Sunday, April 13, 2014

Three Films, Eight Hours

With a whole passel of new VHS tapes coming in from well-intentioned friends, I have lately felt keenly the need to improve my turnover of the ones I have. Sometimes I have acted on that feeling with greater alacrity than others. Yesterday evening, I managed to get through a few movies, and more incredibly, I was able to focus on them and almost never look at my phone or fall victim to any other distraction. I was in rare form, that's for sure.

The first movie I watched was one that had been sitting and waiting for quite some time. It was "Reckless Kelly", the less-heralded (if that's possible) follow up to "Young Einstein", the one thing for which anyone in America remembers Australia's own Yahoo Serious. I really loved the latter film when I was a boy. I didn't follow the story well (even if I understood that the film did not depict the true life story of Albert Einstein), but some of the moments in the film stay with me to this day.

Reckless Kelly is pretty solid by my estimation. It's another peculiar reimagining, this time of Australia's infamous outlaw Ned Kelly. Serious himself is fine, and is aided considerably by Hugo Weaving, who is a really fun comic villain. It's silly and light, and it's got this effortless, amiable anarchic spirit that I appreciated. I have no real complaints about it. I don't know really what people have against Yahoo Serious. He seems hard to actively dislike, but people can always manage it.

I followed up that film with "Hard Target", which is not light but still manages to be silly often enough. It's a Jean-Claude Van Damme classic, where that Belgian action hero plays an out of work sailor who finds himself helping to find a bum (and then that bum's killer), whose daughter he meets by chance. It's hard to know what to single out from a movie like this when one is not writing an entire novel. There's just so much good stuff there.

What sticks out is the plot point that New Orleans' police force is on strike, purportedly enabling a nefarious character played by Lance Henriksen to run a "Most Dangerous Game"-style human-hunting ring. There's still one sympathetic detective and some other cops on the job, so I guess we have to assume that the strike was resolved off-screen without comment, or that these people are scabs. I'll leave you with that on Hard Target.

I finished the night with a TV movie entitled "Outlaw Justice". I at least understood from one source that it was a TV movie which aired on CBS. It carries an R rating, so maybe it just got juiced up a little for home video release. Its big source of appeal was that it assembles every country music star who ever acted and then some that didn't. I'm very fond of Kris Kristofferson and I like Willie Nelson OK. I don't know Waylon Jennings' work that well, and I have no affection fro Travis Tritt. That's most of the cast.

What props up Outlaw Justice is the amiable, low-stakes bantering that flies back and forth through the movie. Actually, almost all of that is from Willie Nelson to other characters. It's a movie that was fine. If I'd been forced to watch it by an elderly but beloved relative, I'd have been fine getting through it. Having chosen to buy (even for a dollar) and watch it, I'm not as content with the outcome. It was a basically painless experience.

So that was my Saturday night. I need a lot more nights like that in order to make any headway on my backlog of unwatched tapes, which I think God himself wants to remain as big as it is or even larger. However that plays out, I do hope I manage to continue focusing on the movie and cutting out distractions like my phone. I got so much more out of all three movies just from having my eyes and ears on them at all times, more or less. It was a fair night.

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