Retro Week In Cinema: November 14-20, 2013

the wages of fear

I don’t fear much, but I’m also not a good driver, interesting correlation that is!

I finally branch out from the slasher films,

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989, Rob Hedden, Canada/United States Of America) *

Teleportation Jason takes what was already a middling film and drops it to terrible status. It’s always been cute how Jason catches up to his prey despite never running, well he stops running after Friday The 13th: Part III I think. But, making it to where he is literally teleporting (that is the only explanation that makes any sense) to stay ahead of his victims now and to kill people in two very far apart places at the same time is stupid, even for these movies. But, the main problem with Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is that it removes Jason from his usual environment for a long stretch of time, and breaks the image of Jason down, takes away some of the power that I as a viewer give Jason. A lot of horror movies love to do this to their franchise killers, and I can’t think of a single example where a good movie resulted from it. I will give the film props for the hockey billboard shot and the ridiculous boxing scene, but this movie lost me from the beginning and just kept getting farther and farther away from me.

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993, Adam Marcus, United States Of America) *1/2

This one I fondly remembered for reasons that now escape me, because this time around I pretty much loathed it. Maybe I’m being stupid, but in a movie that is about Jason, I expect him to be around a majority of the time, and no, those stupid “borrowed” bodies do not count. I can see where this was trying to be a spoof, but the problem is that by setting itself in an already established universe it can’t really be a spoof and thus even the moments of spoof come across as attempts at being serious. Mainly though, the backstory provided to the Voorhees family wasn’t needed, and I pretty much rolled my eyes every second that was being dealt with. I mean, there’s a Voorhees house still? If that’s the case then why does Jason still make a house in a cabin in the woods, and why would all the rest of the movies treat child Jason like he was some sort of freak who never saw the light of normal society except for at that camp? I know I shouldn’t care about that sort of stuff, but when a movie provides that much faulty logic it hurts my brain and peeves me off. So, a pretty bad ending to the series that I remember, but we’ll see what Jason X and Freddy Vs. Jason have to offer when I get to them.

Brief Encounter (1945, David Lean, United Kingdom) ***

I can respect the craftsmanship on display, well most of it, and I can respect the acting, the sets, the score, all of that. But, I have trouble with a film that presents a couple of cheaters, who spend the entire film acting like wankers and tries to present it as some sort of great love story. I know that this was a look at the repressed English women from this time period, and I could sense that in every second of the film. I don’t need to like the protagonists of the film either, but if a film is going to present something as a love story then it needs to be a love story I can get behind and I really couldn’t get behind this. All movie long they, mainly she, kept complaining about how wrong what they were doing was, yet they kept doing it, and then the way the film was constructed it somehow wanted me to feel sorry for them that this wrong thing they were doing had to come to an end. That didn’t happen, I was left cold by a lot of this film, watching a couple of pretty terrible people on screen will do that I guess.

Oh yeah, about the craftsmanship, Brief Encounter is a great example of overbearing narration. I didn’t mind it when used as an interstitial piece or when it was expressing something not seen on screen, felt through the music or portrayed in the actors eyes. But, when Celia Johnson tells me in narration that she was so happy and that is laid over a shot of her laughing and being happy, well that’s just narration overkill.

The Bourne Identity (2002, Doug Liman, Czech Republic/Germany/United States Of America) ***

Decent enough action flick. I really liked it in some places, but not enough for me to go ga-ga over it. I like the story until about the halfway point then I realized it was just a mishmash of about twenty different spy novels thrown together randomly, that’s when I started getting a tad bored. Also, Doug Liman needs to keep his damn camera still, there were a lot of moments in this film that felt like they were directed by Michael Bay. A phone call to the bad guys is not the moment to have the camera shaking and spinning all over the place, slow the camera down and let your film breathe Mr. Liman. But, like I said, the action was decent enough, and I really dug Matt Damon. I’m interested in the sequels and to see how much a directorial change will affect things. Why did they get rid of Mr. Liman anyway?

Le Salaire De La Peur (The Wages Of Fear, 1953, Henri-Georges Clouzot, France/Italy) ***1/2

It is very suspenseful, and riveting. This sets itself up as a slow burning tension piece and it delivers, mostly. The only problems I had with the film were the obvious turns that Jo’s character took in the beginning of the film (such as switching places with another guy and all that) and there were a few scenes that the trucker in me could not get past, they were pretty darn implausible. But, those are minor grievances against an otherwise excellently crafted film. Henri-Georges Clouzot certainly has an eye for tension and for how to let scenes play out, he never gets in the way of telling the story, not once. I really liked what they did with Jo’s character in the end, I couldn’t stand him at first, then I felt he was getting his proper comeuppance, but as time wore on I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. That is the mark of quality acting, writing and direction right there. I’m still unsure how I feel about that final frame though, I need to mull that over for a bit longer.

Wrap-Up:

Week started off poorly, but it picked up steam with each film. Le Salaire De La Peur is a pretty great film and it takes home retro movie of the week honors. I’ll be back next week with five more retro capsule reviews!

Cheers,
Bill

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2 responses to “Retro Week In Cinema: November 14-20, 2013

  1. If you think the camera moved around a lot in the Bourne Identity, get ready for Greengrass in the Bourne Supremacy. I like both films a lot, but the second one has such a frenetic pace that it can be a bit much.

  2. This review was from a few years back, and I’ve since seen Supremacy and Ultimatum. Have to say, I find the fast edit style of action filmmaking, or Chaos Cinema as it has been dubbed, to be limiting and not fun to watch. No sense of space, time, or place, I’ll take the wide open style of Mann, Cameron, Chan, or Hyams any day.

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