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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yul-Tide

Not a bad little flick. It's easy to reflect on past movies being influential, but there are some unmistakable parallels to contemporary films.

My curiosity was immediately perked by the title and plot synopsis: "events turn apocalyptic... New York City teems with ravenous gangs." "The Warriors" was released in 1979, four years after "The Ultimate Warrior" and (my memory is mentionably ((I just made up a word)) fuzzy) it involves a similar pre-punk gang disaster storyline. "Escape From New York" also followed shortly in UW's footsteps. "The Warriors", however, is a far more notable movie in its acclaim and affirmed modern cult status. "UW"'s late, late DVD release is telling of it's relative obscurity.

UW will probably fade into the void of its era's post cataclysm survival films, but it stands out as a more solid entry than even its famous peers (i.e. the twist-defined, unavoidably-spoilered-unless you saw-it-in-the-womb "Soylent Green")

Yul Brynner is totally righteous as a hero. In "Westworld", you're secretly rooting for him, in "UW", you're expected to do so. Max Von Sydow is also terrific, and the thoughtful first half of the movie verges on thinking man's sci-fi. They touch on community, mob mentality, fear, desperation, and survival.

Lo, Don't think there isn't action, because there is a high body count, especially for its time. I didn't count, but my estimate is that Yul stabs 30-35 people throughout the course of the story. The choreography of the fight scenes is raw and exciting and the final battle is noteworthy for its grimness. In fact, the entire ending is ambiguous enough to please those fans of "Empire Strikes Back" and the like.

My final tidbit comes full circle to what might be my favorite movie, "Children of Men". There's a birth scene in "UW" that's remarkably prescient to what they did with COM (though less technically proficient). I can't help but suspect that Cuaron was touched by this little gem.

Briefly: The Ultimate Warrior came bundled as a two-fer so here's my concise review of "Battle Beneath the Earth"...
Cheapo- 60's sci-fi is actually pretty and colorful, but its tone is ruined by redundant sets and really, really shaky science (even for 60's sci fi). To be fair, I wasn't paying full attention while this one was on but every time I looked up the predictable storyline had barely inched forward and they were in a redecorated cave. I suppose the ambiguously Asian baddies and totally bogus James Bond rip-off action sequences were the final nail. Oh, but the wobbly ah-tomic bombs would have made Ed Wood proud of their sound infrastructure.

And,

If you haven't seen "Children of Men", please watch it. I'm officially calling it the best film of the decade (So far, of course... 11.33 months to go). Don't read about it, just find the biggest screen and best sound and turn the lights off and enjoy.

5 comments:

Christina said...

didnt like the end of children of men really, but the rest of the film was AMAZING!! I felt exhausted by the end of it. brilliant.

Guillermo said...

Yeah totally f-ing exhausted. I have never been so involved in a movie. Rachael said I was clawing her arm. That part where they escape from the farmhouse was gnarly. And I think that exhaustion is why the end worked, because he was exhausted too. I think it was too ambiguous for a lot of people, is that why you didn't like it?

Christina said...

no it just felt bland. i didnt think there was anything ambiguous about it at all actually. maybe no ending could follow the rest of the movie and satisfy me. it might have been one of those situations. and yeah, when they're watching the farmhouse from afar? thats when i realized ok, this movie is beyond f'ed up. love it.

i was thinking about you yesterday-- i was half watching some crazy movie with samuel l jackson and christina ricci (and justin timberlake, wtf?) from what i saw it was horrifying. do you know what I'm talking about? she's in her underwear for what seemed like 88% of the movie.

Guillermo said...

Yeah that's Black Snake Moan. I wanted to see that but never got around to it. Did you like it? It looked like good trashy 70's throwback crap. Like Tarantino tries but can't quite nail, you know?

And she's in her underwear, so...

Christina said...

the chick i was with said she'd seen it about 4 or 5 times (because she couldnt help but watch it) but that it was terrible.

theoretically i believe that watching a movie over and over again means it has some merit. for example, i have seen "not without my daughter" 7 times. 4 of those times were when i only had 7 channels on my tv. but 3 of them were because i felt the need to watch it and moan and groan alone about how ridiculous it was. but why bother if its not somehow relevant, right?

anyway, point is, i didnt really watch it so i cant tell you. but it looked a little "requiem for a dream"ish. and if you recall, i had to abandon that movie in a flurry of tears and wait for you guys outside for 20 minutes while it finished when we all went to see it. then said it was my favorite movie without seeing the end for a year. so i'm a weird judge.