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Andrei Rublev (1966)
The patient tale of an artist in an empty land.
13 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The only thing that you must understand about the Russians in literature and similar arts is that they are patient story tellers. Apparently all Russian novels show this when compared to the quick and explicit writing in the West. If you don't take this fact to heart Ivan Rublev will just be tedious and boring.

This is the story of an artist, a painter of icons, and you will see the original icons in all their glory at the end of the film in a full color coda to the story. The artist lives in Russia, which is a vast, often swampy, land with bitter weather. The people, in this film, are clustered in islands of human society where people seem to have made a stand against the land and the weather. Between these islands there is very little and you can see what I mean in the second sequence of the film in which an obviously drafty barn serves as a shelter for dozens of peasants, monks, and entertainers. Outside there is nothing much until a handful of soldiers shows up to drag away one of the entertainers for no obvious reason, disappearing again into the winter pausing only to smash the jester's psaltery.

We then meet and actually start to get to know the protagonist, Rublev in the third sequence, some twenty minutes into the story. We meet him at a monastery, which is another island in the landscape. At this monastery we also meet a Greek painter of icons who is also ah historical figure who will show up with his paintings on a Google search. At this point the story settles down and begins to unfold over the next three hours.

Toward the end the film becomes a project film about the casting of a great bell, not in a factory but in the open with the work taking place with make shift equipment and a terrified overseer. He is afraid because, as is made perfectly clear in the film, he really knows very little about bell making and bragged his way into the job claiming to have inherited secrets from his father. The film ends with one of those long tracking shots for which Tarkovsky is justly famous.

One might mention parenthetically that it appears that Tarkovsky's reputation for tracking shots made such shots a part of Russian films and culminated in a film called The Russian Ark, which is one long uninterrupted tracking (and wandering) shot of the Hermitage museum in Saint Petersburg (Leningrad) where we have a tale woven of the palace and the residents as seen by an unidentified time traveler.

At the end the screen floods with color and the icons themselves appear, not as a part of the story so much as an instructive historical footnote. The rest of the film is in black and white with, it seems to me, a sort of film noir approach to fifteenth century Russia.
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Creepy rip off of a fine musician.
16 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
OK, this is, but is not, all about Dave VanRonk, an excellent and entirely distinctive musician. Of course it isn't about him at all it's a fiction, which was why Leewyn's album cover is a direct imitation of one of Dave VanRonk's album covers, except that Dave's, if memory serves, is green and black while Llewyn's is red, otherwise it's the same pose. I can only guess who some of the other characters are, or are not, except for the obvious Clancy Brothers imitation and a couple of others.

The problem is that the whole thing seems, in the first place, entirely pointless while, at the same time, in the second place, leaving you with an unpleasant feeling of going through a dead man's private property. Had there been any learning or changing of the characters in the course of the story, as my seventh grade teacher taught me there should be, all this raking through the late Mr. VanRonk's life (except of course we are told that it isn't really his life) might have made some sort of sense. As it is there is nothing to this story worth watching. Nobody wins and nobody is saved.

Go buy a Dave VanRonk album instead. I suggest for starters, Inside Dave VanRonk.
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A film with a mysterious message.
15 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this film because I am rather a fan of Enki Bilal's work.

It includes a story line about someone needing to pass a secret message on to someone else, a message which is of only incidental importance to the things going on in this aptly named bunker palace. As the moment comes for the message to be passed arrives it is finally spoken. In the print I saw the message was in a different language and no translation was offered. An acquaintance of mine told me that he would be seeing Mr. Bilal at a comic book convention in Sarajevo and he would ask him about this message. Apparently he failed to ask or didn't get an answer. He, my acquaintance, did say that it sounded like Hungarian to him but he speaks Serbian and English so he isn't sure. If you ever find out, post it here. It reminds me of Kafka's story about the messenger and the castle guard.

The exterior shots, what few there are, are apparently shot in Belgrade. The bunker palace could be anywhere.
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World War Z (2013)
A surprisingly racist bit of rubbish.
14 July 2013
The big scene, glimpsed in all the previews is a mass attempt to over top an Israeli wall. In the old American tradition of racist propaganda the zombies (yes zombies) behave like colonial insects reminding me of all the times I heard Americans compare the Chinese to ants. The countless zombies move like lightning to over top the wall where they spill down on the smiling happy Israelis below. Previously the Koreans were treated as zombies and murdered without pause or hesitation.

One could argue that the Americans were suffering the same difficulty and that the epidemic depicted was on a world wide scale and that is, perhaps, a mitigating factor in the guilt of whoever devised this malodorous bit of slop.

One suspects that had the Palestinians, crawling like souped up ants, been black and the smiling happy citizens on the other side of the wall white the movie would have had little or no audience. As it is I think you are ill advised to support this sort of movie making with your dollars.

In general the film is just one long desperate chase, of a sort that I find tedious, but which I understand some people enjoy, so if you like a chase and you don't mind the portrait of the subhuman non Americans you might find it pleasant. I certainly didn't.
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Kong Zi (2010)
The rehabilitation of Confucious.
18 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The civil war in China during the first half of the last century from which the Communists emerged victorious left much of the history of the nation problematical. The entire social structure was brought into question and one of the thornier question was the status of Confucius and his teachings. The response of Mao and his comrades was to suppress Confucius and the philosophy that was built on his writings. This was done with the clear intention of infusing the nation with a quite different philosophy.

Confucianism, therefore, was suppressed if not entirely outlawed until relatively recent times. It is clearly the intent of this movie to, as we say, rehabilitate Confucius in popular culture. Anyone who has read some of his writings will understand that he is at heart a conservative teacher who appeals to peoples understanding of what they are supposed to do, which is to say that he does not tell people to do this and that but he admonished them to behave properly and to do what is right. You will know what is right if you are a part of Chinese culture and so if you are told to do the right thing then you are being asked, in effect, to be very conservative.

With this understanding we see Confucius taking the side of a lad who escaped being buried alive and arguing in from of assembled scholars that he should be set free. In this way Confucius is shown, not as a conservative, but as a radical reformer for the good of the people. He is thereafter persecuted for his radical ideas. This is an interpretation that while not entirely absurd is quite a contrast to the traditional image of Confucius as the old man fussing about how his mat is set out and how the nobles need to be virtuous.

It may well be coincidental, but to the American viewer one of the odd elements of this film is the opening and closing theme. We see Confucius sitting and gazing out a window while the orchestra plays a melody that most Americans will recognize as "School Days." The story and the portrayal of the characters is attractive and I don't mean to imply that there is anything false in the tale. I don't know Chinese history or the writings of Confucius well enough to make such a claim. I do think that the movie should be seen in the modern historical context of the rehabilitation of Confucius as a popular figure or cultural hero by the government of the People's Republic.

If you know nothing about the times or the man this film will make an excellent introduction, keeping in mind only that it is about a man who has had a vast and generally highly conservative influence.
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Mama (I) (2013)
Noisy and stupid movie ends with a bit of real drama.
18 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is a movie in which every few minutes there is a burst of really loud and annoying noise, usually matched with something rushing toward you too fast to make out. Not until the ending do you get a good look at what was lurking around for the previous hour of so.

There is little or nothing happening in the movie except that the lurking monster is gradually revealed as the kinds, who are the protagonists, have different attitudes toward it. The shame of the film is that this difference of opinion is of no significance until the final scene, when is should have been the focus of the film instead of the squabbling guardians. There lurks and interesting tale.

There are a number of dangling threads and oddities in the movie which might well have been tied up. The house, for example, in which the children are left has a name by the door, Helvetia, which is a name for Switzerland, but which does not appears again except for a brief glimpse. We are supposed to believe that the children subsisted on cherries, a crop that is highly seasonal and not available when the action takes place, at least not available to those with no access to modern food distribution systems. The woods are filled with brilliant white lights which cast ominous shadows for the convenience of people stumbling around at night. There is also a vast archive in the courthouse of a small Pennsylvania county which nicely symbolic, but rather over done.

Leaving such threads aside the real story, which does not depend on anything that took place in the bulk of the film except for one child's affection for her rescuers, only begins after a curiously pointless encounter in the house in the woods and a second glimpse of the Helvetia sign. It would be an excellent story to be told by someone with a talent for scary movies that are actually worth watching, someone like, oh, I don't know, maybe del Toro or someone like that, if there is anyone like that. What little there is of this ending might well be the basis for a much better movie to be made at a later date and is almost worth sitting through all the noisy noise in rest of this thing.
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Excellent production with a few minor flaws.
17 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Don't read this, go watch it.

If you must know, I fault the production for omitting the chorus that begins and closes the stage show. Particularly, this flaw is at the closing of the show where the chorus brings us back from the story and states what the point of the story is in stark terms. I quote here but this is not a spoiler simply because it is not in the show. "Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, who served a start and a vengeful god. To seek revenge may lead to hell, but everyone does it and seldom as well as Sweeny Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street." The story is set in an ancient English tradition of the revenge story and the English imagination can develop the most horrific and hideous forms of revenge. See, for example, Titus Andronicus, recently released as Titus and set in the Fascist modern architecture of the mid 20th century. In this story the raped and disfigured who had her tongue cut out identified her attackers who are cooked and served to their parents. This grand old English tradition goes back to the ballad of Lambkin who, having not been paid for his work stabs the baby in the crib, and so on. In more recent films The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is in this tradition, although it is not English.

I like a good tale of vengeance but I also like good music and the music is done surprisingly well in this movie.
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Barton Fink (1991)
If this is a great movie I'll take chopped liver in stead.
13 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is an entirely vapid and pointless film as far as I can see. Someone here suggested it was a comedy, but one has to have some clue or some cue that it is to be taken as such and I don't see any. Maybe they roared with laughter in the theaters.

This film appears to be about a writer's descent into a delusional world of his own making. After some success in New York, always supposed to mean that he was indeed a real success, he signs up as a screen writer, which always means that he has sold out his genuine New York success for false fame and dirty money in California, writing for the rubes that populate the rest of the country outside the bastions of culture on the Hudson, which is not a proposition that impresses people who have lived in Missouri and Illinois.

So this sell out great writer is driven mad by the flippant stupidity of the Hollywood moguls and he ends up on a beach with a girl in a calendar picture. Along the way his sensitive soul is crushed by a drunken southern writer of great fame, an insurance salesman who is really a Nazi axe murderer, a group of Jew hating cops, who are probably part of his delusion, and a pack of harried middle management types, the sort that harass and harry us all.

There is an unopened package that, we assume, contains the head of a victim of the axe and shotgun murderer,, but which is never opened. I believe that is what passes for symbolism in this picture.

The film is lovely to see, and it isn't really awful, it's just boring and pompous with a parade of clichés, the fat salesman, the fat executive, the drunken southerner, and so on, passing in review before the unresponsive Barton Fink who has no clear reaction to any of them. Perhaps he is just not up to the pace what is happening, a feeling most of us know, but most of us also don't find it worth watching.

I find most of the characters in this film simply embarrassing.. I kept having the feeling that I shouldn't be watching them make asses of themselves. It's like watching your sister fight with her husband when you can see perfectly well where and how the misunderstanding started but you can't do anything but sit by and watch them blow up. It isn't that it isn't of some instructive merit, it's just that it is impolite to be watching and wishing that they would just stop it and get on with life.

The best thing about this dog of a Hollywood excuse for an insightful drama is that I'll never have to watch it again.
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Fragmented story tied up despite all...
29 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The fish story is indeed a punk rock song cribbed from a book by an incompetent translator who did not appreciate the significance of the English term, "Fish story." It is also a collection of seemingly diverse people loosely related to the punk rockers who cut the record. It is not at all clear what most of these people have to do with one another. All, however, is clarified in the end.

I don't know that I have ever seen a movie structured in quite this way in which the actual relationships among the characters is all sorted out in a sort of coda. There is a comet that seems about to destroy the planet until it is blown up by an Indian space crew with one Japanese member, who is, of course, related to all the punk rockers in an unlikely way.

The Japanese have made other films based on the "rock and roll song that saves the world," motif. I can't think of a single on from America but there must be one somewhere. The other great example that comes to mind is The 20th Century Boys III in which the hero gets to sing his song and there is a truly touching scene in which he is reunited with his niece whom he raised.

There is little or nothing so touching here and there is one loose end in which the first character on the screen, a man in an electric wheel chair wanders into a record store, open for no logical reason on the day that the comet strikes, but he is simply shuffled aside at the end and really has only the role of a sort of chorus.
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Wu ji (2005)
This goddess needs to make up her mind.
11 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is a film about a little girl who is hungry so she steals bread but she meets a goddess who tells her that her she can be beautiful and rich but that she will never find true love. She is told that her fate is now settled and cannot be changed, now that she has made her promise. I can't recall exactly what the promise was, but it had something to do with all that and her life does indeed turn out that way until a slave, mistaken for a general, kills the girls paramour.

It is impossible to explain what is interesting and annoying about this film without skipping to the end. The middle is filled with quite pretty scenes of the king, the slave, the guy from the snow country, the girl, now grown to be a princess, and a few others. The blurb insists that it is the most beautiful film ever made but it is nowhere near that. It is, however, quite pretty. I won't get into how all the characters finish up, but I have to tell you what happens at the very end, so you might want to come back after you have seen the film.

There follows, of course, a long series of complicated ups and downs for all the characters until the very end when our heroine seems to have found love indeed. Is the goddess very irritated? Peeved? Not at all. She shows up and blithely tells everyone that promises made to the gods are as fragile as any other and that fate can be changed. Now, I don't know about you, but if I had made some deal with a goddess for some unchangeable fate and then when all the suffering and struggle was over had that goddess tell me that, well, you know, it can all be changed, can't it? I would be seriously angry.

I frankly don't know if this is a case of bad writing in which the author couldn't figure out a good ending so he just has the goddess, the moving power behind all of it, show up and say that your should forget all about it or if this is some sort of thing that makes sense to the Chinese way of thinking.

In the Buddhist way of thinking there are gods and goddesses, demons and devils, but they aren't really very important and one can well have a form of Buddhism without any gods. Some say that Buddhism is atheistic, but i think goes a bit far. In the Chinese tradition it seems true that the gods are unreliable. Every Chinese village has a shrine to some local god who has the duty of making sure things go well for the village. If things don't do well they tear down the shrine and build a new one to some other god who will jolly well see to it that the village prospers and keeps out of trouble. Perhaps there is something of the sort at work here, I don't know. It is very odd.
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Metropia (2009)
Grim, dystopian, but interesting.
6 January 2011
This film certainly is grim and grimy to look at but it is interesting and I consider that high praise. It reminds me a bit of Red Spectacles in which Mamoru Oshii has all of his film in black and white with a good film noir look, except for the spectacles, which are of doubtful utility and doubtful provenance. In this film the femme fatal is colorful and most of the rest of the crowded herd is as bland as the scenery.

What is missing here is motivation for the grand sweep of the underlying conspiracy. Like Douglas Adams wrote, "Was it just some bug eyed monster trying to take over the universe for no very good reason." In this case our hero seeks to find out why he is malcontent and why he hears voices and finds answers to both but no real solutions and this is unfortunate, because while his problems are his own the portrayed conspiratorial play has no clear purpose, unless it's just to take over the world to make money, but that is a tired and threadbare plot played out in Washington every day. Ho hum.

But his search and his Orphic trek through the underworld of a Future Europe is interesting and worth looking at. It is also interesting as a computer graphic style using live actors and reprocessing them, apparently, to cartoon proportions. This is something you get used to soon enough and so has no obvious reason, except that it is kind of neat. Perhaps I missed something.
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On-Bak 2 (2008)
Magnificently beautiful film with far too much fighting.
14 October 2010
My prejudice is that I find martial arts films to be crashing bore. It is an interesting form of dance, I suppose but I tend to just fast forward to the point where the real action begins again.

Having said that I find Ong Bak 2 worth watching because it is one of the most arrestingly beautiful films I have seen in a long time. It is filled to the brim with more color that you will even get from Pedro Almodovar, which is a very great deal indeed. This is the sort of thing you bought the color TV for but rarely get to enjoy. Is it over done? Most certainly it is and that's just fine. This is one of those cases where too much is just right. Yes, I know, some of the effects are simple and basic, but they are used in every case as they were intended to enhance what is on the screen.

If you want computer generated special effects look elsewhere, although there is a remarkable sequence in which some stone elephants come briefly to life, but that's about it.

As you might expect, I highly recommend this film for your viewing pleasure. Note the word pleasure. Yes, it's a pleasure to see. It is, as they say, real easy on the eyes.
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20 April 2010
This is the sort of thing that you expect during a war and in America we have one every few years so there are plenty of them to compare this dog of a film to.

This is, above all, a propaganda film made, apparently, to demonstrate that all cruelty and savagery is permitted as long as it is in the interest of the Hollywood master race, the American. We are treated to psychopathic war criminals who extract their arbitrary vengeance on anyone they see as inferior and subhuman. This is supposed to be inspiring or amusing because the chosen villains are Nazis. This appears to be the the gist of the action.

There are a couple of obvious problems with this. First, of course, is the nature of evil. St. Ignatius in his spiritual exercises suggested imagining the army of good lined up against the army of evil so that one might contemplate the differences. This exercise has some problems as Thomas Merton pointed out, saying that he couldn't do it because it became much too much like Cecil B. Demille's Hollywood epics. Here, however, the legions of the good are apparently headed by a fellow playing a Cherokee descended country bumpkin who wants nothing more than to kill Nazis and who has, as a right hand man, a deranged Bostonian Jew who beats people to death while babbling about the Red Sox, for reasons I was never clear about. Clearly this is not what St. Ignatius had in mind and does not seem to partake of any essence of the good.

Second, having been raised by German Nazis in post war America I am in a position to point out that while Nazi ideology is fairly hideous, the Nazis themselves were, like other people, real people with faults and virtues. It was, I believe, Brownowski who said that the horror of the death camps was not that people were led to their deaths by Germans, but that they were led to their deaths by people whistling Mozart.

In the beginning of this film the countryside is being scoured by a German officer in a well pressed uniform looking for Jews using a small notebook. We know that, in fact, the "final solution" was implemented by means of an IBM machine leased from the company in America. All very modern and civilized. The Nazis were not Neanderthals who dined on the blood of babies every evening, they were among the most civilized people that the world had to offer at the time.

The lunatics in this film are, in large part, Americans and, in particular, Jewish Americans. We are presented with a gallery of Jewish criminals being given a last chance at redemption by the country boy who wants to have them scalp Nazis. Scalping is credited in the movie to the Apaches, a tribe of native Americans who lived in the hills of western Arizona and who did not practice scalping, at least not until they learned it from the inventors of the practice, the English. So the scalp hunting Jews are portrayed as sympathetic because of what they or their kin suffered from the Germans. This is a familiar type reminiscent of some of Leon Uris' characters who survived the war to become terrorists for the yet unfounded state of Israel in Exodus.

All of this and much more, is just the sort of thing one expects in wartime. It is called propaganda. The enemy, in this case the Nazi, is portrayed as less than human or as a defective human who can be killed in amusing ways by any form of cruelty or savagery because it is clothed in the armor of rightness. It's all OK, because it's just a country boy's attempt, to distribute a little justice in a confused and possibly mad world and if the Bear Jew and some of the others get a little carried away, well, it's all in a good cause.

Of course, it is all in the past and in Europe. No Iraqi's, Afghanis, or Palestinians are killed by the glorious bastards, and no reference oblique or direct is made that I noticed, although I admit my attention wandered rather badly in the second half. Still, with those wars under way this is the move that is offered to us as a paean to the rightness of the American and for that it is should be clearly labeled as propaganda.

I find all this to be a far more than I care to spend an hour and a half watching and I do not recommend it to you.
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Tango related but obnoxious
20 April 2010
The look and the sound of this film are quite good and the dancing is excellent. I have, however, a serious reservation about this film related to the culturally outdated elements in that it is not focused so much on Tango per se, but on Apache, a dance once popular in Paris ballrooms but which was more or less banned after some women were, it is said, killed in the process of dancing.

Let me explain.

The street toughs of Paris, once named for the famous Arizona Indian tribe, the Apache (commonly called ah-Patch-ee) were know as the Apache (pronounced ah-Pash) The dance, known as the Apache was a ballroom curiosity based on a theatrical dance in which, in the standard form, the woman plays the role of the prostitute unwilling to share her wages with her pimp who then proceeds to beat her up in a graceful and, no doubt, elevated artistic manner. This lead to the death of some dancers.

This is the basis of several of the dances in this film. One wonders why, in the early part of the twenty first century one should anticipate being entertained by the artful beating of exploited women, even when that abuse is meted out to the graceful strains of the Argentinian Tango on the streets of Paris, France.

One may argue, of course, that this is a product of a different cultural place and time and that it might be inappropriate to be judgmental about the customs of far away places like Paris and Buenos Aires. According to this point of view the Apache is a cultural artifact, like slavery or cock fighting, to be admired as pure art. If that is true then perhaps the advocates would like to recast the Apache into a less obnoxiously offensive form, such as the passionate rivalry of a young mother and her confessor, or something of the sort.

I understand that the Apache is almost entirely forgotten outside of France and Argentina although it has recently popped up in Moulin Rouge, in Tango, a film by Carlos Saura, and in various music videos. I had some correspondence on this point when a remarkably Apache like video was produced for a song by the Italian singer Elisa Toffoli which appeared to have her being beaten up by her boy friend.

In the present time the abuse of women is largely confined to some rap videos and similar creations, such as "Slap my Bith Up" by, if memory serves correctly, Underworld.

Is it not time to consign this sort of thing to the mists of history?
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This is about some people trying to be nice to a visitor.
29 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a rather Fellini like film if only because the opening shot makes no actual sense. It shows a strip of railroad under construction that runs by a very modest station platform of the sort that one could see outback at the time. The tracks don't go anywhere in either direction, but there is a train on it which the English school teacher boards and goes to a town which is actually Broken Hill. The train is a museum piece even for 1970 when it was filmed.

In Broken Hill (I've forgotten the name in the story again)he meets a lot of people who try their very best to be nice to him. They buy him a beer, they give him dinner, they take him to a club (RSL), and they invite him into their homes, not to mention taking him hunting. Our hero drinks far too much, loses his money, and drinks more. The following day he is broke but drinks quite a lot more and then goes off hunting and drinking.

In a part of or two of this drinking he has only the vaguest idea where he is or what is going on and once or twice wakes up not knowing where he is. Ge finally does the reasonable thing and sets off hitching to Sydney but doesn't goes the wrong way and ends up back in Broken Hill where he falls into despair and shoots himself.

He awakes in the Broken Hill and District Hospital and has a chat with a policeman who has him sign a statement that it was all an accident. One of his new acquaintances buys him a train ticket and he goes back to the remote settlement where the tracks don't go. He has apparently cheerfully resigned himself to his fate.

I lived in Broken Hill just a few years after this film was released so I have wanted to see it for a long time and I recognize every local thing in it. This is more or less how Broken Hill was at that time. Early in the film the policeman gives a little lecture to the visitor about what the town is like and he mentions suicides. At that time Broken Hill had a problem with suicides by women who were not allowed to work by union rules and who had a somewhat limited life there.

People who are sensitive about animals should be warned that there is a long sequence dealing with illegal kangaroo hunting from a car and later from a car with a spotlight. That spotlighting was illegal because it tended to make the kangaroo immobile and defenseless. several kangaroos are killed in the movie but we are reassured at the end that they were really killed by professional hunters. In the film this hunting is strictly for amusement but in reality it is, or was, done for money. It was known as "being in the pet food business." It is not difficult to see why the movie was not well received in Broken Hill as it does portray the people as perpetually oppressed if not maddened by heat, which I do not recall ever noticing. I live in Phoenix where it is much hotter than Broken hill where the temperature rarely gets to one hundred. If you go to and search for Broken Hill you will see many of the places in the film otherwise you can see a few shots of the town in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which covers a lot of the same narrative territory but from an entirely different perspective.

I am still somewhat mystified by the supposed fabulous isolation in the movie. Broken Hill is served by rail, air, and paved highway, more or less like any other town. It had, in the seventies, a couple of radio stations and a couple of television stations. It takes a while to get to Sydney, Adelaide, or Melbourne, but that is distance, not isolation. It is the distance that explains the policeman's little talk about why they have no crime in their town, because you can't get away. I was told precisely the same thing when I lived there. It may well be true.

When I lived there most people in Broken Hill denied knowing anything about this film. I was left with the impression that it was not well received. I can only assume that they were sensitive about the boorishness of some of the characters and/or the obvious suggestion of homosexuality, which was, at that time, viewed with the greatest of opprobrium. I remember sitting in a club having a beer or two with some friends and listening to the description of college life from a young fellow who had gone off to university in Sydney. Among the wonders he described was the astonishing fact that he had learned that you didn't have to beat up homosexuals. This seemed to have been a true revelation on his part. He claimed even to have known some who were all right. So it was at the time.

Finally, it might be useful to point out that when I lived there there was no hall where two up was played. The so called two up school was held in a clearing in the bush just outside of town in a spot known to the police in case of trouble. According to local lore a clearing in the bush was not legally a place because it had no boundaries and could, therefore, be used for illegal purposes such as gambling. This may well have been true because Australians, certainly in the seventies, had a marvelous practicality about the law and were perfectly happy to exploit any loophole or excuse that allowed them to do as they pleased.
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This sophomoric dog isn't worth the time it takes to decide about it.
28 October 2007
I spent some time watching the turkey because I saw what looked like some Arizona caves with a guy playing an impossibly made walking stick flute of green bamboo. I kept wondering if it was a deadpan comedy or just an idiotic script. I'm still not sure because I don't understand how any adult could write such a load of claptrap without cracking a smile occasionally, but I suspect that someone did.

This film is filled with every cliché one encountered in Philosophy 101, but they are reeled off like pearls of wisdom. Obviously the ill educated writers (I didn't see the end so I don't know who they were) did not pay attention in philosophy class or they might have done a better job. Surely they are all honorable people and have all done better work on other projects so I suggest looking for their redemption in other films.

On the other hand, the photography was quite good. I saw some shots that were quite lovely and interesting. Unfortunately, that couldn't save the rest of this mess.

Don't waste your time or money on this dog of a film. If you're in Arizona you might want to go look at some of the caves and canyons where some of this was apparently filmed---up around Page, I think. Your time would be much better spent.
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