Kinda short this time 'cuz I'm more in the mood to go watch movies than I am to write about 'em, but hopefully these'll be interesting, and I think I've been walloping ya'll with too much material at a time, anyway. Nobody really needs to read that much of me.
And, for people who wanna read even less of me, here's my Twitter page where I'm only allowed 140 characters at a time. :)
Ghost Story of Yotsuya, The (C, 1959) aka Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan. A shiftless samurai is so angry at being rebuffed when he asks a girl's father to let him marry her that he murders him and his retainers. He and his friend frame another samurai for the killings and then he marries his victim's daughter, as he'd wished. She begs him to avenge her father's death but he puts it off and is abusive to her, even after she bears him a child. He decides he's not interested in her anymore, and he's also dirt poor, so he decides to get rid of her and marry a rich woman. To justify killing her he tries to trick a man into having an affair with her, but then poisons her instead. The poison makes her face rot with hideous ulcerations and she swears vengeance upon him before she dies. He also kills her would-be lover, nails them both to boards, sinks them in a lake, and marries his rich woman. But the forces of the supernatural aren't going to allow him to get away with his evil deeds so easily... Artistic, high-class Japanese horror film is a bit slow-paced, overly-mannered, and the plot can take a few confusing turns, but the atmosphere is powerful and the ghosts are ultra-creepy and unrelenting (sometimes appearing as bloody, rotting corpses but also manifesting as snakes). It adds up to something pretty close to a masterpiece. Don't miss it.
Watch a condensation online here, or try to catch it next time TCM shows it.
Jonah Hex (C, 2010) Horrible adaptation of the DC Comics Western (one of the greatest comics ever, so don't let this shit film put you off) changes some things for absolutely no reason and dumbs it all down. Scar-faced bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin, who's way too good for this material and would've made a good Hex if he'd been given some sort of script) is contracted by the government to track down his old enemy Quentin Turnbull (oddly enough, John Malkovich), who's developed a nation-destroying weapon, which is basically a repeater-cannon that sometimes fires glowing cannonballs that blow up big. Hex gets help from sympathetic prostitute Megan Fox (so it's at least got eye candy, albeit used poorly since the cinematography's not so hot) and a tribe of Indians who can bring him back from near-death. They've also given him a superpower he didn't have in the comics and doesn't need in the movie -- the ability to bring the dead back to talk to them. It's unnecessary and shows a lack of faith and misunderstanding of what made the source material classic. Rather than go with a straightforward story, they didn't trust the audience's intelligence and tried to throw in a bunch of wacky high-tech junk and supernatural elements (just as a way to add explosions, even though it's a Western), and gave Hex less to do. He seems like a tag-along in his own movie. He's got the bad attitude but has to use stupid weapons like horse-mounted Gatlings or dynamite-firing crossbows instead of his badass skill with a six-gun. Top it off with an atmosphere-destroying metal soundtrack by usually-good-but-not-good-here band Mastodon. Disappointing.
Lost Highway (C, 1996) David Lynch, trapped in a need to keep topping himself for weirdness, goes off the rails and into the weeds with this slow, murky neo-noir-sense. A jazz saxophonist who's being stalked by someone who sends him videotapes of him and his wife sleeping either murders his wife or is framed for it. He's locked up in maximum security, where he turns into a different guy entirely. Since he's no longer the jazz fella, they release him. Now he's an amnesiac young mechanic who starts messing around with a violent crime boss's girlfriend. He gets in a lot of trouble with her and then changes back into the jazzman as his separate existences meld. This is probably great fun for those who don't like to know what's going on, or pretentious sphinctertwitchers who like to pretend that they do when they really don't, but mostly it's an overlong bought of frustrating confusion that never pays off. There are some elements to it that make it worth watching, mainly in the form of uber-creepy Robert Blake in heavy powder and lipstick, sans eyebrows. He's incredibly nightmarish ("I'm at your house now. Call me.") The cast also includes bit parts for Henry Rollins, Mink Stole, Gene Ross (from S. F. Brownrigg's films), Gary Busey, and a brief shot of Marilyn Manson for no real reason other than he's an ugly freak so why not, it's not like it's going to disrupt anything to just toss him in, because there's nothing to disrupt. It's a very slick and good-looking film and creates a disturbing, dreamlike atmosphere, but it's too weird for its own good, the pacing is leaden, and if there's some sense to all the plot threads it's not worth the effort to try to make sense of them. More likely there is no real structure and Lynch is hoping that you'll impose one upon it and assume he's a genius. I won't and he isn't. This would probably be well-loved in France.
Here's the only scene in the film that you really need to see - it's brilliant and creepy and way better than the rest of it: