Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three Films Make A Post: That's not the victim screaming - it's you!

The Fountain (2006): Take one part pretty good melodrama, one part utter, brain-curdling weirdness and one part horrible 70s airbrush poster art, and you pretty much have The Fountain. It's a film where earnest artistic ambition dances with kitsch so closely that nobody involved - surely not director/writer Darren Aronofsky and certainly not this writer - seems to be able to tell where one begins and the other ends anymore. It's certainly a film worth experiencing, but it's also a film to which the often misused description of "pretentious" fits perfectly, in that it just isn't as clever and profound as it pretends to be.

Can you really watch naked, bald, lotus-seated Hugh Jackman float through golden-ish space in a bubble and not giggle?


Death Journey (1976): I'd be glad if there were much of anything to giggle about in this Fred Williamson-directed part of the Jesse Crowder series of films (it might be the first one or the second - the Internet is divided, and I'm not going to watch the additional material about the production, because this thing has already stolen enough of my life), starring Williamson, and nobody else of consequence. A private eye carting a mafia bookkeeper willing to sing from LA to Chicago while the man's former bosses are doing their best to kill them may sound like the perfect set-up for a low budget action movie, especially with a guy like Williamson who always seems to have fun when doing anything physical in the lead role. Williamson the director, however, has no idea how to stage an action sequence interestingly or even just effectively, leading to a film so bland it would probably still be boring if half of it didn't consist of filler and scenes that go on much longer than they should. Even the soundtrack gives the impression of being a collection of outtakes from a a handful of other blaxploitation soundtracks.

On the positive side, there's only a sex scene realized so hilariously wrong-headed that Williamson and his partner seem to possess two or three heads each.


Ricco The Mean Machine (1973): Christopher Mitchum takes his dear time to take vengeance on the mafia boss who murdered his mafia boss father while Barbara Bouchet undresses or under-dresses to distract the parts of the audience receptive to her charms from the utter vacuum that is Chris. The sleaze for a good Italian crime movie is certainly there, sometimes in hilarious and embarrassing ways (turns out the best way to steal mafia money in a film that isn't supposed to be a comedy is to let Barbara Bouchet dance naked in front and on top of a car). From time to time, Tulio Demicheli's film breaks into fits of pretty nasty violence, but even then, Mitchum's complete lack of personality in his role as Hamlet's more boring brother undermines much of the emotional punch of those scenes. Not to speak of the scenes where the script wants him to act.


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