Friday, June 29, 2007

Camera Obscura - Wild West Days & High School Hell

This fall will bring out heroes and villains alike who rely on the old-style vigilante justice in the movies. And a fresh to DVD release of a 1969 anti-establishment classic is still one of the most powerful movies ever made about public education.

First, a preview of a remake of a classic Western, "3:10 to Yuma", based on Elmore Leonard's novel and filmed before with Glenn Ford as the star. The remake stars Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Peter Fonda and Gretchen Mol. This version is by director James Mangold ("Walk The Line") in a story about the challenges a decent family man faces trying to uphold the law. Here's the preview:

Jodie Foster is back this fall in "The Brave One," as a woman whose husband is killed and their dog kidnapped by random thugs. The police don't seem to be helping solve the crime, and her process of coping with the loss includes making an alter-ego, "Death Wish"-style. Neil Jordan directs the movie. Even if the plot sounds familiar, the one thing I've learned about Foster is never, ever pick on her or treat her bad. And DO NOT hurt her dog. Here's the preview:


Rumors say two sequels to "Kill Bill" are being prepped by Quentin Tarantino, including one movie telling the story of Uma Thurman's daughter versus the daughter of Viveca Fox.

Also, I happened to watch the 1992 Hong Kong movie, "City on Fire", the alleged basis of "Reservoir Dogs." True, there are some common themes - the story is about an undercover cop falling in with a gang of jewel thieves - but the similarity pretty much ends there. Comparing the two movies shows how smart, innovative and inventive Tarantino is as a filmmaker as he took a routine story and re-told it so much better.


I've waited a long time for this movie to come to DVD and the wait produced a must-have. A new 2-Disc Criterion release of the 1969 counter-culture classic "If..." boasts a beautiful remastered copy and another disc loaded with extras about how the movie was made.

The movie was the first for actor Malcolm McDowell and even at his young age, his performance dominates the movie. The story is of the often pointless and usually painful 'upholding of traditions' at a British school for boys. The authority figures here are posers and perverts, the institutions of education are now simple abuses of power enacted on any and all groups and sub-groups. The movie will often shift into black and white for certain scenes - some say it was a move to save money and others note how those scenes are done in counterpoint to the typical color world.

The ending may be more shocking to audiences today than when it was made. It may seem less a fearful fantasy of disaffected youth than an eerie prophecy of school days in our own age.

1 comment:

  1. Damn! Netflix doesn't have the Criterion version yet!