“Clash of the Titans”

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Netflix recently struck a deal with Criterion to make some of the finest films of the last century available on their Watch Instantly service.  In honor of the occasion, my wife and I ignored all of those classic films and watched the original “Clash of the Titans” last night.  “Clash of the Titans” was really funny.  Too bad, because it wasn’t supposed to be.

With the new “Clash of the Titans” coming out (featuring the awesome tagline “TITANS WILL CLASH”!  How many seconds did that marketing meeting last?), we decided to take a dip in the nostalgia pool.  It was kind of like that urban legend where the kid swims down to the bottom of the pool and the suction from the filter rips out his guts.
Harry Hamlin stars as Perseus, a vacuous male model who sleeps on the beach until his dad Zeus picks him up and plops him in an amphitheater, where Burgess Meredith emerges as a grizzled poet, playwright and overall exposition provider.  Harry’s sort of the Spencer Pratt of lore, a Daddy’s Boy whose God-In-Laws (played by a stable of snooty British actors eager to receive a big paycheck for a weekend’s work) want him to “rough it,” so they indulge him with a magical sword, shield and helmet so that there’s no way he can lose. He’s Perseus Hilton.
Along the way, he falls in love with some chick.  Their love is sealed when they stare at each other a couple of times.  Perseus kills several beasts, Zeus releases the Kraken, the Kraken gets whomped, hooray, The End.
This may be blasphemy, but I have no problem with this being remade, and fully expect it to be better.  For starters, Desmond Davis won’t be directing, so maybe there will be a sense of adventure and it won’t look like a TV movie. For twoters, while CGI is wayyyyy overdone, I’ll prefer a cool-looking Komputer Kraken over stop-motion any day.  I know that Harryhausen was a vanguard, and I personally love practical effects  (Rob Bottin’s work on The Thing is still aces), but that’s how I feel.  I know that’s probably sacrilege, but my terrible memory prevents me from being too affected by nostalgia, and I could see the remake being better than the original.  (Oh, and Bubo was a lousy R2-D2 ripoff.)
Will the remake be better to the point that it’s a good movie?  Doubtful. Sam Worthington’s in it, so I’m guessing it ain’t gonna be Shakespeare.  However, Liam Neeson will be in the Olivier role, and if he can come off as 8 percent less bored, it’ll be a step in the right direction.  

“Near Dark”, “Sisters”, and “Night Moves”

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Near Dark, made in 1987, was the first film to put Kathryn Bigelow’s name on the map.  It’s a vampire film chockful of name actors in early appearances, including Bill Paxton and the Martian-like Adrian Pasdar.  Like all of Bigelow’s films, it’s an above average genre exercise that’s wildly overpraised because it was written and directed by an attractive woman.  Still, Near Dark is well worth seeing for Bill Paxton’s awesome overacting alone.  He’s a big ol’ hamball, and it’s fun to watch.

I haven’t seen a lot of early Brian DePalma, do I decided to do something about that.  Sisters was his first Hitchcock ripoff tribute, and it might be his best, even though I haven’t seen a lot of his other work.  I’m a boob.

Margot Kidder plays a French Canadian chick with a twin sister that’s KER-RAAZZZZYYYYY!!!!  As the crazy sister, it’s almost like Kidder is rehearsing for 20 years down the road, when she was found in LA pissing on somebody’s bushes.  This movie blew me away, and you should watch it and become a better person.  It’s bloody, it’s exciting, it’s filled with great visual flourishes (the split-screen sequences are awesome) . . . See the damn thing!

However, that wasn’t the best film I saw during this recent binge.  That belongs to Night Moves, a 1975 film noir by Arthur Penn.  Gene Hackman is great as Harry Moseby, a detective trapped in a mystery that only gets more bizarre as it goes on.  This would make a fantastic double feature with The Long Goodbye.  This may be one of the best screenplays ever written, and Gene Hackman’s hair is hilarious.  How hilarious?  I’m bald and I’m still making fun of it.