Posts Tagged ‘Drama’

There are books that are difficult to translate into movies, and there are books that are more easily translated. I’m not exactly sure where Fear and Loathing fits in there, but it was at least fairly accurately translated. Not 100%, several things prevent it from reaching the full and complete accuracy that fans were hoping for. While some of them are choices made by Gilliam, many of them are just rights and budget concerns. However, as an adaptation of the book, it works. As something to get you interested in the greater works of Hunter S. Thompson, it is an excellent device. How does the movie hold up compared to the book? Let’s find out together, shall we?

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Okay, so when I first heard the concept of Brick, I was not a fan. Oh goodie, I thought, a Film Noir set in a high school. There will be teens in fedoras and talking fast like their trying to be Jimmy Cagney, despite the fact that Cagney never made a film noir because he was too big a star to be in those b movies. To be perfectly frank, I was expecting a high school version of Bugsy Malone, complete withy pie shooting machine guns. However, I heard some things and someone sent me the movie as a gift and I had to watch it then. So I watched it and was pleased to discover that my fears were misplaced. This wasn’t a bunch of teenagers playing at film noir, it was film noir playing with a bunch of teenagers. That probably sounds like I said the same thing, but it’s the difference of “I mean what I say is the same thing as I say what I mean.” If you get my drift. To put it in a short, declarative sentence: These guys got what film noir means rather than just trying to ape what it looks like.

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The Great Train Robbery (1903/Edison Studios/Dir. Edwin S. Porter)

Made in 1903, this is possibly the earliest western movie, although even the director of this movie would disagree with that statement. Not important, but he thought another movie was the first western, however I don’t think it was a proper narrative film like this is. See, before this time, most movies were just an event. Not even a series of events but a single scene with the camera simple pointed at whatever was happening. The earliest movies are quite frankly, dull. Unless you’re a movie nerd, or a history nerd, most of the “first” movies in history hold little to no interest because they were primarily just pointing a camera at a city street and capturing what was there. This was back in the day when simply seeing a picture move was enough to get riled up over. Now it’s true that there were movies with plot and editing and before this, but The Great Train Robbery was the first one to really bring everything together in a way that made it a big hit. One might say that this one proved there was something to this whole movie making thing. If you’re able, go out and buy Edison – The Invention of the Movies, which is where my copy of the movie comes from. If you get other versions, you may not get some of the brilliant use of colors that this one has.

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Incident at Blood Pass (1970/Toho/Dir. Hiroshi Inagaki)

Hey look, another Sanjuro movie that doesn’t actually have Sanjuro in it. Okay, I’ll make the history lesson quick to explain that statement. First things first though, this movie is actually titled “Ambush” and was changed to “Incident at Blood Pass” somewhere along the line. Now back to the history lesson that you don’t really care about. After Yojimbo, Toshirō Mifune spent more than a few years playing more or less that character in several movies. It wasn’t so much that he was being Sanjuro, as much as he had made that a stock style of character. A stock style that still exists to this day, and is portrayed by many an actor. This would basically be like Sean Connery playing a well dressed, suave spy after he ended his run on James Bond. So yeah, it’s a samurai movie where Mifune plays a strong, mysterious tough guy type.
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I decided, in order to make up for the abysmal showing of my 100th review, I would make up for it by showing off something special. Something foreign with an exploitative topic of a man murdering his brother so he could bang his wife and steal the inheritance. The story of a son, discovering his father murdered flies into a murderous rage. A young girl’s boyfriend takes sexual advantage of her, murders her father, and then leaves her to fall into insanity, eventually driving her to her own suicide. It’s even got a supernatural element, just in case you were afraid that this could in anyway be considered classy. A man even gets two of his old school chums murdered, more or less for the lulz.

What is this movie you ask?

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Word up for The Bard bitches!


Hamlet (1996 Castle Rock Entertainment Dir. Kenneth Branagh)

Now I know what you’re asking… am I kidding? NO! I am not. Had this been written in 1975, entitled “Prince of Blood” or any of a dozen alternate titles, and made for under $100K it would be looked down on as much as any other exploitation movie. It’s got all the nasty hooks. Ghosts, revenge, sexual shenanigans, murder, a hint of incest, bad action, characters that pop in and out of the tale at random, and huge events happening off camera. Not to spoil it for you, but one of the most important side characters in the entire play dies off screen! This is not a classy play, let’s be clear on that. This is an exploitation movie, plain and simple. It just happens to get a larger budget and better actors than most exploitation flicks. Because of that, it’s a great exploitation movie, don’t get me wrong, but it is still exploitation. Not only that, but it’s a really silly exploitation movie. Let us be perfectly frank about this so called Greatest Work of the English Language. If the script for Hamlet were handed in today, zombie Louis B. Mayer would rise up from the grave and slap the taste out of Shakespeare’s mouth.

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An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1972 AIP Dir. Kenneth Johnson)

Okay, so I’m cheating a little here. This isn’t really a movie, so much as it’s a TV special, and it’s not even a proper narrative because it’s actually a one man show. Vincent Price recites four Edgar Allan Poe stories. In order they are… The Tell-Tale Heart, The Sphinx, The Cask of Amontillado and The Pit and the Pendulum. If I seem to be a bit short on explanation, that’s because that’s really all this is. It’s a 53 minute made for TV special that probably bumped I Dream of Jeannie for a week. There isn’t a hell of a lot to say about this.

Doesn’t mean I won’t fill a few pages with wit and snark though. Come on! Let’s tear into this baby. Who’s with me?

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Tales from the Darkside – Distant Signals (Season 2, Episode 8; First Broadcast November 17, 1985; Laurel Productions; Dir. Bill Travis)

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I always meant to have more TV reviews, but the truth is I don’t watch much TV. Is Lost still on? I don’t know. That joke’s gonna just get funnier and funnier the longer I put off actually posting this particular review. The thing is, I’m not all that into TV shows. Some people really like post 90s TV, with their continuing storylines that can stretch the entire season or even further. Me? I like the stripped down storytelling that a movie forces on the filmmaker. I don’t have to invest a huge amount of time, or examine each and every character in detail. I will admit, when I watch a TV show with a continual storyline, I like those shows better. Having everything tie up in a neat little package at the end of every episode bugs the hell out of me. Still, I’m a short story fan, even reading I prefer short stories to extended novels. Is it any wonder then, that my favorite kind of show is the anthology series? And is it any wonder that my favorite anthology series is Tales from the Darkside?

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