Saturday, January 22, 2011

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In sticking with movies and a Hollywood theme for a bit longer, I caught the new Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies last night on KERA. Roger Ebert isn't hosting the show himself due to health problems, but there are two host that seem to have the flavor of times past, and I guess that's about the best one could hope for. The new co-host for the first show were Ignatiy Vishnevetsky a 24 year old born in Russia that writes for Mubi.com. He had a lot of energy, and gave a thumbs up to all the movies that were reviewed, and Christy Lemire, the movie critic for the Associated Press who gave a thumbs down to all the movies reviewed in the first episode, and as she said, the negative one. Both offered a nice perspective and contrast. The movies they reviewed this week were: No Strings Attached, The Company Men, The Way Back,and The Green Hornet. Another critic, Kim Morgan, reviewed the classic movie, The Third Man, and Ebert wrote a review on the animated film, My Dog Tulip. It was read by director Werner Herzog as Ebert can't speak or is limited due to his health.

I was over at his blog reading his best documentaries of 2010. There's also his picks for animation films there as well, along with some foreign films, etc. So if curious about any of that you might want to check it out. Like I said in my last post, I respect and enjoy what Ebert reviews, not that I always agree with him, and by and large he'll always recommend something I've not heard of that interest me. And I think that one of the best things about criticism, shedding light on unknown work.

It's been pretty cold still, but I got out for a walk yesterday after attending a few chores. But I got out a bit late, almost too late, for a walk. It was cold and the sun was just about set, so I had to hoof it pretty well to keep my body heat up, but my nose ran all the way (sorry, pun intended), so I gotta do this earlier. Besides sunshine is good for you too.

When I got back in, I made some supper, and re-watched the film, The Wild Bunch. I still have the same reaction to it: It's just not one of my favorite westerns. It's worth watching though, and an influential western, it's just not one of my personal favorites of all time or top ten or twenty or whatever. If it's one of your favorites I don't have a problem with it, but for me, it's badly or clumsy acted in places, it's too brightly lit, and it's too uneven of a film for my taste. Plus at times it has the feel for that time period yet at other times, due to the lighting, cinematography or the costumes, it just looks like actors walking around in a Hollywood lot somewhere, in other words takes me out of the film or jarring at times. Also I prefer westerns with a bit more mood to them. Plus with the Wild Bunch, there are no real heroes or few good guys, and I like that aspect in westerns say the way other more traditional westerns might be.

I understand that Peckinpah was trying to expose the western myth in a new light, say the way the Clint Eastwood film, Unforgiven did. I find Unforgiven to be better handled though. Peckinpah's Wild Bunch was also addressing symbolically the flight of the Wild Bunch not only from their ex-partner, Robert Ryan & his ragtag posse, but also the oncoming 20th Century with its automobiles, airplanes, and so forth. It's also a film that addresses the Vietnam war and the violence of that era. I will say there are parts of The Wild Bunch where I can see attention to detail, and the visceral action scenes are exciting and crafted well. Paul Schrader said, "No one has mastered the art of multi-camera multi-speed editing like Peckinpah, even today" and I can see that in those action sequences. That craft is pretty obvious in the opening bank hold-up and the finale of the film as well. So I can say, it's certainly worth a watch, maybe it might become one of your favorite westerns.

I re-watched it as one poster on a movie forum I frequent was going on and on about how I enjoyed No Country For No Men (a movie, he didn't like), and how I didn't care for The Wild Bunch (a movie he evidently loves). What can I say, we all just don't like the same things. People are different. I won't even use the politically correct phrase, we can agree to disagree. Why can't we just disagree on something, and respect the other person's taste or viewpoint without stomping off in disgust or cussing and throwing a temper tantrum? It's called civility, at times I think the world needs more of it.

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