Aguirre, the wrath of god (1972)
Written and directed by Werner Herzog
Starring: Klaus Kinski as Aguirre
The story is about a Spanish soldier, the mad and enigmatic Lope de Aguirre, who leads a group of conquistadors down the Amazon River, searching for the mythical city of ElDorado, and all the gold it is said to hold. Using a minimalist story and dialogue, the film creates a vision of madness and folly, counterpointed by the lush but unforgiving Amazonian jungle.
I should point out that this is my favorite movie. There is no other movie that I have ever seen as visceral, real, and unsettling than Aguirre, the wrath of God. This movie displays the conflict between men, but ultimately, the more astounding and prominent conflict of man vs. nature, a theme that is prevalent in most of Herzog’s films – whether they be documentaries, or feature films. The landscape and habitat of the South American jungles is the greatest threat to the men who endeavor to find their fortune by plundering their way through the Amazon. They soon find out that they are no match for either the natives of the Amazon, or the Amazon itself and their fate is sealed with every passing minute down this river. Madness ensues, tensions flare, and insurrection is inevitable as Aguirre plots to deceive and strengthen his grip of power over this clan of what started out as as a large number of Spanish legion soldiers, clergymen, and lords – but now has been reduced to a dwindling, malnourished motley crew of paranoid victims, fearful of Aguirre, but unable to stand up to him. Aguirre’s enemies are slowly and mysteriously killed off, and Aguirre, obsessed with marrying his cousin and starting a new bloodline in the destination of ElDorado, becomes more and more insane with each passing minute.
This film is a must see for anyone interested in film, and is a great place to start if you’ve never seen any of Werner Herzog’s movies from the German New Wave era. This movie is a classic, and I give it five out of five stars which is rare. But a movie with this much heart deserves it.
Die Hard (1988)
Directed by John McTiernan
Starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman
Professor Snape and a gang of slick Euro-trash thugs take over the Takegami building with Bruce Willis inside, and we all know how that is going to end… This is a pretty fun movie from front to back. It involves a lot of blowing things up, nearly falling to death from the 100th floor, elevator shaft maneuvering, and Bruce Willis talking to himself. Of course the F.B.I. blows it, and the coke head big shot business man gets shot. This movie strays from no stereotypes, rather it embraces them. The best scene is when Snape is falling to his inevitable death, but the story goes that the irreplaceable look on his face when falling came about because they told him they were going to drop him 20 feet onto an air mat on the count of three, but instead, the producers at the last minute decided to let him go on the count of one. Auf wiedersehen Snape!
History of Violence (2005)
Adapted from graphic novel by John Wagner & Vince Locke
Directed by David Cronenberb
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, and Ed Harrisruce Willis
This was actually the first time I have seen this movie. I was being stubborn when it came out, I had kind of forgotten about David Cronenberg as a “modern director” until about 2007 when I saw Eastern Promises, so I had missed out on this film until now. That being said, this movie is one hell of a powerhouse of film, and doesn’t disappoint in any way. Aside from an excellent story about a man who is trying to escape his criminal past and live a rural family life, this film does things with gore and excessive violence that other films just don’t do. For instance, when someone gets their nose broken up into their face, most directors will show the anticipating moment, and give you the general idea of the kill, but cut away at the last second, and replace it with a side shot from a different angle or some kind of trickery. David Cronenberg is no ordinary director though, and relishes in exposing all the brutal, but ultimately real details of violence. He’ll show a close up and long shot of brain matter and exposed tendons and I’m sure devotes a great deal of budget to accomplishing these tasks. If you like the idea a mysterious plot, some really good Viggo Mortenson ass-kicking scenes, full of fatal throat-punches and flying brain-matter, this film is for you.
Written by Bob Nelson, Directed by Alexander Payne
About three years ago, my Grampa called and told me he got a text message on his phone but he didn’t know how to use his new phone, he wanted to get a phone just like his old one, anyway, the text said he won an IPad. He didn’t really understand what an IPad was, but wanted it, and was trying to get me to get a hold of these people for him, so that he could get his free IPad. I still am not sure that he believes me fully that it was a hoax. Anyway, this is pretty much the reason this movie got my attention. It’s so similar. This old man thinks he’s won $1,000,000 from a magazine giveaway thing. You know those fake checks that come in the mail… Anyway, the story is pretty much a very slow account of his actions and misadventures along the course of his jouney from Minnesota to Nebraska to pick up his million bucks.
Although slow at times, this was a good movie. Worth the watch. Bob Odenkirk is hilarious of course. Good movie. 3 stars.
Written and directed by David Cronenberb
Starring: James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky
Videodrome is an instant classic, and my favorite Cronenberg movie. Max Renn is a sleazebag TV producer looking for the next edgy thing to put on his equally sleazy network. Being the young and curious exec he is, it’s no wonder that when he comes across a pirate sattelite broadcast of what appears to be some kind of snuff film, he can’t help but follow the leads and mystery of the deepening plot behind the broadcasts and its creators. From a time when weird things could possibly wind up on T.V. and the future of entertainment, albeit sadistic and violent, is more interesting than “Chrisley knows best”. “Long live the new flesh…”