Thursday, February 28, 2013

Academy of the Underrated: Giorgio Moroder's Metropolis (1984 release)

Blu Ray cover and Amazon link

Now you may think that I've gone a little crazy. Everyone loves Metropolis, and what's more, I've already reviewed it! But this one needs some context. Composer and producer Giorgio Moroder released a partial restoration of this beloved silent film in 1984, at a time when the only other version was the bastardized US cut. To attract people to theaters, especially the kids who would normally have no interest in silent movies, he released it with a modern electronic rock score similar to the work he did for Scarface, Flashdance, etc., and featuring a number of familiar stars like Freddie Mercury, Pat Benatar, and Bonnie Tyler. Critics welcomed the new footage but scorned the music, and it's long been lambasted as an unnecessary modernizing touch on a timeless classic.

So I'm going to bat for it. I may be incredibly biased, since this was the way I first saw the film, but even then I knew the rock score was a sore point. But it works, and the reason it works is because the film itself is so timeless. It goes just as well with an electronic rock score as it does with its original orchestral accompaniment, and though it's been rendered a curiosity by the discovery of the complete version, it has its own aesthetic appeal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Random Movie Report: Godzilla vs. Megalon

Poster and Amazon link

Every series has its nadir, and after a few years of falling budgets and a lack of interest, something had to give for Godzilla and company. Godzilla vs. Megalon is doubly an embarrassment for Toho, being not only its worst entry in the Godzilla series, but also one of its most widely seen abroad. It's arguable that this junky, cheaply made drag is responsible for most of the English-speaking world's perception of Godzilla films as campy trash. The poor thing never really had a chance, and while its ubiquity gives it a certain nostalgic charm for those of us (un)fortunate enough to have seen it as children, said charm wears off pretty quickly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Random Movie Report: Godzilla vs. Gigan

DVD cover and Amazon link

Following the heady surrealism of Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Toho decided they needed to get back to tradition and make a movie that was just about giant monsters destroying cities and beating each other up. So seasoned kaiju director Jun Fukuda took the helm for Godzilla vs. Gigan, a big sci-fi brawl in which Godzilla and a friend face down space monsters like they did in the Sixties. But the Japanese film industry was a darker and less friendly place for such things, and Godzilla vs. Gigan suffers some of the worst effects of Toho's austerity. Cheapness leads to shortcuts, which blend with a few significant story problems to make a film that really is only for the fans. It has a few neat and quirky ideas, though, and introduces one of the franchise's most memorable villains.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Random Movie Report: Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis poster and Amazon link

You can count on David Cronenberg to deliver a very pleasant kind of discomfort. There's a frission underlying just about every film he's made, a sense of things that are not right and will probably never be right, but it's as alluring as it is disturbing- it's tempting to see what happens. Cosmopolis has its flaws but it manages a wonderful feeling that everything is about to spin out of control, and in its deliberate pacing and stubborn lack of realism it ranks with the filmmaker's adaptations of Naked Lunch and Crash (the good version).