Monday, July 30, 2012

'BLADE RUNNER' - FOREVER

I watched "Blade Runner" again last night, for the four-hundredth time.

I love this movie; it’s on my list of all-time greats. I always get completely caught up in the experience of it, the look, the feel, the music, the story, the unforgettable characters. It transports me completely.

I love the ‘40s film noir atmosphere combined with the futuristic man-has-spoiled-the-planet setting; the way the story proceeds from clue to clue; the way the replicants’ actions mirror the humans’ actions (the replicants follow clues, too; when Deckard has trouble with his right hand, so does Roy the replicant); and the theme, that the humanoid machines are “more human than human.” They are more human than many of the humans in the movie. And many in real life.

I love this movie partly because it is about something. Not having a theme is the great failing of most mystery/thrillers, whether movies or books. For example, the latest Oliver Stone movie "Savages" ultimately fails as a story because it is not about anything. It's only purpose is to keep jacking up the audience until the final credits roll.

The classic mainstream thrillers "Presumed Innocent" and "Gorky Park" are unsatisfying because they lack themes. So are most mysteries and thrillers. Weirdly enough, the Stieg Larsson thrillers are about something: neo-Nazis and the denigration of women.

"Blade Runner" is from a novel by Philip K. Dick, "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep." So it is a well-worked-out story and not just a quickie script hacked out in Hollywood. Philip K. Dick had literary and artistic ambitions and sensibilities, which usually produce better stories than those with merely commercial intentions.

Last night, I watched the theatrical version, which I prefer to all the other cuts. I will watch the so-called director's cut and the final cut again and again, no doubt. (I bought them all, in a boxed set through Amazon, on sale, a good deal.)

Here are ten (or eleven) more movies that I love: 

  1. THE GODFATHER
  2. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL
  3. ONE-EYED JACKS
  4. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
  5. ALIEN
  6. BULLITT
  7. FATAL ATTRACTION
  8. PULP FICTION
  9. THE BOURNE IDENTITY
  10. THE TERMINATOR (1 & 2)
I love these movies. They are almost as much fun as movies were when I was a kid. I'm always looking to get back to that experience of being transported to a world that is more exciting and more satisfying than than the one in which we all live.

-- Roger
Copyright © 2012, Roger R. Angle

Sunday, July 29, 2012

BRUCE STRINGBEAN? REALLY?

I'm reading the very long profile of Bruce Stringbean in The New Yorker. Ooops. Er, Bruce Springsteen.

I have no clue as to why Bruce is so popular. He seems like an overgrown Jersey street kid, and his music seems a bit brainless to me. I'm suspicious of anyone who is that popular. Like most bestsellers, most pop music is disposable junk, it seems to me.

"Born In The USA" makes me sing "Bored in the USA." Sure, the lyrics are the opposite of a cheer for the USA. I find that mildly interesting. A lot of his music has a driving beat that is enough to give you a headache, and the sound seems thin and tinny to me. I find it hard to like.

Not being all that familiar with his music, today I watched a video on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=129kuDCQtHs

I still don't get his popularity. Bruce seems like the kind of guy you'd meet in a bar on Saturday night, and he'd try to steal your girl and want to get in a fight.

I like a lot of people better: Fiona Apple, Bob Marley, Leonard Cohen, Irma Thomas, Eminem, The Eagles, Amy Winehouse, Guns N Roses, Nina Simone, Roy Orbison. I could go on.

Am I missing something here? If so, what? Why is Bruce a big deal?

Maybe it is all a matter of taste. And as the old saying goes, there is no arguing with taste.

-- Roger
Copyright © 2012, Roger R. Angle

Saturday, July 28, 2012

OLYMPIC SNORE

I tried to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics on Friday, July 27, 2012. 

What a snore.

What were they thinking? Phony green hills covered with sod. Hundreds of people milling around. Stupid dialogue. What was the point?

The show seemed to depict the history of the British Isles. I quit during the Industrial Revolution. Giant chimneys spouting what appeared to be life-killing smoke. The show had nothing to do with athletics or competition.

It was the least creative, most boring spectacle I have ever seen.

An Olympic snore.

If their goal was to put people to sleep and get people to tune out, it worked. I switched to baseball and then watched a movie and then went to sleep.

-- Roger

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

'SAVAGES' -- SHALLOW B.S.

I went to a theater last Saturday to see the new Oliver Stone movie "Savages." God knows why. I had a free ticket and a buddy wanted to go. And I got caught up in the hype and it sounded like fun. 

I hadn't been to a theater in a long time, maybe two years. It was a pleasure to see the big screen.

But the sole purpose of the movie seemed to be to jack up the audience and keep us on the edge of our seats. The young people in the audience laughed and cheered in all the right places. Oliver Stone seems to know these people.

But as they were cheering, I was thinking, what a load of crap. To me, any piece of writing or film making--any storytelling--should be after some kind of truth about life or the world or some insight into the human condition. "Savages" doesn't give a damn about truth or the human condition.

Here are my notes, written after I got home:

"SAVAGES" -- July 07, 2012  

Razzle-dazzle BS. Looks good, but shallow and superficial. I didn't believe most of the characters. I sure didn't believe the blonde girl. Sure, she loves both these guys. Yeah, right. Taylor Kitsch is excellent, in spite of his schmaltzy name. The story seems designed to jack up the audience rather than to reveal anything about human nature. No insight here. Cheap storytelling. Nice setting. Overall: C plus.

## (More notes written later:)

Obviously from a really crappy novel. It is too bad that this is what the culture rewards. As Ezra Pound once wrote, “In the end the age was handed / the sort of shit that it demanded.” 

This movie has way more dazzle than depth.

When they do go for depth, it’s cheap pop psychology: These guys love each other more than they love you, that’s why they can share you. Yeah, right.

People judge these movies on how well they jack up the audience, not on whether they jack up the audience.

The blonde is screwing both guys, right, but why? To excite the audience, not because it’s something the character would do. She’s a poor little rich girl who is financially spoiled and emotionally deprived, so her natural inclination is to place herself in an even more insecure emotional situation? Right. Sure. What a load of crap.

And her name is ”O,” like orgasm, which stands for Ophelia. What crap. Again, just to jack up the audience.

The opening scene is “O” screwing the tough guy. Yeah, right. Then the other guy comes home and she does him, too, right? Oh, isn’t that the way we all want to live, or fantasize that other people live? No, we don’t. I don't. Looks like emotional chaos to me.

This is typical of a certain kind of mystery/thriller, where the object is to goose the audience till they are silly. This crap makes a lot of money, so there are dozens, even hundreds, of cheap writers competing with each other, not to see who can write the best novel, but to see who can jack up the audience with more cheap thrills.

These novels don’t mean a thing. It’s like Flannery O'Connor said, “There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.”

This one should have been prevented.  

However, there is lots of good acting here. Benicia del Toro is great, as usual. Too bad all that talent is used just to jack up the audience.

I didn’t believe most of the characters, including Salma Hayek, although her acting is good. There is just not much character there. Nor did I believe John Travolta. Such shallow, clich├ęd characters are not engaging.

I am so-o-o-o-o tired of former Navy SEALs as tough guys. They are the standard macho muscle heads now, in schlock movies and pulp novels. Or some other special ops. Yargh. Please, God, no more Navy SEALs.

-- Roger
Copyright © 2012, Roger R. Angle