Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Three Films Make A Post: Featuring the Longest Kiss in Cinema History!

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011): Guy Ritchie's second movie about the adventures of a very pulp hero Sherlock Holmes played by Robert Downey Jr. and his especially long-suffering Watson Jude Law shares all the virtues of the first movie, and is therefore pretty much as good as mainstream adventure cinema gets. It's fun, it's silly, it's playful, and so totally divorced from Victorian reality or the self-image of Victorians as evidenced in Doyle's work, it develops something of a subversive edge simply by treating both with as little respect as they deserve yet also with as much - probably more - love as they do.

Bonus points for a Moriarty who doesn't act like a hyperactive twelve-year-old, Noomi Rapace (who would make a pretty great pulp Holmes too, I think) and the most off-handed Reichenbach Falls ever.

The Life of the World to Come (2010): For some reason, this film doesn't appear on Rian Johnson's IMDB page, but this was made by the director of Brick and The Brothers Bloom anyway. It's a one take/long take concert film without an audience of The Mountain Goats (in this case in the form of John and Rachel) performing the whole of "The Life of the World to Come", the (not exactly religious) album on which all songs are titled with bible verses - which honestly is much better in practice than it may sound in theory; a description that fits The Mountain Goats in general.

For the most part, the film consists of the camera shifting position around Darnielle while he plays on the piano or the guitar, providing the film with an aesthetic that is minimalist and - thanks to the long take business - just a bit awkward at times, which again fits The Mountain Goats nicely, for this is the music of a guy who has always been willing to accept and own moments of awkwardness instead of excising them.

I'm too much of a fan of Darnielle (whose music, together with that of the Go-Betweens, Lucinda Williams, Epic Soundtracks, and the Fellow Travellers may very well have kept me sane at one point in my life) to say much about the quality of the music or the performance, except that the film made me cry just a little.

Finalmente… le mille e una notte aka 1001 Nights of Pleasure (1972): As a genre, the Italian sex comedy, even in its (in theory) more classy aspect, never did much for me, despite sharing at least the female half of its casts with those Italian genres of the same eras I do love. Their ideas about what's funny and mine just disagree a bit too much with each other.

So I found myself rather surprised when (house favourite) Antonio Margheriti's provoked quite a few smiles and even two or three guffaws from me here. The film's combination of low-brow comedy, nudity graciously provided by actresses like Barbara Bouchet and Femi Benussi (and, if that floats your boat, to a lesser degree actors like Gino Milli and, well, whoever plays the other semi-nude guys), and pretty nice to look at production design doesn't exactly add up to something everyone should see, but the film is a fine enough piece of exploitation for those evenings when something deeper, cleverer or less friendly would be too much. This is also another film that supports my theory of Margheriti being - generally (let's pretend we don't know his war movies) - one of the most good-natured of all Italian genre directors, for there's really nothing nasty about the film, even when the joke's by all rights should feel nasty. I imagine Margheriti as a happy man.


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