5 Star Films Watched in 2020, Part 2

More movies I’ve watched and rated 5 stars this year!

Rififi (1955): A noir jewel heist gone bad and probably the greatest heist movie I have ever seen. “The Stephanois” is manly, misogynistic, and devoted to honor among thieves. His safe cracking plan plays out as a brilliant, near-silent 28-minutes. It’s completely jaw-dropping and that isn’t even the height of the action!

Greener Grass (2019): A dark and delightful John Waters-y suburban satire. I am IN for the kitsch and I laughed til my stomach hurt. There seem to be sharp, smart notes on motherhood and competitive friendship but I was watching on a surface level for the absurdity, and that alone made me think it was genius. I wish Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe were my best friends. I can’t wait to see what they make next.

Death Line (1972): A true British horror gem with cannibals living in the tube station. Donald Pleasence is on fire as an obnoxious inspector, and there’s a great Christopher Lee appearance. The long panning shot of the subterranean lair is haunting as hell.

Shirley (2020): Shirley is a most wonderful witch. It’s refreshing to see a difficult and brilliant woman portrayed, rather than the unlikable-but-we’re-still-supposed-to-like-him brilliant man. The dynamic between Shirley and her husband made me cackle and made me cringe. This deserved a theatrical release but it was fitting to watch (remotely) with my Seattle pals, in the intimacy of my home.

Woman in the Dunes (1964): I watched this movie twice because I love it so much. An entomologist, capturing bugs in the Japanese desert, is tricked down into a house at the bottom of a sand pit. He soon realizes he is trapped there with a woman who has long since accepted a life of sand shoveling slavery. It’s a bonkers plot and the psychological torture inflicted on this guy is something else! Wild stuff.

Sleepwalkers (1992): Now one of my favorite King movies! I had so much fun with these incest werecat energy vampires. The cast and cameos are a treat for any horror fan and it has an outrageous death involving corn on the cob. It also has a movie theater setting with fake movie posters which I always love seeing. I will definitely name my next cat Clovis, which brings me to an important trigger warning: MANY dead cats.

Antiviral (2012): Brandon Cronenberg’s debut feature should please anyone who loves his dad’s earlier body horror movies. This is a freaky and grotesque version of our world where people line up to be injected with celebrities’ diseases, or order a piece of lab-made celebrity meat. James said he couldn’t decide if Caleb Landry Jones was very beautiful or very ugly and I can’t decide either but there could not have been a more fitting dude cast in this role. Malcolm McDowell also shows up for a minute to show off some celebrity skin.

Death Wish 3 (1985): I watched Death Wishes 1-4 and they all rule, but 3 (the only one I’d seen before) is the pinnacle of the franchise. It is a perfect, nutso one-man-army/vigilante movie. The excessive violence, booby traps and explosions brought me so much joy! There is no filler. Even the non-action has Charles Bronson on a date with his Public Defender (?!) saying flatly, “I like chicken,” and it is like modern day Shakespeare. Just ordered Death Wish 5 and can’t wait to see murder by cannoli!

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