Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bullet Points - My Train Ride through India, Giallo, and Drugstores

The Darjeeling Express - After seeing Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson has definitely entered my radar.  Although I wouldn't usually consider these "slice of life" films my type of movie, they are absolutely fun and entertaining.  Taking place on a railroad, this story shows the coming together of three very different brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) who don't necessarily get along.  It's a great tour of India through the eyes of some quirky performances (including Bill Murray's).  The Criterion edition includes an interesting discussion with Wes Anderson and how the history of Indian film and music has inspired this film.   But if this heartfelt stuff  just doesn't float your boat, the Criterion does include a small prequel , "Hotel Chevalier."  Similar to the shorts premiered  before a Pixar film,  the story shows the lonely love life of Schwartzman's character and his complicated relationship with a bruised, yet very beautiful (and nude) Natalie Portman...

Drugstore Cowboy - Whenever I see Matt Dillon, I just think he looks like a jerk (which is totally wrong for me to say because I don't even know the guy).  But as you watch him in this film, he becomes a likable bad guy (although he transforms and redeems himself by the end).  Being Gus Van Sant's first film, this an interesting tale of how people burglarize pharmacies to get high and sell their stolen drugs. With a fun cast of characters (including Heather Graham), there are times of pain and sadness, but there's nowhere near the thrashing beating like after watching Requiem for a Dream.

The Long Goodbye - With The Master coming out this week, Robert Altman has supposedly been a major influence to Paul Thomas Anderson.  There's not too many Altman films on Netflix, but The Long Goodbye is one of them.  Following Elliot Gould (who I mainly know from Ocean's 11) as Philip Marlowe, he's a private eye trying to prove his friend's innocence after his wife was murdered.  Gould plays the character very interestingly, where he's a man of indifference who mumbles to himself, attempts to take care of his cat, and lives next door to naked hippies.  Although Altman brings humor to the story, shocking scenes unexpectedly explode from the screen, such as a mob boss cutting up his mistress's face.  There's also an interesting performance by Sterling Hayden who plays the drunkard husband of Marlowe's "love interest."  The Long Goodbye is a film I watched somewhat delirious at 2am in the morning, but I could definitely watch more Altman movies to see how he's shaped film throughout history.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage -  In Tarantino's Death Proof, there is a scene where Stuntman Mike is stalking Zoe Bell's crew and taking their pictures with a telescopic camera.  This scene is a direct homage to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, where the same eerie music is played over similarly stalker-like snapshots.  I was very curious to see the original source material, so I ordered the film on blu-ray, but Amazon ran out of stock after my order was placed.  When I originally ordered the film over a year ago, it was only $10, but now the Blue Underground print sells for at least $50 used.  So I recently stopped at my local Movie Stop where they had a 3-disc boxset of low grade Giallo horror films.  Luckily it included Dario Argento's masterpiece and only cost $7.99!!!  This isn't the best film transfer, but the POV killshots of helpless women being slashed behind the eyes of a shadowed killer made me feel like I was at the Grindhouse.  And other than Hitchcock, I can understand why Argento's reveal has most likely influenced Brian DePalma in making some awesome Erotic Thrillers.

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