Saturday, October 27, 2012

Once Upon a Time in the West

This film breaks my heart. Every time.

It's difficult to watch, like so many other great films, with long visual shots and little dialogue. The soundtrack, music by Ennio Morricone and other sound effects, still comprises most of the story - no surprise once you realize that a harmonica plays a key role from beginning to climax.

If you watch westerns you'll recognize most of the actors with speaking rolls, but traditionally the one that shocked America was beautiful Henry Fonda (blue eyes and all) as the sadistic and thoroughly hatable baddie. The romantic hero is played by Charles Bronson, as a native American. Another significant post-Colonialist move was placing a female at the center of the story, around which the plot moved, and through which, like the railroad, all parts met (an idea expressed in the amazing commentary (though John Carpenter comes off as kind of mean)).

A must-see. Ten out of ten. Right after Sergio Leone's other masterpiece: My Name is Nobody.

The Werkmeister Harmonies

On my favorite level, this unashamedly difficult film is the story of a boy who was a whale.

Bela Tarr unfolds a simple but interesting narrative, full of big people, little people, and the apparatuses that fill in the blanks between, including (significantly, in my opinion) books.

Emotionally evocative in black and white, the images often pass slowly, or remain on screen interminably, subtly shifting, progressing, regressing. For an audience with a visual attention span of seven seconds, all 2.2 hours are impossible, but moving nonetheless. This film can change you, if you can sit through it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Losers

Based on a comic book, this film contained some art-shots, especially of "Max." The brief obscuring of his face increased that rather bland face's impact.

In the vein of The A-Team, the plot follows the exploits of a disenfranchised military group as they recover from the CIA's betrayal, and return to the United States to exact their revenge. They are picked up by a mysterious and "volatile" woman. I enjoyed the marginally futuristic technology.

There's a twist or two. The film is generally fun, and very exciting, but often violent. I found myself wincing at each blow, and scanning past the fights. I'm becoming soft in my old age.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Peggy Sue Got Married

Netflix has been throwing this film at me since I joined more than five years ago. I finally gave in and watched it. I decided it was a morality tale on the ills of wearing white suits.

Nicholas Cage is worse in this film than he was in Moonstruck (though clearly, he didn't ruin either film, to my surprise (and delight, in the case of Moonstruck)). I don't understand his voice. Did he think sounding like a cartoon all the time was a good idea? Frankly, I wouldn't hire him as a voice actor either, but I've really loved his more recent stuff, when he plays regular guys (who turn into flaming skeletons, and drink jelly-beans from a martini glass).

Ultimately, the story of Peggy Sue, who falls very ill at a twenty-year reunion and wakes up to find herself in high school in 1960, is sweet and very, very odd. My brain didn't stretch well over the first few scenes. I couldn't figure out what year it was supposed to be, and why the clothes were weird, or how old anyone was supposed to be. I eventually figured it out, though. Kathleen Turner brilliantly performs a grown woman in the life of a teenager. Things would certainly have been different.

If you're looking for a content advisory, Peggy Sue makes several morally questionable decisions, especially about sex, alcohol, and cigarettes. She makes some great social decisions, though.

I found the scene where Michael asks her to tend chickens with Beth in the hills outside of Provo slightly offensive (as it was clearly written out of ignorance), but still funny.

3/5 for enjoyment, 5/10 for recommendation. Toss a coin - you won't miss anything, or probably regret watching it either.

Starcrossed

James Spader plays an auto-mechanic who has to help a gorgeous alien escape earth and lead a rebellion on her homeworld, which has apparently been taken as slaves for a race of black-leather-clad male models.Her race has outgrown both sex and freedom, which are apparently idiologically linked as somehow costly.

 

The special effects were inexpensive, and the ending ambiguous. The acting was odd. . . not Kristen Stewart bad, necessarily, but very odd. Also very odd were the biblical allusions/references. He quotes Genesis, and she talks about heaven (is Heaven actually described in the Bible?).

 

It's a really obscure, mftv thing, though, so I doubt whether I shall spare the time to figure it out. I gave it 3/5 stars, for strangeness, but on a recommendation scale of 1-10, I think I'll stick to three.