Sunday, May 02, 2010

all those reels ago

War of the Worlds [april 29, 2007]: This take on the H. G. Wells classic gets the Steven Spielberg treatment complete with great special effects mixed well into a narrative founded in a focus on the immediate believable trope called the family. Cruise was, as he was in Minority Report, bearable enough and Dakota Fanning stays under aural control for the most part. All things considered, the only significant thing in the film for me was that bravura piece of SFX responsible for the opening attack; at the end of a long sequence of death rays and mayhem is this shot of Cruise and the others driving out of the city. That icing on the cake is worth the rest of this film, which, sadly, ends disappointingly. Morgan Freeman's narration, a device that didn't work for me, only underscores the whimper.

Willie Dynamite [july 15, 2007]: Willie is an ambitious pimp in New York City driving a Cadillac (what else) whose plates read WILLIE in the front and DYNAMITE at the back. The funky theme song introduces us to him as he walks with "seven women in the palm of his hand" and this is how we see him. The directness of the visuals is just one of the problems of the film. The other is the rather bland direction of what could have been a fine tragedy bolstered by strong earnest performances. The outrageous costumes, the overtly emphasised acting and dialogue delivery (especially in the meeting of the pimps) stick out like elephant's legs with mumps; they would have fit so well had Gilbert Moses III been more adventurous. Great title, cool music, little else.

This Man Can't Die [january 11, 2007]: If only Bollywood had relied more on Spaghetti Westerns for plot, narrative elements and cinematic style than just music, we'd have had a far better crop of revenge dramas. Consider Gianfranco Baldanello's tale of revenge laced with a persistent catchy guitar theme (as well as an appropriation of Morricone's theme from A Fistful of Dollars) and some nudity to keep the lascivious lads happy. There are murdered parents and a raped mute sister to offer motivation and there are a few twists for good effect. Toss in an interesting saloon brawl and you've got yourself a half-decent flick. I leave you with the lyrics of the song written to the guitar theme, sung almost like a tribute to the theme song for Thunderball:

life is the only precious thing god's given to you
life is too marvellous, too bright to make a man die
if no one can give his own life without someone who cares
it's a shame that you cannot forgive another man

life is too marvellous for you as well as for me
love is the common precious thing to take and to give
if no one can give his own life without someone who cares
it's a shame that you cannot forget your hate

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