I’ve finally had time recently to watch movies again, like full films, from beginning to end. Luckily the films that I saw were all good and well worth the time.
This is now my favorite Sergio Leone movie. Yes, it even beats out The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for me. This movie has everything: wide vista shots of the desert that must be seen on a large screen to be appreciated, masterful build up of tension, quick bursts of kinetic violence, a really hot chick, and lest I forget, Henry Fonda playing against type as a villain that blows away little kids and rapes women. And of course, there is Charles Bronson, always a badass motherfucker.
But more importantly, I think Leone took a more serious and sombre tone with this movie. Whereas the Man with No Name Trilogy felt like a celebration of frontier archetypes and mythical heroes, this movie is decided an eulogy for the same characters. Otherwise, there is not a whole lot of stylistic departure from other Sergio Leone movies: you still have the masterful ways in which he builds up tension and then releases it in quick bursts of violence, you still have your catchy Ennio Morricone score, and you always have the mythical characters.
This is probably the best movie I’ve ever seen about poverty. It doesn’t preach, it doesn’t get sentimental, in fact, it doesn’t even have a traditional story arc. Instead, everything is conveyed in the details: from the way the camera captures kids playing in Watts, from the way the main character slow dance silently to a Dinah Washington song, from the conversation around dinner tables.
But in the end, this is a movie with hope because it is a tribute to the way children manage to find joy even in the most hopeless situations, although the movie never hammers you over the head with this simple message. It is one of the most subtle movies I have ever seen, and if you grew up with today’s Hollywood movies, you might find yourself asking what the point of the movie was, but then you’d be wrong, and have no taste in movies.
3) The Queen:
I rented this to see what the buzz was about with Helen Mirren’s performance. Yes, I realized that I’m about 10 months late to the party, but that doesn’t diminish Helen Mirren’s performance. She totally deserved an Oscar for this, and the guy playing Tony Blair was pretty spot-on as well.
Really the only reason to see this movie is for the acting, since Princess Diana’s death has been covered to death (lame pun), but what a fine acting job this is.