The Ballad of Buster Scruggs 2018 drama western
Available for streaming on Netflix
The Coen brothers have a talent for making Western movies with first rate production values (e.g. True Grit), so I could not resist their new western. The structure of this film is interesting - six separate stories with no common storyline except the shared theme of cruel Death. This film is wrongly billed as a comedy. I did not laugh once, and many reviewers thought some of the six stories were unwatchable. Of course, I soldiered on and watched all six segments which I will rank. My favorite was the first segment titled “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”; 2nd – “All Gold Canyon” (segment 4); 3rd – “The Gal who got Rattled” (segment 5); 4th – “Near Algodones” (segment 2); 5th – “Mortal Remains” (segment six); and lastly the bleak, creepy and haunting “Meal Ticket” (segment 3).
What better way to celebrate House Clark's 300th review than with:
The Room 2003 drama
Move over Roman Polanski, there’s a new Polish gunslinger-Director in town. Yes, I’m talking about Tommy Wiseau. Tommy’s debut movie is a thought provoking film about the American Dream and one man’s quest for success. The movie is rich in deep symbolism (the red dress, the rose, spiral staircase, white car, etc.) and demands repeat viewing. Here’s an example: The film is set in San Francisco, as we are reminded several times throughout the film, for good reason. The camera pans across the Golden Gate Bridge; obviously the GGB symbolizes Triumph. Other times the camera does a hard focus on Alcatraz Island to represent Total Failure – so poignantly juxtaposed with the GGB. The theme of Triumph vs Failure is repeated in the scenes on the rooftop with the Football – a game with two goalposts and two outcomes: Triumph or Defeat. The final tuxedo-football scene also foreshadows a sudden downfall. Most people get confused about this film, but the theme is clear to me. A Transcendental moment, if you will.
The Disaster Artist 2017 comedy
Available for streaming on Prime Video
This is a movie about making a movie titled “The Room”. The Room, produced in 2003, is legendary for being the worst motion picture ever made, but years later The Room has made a strong comeback and has become a solid cult favorite. So there is no point in discussing The Disaster Artist without a House Clark review of The Room.
C’était un Rendez-vous 1976 adventure French (short film)
Available free on Youtube here
Since its 1976 debut, Rendez-vous has rightfully become legendary in the car culture. The short film is simply a high speed, eight minute daredevil race across the heart of Paris. One scene, one take. No dialogue and (shockingly) no cops. When I share this film with first time rookies they shrug and say, “I can tell it is virtual. It’s fake.” To which I reply, “Wrong. It was made in 1976 long before CGI existed.” Duh? The film is only eight minutes, so take some time to watch it here via YouTube.
Extra information for fellow Paris lovers: Opening scene – At dawn, the car enters Marshall Foch Blvd at Porte Dauphine circle and roars to the Arc de Triomphe circle, enters the magnificent Champs-Élysées straightaway, and hits peak speed on way to Place de la Concorde, then speeds to the Louvre where the car slows, then off to Opéra Garnier, speed on to Trinity Cathedral and finally we hang on as we weave our way through a maze of cobblestone, narrow streets ending at the Basilica Sacre Coeur. Along the way, the driver runs 18 stop lights and zig zags around buses, cars, trucks, bikes, people and pigeons. BTW this film is banned in France on social media.
More details for car and film fans - I built a custom Google map (see below) to estimate total driving distance at 11.9km (7.38mi). Run Time = 8min 24sec. Overall average speed = 52 mph. Using a stopwatch and my trusty calculator, I refined the speed estimates. First I divided the drive into two parts: Part 1 – Porte Dauphine to the left turn at the Louvre gate(5.8km) time 3min. Average speed = 72 mph. Part 2- Louvre Rivoli gate to Basilica Sacre Coeur (6.1km) time 5.5 min. Average speed = 41 mph.
In Bruges 2008 crime drama
Available for streaming on Netflix and Prime Video
Put three violent gangsters into a picturesque Belgian town, add a dwarf with an attitude, and a sexy blonde (Clémence Poésy) with a fondness for drugs; and there you have it – a time bomb set to explode. Ralph Fiennes delivers a powerhouse performance, and proves once again he is among the best in the movie business. His phone conversation where he switches seamlessly from discussing sightseeing ideas to cold-blooded murder is unforgettable. Do not believe the hype that this is a ha-ha comedy flick. Many viewers found the vulgar language and bloody mayhem to be very disturbing. While not one of my favorite movies, it did help inspire me to visit Bruges, Belgium several years later. The famous clock tower is still there, but the bloody mess in the town square has been carefully cleaned up.