Saturday, January 5, 2013

Three Films Make A Post: HEXED BY THE EVIL EYE

The Scarlet Coat (1955): Like many of director John Sturges's films, this one about Cornel Wilde acting as a double agent during the US Revolutionary War and about the Arnold Conspiracy, is a more complex and emotionally grown-up film than one would expect. If most of the media concerning said Revolution you've consumed has been made during the last thirty years or so, you might also be delighted to find a film that doesn't treat the British as baby-eating Satanists and the Americans as glorious, flawless angels.

In fact, most of the film's complexity lies in its treatment of morals and ideals as a rather more personal thing; being in the right is complicated. Here, idealism depends on the beholder, and cruel and wrong things can and will be done for the best of causes. Added to this - really very spy movie-like - view of the world is dialogue that regularly reminds more of a film noir in its sharpness, and some fine acting by Wilde and Michael Wilding. The film gets a bit too morally upright and sentimental in the end for my tastes but it's much too interesting to ignore.

Green Jade Statuette aka Killer's Game aka Fists of Vengeance (1978): Lee Tso-Nam's movie falls under the thankless bracket of "just another decent Taiwanese martial arts film". Even though there's nothing to write home about except for the film's borrowing from certain Spaghetti Western soundtracks and - wonderfully - an orchestral version of "Greensleaves" for a moment right at its end, it's still an entertaining enough watch full of not inspired but professional fights, martial arts smack talk philosophy (one of the differences between Asian and Western action films is that Asian ones at least try to sound profound), and rather random twists and turns. It's fun enough.

Lupin III: Farewell to Nostradamus (1995): Speaking of films that don't move away from their genre base even one inch, this anime is exactly what you'd expect from a Lupin III movie (which are a genre for themselves), with characters you either love (you are a wonderful human being) or hate (I say thee nay), going through the usual hectic and over-blown adventures. Lupin is generally not at all about originality but about frenetic and loving execution and fulfilled expectations. Usually, I'd criticize the series for playing it safe, but when it's one of its better episodes/movies/OVAs like Farewell, I'm much too occupied with enjoying myself for that sort of thing.

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