I’ve got a busted head and a broken jaw; I guess that everything is better wherever you are

This media blow shoots first and takes no prisoners.

Taken: I’m probably the least objective person to review this. As I mentioned earlier, revenge films speak to me on a cold, primal level. Taken offers no characterization to speak of and little in the way of clever dialogue. Its protagonist veers from “driven” to “probably insane” at about the 2/3 mark and never swerves back. There’s no subplot and little humor – nothing but barbaric rage.

But Liam Neeson hears his daughter get kidnapped while she’s calling him from Paris, catches the next flight overseas, and promptly murders half of Paris to get her back. I should be disturbed by how much I enjoyed this. And I am. But I’m not.

For sane human beings, I’d say: rent, don’t buy.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three: You can watch movies on Hulu now. They tend toward older movies that nobody wants to see or newer movies that didn’t do as well at the box office. You’ll probably never see The Dark Knight on here, for instance.

I watched The Taking of Pelham One Two Three on Sunday – a dated but well-paced caper flick. Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam and Hector Elizondo hijack a New York City subway car three hours before the evening rush. They give the city one hour to deliver one million dollars before they start killing passengers. Walter Matthau’s the Transit detective in charge of negotiating with them. Will the city cave? If they do, how can they possibly get the money there in time? And how are four armed men going to get out of the New York City subway with every cop in the city surrounding them?

A fun little action thriller. If you liked Die Hard you’d probably like this.

Glengarry Glen Ross: Watching this movie for the fourth? fifth? time over dinner, I finally realized how little the story’s about sales. While every Mamet film has an element of alpha male jockeying in it, Glengarry Glen Ross contains nothing but that. If Oliver Stone directed this movie, he would intercut every scene with wolves snarling at each other. It’s pure and brutal.

Consider Alec Baldwin’s iconic scene early in the movie – a performance so captivating that I have a hard time imagining the original play without it.

“Put. That Coffee. Down.” There’s no conceivable reason to obey a command like that. Some stranger on the street approaches you and yells that at you, what do you do? He’s crazy, right? And it’s not like Alec Baldwin is Jack Lemmon’s boss in this movie – the movie implies they work for the same organization, but that’s it.

We have a man in a suit who stares at people with this unflinching gaze and a painfully bold voice, and we have a slump-shouldered old man in ill fitting suspenders. The former tells the latter to stop pouring himself a cup of coffee. He does. That’s absolute alpha male status jockeying right there. It’s savage and depressing and you just can’t stop watching it. I’m not saying it’s admirable, but it’s a part of the human condition.

Also of note, Glengarry Glen Ross is one of the few Mamet films where the actors deliver the dialogue naturally. I think this has to do with Mamet writing the screenplay but not directing it.

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People who know me well have noted that I’m very tense these past few days. No idea why.


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