King Kong (Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933)
I saw this movie a long time ago, when I was maybe ten years old, so it seemed reasonable to revisit it before seeing the upcoming remake, and this is also a brand new DVD reissue. What impressed me most, actually, is how well the special effects hold up, especially the sequence pitting Kong against the T. Rex. They're nearly as fluid as CGI at times, and always complement the story. Which, naturally, is an exciting adventure yarn, as popcorn as popcorn flicks get. Fay Wray's sexually-charged performance is outstanding (she doesn't get enough screen time), and Robert Armstrong's quick-talking movie director is far more entertaining than Wray's boring love interest. It's hard to imagine how Peter Jackson plans to turn this into a three-hour epic, although I imagine it'll involve expanding the Kong in New York scenes, which are the most famous but only represent about 20 minutes of this 100-minute movie.
Twentynine Palms (Bruno Dumont, 2003)
I rented this mainly because of its place on Slant's 100 Essential Films list, and because I've been doing my best to get into French minimalist cinema (Claire Denis, Catherine Breillat). I do think there's something in the genre that's worth working toward understanding (I've sort of had it with Breillat but I'm planning to see more Denis), but whatever that is it's definitely not in this movie. Dumont follows two incredibly irritating and unlikeable protagonists as they fight, fuck, fail to communicate effectively and drive around aimlessly in the titular California desert town, utilizing the long (long, long) takes, banal or nonexistent dialogue and sudden, inexplicable explosions of violence that are the hallmarks of the French minimalist genre. The sex is incredibly graphic and equally unerotic, and while it may be realistic, it doesn't convey anything. There are some striking images of the desert landscape, but Dumont seems to be doing all he can to strip away all traditional moviemaking elements and replace them with nothing but empty pretension.