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The Rum Diary (2011)
Voice in the wilderness
Hunter S Thompson is an iconic figure in the history of journalism. This early work as far as I can tell keeps closely to the book and flaunts the usual conventions with a brash confidence. This is the history of Thompson 'finding his own voice' through unconventional means. Alcohol, drugs, love and immersion in an alien culture with liberal sentiments. This last addition of Puerto Rico, with the ensuing uncomfortableness of being the same nationality as the corrupting elite, unable to speak Spanish and expected to peddle dross news for the tourists is formational in the 'voice' formation. Whilst critics suggest the film is incoherent, meandering, unfocused with flashes of brilliance, what do they expect? This is Thompson at his core, all of the above with generous lashings of acerbic whit, anarchic thought structure and conflicted belief system, oh and awareness of this and more. For many the uncomfortable aspects of his writing repulse in the way that aspects of THompsons own psyche repulsed him. What Thompson refused to do is censor this shadow giving it as much free reign as his transcendental passages. This work is great and a beautifully shot homage to an iconic voice sadly missed.
Mördare utan ansikte (1995)
So much better
Like many who have come to admire the detective written about by Henning Menckell, the first Wallander I saw as an English speaker was the Kenneth Brannagh one and I was impressed and moved by the writing and acting. However when I stumbled on this series on you tube, a whole new door opened on the likable detective. Where Brannagh plays Wallander as a man who lives in a world of crime and is not emotionally shut down, Lassgard does something much more interesting with the character for me. Hung up on his relationship with Maja a colleague who he pushes away with his own self-destructiveness, Lassgard is a passionate Wallander, on the edge from diabetes, long hours, difficult colleagues and a host of other factors. For me comparing the episode 'Firewall' shows how much the Swedish crew understand the Wallander character. The whole story is told in twice as much time and yet wastes nothing in the telling. At the conclusion when global bank terrorism is averted even the police see that if there had been no murders, it would have been no bad thing. This seems so much more real than the one dimensional English version where something as frank would never pass through the BBC production office post 9/11. Fundamentally these are so much better shows than their English speaking counterparts and well worth the time reading subtitles to get a real feel for the likable Wallander.
Kung Fu: Nine Lives (1973)
The Ten-Fold Debt
This is a likable episode complete with quirky characters, poignant flash-backs and even a little period music. Not wanting to spoil anything, the only thing that mars this episode for me is the mixture of feline experiences from death to dropping from high places to spinning in a bucket.
The best thing is undoubtedly the characters, an Irishman with a hot-line to his maker, a wonderful hillbilly Daddy played superbly by Royal Dano (I had no idea who he was until now but he really took quirky to a new level of character acting) and the disabled ferry-crossing matriarch played by Geraldine Brooks. And through all this walks our bemused hero dispensing wisdom, healing and pain in measure each each according to their need.
Kung Fu: The Soul Is the Warrior (1973)
Ashteo, ashteo sumi teo
Apologies to any native Americans if the summery is misspelled. This is another great episode from the first season. Many of the characters speak in almost biblical phrases about the land in which they live, obviously stolen from the Apache. The central theme is also biblical in flavour, having property, family, redemption and snakes as central characters.
John Doucette plays a very believable role as a half Indian landowner and Pat Hingle a well worn Sheriff but for me the stars here are Masters Khan and Po ""Grasshopper, be yourself and never fear thus to be naked to the eyes of others. Yet know that men so often mask themselves that what is simple is rarely understood. The dust of truth swirls and seeks its own cracks of entry, And a tree falling in the forest, without ears to hear, makes no sound. Yet it falls".
Kung Fu: An Eye for an Eye (1973)
Anti-revenge too revolutionary a concept for most.
I will not go into the details of this episode as the synopsis gives a fairly detailed description of the plot. What it does not do however is provide any insight into the philosophical questions raised in this episode which have relevance to the United States psyche perhaps even more strongly today.
In this episode Caine is placed in an interesting position, a monk trained to respect all life he encounters a woman Annie who as she has been raped and does not want the child, Whilst his position may seem callous or unfeeling to some, he counsels Annie to release her anger, recognising the destructive energy of this emotion.
As with all such destructive emotions, the desire for revenge leads to death, that of her brother and the baby, born prematurely as a result of Annies rage at Caines refusal to collude with her in revenge. This it should be added is also strongly driven by her father whose hatred runs to that of all 'Yankees' for the destruction of his farm (no doubt worked by slaves).
Whilst Annie on the death of her baby sees the futility and destruction of her emotions the father cannot. This then is the hard medicine for the psyche. Whilst the feminine is able to forgive and let go the masculine falls into decrepitude when faced with the impotence of its inability to exact revenge.
It see,s a shame that we cannot learn from these lessons as even after Ghandi and Mandela the path of non-violence is seen by others as weak.
Love born of betrayal is better lost than lived
This is one of my favourite early episodes of the first season. It sets a dubious precedent that is revisited with disturbing regularity in later episodes, namely that of the Taoist priest in search of lurve!
Each flashback scene slowly informs the audience that this is to be a difficult attraction between Kwai Chang and the 'butterfly' Miss Liu. Beginning with betrayal and being framed, Kwai Chang is injured making him an easy prey to the butterfly. As Kaines injuries worsen whilst his compassion shines the 'butterfly' becomes drawn in by the monk's magnetism.
All is not roses however, what with a psychotic sheriff played by Andrew Duggan and Wong Ti played by Mako both after the monks 'hide'.
All nicely shot somewhere on the California coast.
Far North (2007)
A tale of allegory not psychology
For those of you who missed it, and that appears to be most who posted on here, the film is essentially a allegorical tale (ie a metaphor that appeals to the imagination rather than reason).
In this film we are treading the difficult path of archetypes, mixed with shamanism from a pan-cultural Arctic perspective. Savia is the Exile, cursed from birth to bring destruction to those around her, she is also the Witch who once spurned by the fleeing near-dead Adventurer exacts revenge on her Ward by stealing her face to entice and deceive her spurning Lover. In a sense Bean's Loki pays the price for choosing the physical beauty and youth of Krusiec's Anja over gratitude to his Saviour Saiva (who by the way when he asks 'How can I repay you? Savia replies 'We shall see' implying she sees he has the debt of his life owing to her);
An interesting addendum to this is that 'Loki' is the Scandinavian Trickster or Fool (much as he appears at the beginning of the film carrying his belongings this time on a sledge). Unlike the wise Fool who pays his debt however he takes the path of the real Fool and spurns the one who saves him. For this both have then to pay the price.
Beautifully shot and directed, in lengthening the story it resembles many folk-tales of many cultures.
I just finished watching this and all I have to say really is it wasn't worth the $1 rental from the local video shop! I'm amazed that I made it through to the end, I think I need paying for achieving this. It was a bit like watching some teenagers scare story from around the camp-fire brought to the screen with all the cliché, predictability and lack of thrill those types of stories have. It was sold with the catchy little ' for lovers of David Lynch' above the title so yes my expectations were high but David Lynch has: Originality Artistic Depiction Implied Menace and perhaps most of all it leaves the audience something to think about. This piece of Kiwi garbage was more Blair Witch than Twin Peaks perhaps preferable for the lack of hand-held nausea inducing shots but derivative drivel none the less DREADFUL
In this 2-part episode of the third series, David Carradine makes his directorial debut. His casting for the leading role of his (yet again) love interest must have seemed like a match made in heaven, his partner Barbara Hershey hardly concealed in her chosen name of the time, 'Sarah Seagull'. This perhaps was shot during the time referred to in a special feature of the series when Carradine 'arrived on set having shaved his head! Can we blame Carradine for the story of humour, self-deception, septuagenarian fighting octogenarian (and losing), mistaken identity, courage, betrayal, love (of course), passion (ehem), and final tragedy(?). No it was probably dreamed up on some seventies pipe-dream and is immensely enjoyable and silly.
Jamón Jamón (1992)
Surrealistic Paella Soap
What is it about this movie that so many people love it and others hate it with the same intensity? Could it be the bestial nature of the sub-text? Do those who throw scorn on this piece of surrealistic tortilla live so far from their darker carnal nature that they have to express distaste, cast it out, make it shadow, unclean? This film comes from a long line of Spanish surrealist cinema. One could argue that surrealism on film had it's beginnings in Spain and is now only practiced in the Spanish speaking world with any degree of sophistication (barring perhaps David Lynch). So much of this film is iconic, totemic and archetypal. Bigas in fine Spanish culinary tradition makes a great paella with these icons, 'the lonely dry, dusty road', 'the arid landscape with its passionate inhabitants', 'the machismo homo-erotica of bullfighting', 'the domineering matriarch', 'the loving whore', 'the battle of the hams' and the list goes on. Maybe if you haven't been to central Spain you won't have touched and tasted these oh so familiar dishes but they exist throughout societies. In Spain they just turned them into cultural landmarks, olé. The only reason for the lower rating of this is that Bigas Luna surpassed this film a couple of times with 'Golden Balls' and the simply brilliant 'Tit and the Moon'