Movie Education – February Update

Light month due to the Olympics.  In fact, everything on this list I watched on Sunday night, so they got in just under the wire.

Fletch

Thanks to Community, I’ve had a hankering to go back and check out old Chevy Chase stuff.  You know, from the days before he stopped being funny and started being banned by the Geneva Convention as an instrument of torture.  Fletch popped up on watch instantly and it seemed like as good a place to start as any.  Maybe it’s because of where Chase was in his career as I was growing up, but I expected one of those Buffoon-Who-Lucks-Into-Success plots that I hate.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the main character of Fletch was clever, imaginative and witty.  If Chase had played more characters like this and less like Clark Griswold, he might not have needed Community to resurrect his career.  Also, this film was written by the guy who did the original The In-Laws, so you know it’s going to be funny.

Un Chien Andalou

Yeah, we’ve all at least heard of one shot of this movie.  You know the one, where the guy grabs the woman’s head and slits open her eyeball.  This is that film.  Salvadore Dali and Luis Bunuel partnered to create what is probably the single most famous piece of surrealist film (and one of the most famous surrealist works ever).  It’s only fifteen minutes long, and I doubt it could have gone on much longer without wearing out its welcome.  There is nearly no plot to speak of, though the film does center around two characters whose relationships as portrayed makes a weird sort of emotional sense.  There are a number of classic shots – apart from the eye slicing, there’s also a creepy bit with ants crawling out of a hole in a guy’s hand, and a sequence where he rubs a woman’s clothed breast, which then becomes unclothed, then becomes her butt – but the real impact comes from seeing how intricately it’s all strung together.  This is probably seen as a film school kind of thing to watch, but anyone who enjoys film at all should see what the medium can be like if it’s pried out of its typical narrative structure.

Excalibur

A lot of fantasy films came out around the time I was born, and I managed to see very few of them until I grew up.  I think the things that come out when you’re alive but too young to understand are the most awkward to pick up later, though I don’t know why.  We see older films and we see new films, but something about the familiarity of a film that you vaguely remember coming out but didn’t actually see breeds disinterest.  Excalibur gets a lot of praise as one of the few really good fantasy films, but after seeing it I cannot for the life of me see why.  It’s essentially a boring CliffsNotes version of the Arthurian legend, except when it veers off into straight out goofiness.  Over and over again I wondered if the director realized how open he had made himself to Monty Python and the Holy Grail jokes with his too-serious, overblown take on King Arthur.  When Mordred shows up in gold armor with nipples, it was clear nothing could save the movie.  This one hurt to watch.

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