Thursday, January 04, 2007

Different films

Major Dundee (Sam Peckinpah, 1965)--major screwup, yet endlessly fascinating. Heston as imperial capitalist adventurer, only unlike the present one sitting in the White House, he has tactical smarts and the courage to actually put his own behind on the line.

Cross of Iron (1977)--People actually nominated Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan? What were they thinking of? It's the legend of Anabasis, done 'Bloody Sam' style, and it's a grimmer, uglier piece of work than what Walter Hill had in mind when he made The Warriors, or almost any other war movie I know. Some kind of great film, I think. Easily James Coburn's best, most nuanced performance, and that includes Affliction.

Monkeybone (Henry Selick, 2001)--not too bad; parts actually interesting. Balances animated portions (which quickly got wearying) with Brendan Fraser freaking out (funnier than the animated monkey). Dirty-minded and fantastical and even a touch tender. Bridget Fonda was kind of cute.

Nochnoy Dozor (Night Watch, Timur Bekmambetov, 2004)--parts I like; the whole I didn't. The MTV-style filmmaking is so old, the computer graphic stuff, eh. On the other hand, there are details--oh, the flashlight on the face, the vanishing vampires you need to see with a mirror, the clapping old lady--that are actually unsettling (basically, anything that uses floor effects or old-fashioned techniques like editing, staging, lighting). The truck they drive around in is cool.

Tou tiao hao han (Fearless Fighters, Man-Hung Mo, 1971)--the fight choreography is decent, but the filmmaking is like King Hu on hiccups. The timing is off, the camerawork wobbly and imprecise.


Paul Martin said...

Of those films, I have only seen Night Watch, which received a release here in Australia about 2 years ago. It's nice to see someone else use the same terminology as I to conceive of these cinematic devices (namely "MTV-style"). Personally, I found the film's style so hackneyed. Had the film been made in the US with American voices, it'd be just another Hollywood horror flick. Visuals aren't enough. I found it mediocre at best.

Noel Vera said...

Heck, if Key Luke Thompson reviewed it, he'd probably call it "kewl."

Paul Martin said...

Pardon my ignorance, but I don't know who he is or what inference can be drawn by your comment.

Noel Vera said...

Sorry, Luke Y. Thompson I mention in the previous blog post, you can find a link to his review of Notorious there. I think he's pretty much a clueless babe in the woods--can't have been laid yet, if Notorious doesn't rock his world--so I tend to think of him as a kind of default setting for the worst kind of newfangled critic.

And I wouldn't be surprised if he's used the word 'kewl' in his reviews already.

Paul Martin said...

I haven't seen Notorious, so can't comment about KLT's review. However, there were comments in the previous post about people getting paid for their comments. I've been thinking lately how mainstream reviewers (in Australia at least) seem to be advocates for movies rather than objective critics. I also suspect that some of the most 'respected' reviewers specifically tailor their reviews so that distributors will quote them, increasing the reviewer's profile.

Noel Vera said...

"Key" Luke's a joke. Actually he's Luke Y. Thompson--LYT, he puts it.

I think you're talking about quote whores. Oh, they're not confined to Australia--there's plenty in the US. None I know of in Manila, mainly because no one uses quotes from Filipino critics (partly because there ARE no, or few, Filipino critics).

" I also suspect that some of the most 'respected' reviewers specifically tailor their reviews so that distributors will quote them, increasing the reviewer's profile."

That's Roger Ebert in a nutshell.

john marzan said...

I have Night Watch and Day Watch but haven't seen them yet.

Noel Vera said...

I'd say don't waste your time, but I'd like to know what you think.

Paul Martin said...

I heard there were to be sequel/s to Night Watch, and they hold no appeal for me whatsoever. As I said, I found Night Watch mediocre - just a throwaway type of film. But then, if you liked Pan's Labyrinth, maybe you'd like Night Watch.

On the subject of Pan's Labyrinth, it doesn't release in Australia until January 18, but saw an advance a month ago. I've posted a review on my blog. I liked it more than Night Watch.

Noel Vera said...

Haven't seen Pan's Labyrinth, I'm afraid; I do like del Toro's work.

Anonymous said...

I've seen the sequel, "Daywatch", and I've shown both to my 14 and 15 year old students and they loved both.
"Daywatch" I think is a better film. Nightwatch is a mess, but there are some likeable stuff.
This year, I believe, they will release the last of the trilogy, "Twilightwatch".
I also showed my students Bergman's "Seventh Seal" which is a hilarious film to show in a Catholic school. After all that trouble teachers went through to teach them religion I'm deconstructing their beliefs during school club time!

Noel Vera said...

I'd say The Seventh Seal is a much better film then Nightwatch; hell, I think Buffy the Vampire Slayer is much better, wittier, more inventive than Nightwatch.