This looks great.
This looks great.
Animal House popped up on one of the streamers a few weeks ago—just checked, it was Netflix—and I started it rolling for no reason other than a quick nostalgia fix. I think I first watched that movie in Canberra when I was working for defence and sharing with a couple of other blokes, one of whom nowadays might not be a million miles removed from the office of the Secretary of the Department of Defence.
We were all newly stranded in Canberra, first year out of uni, and most Saturday nights we'd get a few beers on board and rent some video tapes.
That's how long ago this was.
No DVDs, just tapes.
I knew about Animal House of course. It'd been out for a years but was already a pop cultural touchstone. We watched it and probably watched it again before returning the tape. I rewatched it many times afterwards and retained fond if slightly hazy memories decades later.
It was kind of odd going back.
It was still funny in parts, but the humour felt more elegiac — funny because I recalled that it had been funny once upon a time. There was a sort of naive quality to it, which was only partly a function of setting the story in 1962 before the violent atomisation of the later Sixties. There was also something new. Real awkwardness. Not so much with the white monocultural cast. That was historically on point, although I doubt any film maker would get away with it now.
Rather, the sexual politics of Animal House feel... a little uncomfortable. There are no outright rape jokes, unlike a period 'classic' such as the original Ocean's Eleven, for instance.
But jeez, there's some problematic content, as the kids might say... If the kids are into policing the boundaries of acceptable discourse.
The racial inequities of the time, especially the clueless liberalism of the monied elites, are actually well neatly caught in the byplay between the Delta's and Otis Day and the Knights.
But in the #MeToo era its the film's gender biases that strike a loud, discordant note. Two moments in particular; chapter president Robert Hoover's winking joke at 'taking a few liberties with their dates', and Eric Stratton's gross seduction of the hottie from Emily Dickinson College. There are more, and the movie is doubtless a pale reflection of a much darker reality... but I was struck by how differently it played now than when I first watched it all the back in the 1980s.
I know it's late but I finally got to the movies to watch Solo last night. I've missed all of the big releases in the fist half of the year. Haven't caught a single Marvel episode. So it was nice to finally find the time to get out.
I really enjoyed it. Solo is not a perfect film, but it's not deserving of the shit it's had heaped on it either. (Just this morning I saw somebody on the twitterz running it down as bland and pointless — but they were more concerned about the easy ride Alden Ehrenreich got compared to Kelly Marie Tran).
I like space opera. I like westerns. I like noir. And Solo was a mash up of all three. It was action-driven, but it's a space adventure, not a 12 hour character drama on Hulu or Netflix. I dont think Ehrenreich did nearly as good a job of capturing young Solo as, say, Chris Pine did with his varsity Jim Kirk.
But the rest of cast picked up the slack. Woody Harrelson was brilliant. Jane didn't dig on Emilia Cark's Qi'ra, but my problem with her was my own. I kept waiting for the Mother of Dragons to ride in on a wave of fire. It was only in the last part of the film when I relaised the sort of archetypal noir character she was playing that I began to understand Clarke's performance.
Only real quibble I had was the odd choice to wash out the colour palate. You can have a western with vibrant colours but this one seemed to be permanently soaked in sepia tones. It was distracting.
Still, I enjoyed the film and I'm glad I caught it on the big screen.
I rewatched this Charlie Bronson classic on Netflix a week or so back. A couple of things struck me. First, it's really badly made – in the way that lots of classic 70s flicks are really badly made. Choppy editing. Shitty music. Some terrible, terrible acting.
But I watched it all the way through because I'd never seen it before, and it is a pop cultural touchstone. I aslo enjoyed it, the same way I enjoy beer and tacos, or greasy hamburgers. If they are true to themselves they can still be great.
A couple of observations.
The fight choreography is awful, but the violence is more realisitc because of it. The home invasion and rape which provide the 'inciting incident' are difficult to watch. They are intimate but not voyeuristic. It's like watching CCTV footage.
Jeff Goldblum is one of the baddies!
But you never see him again. Bronson's architect doent hunt down the men who attacked his wife and daughter. The city is so full of scum there is no chance of ever finding them.
In this way, Death Wish is a revenge movie, but one firmly rooted in realism. In the dozens, even hundreds of later movies and TV shows inspired by it, the grieving father always gets his man. Liam Neeson's Taken series even dispenses with the grief and cuts straight to the vengeance in response to the mere threat of violation. Bronson's character would be impressed.
The other thing that stands out? The lack of guns. This is actually a lietmotiv for the movie; the disarming and emasculation of the American male by an earlier and very different 'gun lobby'. The anti-gun lobby. I found it weird to spend time an America so denuded of guns that one man with a pistol could constitute a clear and present danger to the civilised order, as Bronson does.
In searching for an image to run with this, I discovered that Bruce Williss has a reboot of DW coming out this year. Tere is more cinematic artistry in the two and half minutes of the trailer than in the entire running time of Bronson's original. But the realism is gone. And I have no doubt Bruce will have his revenge.
SPOILER WARNING. Seriously. Stop now if you haven't seen the film yet.
I heard Cushing had been digitally reborn for R1 just before I saw the film. I wish I hadn't. I couldn't help but watch his scenes with a hypercritical eye, looking for the contours of the uncanny valley. I don't know that I'd have noticed much if I hadn't already known.
The New York Times has an interesting piece about the process of bringing Grand Moff Tarkon back to life. As the producers point out, it wasn't something they could avoid. “If he’s not in the movie, we’re going to have to explain why he’s not in the movie,” said Kiri Hart, a Lucasfilm story development executive and “Rogue One” co-producer. “This is kind of his thing.”
In striving for a balance between a digital figure who seemed real and one who looked precisely like Cushing, the “Rogue One” creators said seemingly minor tweaks could make significant differences — and these details were tinkered with constantly.
For example, the original “Star Wars” film (also known as “A New Hope”) was lit differently than “Rogue One,” raising questions of how to adjust the lighting on the character.
Hal Hickel, an Industrial Light & Magic animation supervisor, said that lighting him “the way he was in ‘A New Hope’ improved his likeness as Tarkin, but it worsened the sense of him being real because then he didn’t look like any of the actors in the scene.”
By sad, unplanned coincidence we chose A New Hope as our first pick of the front yard outdoor cinema season last night. I wasn't thinking of Carrie Fisher when we settled on that. I just thought it'd be cool to revisit the story after Rogue 1.
However, watching it a few hours before the news that Fisher had passed away, I was struck by how much agency her character enjoyed, and how well she played a 1930s Saturday matinee tough grrl, updated for the 1970s. Other things occured to me as well, including how much the film owes the classic war movies of the 1950s and 60s. But Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia stood out.
I'd say she was an amazing character for that time. But given the way things have gone, she'd be pretty fucking amazing if she turned up for the first time tomorrow.
I might go read her books.