The Shooting (Monte Hellman, 1966).
This is the twentieth film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 6th annual challenge, and my second time participating (last year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20"). Week 20 is called "Acid Western Week".
Its subgenre time once again. We're all familiar with the tropes and traditions of the Western drama. So much so, we could recite them while drunk. Or on...acid? A contortion of the themes and ideas that reside in traditional Westerns, acid westerns offer the audience fresh twists to make way for their own cynical perspectives on the genre. I would've called them "peyote westerns", but what do I know?
This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen Acid Western film.
I had a nice little writeup on this film, but then TypePad crashed and I lost what I'd written. For some reason, this feels appropriate for a piece about a low-budget Roger Corman movie that is more like Antonioni than like John Ford. Among the talent working on the picture, besides director Hellman, were actors Warren Oates, Jack Nicholson, Millie Perkins (The Diary of Anne Frank), and Will Hutchins (TV's Sugarfoot). The latter two are annoying, but Oates is his usual fine self. Carole Eastman wrote the script using the same pseudonym (Adrien Joyce) she later used for Five Easy Pieces. Special props to cinematographer Gregory Sandor, who makes The Shooting look like L'Avventura. Hellman refuses to coddle the audience, which for a variety of reasons was mostly nonexistent until it inevitably became a cult favorite.
Kong: Skull Island (Jordan Vogt-Roberts, 2017).
Quick, before TypePad crashes again. This is the second movie in the "Monsterverse", following the 2014 version of Godzilla and preceding Godzilla: King of the Monsters and the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong. It's an entertaining re-introduction to Kong ... there are homages a plenty to the 1933 original, but this isn't a sequel or a remake, it's a reboot (a word we've come to know all too well in recent years). The characters aren't exact matches to 1933, but Vogt-Roberts calls on some interesting influences: Apocalypse Now, Princess Mononoke. The characters are stereotypes, although the actors fit their parts: Sam Jackson as a hardened Colonel, Tom Hiddleston as a handsome, moody chap, Brie Larson in that mixture of action figure and sex symbol that she sometimes trots out.
This Kong is more pro-active than the original. He doesn't just stand around waiting for the copters like he does with the planes in the original:
Skull Island is as believable as a movie about a hidden island with monsters from another world can be. The action scenes are very good, and the picture moves along at a nice clip (perhaps because it was originally more than three hours long before it was cut down to the more focused two hours we get). To some extent, you already know if you want to watch this film. And if you think you'll like it, you'll probably find out you were right.