I had a recent conversation with my friend Owen, who is something of a film historian. We got on the subject of films that have one letter titles. We came up with a few we both knew, like M, as well as ones that meant something to different to me than to him, for example W, which to me is a docu-dramedy featuring Josh Brolin as George W. Bush, but which to Owen was a horror movie featuring Twiggy. This concept seemed an irresistible basis for an extremely frivolous column, so here goes. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have not seen all these films (because many are unavailable or because my knowledge of Tamil and Korean is nonexistant); they are listed for you in as complete a manner as possible, in case you have a pre-schooler you wish to terrify with a cinematic alphabet lesson.
How many can you identify?
A – No such movie. Of course, there's A.I., by Spielberg, doing his best Kubrick impression. Yeah, yeah, it's got two letters, but I feel I'm willing to bend a little. Since the Intelligence there was Artificial, it doesn't seem too outside the rules of this column to include it here artificially. Besides, I had such hopes for Haley Joel Osment.
B – I can't find a movie entitled B, but we all know some "B" movies, don't we?
C- A short film by Derek Van Gorder and Otto Stockmeier, which I believe is still in production and had been seeking financing through Kickstarter. The "C" in the title refers to the speed of light and it is subtitled "299,792 Kilometers per Second." The plot revolves around the highjack of a spacecraft by one of its officer, with
the intention of finding other habitable planets for humankind. If you'd like to explore it more or see about donating to the funding, check out: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1282316546/c-299792-km-s
Perhaps you prefer the 1990's?
D – Actually, INITIAL D. This is a Hong Kong produced film, directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, and developed from a manga of the same name. It tells the story of a young tofu delivery boy (who knew there was such a job?) whose skill at getting his bean curd to his customers in record time makes him a hero of the street racing culture. It won awards at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and the Hong Kong Film Awards. If you love street racing or tofu, it's available in the States exclusively on Blu-Ray.
E – A Tamil film from India, that seems to be classified as a medical thriller. (For you anthropology geeks out there, Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore as well as Malaysia. This film is Indian in origin, apparently.) Wikipedia is about as far as I could go with this one. The plot synopsis (what I could make of it) sounds like the unholy offspring of V FOR VENDETTA, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and a James Bond film. Apparently, set against a slum setting, an idealistic yet money-crazy young man becomes involved with a mad doctor testing drugs intended to kill masses of people and a worthy revolutionary who wants to stop the mad doctor. You now know as much as I.
F – A British horror film, that somehow involves a fairly unhinged teacher, a slew of murderous students and several hoodies. Looks like it
went straight to TV and hasn't made it out.
A cop out, maybe, but a darn good flick!
G – A 2002 film, featuring Blair Underwood, which retells the story of the Great Gatsby in a modern hip-hop setting. Sounds rather intriguing and it is available on DVD.
H – A South Korean Thriller from people who clearly saw SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Here, two detectives investigate a serial killer, who is copycatting an incarcerated murderer by gutting pregnant women. Needless to say, they interrogate the imprisoned killer to learn a lead about their current case. Equally needless to say, he won't tell them anything. There is a twist at the end which will be no surprise to anyone who remembers Mickey Rourke and his then un-harrowed face in ANGEL HEART. The H in the title refers to hypnotism, which is used by a psychiatrist character to analyze another character which leads, inevitably, to a gory outcome for the doctor. Again, needless to say.
I – iMovie is a film editing app for various Apple products. Honestly, who would be fool enough to put an "I" in front of anything, knowing the iArmy of iLawyers will be lying in wait?
J – Sadly, again, nothing for J alone. So we'll throw in J. EDGAR, if only for my disappointment that Leo DiCaprio never got a chance to flit about in Hoover's infamous red pumps.
K – Closest I can get is K-9, the cop and dog comedy released in 1989. Wait, that was TURNER AND HOOCH! Wait...no, they were both released in 1989! So, lest we forget, TURNER AND HOOCH was the heart-warming cop-gets-dog, cop-hates-dog, cop-and-dog-learn-to-love-each-other film with Tom Hanks
and a mastiff; K-9 was the heart-warming cop-gets-dog, cop-hates-dog, cop-and-dog-learn-to-love-each-other film with James Belushi and a German Shepherd. Therefore, in summation, K-9 was TURNER AND HOOCH with a more attractive dog and a less talented actor.
And your homework is to see this movie!
L – I got nothing. Watch L.A. CONFIDENTIAL if you can't stand the gap.
M – Finally, a film I can actually speak about with knowledge and enthusiasm! (It's a long slog through the alphabet, isn't it?). This classic was Fritz Lang's first talkie, a masterpiece of mood and tension. M starred Peter Lorre, in the role in his native Germany that brought him to Hollywood (in time to get roughed up several times by Humphrey Bogart), as a pedophile murderer, whose grisly crimes start a manhunt. The scenes of Lorre luring a girl are terrifying, but, interestingly, that's not the scariest part of the film. You see, the crack-down was not appreciated by the panhandlers and petty criminals of Berlin, whose own dubious livelihoods were curtailed by the increased police presence. So they go after Peter themselves to end his crimes and, by extension, the scrutiny of criminal activity in general. When they catch him, he is put on trial by a kangaroo court of the underworld in what feels like a sewer. His desperate plea for mercy based on his inability to stop his evil urges is just amazing and worth getting through the subtitles. This is definitely a must-see film!
So there's the first half of the alphabet. To be continued in our next installment...well, my next installment! See you in two weeks!
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|A Musing in Movieland|
Every other Sunday
One woman's attempt to find meaning in movies, from movies, and between movies and to figure out why movies should matter to us, all while trying to find a laugh in the whole, screwy business."
I'm still cautiously optimistic that there really is a pattern to our lives and am striving to find mine, although I secretly suspect that life is really just about a Big, Space Baby. Which would be disappointing. And confusing. But, hey, you gotta have a sense of humor about it all, right? Philosophical stuff aside, I am an attorney, an artist and a performer and, if I could figure out a way to make the last two pay the bills, I'd dump the first one tomorrow.|
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