Thursday, December 6, 2012

Three Films Make A Post: Their Form Is Human But They Have Crossed Over ... Is There Sex After Death?

Corrida pour un espion aka Code Name: Jaguar (1965): This Spanish-French-German co-production directed by perfectly decent director Maurice Leblanc starring perfectly decent Ray Danton in a curiously non-globe-hopping, perfectly decent adventure is a perfectly decent romp, unless it suddenly turns on the torture and the chauvinism a bit much for about five annoying minutes. From time to time, the film's more humorous moments are even better than perfectly decent. And that's really all I can say about a perfectly decent Eurospy movie.

Juggernaut (1974): Richard Lester's bomb disarming thriller on the other hand is quite a bit more than just decent. It's also a very strange film compared to the way a thriller is generally supposed to be built. Instead of being based on obvious dramatics and twists, Lester's movie is an experiment in building ever-mounting tension through the most laconic presentation, a precise, unhurried narrative tone, and brilliant actors consciously being as little overtly dramatic as possible; even Richard Harris is game to working against his usual approach to any given role.

Unlike some experiments, Juggernaut actually works too, consequently pointing out a completely different direction the thriller as a genre could have taken.

ParaNorman (2012): Despite all its technical accomplishment and its stylistic deftness, this piece of animation mostly reminded me of everything I already hated about US family-centric animation when I was a kid. It's a film willing to betray its charm, its humour, its willingness to engage with the unpleasant sides of childhood, and its few moments of subversion for patronizing - the only way the film knows to talk to children seems to be to talk down to them - and deeply hypocritical moralizing at a moment's notice. The film belongs to that part of children's entertainment that seems to think doing everything else, like being honest and not pretending that everything in life will work out with a smile and/or an ascendancy to heaven is bad for children, even in a film whose story really screams for a more complex solution.


dfordoom said...

Richard Lester is a very under-appreciated director. He was always looking for ways to give established genres a new twist.

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

Agreed, many of his films are very much worth watching for that reason.