Due to TYG being away last weekend and me not working due to my headache worries, I consumed more media than usual this week
LA JETEE (1963) is a short by French director Chris Marker in which a post-apocalyptic scientist uses a man’s fixation on a particular childhood memory to send him back in time and recover vitally needed technology. Stylishly told in a series of still photos, but no better than an average Twilight Zone episode for all that. Ultimately more of note for inspiring Twelve Monkeys than in its own right.
I wasn’t any more impressed with Marker’s feature-length SANS SOLEIL (1963) in which we get a traveling cameraman’s perspective on people all around the world, accompanied by rather pretentious narration. I didn’t finish.
FAUST (1994) is Jan Svankmajer’s bizarre (it’s Svankmajer. Of course it’s bizarre) adaptation of Goethe in which a man stumbles into a stage production of Faust with himself as the lead (and puppets in most of the other roles), then finds himself stuck with Faust’s bargain off-stage as well. The constant shifts between stage, real life and puppetry make for pretty weird viewing, almost as arty in its way as Marker’s films, but much more entertaining. “As a guide to higher truths, I cannot recommend you.”
$ (1971) is a caper film in which bank security chief Warren Beatty and hooker Goldie Hawn come up with a plan to rip off a bank’s safety deposit box under the nose of bank director Gert Frobe, only to have the criminals they rip off come after them with guns loaded (this would make Charley Varrick, with another bank robber entangled with the mob, a good double bill). This was panned by the critics at the time (partly because after films like McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Bonnie and Clyde they expected more than fluff from Beatty) but I find it quite entertaining, with an ingenious plot (I’ve heard someone actually duplicated it IRL) and a surprisingly good chase sequence at the end (small-scale enough to slide into the usual car-crash cliches). “I’m a man who knows shit from shinola.”
THE HOUSE BY THE RIVER (1950) is a Fritz Lang thriller in which womanizing writer Louis Hayward convinces his brother to cover up the assault/murder of Hayward’s maid—then realizes when the body turns up that the evidence could just as easily point to his brother. A very clumsy, melodramatic finish, but overall a good one. “So you could tell? I thought I covered it up quite well.”
SHARPE’S MISSION is an original made-for-TV entry in the series (rather than adapted from Bernard Cornwell’s books) in which a scheme to catch Wellington’s chief intelligence officer entangles a vengeful gypsy, a scarfaced explosive expert, a traitorous British officer and, of course, Sharpe. Not as over-the-top as the TV version of Sharpe’s Gold, but not up to the adaptation. “He doesn’t know much about literature—but he knows a lot about women.”
The second season of THE VENTURE BROTHERS focuses on super-villain Monarch’s determination to win back his ex-girlfriend Dr. Girlfriend from the suave Phantom Limb, while the Ventures and Brock continue on their usual bizarre adventures (including a remarkable Scooby-Doo parody); this also explains how Hank and Dean have survived so many fatal exploits. Looking forward to Season Three.
I also finished up the last season (or half-season? These days I’m never sure) of LEVERAGE, as Timothy Hutton’s IMF-type team continues its war on criminals the law can’t touch, while Hutton’s Nate also prepares for whatever comes after the series (“I want to build something.”). Fun, as usual: The best bit is super-thief Parker trying to avert a kidnapping while housebound with a broken leg.