Dear friend,

after weeks of almost hermitage in preparation for an important appointment, this one was graced by a decent amount of social activities, they didn’t get in the way of watching a lot of films.

  • Furiosa: a Mad Max Saga external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by George Miller, Australia, 2024: so, after my appointment, I took Monday afternoon off to go and watch the Mad Max-less Mad Max film. I’m one of the few who weren’t really over the moon about Fury Road (I usually like films with a plot), so I enjoyed this prequel much more, no doubt thanks to Anya Taylor Joy, Tom Burke and the fake-nosed version of Chris Hemsworth. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Addams Family Values external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, US, 1993: a lot of people prefer this sequel to the film I watched last week. This one, again, has more plot than the first episode, but I think focussing it (again) on Uncle Fester was a mistake… I don’t find him a very interesting character, or maybe it’s just that I don’t like Christopher Lloyd in the role. Anjelica Huston’s talent is totally wasted, and the choice to cast 41-year-old Carol Kane as Grandmama is puzzling. Plus, a lot of ’topical’ humour about people or events that were relevant thirty years ago today falls flat. And the ’title song’ is appalling. On the plus side, we have Ken Adam (!) as the production designer and the funny over-the-top performances of Joan Cusack and Peter MacNicol, but, once again, everything rests on Christina Ricci’s and Raúl Juliá‘s shoulders. ⭐️⭐️½
  • Paranormal Activity 2 external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Tod Williams, US, 2010: I liked Paranormal Activity but I didn’t really think I’d explore the sequels. But, here I am, trying to postpone watching yet another useless Friday the 13th. Unsurprisingly, it’s not as good or coherent as the first one, and too intent on ruining the mystique of its predecessor just to justify its own existence. It suffers from the ‘why are you carrying a camera instead of a torch’ syndrome, and the third act feels quite rushed (the most unexpected scene was seeing Christopher Landon credited as one of the screenwriters). Sure, there may be a demon in the house but rather than scare me, it made me want to get a dog. ⭐️⭐️½

  • Paranormal Activity 3 external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, US, 2011: and of course, I fell into the P.A. completism trap. I returned home after having dinner with friends and didn’t feel like going to bed, so I decided to start watching something I could abandon as soon as I felt sleepy (spoiler alert: I watched it until the end). Starting, in pure Friday the 13th style, with a recap of the previous episode, the directors of Catfish went on trying to expand on Paranormal Activity 2 hints about the sisters’ family with an ’80s, VHS-based prequel that, in my opinion, contradicts most of that film. Nevertheless, per se it was much better than episode 2; sheet-based ghosts are always creepy, and the ending is so over the top that you forgive everything else (the ending, and the fact that Christopher Landon is now the sole screenwriter). ⭐️⭐️⭐️½

  • The Hound of the Baskervilles external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Terence Fisher, UK, 1959: this is the time of the year when, in order to follow the latest Evolution of Horror external link season, you end up having to endure a Hammer film from the fifties or early sixties. Look, I understand the historical importance of Hammer, and Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes and a dashing Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville are great, but this is not a good version of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel where Sherlock Holmes is absent for most of the book. The ‘cinematic’ additions to the original plot stick out immensely, not to mention a certain air of xenophobia (though it turns out that the ‘Spanish-raised’ Cecilia, who speaks with a thick accent that doesn’t sound Spanish at all, is played by Italian-born Marla Landi, who apparently would become quite well known in the UK in the ’60s for teaching Italian on the BBC). ⭐️⭐️½
  • Let It Be external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, UK, 1970: this one is difficult to rate. After decades of hearing about how this documentary witnessed the dissolution of The Beatles, now that we are finally allowed to see it, it turns out it’s rather quiet and - sorry to say it - dull. Yes, it’s kind of the Paul McCartney show, because it’s mostly him proposing songs, pushing colleagues to play things the way he wants, but also trying to infuse some energy in band members who look quite uninterested. John Lennon especially seems not to care too much about anything that’s going on; and I felt for George Harrison, often sitting on the side, being told what to do, even electrocuted. Then the ‘rooftop concert’ comes and everything changes, everything is exciting and new and you would love to be there, freezing on the London roofs. But as a film, it makes little to no sense, featuring no explanation, no context about what’s its subject matter, and maybe just two short conversations. ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan external link to Letterboxd Created with Sketch. directed by Rob Hedden, US, 1989: so finally I convinced myself to move forward in this series, and I was rewarded with a vastly misleading title, for what should instead be called The Voyage of the Lazarus. Rather than taking Manhattan, Jason Voorhees (finally, his family name is back) takes a cruise on a ship on a ‘graduation trip’ (is this a real thing? And if so, why does it that place before graduation?) to New York. Indeed, he has some time to kill, and his travel companions are the most improbable bunch of teens, supervised by the most insensitive authority figures, and accompanied by the least effective dog ever (who also suffers from hallucinations). And while in a forest you can somehow believe that Jason can move quickly and unseen, in this context it looks clear that he can just teleport from one corridor to another. Fine: none of this makes sense (as usual), but at least it’s a change of scenery. ⭐️⭐️½

Statistics for the week: an action movie, a comedy, a detective film, a documentary and three horrors. Five (!) sequels (one of which is also a prequel), and an adaptation. Film-of-the-week is of course Furiosa.