Tag: Adventure

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 20, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Peg Aloi

Excalibur – 1981 – dir. John Boorman

John Boorman’s lush treatment of the Matter of Britain, Excalibur (1981), is awash in color, magic and eroticism. Viewers who were of a certain age when this film was first released may recall its popularity among a certain college-age element, namely, the weirdos and geeks (not me, of course, but I, um, knew some of these people) who played Dungeons and Dragons, attended Renaissance fairs, and belonged to the Society for Creative Anachronism. This film may in fact have single-handily ignited a Celtophilic obsession in America, with medievalism becoming a romanticized, nostalgic window to Ye Good Olde Days. The Dark Ages, stinking and pox-ridden though they might have been, were suddenly revered and became a cultural phenomenon. The lead actors playing Arthur and Guinevere in this film (Nigel Terry and Cheri Lunghi) even starred briefly in a short-lived medieval-era television series…broadcast on an American network. Boorman’s film inspired a love of this period not merely because of the exciting scenes of swordplay and sex: rather, his expression of this period captivated audiences because his film imbued this far-away era with sensuality and mystery.

November 14, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Jessica O’Byrne

The Life Aquatic – 2004 – dir. Wes Anderson

Since its first release in 2004, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou has proven itself to be a large draw for commercial moviegoers and indie film fans alike. Its original Christmas Day release unconsciously reflects an epic subtext found in the film that is thankfully downplayed by the always awkward and affably charming (and above all talented) cast. The film, which chronicles the making of a documentary about Steve Zissou’s (Bill Murray) quest to hunt down the “jaguar shark” that killed his best friend, utilizes a variation on the traditional quest pattern to draw viewers in and align them with Zissou’s zany crew. Several subplots run alongside this main storyline, which I will leave you the pleasure of discovering for yourself when you watch the film. The Life Aquatic’s true triumph lies in its ability to portray largely absurd (and, particularly in the case of Zissou, often obtuse) characters that are regardless almost universally relatable. While laws, physical and otherwise, in the film are not always on par with the laws of our own universe, The Life Aquatic nevertheless takes place in a world that most viewers are ready and able to relate to.

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 14, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Julie Lavelleinvasion of the body snatchers

Invasion of the Body Snatchers – 1956 – dir. Don Siegel

Don Siegel’s 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers has prompted countless debates over its political message: is it anti-McCarthyism or anti-communist? Although the iconic invasion narrative gives the plot cohesion, the film is most interesting for its bleak envisioning of a post-World War II America filled with broken promises, mental instability, and general uneasiness–a world in which anxiety rules and love can’t save the day.

May 20, 2008 / / Film Notes

No Country for Old Men – dir. Joel and Ethan Coen – 2007 – Theatrical Trailer no country

By KJ Hamilton

Would you risk everything for money? It is more than risking all of your winnings in trade for what’s behind Door Number Two. This is your life in exchange for money. What are you worth? It’s said that every man has his price. For this film, the price is $2 million. Vietnam veteran Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is an average Joe who served two tours of duty. He’s married and lives in a doublewide mobile home in a trailer park. While hunting deer in the West Texas desert, he came upon the aftermath of a drug deal gone terribly wrong. He finds a truck bed full of heroin and a suitcase with $2 million in it. He decides to keep the money,  having absolutely no idea that the countdown to the end of his life just began. Each time he eludes his pursuer, he gets closer to the realization that this is blood money, and the blood is his own.

May 5, 2008 / / Film Notes

By KJ Hamilton

The Magnificent Seven – John Sturges – 1960

The first time I saw this film; I didn’t really pay attention to it. I was a kid, there was one TV in the house, and I wasn’t allowed to change the channel when the Westerns were on. I didn’t inherit my father’s love of classic, Hollywood Westerns, so I barely remembered the plot.

It’s a classic tale: a poor village in Mexico is terrorized by Calvera (Eli Wallach); who justifies his actions by explaining that he has to have a way to feed himself and his men. The villagers wish to reclaim their crops and their village, but the only thing they know how to do is farm land. So, they seek the advice of an elder, who sends them north to the United States to buy guns. Instead, the men decide to hire gunslingers to help them. Enter Chris Adams (Yul Brynner), a man who is not afraid to go against an entire town to bury a dead Native American who, even in death, was shunned. The villagers are fascinated with his confidence, and seek him out. They plead with Adams to help them win back their village. Adams accepts their offer and immediately hires more men to join him: Vin (Steve McQueen), Bernardo (Charles Bronson), Lee (Robert Vaughn), Harry (Brad Dexter) and Britt (James Coburn). Chico (Horst Buchholz) is a young wannabe gunslinger who rides along behind the group, and is eventually accepted. The Seven rides into town, but the villagers are so afraid of outsiders that they only come out to greet their heroes after provocation.

April 4, 2007 / / Film Notes

The-Princess-Bride

 

By Rachel Thibault

More than any other genre in the ’80s, the fantasy/adventure film dominated. Broadly defined, these films ranged from the glossy blockbuster films of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, E.T, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) to mainstream, postmodern comedies with sequels (BACK TO THE FUTURE, GHOSTBUSTERS), to the creature-features aimed at children (GOONIES, GREMLINS) and beyond to the absurd, futuristic, and often unclassifiable (BRAZIL, ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BONZAI). Although many fantasy films of the ’80s were marketed to young people between the ages of twelve and twenty-nine, a demographic that made up 75% of the movie-going audience, many films appealed to both children and adults, hoping to find the “kid in all of us.”