Monday, 4 January 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 111

Disappointing start to the day as I got 40 minutes into Ben Hur before the disc started skipping and I had to give up on it. Stupid dual layer DVDs, would be better off with a VHS!!!

164 - The Searchers - 4 stars
A truly iconic Western that showcases the dark heart of the West.
The film has everything a Western should; beautiful sweeping landscapes, cowboys and injuns, fistfights, some romance, and of course, The Duke, complete with his trademark long drawl "That'll be the day".
John Wayne gets his finest role as anti-hero Ethan Edwards, a man at odds with his own society and also 'The Commanch'. His hatred for them boils over when they kill his family and kidnap his niece. Ethan's racist feelings are brought to the fore when he is joined on the search by a part-Commanche relative, his repulsion at captive women turned Commanche, his desire to see his own kin dead than 'Injun', and the pain upon realising that he is no different to Scar, the Indian chief he has be hunting.
On seeing this again I noticed several scenes that have been referenced in other films; the iconic final shot was stolen/homaged by Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds when Landa looks out of the cabin towards the escaping Shossana. And the scene where Ethan and Martin return home to the burning homestead was used by George Lucas in Star Wars, all The Searchers needed was a couple of burning corpses! What a geek to notice things like that!
Also probably just nitpicking here but John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter are out in the wilderness for five years looking for Debbie yet seem remarkabley clean shaven during this time. They are desperate to find her yet have the time to shave every morning?

48 - This Is Spinal Tap - 4 stars
I recently said that Anchorman was the comedy of the decade, but This Is Spinal Tap would have to be up there with Airplane as the most influential comedy of ALL TIME.
Without Spinal Tap we wouldn't have had the Christopher Guest comedies Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show, etc, programs like The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm and certainly not Anchorman or any comedy that relies on improvisation.
A rock 'n' roll mockumentary that is made even funnier by how realistic it is. Don't believe me, just watch Anvil! or even some parts of Almost Famous to see how accurately it reflects the life of a fading rock band.
The quality of the songs is also very good. People sometimes forget that McKean, Guest and Shearer did all the performances themselves, with such great tunes as Big Bottom, Hell Hole and Sex Farm.
There are so many classic moments ("These go to 11", "That one's called Lick My Love Pump", the Stonehenge model) but my favourite line is "You can't dust for vomit"!
So crank this one up to 11 and enjoy the laughs on Tap.

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