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Recent dvds

horse in the valley

When I wasn’t out visiting the horses in the valley this weekend, I watched a few dvds….a few quick comments:

1. Gran Torino

Its often been mentioned and I could not help but notice how dark Clint Eastwood‘s film was, and how it made me think of how unrealistically lit most films are. Though his lighting serves the purpose of conveying the hidden depths in character and story, it also adds versimilitude by matching real life lighting, even if at times you wish you could see a little more.  If life were lit like most films, we’d all be wearing sunglasses at night.

Best film of the bunch seen. Funny in places and moving in others. Explores the idea of how you treat people is a lot more important than how you express yourself or how you refer to them. Racial epithets are so ubiquitous in this film that they lose their unwarranted power.

Kind of reminded me slightly of Josey Wales with the companion dog and tobacco spit.

2. Light Sleeper

An old Paul Shrader film which is only half bad and so much of the badness comes from the worst and most obtrusive soundrack ever. Its as if a number of horridly dated music videos (all with Willem Dafoe pensively sitting in the back of a car or walking the street) were strung together with bits of plot.

The film teaches a lesson about how its probably best just not to have any music than to make it so central. This has destroyed many films for me such as Once (loved everything about the film except for the songs), Rachel Getting Married (it may have sparked off my intense dislike of this film to the point where my one favourite line in the film is where one person asks if the interminable noodling of the folksy wedding minstrels can just for once stop playing), or for me the weakest moment in Collateral where my total involvement is jarred by the Chris Cornell “video” in the middle. The thing is that whether music in general is universal or not, we all have pretty strong feelings about what we like, and it is strongest if there is a singer and discernible lyrics, so were I a director, I’d probably stick with instrumentals to stay safe. That being said, if I did make a film I would probably load it up with Pixies tunes.

For an example of the best obtrusive soundtrack I would pick Nicholas Roeg‘s Bad Timing.  And for the best single song ever to cap a movie, Beck’s version of Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. (Link here to that song).

3. Seraphim Falls

Great simple cowboy movie with one idea,Liam Neeson chases Pierce Brosnan over the landscape. They are good, and the photography is wonderful but it all comes apart about fifteen minutes from the end where out of nowhere a vision or ghost appears (a mirage I suppose since they are in the desert). Up to that point it has been a realistic film and to introduce this deus ex machina, and a pretty sad one at that, is like forcing you to swill some stagnant bilgewater after a great meal.

In the next couple of days have two films I have not seen in a while, Hombre and Tati‘s Playtime, as well as Taken.

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