December 03, 2004

Quick Cinematic Notes

SOLON, Ohio -- OVER Thanksgiving, we can assure you we spent much of our time simply watching movies. Some of these movies were quite enjoyable, while others were merely tolerable and still others, putrid wastes of the celluloid on which they were printed. What follows is a quick summary of each film:

DAS BOOT: Grim guy-oriented film about depressed, neurotic German sailors who very much rue their decision to sign up with the Kriegsmarine. Stock characters include the Battle-Hardened Captain, the Embittered Officers, the Initially Fanatic Nazi and the War Correspondent. All soon learn they should have spent more time writing their wills. (Forty thousand men served on U-Boats during the Second World War. Only 4,000 managed to avoid death or capture).

The movie lasts some three-and-a-half hours, but we do wonder if the director just used the same footage again and again at points. For over and over again, we see the U-96 attack British merchant convoys. Then the sub dives, and gets a fierce pasting from British destroyers. The sub escapes, and rises from the waters in triumph. Rinse. Repeat.

Still, this is our only complaint, as the movie is amazing in terms of its cinematography and its depiction of submarine warfare. Plus, the famous ending remains a True Cinematic Masterpiece. If you haven't seen it, you ought do so. And root for the Brits if you like.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION: Kickass. Kickass. Kickass.

Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN: Shockingly gratuitous coming-of-age story set in Mexico, featuring unsympathetic and dislikable characters throughout, except for a few isolated exceptions. Still, the scenery makes it worth watching, and it cleverly attacks the PRI, which mollified us somewhat. It also has a depressing yet realistic ending that adds to the film, although in general we considered it slightly anti-capitalist and more-than-slightly nihilist in its outlook.

THE HUNTER: It's Steve McQueen's last movie! Watch as Steve McQueen portrays a bounty hunter who goes after bad guys, including LeVar Burton. Watch as Steve McQueen kicks ass and takes names. Did we mention Steve McQueen? He is, of course, the only reason worth watching this otherwise mediocre movie.

THE LONGEST YARD: In this hideous 1974 film, Burt Reynolds offers More Empirical Proof that America must treat its Seventies-era cultural relics with proper handling. By this, we mean we ought put nearly all of them in Yucca Mountain along with the radioactive waste.

Yes, we realize such a suggestion might upset people. After all, what if the Seventies-era stuff escaped? Think of it: you're driving along Nevada Highway 375, minding your own business, and you're attacked by an army of mutated, self-aware leisure suits. That would be bad. In "The Longest Yard," Burt Reynolds wears a leisure suit, and it is bad. Plus he has that Seventies-era mustache thing going. With these as indicators of American culture back in the day, no wonder the rest of the world hates us.

Anyway, though. We could only get through the first 15 minutes of this movie. The plot, if one could call it that, was that Burt Reynolds' character went to prison after stealing his girlfriend's Maserati. Here we have more proof that the Seventies sucked. We are sure the Maserati was a masterpiece of design at the time, but it reminded us uncomfortably of a Datsun coupe. Of course, all the other cars back then were crap too. But we digress. Florida's authorities soon deal with Burt Reynolds' character, and send him to the hoosegow to cool off for a while.

Soon, ol' Burt finds himself dealing with a crooked warden and sadistic guard captain, who demand he take charge of a prisoners' football squad. It was at this point that we realized "The Longest Yard" would be even MORE craptacular than we had initially expected. Lacking the mental fortitude to withstand such an awful feature, we withdrew from the family room and went in search of Diet Cherry Coke. Yet we remain bothered, for we understand that "The Longest Yard" was actually quite popular.

How America got through that decade, we don't know. We just don't know. We suspect "The French Connection" acted as a cultural opiate.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at December 3, 2004 08:39 PM | TrackBack