Thursday, October 26, 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese, 2023)

Once upon a time in America

(Warning: story and finale discussed in explicit detail)

Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon is three and a half hours long-- deal with it. Folks complain when a film's runtime ticks past the hundred minute mark or its pacing slows to a deliberate crawl; they seem to want more of the standard-issue Disney/Marvel fare either sequel or prequel or reboot with regular helpings of superpowered action, the usual cast of likable characters, the ironclad promise of state-of-the-art digitals. Amusement park rides, Scorsese once called them as opposed to cinema, and he isn't far wrong: even the twists and turns of plot are comfortingly familiar, recycled ad nauseam. Scorsese likes to challenge the status quo: his films, to paraphrase Harlan Ellison, are steak to be chewed thoroughly and digested-- not tapioca pudding that can be gummed without effort. 

Monday, October 09, 2023

The Creator (Gareth Edwards, 2023)

Good morning Vietnam

Gareth Edwards' The Creator begins with a prologue updating us on recent history: an AI detonates a nuclear device in Los Angeles and Western nations outlaw machine intelligence; a country called New Asia defies the ban and allows peaceful coexistence, and in response the United States wages an extended military campaign against said nation, seeking to assassinate the intelligences' chief designer Nirmata ('creator' in Sanskrit). 

Film proper begins with a raid on a beachside home: Sgt. Joshua Taylor (John David Washington) happily lives there with pregnant wife Maya (Gemma Chan); turns out Taylor had gone undercover to try get close to Maya, who's believed to be the daughter of the mysterious Nirmata-- falling in love with her wasn't in his brief. The raid ends with Maya and her unborn child killed by NOMAD, short for North American Orbital Mobile Aerospace Defense-- an all-seeing Angel of Death holding its Damoclean sword over the world, ready to smite all things artificial. 

Thursday, October 05, 2023

Once Upon a Time in China 4, 5, in China and America (Yuen Bun, Tsui Hark, Sammo Hung; 1993, 1994, 1997)


(Warning: plot of Once Upon a Time in China 4, 5, 6 discussed in explicit detail)

Folks who aren't already diehard fans or are belatedly catching this on DVD or streaming usually watch only the first three installments but Tony Rayns in his Criterion appreciation insists Tsui Hark's total vision doesn't truly unfolds until you've seen Part 5.