Thursday, May 31, 2007

Triple feature (sorta)!

Now that Argotnaut and I are back in the southeast part of Portland, we are much closer to several of the second-run theaters that are near and dear to my heart. My love of the Laurelhurst Theater is well known. But we are also within walking distance of the Bagdad Theater. This gives me a chance to go catch a flick at a moment's notice whenever A has a bunch of homework that will keep her confined to her office and I'm a bit at loose ends. Such was the case last night, when I decided to go see "300" and "Grindhouse," two movies -- actually three if you count "Grindhouse" as two, because it's comprised of both "Planet Terror" and "Deathproof" -- that I'd been waiting to show up at the second-run theaters.

So here are my one sentence reviews of each flick:

300 review: I gotta start to do some crunches.

Planet Terror review: Rose McGowan; god -- DAMN! But I bet the machine gun was easier to walk on then those shoes.

Deathproof review: Kurt Russell is awesome.

Okay, seriously (sorta) I kinda liked 300 the best. The story was juvenile and the history fast-and-loose at best. But for a visual experience, it was breathtaking. Hell, the closing credits sequence alone had more visual ingenuity than most movies made today. Movies are hands down THE media for delivery of images, and "300" is the kind of thing only movies can do, and one of the reasons I think big screens will always be with us regardless of how big our plasma TVs get.

"Grindhouse" was good, too, and I recommend it for those who like their humor grimy. Some of the conventions were a bit too precious for me -- the fake negative scratches, the low-fi soundtrack, the bad framing -- given the CGI machine gun attached to Rose McGowan's leg and the obviously high budget necessary to pull off the awesome car chase at the end of "Death Proof." Also a bit precious is the fact that Rodriguez and Tarentino both are such clever filmmakers that they couldn't help but do accomplished work even while trying to pretend not to. But at the same time, I like that the directors obviously wanted to do something fun and different, and the "coming attractions," like "Werewolf Women of the SS" alone were worth the price of admission.

Now I'm afraid I must venture to the multi-plex and see "Spider-man 3," since it's one of the few films I think will be necessary to see with the full "Doubly" treatment. But probably I'll go see "The Lives of Others" first. Damn, I'm elitist.


Tavia Rowan said...

I can't claim to have seen any of these films (but I am definitely going to try to see Spidey III), but I have to agree about Rose McGowan-- maybe we have the same taste in women! At least you don't have to worry about arch support if you have no leg.

Has making your own fimls changed the way you look at others' films?

Andrew said...

That's a good question.

I don't know if making my own films has changed the way I look at others' films, but it sure as heck has made me appreciate even more the hard work and time it takes to set up a shot, shoot it, and edit it. My crappy little student films have averaged about an hour of work per minute of footage shot.

So when I see a truly bravura piece of work, I want to stand up in the theater and applaud. For example, I don't know if you've seen "Children of Men," but you should -- it's the best film I've seen this year and I might have to put it among my Top 20 favorite films. It's that good.

Anyway, toward the end of the movie there is a long, unedited tracking shot that's gotta be five minutes long, shot with a hand-held camera and choreographed in minute detail -- the protagonist is dodging gunfire through a gutted group of buildings and the camera follows him through a rubble-strewn compound, up some stairs -- sweeping away every so often to capture the surrounding carnage -- bullets flying everywhere. And it's done in such a way that you don't notice it's one long shot until it's over because it's been so intense.

I now understand the unbelievable, overwhelming technical, logistical and physical challenges in doing a shot like that. So in that way, yes, perhaps I do look at films a bit differently.

Of course, now I recognize crappy stuff quicker, too.

Andrew said...

Actually, now that I think more about it, my films have probably averaged an hour of work for every 10 seconds of final footage. It's not a good medium for people who are into immediate gratification.

Tavia Rowan said...

I doubt I'll see "Children of Men" at least til it makes TV, and maybe not even then. I read the book, you see.... and for P.D.James, it sucked. Which is to say, it was a bit boring and preachy. Nothing gets under my skin quicker than someone blaring about an idea like they are the first to ever have it. Very irritating. Hence my dislike of "A Waking Life," which loved itself so much there wasn't much room for my admiration, if I'd had any.

Andrew said...

One thing I can say about "Children of Men" is that it isn't boring. I wouldn't call it preachy, either. You should see it on DVD. The networks will probably drop ads for cars, fast food and pharmaceuticals right in the middle of the sequence I was talking about.

Kinda have to agree with your assessment of "Waking Life," though.

Tavia Rowan said...

I've had WAY too much of that "Wow, I just discovered the wheel!" attitude at Pagan fests. And this spring Ursa's (Lutheran) minister got all het up about "Free Trade" goods-- did we KNOW that some goods are made with SLAVE LABOR in them there foreign countries?? we must do something about it!!!

BTW, I learned over the winter that cut flowers in the grocery store fall into this category. EEww. I guess we'll have to grow our own. Sigh.

Andrew said...

My dear sister, you are growing older. The idealism and enthusiasm of youth are indispensable when a person is trying to accomplish something really difficult. But the downside of that is that a young person will run up to you and shout "Look at this! It's really great! What a fantastic, life-altering experience!" And you'll answer, "Yeah. I had a similar experience when I did that about 20 years ago."

Oh well, as I often say, growing older sucks sometimes but I think it still beats the alternative.

Tavia Rowan said...

Amen to that! I doubt, after the last 2 years, that I'll ever be sad or upset about any future birthday. Just having another birthday is a triumph.

And I sure am glad I didn't have kids-- I'd probably do to them just what my older siblings (present company excepted) did to me: "Wow! Look what I just learned!" --"Everybody knows that. You didn't know that before? Wow are you stupid." Now the shoe's on the other foot (it kinda pinches).