Blog Archive

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Movie Review and Five Star Flashback

Night Watch
R for Violence
* * *
Night Watch is a Russian film, but bares more resemblance in composition to a Bollywood film with super-frenetic cuts, animated acting, a plot line that is loose to say the least, and most of all spectacle. Is it a masterpiece? No. Does it make sense? No. But it’s what of a group of boys playing with a hodgepodge of action figures would look like if it were put to film. This film has everything: vampires, shape-shifters, wizards, witches, a Harry Potter figure, long-lost family members, light and dark sides, mediaeval battles, an owl woman, time stopping, a computer hacker that can see the future, etc. The elements in this overwhelming fantasy world that aren’t even important in the main story line could provide Hollywood with enough material for a year or two. And that’s why this is the early frontrunner for this years coolest film. Is it silly? You bet. But it knows it’s silly, so we don’t care that it borrows freely from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Matrix, Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings, J-Horror, The Omen, American Video Games, etc. In its own right it is a very imaginative film that like most great Eastern cinema makes no apologies, but thrusts you into a new world. This isn’t your usual Russian art film. It’s a Hollywood wannabe that outdoes most Hollywood films as far as how energetic, and cool it is. It is exciting, and gripping, if you can suspend your disbelief, try your best not to let the strangeness get to you (why does the dog walk like a horse?), and you’ll have a great time.

Five-Star Flashback
El Topo (1970) (Not available in US due to copyright problems)
NR( Most likely R for nudity, violence)
* * * * *
El Topo is hands down the strangest film ever made, the first midnight movie, and the first cult-classic. One would think that in the quarter cnetury since the film was made someone would out-do it and many have tried. The film is not so strange in it's composition, it looks like a Spaghetti-Western, and like much of Bunel's surrealist work looks, well real, except the fact that you need clif notes to follow it. This is the masterpeice of the Mexiperimental period of the early '70's. It was one of John Lennon's favorite films, and he liked it so much he is the main reason it found a distributor. The film is a hodgepodge of religious imagery and ideas, from Jesus to Mexican folk-lore, to Zen Buddism. At it's most superficial it is a western. El Topo (the mole) emerges from underground with his apprentice (son?) to kill an evil conlonel who has massacred a village and is torturing it's monks. Topo kills the baddies, and leaves his apprentice with the monks and takes one of the women from the village. While in the desert she says if he loves her he will kill the 4 masters of the desert, after he does there is a twist in the story, and El Topo must redeem himself. The third act is the most lucid of the film and provides some incredible visual imagery. If anything this is a metaphysical experience in film, you can't really understand it, but you can try to experience it (though maybe since I wasn't on some drug...). This is not an easy film, but if you like a film to watch you, or love such work like The Prisoner, the works of Bunel and Lynch,The Kingdom, or Magical Mystery Tour, you'll love this film.

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