Archive for June, 2010

Gran Torino (2008)

“Gran Torino” (2008)

IMDb

twilight

*** spoilers ***

You can watch this film as it is, as it presents before you; which is to say, with the audience appeal package that the story carries with it: -immigration in a contemporary view, facing western societies as an institution in transition, to the point that the once American way of life quite neighborhoods are occupied and relived by the families from once enemy countries. -The tense action promise that never unfolds but which carries the film. As entertainment, this is worth the ticket because we wonder about what’s happening next, even if nothing ever really happens (in a physical graphic meaning). So it’s a tense promise of action, that never ceases to be a drama in the end. Good genre play.

You can place the film within the political views of Clint Eastwood, within the place that racial and gang conflicts assume in such suburban areas as the one in the film. one might want to see this as a “political” film, or as a “socially concerned” film.

You can choose to watch the above, and consider other layers you may feel right. I want to see this film as a solid step in the work of Clint, the director. To me, this film is clearly one of the twilight of his career. Not because he’s no longer young, but because this film is about clint’s career as an actor as it is about his own cinema. That’s why we have his own character as a parody of all his tough, intolerable cops and cowboys, from Leone to Siegel. The fun thing is how his character becomes his own anti character in the end. How the tough “feel lucky punk” guy ends up not being violent in order to beat the bad guys. That’s certainly a twist which has more than the simple surprise of us getting the deceit while watching the film. I hope Eastwood lives on to make a dozen new films, but this film has the flavour of a quiet conversation between a filmmaker and his audience, like the late Kurosawa’s or Welles, although Eastwood is pretty far from the magnitude of what those 2 achieved. But Clint’s career sure is a vintage car, worth being driven and seen. It’s not about performance, it’s about commitment.

My opinion: 4/5

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Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

“Phantom of the Paradise” (1974)

IMDb

In the court of King Williams

Talented underground creators. How great it is to be in their worlds! that’s when we get them at the height of their more uncontrolled and pure creativity. unmanipulated, wild. The outcome of what they do when they work within the underground is hardly the best work they produce, but it’s often their more passionate creations, and practically always indicates what they will master when they “grow up”.

Here we have a film that exists in 3 levels (at least 3 that matter to me):

– this is a film within a social and cultural context. The kind of music we hear here (not the multiple parodies, but the music that is intended to be “good”) was a reaction to the 60′, or the next step of the evolution. Within the same underground spirit that created this film, there was a growing tendency to extend and invent forms that would accommodate the fantasies of new musicians. That’s what today we know as progressive rock. This film would pave the way for Tommy, for Live at Pompei, and for The Wall.

– Paul Williams, great mind, great talent. Much of what works here is his vision, from the mood even to some roots of the story. His parodies are great, but his real stuff is good enough. I enjoyed getting to know him better, and it Is funny that he comes to perform the guy who steals his own music.

– de Palma, who was my first interest when coming to this. The fact is i didn’t know so well what to expect, and i ended up appreciating more the other levels than this one of the director. Apparently by this time he had clarified what he wanted to explore, but he was far from mastering any of his enormous visual skills, or this film was such a collective work that he just couldn’t make his personal statement so well. Anyway we have here eventually the first split screen of his career (i’m not absolutely sure of this), something he would take all his careers with incredible results. Other than that, we don’te have his magical camera eye yet.

The story matters only for the fact that we have a battle between creative and money grower, something that all the people involved here might know pretty well back in those days.

Jennifer Harper has a pretty face, and illuminates the set when she sings.

My opinion: 3/5

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