Monday, January 9, 2012

Triple Movie Report

I saw The Krays when it first came out nearly twenty years ago and I remember thinking then what a smashingly great film it was. I saw it again the other night and while I still very much liked it, I could see some major problems with it.

The film is about Ronnie and Reggie Kray who were two hoods who rose to the highest ranks of the London gangster world in the 1950's and '60's. They were identical twins who ruled the underworld with an iron fist and yet they remained uber loyal to their doting mother. Much of their rise in this film is left to your imagination as most of the nitty gritty of how they got to the top is left off screen, the film hits the high points of their rise and it wisely focuses on the relationship between the brothers, the twins and their mother, and on the love lives of the brothers. Overall, it's very stylish and very good and the leads the Kemp brothers, who some may remember were the guys who founded the rock group Spandau Ballet, acquit themselves nicely considering they're musicians and not actors. Billie Whitelaw as their other is the real star of this film though, her performance is stunningly good. Also note worthy are Susan Fleetwood as Aunt Rose and Katie Hardie as Frances the doomed girl who marries one of the brothers.

My problems with this film are how much of the meat of the story of brothers rise that's not shown, the forced ending that feels oh so tacked on, the fact they showed nothing of how the Kray brothers empire got taken down, and the horrible old man make up they used on the Kemp brothers in the final scene where they pay their respects to their mother at her graveside.

Overall though, this film is worth your time.

Alec Baldwin is one handsome dude and he's believable as an action hero. Penelope Ann Miller is one hot babe who makes a stunningly sexy heroine. The Shadow is a well known property that should have a sure fire built in audience of comic book geeks and pop culture nerds clamoring for it. By all rights this film should have been box office gold. So what went wrong in this production?

For me it was the following:

  • When Baldwin becomes The Shadow he was saddled with some ridiculous make up and a fake nose that was so big it had it's own gravitational pull. There was no reason to slap all that hideous make up on him.
  • They decided about an hour into the film to ramp up the screwball comedy quotient between Miller and Baldwin. Big mistake. Not that they didn't have chemistry, it just didn't fit in the film.
  • For a hero who can move about while practically invisible, The Shadow suffers a lot of damage in fights. He gets hit by arrows, shot, and beaten up, repeatedly. One of those things once might have been okay but when all three happen, it stretched my already over stretched suspension of belief.
  • The supposed doomsday bomb that was going to do untold horrific damage to New York city was laughably easy to disarm.
  • The ending felt forced and tacked on, like it was written only after they'd shot most of the movie.

But if you like campy period movies, then you'll enjoy this film.

Speaking of campy movies, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is one campy fun as hell movie.

A couple of hillbilly dudes out for a weekend of manly beer drinking and cabin fixing run afoul of a group of college kids out for a good time in the deep backwoods of the West Virginia mountains. Through a series of misunderstandings and mishaps, most of the college kids end up dead and to the outside eye it looks like our hillbilly heroes are to blame. But things are not what they seem and the boys manage to save the day.

This movie trades in some of the most egregious stereotypes about the mountain south but it's so dang fun that I can't quibble too much about how bad they make folks in this area look. Trust me, there are no hand cranked water pumps at gas stations and kids don't wear straw hats and overalls any more. And yes, we all wear shoes, most of us shower everyday, and sister fucking has declined so much in recent years that it's hardly a problem any more.

See this film but don't believe the stereotypical shit they put in it.

1 comment:

kirby said...

What a coincidence, I just put Tucker and Dale on the list. Alan Tudyk usually makes some smart role choices, so I thought we'd give it a go. Glad to hear it's worthwhile.