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Showing posts from February, 2007

Oscars, Schmoscars: The Devil's Sword rules!

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So here it is, the week before the Academy Awards . You'd think I'd be analyzing some of the members of this year's filmic Winner's Circle in acknowledgement. But no. Instead, I'm watching The Devil's Sword for the third time. And with each successive minute of re-watching I become more convinced--in all sincerity--that it's a perfect moviegoing experience. Not in some staid conventional sense a la your typical Oscar bait , mind you, but by that most all-important film viewing standard: This 1983 Indonesian action/fantasy promises you the moon, then delivers that big glowing orb on a platter--with arterial sprays of blood, beheadings, crocodile men, kung fu and all-around dementia to spare. The Devil's Sword stars Barry Prima (Indonesia's greatest movie action hero) as Mandala, an ancient warrior who offers to rescue a beleaguered bride's candy-assed husband from the clutches of the Evil Crocodile Queen. The biggest thorn in Mandala's s

First Look at a Classic: La Dolce Vita

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Hard to believe that tonight marked my first look at a complete Federico Fellini film. Go figure. 1960's La Dolce Vita is less a straightforward narrative than a series of random episodes in the life of directionless Italian gossip reporter Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) as he drifts, loves, and observes (in abject detachment) his way through several surreal, uncomfortable, funny, and heady vignettes. It's a significant, and in some ways textbook, example of Italian neo-realistic cinema of the early sixties, and while it didn't rock my world the way it has so many others' , it's still a pretty spellbinding piece of work. This won't be the last time I take in a film by the Italian director. Forty-seven years of world cinema have somewhat blunted the profundity of Fellini's vision--a cynic could readily argue about how hammily heavy-handed so much of the structural and visual symbolism plays today. And I suppose some of the movie's characters could u

America's Sweetheart through Filter of Virulent Sickness

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So I get my first full day off of work in a couple of weeks--a Monday, no less--and right on cue a serious bout of the flu gobsmacks me with hurricane force. I spend nearly all of the day (and a good chunk of the next) in a comatose, shuddering trance, doing my best to hit my own personal Petri Dish 101 (degrees, that is: for the record, I reached a mere balmy 100). As anyone who's been in such a state can doubtless relate, one generally expends minimal effort when eking out sick-day entertainment: You turn on the TV, collapse in a heap in the ol' Barcalounger, and let that sense of sickbed surrealism carry you through your moments of semi-consciousness. It should therefore come as no surprise that the already-screwy 2007 Miss America Pageant , rebroadcast repeatedly over the course of Monday and Tuesday, soared to Dali-esque heights of weird via that magic mucous carpet ride. The repeated rebroadcasts, and the fact that Rita and I caught it in out-of-sync pieces over a day-a