Category Archives: MC Casual FilmStyles

Many Bothans died to bring us this information.

What I Watched on VHS: Tales from the Compound

Part IV: The Return of the Jedi

I snagged the ultimate in VHS entertainment: the original Star Wars
trilogy box set.  Unfortunately, the first movie was missing.  I
reasoned that it’s not like everyone alive doesn’t know how that movie
goes, so if we ever wanted to do a marathon viewing, there could just
be a dramatic recounting of that one.

I saw Star Wars as a kid – all three movies in a row – and because I
was a kid that early impression of the trio still stands in my memory
as a monolithic classic of film, important and perfect.  This even
though every time I go back and watch the movies I notice more
instances of slapstick, lame attempts at humor, and overreliance on
muppetry.  Especially in Return of the Jedi.

It’s as if a children’s movie and a grown up movie are running
simultaneously.  As a kid viewer, I loved these movies because I
somehow blocked out the kids’ part and became immersed in the part
with grown up heroes doing important stuff.  And when I go back and
rewatch, the juvenile tonedeaf elements clash painfully with my
idealized memory version.

For instance, the ewoks.  The ewoks are so lame!  This movie has so
much that’s beautiful and true… I mean, in a sci-fi way.  Try
watching that last scene on the new Death Star and not feeling a
little emotionally affected, I dare you.  His father remembers his
humanity and saves his only son from his mentor and emperor!  And
DIES!  And meanwhile a bucktoothed muppet is piloting a crude hang
glider made out of sticks and vines and bonking a storm trooper on the
head with, like, a coconut.  And you can tell it’s a little dude in a
fake fur onesie.

The first movie’s celebration climax is a ceremony, and the rogue
heroes’ sly grins at each other are the only crack in the joyful
gravity of the scene.  And then the entire trilogy ends with a teddy
bear party.  The Jedi ghosts appear, accompanied by the haunting
strains of the “Jub jub!” song.  Come on.

Basically, in this movie you can see the bits of pointless humor and
juvenile character building that would grow into the likes of Jar Jar
Binks and that guy who’s basically a Jediproof bug.  Why did I ever
watch the new Star Wars?  Here’s a tip, kids: only watch the parts of
this franchise that appear on VHS tape.

Visit MC Casual FilmStyles a.k.a. Sister BlogStyles at her personal blog, Friends and Hammers.

It’s the most wonderful time of the week

What I Watched on VHS: Tales from the Compound

Part III: The Decameron

File this Pasolini film under “Things I Never Thought I’d Find At Salvation Army.”  As an avid consumer of medieval literature and Italian cinema, this tape might be my all-time favorite thrift store find.  The box says “Only Pasolini could bring Boccaccio’s classic tales of passion to the screen with all their lusty fervor intact,” and I think that’s right.  Only that particular auteur could translate these singleminded tales of sexual misadventure into something both bawdy (heaving fleshy nun buttocks!) and beautiful (THE COSTUMES, the lighting, the framing, everything – I pointed out that every frame could be a painting of the period, and then someone made that same remark when we were watching American Psycho a few nights later, which? Yeah.)  This sits right on the spectrum betweenAccatone! and La Ricotta, and if you haven’t seen those, go check your local thrift store or get a minor in Film & Media Studies, at which point you too could be exposed to these and many more treasures of artsy-fartsy cinema.

And yeah, the tales are singleminded.  They flow into each other without division in a nonstop parade of carnal desire, pausing only for interludes of an artist working on church frescoes.  There’s jealousy, lust, trickery, and tragedy, and then you realize that people are abandoning themselves to this frenzy because the Black Death is raging through Italy.

Next week: MC Casual Filmstyles A.K.A. No Money reviews a truly horrible movie, perhaps the worst ever besides Rollerball!

Pasolini doesn't understand.

I’ll be back

another instalment of…

What I Watched on VHS: Tales from the Compound

Part II: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Before I started watching so much VHS I assumed that all action movies are as bad as they have been for the last decade+.  You know: predictable plots, overdependence on explosions, unoriginal plots, the whole thing.  This is because we didn’t watch movies growing up.  So every time I finally get around to watching a classic of the genre, like Die Hard or The Terminator or, I don’t know,Speed, I am pleasantly surprised almost to the point of shock.  And this time around was no different.  I LOVED this movie.

Not convinced?  How’s this: a child character who you can stand, a mother who’s been committed to an insane asylum for being so much of a badass about the future that she slutted her way across Central America in exchange for combat and tactical training for her son A.K.A. the eventual potential savior of humanity, a good robot that was the bad robot in the last movie who slowly becomes more human over the course of the film and kicks a worse robot’s ass a bunch and protects the Connors from robot and human alike without killing anyone and is played by ARNOLD, and a bad robot that is played by a lizard faced dude?  Actually, that doesn’t really do it justice at all.

You know how as a pre-adult you fixate on a certain movie as “your” movie?  You could watch it every night and survive?  If you could only bring one DVD to college (remember DVDs?), that would be it?  That movie for me was The Matrix.  Because that was the coolest movie around, and the plot was so good and classic it stood up to way too many repeats.  And at multiple points in Terminator 2, I thought, “If I had seen this first, there’s no way I would have been so astonished by The Matrix.”  Which probably means nothing other than first, cultural artifacts are best analyzed in light of their predecessors, and second, teenagers always pick favorite movies that are less cool than things from the past (because everything is less cool than Terminator 2).