Saturday, February 2, 2008

Right At Your Door

Just finished this interesting film I've been wanting to see since it played theatrically last year. Here's the skinny: Dirty bombs are detonated in downtown Los Angeles and a man seals off his house from the toxic chemicals. When his wife returns home, infected, he can't let her in.

Sounds like the premise of a great short film, and it turns out that was the director's original intention. Fortunately, in developing it at feature length, he came up with enough interesting moments to make it pay off. And while the downbeat ending is nowhere near as powerful as Frank Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist, it certainly wasn't Hollywood cookie-cutter either. Worth checking out.

Last night I also finished off the last of the Dirty Harry series on the big screen, The Dead Pool. While a disappointing follow up to Sudden Impact, I did find myself appreciating Lalo Schifrin's score, which was contemporary and yet recalled themes from the original. I saw on the satellite schedule that the original is going to be on in HD. If you're interested in checking that out, let me know. Even though I've watched it on the big screen, I'm ready to do it again in HD.

See you at the 51,201 sign...


The Maverick said...

Let's see if this works... long time listener, first time caller, Debi.

I can't believe you are dissing Dead Pool - welcome to the Slaughtered Lamb jungle, I guess - allllrighty then!

I think Dead Pool was a suitable response to Sudden Impact, much in the same way that the lighter heroics of Return of the Jedi complimented the darker themes of Empire Strikes Back. (Coincidentally, Sudden Impact and Jedi both came out in 1983.)

Even though Sudden Impact has some of the best lines in the Dirty Harry series (from hot dogs, psychic coffee, and strain the remains to the all-time classic make my day), it is the about the only one I would be inclined to turn down if someone suggested watching a Dirty Harry flick.

While Dead Pool takes Eastwood to the fringes of the self-parody territory that Schwarzenegger invaded, conquered, and colonized in Last Action Hero, the Dirty Harry series really did need to lighten up after Sudden Impact. It was either that, or go off the deep end into slasher flick territory - something that certainly could have been done with the general story line of Dead Pool.

Sudden Impact was an intense theatrical thrill ride the first time around, but it's overly dark nihilistic tone seems out of step with the rest of the series in a way that I don't enjoy revisiting. As opposed to the established "crime is the disease and Harry's the cure" ethos, we have "Santa Cruz is a sewer and Sondra Locke is the drain plug."

For my repeated viewing pleasure, I prefer the mix of satire and homicide served up in Dead Pool. On the other hand, I am sure Dead Pool would have struck a real sour note if there had been no Sudden Impact to shift the Dirty Harry character out of the comfort zone established by the first three movies...

Now, a word from the Slaughtered Goat Cinema (no kidding, it happens right outside the door of the room where we watch movies on the big screen!)

We just watched American Gangster the other day. Pretty good, for the most part, although the story line took a few turns that seemed too far fetched for some of us - primarily, the hero's transition from law student to primary investigator to an attorney competent to handle an extraordinarily complex case, with no foundation for this established in the film, to a final "based on a true story" twist in the "American Graffiti" where-are-they-now screens at the end of the movie. It was right up there with the king of unbelievable movie career paths, and undefeated champion of so many other flaws, Pearl Harbor.

American Gangster is also yet another example of trailers gone wrong, as a featured scene from the trailer ends up being a crucial climactic moment toward the end of the film. Having seen the trailer a number of times, I could see the scene coming well ahead of time, thereby deflating a "gotcha" moment that confronts Denzel Washington's character...

Hence the reason that I will not be watching any previews, trailers, teasers, etc., for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (and, yes, that means I had to cancel my Vanity Fair subscription - well, I would have if I had one!)

The Slaughtered Lamb Cinema said...

I'll grant you that The Dead Pool was a closer return to form of The Enforcer, and as much as I like Sudden Impact, the main storyline is certainly not what draws me to it. All the best moments tend to fall outside the Sondra Locke storyline.

To be perfectly honest, Dirty Harry and Magnum Force will always be my favorites of the series, with the rest remaining watchable for the performance Eastwood always brings to the table, and less so for the stories being offered.

I guess I also felt that the moments that should have been memorable seemed to forced this time around. You rattle off a number of classic lines of Dirty Harry wisdom from Sudden Impact, but can you recall any from The Dead Pool? Even the bits relating to his having a Chinese American partner fall flat.

As you point out the dark turn of Sudden Impact, it makes me think about Tightrope - the non-Harry follow up to Sudden Impact that could be viewed as an alternate universe Harry sinking deeper into the darkness that surrounds him. No surprise that film was not a critical or commercial success along the lines of the Dirty Harry films.

Haven't seen American Gangster yet, but since it's Ridley Scott, I know we'll get to it eventually.

I respect your staying spoiler free on Crystal Skull - you can bet I'll be on line at 12:01 am when the trailer goes live this Thursday.

P.S. You win the prize for first SL Cinema post! I just have to figure out how to get it to Afghanistan...