Posted by: daveed | July 13, 2016

Chopped

Ah, Star Wars. Still coming off my Force Awakens hangover. I loved it. The plot holes, the formulas, the callbacks. So help me god every fan-pandering moment was a joy to behold. So much so I saw the film twice in one day. Never did that before.

TFA got me thinking about revisionism, mostly the kind that percolates in my head (I will often lie in bed and think about how I would redo the infamous prequel trilogy, in order to —interpret this as you will — help me fall asleep). But also the various fan edits, recuts, and do-overs.

So, having only recently learned about the Machete Order, I decided to give it a go. Briefly, the order in which to watch the films is as follows:

  1. Star Wars (aka Episode IV: A New Hope, blah-di blah; to me it’ll always simply be Star Wars)
  2. The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Attack of the Clones
  4. Revenge of the Sith
  5. Return of the Jedi

The Force is not strong with this one.

Watched SW. Loved it, (aged) warts and all. Watched Empire, loved it as a near-masterpiece from a storytelling and cinematic POV.

Started watching Clones, which is my least intolerable of the prequels. It was… a minor torture, and I think it’s because it followed after the joy of the first two films. This was like getting banged in the balls. Ooof. Not debilitating, but you get a little sick to the stomach and an uncomfortable ache that lasts a while.

But the problem was the jarring transition from the intense drama of the end of Episode V to the schiozoid plot(s) of Episode II. One minute Han is in deep shit and Luke One-Hand is trying to wrap his had around the worst family news ever, and the next it’s the wussy love story between a couple of insufferable Millennials. A whiny Jedi and the precocious SJW girl he’s stalking. Oh, and with bits of galactic C-SPAN hearing thrown in for good measure.

But I get through it. And next there’s Sith. Jesus, this one just gets worse ever time I see it. Skipped over huge chunks of “action sequences” which contribute nothing to the characters or plot. It is without a doubt the worst film in the entire series.

Then concluded with Jedi, at which point I was sick of the entire thing. Yes, the Machete Order actually made Jedi worse. Because after sitting through two films full of characters I don’t care about predictably doing really stupid shit, it only draws attention to the SAME FLAWS in what should have been the best film of the entire original trilogy.

Every misstep, every cheesy moment in Jedi was amplified. I almost couldn’t get through it. Then I realized that all the problems in the prequels can be traced back to Episode VI.

So I starting thinking of my fixes to that film. TO BE CONTINUED.

Posted by: daveed | October 15, 2014

District 1917

Apparently from some sort of miniseries airing in the UK. Eh, whatever. This is the best part:

Posted by: daveed | December 16, 2013

Help him! Help him!

yossarian

Catch-22 is brilliant. Mike Nichols’s direction is so lucid and evocative (not to mention surprisingly technically deft—note the incredible tracking shot at the beginning of the film). I’d seen it a few times, and used to think it paled in comparison Joseph Heller’s now-iconic novel (one of my all-time favorites). But having re-read the book not too long ago, I was struck by how some of Heller’s humor seemed forced, whereas the film — and this was one of its major criticisms when it was released in 1970 — is darker, moodier and lacks this willfully lighter tone. I think it works better this way, frankly.

The film is a child of its time, as the novel was as well. Vietnam, Kent State and all the other violent upheaval between opposing forces of humanity, economics, race, politics, you name it. Yes, war is hell.  And as such, often gets unfairly compared its contemporary M*A*S*H*, a universally-recognized classic. But the latter, also an exceptional satire, withholds most of its vitriol, which is probably why it made the incredibly successful transition to television a few years later.

Catch-22 has much more to say about warfare and its bastard children, such as corporatism and social engineering, as a way of illuminating truths about individuality and morality. That makes it a superior work of art.

Posted by: daveed | September 11, 2013

Twelve years gone

WTC_lights

I find that slowly my anger, like a stone rubbed smooth in a river, becomes reflection and sadness.

Posted by: daveed | May 1, 2013

Oh, the humanity

Han_Snowlo

Here’s an amazing collection of behind-the-scenes shots of the Empire Strikes Back cast and crew. Although you wouldn’t know it from the smiles and off-camera mirth that it was a difficult film to make.

Posted by: daveed | January 1, 2012

Straight and narrow

Quick, before it’s gone, check out Pulp Fiction, re-cut in chronological order:

Right after I saw the film for the first time, I tried to reconstruct the events in my head as they would have happened. It hurt. Later, when it came out on DVD, it was an easy matter of skipping to the correct scenes. I have to say it made for an uninteresting experience, and I’m not quite sure why. It’s not like Pulp Fiction is as thematically deep as say, an Ingmar Bergman film, or as avant garde as something sprung from the mind of David Lynch. Quentin Tarantino just isn’t that kind of filmmaker. What you see are three episodic short films that have a tenuous link to each other: Vincent and Jules and the briefcase, Vincent and Mia Wallace’s date night, and Butch and the gold watch.

I recall reading somewhere that Tarantino’s intention was to cut the film chronologically, but that his co-writer Roger Avery or perhaps his editor (and subsequently frequent collaborator until her timely death), Sally Menke, convinced him to make the switcheroo.

The conceit is gimmicky, but I’ll be damned it works. You see more of Samuel Jackson’s iconic character and his radical transformation becomes a much stronger denouement to the film. Here, Jules drops out of the picture before the midway point, never to be seen again. I suppose the film could have ended right there and it would still have resonance as its own, dark and quirky gangster comedy.

Posted by: daveed | December 24, 2011

Holiday special, part 2

Posted by: daveed | December 24, 2011

Jingle time

Let’s face it, most Xmas music doesn’t represent anything new or artistically interesting. Classics and traditional songs tend to be stale in their didacticism. And the holiday-neutral tripe is nothing more than bland confection.

This is perhaps the greatest artistic expression of the holiday. Even if you disagree with the intent or meaning, this song has something to say. Listen.

The song concludes with the best lyric:

Hallelujah Noël, bet it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get, we deserve

Merry Christmas.

Posted by: daveed | December 23, 2011

In the beginning

So the world wide computer web network is abuzz with this, the teaser trailer for Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel film with the foreboding title Prometheus:

OK. No need to reach for a box of tissues. Yeah, it’s good eye candy and has some potentially terrifying moments, but not much else to go on. The film’s release is several months away, however it’s been talked about for several years. I’m just hoping it’s a great ride, full of surprise and terror and excitement, and doesn’t get gunked up with a moralizing “don’t mess with nature” story.

Posted by: daveed | December 22, 2011

Holiday special

For me, Christmastime is an annual learning event.

It used to be all about travel and family and large group drama. Or contrived religious observances that had little meaning or fascination for me. Or a mad dash around the shopping circus to identify, locate and acquire stuff. Or solitary—and yes, welcome—plunges into days-long alcohol binges.

Then one day, I said, “Fuck it. Christmas is whatever I want it to be.” And every year, while I feel the pull of family drama, or commercialism, or boozy solipsism, I get to learn this lesson all over again.

In other words, make your holiday holy to yourselves. Otherwise, don’t bother and just sleep in.

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