A Coupla Films

Let’s see, what have I watched lately?

A Sound of Thunder. I can’t say it was all bad. I mean, those primate/reptile predator critters were pretty cool. Imaginatively conceived preadtory megafauna, yeah, I like it. But the film was also chock full of almost-good-enough CGI that, well, frankly, just wasn’t quite good enough.

But what bothered me more about this movie was what it has with so much other TV/film SF: the science comes last, if at all, and the Wow, cool! concept comes first. Except that the Wow, cool! concept isn’t so cool, and doesn’t make me go wow. I’m sorry, but this take on Time Travel isn’t new or interesting. In fact, given a slow-paced but fascinating character study that uses time travel as a vehicle for seeing humans’ dark side, and seeing an action-adventure film that uses time travel as a vehicle for having all kinds of neat critters to shoot at, I’ll go for the former every time. The whole thing about Time Waves disrupting evolution, okay, maybe, but why would it come in waves? Why would humans be the last to be affected by it? All that stuff was just silly, the simpleton clock ticking effect. Not, not, not riveting. Just annoying.

Mad Max: The Road Warrior. It felt strange to be watching this movie. I would say” again” except, to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember watching the damn thing the first time. I recognized enough to know I had done so, but couldn’t really remember it. How’s that for weird? Anyway, the long and the short of it was that it seemed to me both timely and sad to be watching a film in which characters were fighting tooth and nail, murdering and illing, for damned oil. It felt very… yes, timely is the word.

Of course, the dialogue is dreadfully stilted. The bad guys deliver their lines with all the passion of a pumpkin. The protagonists are even a little weak: Mad Max isn’t a very deep or believable character, and I have trouble believing the feral kid became the well-spoken narrator. But it put me in mind of the idea of a film adaptation of the book Market Forces by Richard Morgan, which is in my to-read pile, but which I know the basics of because I heard an interview with him (which is why I have the book). I think it might not be fully pleasurable, but I’d like to see a film adaptation of it nonetheless.

Almost Famous. I’ve been watching this with my Media English class, and though we’re all getting a little sick of still watching the same movie — the discussion breaks are making it stretch much longer than I intended — but I really like the way the film builds up, and then dismantles, the notion of “coolness”. It’s a kind of merciful, compassionate indictment of a youth culture that revels in stupidity and that found itself experimenting with things it wasn’t ready for, not yet. It’s almost a critique o the relationships between adults and kids, really; the way we rub off on one another, affect one another, and fail to really connect in so many ways.

And of course, it has a pretty interesting (who knows if it’s accurate?) depiction of the infamous rock critic Lester Banks, too. Good movie.

7 thoughts on “A Coupla Films

  1. I prefer the first Mad Max film. It’s eerier, as society is only in the first stages of descending into anarchy.

    I’m reminded of the early ’80s when Mel Gibson still spoke Aussie and he was my favorite actor; Gallipoli, The Year of Living Dangerously, and The Bounty are all great films. That was before the Lethal Weapon franchise. I’m sorry I missed him as a director speaking Maya to the Oscar ceremony.

    If I might take the liberty of making a recommendation for your Media English class, I’d suggest The Last of the Mohicans. It is by no means a great film, but it is good for an audience of Korean university students. It has action for the fellows, romance for the ladies, and stunning backgrounds and costumes. While teaching XVIIIth Century English expresssions might not be all that useful, the film will entertain, and perhaps even edutain

    I’ve taught Cinema English classes before, and found that whenever I brought in something I really liked, it was a complete failure. My use of cinema right now is limited to the “Odessa Steps” sequence of Battleship Potemkin [Бронено?ец «Потёмкин»].

  2. No problem, I closed the tag.

    I’m thinking Lost offers a lot fo the things you mention — except for the costumes– and the advantage that each episode is only 40 min long. TV series seem to me the way to go. I’m planning on doing an episode of Dead Like Me as well, or maybe Carnivale. Was even thinking of Rome but who knows… can’t get the DVDs here, unfortunately. Not yet anyway.

    By the way, I can’t remember much about the Max Mad sequels except Tina Turner was in the last, and that a song from the soundtrack was sung by her. And something about a crossbow bolt in a saxophone, maybe? Thinking of seeing them again, but feeling I may be underwhelmed. The production was probably better on the later ones, but I liked that sense of a societal collapse that was in the first one, that you mentioned, shinja. Also, I just don’t think much of Gibson. Not just because of his religious snuff-movie thing, but just in general. But The Year of Living Dangerously was a great movie, yes.

    All this makes me want to see that movie The Postman again as well. Ever see it? It was kind of about a postnuke world in which little pockets of civilization cling to safe existence. The book was better, but the film was alright by my opinion. Even if it was another Costner Action Hero film.

  3. The last Max Mad movie stank to high heaven, in my opinion. I’ve heard they’re making another one. I’m not optimistic. I’ve never seen The Postman, but I will take your advice when I get the chance. Post-apocalyptic films are always a hoot.

    TV might be a good idea in the class, as you say. I’ve often thought about using some episodes of the original Twilight Zone in class. The Golden Age of Television! On the post-apocalyptic theme, there’s always the Burgess Meredith episode. The plastic surgery one might fit in well with contemporary issues here in the RoK.

    The problem is, with Korean pop culture as disposible as it is, to many Koreans, an “old movie” is something from the early 21st Century. These folks almost shut down if you show them something in glorious black-and-white. You might as well bring in cunieform tablets.

    Were I teaching where you are (Catholic University, ¿no?), I would show Romero. If you haven’t seen it, you might like it. Raúl Julia’s performance as El Salvador’s modern-day Saint Thomas à Becket is phenomenal.

    This bit of dialogue near the end always sends chills up my spine:

    “No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God. In the name of God then, in the name of this suffering people, I ask you, I beg you, I order you: stop the repression!”

  4. Romero? I haven’t seen it. I haven’t even heard of it, I don’t think. Is it in English?

    While the school is Catholic, the enrollment here isn’t — some of the students are Catholic and some aren’t. Besides which, my own education in Catholic institutions wasn’t so heavy on the Catholic-themed media. Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t show something with that as a theme, just that, specific to my department, it’s more about showing media that introduces students to Anglo culture. They have other classes that provide specifically religious instruction.

    Again, that doesn’t exclude Christian media, but I don’t feel overly like I ought to go there. Other movies that have been or may sometime be presented include Billy Elliot and Crash.

    Anyway, as I say, I’m going with TV for now. Lost, maybe a little Carnivale, maybe Dead Like Me.

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