Sunday, May 16, 2010

Scarred for Life

Scarface: Loose adaption of the 1930s crime movie into the 1980s, which I found all the more interesting for having watched a Channel 4 documentary on the drug scene in Miami in the late 1970s/early 1980s last month; if anything, the movie is actually tamer than the reality. Overall I find the 1980s iteration better, mainly because the moral messages come out of the characters' actions rather than feeling bolted on in a "see, kids? Criminals are all cowards and crime isn't cool" manner, which I felt rather let down the ending of the 1930s iteration. Moroder's soundtrack is wonderful, and I'm now looking into how I can get my hands on a copy.

They Live: Conspiracy-theory classic, in which a semiemployed construction worker rendered homeless by the recessions of the 1980s discovers that the world has been infiltrated by aliens who are controlling human society through its media and class structure. The makeup on the aliens is great, the action brilliant and the characters believable; the one real sticking-point for me was that it did have a disturbing amount in common with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (substituting “aliens” for “Jews”). Clearly an influence on, though far superior to, the recent remake of V.

Charlotte Gray: Dire ripoff of Carve Her Name with Pride, which perked up slightly when the Communist Resistance with whom the heroine has embedded herself appear to be betrayed and she becomes a suspect, but unfortunately the movie didn't do the logical thing and explore the kind of bitter recrimination and score-settling which is likely to happen in circumstances like that. Still, the scenery was very pretty.

The French Connection: The progenitor of the modern cop movie, but as such more thoughtful and pointed than its less intelligent imitators. Gene Hackman is a driven cop pitted against an international drug ring, willing to go to any lengths to crack them; however, the true cost of this is explored, as Hackman and his team go to extremes to incur what are in the end minimal convictions. Summed up perhaps in the car/subway train chase sequence, which, unlike most movie car chases, actually points up the needless destruction incurred rather than encouraging the audience to cheer along with the exciting events.

Land and Freedom: Ken Loach film about the Spanish Civil War, focusing on how the Communist movement tore itself apart through infighting between the Stalinists, the POUM militia and the anarchists; indeed, the Fascists barely feature in the story at all. It’s an interesting message and the way in which political groups fight bitterly amongst themselves is forensically portrayed; I found it difficult to sympathise with the characters, but taken as a "message" film rather than a "personalities" film, it's a great piece of social analysis.

Movie count for 2010: 57