Movies I’ve watched recently

During holidays, one such as myself has a much greater amount of time to devote to such a pastime as movie-watching. Well, I’ve gotten through a few films this holiday and thought I would share my thoughts:

  • Trainspotting. Okay, it was the third time I’ve seen it since its release. This things that hit me the strongest were the absolute sarcasm of the soundtrack—the way it’s used with the images, something I’d forgotten about—and the way that still shots are used near the beginning and at a couple of moments later on. It reminded me of some other films composed entirely of still-images, like one I’ll turn to in a moment. Very clever business, enjoyable if also stomach-turning at points. Ah, never ever eat spaghetti with meat sauce while watching this movie, particularly during the “The Worst Toilet in Scotland” scene.
  • Don Juan de Marco. Yes, an old Johnny Depp/Marlon Brando movie. Romantic and sweet if a bit dangerous in the meme it presents, which seems on the surface to be that romanticism is more important than reality, but under the surface seems to suggest something more like “The science of psychiatry is false, do not trust it for it can not heal you as love and romanticism can.” Which is true in some cases, as I’ve experienced, but is untrue in many, many cases. I don’t believe the film will convince people to dismiss psychiatry, but it does subtle suggest that a deep distrust of it is warranted even in absolutely insane cases. Which, I’m sorry to say, it just isn’t. Modern psychiatry may have many flaws, but the medications they have at their disposal now can do a hell of a lot of good for some people.
  • Ed Wood. Another Johnny Depp movie, this one about the funny and sorta tragic life of the rather famous B-movie director. I really loved it, and watched it at John Wendel’s house in Kyungju.
  • Jaws. Another movie John got me to watch. To my shock I had to admit the movie was actually decent, at least till you see the shark above water. That was crap. The scene that drew me in was aboard the ship, when you hear the story of the USS Indianapolis as told by Quint. Here’s a page with the dialogue (really more like a monologue) for that amazing, and apparently true, scene.
  • La jet&ecaute;e, by Chris Marker. On the recommendation of a reader of this blog, I downloaded this French film, which is absolutely unavailable in Korea. It’s the basis of the Terry Gilliam feature Twelve Monkeys, a film which I adore, and I found La Jet&ecaute;e to be almost as fascinating, which is quite something considering it’s much shorter and composed entirely of still photographs and voice-over narration. Quite worth checking out, and I am grateful to the reader, one Hiram in Los Angeles, for mentioning Marker to me.
  • Blade III. Uh, yeah. Well, I like vampires, but despite the fact they were probably plagiarists (in a sense, since the game designers they stole from also stole a lot from other sources, but the movie does have a very White-Wolf Games feel to it, nonetheless), I have to say that Underworld was a far better vampire movie. Blade I was cool, unlike any other vampire movie I’d seen before, and I’m sure I’ll like the comics when I get to them. But good grief, the plot was the same as Blade I, with a slight variation, and Underworld. “We vampires wanna make a superspecies that don’t need humans. We’re gonna, uh, use… ____fill in the blank____ to achieve our evil goal. Muhahahaha!” I know, I know, it’s a common thread for fantastical, science-fictional, or fantasy movies to have a save-the-world plot, but something with a little less overblow impact, something a little more subtle, might just be what’s needed to make a struly good vampire movie. I, for one, am sick to death of Dracula appearing over and over, each time with a new background story more boring than the last one. Why not defuse Dracula, make him one of the first to violate the code of silence, a bit player, someone who long ago was killed off by a pack of his offspring—so anything but summon him up again. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the first Anne Rice vamp movie was much closer to the mark, casting aside. I want to see a vampiric, modern-day The Name of the Rose, where some vamp investigator has to figure out why there’s a series of murders in the local vampire community. That would be a rock’n’roll movie. Vampires not as absolute heroes, not as absolute villians, but as social beings with a society as horribly complex as imaginable for immortal, biologically-parasitic creatures.
  • National Treasure. This effort was alright, but I have to agree with my friend Adam that it could have been better-crafted, and a lot of things that could have been exploited, weren’t. The romance was a little too “easy”, too, if you ask me. Not that romances never are, but the sudden kiss in the cavern felt more like sticking a kiss into the movie somewhere because, well, it’s in the formula, so it’s needed.
  • Winnie the Pooh. (In Korea it’s missing the subtitle, “And the Blustery Day” but it’s the same film.) I rented this because Lime told me she’d never seen it in animation form, only the still pictures on cutesy stuff all over Korea. Well, watching it again with her in English was fascinating. For one thing, I had no idea how many weird variations of words showed up in the songs, things like, “I’m rumbly in my tumbly” and the like, which Lime didn’t understand right away—though once I explained one or two, she seemed to get the idea. The misspellings, too; meant, I suppose, to emulate the “textual imagination” of a pre-literate child like Christopher Robin, they were a little baffling to Lime. I forgot to explain why the sign at Piglet’s house (later Owl’s) read “TRESPASSERS WILL”.

    This movie, by the way, was shocking for a number of reasons. First off, Winnie the Pooh seems to be the very image of an addict; whether you take the alcoholic, the psychologically addicted pothead, the heroin/PCP/cocaine/crack addict, or whatever, Winnie the Pooh pursues “hunny” with such an obsessive fervour that it jeopardizes everything else in his life: his health, his social relationships, his ability to understand the world around him. Winnie is absolutely a poor-addict type.

    Rabbit, on the other hand, we agreed seems absolutely to be the old, grumpy, queen-in-the-closet of the Mile Acre Wood. Everything from his home-decoration-obsession, his eventual semi-enjoyment of looking at Pooh’s butt picture-framed, his hobby of figure skating: everything suggests that Rabbit is stereotypically gay, but hasn’t admitted it to himself, or at least not to any of the other animals. This is why he’s so mierable in social situations, and why he’s also so controlling of others’ behaviour, like trying to take the bounce out of Tigger. There’s hope, of course: Tigger finally gets him to bounce… maybe that’s just what he needs to loosen up and let the real Rabbit show. For sanity’s sake, I’m keeping back a pun about wild hairs in his ass…

    Eeyore is the sanest creature in the forest. He is always a little careful, but not scared to get things done, even under adverse situations. Look how he found Owl a house, even during a torrential rainstorm. Don’t buy the line that he’s a pessimist: he’s just a realist.

Woah, that’s a lot of movies. I also have the Japanese horror movie Juon rented, and I will watch it before I return it tonight. Gotta return it tonight, not only because it’s due but because I’m going to Seoul tomorrow to pick up my new-ish used computer. But first, a little tidying in my house, and some packing, are in order.

4 thoughts on “Movies I’ve watched recently

  1. Keisha and I watched Blade 3 last night. (We have a long tradition of going to watch bad action movies on New Year’s Eve — Jean-Claude Van Damme had a good bad movie out for several years running back in the mid-90s.) And I have to say I enjoyed it a lot. Yeah, it’s a stupid movie, but then so were the first two. I don’t think of them as being vampire movies so much as being kung-fu movies with vampires in them. By Asian standards all American kung-fu movies suck, of course (Kill Bill succeeds not because of the kung fu but because of the staging of the kung fu), but by American standards (Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal) the Blade flicks are much better than average. Anyway, I laughed a lot. It seemed to have just the right spirit for a B comic book turned into a B action movie. Better than Daredevil, anyway.

  2. Yeah, as a bit of kung-fu entertainment I suppose it was alright. But you know, it *would* be nice to have something that’s more about vampires instead of just, you know, kung-fu-with-vamps.

    Anyway, I knew what it would be like and they got my $7 nonetheless, so what can I say?

  3. I guess I don’t mind because I’ve always had trouble taking the whole literary/RPG “vampire genre” very seriously. Bram Stoker is excellent, but after a couple of Anne Rice books, From Dusk Till Dawn, and the first Blade movie I decided the best use for vampires in entertainment was as kung-fu targets. When even the undead start whining about their existential crises, I can’t help but think it’s time to break out a can of garlic-infused whoopass.

    I’m so lowbrow I should be ashamed. :-)

  4. Although I myself find it strange, I still find myself more capable of taking seriously someone who is too lowbrow to want more out of vampire movies than someone who is too highbrow to find anything but snobby dismissal acceptable. At least you’re not wanting more because you’re getting what you want out of them.

    By the way, I don’t think Anne Rice et al have destroyed the possibility of an interesting vampire narrative, though I think they’ve mined the “eternal existential crises” vein so much that it’s no longer viable outside of RPG games.

    Nonetheless, I do think there are other ways the vampire narrative could mutate and provide us with interesting narratives that also say a lot about us. I won’t say more, though, since I’ll probably turn to it in some depth should I ever write a real vempire book. I’m saving my juice for then…

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