Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Odds and Ends

So sorry! After finishing the draft, I took a little time off from the blog, then there were edits and other work-related tasks, then the house was overtaken by the Dread Specter of Minor Illness. Not content with hosting that jackass, I managed to catch poison ivy while hiking on a gorgeous late October day, then scratched it to a state of infection. Party at my place - I've got steroids and  antibiotics! Woo-hoo!

Rather than detail everything I've watched in the last month, let me just hit a few highlights. There will be more to add to this, since I'm confined to the house for a few days with this low-grade plague which means "movie time" for me.

When they announced a remake of The Magnificent Seven, I wasn't so sure and I was right to be skeptical. Look, it's a decent enough little Western, but geez. Do yourself a real favor and get your hands on Kurosawa's 1954 masterwork Seven Samurai (Toshiro Mifune is a knockout) and watch that. Then get the original Magnificent Seven (Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, among many, many others) from 1960 and watch that. Now don't bother with the remake.

The key to the two source films is how they view the peasant/farmers. The age of the samurai/ gunslinger is passing, but those who work the earth will continue and endure. They might not get the glory, but they win. That core is missing from the remake, which is all action/adventure (and plot holes you could stampede cattle through), but really - there's no heart there. (Which is a shame when you have Ethan Hawke playing a dandy with the unforgettable Cajun name of "Goodnight Robicheaux.") Also, it sometimes shocks me how much more progressive Kurosawa could be with female characters sixty years ago.

Speaking of classics, I indulged in the Bette Davis melodrama Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte which is a must-see for lovers of Southern Gothic. Crumbling mansion, eccentric-to-the-point-of-crazy rich recluse, Spanish moss, grisly murder - AND Olivia de Havilland! We just don't make 'em like this anymore.

For Halloween, I finally saw What We Do in the Shadows, a 2014 New Zealand movie that can best be described as Interview with the Vampire meets The Real World. If you're in the mood for a vampire movie that is far more canny and fun than it has any right to be, this one's for you. Watch the trailer below for a taste.

OK - I should be getting back to a far more regular schedule - thanks for the break!