Saturday, June 26, 2004

Review – Aguirre, The Wrath of God

Werner Herzog and jungles just don’t mix. Here he serves up the grim tale of an offshoot of Pizarro’s expedition. Their original assignment was to head down river (at least that was a change in direction from the usual Heart of Darkness stuff) and find help for the army of conquistadors. But after the crew runs into trouble, a sub-commander named Aguirre takes over. Given that the character is played by old Herzog standby Klaus Kinski, it almost goes without saying that our anti-hero starts out crazy bad and just gets worse as the plot progresses. It also almost goes without saying that before the show ends we’re treated to a lot of long, tedious soul-searching punctuated by random acts of savagery. I used to have a higher tolerance for this stuff than I do now. There are some beautiful shots toward the beginning, but ultimately they don’t justify the whole depressing thing. See if desperate

Friday, June 18, 2004

Review – The Crazies

Though in retrospect this comes across as sort of a dry run for Dawn of the Dead, it’s got a lot more going for it than just that. The basic premise – townspeople driven mad by biological weapon accidentally unleashed by Army that then descends on the town in an attempt to contain the problem – isn’t entirely dissimilar to Romero’s zombie pictures. But the really intriguing part of this movie is the struggle of the protagonists not only to escape the doomed town but also to determine who among their number has come down with the insanity plague (as opposed to merely behaving abnormally due to the abnormal situation they all find themselves in). George Romero isn’t exactly the master of subtlety, and to be sure most of the entertainment value to be found here relies on gore or other cheap thrills. But here and there this outing’s got a little more going for it. Mildly amusing