Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Come Fill the Cup is a bit of strange one. The film begins as though it will something akin to The Lost Weekend as we follow a newspaperman, played by James Cagney, fall into the lower depths of alcoholism. About a third of the way in though he's already hit rock bottom and come back up again in short order. The film then instead extends to the man helping a rich man suffering the same problem, but unfortunately for the both of them a gangster wants the rich guy dead. It becomes a thriller suddenly. The thing is despite the rather scattered nature of the film, it's actually pretty good in every aspect. The performances are solid and each side of the story is well done. Now the film does flow rather strangely, but within its strange thru line it never becomes bad. All sections are good even if they don't make absolute sense being pieced together in this way.
Blade Runner is unquestionably a visual masterpiece. Again like in Alien, Ridley Scott's vision is awe inspiring. As he utilizes the visual effects, the lighting, his camerawork, his production design, his costumes all to craft a spellbinding world, that feels absolutely lived in as well. The appearance of the film is one of the most, if not the most, influential elements of cinema from the 1980's. Now the film has been accused of style over substance by some, which that criticism in itself I don't think is necessarily that damning to a film. The film I feel does provide substance though in a way you don't expect, and is even a trick of sorts. The main story of the policeman Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, hunting down rogue replicants may seem rather cold for the most part even within the romantic element given the closing of the film. This seems an intentional juxtaposition against the far more emotional story of the lead replicant, played brilliantly by Rutger Hauer, who seems the villain but might just be his story after all. The ideas exploring the humanity of the artificial life are fascinating and in the end rather powerful with a death scene that ranks among the very best ever to grace the screen. I will admit the first time I watched the film I was perhaps taken aback by its style and approach, which is far more cerebral in nature. On subsequent re-watches though I've come to appreciate the inner emotional substance within the visuals, which in the end may be as daring as its stunning surface.
Prometheus is another film I also might have benefited from having not seen the previous films in the series before I saw the film. I had no real connection to the Alien series therefore my expectations were fairly non-existent. Well again I enjoyed this film even if there are abundant problems. Many of the character actions make no sense, there are a few questionable performances, Guy Pearce as Mr. Burns (mostly for the casting) and Tom Hardy's clone (just without the acting talent). The film though worked for as just a rote sci-fi thriller with splendid visuals, which is elevated by a strong leading turn from Noomi Rapace and a memorable supporting performance by Michael Fassbender. Ridley Scott's actual direction is on point for the most part the problem with the film is the problematic script. It just is rife with plot holes and underwritten characters. The film though has enough thrills to make up for it, and I found it paced fairly well even though it doesn't build to the sort of stunning conclusion you'd expect from an Alien film.
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Alien 3 is perhaps the most hated of all Alien sequels, though not due to its quality on a whole, but rather the way the film begins. The film opens with the death of the apparently much beloved Hicks and Newt, whose rescue had been a pivotal part of climax of the previous film. Even poor Bishop's is disconnected in a pitch black scene. That might seem a regression but it is actually a progression in terms of creating the last act of the trilogy. If the first film was defined by birth, the second by war, the third film is death. The film takes place on a bleak prison colony where all men are essentially there until they die, except for a few hapless guards, and a good natured doctor though with a troubled past. The dire place only goes grimmer with a new alien coming to life, and an accounted for face hugger. I find the film works within the context as the final act of Ripley's story, rather than as the a sequel to Aliens. It redefines itself back to a more claustrophobic thriller, though I would argue different than the original, in a way a more emotional story about accepting the end. The film is not flawless, the lame CGI would prevent it from being so, but in its assembly cut it does present an effective horror film with a powerful human story within it. This is well realized through Sigourney Weaver's incredible performance, and a memorable supporting cast including Charles Dance as the doctor, Charles S. Dutton as the spiritual leader of the prisoners, and Paul McGann as a prisoner with a particularly twisted mind. David Fincher's vision can actually be seen in the palatable atmosphere, even if there are a few times where it gets slightly muddled by obvious interference. It is not the cleanest closer to the trilogy, but I actually find it to be a fitting one in the end. I will admit though that I possibly benefited from watching this film before I ever saw Aliens, and in doing so I could only see what the film had to offer as itself.