Thursday, October 28, 2004

Classics I Somehow Missed: Band of Outsiders (1964)

Jean-Luc Godard is one of those world-class filmmakers whose movies leave me indifferent. I’ve admired much of what I’ve seen, but nothing has bowled me over. Maybe it’s because he adopted the tropes of B-movies without harnessing their crazed storytelling energy, unlike his disciple Quentin Tarantino (who named his production company after this film). Or maybe the central theme of Godard’s work – the reflexive belief that cinema is life, and life is cinema – isn’t all that profound. Or perhaps it’s because the medium and the culture at large have finally caught up to him. Every work of art seems to quote from others and fold in on itself now.

That said, I enjoyed this movie. It’s a relaxed, laid-back affair about a young woman (Anna Karina) and her relationship with two would-be thugs (Sami Frey, Claude Brasseur). The Criterion DVD offers a terrific ‘visual glossary’ that explains many of Godard’s references. And the sequence where the three leads dance the Madison is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen.

DVD: The Reckoning (2004)

A movie trailer is a kind of promise: at some point, this will be in a theater. When the film gets only a token release – or worse, goes straight to video – I make a point of tracking it down. I’m never surprised when I see the final product.

Paul Bettany plays a disgraced priest in 1380 England who hits the road and falls in with a band of players led by Willem Dafoe. They arrive in a town grieving over the murder of a young child, and decide to stage a play based on his death. When they learn that the official story isn’t the truth, they set out to investigate. (Pounding on stable door. “Actors, ma’am. We’d like to ask you a few questions.”)

The solution to the mystery is obvious from the start, so there’s zero suspense. The greater crime is the film’s waste of a fine cast. You land Brian Cox and give him nothing to do?

Miscellaneous: Links

Arts and Letters Daily is full of goodies. First, a piece I missed earlier in the week on the past and future of Asian cinema. There was another article, but I can’t remember what it was. And Low Culture tees off on Fight Club: The Game, out years too late.