s easy to conclude that, based on its release date, that The Fortune Cookie was behind the curve, but it’s not true. In fact, it’s a testament to how legitimately progressive the talent in Hollywood was at the time that they were able to cast an African American man in a major role without coming across as heavy-handed. Otherwise, The Fortune Cookie is Billy Wilder-style black comedy at its best, and that doubtlessly makes it worth watching.
100 years before he wrote The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller terrorized an Old West settlement in New Mexico by going after Sheriff Gary Cooper. I think even if you haven’t seen a Western, most of the people reading this knows vaguely what they entail given the genre’s influence on other mediums. I say this because it turns out Fred Zinnemann was subverting expectations way before the likes of Rian Johnson or Neil Druckmann made it uncool. It’s seriously difficult to believe that a film this gritty was made in the squeaky-clean classic Hollywood era. In that regard, it has a lot in common with Ace in the Hole, and it is that quality that has allowed it to stand the test of time.
The definitive hood film. In Boyz n the Hood, Laurence Fishburne plays who is perhaps the single coolest father character in the history of cinema (with one of the single coolest names for any character in the history of cinema – Furious Styles) as he raises his son in the neighborhood of Crenshaw, Los Angeles. The problem I have with a lot of slice-of-life films (i.e. Gloria Bell and Eighth Grade) is their directionless nature, but that is absolutely not a problem with Boyz n the Hood; it knows exactly what it wants to convey to the audience, and is all the more effective for it. It’s a bit of a shame John Singleton was never able to follow up on the critical success of his debut, but Boyz n the Hood remains a classic film worthy of the praise critics have given it over the years. Also, Ice Cube is in it. If that doesn’t motivate you to see it, nothing will.
And finally, while on the subject of Billy Wilder, I ended the month by seeing one of his early classics. While I didn’t like it quite as much as The Fortune Cookie, it too is a classic well worth seeing. One may criticize Mr. Wilder for making two films about indemnity, but the truth is that the films are quite a bit different from each other. One involves insurance fraud while the other involves murder. Its conclusion is also a little more predictable when you consider the filmmaking standards at the time, but it remains one of Mr. Wilder’s definitive works.
My Spooky Annoying Journey Trough an Asylum: Outlast Review – In this review, Pinkie decides to grab the bull by the horn by diving into what is frequently considered one of the scariest games of all time in the form of Outlast.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Review –Scott of the Wizard Dojo takes a look at a game Naughty Dog probably wishes they could make in the form of Crash Bandicoot’s fourth mainline outing. The game looks like a breath of fresh air in the face of the overly cinematic games dominating the American AAA industry.
Battenberg Cake: Pretty in Pink British Patriotic Glory – Have you ever noticed those confections that often show up in Yoshi games that have a checkerboard pattern? Those are Battenberg cakes – a British classic, which Mr. Wapojif has written about in his article.
Mommy’s not here, gotta fight! The Persona 3 Retrospective, Part 6(b) – Characters: Yukari and Junpei – In the latest installment of his Persona 3 Retrospective, Aether discusses the central characters Yukari and Junpei, continuing tie them to the intriguing tarot motifs that run throughout the game.
A Miasma of Mediocrity: Mulan Synopsis – Let’s play a word-association game. Disney. Stagnation. Yes, Disney, having shot themselves in the foot repeatedly over the past few years, have followed in Mike Love’s footsteps in the last few years by remaking their classic animated films in live-action. Mulan appears to have gone over like a lead balloon, and Amanda Hurych explains why she believes it to be quite the mediocre experience.
I Always Feel Like SOMA is Watching Me… And There’s Some Philosophy (First Impressions Post) – Delving into the psychological aspects of horror in gaming, Athena takes a look at SOMA, one of the many such games to emerge from the indie scene.
Am I the only one disliking LIMBO? – It’s interesting that the gaming press, as it is now, tends to ignore indie efforts because back when Limbo was released, I would say their biggest fault is that they tended to grade on a curve. Sure, these efforts were praised, but the vibe I got from many assessments was “It was good… for an indie game” (and yes, you do have to say “dot dot dot” when reading that statement). Considering quality efforts such as Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, Undertale, and OneShot have managed to exceed AAA efforts either through stellar gameplay or a legitimately great story (and in some cases, both), “Good for an indie game” is no longer a meaningful qualifier. Limbo is still considered a hallmark of the indie scene, but Quietschisto makes the case that it hasn’t stood the test of time – a sentiment I fully agree with considering its rather backwards-looking approach to game design.