Have You Ever Seen...
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
I don't really recall this one getting enough attention as I thought it deserved back in 2001, and really the only reason I came about it was because I would haunt the foreign film section of Silver Platters back in the day. I do have to admit, I'm a little surprised by how this holds up, because even the dated CGI isn't that bad.
Loosely based on the legend of the Beast of Gévaudan, the plot follows Chevalier de Fronsac and Mani of the Iroquois tribe as they investigate a mysterious creature's reign of terror in the countryside. It's an incredibly absurd and entertaining film as the first half plays out as a very stylized period piece with beautiful cinematography while the second half becomes a blend of monster schlock and martial arts action with a dash of Soul Caliber for good measure. And I don't want to give too much of that part away, but you'll know it when you see it.
- The Chairman himself, Mark Dacascos, kicking many an ass. And really, I am just using this as an excuse to link great clips of Dacascos, like this one where he battles dozens of luchadores to the death.
- Practical monster effects done by the Henson company.
- A secret society utilizing monster terror in an attempt to sow discontent and political upheaval.
The odd balance of kinda sorta historically accurate mystery drama in the front and batshit insane monster conspiracy fight film in the back doesn't sound like it would hold up to well, but Christophe Gans maintains a steady sense of atmosphere and tone that keeps it all cohesive. So I recommend checking it out, it's just odd fun, and currently available on Shudder.
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
I remember always liking this film when I was younger, but a lot of the humor went over my head plus I don't think I appreciated a lot of the performances as much as I do now. On this most current viewing I also really appreciated the overall strength of the script, the story structure, and just how well all the characters are written and brought to life by the cast. It's sort of just a perfectly constructed comedy, from a technical level as well as just in its innate charisma.
I think the film is fairly well known, so I'm not going to bother with a breakdown. If you've seen it hopefully you liked it, and I recommend a refresh because it's just worth it. If you've never seen, seriously, go treat yourself. And real quickly, I would like to point out the subtle joke that the actor Tom Georgeson's character is named George Thomason. It's just a useless little meta joke that they don't draw any attention to, and it's things like that that I really appreciate.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
And this film is really well know, so I don't have much to add to the dialogue. It was my first viewing though, so a couple quick highlights for me:
- Angela Lansbury is straight up hardcore. I've never seen her as a villain and she was friggin' great.
- I was only vaguely aware of who Laurence Harvey was, and his performance here was also amazing.
- The Criterion edition has a lot of good extras, but I really appreciated the short where historian Susan Carruthers talks about the Cold War brainwashing scare. It's not as long as I would have liked as I just found the subject interesting, but it's a great addition to the whole package.