Tuesday, 15 June 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 273

290 - Rashomon - 4 stars
Gutted. I watched this and then found out just aftrward that there is a remastered print doing the rounds. Could have screened it here... still might actually.
A terrible crime takes place but who was responsible? Kurosawa examines the notion of truth by having four accounts of what happened but all of them are different so whose version is to be believed?
It boasts two excellent performances from Toshiro Mifune as the bandit and in particular Machiko Kyu as the wife, who plays hr character completely differently in every version.
A fascinating example of playing with narrative but don't expect any answers as it will be left up to your interpretation as to who is telling the truth.
Its success and Honorary Oscar is sighted as the main reason for the introduction of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar category. It is great that the US realised that excellent films can be produced outside of Hollywood, especially these days when Hollywood seems utterly dependent on sequels and remakes.

253 - First Blood - 3 stars
The original and most restrained Rambo film where Stallone's Vietnam vet snaps after some mistreatment by small town cops and proceeds to start a one man war on the town.
The first hunt in the forest reminded me of Predator but with Rocky Balboa rather than an invisible dreadlocked alien taking down a group of cops one by one.
It is interesting to note that there is only one death in the film and Rambo is not directly responsible.
The cops in the town are not 'bad guys', just people who happened to provoke an unstable Vietnam veteran who goes a little crazy, and it takes a delicate balancing act to keep our sympathies with Rambo.
However I was not convinced at all by Stallone's tears and wailing on breaking down at the memories of his time in the war and his treatment on his return to the US. He is much better when doing the physical side of the action and acting.

126 - Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid - 5 stars
This film has the distinct honour of being the first Western to receive that much sought after five star rating.
An affectionate love song to the Western and the song Knockin' On Heaven's Door that plays at several points during the film signifies not only the death of certain characters but also the death of the Western itself as a genre. The year after this Blazing Saddles was released and the spoof effectively killed off the genre that has only been seen sparingly since with the like of Unforgiven in '92 or Assassination Of Jesse James in '07.
Pat Garrett knows that the West is dying and is trying to secure a life for himself afterwards but the price he has to pay is to track down his old friend Billy The Kid.
Like Unforgiven, we know how it will eventually play out but it's all about the journey and it is hndled and judged perfectly.

Days remaining - 92 Films remaining - 96

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