Saturday, February 26, 2005

Movies: 3 Short Reviews.

It's been a long week, all right. Full of my fair share of laziness; read a bit but not as much as I wanted to, same goes for my studying. Did get through a lot of video games, though. And watched a few movies, which I'll do paragraph-long reviews of in lieu of any other interesting content.

The Singing Detective
Not a movie, but rather a BBC TV miniseries from the early 80s starring Michael Gambon as Phillip Marlow, a mystery writer suffering from a debilitating skin disease. He also has hallucinations, and the show is an often confusing amalgamation of childhood flashbacks, scenes from his first mystery novel - where he is the detective - events in the hospital, and some schizoid musical numbers. This is not an easy show to get through, but it's worth it; not just for the story but for the way it's told. Gambon is remarkable, too, and the song-and-dance routines are fantastic.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension
This had caught my eye quite a few times as I perused the shelves in Alternative Video, but I always passed it up; I think it was because my brain equated it with Flash Gordon, and I didn't really like that movie. This is not for people who like a straightforward, simple, and logical story: this is an absurd adventure with a plot that is probably enhanced by drugs. Buckaroo, our outlandish hero played by Peter Weller, is a world-famous nerosurgeon - physicist - adventurer - rock star, who is out to save the world from annihilation, stop a race war on Planet 10, and undoubtedly fall in love with Penny Priddy. Also starring John Lithgow as the villain, Dr. Emilio Lazarro, who must have eaten the entire set two times over.

David Cronenberg's most recent film rounds out the group, and come to think of it, it's not easily accessible, either. Ralph Fiennes stars as Spider, a schizophrenic man just released from an asylum, re-living an influential moment from his past. This a very powerful character study: Fiennes has no "lines" as such - he mostly mumbles and occasionally repeats lines said by other characters - but is instead reliant on body language, mumbling, and facial expressions. The other actors, including Gabriel Byrne and Miranda Richardson, do fine jobs, but it's really Fiennes who makes the movie as powerful as it is.

I'd recommend any of these to someone who's interested in re-examining their expectations of the narrative construction of film. Detective and Spider are exquisite, while Buckaroo Banzai is just absurd, but all three share compelling protagonists and an unconventional structure, and I enjoyed each one.

Note: to-morrow I'll post about Kow recording, and the joys of static electricity.

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