What Social Life? – Movies 2014: October

  • Poseidon Rex (2013) – Dir. Mark L. Lester
  • Creature (2011) – Dir. Fred M. Andrews
  • Friday the 13th (1980) – Dir. Sean Cunningham
  • Phantoms (1998) – Dir. Joe Chappelle
  • The Believers (1987) – Dir. John Schlesinger
  • Oculus (2014) – Dir. Mike Flanagan
  • Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) – Dir. Steve Miner
  • Sunshine Cleaning (2008) – Dir. Christine Jeffs
  • Filth (2013) – Dir. Jon S. Baird
  • Shivers (1975) – Dir. David Cronenberg
  • Byzantium (2013) – Dir. Neil Jordan
  • The Equalizer (2014) – Dir. Antoine Fuqua
  • Resolution (2012) – Dir. Justin Benson
  • House on Haunted Hill (1959) – Dir. William Castle
  • Q (1982) – Dir. Larry Cohen
  • Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982) – Dir. Steve Miner
  • Citizen X (1995) – Dir. Chris Gerolmo
  • Need for Speed (2014) – Dir. Scott Waugh
  • The Producers (1968) – Dir. Mel Brooks
  • V/H/S 2 (2013) – Dir. Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Adam Wingard, Gareth Evans, Timo Tjahanto, Eduardo Sanchez, & Gregg Hale
  • Rogue (2007) – Dir. Greg McLean
  • Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999) – Dir. Takao Okawara
  • Sabotage (2014) – Dir. David Ayer
  • The Birds (1963) – Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) – Dir. Francis Lawrence
  • John Wick (2014) – Dir. Chad Stahelski
  • Way of the Dragon (1972) – Dir. Bruce Lee
  • The Sacrament (2013) – Dir. Ti West
  • Wolfen (1981) – Dir. Michael Wadleigh
  • Rigor Mortis (2013) – Dir. Juno Mak

Total: 30 (YTD: 178)

Surprisingly, I spent a lot of October playing catchup for 2014 releases, either that I missed or had just come out. Oculus and Need for Speed were both surprises, as was John Wick. A total riff on action movie highlights, Wick is a reminder American blockbusters have flatlined as vehicles for stuntwork and choreography. Rather than extensions of a film, these are treated as checklist items foisted onto a second unit. John Wick addresses this problem head on by having a stunt coordinator (Chad Stahelski) for a director; story beats are brisk, allowing room for lovingly-depicted fist-fights and gun battles. Keanu Reeves plays the titular ex-hitman as someone fundamentally broken in every way but his ability to kill people (his favorite move being a gunshot to the face); the death of his wife before the start of the movie leaves him aimless and distraught, a sole comfort being a puppy she bought him as a final gift. When a Russian mobster’s kid kills it and takes his car, Reeves switches to a steely focus–he fights with quick takedowns, every jab and elbow intended to maneuver his suppressed pistol towards another man’s skull–revenge becomes his means of coping with grief when robbed of any healthy alternatives. Wick slinks back into an underworld of neon-lit dance floors, darkly-comedic euphemisms (“I need a dinner reservation”), and a gold coin currency not unlike what one would expect from a videogame. Everyone around him wonders if he’s “working again.” Stahelski’s action-focus unveils a world so entrenched in violence as a cottage industry, it becomes unreal and captivating.

There’s a similar stylized aesthetic to Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer. Based on an 80s TV show, but structured like a modern superhero film, Equalizer is a lot more dour than John Wick, though no less ridiculous: euphemisms are out, while Denzel Washington indulges in Frank Miller vigilantism (bullying and berating crooks before straight up beating/murdering them), ready with contingency upon contingency like Batman at his most over-the-top. There’s a brush up against self-awareness and meta-commentary, here (a Home Depot climax is shot like a slasher movie, Denzel doing his best Michael Myers stare as he watches mobsters die from jury-rigged contraptions [i.e. a barbed wire noose]), but Fuqua and Washington are too enamored with their protagonist to pursue this angle.

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