Last week I blogged on the need for foreshadowing in novels to help the reader (more specifically, me) follow along on the journey. Commenters had other points of view, and one specifically mentioned the films by Quentin Tarantino. It got me to thinking about his films, specifically From Dusk Till Dawn.
I love Tarantino. I love how he combines brutal violence and quirky humor. My college advisor (the late Dr. Hadley Tremaine) once said that humans use humor to help them deal with frightening and taboo subjects – and that these vary by culture. I was doing an independent study on early Saxon tales. The violent stories of war and battle often had little bites of comedic commentary. One man was run through by a sword and killed. The blade entered his mouth and out the other side of his skull. And “that food tasted strange to him”. Har, har, har. Saxon humor. Continue reading →
This is a Norwegian movie, that starts up with a Blair Witch setup: Young folk, in the middle of nowhere, with a hand-held camera bite off more than they can chew. Even the beginning, with the scrolling tale of how these tapes were discovered in the wilderness, but the youth were never found, is Blair Witch. But a few seconds in and Trollhunter suddenly becomes more Storm Chasers, lighter, with a campy kind of humor. Continue reading →
Yeah. It’s that little known movie with Hugh Jackman that follows three parallel story lines in a metaphysical tale of life, death, and rebirth. Jackman plays a research scientist, desperately trying to find a cure for his wife’s terminal brain tumor in the main story, a conquistador searching for the tree of life in one sub-plot, and a perplexing bald, yoga-guy traveling through space in a huge bubble with a giant tree in the other sub-plot. The movie danced back and forth between the three, not necessarily in chronological order even within the plot lines. When the credits rolled, I looked over at Sweetie for the words I knew were coming:
“What the f**k was that about?” he asked.
I could tell halfway through the film that he was going to hate it. Sweetie doesn’t mind “deep” or “profound”, but he prefers a more subtle hand. This movie was almost Kubrick-esque in its combination of philosophy and obscurity. I might have liked it, but it felt to me like it had been edited with a dull machete. The Spanish plot lacked motivation. Where did that Inquisition theme go, and what is with the weird exchange between the conquistador and the queen? Is she his lover? How will finding the tree of life allow them to “be together forever”? And what’s with the bald dude in the bubble who keeps whispering to the tree? Yeah, I get it that the tree is supposed to be “her”, his wife in the one plot, and the queen in the other, but why are they floating to their death/rebirth in the stars? And why is the dying wife’s unfinished book written in longhand without so much as a strikethrough? How come her first draft is so perfect when it takes me nearly five to go to press?
My verdict? Eh. The internet is full of glowing reviews about the beauty and significance of this deep film. Mine won’t be one of them. Two stars.
How could I resist a French film about a clown and cannibals in a dystopian 1940’s setting? Delicatessen was vaguely horror, vaguely humor, and vaguely Steampunk without the gears.
Louison, a former clown, is desperate for employment. He answers an ad in a newspaper for a maintenance job in an apartment building, and winds up falling for the daughter of the owner. The problem is the owner is also a butcher. Continue reading →
Dysfunctional families aren’t a modern day phenomenon, and Curse of the Golden Flower illustrates just how bad things can really get. Incest, intrigue, poisoning, jealousy, power plays, murder. Oh, and did I mention ninjas? Yeah, ninjas.
It’s the Tang dynasty in China, and the Empress’ heath has taken a sudden turn for the worse. She’s been drinking an herbal, medicinal tea for ten years, under orders of the Emperor, but she begins to suspect foul play. A strong woman, she still finds herself helpless to fight her powerful husband. Still, women have their ways, and the Empress plots with her step son (who has been her lover), and her eldest son to break the Emperor’s iron grasp on them all. Continue reading →