Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

12 August 2007

Day of the Lord

I have a plan to do some cleaning today. But mostly I am following my new mandate to be not so hard on myself for the next two weeks or so. The plan is to finish more movies than books for the next two weeks and to not worry about doing a lot of research and work. We'll see how that goes. I did start Howard Barker's The Castle (which is a really awesome play so far) but I also watched two movies in the last twelve hours.

First: Werner Herzog's new film Rescue Dawn with Christian Bale is pretty good. I enjoyed the film, too, for the most part. I am being hesitant and I don't know why. I think I hesitate because Rescue Dawn isn't exactly Aguirre: the Wrath of God. Few films, of course, are Aguirre: the Wrath of God, so I guess I should just let that go and evaluate Rescue Dawn on its own merits. It's a harrowing, at times very difficult to watch story about a man in a P.O.W. camp in Laos during the lead up to the Vietnam war. It's excellently made, very well acted, beautifully shot and cleverly scripted. Definitely worth seeing if you like P.O.W. movies. Christian Bale is awesome, as usual, slimming down to a dangerous weight again. And Jeremy Davies, who costars, is as thin as I've ever seen him in anything (he looks disgusting, in fact.) Steve Zahn is excellent as well.

Lindsay Anderson's 1968 movie If.... with Malcolm McDowell was finally released on DVD recently (god bless Criterion) so I finally got to see this amazing film from Britain's angry sixties. This film deserves its cult status. It's a movie about a school with strict discipline and lots of corruption and McDowell plays a rebel who goes on a rampage at the school. It's a fabulous movie and a biting satire. Totally sexy, too, in a kind of queer, underage-boy, British way. I absolutely loved it.

Mizoguchi Kenji's Sansho the Bailiff (1954) is a social justice movie from the Japanese filmmaker. It's mostly an anti-slavery movie, detailing the evils of servitude and slavery on the Japanese islands. Our hero gets captured and sold into slavery as a young boy, and we watch as tragedy befalls him and his family. It's a fairly bleak cinematic adventure, truth be told. I think I've decided, too, that I like Mizoguchi the least of the Japanese masters I've seen so far. Both of the films of his that I've seen have been more didactic than anything else and my tastes run more toward the poetic.
(Oh yeah, and Sansho the Bailiff is not the main character. The title kind of makes no sense. Weird, too, because the title is the same in Japanese.)