Movies!

Some unusual selections here, fitted in while I was at Mum’s.
Rewatching EXCALIBUR (1984) , I think it would double well with Boorman’s Zardoz for showing many of the same traits—wild visuals, colorful concepts, strong performances and frequent murky mysticism (I can’t but wonder if people who aren’t familiar with the Grail legends make any sense of it at all). A compelling story taking Arthur from conception (the admittedly ludicrous moment Uther rams Ygraine while in full armor through kingship, Grail quest and the final showdown with Modred, including Helen Mirren as Morgana, Nicol Williamson as Merlin (ufnortunately sounding like the wise man in Monty Python and the Holy Grail at times) and Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart as supporting nobles. Not as impressive as when I first saw it, but that’s because there’s so much more screen fantasy (even Arthurian fantasy) out there since. “Looking at a cake is like looking at the future—until you taste it, you can’t know what it’s like, and then it’s too late.”
Zombies walk the 1950s USA—but in FIDO (2006) it’s treated like any other civil-defense emergency, something that disturbs but doesn’t destroy the placidity of suburbia. Not only that, modern science has found a way to turn zombies into obedient servants. When housewife Carrie Ann Moss insists on buying walking-dead Billy Connelly, her son seizes on him as a replacement for his distant, neurotic father, but things take some unexpected turns … Fun (it would double-bill with Dracula’s Dog which treats vampirism as if it were a routine disease outbreak) but flawed—it feels like it should be a racial metaphor, but given the all-white cast, I don’t think it is. “Timmy’s fine, you wonderful crazy zombie you!
THE WICKED DREAMS OF PAULA SCHULTZ (1968) is one of the many flat sitcommy films Hollywood churned out in the late 1960s (it reminds me somewhat of Bob Hope’s flops from this era): East German star athlete Elke Sommers defects as an alternative to becoming Werner Klemperer’s mistress and hides out with shady wheeler-dealer Bob Crane, unaware he’s willing to send her back East if the price is right. Dated (I doubt anyone in Generation Y would understand why an athlete defecting is such a big deal) though interesting in Sommers’ characterization (she’s a fun-loving free spirit in contrast to the stereotype of the Communist ice princess who needs a Western man to thaw her out—as in Ninotchka, Silk Stockings and countless others). I’m curious if the use of Crane, Klemperer and a couple of other Hogan’s Heroes actors means they shared a common production company, but not curious enough to research it. “The call is coming from every phone in Berlin!”
MAN’S FAVORITE SPORT (1964) is a Howard Hawks flop from the same era, starring Rock Hudson as a fishing guru forced to compete in a prestigious tournament despite his lack of skill (“I ask my customers what they do to catch fish, then repeat it to other customers.”), forcing him to look to Obnoxious and Annoying Paula Prentiss for coaching. Reminiscent of Christmas in Connecticut (for the fake expert angle) and the opening reminds me of Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby, but it’s inferior to either.
Hair stylist Queen Latifah opens her BEAUTY SHOP (2005) to get out from under domineering salon owner Kevin Bacon and finds herself coping with the usual challenges including cash-flow problems, troublesome kids, bullying business inspectors and hot neighbor Djimon Honsou. Too feel-good to be more than a time-filler for me; Alicia Silverstone and Andie MacDowell are among the co-stars. “I’m an amazing woman—which is what you try to be, but you can’t quite pull it off.”
FIREBREATHER (2011) is a fairly standard Cartoon Network movie in which a teenager discovers he’s the half-human son and heir of the monsters currently challenging humanity for control of Earth, leading to the usual array of angst and outcast-ness before coming into his own and saving the world. Not bad, but too familiar (though that says a lot about the level of fantasy available today).

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4 responses to “Movies!

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