Best. Month. Ever. That is, so far. In the month of July, I saw four films and loved every single one of them. It was hard to rank these movies, but if I am being honest, there is a clear winner whether I want it to be or not. Let’s talk about them.
1: The Gazebo.
Where do I even begin with this film? A television writer is being blackmailed by a man who has nude pictures of his wife. He hatches a plan to murder the blackmailer and things go awry. This is a film that, if you just tell someone the plot, they begin to lose respect for you. And you may be wondering why someone (me) who prides themselves in being discerning and critical of objectionable content would see such a film. In fact, while watching this film, all I could think of, was “How am I going to review this?” Well first off, let’s get one thing clear: there is no nudity. There is no blood. There are a few cuss words but that is it. This is a 1959 black and white comedy, based on a Broadway smash that reminds me of why censorship was such a marvelous thing. Nowadays a story like this would not have the same tact that this film so expertly showcases. This movie is at the top of the list because I have not laughed so hard while watching a film in years (maybe the last time was when I saw The Great Race for the first time.) The acting is amazing. The writing is superb at being both witty, and macabre at the same time. I don’t wish to spoil the end of the movie, because I highly recommend watching it, but let’s just say it all works out in the end.
2: The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.
Honestly, I wanted this film to be number 1. This is the kind of film I would want to make as a filmmaker. It is a Christian comedy. The EXACT subgenre I want to aim for. And this movie does deliver. It is funny, and it is Christian. Albeit, more Christian than funny, but there are still some laugh out loud moments. The storytelling is unique and fairly sturdy, and while we don’t get a huge glimpse into each character, the actors perform in a way where you can see where they come from. It is entirely predictable, and delivers what you not only expect it to be, but what you WANT it to be. As the main character begins playing Jesus in the church play, he begins to understand Jesus’ character in a way that feels believable while also steering the plot. As far as Christian films go, this is a nice, surprisingly dramatic film that you won’t mind seeing again. Unlike most Christian films which leave you teary eyed, and reluctant to relive the characters tragedies.
3: The Russians are coming, The Russians are coming!
In a different month, this would be higher. I had seen some clips from this movie on TV occasionally, but never seen the whole thing. But it is an “epic comedy” and since I am a fan of that genre, I wanted to give it a try. The beginning is slow for sure, with no English subtitles, but trust me, give it time until you see the comic genius Carl Reiner appear. This film properly snowballs into complete chaos, and must have been bold to make with the Cuban Missile Crisis only a few years ago. It paints the Russians as people. It has a why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along? Feel to it that really makes this comedy carry some weight. The characters are great and the hijinks are super fun. Jonathan Winters is a blast as always.
4: Sands of Iwo Jima
Saddle up! It’s John Wayne. And it was free on Amazon Prime. While this film isn’t great, it is fun to see John Wayne in something that I haven’t seen before. Especially in a non-Western role (something very rare indeed.) Mixed with some real footage, this film at times feels real. But other moments have that old Hollywood sap. Not to say that’s a bad thing. There are some look away moments and some surprisingly harsh racist rhetoric towards the Japanese. I would not recommend this film for families unless you have children interested in the military or history. While you can look away, the second half of the film is all battle scenes, and if kids don’t understand that the racist remarks aren’t acceptable, it can lead to some awkward situations.
All in all, I really liked these four films. Almost all of them were comedies which is the genre I prefer. Going into the end of the year, I will add The Gazebo and The Resurrection of Gavin Stone to the list of best films I saw in 2017. What did you watch this month? Would you watch these films? Let me know and see you next time!