Monday, May 5, 2008

Netflix Diary 5

The Wild Bunch [1969]
Easily one of the ten great Westerns of all time, this is just as revolutionary as Bonnie & Clyde when it comes to pushing the boundaries of film in the late 1960’s. Besides the fact that the violence is still fairly excessive by today’s standards, with the body count up around 150, it’s also one of the earliest films I can think of off the top of my head with gratuitous nudity in it (nothing like a few Mexican whores swimming in vats of red wine). Not just that, but the film’s finale is a pioneering example of the kind of jump cut editing that would become popular in the post-MTV late 80’s and early 90’s, William Holden and Ernest Borgnine are spectacular as aging desperados attempting to retire, and Sam Peckinpah’s direction is flawless throughout, especially on the tense (and improvised) train robbery sequence.

Bridge To Terabithia [2007]
I read a really good review of this movie when it came out, but never found the time to see it. I was flipping past the SAG Awards and saw that the girl lead, AnnaSophia Robb, was nominated for Best Young Actress, and so I was curious again. I had it on my Netflix, but ended up catching it on cable one weekend morning, and I was surprised how good it was. The studio totally botched the advertising for this one, because not one ad hinted at the power of the story, instead trying to pimp the Walden Media effects team, which is really only 20% of the film, if that much. All the kid actors are great, especially Robb, who looks like a future star from the moment she gets on screen. The climax is heavy duty, so have your tissues at the ready. It’s not a film revolution, but it is a really good movie about how kids deal with loss, guilt, and regret, and the filmmakers made an honest movie that doesn’t insult their audience’s intelligence like the studio’s marketing did.

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