Ichi the Killer (Takashi Miike, 2001). This is the third Miike film I’ve seen, and like the others, it features extreme levels of cruel gore. (Those others are Audition, and 13 Assassins, which is my favorite of the three.) I’d say Ishi is my least favorite, but I have to hand it to Miike ... he’s committed to his art. If he decides to make a movie about sadists and masochists, then by golly he will, even if he has to stuff it into an otherwise standard yakuza movie. It’s something of a comedy, in the vein of the Evil Dead franchise. Actually, what I was most reminded of was the scene between the sadistic dentist and the masochistic patient in Little Shop of Horrors. #991 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century. 7/10.
Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro, 2015). I waited too long to see this one. The budget was relatively small at $55 million (del Toro’s previous movie, Pacific Rim, cost $190 million ... of course, it drew more than $400 million worldwide). For some reason, I thought this would be a box-office blockbuster, and I intended to go as soon as it opened, preferably in IMAX. But things happened, as they often do, and by the time we got to it, it was playing in a much smaller setting. (You know, the kind of theater where you can sit on couches and bring drinks from the bar next door.) I assumed, from what I knew about the movie, that it would be popular with the stereotypical women’s audience because it was a Gothic romance, and popular with the stereotypical men’s audience because it would have lots of gore. Well, it is a gory Gothic romance, but there’s not as much romance, or even that much gore. Which leaves fans of Guillermo del Toro as the audience, and apparently we’re not big enough. Well, del Toro has had some hits ... Hellboy did well enough that a sequel was allowed, and again, there was Pacific Rim. His TV series, The Strain, has been given a third season. It’s not that del Toro works in an obscure corner of the art film world. But he has his own imaginative world, where there is room for superheroes and giant monsters on the one hand, and Gothic romances on the other. His greatest film, Pan’s Labyrinth, is barely describable ... it’s a fantasy fairy tale war movie or something. What becomes clear the more del Toro movies you see is that the genre is “Guillermo del Toro”. I remember that between seeing Hellboy and its sequel, I saw some others of his movies, and after that, Hellboy II made sense. Crimson Peak looks beautiful, and Allerdale Hall, the falling-apart mansion that is the setting for the much of the movie, is a marvel. (Trivia note from the IMDB: a dog in the movie “is a Papillon. The Papillon, meaning butterfly in French, is known for its butterfly look because of the its large fringed ears and symmetrical facial markings which make up the wings of the butterfly.” My sister pointed this out after we saw the movie, but didn’t want the credit, so I’m quoting the web, instead. Anyway, del Toro likes to include lots of bugs in his movies, and there are a LOT of butterflies in this one.) 7/10.
The Theory of Everything (James Marsh, 2014). 7/10.