Thursday, February 28, 2008

Red Rock West - 1992

I loved it at the time, and it remains a great film - carefully put together, a great opening - no dialogue, western vistas, a slow moving guitar beat, a beat-up guy (Nicolas Cage) in a beat-up car looking for an honest day's work as a roughneck. But a bum knee gets in the way. Now what?

Getting his last $5 dollars worth of gas, he heads for Red Rock to look for work. Pulling in by a bar, he steps in for a cup of coffee ... waited upon by J. T. Walsh who mistakes Cage and his Texas license plate, for the gunman he hired to off his wife. Cage, not knowing what's up, plays along with the game, hoping for some bucks, but with no intention of doing the crime.

But the real hired gun shows up - none other than Dennis Hopper in one of his fine, quirky, roles.

Once enmeshed, there's no getting out of Red Rock, try as Cage does. Through a series of mishaps, every effort to leave brings him right back to town, and to the woman he's supposed to kill (Lara Flynn Boyle).

Directed by John Dahl, this dark piece tells quite a story with plenty of twists and turns. In the end, oh well, if you haven't seen it, I won't tell in detail, but Cage finally makes his escape, bloodied and battered, with his integrity intact and a few extra bucks.

The sound track remains simple - mostly a slow guitar as the plot spirals and thickens; dark music behind other scenes.

Great acting, filming - one of my favorites!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Interesting idea still waiting for a film to give it expression.

The whole thing lacked clarity, purpose, passion - a lot of holes in the story ... literally jumping around in search of its plot.

Acting was mediocre - I don't think anyone knew what they were really supposed to do. Character enter without purpose, do their own thing without connection, as if each were in its own film.

The action picked up at the end, and so did the plot - still never sure why the Palidins kill Jumpers, except they've been doing it for a long time and it has something to do with god.

What really missed here was the character of David Rice, a jumper, a boy from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He's an amoral consumer (maybe that's the point?) without conscience or purpose; never a hint of self-awareness - he steals money and lives high without consequence - the dream of every adolescent boy!

Give me X-Men or Superheroes who at least ponder their state in life, trying to figure out who they are and why they possess these mighty powers.

There were snippets here of "The Highlander," which also suffered from the same issue: lack of coherence, although a far better series with much better acting.

It was if there were a trilogy here, but it all got dumped together with none of it then making any sense.

I'm a real easy filmnut - and while there were parts here quite intriguing, this film has yet to be made.

Try again!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Paris, Je T'aime

Paris, a city of love.

18 vignettes - the longing of the heart, the difficulties of love, connection and disconnection ... some loves are vampire-like, sucking life out of one another; some are gentle and sweet, like the Mimes, and everything in between.

Like any collage, some pieces possess brilliance, while others are less so, but it all adds up to a fascinating package ... a tour of Paris, a stroll across the heart's landscape.

Check out Wikipedia for a quick review of all 18 segments:

Cleverly done ... rent it!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Red River

Just saw one of my all-time favorite films: the 1947 "Red River," starring John Wayne in an usual roll.

Montgomery Clift makes his film debut here, presaging a remarkable career cut short by poor health.

If you like cowboys, this is it, and if you want to see Wayne in a very dark role, check this one out.

Watch for the start of the drive - one of the most delightful moments in film making, reminding me of Frederick Remington's sculpture, "Coming through the Rye."

Filmed in b&w, directed by Howard Hawks, it's a fine piece of work, failing only with its music - sadly, the score never seems to be connected to the film, sounding more like a musical than a drama. Aside from that, however, this remains on top of my list for great Hollywood westerns.