Tag: Action

December 11, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Jessic O’Byrne

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – 1984 – Steven Spielberg

It would be easy to pick on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for its outdated and grandiose special effects or its condescending treatment of women, children, minorities, and essentially every other character in the film that is not played by Harrison Ford. It would be equally simple to write the film off as pure, unsubstantiated kitsch filled to the brim with unrealistic depictions of, sex, foreign cultures and academia. To do so, however, would be to stomp on the cavaliering dreams of the millions of little boys (and girls too, myself among them) who grew up in an era when our first glimpses of the outside world were broadcast to us in our cribs via TV and movies and our fictional heroes had to somehow be more grandiose than the already larger-than-life celebrities depicting them. The world has changed a lot since this film was originally released in 1984: we’ve all become a little older, a little fatter, and a little more politically correct. Temple of Doom offers viewers a chance to travel back to a simpler time when we could be satisfied with a tub of popcorn, and orange soda, and an entertaining (if not always fully engaging) adventure story. And so, as responsible stewards of our younger, less cynical (more easily amused) selves, we must throw aside our super PC mantles for a couple of hours in order to bask in the glory of all that is Indiana.

December 10, 2008 / / Film Notes

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – 1989 – dir. Steven Spielberg

Sean Connery.

Harrison Ford is in this movie too, but Indy for the first time takes a backseat to a character that is even more engaging than he is: his father.

A public left scratching their heads at the significance of Shiva Lingas identified far more readily with the lure of the Holy Grail.  “Every man’s dream,” indeed.

Of course, the Holy Grail is a metaphor, and while it makes a physical appearance in this film, it stands for tempered wisdom, responsibility, and courage.  Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) says, “The search for the Grail is the search for the divine in all of us.”  Indiana Jones, as he walks the breath, word, and path of God, demonstrates his humility, his wisdom, and his bravery.  In short, Indiana must prove himself heroic to be worthy of the grail.  Certainly, so must we all.

December 9, 2008 / / Film Notes

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The movie that defines the action-adventure genre, Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced movie audiences everywhere to Indiana Jones, the romance of archaeology, and just how dangerous the ark of the covenant can be.

*FUN FACT: According to the Ten Commandments, graven images were strictly forbidden.  However, the one time God makes an exception in the bible is for the lid of the ark itself, adorned with two golden seraphim.  Why do you think that is?

Indiana Jones took full advantage of the blockbuster mentality that had gripped Hollywood since the arrival of Jaws six years prior.  Gone were the days of the big studios, the stables of stars, and the Vietnam-enriched, experimental filmmaking that defined much of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

December 1, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Amy Tetreault

The 39 Steps – dir. Alfred Hitchcock – 1935

It began with the 1915 spy novel The Thirty-Nine Steps, written by John Buchan. Then came the 1935 Hitchcock film, The 39 Steps, loosely based on Buchan’s novel. And then came more film versions, including one that’s “in production,” according to IMDB. Oh, and don’t forget about “The 39 Steps” Broadway show. It’s described as a mixture of Hitchcock, a juicy spy novel and Monty Python.

And although I haven’t seen the Broadshow show . . .

And I haven’t read Buchan’s original novel . . .

And I haven’t seen all the remakes . . .

I’m gonna go ahead and say that Hitchcock’s version is the my favorite. And not just because of the great camera angles, witty dialogue, and fascinating characters.

November 17, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Melvin Cartagena

Point Blank – 1967 – dir. John Boorman

The opening sequences show deception, and Alcatraz. The closing scenes show deception, and Alcatraz. Point Blank explores relationships, mortality and alienation, yet retains a core of impenetrability in its ultimate meaning. An essential mystery remains that no critic or academic that has tackled this movie can fully explain it in writing. Even the mighty Pauline Kael somewhat recanted her initial opinion of the film, going from, “A brutal new melodrama is called Point Blank, and it is,” in a 1967 New Yorker review to “intermittently dazzling,” in a re-viewing of the film a few years later.

November 10, 2008 / / Film Notes

To Live and Die in L.A – 1985 – dir. William Friedkin

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, few directors enjoyed the dual critical and popular acclaim William Friedkin did; his French Connection still jumps and crackles like a pan of hot popcorn. The Exorcist (one of the few films of the ’70s so controversial as to merit being picketed by Catholic and Decency League interest groups) still has the power to shock. Both are classics in the canon of American cinema. If To Live and Die in L.A. is not considered to be in their league, it should be.

October 10, 2008 / / Film Notes

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – 2003 – dir. Peter Jackson

The Return of the King is the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new era.  The age of the fair folk passes, and the age of men dawns.

In Tolkien’s books, Aragorn the Ranger has a goal of claiming the kingship from the outset.  However, in the films, he undergoes a transition from reluctant leader to king of men.  Of course, such a transition is interesting to watch – we first see him as a shady character at the Prancing Pony Inn, contrasted with the crowned royalty he becomes at the end of the third film.

October 9, 2008 / / Film Notes

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – 2001 – dir. Peter Jackson

In a story about a wizard, four Hobbits, two men, an elf, a dwarf, and a golden ring that refuses to stay lost, where do we fit in?  More specifically, what do we like about The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring?

July 2, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Kris Tronerud

Blade Runner – 1982- dir. Ridley Scott – Official Trailer

All these moments will be lost… in time… like tears in the rain…
— Rutger Hauer to Harrison Ford in Blade Runner

When Blade Runner was finally released in 1982, after a long, arduous and grueling production history, marked by equal measures of technical difficulty and personal turmoil, it met with a decisively lukewarm reception from a confused and disappointed public. In the wake of Harrison’s Ford’s sudden rise to stardom in Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, adoring new fans expected to see ‘Indiana’ in another riproaring, uplifting sci-fi epic. What they got was a dark and dystopian dreamscape of a movie, a violent futurist nightmare with the heart of a classic private eye noir, and a lot more on its mind than explosions and derring-do. Additionally saddled with a lugubrious studio endorsed faux Raymond Chandler narration (which Ford purposely read in as expressionless a manner as possible, hoping the studio would drop it) and a mawkish ‘happy’ ending based on unused footage from, of all things, The Shining, Blade Runner was doomed in its initial run; but over the years, a number of different cuts of the film appeared on tape, laser disc, and in festival showings (a total of seven discrete versions, according to Paul Sammon’s terrific essay “The Seven Faces of Blade Runner“) provoking continued fan interest and debate, and with the release in 1992 of the Official Director’s Cut, this emotionally charged, visually resplendent film was, finally, properly acknowledged as Ridley Scott’s masterwork, and quite arguably, the best science fiction film of all time.

April 21, 2008 / / Film Notes

 

by Kris Tronerud

Mothra (Mosura) • Inoshiro (Ishiro) Honda • 1961 • Original Theatrical Trailer

The Mightiest Monster in All Creation, Ravishing the Universe for Love!
(From the Poster for Mothra)

There are Kaiju (Giant Monster) fans and there are Monster movie fans, but whether you know the name of every opponent Godzilla has faced in the last 58 (!) years or only have fond memories from Creature Double feature Saturday afternoons, everyone reacts the same way when anyone mentions Mothra, by shouting: The Twins!! (I tried this on a number of unsuspecting test subjects leading up to this article). The second most iconic and beloved (after the Big Green One himself) of all the Japanese stable of Rubber Monsters, Mothra holds a special place in boomer hearts due to the unique fairy-tale approach of this entry; symbolized by … The Twins!