Can you even watch Alien if you have epilepsy?
After about a hundred minutes of elegant direction, Scott relies on this strobe effect for the remainder of the film’s running time. Yes, it makes a disquieting effect, but it gets old in a few minutes and he uses it for at least fifteen. And, strobe effect or not, it does not disguise the strange inadequacy of the climatic threat resolution shot. The special effects—after two hours of great ones—are all of a sudden pedestrian. It’s like Scott gave up.
Luckily, Jerry Goldsmith saves the day with a lift from Howard Hanson and all is reasonably well.
The first hour of Alien is very different from the second. It’s a group film, with Scott not really concentrating on any one actor more than another (except Veronica Cartwright, who’s clearly at the back of the line). In fact, traditionally speaking, the filmmaking implies John Hurt is going to be the lead from his introduction. But the background activity—what the cast members who aren’t the focus of scenes are doing—is what makes the film so striking. Whether it’s “real” or not, Alien’s supporting cast gives the impression of being deep characters. It’s something of an illusion, but it doesn’t much matter. The unsuccessful finish saves them.
While Sigourney Weaver is really strong, Yaphet Kotto and Ian Holm might be stronger. She’s best with the other actors. And Tom Skerritt can’t be discounted.
Alien’s mostly masterful, which counts for something.
Directed by Ridley Scott; screenplay by Dan O’Bannon, based on a story by O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett; director of photography, Derek Vanlint; edited by Terry Rawlings and Peter Weatherley; music by Jerry Goldsmith; production designer, Michael Seymour; produced by Gordon Carroll, David Giler and Walter Hill; released by 20th Century Fox.
Starring Tom Skerritt (Dallas), Sigourney Weaver (Ripley), Veronica Cartwright (Lambert), Harry Dean Stanton (Brett), John Hurt (Kane), Ian Holm (Ash) and Yaphet Kotto (Parker).
Alien vs. Predator series:
Posted in 1979, 20th Century Fox, Color, English, Horror, Sci-Fi, Spanish, UK, USA
Tagged Dan O'Bannon, David Giler, Derek Vanlint, Gordon Carroll, Harry Dean Stanton, Ian Holm, Jerry Goldsmith, John Hurt, Michael Seymour, Peter Weatherley, Ridley Scott, Ronald Shusett, Sigourney Weaver, Terry Rawlings, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Walter Hill, Yaphet Kotto
I think I’ve seen Knight Moves at least twice before. The first time I saw it I stopped watching Night Moves and went back to the video store for this one.
What can I say? I had no taste when I was fourteen.
Starting it this time, though, I knew what I was getting into (okay, I didn’t know it ran almost two hours). I knew Christopher Lambert’s performance would be awful–I’m not sure he could convincingly order a cup of coffee–and I assumed Diane Lane’s would be too. There’s this amazingly directed scene of them on a beach… and, wow, are they awful. I mean, their scenes together are just laughably atrocious.
For the most part, however, the rest of the film isn’t. The third act is terrible, but it’s otherwise a decent murder mystery, with Tom Skerritt giving a great performance as the cop. Daniel Baldwin’s okay as his sidekick; he’s occasionally bad.
But the reason I watched Knight Moves, the only reason to watch Knight Moves, is director Carl Schenkel. Schenkel is, near as I can tell, totally unappreciated (I can’t really say anything–I love the guy and had no idea he had dead). He shouldn’t be unappreciated though. Knight Moves is one of the finest directed Panavision mysteries–until the complete script failure in the third act. Every frame is exquisite. I can’t even imagine what Schenkel would have been able to do with a slightly better script and actual actors for leads.
Directed by Carl Schenkel; written by Brad Mirman; director of photography, Dietrich Lohmann; edited by Norbert Herzner; music by Anne Dudley; production designer, Graeme Murray; produced by Jean-Luc Defait and Ziad El Khoury; released by Republic Pictures.
Starring Christopher Lambert (Peter Sanderson), Diane Lane (Kathy Sheppard), Tom Skerritt (Capt. Frank Sedman), Daniel Baldwin (Det. Andy Wagner), Alex Diakun (Grandmaster Lutz), Ferdy Mayne (Jeremy Edmonds), Katharine Isabelle (Erica Sanderson), Kehli O’Byrne (Debi Rutlege), Blu Mankuma (Steve Nolan), Monica Marko (Miss Greenwell), Charles Bailey-Gates (David Willerman), Arthur Brauss (Viktor Yurilivich) and Sam Malkin (Doctor Fulton).
Posted in 1992, Color, English, Germany, Mystery, Republic Pictures, Thriller, USA
Tagged Alex Diakun, Anne Dudley, Arthur Brauss, Blu Mankuma, Brad Mirman, Carl Schenkel, Charles Bailey-Gates, Christopher Lambert, Daniel Baldwin, Diane Lane, Dietrich Lohmann, Ferdy Mayne, Graeme Murray, Jean-Luc Defait, Katharine Isabelle, Kehli O’Byrne, Monica Marko, Norbert Herzner, Sam Malkin, Tom Skerritt, Ziad El Khoury
I spent a lot of Whiteout wondering why Dominic Sena, whose first film is Kalifornia, didn’t go crazy stylizing the film. It’s relatively stylized as thrillers go, but it’s not at all extreme. And it didn’t even occur to me until the last shot of the film, which lots of people probably don’t have the patience for, to realize what Sena was and wasn’t doing with Whiteout. Whether he realized it or not, he’s created the first mainstream film noir with a female lead (and set in Antarctica).
With the constant use of flashback (but not narration, which is strange, since the comic was heavily narrated and the film takes breaks for it then doesn’t fill them, resulting in frequent white spaces), the tortured protagonist and the suspicious members of the opposite sex, it’s the first film with Kate Beckinsale where I’d ever say she was playing the Sterling Hayden role.
The film does stumble through its first act. Until the cast is established, it’s awkward, as the pacing isn’t quite right for such a large cast. But then, once everyone is introduced, it’s all of a sudden this wonderful experience, watching these people act together.
Beckinsale’s good (though the film’s early objectifying of her is problematic), but without wowing. This role isn’t a hard one (Whiteout‘s about as much of a feminist blockbuster attempt as Sheena). Gabriel Macht’s excellent as are Columbus Short and Shawn Doyle. Tom Skerritt and Alex O’Loughlin are both solid too.
It’s a fine film.
Directed by Dominic Sena; screenplay by Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes, based on the comic book by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber; director of photography, Christopher Soos; edited by Stuart Baird and Martin Hunter; music by John Frizzell; production designer, Graham ‘Grace’ Walker; produced by Susan Downey and Joel Silver; released by Warner Bros.
Starring Kate Beckinsale (Carrie Stetko), Gabriel Macht (Robert Pryce), Tom Skerritt (Dr. John Fury), Columbus Short (Delfy), Alex O’Loughlin (Russell Haden) and Shawn Doyle (Sam Murphy).
Posted in 2009, Action, Canada, Color, Crime, English, France, Mystery, Russian, Thriller, USA, Warner Bros.
Tagged Alex O’Loughlin, Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, Christopher Soos, Columbus Short, Dominic Sena, Erich Hoeber, Gabriel Macht, Graham 'Grace' Walker, Greg Rucka, Joel Silver, John Frizzell, Jon Hoeber, Kate Beckinsale, Martin Hunter, Shawn Doyle, Steve Lieber, Stuart Baird, Susan Downey, Tom Skerritt
Altman never does a film half-assed. Either it’s great or it’s shit. How one of his films can be shit is varied, but the shitty ones are always just plain… shitty. There’s no formula to figuring out how an Altman film is going to be–usually, if Altman thinks it’s shit, it’s good (M*A*S*H, The Player). Thieves Like Us is small, the big cast doesn’t occupy the running time. The main characters really are the main characters. I’ve been dreading Thieves for a few weeks now and I’m sorry I did. I probably should have checked the screenwriters. I would have felt better. Calder Willingham wrote Little Big Man, The Graduate, and Paths of Glory. I don’t know how you can get safer than him….
It’s not just the writing or the direction–Altman really likes setting a film in the 1930s, it lets him use radio programs instead of a score. That method seems very Altman-like. The cast, as they used to be in Altman films, is impeccable. Keith Carradine means little to me except his 1990s schlock work and Shelley Duvall has always just meant bad. Their romance holds the film together and it’s a wonderful little gem of a movie romance. You enjoy watching them fall in love. John Schuck and Bert Remsen are the other titular thieves and both are excellent. A pre-Cuckoo’s Nest Louise Fletcher shows up… It’s just a fantastic cast, great acting.
Of course, Thieves Like Us is not available on DVD in the US. I rented it from Nicheflix. It’s another title waiting for the rock stars at Sony to decide what to do with it (however, if they cancelled special editions of A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, how high a priority is Thieves going to be?). It’s no fair, of course, since there should be at least six good Altman films available on DVD and I doubt there are….
Directed by Robert Altman; screenplay by Calder Willingham, Joan Tewkesbury and Altman, based on the novel by Edward Anderson; director of photography, Jean Bouffety; edited by Lou Lombardo; produced by Jerry Bick; distributed by United Artists.
Starring Keith Carradine (Bowie), Shelley Duvall (Keechie), John Schuck (Chicamaw), Bert Remsen (T-Dub), Louise Fletcher (Mattie), Ann Latham (Lula) and Tom Skerritt (Dee Mobley).
Posted in 1974, Color, Crime, Drama, English, Romance, United Artists, USA
Tagged Ann Latham, Bert Remsen, Calder Willingham, Edward Anderson, Jean Bouffety, Jerry Bick, Joan Tewkesbury, John Schuck, Keith Carradine, Lou Lombardo, Louise Fletcher, Robert Altman, Shelley Duvall, Tom Skerritt