Sat, Nov 27, 1999

: Cube (rewatch)

I watched

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: Desperado

Author: Robert Rodriquez

Director: Robert Rodriquez

I wanted to see this again after seeing Rodriquez’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It works because it fits its genre. If you took that same movie and made it bigger, with a huge budget and lots of explosions, it would be lifeless. It works because dumb people killing each other in tiny, insignificant towns in the middle of nowhere is meaningful within the context of their lives. It has no meaning to the big world. If you make an epic out of it, you are implying it has meaning to all of us, which it does not. Desperado is a shoot-em-up and nothing more, but it’s filmed like a grand drama. Enjoy it as a fun, silly action flick. Don’t expect depth and you’ll be fine. And afterward, watch the smaller, better El Mariachi.

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: 12 Monkeys

Author: Chris Marker (film La Jetee) and David and Janet Peoples

Director: Terry Gilliam

Some might think this movie should win the “Most Confusing Movie Ever” award, but it’s only confusing on your first viewing. It’s designed to be a puzzle you unravel, and watch over and over and over. I saw much in this viewing I had previously missed. I think there are some flaws, and things Gilliam could have done to make the movie a little more accessible, but it’s still a great film. It certainly does not dumb itself down for the audience, like so many Hollywood pictures. The plot is an incredibly complicated time travel riddle. It’s also a psychological adventure. Are we trapped in someone’s mind or is all this real? It’s similar to Gilliam’s classic Brazil (my pick for best movie of all time) in that regard. There are twists within twists within twists. Amazing, and well worth the thought-effort to puzzle it through. Rather than try to explain everything for those who haven’t seen the movie, let me just throw out this bone: Bruce Willis is sent back in time to save the world from a plague that wipes out five billion people. But he ends up in a mental institution, where for some odd reason, no one will believe he’s from the future and is there to save humanity. The beauty is that Willis sounds crazy to us, the audience. And we begin to doubt: is he really from the future or he really crazy? Classic!

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: Psycho

Author: Robert Bloch (novel) and Joseph Stefano

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

What more can be said about one of the most talked about movies of the century? I can only approach this movie from someone of my generation. Every horror movie or psychological thriller made since 1960 borrows from Psycho, which ought to make it seem derivative and trite. In some ways it does. The “plot” of Norman Bates being a schizophrenic killer who murders and then cleans up his own mess without realizing he did it is old by modern standards. There’s no way any of us can beam back to 1960 and see what a true shock that was in that day. But Psycho is much more than plot. It’s subtlety in acting, directing, and violence. Even by 1960 standards, Psycho had very little violence. The graphic aspects are all in your mind. You watch the infamous shower scene and think you saw more than you really did. In the remake they actually did show more, and it weakened the scene because your imagination had less work to do (imagination is one of those muscles that needs practice and stimulation to work). Psycho is a classic that you can watch over and over and see new things every time. Definitely one of history’s best films. Modern people often think it’s not “scary” but they are missing the point: none of Hitch’s movies are scary in the convention sense (movies in general aren’t scary, unless you have trouble deducing film from reality), but they hold us fascinated. When you watch a Hitchcock movie you might find you go long stretches where you forget to take a breath. In a modern “slasher” film you might cover your eyes, but that’s only because you’re afraid of seeing the excessive gore (which usually causes me to burst out laughing it’s so ludicrously done). With Hitch, you’re caught in a spell and can’t get out.

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