Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Two unrelated pop culture items of varying length

1. Longtime readers of this blog [aka the Lance EiC and Lady Trail's Dad] will remember that one of the best things I enjoyed about Kingston was Classic Video, the greatest video store I've ever been in. The selection of current and classic, domestic and foreign was topnotch, and the 3 movie/7 days/5 bucks rental on old movies has yet to be topped anywhere.

Trying to find a suitable replacement here in Toronto has been a bit of a chore. I want to love Suspect, one staff member who's likely long gone [since the branch burned down] was beyond kind and helpful when I was in the city looking for Kiyoshi Kurosawa movies in 2005, but it's near impossible to find anything now; the staff's too busy being cool and it's kind of dirty. Nothing else in our neighbourhood came close, until we stumbled upon a shop hidden away at Yonge and Eglinton called Filmfest DVD. While it's your typical run of the mill snooty movie joint, it won my membership for having the one disc I've been itching after for years and haven't seen, ever: Fireworks.

Fireworks is a movie written/directed/edited/starring 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano. If you remember him from anywhere it's from playing the teacher in 'Battle Royale' or maybe being overdubbed as one of the hosts of MXC on Spike. Before he became hailed as a serious cross-genre director with pieces like the samurai musical remake of the Zatoichi franchise, he made violent cop dramas that won acclaim at home and abroad, and Fireworks is considered the best.

I rarely give movies repeat viewings, but I've already watched this movie two times. I may watch scenes again before returning it. Essentially a sort of Charles Bronson movie without the contrivances, Fireworks is the story of a man prone to explosive violence who will lash out viciously to protect what he loves. When a criminal cripples his partner and kills another officer, Kitano's character Det. Nishi not only shoots the man in the head, he nudges the dead man's face to the clean side and empties his gun into the corpse. Yeah, intense. Yet the movie moves at such a serene pace. Characters rarely talk unless they have to, and the sublime soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi [who scored most of Hayao Miyazaki's anime films] only adds to the peaceful melancholy, making it all the more jarring when Nishi slugs a man who disrepsects the former cop's wife, then repeatedly kicks him into the surf.

Just a great, great movie, worth the hype associated with it, and worth your rental should you ever find it.

ps: I see that Park Street Video [at Park/Pelissier] is apparently still in business. This makes me very happy, and you should get some culture and give them your business as soon as possible.

2. Okay. I know. You saw the Watchmen trailer, you see it says 'ACCLAIMED GRAPHIC NOVEL' and you want to read it. I don't blame you. However. I see you come in for it. You ask me where it is. I give you one of the six remaining copies we have at the moment. And, at the risk of being judgmental, I know you won't appreciate it. You'll make fun of Dr. Manhattan's wang and fall for Rorschach's gimmicks, but you will never understand the depth of the book because you didn't come of age in the time it's depicting [albeit amplified in an alternate reality]. When I was a kid I was always terrified that the Russians were going to nuke us without even knowing what the hell that meant. It was the time of rearmament, and most people I knew, or could sort of understand at that age were scared. A lot. Because I lived in a small town filled with stupid people and irrational fear spreads there like mold. That sense of paranoia, of the doomsday clock, of thinking, 'oh goddam, what if it happens this time?' is one of the many reasons that makes Watchmen so amazing, but you will not understand that.

In short, Watchmen is too good for you. If you want Alan Moore, read The Killing Joke. Or better yet, grab his collected DC stories, you get The Killing Joke and a bunch of other stories. Just lay off the Watchmen. You won't like it.



Blogger Aaron F. said...

See, I've been using the opposite sales approach in regards to Watchmen (which is my Staff pick). Mine is, "You will ONLY like Watchmen."
Going on a summer vacation? Read Watchmen.
Your daughter's learning how to read? Read Watchmen.
I know the book doesn't need the help, but I've been pushing it like crack.

12:34 PM

Blogger athena_p said...

we are too good for watchmen!!

3:50 PM

Blogger The Trail said...

Oh, I'm not one to pass up profit, so I'll gladly hand it to whoever wants it. Then they ask me what it's about and I go, 'Auhhggrrrmm.'

I just suspect there will be a lot of disappointed people who will wish they had bought...I don't know, Death Note or something.

4:46 PM


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