Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mo' Movies

And I finally saw Pan's Labyrinth last week.

And I reacted to it essentially as I reacted to Children of Men, which is to say that I liked it, found a few sequences to be brilliant, but could not understand, in the end, what all the fuss was about, really.

Children of Men had an amazing sense of itself visually. And it was wonderful to see something that understood, for the most part, the power of a single image. But the writing? Awful. I loved the fast car chase, the slow car chase, the broken David, the Pink Floyd pig, the long, long tracking shot in the climactic sequence, the distance that we're forced to keep from the death of Michael Caine's character, and the terrifying madness of the refugee camp, but the dialogue killed me at almost every turn.

Plus, someone seriously needed to scale back the Jesus imagery.

In any case, Pan's Labyrinth has, like Children of Men, a couple of amazing components (the close miking of everything, the eyeball guy, the ambiguity of the treatment of the resistence, the performance of the lead), but lost me with its insistence that El Capitan be completely and worthlessly evil, and, in a mind-boggling reversal of so much that the film seems to espouse in the conclusion when our hero finds paradise to be, in essence, a monarchy.

That's the opposite of fascism? Rule by a king and queen?


Sure, in fairy tales, the kings and queens (when not wicked) tend to take the interests, the hopes, the dreams of their subjects to heart -- but, those subjects, those people, those individuals, are still subjects.

I Want You Back

Look, I've never begrudged a single three-minute stretch of my life that I may have spent listening to the Jackson 5 work through "I Want You Back" (or "The Love You Save," for that matter, two of the best damn singles of all time, the last two decades of Jackson Madness nonwithstanding), but, I have a few hours that I want added back to my life.

First, I want back the two hours that I spent watching Spike Lee's Inside Man. Not because it's Spike Lee. Not because it's a heist film. (Let's face it: Spike Lee has made at least two good films; and, likewise, there have been some damn good heist films in history). And not even because Willem DeFoe doesn't get enough screen time. But just because it's a lousy Spike Lee movie, a lousy heist movie, and a waste of my two hours.

But, then, I watched it all. Via DVD. So, I have no excuse.

And, then, I want back the 90 minutes that I gave to Borat. Or, if I can't have all 90 back, I'll spot you 10 and take 80. I enjoyed the rodeo. I enjoyed the frat guys in the motorhome. And I enjoyed the last minute of the first prostitute sequence. And I enjoyed an isolated minute or two in other places. But, given everything, I want 80 minutes back.

Selfish, maybe, but I think I deserve them.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Bloody Sam

See, now I was going to come up with a real post while the kitchen floor dried (three batches -- six gallons or so -- of beer bottled, plus one big ol' stout put in the fermenter), maybe bring some righteous political anger, or some Cosby-style parenting speak, and instead, I find myself distracted by the shuffling up of "Bloody Sam" by Go To Blazes on the iPod.

I'd call it wisdom, but it extends beyond that.

So, now I'm too distracted to offer anything beyond the following baseline requirements:

1. Find a copy of "Anytime, Anywhere" by Go To Blazes and listen to it. That might prove difficult; I have no idea what the in-print/out-of-print status of their albums might be at this point.

2. See "The Wild Bunch," directed by Sam Peckinpah, paying particular attention to the opening sequence and loving how those kids -- in an almost throw-away moment -- chase each other down the street playing guns. And the closing sequence, in all its fatalistic glory. And the train robbery, in all its silent brilliance. And the presence of Ernest Borgnine in something that isn't "AirWolf."

3. See "Ride the High Country," the best of Peckinpah's more or less traditional westerns. The ending of this is heartbreaking.

4. See "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" and get your Dylan love on. Also, enjoy the death of Slim Pickens and figure that the pathos of that scene makes up for the obvious nature of the scene in which Garrett shoots himself in the mirror.

5. See "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia," not because it's a great film, because it's not, but because it has a sweet premise, an amazing title, and, once you've seen it, you can't imagine a buddy film in which one of the two buddies is not, in fact, a severed head. (Danny Glover eat your heart out, no?)