Sunday, June 10, 2007

Le Weekend.

Paris, Texas (1984): A deceptively simple and ponderously brilliant and moving slow-burner of a film, my second Wim Wenders is nearly as great as my first (Wings of Desire); Like the film, Harry Dean Stanton turns in a tremendous performance that is wonderfully enigmatic, and the rest of the cast turns in equally excellent work (although Nastassja Kinski fades in and out of her German accent in the film's stunningly earnest, emotional climax), and although I thought the last turn of events was a bit of a stretch it had to go somewhere, and I give the film credit for not going for the cheap shock to generate drama (although it seemed like it kept threatening to), an amazing film that falls just short of the crown of 1984 (thanks to Amadeus): A [#2 of the Thirteen of '84]

The Sadist (1963): With an opening that more than resembled the opening of Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the film failed to deliver on that film's terrifying insanity as, instead of a chainsaw-wielding, leather-faced maniac with an equally maniacal family, we get...a sniveling idiot and his little girlfriend. Bad deal for the three teachers that get stuck, broke down at his farmhouse. I never really generated a lot of sympathy for the teachers, as they were mostly one-dimensional, and thus, I was never tense when Arch Hall, Jr. threatened to shoot them, and the film was also a slow-burner, but in a negative way. C [#12 of the Thirteen of '63]

The Mangler (1995): From a film that resembles Tobe Hooper, to a Tobe Hooper film that resembles a shoulda-been MST3K film. In idea, it doesn't seem like the film could fail, either as a good film (improbable, but possibly a pleasant surprise) or a so-bad-it's-good film (it's about a giant possessed killer laundry folding machine), but, other than a few amusing isolated incidents (ever wanted to see two grown men wrestle a KILLER antique icebox?) and it has a few wonderfully surreal Gothic touches (which runs it courses about ten minutes in), the film is mostly bogged down in insipid plot strands and downright dull chatter (Any references to the "missing finger club" or the Belladonna Tums in his 108-minute film is definitely for the better), and the film even, for the most part, fails to deliver on the gore to at least satiate one situation (very few people actually get forced through the evil laundry folder, and when it finally gets a juicy chance to be interesting and kill off a main character, the laundry machine gets dishearteningly gunshy before, in one of the film's amusingly preposterous scenes, the three-ton behemoth begins CHASING our protagonists. Even this the film can't do right, and proceeds to spend an extra ten minutes wrapping up plot holes too big and unimportant for me to recite here. D [#42 in the Forty-Two of '95]

Black Orpheus (1959): An inspired retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set during Carnival, the film is a mostly uninspired travelogue, treading water, for the first hour and a half before finally kicking into interesting gear late in the film in the "underworld" portion of the story. A vibrantly colorful and lively film that doesn't really work as a narrative. It may be more than a familiar tune, but it's the same ol' story. C+ [#14 in the Seventeen of '59]

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