Ratings on the -4 to 4 scale.
- The President's Analyst: 1
- Our Man Flint: 0
- Brighton Beach Memoirs: 0
- Thelma & Louise: 2
- The Wild Bunch: 2
I'm not sure about those last two ratings, actually.
The President's Analyst
James Coburn becomes the pyschiatric analyst for the president of the USA, until he overloads and makes a run for it, becoming The Man Who Knows Too Much. The first of two movies shown at merde's James Coburn Memorial Film Fest, last Saturday. The humor here is fairly broad, and Coburn's manic grin is used effectively to show a man who's lost it. But rather than trying to match a formula, it's just over the top silly--the soup with the red alert, the Canadians, and the TPC behind it all. I was just waiting for the pull-back scene in the field, and they gave me everything I was hoping for and more. Silly in a sort of just-shy-of-Python way, but never reaches the height or density of comedy they do. Rating (-4 to 4): 1
Our Man Flint
James Coburn is secret agent Derek Flint, brought in to stop some evil scientists who threaten to destroy the world. Coburn's more famous action satire clings closely to the Bond formula in everything that matters: the girls, the fights, the villain's lair. It pushes all of those things for comedy, but good bits like the Get-Smart-esque scene where he trades information with Agent 0008 or horrible eagle pun are few and far between; instead a lot of time sticking with the tropes. As such it's hard for me to get behind it; there are, I think, better Bond parodies. Rating (-4 to 4): 0
Brighton Beach Memoirs
Eugene Morris Jarvis worries about girls and growing up but mostly just watches the trials and tribulations of his family. This kind of rubbed me the wrong way because the narrator was such an unimportant character and quite a few scenes played out that the narrator shouldn't have known about, so the whole time this sort of bad-POV-thing was bothering me. (If both of those things hadn't been true, it wouldn't have bothered me.) Anyway, it's a not-very-gripping tale of growing up and letting go and family and blah. I guess the acting was pretty good, except for the actress playing Nora. Rating (-4 to 4): 0
Thelma & Louise
Thelma and Louise plan a short vacation; things involving guns go wrong, and they run for their, umm, something. [The obvious plot contrivance of Louise choosing not to go to the cops early on would have been ok if she hadn't later said "I'm sorry, we should have gone to the police earlier." Somehow that discovery undercut my suspension of disbelief.] Mostly entertaining exploration of female bonding, and fun to watch Thelma's character grow and get stronger. One thing that I found cheesy was the attempt to end on an "up" note, plus the montage of them smiling and laughing at the end. The DVD included an alternate ending and commentary about it, and while I agree that ending with Keitel would shift the story towards him too much, I disagree with the "showing the car falling from above shows that they're definitely dead" and that's bad. I absolutely and utterly knew they were dead anyway, so I would have appreciated the shots. And I think there's an intent here at mythmaking, at saying that in the movie world they'll become these mythic characters, and how they died is part of it. So show more. I dunno. I wouldn't come down so strongly on this, perhaps, if I hadn't seen the alternate ending footage so I really know how I'd react. But I'll be generous and say: Rating (-4 to 4): 2
The Wild Bunch
Five outlaws try for one last score as the old west fades around them. Didn't I already see another movie about the old west fading around people? Maybe Unforgiven? I didn't write much detail back then. Anyway, obviously it's difficult for me to judge this movie the way it would have been judged when it came out, what with Hong Kong action movies and everything. Actually, having heard how important a movie it was, I was all set for something fairly weird and wacky, and when it started without credits, very in media res, I thought it was pretty cool. Then it kept forcing me to sort of infer everything about the backstory, which was neat, it's so rare that a Hollywood movie makes you work for it. Then they got into this fight that it seemed obviously they couldn't get out of, and we weren't even at the halfway mark, and Pike went for the machine gun, and I stopped the movie and popped the DVD, and sure enough, I had started with side 2, but two different bad UI design things conspired to keep me from realizing it. So then I watched the first hour and a half, and then finished watching the ending. But now clearly all the in media res and implicit backstory and keeping me on my toes was all gone, and the backstory was all explicit, and the movie was awfully long for a small amount of content. And, argh, a montage at the end of them smiling and laughing. Still, I'm going to guess how I'd feel if I'd seen it properly, and trying to give it credit for its age, and say: Rating (-4 to 4): 2.