Monday, September 7, 2020

Gust Wind Dude pt. 1

August is gone and all that's left is the memory of a hundred movies and a handful of books. Here are the notable themes and highlights.

First up - westerns! Watched a lot of westerns for the first time in August. For a couple of reasons: finding one that I really dug and then watching a bunch from the same film makers and looking for unseen movies from icons no longer making movies (Gene Hackman, Oliver Reed, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson - no, wait, not Bronson, more on that later). Anyway - my favorites in historical order are as follows.

Django - Sergio Corbucci - The movie that launched a million movies! Or, more accurately, the international box office sensation that launched a million marketing campaigns to re-title previously released underperformers and add a silent 'D' to fucking anything in some of the weirdest attempts to catch a wave in mockbuster history. Not having been alive, let alone a filmgoer and having no formal film education I'd be hard pressed to explain the quality that elevated this particular movie to pop immortality. Slo-mo sadism, bright blood and dark mud, Franco Nero is always arresting on screen and Corbucci had a fucking eye - a handful of absolutely gorgeously hung frames pop up to attest to that fact - but I think I'm going to have to leave its overwhelming success a mystery until I get a tutorial. Still, I can readily acknowledge its lineage includes personal foundational favorites like TombstoneRobert Rodriguez's Mariachi movies and Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained which continues to rise in my estimation (one of the best American-made movies about America. Just... oof). Anyway, here's a video that lists Every Fucking Django film (85! though where the hell is El Mariachi?)

The Hunting Party - Don Medford - Cast made me take notice of this one (Gene Hackman, Oliver Reed, Candice Bergen, L.Q. Jones) and I'm glad because a plot synopsis might've encouraged me to put it off another decade or two - a bandit kidnaps a school teacher so that she can teach him how to read, subjecting her to endless sexual assault from himself and his gang until her wealthy, sadistic, piece of shit husband can come to her rescue... only she finds herself falling in love with her captor despite his illiteracy and tendency to rape her and her husband finds he's really only coming for murder and rather than rescue her he continues to let the gang escape after picking off one or two of them until he's chased and tormented them at least as much as they've insulted him by defiling his bride. I doubt this one could get made today. It's... icky. But it's also fascinating how far the filmmakers were willing to bet audiences would be willing to go to examine the extremities of toxic masculine psychology. Never going to stand in the company of Sam Peckinpah's best (as it most certainly hoped to), but I hope it doesn't get erased from history for its transgressions, it's kinda something to watch Hackman especially turn in such a nasty performance. 

From Noon Till Three - Frank D. Gilroy - Another one that might have some difficulty getting made today, but I'm very engrossed and delighted by it. Charles Bronson plays a bank robber who chooses to pass the titular time frame holed up with a beautiful widow (Bronson's wife and frequent co-star Jill Ireland) rather than participate in the day's planned bank job. The time is spent coercing sexual favor by a variety of means, but turns into a brief, mutual foot-sweeping that comes to an end when news of his compadres' fate and the likelihood of his own demise reaches them. I don't want to spoil anything that happens next, instead I will only encourage you to stick around to the end of this tragi-comic twister that I suspect will take up brain space long after its run time. Loved this.

Comin' at Ya! - Ferdinando Baldi - Bandito brothers break up the wedding of Tony Anthony and Victoria Abril leaving him for dead and kidnapping her into sex slavery. Only - he's not dead! And he's coming for her (and for them). That's the plot. The marketing catch is that the film was shot in 3-D and the result is that THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME. The story is simple, dialogue is minimal and every bit of the budget was thrown at making the visuals pop which they most certainly do even in 2-D. It's is a good example of a gimick movie draped on a generic revenge/rescue thriller's skeleton that I probably would've been bored with when the technology was new, but man, what a treat this one was. A good reminder for me not to be such a 'cinema' snob about the crowd pleasers of today. 

The True History of the Kelly Gang - Justin Kurzel - Based on the novel by Peter Carey this take on the infamous bush-ranger Ned Kelly lets everybody off the hook immediately by claiming that nothing about The True History of the Kelly Gang is true. Look it up later if you're inclined. I'm just here for Kurzel and this cast to fuck shit up. Since The Snowtown Murders Kurzel's been on a short list of directors whose projects I eye suspiciously as he had proved himself capable and perverse enough, but also eager to horrify and unsettle me. Nothing in The True History quite touches the upsetting depths of Snowtown, and I did not come away with a singular impression of the film at all, but there are so many striking and exciting visuals, memorable scenes and terrific performances I'm sure I will be revisiting it for many years to come. I'd like more roles for Russell Crowe to gleefully say 'cunt' and more roles for Charlie Hunnam to be Australian, otherwise the cast standouts are Essie Davis and especially Nicholas Hoult who steals every scene he's in. "Have you ever fucked in a dress?"

1 comment:

E. Ellis said...

Though it is not a western, have you seen the two-part, three-hour Swedish crime thriller The Fat and The Angry? Has a bunch of frequent flyer character actors. It's similar to a sprawling Guy Ritchie flick.

It's pretty good, saw it last night on Amazon Prime.