Thursday, May 25, 2023

The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

Evolution in action

I believe the worst charge one can level at Martin Scorsese for what he's done in The Departed (2006) is that he's made a mere genre flick-- albeit one tainted (if you like) with his obsessions on guilt, remorse, the need for redemption.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3

Curtain call

(Warning: plot discussed in explicit detail)

I remember Guardians of the Galaxy coming out of nowhere in 2014. James Gunn had been a writer for Troma, had directed the sneaky fun Slither in 2006, directed the comically grotesque Super in 2010; he then took up a band of little-known second-string comic-book superheroes and turned them into a constantly bickering megamillion multi-sequeled hit that changed the tone and approach of Marvel movies: from jokey but basically serious narratives featuring heroic Alan Silvestri scores to extended comic riffs strung together by an arbitrary narrative, featuring Gunn's personal selection of 70's and 60's cuts for that extra-personal nostalgia trip. If you smelled a faint herbal scent while watching in crowded auditoriums-- fun times, fun times.

Gunn's Vol. 2 was shakier but considerably more ambitious; Volume 3 might be called Gunn's farewell party to this particular extended universe, having made the decision to take charge of DC's (his first project being a Superman movie). Can lightning strike a third time? Well let me tell you.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (MIchel Gondry, 2004)

Brain wash

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is yet another product of eccentric enigmatic scriptwriter Charlie Kaufman's brain, a light-footed riff on love loss memory forgetting.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

The Tarnished Angels (Douglas Sirk, 1957)

Winging it

Douglas Sirk made this film not long after Written on the Wind, hoping lightning strikes twice, but no--the box-office was smaller, the critics less enthusiastic (took Jean-Luc Godard and the Cahiers crowd both waxing poetic to rehabilitate Sirk's reputation, from shameless hustler of glossy women's melodramas to ironic subverter of glossy women's melodramas). Where Wind was about the oil-rich Hadleys with their decadence on display in splashy Technicolor (the story a thinly veiled euphemism for the real-life scandal involving Zachary Smith Reynolds), Angels is about a family of airborne gypsies, eking out a life from barnstorming tours and dangerous airshow races during the Depression--grim, grimy black-and-white fare compared to the allure of the Hadleys.

And yet and yet and yet--Sirk considered Angels one of his best films; William Faulkner considered it the finest adaptation of his work ever (from the novel Pylon, one of the rare fictions set outside of his imagined Yoknapatawpha County).