Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Holiday 3 Pack

New Years Weekend brought good food and friends together in this Kansas town, and still left a little time for movie viewing. Only one film on the big screen though, our Multiplex is apparently dead last to get the holiday films. Oddly enough the major city Kansas City is not nearly as major as I once thought it was--I couldn't even drive for a good film! Let's see what this weekend opens..
Two films viewed and not reviewed this weekend: Alien and Aliens. Watched both of these Quadrilogy versions on New Years Eve--a good trick to keep the lightweights awake for the "ball drop". I cannot wait for Bladerunner 07, thank you Ridley Scott! On with the trio of unrelated films...
"Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" This movie was beamed in from a parrallel universe. Everything is recognizeable and nothing is from this world. Ebert penned the script back in the day. It watches like an Elvis Movie channelled through Edward Scissorhands land. Russ Meyer directed so the breasts are in full force. Groovy man, but a bad way. The Passenger is still fresh. Bad Timing is still fresh. This watches like a mockery of a period and it very well may have been intended as a satire. A parody of hip and cool if you will at a time when the country was truly in the throes of a cultural revolution. I'm not finished with this one, and will report back after doing more reading and research.
"Baba Yaga" Before Immortal, Sin City, Mirrormask, V for Vendetta and 300 there was Baba Yaga -- a graphic novel brought to the screen. This is a story of a gorgeous fashionable female photographer with a hip pad in Milan, a bevy of suitors and models and a lesbian priestess of the dark arts after her..I have not mentioned yet the leather clad voodoo doll..
Panels from the actual graphic novel are employed a tad sparingly, and the english dubbed italian version of this french novel suffers editing and plot issues. I watched it all the way through waiting for a larger story and some kind of in "Venus in Furs", but none was forthcoming. Recommended for the graphic novel fans only I'm afraid.
"The Good Shepherd" for this Le Carre fan an absolute masterpiece, trading the saturation and emotion of the Constant Gardner for levels of nuance and shades of gray. Not to mention enough RL parallels to make me want to read more history!
We watch as the job first takes our hero's "life" and then hollows him out into a shell of a man. Watching his light recede and watching him watching the forces around him move and shape the world we live in is utterly heartbreaking in the quietest of senses.
Le Carre often paints the American Intelligence Agency people as gung ho clueless cowboys from across the pond, and we meet a few of them here. Our hero is not one of them. Deadly earnest, loyal and patriotic the things he questions are not the same that might, the things he observes impact on him like stones thrown in the water, barely rippling the surface.
Camera, editing, colors and acting are all top notch, and I cannot find fault Deniro's second outing as a director. It is daring to put a slow moving intellectually challenging movie that may or may not be critical of the United States at any time, but particularly during the Christmas holidays. Good to see William Hurt again after his cameo in History of Violence.

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