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Archive for the ‘Weekend Double Feature’ Category

Double Feature: Point Blank/The Limey

Posted by Hedwig on June 20, 2008

Experimental movies usually don’t have a lot of action in them, and action movies tend to be fairly sitraghtforward enterprises. Strange, since both Point Blank and The Limey demonstrate that the standard revenge plot is fertile ground for filmic experimentation.

How did I go this far without ever having seen Point Blank? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m very grateful for Alexander’s recent piece on it: it prompted me to finally sit down to watch it, and I absolutely loved it. It helps that I was prepared: I can imagine that people looking for something like Payback (based on the same story) will be put off by the shifty visuals, the juxtaposition of images from different periods in time, and the fact that the sound doesn’t always synch with what we see.

I was fascinated every step of the way. Lee Marvin gives a great central performance, almost emotionless, absent in his own story. Who knew Nouvelle Vague would fit so well with a simple, almost un-ironic gangster story? The story is only the bare skeleton, and the style adds layer upon layer of mood, melancholy, and metaphors.

Who is Walker? What motivates him? These questions aren’t really ever answered. Maybe he is, as Alexander suggests, just a ghost, an eidolon. Someone who was killed and is just staying around in order to settle debts.

The motivation of the protagonist of the Limey, Wilson, has a somewhat better defined motivation. His daughter was killed, and he wants to kill the man he thinks is responsible. Still, he wasn’t exactly close to his daughter, and hadn’t spoken to her in 5 years. He wants revenge as almost an abstract thing. Walker in Point Blank says “someone’s gotta pay”, and while he’s talking about money ($93.000 to be precise), the same sentence could be used to describe Wilson’s attitude.

In The Limey also, images are juxtaposed with no regard for chronology, the sound is often disconnected from the visuals, and there are many recurring stylistic motifs that are impossible to miss. The movie does forward, but not in a straight line: instead, it loops around, doubles back, and some images which we at first think are from the beginning of the film’s chronology are revealed at the end of the film to be situated at the end of the story.

It’s a great film, and while it definitely owes a debt to Point Blank, it is more emotional, simpler, and in the end slightly more satisfying film. I love the inclusion of scenes from an old Terence Stamp movie that fill in his character’s past, and Peter Fonda is a great fit as his opponent, Terry Valentine.

And as a final, totally unrelated remark: why has nobody but Soderbergh figured out what to do with Nicky Katt? He has some great, clearly improvised, lines (what’s the smartest thing that ever came out of a woman’s mouth?), and he’s the most alive thing in the movie. Why does he keep getting stuck as a third banana or a boring teacher? I say: give Nicky a leading role in a big comedy, and I’m sure he’ll make a splash.

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Weekend Double Feature: (ear)Lee Marvin – 1953

Posted by Hedwig on June 4, 2008

Noir, by the fifties, was turning into an old man’s (or at least grown man’s) game. Sure, there are marvelous examples of the genre even in the late fifties, but it wasn’t fresh anymore. Humphrey Bogart was still cool (and still is, and probably always will be), but he only had four years left to live. At the same time, a new youth-oriented culture was gathering strength, and it was only two years before James Dean burst onto the scene in Rebel Without a Cause. The old acting style was going out of style, and the Method was on its way.

As such, 1953 fell in a transitional period, and this is clearly reflected in the two films Lee Marvin made that year. One, The Big Heat, was a classic noir made by the old master Fritz Lang (62 at the time), complete with good old-fashioned thugs and a femme fatale – the glorious Gloria Grahame, who’s fatal to someone else than you’d expect. The other, The Wild One, was a showcase for one of the new up-an-coming actors, Marlon Brando, and revolved around a new phenomenon: the greaser.

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Bonus double feature: Quentin’s gals

Posted by Hedwig on May 28, 2008

The advantage of having a rather sizeable DVD-collection is that nothing is easier than organizing an impromptu movie night. The recipe: just invite a bunch of people (say, some housemates) into your room, tell them to pick whatever they like, and watch it.

By sheer accident, this meant that on two consecutive nights I watched Death Proof and Jackie Brown, making for a neat Tarantino double feature. Arguably, these two are at the opposite ends of Tarantino’s work, two films as disparate as you can pick them. Still, they share a lot of themes, and maybe even more.

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Weekend Double Feature: Double Bogie

Posted by Hedwig on May 26, 2008

I know, I know, I promised a Gloria Grahame double feature. But that was before I’d seen In a Lonely Place. Now that I have, I realize that it’s more interesting to pair it with another Bogart movie I saw recently, rather than with the Big Heat. Don’t worry, though: I’ll get to the Big Heat next week. I even already know what movie I’ll discuss alongside it. But for now: a Bogie double feature it is.

The movie I chose to pair In a Lonely Place with instead is one made by Bogart in a very different stage of his career: High Sierra. Bogart made many, many movies before High Sierra, and quite a few (including the one that would win him a little gold man, The African Queen) after In a Lonely Place, but there are some interesting similarities and differences between the two, and they can be seen as bookends to his career.

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Weekend Double Feature: All is Love, Actually

Posted by Hedwig on May 19, 2008

I promise, the rash of girly posts will come to an end, soon. But if the Filmspotting guys can review Love, Actually and admit they kind of liked it, and if it then airs on TV on a night I have a friend over and nothing else to do…who am I to still refuse to watch it? And then, the next night, why not watch the Dutch movie inspired by it, Alles is Liefde ? Read the rest of this entry »

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Weekend Double Feature: Food & Sex

Posted by Hedwig on May 12, 2008

I’m one of those people who doesn’t eat to live, and who lives to eat. Food really engages all the senses: how it tastes most obviously, of course, but how it smells is almost as important, how it looks, how the texture feels. Even sound comes into it: the sizzling of butter in a pan, the bubbles popping in a pot of something simmering slowly. Food can be something very luscious, and very sensual. Something closely related to desire, to sex. And there have been plenty of movies that exploit this.

Somehow, many of them have a Latin setting. Is it because people enjoy food more in Latin settings, because they pay more attention to it, or just because they seem to have more of a sensual outlook on life in general? I don’t know, but the weather’s been gorgeous for a week now already, and latin food movies are what I crave. Read the rest of this entry »

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Weekend Quintuple Feature – it’s all been done before

Posted by Hedwig on May 4, 2008

So, I’ve finally been watching movies again. And since I’m not the type to do things half-heartedly, I actually watched 5 in a day, or to be precise, one 90-minute television pilot and 4 movies. The day was an initiative of my friend Joost, and well… it ruled.

The theme? Previous incarnations of recent movies

The program?

– Miami Vice (the pilot) – 1984
– Rocky IV – 1985
– Transformers: the Movie (the animated version) – 1986
– The Punisher (the Dolph Lundgren version) – 1989
– Beowulf (the Christopher Lambert version) – 1999

As you can tell, quality wasn’t the primary selection criterion (though in a way, it was). But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have tons of fun.

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Road Trippin’

Posted by Hedwig on April 24, 2008

Usually, with my Weekend Double Features, I try to find two movies that have a theme in common, or a central story, or, you know, something. Last weekend I couldn’t think of any movies related in a meaningful way to any of the four movies I watched. But two of them had a tenuous connection: they were pretty much as disparate as two movies that arguably belong to the same genre can be. So, this is not a “Weekend Double Feature” in the strictest sense of the word (not least because it’s already Thursday), but rather a study in contrasts.

The Genre? The road movie.

The movies? Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle and … My Blueberry Nights. Read the rest of this entry »

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Weekend Double Feature: Bogie learns to stick his neck out

Posted by Hedwig on April 12, 2008

How much can you tell from people’s celebrity crushes? Not too much, I hope. For instance, I blogged before about liking brooding baddy Guy of Gisborne in the new BBC series about Robin Hood more than the title character, wondering what that said about me. Luckily, my friend Lani (who I’m visiting in Oslo right now) recently caught up with the show, and wholeheartedly agrees. She’s a little disturbed by her predilection too… but at least we’re not out there posting robin/guy slash fanvids on iTunes, right? Right?

Back to the topic at hand, my old-time movie star crushes aren’t exactly typical either. It’s not the dashing Errol Flynn (another Robin Hood), the dreamy Cary Grant, or the recently departed Charlton Heston that I drool over. Nope, instead, it’s Orson Welles I can’t resist, Claude Rains I root for in Notorious, and my favorite of them all, the movie star I find most attractive, is a short drunkard with a lisp called Humphrey DeForest Bogart.

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Weekend Double Feature: Delusional Dudes

Posted by Hedwig on April 5, 2008

Now that I write on a regular basis about Weekend Double Features, I’m always on the lookout, consciously or unconsciously, for echoes between movies. Connections. A same actor or character in a different light, perhaps. A different approach to a similar problem, or a similar approach to a different problem.

So as I watched Don Juan deMarco for the nth time yesterday, all I could think of was how that movie illustrates perfectly why Lars and the Real Girl didn’t work for me as well as it did for others. Read the rest of this entry »

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