Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sean's DVR-O-RAMA Day 2

The back is acting up a bit worse than yesterday but I'm trying to avoid the upset stomach that I had yesterday but I'm really groggy and feel I'm going to need coffee if I'm going to sit through any movies this morning... So I go with 2 Alleve, 1 Vicodin and 1 Rules of the Game.

What can I say about this movie that a million other people haven't already said better than I could. It's a classic in every sense. It's one of those moves like the best Dylan and Beatles -- it's taking everything that came before it and turning it into something revolutionary. Renoir created something that influenced everything that came afterward, a touchstone for a new generation of film. Octave, Marceau... even if you've never seen the film before you're completely familiar with it and these characters. The same way as when you hear that new favorite song for the first time and it's like you've been hearing it most your life.

My only problem with the film is Christine (the name of the boat in Knife in the Water btw). Am I the only one who doesn't see what the big deal is with this lady? I only mention it since it's kind of a crucial part to the movie -- having three or four men throwing themselves at her when, honestly I can't figure out that they see in her. Lisette, on the other hand, yeah -- I can see what the fuss is about there.

I'm deciding to stick with the same order they are in the DVR -- so next up is Graveyard of Honor. It's a Japanese Yakuza movie from 1975 by Kinji Fukasaku that tells a Scarface like story of Riki Ishikawas' rise from post-war street thug to clan godfather. Riki's not a very nice guy to say the least. A murderer, rapist, junkie and all around nogoodnik. But like Tony Montana his story is the stuff of gangster legend and behind those sunglasses there is a little bit of charisma. This is all very much in the better to burn out than fade away style. While in prison early on in his rise to power he tells his cell mate that his life will be like a balloon -- up up up. But just the same, he can only reach so high before he falls back to the ground. This happens very literally in his case.

It's an above average gangster movie. There are a few classic, memorable scenes in the film especially in the scene when he if finally given his own territory and clan to godfather. His wife (whom he seduced the old fashioned way by raping her) had just died from TB and he had the bits of her bones that didn't get cremated in a box that he was carrying around. As he's making his demands he starts taking these pieces of bones and while the rest of the people in the room are slack-jawed he starts eating them. "I want 20 million!" Crunch. "Are you completely insane?" Ominous strung-out stare.

Fukasaku is a bit of a legend himself in Japan. His last movie was is the insanely popular, in a cult kind of way, Battle Royale. But before that he was the king of the Yakusa pictures having masterminded the 5 part Yakuza Papers (or Battles Without Honor and Humanity) series. Which is kind of like the Godfather series or The Wire of the Yakuza.

Breaking the order of things I jump up to R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet (13-22). I'm looking to shake things up here so I can knock another three movies down today. And this shit is amazing. I'm honestly impressed with what Kelly's accomplished with this... experiment? I'm not sure what you call it -- maybe it's just a feature length music video but the story is immersive and sometimes simply hilarious -- intentionally so even.

I'm not going to try to describe the story. The NY Times created a graphic trying to explain how all the dozens of characters relate to each other. I'll try to hunt that down and link to it but here's a good article about it this part of his Closet opus. Ok -- so here's the Times trying to break it all down for you (and effectively make it more confusing than it really is) and yes, Sgt. Platoon is indeed played by Will Oldham. If that doesn't make you want to check this out than I don't know what else will. Oh, The Wire's Omar is in there too.

It's simply an impressive achievement. It's low budget but it uses its limitations to its advantage. I've never considered myself an R. Kelly fan but he has my respect after seeing only half of this work. I don't know of anyone else out there that could pull off giving voice to over 20 distinct characters and putting together a story that is at times a bit ludicrous but completely entertaining and involving. Each of these chapters he's broken it down to, basically one song, ends with a cliffhanger. It's brilliant. One of the best one's has Kelly basically going, wait for it, wait for it, you ain't gonna believe this one... fuckin' guy's a midget.

Another classic is on its way tomorrow and maybe a run down of the Magnetic Fields show. TTFN.

1 comment:

Padraic said...

Agreed obviously on Rules of the Game. It's as influential a movie as Kane, without beings obviously so. It's innovations were so subtle yet groundbreaking.

Also agree in the R. Kelly Times link. Wouldn't a lot of movies look that complicated if you drew lines for every connection? Like if you did it for Rules of the Game?