Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Recently viewed DVDs reviewed

Alien - the Director’s Cut
I love Alien. Not quite as much as I love Aliens, but still enough to watch the film again. But why add in a very odd scene which adds nothing to the film?

The scene in question is very near the end, when Ripley finds Dallas and Brett semi-fossilised by the alien, who presumably is saving them as a snack for later. It kind of detracts from the way Dallas disappears earlier on, and illustrates how sometimes the most haunting aspect of a horror film is leaving the audience not knowing what’s going on. An inferred sticky end is much stickier if left to the imagination.

But having said that, what exactly happens to Lambert and Parker. They’re both screaming, but you don’t really see the alien kill them. The camera focuses in on the aliens hook-claw-tail thing but we don’t see it being used; just lots of shouting.

One thing you notice is how cinema story-telling has changed. It takes 45 minutes for the crew to reach the chest-burster scene. If Alien was being filmed today, it would take about ten minutes to get there. But the beauty of Alien is the slow build. That’s where the suspense lies.

Clerks II
Ten years after the cult classic Clerks, Kevin Smith resurrects the characters who are now wasting their life in a burger bar. It’s not great cinema, although it does have its funny moments. I was put off by the over-long “inter-species erotica” scene involving a donkey, which I can’t help but feel was included just to see how far a film could push the boundaries of acceptable taste.

The sad thing is the donkey sex overshadows possibly the finest scene in modern cinema, which explores the real meaning of friendship. When Randal finally admits he is afraid of being left alone when Dante moves away, there’s an emotional rawness to it which is quite moving.

There’s also a useful dissection of contemporary culture. The Lord of the Rings movies come in for a slating, as do the Star Wars prequels. The absurdly wooden acting of Hayden Christiansen is brilliantly summed up by calling him Mannequin Skywalker. I don’t know if that’s an original Kevin Smith-ism (I suspect it’s not), but it is very funny.

Weeds Series 1 & 2
I enjoyed this up to a point, but then the scriptwriters got carried away with seeing how much ludicrous stuff they could add in. The original premise is silly enough: Mary-Louise Parker is widowed suddenly and becomes a drug dealer in order to maintain her lifestyle. Later on, she enters a marriage of convenience with a DEA agent, who she slept with before finding out he was ‘the enemy’. Like you do.

The final straw for me was about halfway through the second series when Andy finally got to bed the sexy (female) head of the Rabbinic School, who promptly strapped on a big black prosthetic penis and took him from the rear. I stopped watching after that. If I’m going to watch ridiculous nonsense, there’s other stuff I’d prefer to watch.

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