Friday, November 25, 2011
Time Bandits (1980)
UK --- fantasy
Dir: Terry Gilliam
This is one of my top 5 all-time favorite films. I have fond memories of watching this in the theaters, the holiday season of 1981. I was the perfect age to watch a movie like this, a children's film that didn't quite speak down to its intended audience, yet could totally entertain the adult. I'm amazed at how it stands up, and how much more I see in it as an adult, something only the Looney Tunes cartoons did for me. The film that probably gave Terry Gilliam more leeway into Hollywood, with cementing his rather odd cartoonish style of film making, "Time Bandits", was a welcome addition in a time replete of science fiction and fantasy movies. Hollywood was surfing on "Star Wars" mania, and churning out any and every kind of potential film of the ilk, including "Conan the Barbarian", "Blade Runner", "Tron", "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial", "The Road Warrior", "Escape From New York", et cetera. Yeah, "Time Bandits" could have easily gotten lost in that shuffle, had it not been so unique and came as the first in a string of Gilliam favorites.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior) (1981)
AUSTRALIA --- science fiction
Dir: George Miller
Has humanity ever been optimistic of the future? My answer is a resounding NO. Utopian futures in all sparks of imagination has never really been explored in literature, film, or even religious beliefs. Most religions don't view this earth as a place that can be redeemed. Most revolutionaries and dictators with Utopian ideologies were bent on bringing their reigns about through devastation. Wherever a idealistic future is depicted their is still another darker side to it. Logically speaking, for every utopia must be a dystopia for someone. In the "Mad Max" series, the only ones enjoying the desolate future are the ones of complete moral decay.
Quite possibly one of cinemas very best sequels, writer/ director George Miller's "The Road Warrior" doesn't just repeat the same old story from the original film, it extrapolates on the theme of the dystopian future that eventually deteriorates into a completely blasted wasteland. In the previous film, "Mad Max", we had a glimpse into an uncertain future that clearly wasn't very comely, and was in such disrepair our hero became something of an anti-hero just to survive. Now catching up with him after the horrific life-altering events of the last film, we find Max Rockatansky a lone drifter and a shadow of the man he was. His only companions is a loyal Shepherd dog (I believe may have been the puppy from the last film), a two-gauge sawed-off shotgun, and of course his suped-up Interceptor which is no longer the shiny black vehicle of the last film but a dusty sun-bleached vehicle that looks just as worn-out as its owner. He isn't alone for too long, however, as his ever-present biker adversaries appear very early on in the film, and are just as much a threat as they were in the last film.
He has a very short confrontation with the biker gang when he scavenges some fuel from a wrecked vehicle, but the encounter ends in peace. To add to the collection of allies, the film throws in another player. When Max spots a one-man gyro copter on the side of the road, he approaches it in hopes of siphoning some fuel. A quirky drifter (played by veteran Australian character actor Bruce Spence) gets the drop on him, but Max quickly turns the tables. The gyro captain reveals that he knows where to find an entire refinery of gasoline in a fortified compound of men and women fighting of the biker gangs. Max agrees to let him live if he leads him to the compound. When they arrive on a mountaintop overlooking the makeshift fort held up with around thirty individuals, Max stakes out the area to observe an opportune time to get to the oil without alerting the gangs. He and the gyro captain witness the biker gang ruthlessly kill some of the inhabitants who tried to escape, Max heads out to save just one as his entry into the compound. They obviously distrust him and see him as a threat, until the marauders and their muscles-bound leader Humongous gives them an ultimatum. Max sees the makeshift community, which includes a resourceful burrowing feral child with a razor-sharp boomerang could use some assistance. He offers to help the group in exchange for a full tank of gas for his car and whatever he can haul with him.
Friday, November 4, 2011
“Sorcerers in Moscow . . . silly.” Anton Gorodestsky
The anemic Russian cinema movement has returned, with a bang. "Nochoi Dozor" (or Night Watch) was the top grossing film in Russia in 2004, making it the first blockbuster in post Soviet Union Russia. When I first read about Night Watch in the papers glaring at the riveting movie poster, I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued when I found out it was the first of a trilogy. I didn’t get a chance to see it in its limited U.S. release, so I had to wait for the DVD. The wait was well worth it. I was at once astounded at not only its unique premise, but as a film, in its innovative visual amalgam of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the “Blade” films, with a little bit of the vibe of “Underworld” and “Ghostbusters” thrown in for good measure. I finished the movie and I wanted more from this world. I immediately went scouring the net for info on who came up with this terrific cinematic wonder.