Week in Review
What happened to good G-rated movies for adults? This week I watched The Andromeda Strain, definitely not a movie for kids, but rated for "general audiences." Earlier this year, I watched Le Mans, another G-rated movie, starring Steve McQueen. Let's not forget Planet of the Apes, which is probably my favorite G-rated movie. I know what happened, I don't have to ask: the marketing bozos figured out a corralation between ratings and audience, which translates to ratings and money.
After watching movies for the last thirty something years, I would automatically assume any movie that comes out today rated G will not be of interest to me. I usually see movies that are rated R. Most of them are a strip club, three Fwords, and a blood spurt from being a G movie. If a script is written brilliantly, elements such as these will be added to boost the rating to one that is suitable for the audience to whom the film is being marketed. It's yet another bad thing that happens to good scripts.
The next time you see a recent R-rated movie in the theater or on DVD, check out what they will cut for the TV version. Conversations in the strip club, where all informants hang out, will be cut out for TV or more insidiously, the strippers will be on either side of the screen that will be cropped for the Pan and Scan Version of the film. Usually, it's the same character that drops all the F-bombs, while none of the other characters swear at all. This is so they only have to call in the minimum of actors for the alternate dialogue looping.
While I'm complaining, whatever happened to the beep out or the blank out? It's still good enough for Springer and the radio, but why insult the TV audience with Mad-Libs-sounding phrases like, "Rub my toe, you motherloving pirate!" It just makes me wonder what Deadwood will sound like when it's rerunning on TBS.
What a close one this week was. There was a strong field this week. Spike Lee's moving 4 Little Girls documentary, The Andromeda Strain based on then 29-year-old Michael Chricton's book, the sometimes hilarious Confederate States of America, and Bob Fosse's classic Damn Yankees, were all contenders. There were two, though, that stood above the rest.
Almost at number one was Brick, the debut film by Rian Johnson. Brick is a murder mystery set in a high school. While the acting and directing were good, the whole of the film, the sets, the actors were all just vehicles for the snappy film noir dialogue. This film has some of the best consistent dialogue I've heard all year. The language is so hot, I want to recommend this film that's a cross between Pulp Fiction and The River's Edge.
But there's one other film that I saw that I can't get out of my head.Don't Come Knocking was also just released this week. To be honest, I stuck it in my queue as soon as I found out Fairuza Balk was in it. But she's only one of the many extremely talented and gifted people working on this film. Hopefully this film will get Oscar nominations for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actor in a Lead Role, and Best Supporting Actress. Wim Wenders directed this Sam Shepard penned script, starring Shepard with an equally compelling role from Sarah Polley. But that's not all. The movie also stars Tim Roth, Jessica Lange, and Eva Marie Saint in a small but crucial role. Every scene has wonderful interaction, for lines that other films use as exposition or filler between other scenes. (For a completely different take on Don't Come Knocking, read Mark Taylor's review.
Shepard plays a movie cowboy who, for unexplained reasons, takes a horse and rides away from the set. At first I was thinking The Electric Cowboy, but this film stands on its own. At the heart of the plot, which wouldn't be prudent to reveal, Shepard's character is on a spiritual journey which we've seen before, but is done with its own sense of freshness and urgency.
Sarah Polley plays her character perfectly. While she seems to be a minor character at first, her role grows in importance, but yet she takes a subtle approach to her performance. Maybe with another director and actor, this character would have done nothing but screamed and cried, but Polley is able to show these emotions to the viewer without overdoing it, which, in the end is always more powerful.
Wim Wenders made a lot of noise and gathered attention with The Beuna Vista Social Club, and this is his best project since. I hope an Oscar is in his future. The same goes to Sam Shepard, whose only nomination was 22 years ago, for his portrayal of Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.
I watched 10 this week. 300 DVDs in 225 days. 200 DVDs left in the next 140 days for a pace of 9.99 per week.
I'm a little behind on my daily posts, as my roommate decided to "upgrade" our connection, and now I can't get online at all at home. This post is uncomfortably written off site. I'll get caught up on those as soon as I can.
This coming week: Anthony Mann week! The classic American director, mainly of westerns and noir films fills the week up. Mann is sadly not a household name, but has contributed many fine films to cinema that are all coming out now on DVD after years of being out of print on video. Time to get caught up!
Funding for KQED Arts is provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Support is also provided by Yogen and Peggy Dalal, Diane B. Wilsey, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Helen Sarah Steyer, the William and Gretchen Kimball Fund, and the members of KQED