Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Shooting, Valdez Is Coming

Some of the films I've seen lately, short minireviews:

Monte Hellman: The Shooting (1965, in Finnish Hän ampui ensin). Great minimalistic Western film that manages to be nothing like Hollywood Westerns without resorting to any of the New Wavish fooling around with pastiches and narration. Hellman's film seems to hark back to Absurdist drama of Ionesco and Beckett, giving absolutely no explanations to what is going on the screen. And yet this captivates the viewer like only few films can. Sometimes a bit clumsy, but the photography is great.

Edwin Sherin: Valdez Is Coming (1970). Based on an Elmore Leonard novel, this is a punchy Western that is also quite intellectual but in a way that doesn't resemble the New Wave films at all. The ending is intentionally abrupt, which may leave some viewers puzzled about what happened. You can watch this as an action flick, though. I had some hard time to buy into Burt Lancaster being a Mexican, but maybe he was half-blood.

Robert Altman: Nashville (1975). Saw this actually last night. It's been almost 20 years when I walked out of Nashville - I was 15 at the time and didn't have enough patience for this kind of thing. And I still don't like country music. It doesn't much bother me now, but I can imagine being bored out of my wits while 15 and trying to listen to "Haven Hamilton" and "Connie White". Now I was actually entertained by the film and the 160 minutes didn't feel like almost three hours. There are many things I don't like about Altman - for example his mistreat of female characters -, but I'm willing to admit his skills at this kind of thing (which, to be true, wore out pretty soon; I don't much care for Health! or other later Altmans).

Russell Mulcahy: The Lost Battalion (2001). I caught most of this rather recent TV film on the Finnish tube. It was quite effective - the action and killing scenes were very crude and violent and the actual battles in the World War I must've seemed something like this. Mulcahy, a rock video and ad director, used some of his overdone editing techniques and other gimmicks (such as bullet coming at someone's face having a point of view), but not too many times. There was just one problem I have with many anti-war films: the anti-war sentiments seem to be directed only towards bad leaders and bad generals, not the machinery of war itself (mainly the politicians and the manufacturers). It would be interesting to see a film about industrialists who backed up Hitler before the WWII.
About Sampo/The Day the Earth Froze: next time.

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