solar update
catching up: treme, the walking dead

what i watched last week

Ginger Snaps (John Fawcett, 2000). My third go-around with this one, and each viewing has gotten a brief comment here. I watched this time because I loaned my DVD to a friend, and he decided to “live blog” on Facebook while he watched. That was all the inspiration I needed, so I hunted down a copy on YouTube and watched along. I liked it as much the third time as I did before. They do a fine job playing with the menstruation/werewolf metaphors, but they are always secondary to the film’s core, which is about the relationship of two teenage sisters who are veryclose. Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle are perfect as the sisters, and how can you deny a movie where Mimi Rogers is the comic relief? I often look to the “Parents Guide” section on IMDB for a kind of Joe Bob Briggs summary of a film, and the Guide for Ginger Snaps is revealing. The sex and nudity gets a 6/10, the violence and gore an 8/10. The Guide also notes there is a lot of cursing (“with concentration on the F-word”) and marijuana smoking. But the best part is the 9/10 rating given for “Frightening/Intense Scenes”: “This movie, unlike most horror movies, has developed characters that you really get to know. This makes scenes where they are injured or killed much more disturbing and emotionally impacting.” I couldn’t have explained the excellence of Ginger Snaps any better than that. 8/10.

Point Blank (John Boorman, 1967). Brutal revenge movie that distinguishes itself, for better or worse, by smartly-constructed stylistic steps outside the genre norm. Boorman offers a fractured timeline and intriguing frame composition, and overlays it with an “is it all a dream?” scenario. All of this is done with some subtlety … it’s not a psychedelic freak-out. But it’s a bit distracting, since in all other aspects of the film, Boorman works with the same single-minded intensity Lee Marvin brings to his character, Walker. Marvin’s quest for revenge is existential; there is no stopping him from his task. The ending is ambiguous enough for us to question exactly what that task was, but there is nothing to question about Marvin going after his $93,000. Nothing seems impossible, although Angie Dickinson does her best in a brief, intense scene where she beats on Walker until she collapses onto the floor from fatigue. Throughout the battery, Marvin just stands there and takes it. When she’s done, he walks away. Marvin is the best thing about the movie. He is perfectly cast. #480 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 8/10. The novel on which Point Blank is based was also the inspiration for the Mel Gibson movie, Payback. Some have suggested that Ringo Lam’s HK action film, Full Contact, comes from the same source. I’m not sure of that, but it’s a fun, if violent, movie, especially for fans of Chow Yun-Fat and Simon Yam. This was John Vernon’s first U.S. feature. For his most “popular” role, check out Animal House. For sleaze, it’s hard to beat Linda Blair’s women-in-prison movie, Chained Heat. For a little-known Lee Marvin classic, there’s Attack! And fans of John Boorman can revisit Deliverance.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (Byron Haskin, 1964). 7/10.