music friday: march 8 number ones
shameless, fiona finale

what i watched

To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990). This was the latest "Movie of the Week" from the Criterion Channel as it leads up to its grand opening next month. It had an interesting tone ... Burnett shows us a typical African-American family, tosses in a bit of magic realism, and then Danny Glover takes things in another place entirely. Glover plays an old friend of the family who comes to visit. He brings some of the old ways and old beliefs with him, and it's appealingly nostalgic at first, but Glover is also oddly ominous from the start. He's a bit like Joseph Cotten in Shadow of a Doubt, where his outward demeanor hides something darker. Burnett never lets To Sleep with Anger become a horror movie, but Glover brings it close. He's great. This is the second Charles Burnett film I've seen, along with Killer of Sheep, and he is far more unheralded than he should be.

The Warriors (Walter Hill, 1979). I wrote about this movie in 2010, and my thoughts haven't changed much, so I'll quote that earlier post and then add to it:

I wonder if people can predict in advance what movies will become cult favorites in the future? Usually, when the film makers try to achieve this in the process of creating a movie, they try too hard, they pour on too much self-indulgent irony, and they fail. Walter Hill, director and screenwriter for The Warriors, never seemed much interested in making a cult classic … his specialty is “guy films,” often with little or no irony. Nevertheless, this cartoonish New York City gang movie, which draws on work by the early Greek historian Xenophon, has many elements which, in retrospect, would seem to ensure cult survival, starting with the part about it being a cartoonish gang movie. Hill has a fine eye for composition … when the gangs hurriedly escape the big meeting at the beginning, the visuals are mesmerizing (Kael compared it to Griffith’s work in Intolerance, a nice piece of hyperbole) … and since the characters are more iconic than “real,” the acting is less important than the look of the film. It’s all a bit of a mess, but once you’ve seen it, you won’t forget gangs like the Baseball Furies, or the crazed eloquence of Cyrus in the opening sequence, or, of course, David Patrick Kelly clicking the beer bottles together and inviting the Warr-i-ors to come out to pla-ay. We watched Hill’s “ultimate director’s cut,” which adds superfluous comic inter-titles, as if we couldn’t already tell the movie was more like a comic than like real life.

I watched it again because I came across the "original" version, minus the comic inter-titles, which I didn't like in the first place. I recommend this version if/when you can find it (I found it On Demand). One thing I noticed this time is that the movie can't really live up to its first amazing 15 minutes. But then, not many movies can.

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