This week had me revisiting another David Lean classic before going slightly off the rails (yet again).
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
Lawrence of Arabia is a fairly common pick when discussing what the greatest British film of all time is. Having seen The Bridge on the River Kwai the previous week, I was definitely looking forward to seeing what this sprawling epic had to offer, and it did not disappoint. This also marked Peter O’Toole’s first appearance in cinema. It was very ambitious of him to begin his career in the lead role of a film with such a grand sense of scale, but he proved to be more than up for the task. The film was also fairly ahead of its time in how it depicted the First World War in a time when the Second World War dominated the cultural conversation. Check it out if you haven’t already; it’s considered one of the best films of all time for a reason.
Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)
When looking up information for this film, I learned that one of its producers was Michael Stipe of all people. That’s certainly something I wouldn’t have called.
Anyway, Spike Jonze may not have the most extensive filmography out there (or at least in terms of directorial efforts), but he sure knew how to make a good first impression. His genre defying black comedy about an unemployed, standoffish puppeteer who finds a portal leading to actor John Malkovich’s head is certainly one of the most unique films out there. Really, I can think of only one other film that managed to run with such a premise, but I can’t reveal its name because that would be a major spoiler (all I’ll say that it was released in 2017 and if you were paying attention to the acclaimed films from that year, there is a 99% you’ve seen it). I feel that film was actually the superior take on what Mr. Jonze was going for, but this one is definitely worth looking into, being surreal, yet not to the point of incomprehensibility.
Synchronic (Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, 2019)
Have you ever seen one of those films that you realize the instant it’s over, you’re probably not going to remember it in the long term? That’s how I felt after watching Synchronic. Don’t get me wrong; it has an interesting premise, being about a man using a time traveling drug to rescue his co-worker’s daughter. If that sounds interesting to you, it is, unfortunately, not as good as it sounds. Like a lot of films involving time travel, it’s not really consistent about how it works; especially given that the main character has far fewer problems using the drug than the people in the opening, who are effectively your standard horror-film opening kill fodder. Synchronic is perfectly serviceable as a curious rental watch, but otherwise, you can pass on this one.