Dear friend,

I’m getting slower and slower in publishing even these very simple listicles of films. A weird effect of this delay is that I have already changed how I remember my appreciation for some of these films. Which rating should count? The one I assessed right after watching the film, or the one I would give it a few days later? Anyway, here are both the original ratings and the delayed ones, where applicable:

  • Sleuth external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, UK/US, 1972: my story with Sleuth is a bit complicated… I watched the 2007 version by Kenneth Branagh in a cinema, and while I admired the style, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, thinking it gets a bit lost in the second/third act. In 2010, I had a theatre season ticket for the Teatro Nuovo in Verona, so I went and watched a stage play called L’inganno (The Deceit) without knowing too much about it; more or less an hour into it, it reminded me of a film with Michael Caine I had seen many years before… Deathtrap. A quick search online (during the intermission) told me I was wrong, and that this was the original Anthony Shaffer play Sleuth was based on. I then managed to watch the 1972 film, and I remember I found it satisfying but a bit disappointing: the whole section with the clown seemed to me completely out of place. So I haven’t thought of this film in years, but when I saw the Blu-ray at the bookshop of the Musée Lumière in Lyon, I didn’t think twice about buying it. A Sunday afternoon sounded like the perfect time to re-watch it. And this time, I absolutely loved it: clearly, something changed for me (maybe it’s just that I am twelve years older), but the clown disguise felt much less annoying and more in tune with the playful atmosphere of the setting. Still not perfect, but immensely enjoyable. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

  • The Italian Job external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Peter Collinson, UK, 1969: oh dear, I wasn’t expecting this… I could only compare it to a Roger Moore 007 via Austin Powers (though both of these, of course, came later). Another film with Michael Caine trying to speak some Italian, but, instead of Sir Laurence Olivier, we have… Benny Hill?!? The first half is the bizarre and enjoyable part (despite the incessant playing of British patriotic songs on a harpsichord), whereas the almost legendary car chase felt to me interminable and just boring. But this is (spoiler alert) a heist film where everything absolutely goes to plan, until the characters put themselves in an impossible situation… and then the film just ends. The most generous interpretation would be to see it as a metaphor or satirical commentary on some kind of country-level self-destructive behaviour, otherwise I really just can’t understand how this film is so popular. ⭐️⭐️

  • Late Night With the Devil external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Cameron and Colin Cairnes, US, 2024: I like watching a film where you don’t really know what to expect, and this one didn’t disappoint. With most horror films, I am not really affected by what happens on screen, but this one really made me nervous at points: watching it at home, on my TV, made me almost forget that this wasn’t an actual TV show. The acting isn’t always great, and maybe it puts a few too many things in the mix, but I’m sure it will be a film worth revisiting in the future. Give more lead roles to David Dastmalchian please. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Friday the 13th : A New Beginning external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Danny Steinmann, US, 1985: Yes, despite despising most of them, I keep watching these films. It’s a bad thing to be a completist even for things you dislike. A year after The Final Chapter, here we go again with A New Beginning. Hey, Corey Feldman is back! Except he’s not, and Tommy Jarvis now has a different face and a lot of mental issues. I am always very sorry when the survivor of a film isn’t granted their ‘happy ever after’ imaginary life. Anyway, it’s an unpopular opinion, but I found it much less boring than the previous two chapters, thanks to a thin whodunnit layer that makes things a bit more interesting. Not that it makes any sense anyway.  I like to think that the first sequence takes place in our universe, and the rest of the film comes from a parallel one, where logic works in a different way, Tommy has no resemblance to Corey and bras haven’t been invented. ⭐️⭐

    • delayed rating: in my mind, this would be a bit higher, but I know that if I rewatched it, it would go back to two - ⭐️⭐️½
  • Challengers external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Luca Guadagnino, US, 2024: Can you like a film even if you don’t agree with the direction the story takes and the decisions the characters make? Apparently, you can. I loved the suspense of the moment when you expect a character is going to do a small little gesture, and the director and editor know that, and they keep you on the edge of your seat for so long ⭐️⭐⭐️⭐

  • King Kong external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, US, 1935: A bunch of white men travel to an island perfectly frozen in time, and they mess everything up in 36 hours. And then something went wrong for Fay Wray and King Kong. Everybody knows the plot of this film, and its ending, but I was surprised by the great special effects. This is the first film discussed in the newest season of the Evolution of Horror external link podcast, and I have the feeling I am not going to enjoy this season as much as some previous ones, but this was an excellent start. ⭐️⭐⭐️⭐

  • Event Horizon external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Paul (W. S.) Anderson, US, 1997: I finally watched this super-favourite of the Empire Podcast, which means I waited for most of the film to hear the ‘Do you see? Do you see!?’ quote and a bit less for the Liberate me ones. In any case, I wasn’t impressed, except for that brief excerpt of a scene when a hellish nightmare is depicted. It feels like Danny Boyle’s Sunshine is a better version of this film (though I’m giving them both the same rating). ⭐️⭐⭐️½

    • almost a week after watching it, I remember it as a 3-star experience at best ⭐️⭐⭐️

Statistics of the week: 4 horrors (King Kong definitely has some full-horror moments), a mystery/drama film, a sports drama, and… a comedy/heist movie, I guess. An adaptation, a sequel, and 5 (!) original films. Film-of-the-week would be Sleuth, with Challengers a close second.