Erin’s Top Films Reviewed in 2015

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1. Crimson Peak (2015) – Guillermo del Toro writes a love letter to the Gothic Horror genre.  The classic tropes of isolation, bloody histories, unnatural relationships, menacing architecture, Victorians, obvious symbolism, endangered virgins, and things that gibber and chitter in the night are explored in a visually luscious theatrical feast.  Del Toro’s use of visual metaphor is appropriately heavy, and the acting is beautifully overwrought to match.

2. Road House (1989) – A classic story of the Bad Boy with a Heart of Gold and a Dark Past, Road House lets every one revel in the simple pleasure of barroom brawls and Patrick Swayze’s oiled up body. Watch it.  Enjoy it.  It’s ridiculous and satisfying.

3. The Man Who Laughs (1928) – The only silent movie that I reviewed this year.  It’s a fun look at the pre-Hayes Code Silver Screen.  It’s a melodrama based on a Victor Hugo novel, and it is played to the hilt.  Enjoyable and accessible if you are interested in trying out silent films.

4. Shanghai Noon (2000) – Thoroughly enjoyable ramble through Wild West tropes.  Jackie Chan makes an interesting and unlikely hero for a Western, and the good-looking cowboy played by Owen Wilson only manages to be a sidekick.  Fun and funny, with trademark Jackie Chan physicality and stunts.

5. Innocent Blood (1992) – A French Vampire in Pittsburgh instead of an American Werewolf in London.  A fey vampire accidentally turns a mob boss, and spends the rest of the movie chasing them with Joe, an ousted undercover cop.  The best part of this movie are the vampire mobsters and their scenery chewing, bombastic scenes.  Not John Landis’ strongest entry, but a fair attempt at the vampire genre.

6. Grandma’s Boy (2006) –  Lowbrow stoner humor.  It is what it is, but it’s pretty solid for an Adam Sandler movie.  Funny in a juvenile way, but manages to portray actual character development for Alex, the schlubby programmer protagonist.  The best performances are from the titular Grandma and her elderly roommates.

7. Crime of Passion (1957) – Barbara Stanwyck is Kathy, an ambitious Lady Reporter cum Stifled Housewife cum Conniving Murderess.   The 1950s were not kind to women with a mind for more than card parties.  Kathy’s situation is first sympathetic, but she walks down a dark road of Femme Fatale turns.

8.  The Little Mermaid (1989) – Childhood favorite.  The Little Mermaid makes an interesting watch as an adult – King Triton’s fairly reasonable attempts at parenting are definitely not appreciated by the 16 (!) year old Ariel, who should really have been grounded forever.  The movie, however, is gorgeous, the soundtrack is perfect, and it’s definitely a great watch.

-Erin Kinchen

Road House (1989)

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threehalfstar

campstamp

(Viewed 7/29/15, available on Netflix)

Man. Man oh man. Road House is terrible. Terrible and perfect, shining at us like a beacon out of 1989. Patrick Swazye at his absolute peak. I believe in this man. I do not, however, believe in a single other thing in this movie.

Road House is a modern camp classic. In a world populated entirely by stuntmen and models, the mysterious “cooler” (the much, um, cooler term for “bouncer”) Dalton takes a job cleaning up the rough and tumble Double Deuce. There’s romance, brawling, improbable explosions, impossible martial arts, fantastically volumized hair, taxidermy, small-town corruption, genuine blues music, heroic feats, oiled up bodies, dark pasts, and generalized awesomeness.

This movie’s only failing is that it takes itself seriously.

Pop some popcorn. Turn off your brain. There are no allegories, there is no moral to be learned. This movie does not apply to reality in any way. Do not attempt to watch this movie so much as experience it. Let yourself step into the avatar of Dalton, coil around yourself your perfect hair, your gleaming muscles, and your tortured past. Road House is an unblemished example of machismo put on screen, of every self-gratifying fantasy that you’ve ever had made visible.

-Erin Kinchen