16 January 2008
Didn't really care to see this movie, but we got free tickets at work and thought a jaunt to the pictures might be good for staff morale. Not really, but something like that. My only regret is that Steve didn't join us, but I think Steve was expecting a big, dumb, acion blow-out complete with Russell and Denzel "King Kong ain't got nuthin' on me" hero lines spouted throughout. Because, that's exactly what we were expecting. Basically, we were going to movies as a bit of a fun gag. I won't be doing that again, and rightly, shouldn't have considered doing it to begin with.
The unexpected ...
I loved this film. It rivals No Country for my favourite film of the year (two weeks in, though we are). Everything about this was, for me, what movies should be. Superb storytelling, compelling characters, excellent pacing, suspense, drama. It was all there. I was utterly enthralled. And Denzel and Russell held back their overacting giving the subtle, intrictae performances demanded of their characters. I haven't enjoyed Denzel so much since Mo' Better Blues.
This film is based on the story of heroin smuggler and dealer, Frank Lucas, who, it would seem, ruled trade between 1968 and 1973. It's about Frank's rise and the investigation that eventually took him (and 30-odd narcotics officers) down. The stories paralleled really well, with the eventual showdown between Russell and Denzel proving ultra-effective. Denzel was just riveting in that interrogation scene. A great history lessons, an excellent character-driven work. I loved it. I can't wait for Steve to see it.
Steve did not view.
We watched this to honour Vampira, who passed away today. I'm glad we did, too, because I haven't seen the film in a long time, and though I remember key scenes, I had really forgotten just how wonderful the whole thing really is. It's just a beautifully told story, and it hits home when it needs to about passion in art, believing in oneself, and never forgetting what dreams are and what they mean. Ed Wood might not have been the greatest filmmaker of all time, but he was certainly among the most passionate -- or, at least, that's how he is portrayed here. I wondered during the film if he does't exploit Bela Lugosi to get his foot in the door at the studios, and Steve informed me that his use of Bela is more of a celebration, and whether or not there was an element of exploitation there, it worked out to serve Bela, to give him celebratory final years. I see that, and it only adds to the joy of the film for me.
Everything here works, from the BW photography, to the cast, to the tight structure.
Bela, Tor, Criswell, Eddie, and now Vampira. It would have made sense to watch Plan 9 from Outer Space as a tribute to her passing, but I didn't think I could do that again. I disagree that it's the worst movie ever made - I've seen The Pelican Brief, remember - but that doesn't make it any easier to watch.
Ed Wood, by all accounts, is heavily fictionalized, but that, I argue, doesn't detract from the story. Less about Ed Wood himself, it focuses mainly on the friendship between Eddie and Bela Lugosi in the last years of Lugosi's life, ending soon after with the premiere of Plan 9. Instead of being a simple bio-pic, it tells the story of Eddie and Bela against the background of Eddie's struggles to be taken seriously as a filmmaker.
It's an inspiring film, and I'm shocked and awed that it didn't make the AFI's Top 100 Inspirational Movies list. But then, Eddie shot for the moon and kept hitting the roof, so maybe it's not as inspirational as, say, It's a Wonderful Life, but it's got to beat Rudy, right?
And he really eats his shoe.
I'm sad to only be discovering Herzog recently. He's very much my kind of philosopher. Although, it would take many changes in my life to live to his standards -- freeing myself of American television and chain stores is in the grand plan, but so very hard to stick to.
He's a man of conviction, and his conviction inspires, even if it is weird to the point of near-insanity. He promised Errol Morris he would eat his shoe if Morris completed a film. Morris did, and so the shoe-cooking occurred. He used this short film to tell his audience that there is no excuse for not achieving one's goals. If you want to do it, do it. As Steve said, the man is like Jesus. He dies for us, or he ate his shoe for us. We owe him.
She stole my thing.
I was going to say about how I said that Herzog is like Jesus, he ate the shoe for us and now we have the obligation to make movies.
I'm giving it a low rating, though, because it's just not that good. I don't enjoy the cuts to Charlie Chaplin eating his shoe, I don't enjoy the annoying song that plays endlessly throughout. I do enjoy hearing Herzog postulate about how we have no defining imagery, running over McDonald's and cigarette ads, but it's undercut by - ironically - the filmmaking.The short was included on the disc Burden of Dreams, a doco about the making of Herzog's Fitzcarraldo. I sense a Herzog double feature in our future...