the roosevelts: an intimate history
philip k. dick, the man in the high castle

what i watched last week

The Cameraman (Edward Sedgwick, 1928). This came at the end of Keaton’s astounding run of great movies in the 20s. Not coincidentally, it was his first for MGM. After The Cameraman, he increasingly lost creative control. Keaton’s last films before MGM (including The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr.) set an extremely high standard, and The Cameraman was probably the last Keaton movie that could comfortably be included in a retrospective showing of his best work. Having said that, it’s a notch below his best. Which isn’t bad at all. #442 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 8/10.

Beverly Hills Cop (Martin Brest, 1984). One of those “I can’t believe you never saw it” movies. A few years after this, Martin Brest directed Midnight Run, one of my favorite movies. And Eddie Murphy, only 23 years old, was bursting in talent and popularity. But I found Beverly Hills Cop to be very much of its time, and not in a good way. Nothing Murphy does here is as great as his redneck bar scene from 48 Hrs. Harold Faltermeyer’s score, which won a Grammy, is drenched in synth pop, and it feels like it never goes away ... Faltermeyer batters the audience. Which makes it appropriate, I suppose, since Brest directs the movie in the same style. Obviously, the movie struck a chord with the audience. It was an enormous box office hit, spawning two sequels. But I’d rather watch Bowfinger. 6/10.

Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 1961). Influenced by (depending on who you ask) Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest or a different Hammett novel, The Glass Key, Yojimbo spawned many imitators of its own: A Fistful of Dollars, Last Man Standing, and even John Belushi’s samurai. It is one of the most enjoyable of Kurosawa’s movies, and Toshiro Mifune seems to be having more fun than usual, as well. All of the influences, before and after, make for fascinating viewing. Red Harvest was a detective novel from 1929, Yojimbo is a samurai movie from the 1960s that has the look of a widescreen American Western, A Fistful of Dollars is the film that introduced Spaghetti Westerns to most people, and Last Man Standing, which credited Yojimbo as its source, returned to 1930 and gangsters. Red Harvest is the best of all of these, but Yojimbo is easily the best movie of the bunch. #390 on the TSPDT list. 10/10.

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939). 10/10.

Still Alice (Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, 2014). 7/10.

The Sandlot (David M. Evans, 1993). 6/10.

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