Thursday, June 13, 2013

I See You've Played Knifey-Spooney Berfore

THIS IS the second iteration of what is either a really good idea or a really bad one, depending on who you are. If you like eggs, it's a really good idea. If you don't like eggs, it's a really bad idea. If you're a cardiologist, it's something you'd like to have around prior to running a battery of blood serum tests. Basically, three eggs scrambled with bacon and shredded cheese, on a fake Kaiser roll with sliced turkey and American cheese on the bottom and more American cheese on top. The bottom of the roll is buttered-- and that makes ALL the difference-- while the top is mustarded. It brings to mind a period in my college years when I had a running competition with one of my foodie pals as to who could make the most ridiculous egg sandwich, the basic outline of which was the item would consist of two sunny-side up eggs on white bread, and incorporating Worcestershire sauce. In comparison to those creations, ANY of those creations, this is an excellent idea indeed.

This is not the movie of the day, but I was eating the self-same creation when I watched it last week. This was the second viewing, the first having taken place some time ago, at which point I dismissed it as macho posturing. which it most certainly is, but that's not to say it isn't extremely well done macho posturing. And although there are some elements that just don't make any goddamned sense at all-- they choose to truck unstable dynamite through 200 miles of jungle rather than just have some BRAND NEW C4 FLOWN IN, which they EEEEEEEASILY could have done in less time than it takes to make this fococta trip, just for starters-- the fact remains that it is a well shot, well acted, well crafted actioner. The thing that set me off the first time-- which is the way they set up Roy Scheider's character as part of a mob who would think nothing of robbing a church of it's massive pile of profit from a ring of bingo games. Which was all well paced and exciting, ending in a beautifully choreographed car wreck, but, c'mon. STOOPID.

But I had to watch it after I caught this thing, which is the original French movie based on the original French novel, which is based on the original French nothing-- to be fair, I don't know that, it could be the author experienced something like a life in a run-down South American desert village-- which, huh? I mean, Mexican mountain dessert, yeah, but South American? I just don't know, and apparently I can't be bothered to do the research-- largely populated by ex-pats from one place or another fleeing a misspent life and scamming out a living in any way that comes to hand. But it seemed very built, very invented. And well built at that. The reviewer who brought this up (At the Onion AV Club) complained that the world building and character shaping took up a disproportionate volume of the film before they finally got to the action. I actually found that the worthier part. Not that the action wasn't worthy: it was mostly well done, with  a few contrivances I was able to look past-- basically, spoiler alert, the hero dies in the end because he's screwing around on the drive home--and the plot driver makes ALOT more sense in the era it's set in. (And the heroine dies because she's dancing too much. Um. Nah.)
So do I recommend it? Yeah, actually. Watching both movies, in either order, can be illuminating. Freidkin-- William Freidkin, director of the 1977 version-- claimed this was not a remake of the '53 version, but a different film in it's own right, and I can see what he means. There are character parallels and plot arcs in common, but the feel of the film is VERY different. The original was much more character based, where the '77 version is much more an existential exploration of despair and damnation. Also, the jungle mountains are a very different environment from the landscape the original was filmed in, which is most likely Italy or Spain, I would guess. So both films have their points, and as long as you can leap across a plothole or two, either one can provide an hour or two's diversion. But you should never eat an egg sandwich the size of your own foot. You might be better off eating your own foot, instead. I have no idea what I mean by that.

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