Weekend Retrospective - Ecstacy of Gold

PERFECT SCORE - THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966)

"When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk"

In the past I gave some consideration to whether this should be given the honour of being the best ever Western. At one time I could easily have given that title to Leone's own Once Upon a Time in the West. But over repeated viewings this just held up better for a variety of reasons. It was the most purely entertaining, the most engaging, it had a certain tone and a certain character to it all which was never quite replicated anywhere else. So I was forced to reconsider... maybe this is the best. With more thought it eventually made it into the perfect score list.

The previous two films in the so called "dollars trilogy" are watchable, but very hit and miss in terms of overall quality and consistency. Revisiting them recently the flaws are more evident and they certainly aren't nearly as fun as the third instalment, despite the similarities in many places. The music is still good and they have their own memorable set pieces and characters. Clint is iconic in the poncho and they have the same kind of style at times. But they aren't paced as well, and they certainly don't have this much personality. They're just practice runs all building up this one, where every comes together.

He's tall, blonde, he smokes a cigar, and he's a pig!
 

Retrospective - Prepare to meet Kali

INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984)

While it's not without a few problems, I feel that this is a greatly underappreciated entry in the original Indiana Jones trilogy. Even by its own director. I mean sure it has notable flaws. Some even dare to suggest it's worse than the ill-guided forth instalment that I promised not to bring up again. But their kind of course needs a good slap in the face for blasphemy. Some enjoy Temple as much as the others, or even consider it to be the greatest Indy adventure, though there will always complaints that come up regarding two elements which seem to be given far too much attention, as I will discuss.

But this is an example of how to do a sequel right; where prior success with a previous release allowed for a lot of freedom. Since Raiders was a hit they had no reason to rehash it, so a huge amount of creativity was poured into the follow up in terms of both set pieces and fantasy visuals, and in that department it is unmatched.


Scorecard

MARCH 


FILM OF THE MONTH: Barry Lyndon ☆☆☆☆
2001: A Space Odyssey ☆☆☆☆
A Clockwork Orange ☆☆☆☆
Aliens ☆☆☆☆
Arrival ☆☆☆☆
Dr. Strangelove ☆☆☆☆
Full Metal Jacket ☆☆☆☆
X2 ☆☆☆☆
Slaughterhouse-Five ☆☆☆☆
The Shining ☆☆☆☆
Logan ☆☆☆☆

Review Roundup - Darmok and Jalad

ARRIVAL (2016)

In a time when Star Trek has been reduced to nonsensical action schlock, it's nice to see something that seems to have been made using real science fiction ideas to tell a proper story. Once struggling through opposing ideals and communication problems to solve a crisis would have been prime material for the series to cover, but today it's been left to a smaller scale, far smaller budget release like this to do something truly interesting. It's visually cold, it looks sterile and bleak. But under the grey and uninviting surface there are strong character moments, engaging emotional hooks, and one or two central concepts that have real weight to them. It also adds a new genre to the filmography of Denis Villeneuve, signalling a promising future for his upcoming sci-fi endeavours.


Retrospective - Crystal Balls

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008)

Revisiting this was never going to be pretty so I apologise in advance. Nearly a decade later I barely remember the film in question. Instead there's just a mental block covering over the let down of what could, and should have been. A vague feeling of frustration, denial... and boredom. It took so long to make. Surely that means all the best ideas have been used to create it I told myself. It's got to be good because they took some time and care. To bring back an icon like this takes some effort right? As it turned out the opposite was true. Nobody really cared or even tried. I have to temper my thoughts, after all this is following up a classic series containing the greatest film of all time. I've been through worse. But I suppose I just need to get this one off my chest. Going back to see if things look any better with a few years just makes the flaws much more apparent.