Monday, 14 June 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 272 - 100 not out!

I can't believe that this time has come around so quickly. I now have less than one hundred films left to watch in order to complete the challenge. By the end of the week I should have only one film to watch each day.

138 - Cool Hand Luke - 4 stars
When I finally get to the end of this challenge I expect Mr Paul Newman to be pretty close to the top of the list of my favourite movie stars. There might be better actors out there but probably not 'stars'. There was always that 'Cool Hand Luke' smile that Dragline talks about in every film he did.
And he uses it to full effect in this film as the chain gang member who rises to iconic status within the prison due to his attitude to no-conformity, even reaching Christ like levels (see the pose he is in when he finishes the egg eating contest).
Oddly for a prison movie, initially it actually makes the notion of 'doing time' seem quite enjoyable. There is no rape in the showers for example. Everyone seems to get along, they drink, they laugh, they oggle young ladies seductively washing their car... but eventually the system slowly breaks Luke down, because "What we have here is failure to communicate".
One of the stand out moments in the film is the famous egg challnge where Luke bets that he can eat 50 of them in 1 hour and is, literally, egged on by his buddy Dragline played by George Kennedy, best known as Frank Drebin's boss in Police Squad.
If you ever want to have your memories of this ruined then I would recommend catching the episode of Jackass where they recreated the contest... only this time it involved vomiting, a LOT of vomiting. I am still unable to even smell a hard boiled egg without gagging!

158 - Unforgiven - 4 stars
As dark and bleak a Western as you are likly to find, filmed by one of the true greats of the genre.
I felt it could have been stripped back a bit. Richard Harris' English Bob seemed superfluous and the young kid who get Munny onto the saddle again is far too annoying (but maybe that was Clint's view on the youth of today).
It still rates highly because of the lovely slow build of anticipation. You keep hearing about how vicious and what a bad-ass Clint Eastwood's William Munny is, that you know it is just a matter of time before he finally snaps and pulls the trigger.
There is a huge grey area over who the good guys and the bad guys are in this film.
William Munny is a retired killer who only takes on a bounty hunting job in order to provide for his kids.
The two cowboys who are the targets are merely the catalyst or Macguffin that forces Munny out of retirement.
The main adversary is Little Bill Daggett, played by Gene Hackman. Little Bill is the no-nonsense Sheriff of Little Whiskey which is the final destination for Munny. Whilst his methods are suspect, his intentions seem honorable in trying to keep his town a safe place to be... but he makes a huge mistake when he makes an example of Munny's best friend and partner Ned Logan as it causes Munny to reach for the whiskey and his shotgun!
If you want to see this story done in a comic book world then I suggest finding a copy of the Old Man Logan series by Mark Millar, where Wolverine hasn't popped his claws for years but goes on one final mission... and you know at some point he'll go SNICK!

58 - Close Encounters Of The Third Kind - 4 stars
Spielberg's first encounter with aliens before returning to the genre with the more child friendly E.T. but this is much more grown up fare.
Absent father themes are common place in Spielberg's films but in this case it focuses on the father Roy Neary, played by Richard Dreyfuss. After having experienced a close encounter, he starts creating Devil's Towers out of mashed potato and ultimately abandons his family in order to find the answers behind it all.
I'm sure I couldn't have been the only one who thought that was more than a slight resemblence between the scientists' first contact site and the area where the Nazis test the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Days remaining - 93 Films remaining - 99

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