The Messenger. It’s an actor’s picture, in that the style seems to be to set the camera in place for long takes that offer plenty of insight into the characters. It wouldn’t work if the characters weren’t finely drawn, if the writing wasn’t strong, if the actors weren’t up to the challenge. For the most part, it works very well. The setup is heart-wrenching … soldiers go to people’s homes to tell them their loved ones have died in action. But the emotions the movie induces never feel cheap; nothing feels as if its only purpose was to make you teary-eyed. We’re allowed to react emotionally on our own terms. 8/10.
The Who Live at the Coliseum 1969. Not really a movie, this is an “extra” on the disc of the band’s 1977 Kilburn concert that takes up an entire disc of its own. The video quality is poor, the sound muddy, but it barely matters as you watch the Live-at-Leeds era Who in concert. The varying technical quality of the material means even this extra has extras: the main version is slightly over an hour and features everything from “Tattoo” to “My Generation,” while an extras-to-the-extras segment includes the entire performance of Tommy (which was new then), along with the complete version of “A Quick One, While He’s Away.” What a band they were in their day. Pete Townshend and John Entwistle switch roles like two midfielders who know each other’s moves by heart … sometimes they take on their traditional roles, at other times Townshend’s guitar joins the rhythm section while Entwistle’s bass becomes the lead instrument (most famously on “My Generation”). Entwistle is the least showy member of the band, so I suppose he gets ignored when people talk about the group, but my lord, he’s a masterful bass player. If those two are midfielders, then Roger Daltrey is the donkey center forward who scores the goals created by his teammates. And Moonie? He’s the unpredictable number 10, maybe Paul Gascoigne, and my favorite rock and roll drummer of all time. In 1969 he was still at the height of his considerable powers, as delightful to watch as he was to listen to. I can never get enough of Keith Moon at his best, which he is here. 9/10.
Inside Deep Throat. The day I watched this movie, I read a piece on Breathless that wonders if the film could still affect audiences (“Whether "Breathless" can have much impact on viewers who've never seen it before — especially without an accompanying history seminar — isn't a question I can answer. Every technical innovation it introduced now seems utterly familiar …”). Deep Throat strikes me as existing in a similar place … in a time when porn theaters are mostly gone, but porn itself is instantly available to anyone with an Internet connection, it must be difficult for younger audiences to understand America in 1972, when Deep Throat was released. This documentary addresses that issue, and I suppose it serves as a decent primer on the times, the movie, and its impact. But it’s rather shoddy and not particularly interesting … kinda like an old porn movie. 6/10.