Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blog Announcement: Director Retrospective series continues with a look at the films of John Carpenter

A few months back I put a poll on this blog asking you all which filmmaker I should cover for my next retrospective. In overwhelming fashion, John Carpenter beat out the competition. I'm pretty excited about this one, so thanks for choosing a fun director for me to cover. Look for the first entry, Dark Star, to go up soon. I hope you all will follow along.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sydney Pollack: The Interpreter

Sydney Pollack’s final fiction film is appropriately old school. The Interpreter is a thriller that asks the audience to care more about what people say than what they do. I appreciate Pollack’s sentiment here, but it doesn’t work as consistently in the same way that his best thrillers from the ‘70s like Three Days of the Condor do, or even in the same way that his more old school films from the ‘90s like The Firm and Sabrina do. The Interpreter plays more like Havana where I really like some of the particulars, but I just never found myself all that engaged by what was going on. Still, it’s a breath of fresh air for a thriller released post-Jason Bourne to not only have a static camera but also attempt to have a plot with characters that do more than just blow stuff up real good. Here is a film where the characters think and talk and debate instead of chase and shoot.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sydney Pollack: Random Hearts

There’s an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” where Larry David – in hopes of winning back his wife Cheryl – agrees to do a reunion show for “Seinfeld.” While filming the show, Michael Richards is waiting to hear back from his doctor on whether or not he has Groats Disease, and he complains to Larry that he just doesn’t think he can be funny with this diagnosis hanging over his head. Larry tells him he knows a guy that has beaten Groats, and he’ll get him to talk to Richards about it. When Larry’s sidekick/moocher-that-won’t-leave Leon does Larry a favor by pretending to be that someone, he convinces Richards that all he needs to do is wear his lucky hat, and the Groats will go away. So, the next scene they rehearse for the reunion show, Richards (as Kramer) is wearing this ridiculous hat. Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus break character and laugh hysterically because of how ridiculous it looks, advising him that he can’t wear the hat because people don’t want to see this version of Kramer, they want to see the guy they remember; the guy with the wacky hair.

Why did I just start a review of Sydney Pollack’s downer (in more ways than one) of a movie Random Hearts with this example from David’s show? Because Harrison Ford has this earring that he wears throughout Random Hearts that is so incredibly distracting that it reminded me of the conversation Seinfeld and Dreyfus have with Richards about his hat. This is not the Harrison Ford I remember. I know a silly little thing like an earring shouldn’t take me out of the movie, but I just couldn’t help myself: scene after scene I found myself paying more attention to Ford’s ear than the other stuff happening on the screen.