Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Maybe the fourth time's the charm?

Ok, I'm starting to get excited in spite of myself.  When I heard that the fourth Indiana Jones flick was finally going into production, I felt my heart sink.  The first 3 were a solid trilogy that introduced a classic movie character, who takes his place among the great cinematic heroes.

While there can be a lively argument about 'Temple of Doom' and its grim, dark story, or the way 'Last Crusade' seemingly played it too safe, I think there's a general agreement that we're better off having 3 inspired Indy flicks that may have tried too hard in spots, rather than a bloated, lackluster affair.  The latter description is what I've  been afraid of as it relates to the new flick, due out Memorial Day 2008.

Spielberg still has his chops, but Ford has been cranky and constipated onscreen ever since he was stuck on an island with Anne Hecht.  He hasn't been fun to watch in years, and that's a core ingredient of Indiana Jones: FUN!  Adding insult to injury, the fact that we had to wait until producer/creator George Lucas found a story that he felt was compelling, fills me with dread, given that his storytelling skills in the last 3 Star Wars films were lacking, at best.

But now comes the photos.  Ford looks right.  Heroic and healthy.  It's almost enough to make a fellow believe in Santa Claus.  

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Welcome to the first installment of 'Yakuza House', a semi regular blog that will focus on the various things that interest me.  Theoretically, some of these things will be of interest to someone else, time will tell.

In any event, YH provides a place for me to spew whatever's cooking, whether it's walking out on a crappy movie (Beowulf, today) or passing on a tip about some cool new music, (check out Elridge Holmes' "Deep Southern Soul", Motown meets Memphis) or advocating Barack over Hillary, this is where it'll go down.

Why 'Yakuza House'?  You wouldn't believe the number of names I went through that weren't available until I got to this one.  Being a fan of Ken Takakura, the Japanese equivalent of Clint Eastwood in the 60s and 70s, his series of great Yakuza (Japanese Gangster) films are a genre' that I greatly enjoy and thought the name could house any number of topics, without being limited.   If you'd like an intro to Takakura's work, unfortunately, most of his films aren't available stateside, but you can find Sydney Pollack's "The Yakuza", from 1975 starring Takakura and Robert Mitchum on DVD.  It's structured like a classic Yakuza flick and will give you a good idea of how the genre' plays.

New Erykah Badu: 'Honey'- She's back, doing her thing right.

DVD You Probably Haven't Seen, But Should: The Great Train Robbery (1978)- Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland.  An exciting Victorian England adventure where master thief Connery plots to steal a fortune in gold from a moving train.  When you seen Connery running across a freight train without wires going 60 miles an hour, you'll know you're in for a treat of a film.

I can't sign off without expressing my dismay at two of the three films I saw this week:
'Beowulf' and  'I'm Not There'.  
Beowulf really wasn't a surprise, the trailer looked awful and the film lived down to that promise.  The story of a legendary poem brought to CGI life by the director of Forrest Gump and Castway was flat and uninvolving.  I would have thought that a lesson had been learned by the film industry when 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within' was released a few years back featuring CGI characters who looked close enough to lifelike to be distracting.  Watching Beowulf was like watching wax figures almost come to life.  The only cool thing was watching it in 3-D, but it wasn't enough to save it.
'I'm Not There' is a peculiar biopic about the many facets of Bob Dylan, essayed by 6 different actors.  Interesting concept, but tedious beyond belief.  I'm not a Dylan fan, and it felt like a very 'inside' film, so I'm going to talk to some friends who love Dylan and see if they can help me fill in the blanks.  It's getting great reviews, but I just don't get it.