Movies lately II

Konjanik (2003). Holy shit! Who would have thought a Croatian movie set in the Balkans of the 1740s could be so intense and penetrating? The plot is pretty standard Romeo and Juliet stuff, but the film takes things in a much more interesting direction than trite love and examines identity in the frontier between the Ottoman and Austrian empires and the republic of Venezia. Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Muslims all proclaim their faiths loudly, but the way they act tells us something different. Identity becomes fluid under the influence of desire, political expediency, the search for livelihood, or merely trying to survive. Overrun with violence and backstabbing, the film's portrayal of interpersonal and intercommunal conflict rings remarkably true. At the center of this maelstrom is the tragic figure of the Venetian diplomat, who makes heroic if naive efforts to negotiate these incommensurable interests and identities, but ultimately must fail.

Lagaan (2001). Bollywood movie about defeating British imperialism by learning to play cricket. I know it was supposed to generate nationalistic pride, but I couldn't help thinking about how overwhelmingly the plot centers on accepting the imperialists' terms for fighting imperialism. And the top British guys sort of got let off the hook in favor of demonizing a relatively low-ranking officer. Also, how did the white woman learn Hindi in 2 days? That was a little disorienting. But I won't say it wasn't enjoyable.

Young Guns and Young Guns II (1988, 1990). All the hot young actors of the time. The music of Jon Bon Jovi. Emilio Estevez in his best role. Death and hilarity side by side. What more could you want? These movies have a special place in my childhood, but I think there's other stuff to like too. Young Guns is a bizarre, disjointed, and deeply nihilistic sprint thru Billy the Kid's murder/revenge spree. Young Guns II is slightly less weird and clearly has superior music, but maintains the subversive ethic of friendship-thru-murder. On first glance these two seem pretty conventional, but if you think about it for a minute what they're saying is pretty disturbing.

The Lost Boys (1987). Kiefer Sutherland is surprisingly effective as a vampire, especially in contrast with his urbane outlaw character in Young Guns. The movie supposedly takes place in the murder capital of America, but I'm pretty skeptical that a beachfront California town not afflicted by deindustrialization and white flight could take that prize.

The Outsiders (1983). Decent Coppola movie based on the S E Hinton novel. The pat ending is lame, but otherwise it's pretty watchable. The real question raised by the film is: would you rather sleep with Patrick Swayze or Rob Lowe?

Blackmail (1929). Boring early Hitchcock. Aside from one sweet single-take camera shot of 2 people walking up stairs, there's not much to recommend this one. On the other hand, you do learn the terrible consequences for women who exercise independence from their men. You might also learn how not to try and blackmail someone, as the guy who tries it here is totally incompetent.


jenny said...

patrick swayze, hands down. haven't you seen his moves?

Chris said...

i'm glad that women are finally starting to understand who the hot guys are. good call, jenny.