Monday, September 30, 2002

who's the black private dick ... and a 50s TV show...and some vertigo

The weekend has been fair (barring some Oracular unpleasantries). Caught three movies in all (phew!) in addition to the inevitable Star Trek TNG Sunday marathon on TNN. VH1 was running The Godfather II {aping TNN's efforts last month}. The nice touch was the use of Guns n' Roses' début single Welcome to the Jungle in the promos. Quite apt, considering the subject matter of the film.

Shaft (2000): John Singleton's sequel to /retake on the cult Richard Roundtree vehicle has Samuel L. Jackson as John Shaft Jr., the nephew of the original John Shaft (Richard Roundtree, doing an affectionate cameo, and making good on the opportunity to take digs at the character that made him famous) and even reuses Isaac Hayes' classic Oscar-winning theme. Although everyone does their best in the flick, the clear winner is Jeffrey Wright's Peoples Hernandez, who seems to have received the generous blessings of both screenwriter and actor. I liked the ending too, but everything else in this film reeks of glossy conventional action (having Armani do Mr. Jackson's outfits took the cake), losing out on the familiarity that the original had. The other great things in this good entertaining piece of fluff are the cameo by Gordon Parks (as Mr. P), director of the original, the Isaac Hayes video for Shaft's Theme added as a DVD bonus and Hayes talking about the theme itself (to paraphrase: "everything's a minor 7th -- starting with B-flat").

Pleasantville follows siblings sucked into a black and white 1950s TV sitcom, who proceed to add colour (no pun intended) to the routine lives of the inhabitants of the town of Pleasantville. Predictably, there's a parable about evaluating the good old days and taking a fresh look at the new world. The special effects complement the story and the slow transition of the town into full-blown colour is one the best things you can pay to watch. I couldn't help notice the uncomfortable ambiguity in the word "coloured". There are scenes in the film that indicate the resistance of the complacent townspeople to the advent of colour into their lives (and the colour obviously augments their lives and the way they think) and I cannot shake off the allegorical parable about racism. Feel-good, with a message. {read the script}

Vertigo: The restored collector's edition DVD. 'Nuff said. Slow, somnial and lyrical, Hitchcock's most personal film came out in the height of the studio system and sadly suffered from disuse. The restoration brings back the vibrant colours for both viewers and film scholars to drool over: the former over John Fergusson's increasing obsession and the latter over how the sets, colours and costumes complement one of the most disturbing spirals into mental ruin ever depicted on screen.

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