Thursday, May 05, 2005

Alien Resurrection

I said I'd write something about "Alien Resurrection", the fourth film in the Alien cycle, directed by the French Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I liked all the previous Alien films, even the James Cameron one, who gets usually dismissed by serious critics. David Fincher's Alien3 was, almost through the film, also an original piece of work. But the Jeunet film - what can I say? There are some nice moments. One that sticks in the mind is the one where aliens swim. It's a moment of true horror. The plot demise was original, at least for a Hollywood science fiction.

But the end of the film was awful. Stupid. Hilariously bad. There's a new generation of aliens, born out of the *womb* of the queen mother that has been bred with some genetic help from Lt. Ripley. And the f***ing new monster looks just ugly, a mix of a human skull and alien's neck bones. It dies in a very stupid and implausible way. The original aliens are very beautiful creations in comparison. You can see H.R. Giger was nowhere near the sets.

There's also a ridiculous scene in which Ripley, now the mother, meets her new-born baby. It recognizes her immediately. They start to touch each other. This is supposed to be a touching scene, mother and baby and all that. But it seems that their mutual touches are erotic, not the ones with which mother caresses her baby. This makes the confused movie look even more confused about its attitude towards sexuality and motherhood (themes that the feminist critics say are at the core of the all Alien films; well, maybe not "Alien vs. Predator").

Jeunet had made earlier some nice odd-ball pictures like "Delicatessen" that are full of gimmicks and black humour. I haven't seen them since they were in premiere, so I can't really give an objective (or a very good subjective) review of those. But to be honest, I hated "Amelie" that made him famous. It was supposed to wonderful fairy-tale of Paris and lovers and a loving pastice of old French films, but I thought it was neurotic and very absorbing, and not in a good sense. I couldn't understand why everyone said the film made them feel good. How come? The bitch in the lead only harassed other people.


I promised to say a word about Christopher McQuarrie's "Way of the Gun". Now, there's a promising project: a Peckinpahesque, hardboiled crime film about two losers kidnapping a young woman who's having a child for the rich couple who can't have their own. McQuarrie scripted "Usual Suspects" for Bryan Singer, the film I very much liked. But, no, no way. I don't think I will bother to check the whole film. I watched some twenty minutes of if after "Alien Resurrection", but had to give up. I didn't for a moment realize what the guys were actually doing and why. They were just louse-ups and that's that. No background, no explanation or motives for their action. In the post-Tarantino world, the film makers seem too easily to forget the rules of the classical cinema: always tell what the people are after.

(I know: it's the rule that the European new-wavers sought out to destroy, but then again there was a political agenda behind that and all the Brecht-derived theory about the alienating effect. It doesn't really seem to be the case with Mr. McQuarrie here.)

I asked my friend why I keep watching these films. Why don't I watch Anthony Mann, Yasujiro Ozu, Vsevolod Pudovkin..? Why torment myself? My friend didn't really know the answer.

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