The summer movie drought continues with some mediocre new releases this week, but thankfully there are a couple of classics playing at the Irish Film Institute. Tod Browning’s 1932 masterpiece Freaks has been digitally restored. Browning’s movie is set in the world of a travelling “Freak” show. Not helped by it’s troublesome subject matter, Freaks was a flop on its initial release and was immediately banned in many countries. It’s far from the cheap exploitation movie its title and subject matter might suggest, rather a sympathetic look at those maligned on the outskirts of society. Essential cinema.
Marilyn Monroe gave her final, and arguably greatest, performance in John Huston’s great 1961 drama The Misfits, also opening this week in a new print at the IFI. It’s also Clark Gable’s final movie, and both he and Monroe are brilliant as aging cowboy and a melancholy divorcee.
The best of the new releases is Chinese thriller Black Coal, Thin Ice, in which an ex-cop begins to reinvestigate his final case. Unspooling like a gritty take on Basic Instinct, the movie looks beautiful and has a couple of standout set pieces, but never quite comes together.
Jurassic World is the fourth installment in the dinosaur franchise, and also the worst. Lazily written and uninspired in construction, it’s a sad imitation of Spielberg’s original.
German cold war era drama West follows an East German woman and her son as they emigrate to West Germany in the 1970s. It’s dogged down by too many subplots and a protagonist it’s hard to warm to.
By Eric Hillis