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western #20, 'rashomon.' [another day, another movie.]

Rashomon was a story of an apparent murder and rape, told after the trial in which four people tell four different versions of what happened, and who each person blames for the murder isn’t who you’d expect.

It was more proof that Kurosawa was amazing. I could say the same things about this movie that I said about the others.

After the 30 days of 30 Westerns is over it won’t be long before I’ve watched all the Kurosawa I can get my hands on.

He was making movies in the 50’s, for mainstream Japanese cinema, filled with beauty, wisdom, and ambiguity; movies that challenged the assumptions and ignorance of his time, his movies even questioned themselves.

He also worked a lot with the same cast members, which is fun both because you get to see characters take on such different roles, and it also feels like seeing old friends again.

Rashomon made fun of sexism, but in a way that for most of the movie it just made you wonder if he was being sexist. And, in a brilliant “fight” scene Kurosawa also made fun of men pretending they are far tougher and stronger than they are.

The movie was subtle and perfect.

Americans, get over your aversion to subtitles and watch some damned Kurosawa!!


western #19, 'the proposition.' [another day, another movie.]

It’s probably getting tiring, me writing about how amazing so many of these movies are, but this was another example of amazing filmmaking.

Written by Nick Cave (yes, THE Nick Cave) and Directed by John Hillcoat, it moves the Western to Australia, which is about as apples to apples as a comparison can be.

The film is dark, brooding, violent and disturbing, it is also beautifully shot and stunningly acted. If Oscars were based purely on merit, and everyone had a fair shot, there were at least four performances, plus direction, cinematography, and perhaps screenplay, that would have at least gotten nominations.

Stunning, deeply affecting storytelling, I have a feeling I’ll be carrying this one around for a while. It wrestled with morality in a way that was relentless in taking the ordinariness of human depravity seriously.

There is a scene in the final minutes of the film, where the combination of wonderful direction and amazing acting by Emily Watson create a moment as arresting as any I’ve seen. The full reality of the moment is so palpable, you could choke on the horror and tension of it. I’ve never wanted to reach through a screen and intervene more in my life.

Utterly brilliant filmmaking.


runaways, vol. 1-3. [graphic content.]

Six teens find out their parents are super-villains, then go on the run to thwart their ‘rents evil plan to destroy the world. That’s about the gist of what gets things rolling in Runaways.

I just finished the initial story arc, written by Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) which is covered in the first three volumes of the graphic novel form of the comics.

These books are really fun and original. It all takes place in the main Marvel universe, but does so with entirely new characters. Among other things, this makes it more exciting than normal when characters from the main universe cross over into the Runaways title, because we get to slowly see these kids become part of the fabric of the rest of this world of superheroes and villains.

Having only read the first three volumes, I’m not sure exactly how often this happens, but the first characters to show up in their book are Cloak and Dagger, so I wonder if writers continue to use the title as a place to play with fun B-List characters.

If the initial arc is any indication, they aren’t afraid to kill off major characters, but who knows if it will be the typical comic book/soap opera ‘no one is ever really dead,’ sort of thing.

The initial arc was great, but I’m curious to see what happened when other writers took over. Brian K. Vaughan is kind of a big deal, so he could probably make anything good. Vaughan wrote the first seven volumes, then #8 was written by none other than JOSS WHEDON!!!! After that, I’ll be interested to see how the series holds up when it transitioned from writer to writer. Either way, I am damned sure looking forward to what is in store for me over the next four volumes.

For those interested in a quick intro to the team, you’ve got Alex Rider, a tactical prodigy who leads the group; Nico (a.k.a. Sister Grimm), she has a staff which gives her magical powers; Chase (a.k.a. Talkback), he is a dumb jock, and he has x-ray goggles and gauntlets that manipulate fire; Gert (a.k.a. Arsenic), she has a telepathic velociraptor named Old Lace, Karolina (a.k.a. Lucy in the Sky), she is an alien and she has all sorts of powers; and Molly, (a.k.a Bruiser, a.k.a., Princess Powerful), she is a super-strong mutant who is also, well, an eleven-year-old girl.

If you’re in the market for a graphic novel to read, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this one. Fun times!


western #17, 'dead man.' [another day, another movie.]

This 1995 film by Jim Jarmusch was yet another movie that blew me away. Like any Jim Jarmusch film, it was full of overt metaphor, absurdity, and off-kilter performances. I loved it!

It’s amazing the way Jarmusch, as well as the entire cast, were able to use absurdity to tell a story that also felt so down to earth and real. The storytelling is so careful and intentional, and Jarmusch is a master at creating moments where the hilarious is always touched by the tragic, and the tragic by the hilarious. My experience of it was at once darkly humorous and heartbreaking.

It was by far the least conventional of the Westerns, but it included most of the themes and clichés nonetheless, albeit turning most of them on their heads and critiquing them.

I said it once, and I’ll say it again, I loved this movie!


the green hornet. [trailer park.]

I’m assuming embedding will be disabled soon, but it was working as of this posting.

I’m excited to see what Michel Gondry does with a fight scene.


Embedding has been disabled, so go here if you want to watch.


western #16, 'butch cassidy and the sundance kid.' [another day, another movie.]

Like Unforgiven, I already owned this one. It’s one of my favorite movies. Even with Redford’s occasionally wooden acting, the movie would be perfect if it weren’t for the few scenes when the director apparently lost his mind for a bit.

William Goldman’s screenplay on the other hand is perfect.


I think William Goldman might be a cyborg sent from the future to write awesome shit, like this screenplay and the novel and screenplay for The Princess Bride (although I am still one of the few humans who feel lukewarm about that movie, just because the book is soooooo much better).

The rapport between Butch and Sundance, the foreshadowing, the amazing dialogue, the brilliant ending… I love this movie!


believe the hype.

Folks, Toy Story 3 is legit. I guess we should expect nothing less from Pixar, but damn, where do these folks come from?

I was a little worried, a three film run is usually too much to ask when it wasn’t originally conceived as a trilogy or serial, but this is the best of the three. It was a fitting and emotional way to end the story they began 15 years ago. (Although, it isn’t quite the end.)

It really was amazing. A near perfect movie.

Also, be warned, as my friend Josué pointed out, 3D glasses don’t work as well through tears.

Go see it!!


western #15, 'hombre.' [another day, another movie.]

Paul Newman is a white guy who was raised by Apaches until some other white guy found him and brought him to live with other white people. He wasn’t a big fan of white people, so he moved back with the Apaches. White people hated him, they wouldn’t even ride in the coach with him. That is, until bandits came and they needed him to save their sorry asses. He has a chip on his shoulder, and gloriously, the moral of the story was not that he needed to lose it, but that he should have had it all along.

The movie was a far more successful than The Searchers as an engagement of how ugly and stupid racism is. It just would have been nice if this engagement of racism toward Native Americans could have had some characters who were, you know, Native Americans.