Tag Archives: Zack Ward

A Christmas Story (1983, Bob Clark)

I don’t get A Christmas Story‘s continued success. I mean, I get its initial success (I grew up with it, on video, and remember my friends talking about it before I got to see it and the film living up to expectations), but it’s hard to believe people still like it. I mean, what do they like about it? What does someone who thinks Wild Hogs is comedic genius get out of this film?

Anyway, this viewing–it’s been a while since I’ve seen it and I think I always forget how the opening titles play–I realized just what a precious object Clark is making here. Since the last time I watched it, I’ve listened to some Jean Shepherd radio programs and A Christmas Story is remarkably tame (I also notice Peter Billingsley is played as a bit of a doofus for a protagonist, until the end when it’s clear Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin are the real leads).

There are some issues with Clark’s object here–well, some issues with how Reginald H. Morris photographs it. There are about six shots where the lighting is just off, like the film got developed wrong. It hurts the flow. Luckily the excellent soundtrack and Clark’s directorial abilities (has anyone ever commented on how the Chinese restaurant sequence is one magnificent shot–someone should have), make up for any bumps.

It’s amazing how little Christmas itself has to do with the film itself. It could have been called practically anything else.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Bob Clark; screenplay by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Clark, based on a novel by Shepherd; director of photography, Reginald H. Morris; edited by Stan Cole; music by Paul Zaza and Carl Zittrer; production designer, Reuben Freed; produced by Clark and René Dupont; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Melinda Dillon (Mrs. Parker), Darren McGavin (The Old Man), Peter Billingsley (Ralphie Parker), Ian Petrella (Randy Parker), Scott Schwartz (Flick), R.D. Robb (Schwartz), Tedde Moore (Miss Shields), Yano Anaya (Grover Dill), Zack Ward (Scut Farkus) and Jeff Gillen (Santa Claus).


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Postal (2007, Uwe Boll)

I went into Postal expecting Boll to be like Ed Wood. He’s not. He doesn’t have any artful composition, but it’s fine. When he’s mocking American action films of the 1980s, he’s showing just as much skill as any of those directors do… it might have helped if he’d shot Panavision.

Boll doesn’t seem to be going for much with Postal in the way of artful film though. All of it, from the first or second scene, is to shock the viewer. Boll’s got some great ideas in the movie–from the racially sensitive black cop to George W. Bush’s specialized (so he can understand it) computer, not to mention the German theme park, complete with Nazis–but he can’t turn any of them into good jokes. None of the jokes work. After a while, it gets kind of incredible. There’s a shootout at the welfare office where protagonist Zack Ward goes from body to body trying to find a lower number for waiting in line. Ought to work. Really doesn’t.

The problem’s a combination of casting and writing. The script’s got real problems, some from being an adaptation of a video game, some from Boll getting more excited about what he’s saying than how he’s saying it. Osama bin Laden being disinterested in terrorist activities–unless the U.S. government is paying him to commit them–is interesting. It’s one hell of a thing to see in a film released in this country (even if Postal only did come out in a hundred theaters). Boll’s got a big gun fight where no one dies but the little kids. Because Postal‘s so distant, so obviously a commentary about media, it’s impossible not to wonder if the kids had fun with the squibs. Not for a moment is it horrific, because it isn’t believable–Boll doing it is singular… but the action of putting a scene in a film because one can doesn’t mean one should. Or, if one should do it better than Boll does it.

The scene at the Starbucks… great commentary on American culture, but not good humor.

Boll’s approach to Postal is actually somewhat solid, it simply lacks a worthwhile script. The movie’s relatively painless to watch and occasionally, dispassionately interesting. As I said before, Boll’s nowhere near as bad as his Internet detractors make him out. He’s a perfectly competent craftsman who could easily make shampoo commercials, which puts him far ahead of most of the directors Jerry Bruckheimer works with.

The acting runs lukewarm and freezing. Zack Ward isn’t very good. He’s somewhat likable, but he isn’t good. Dave Foley’s funny. Chris Coppola’s bad. J.K. Simmons has a great cameo–his presence is a little peculiar, given Postal‘s caliber, but nowhere near as much as David Huddleston and Seymour Cassel. They must have been really bored. Chris Spencer’s terrible–his first appearance kills the initial good vibe Boll’s got going.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend Postal to anyone, but I don’t regret sitting through it either.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Uwe Boll; screenplay by Boll and Bryan C. Knight; director of photography, Mathias Neumann; edited by Julian Clarke; music by Jessica de Rooij; production designer, Tink; produced by Boll, Dan Clarke and Shawn Williamson; released by Kinostar.

Starring Zack Ward (Postal Dude), Dave Foley (Uncle Dave), Chris Coppola (Richard), Jackie Tohn (Faith), J.K. Simmons (Candidate Wells), Ralf Moeller (Officer John), Verne Troyer (Himself), Chris Spencer (Officer Greg), Larry Thomas (Osama bin Laden) and Michael Paré (Panhandler).


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