Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Scat Meets Sandra Bullock, And You're Invited.

Blazing Saddles
1974, USA
Mel Brooks
DVD

Normally, this isn’t the sort of thing I would watch. I tend to stay away from comedies in general, as I am humorless to the point of gastric ulcers, especially those that focus mainly on bodily odors and people falling down. This tends to exclude much of Mel Brooks’ work, as well as the entire Pauly Shore canon, and allows me to enjoy only the occasional episode of South Park. However, as odd as this may seem, I have actually read quite a bit about this movie in the course of my wasted half-decade of film studies, and have heard more than a few university profs profess a fondness for this film as a sort of anti-western. So, naturally, I had to see what all the fuss was about, neglecting to realize that film profs are filmmakers who can’t sustain themselves by making movies, probably because they’re influenced by films like Blazing Saddles. If I’m meant to believe that a scene featuring cowboys huddled around a campfire passing gas compulsively is meant to function as a deconstruction of traditional Western tropes of machismo and masculinity, then allow me to introduce you to CyberScat, a website which re-imagines and reclaims traditional images of feminine beauty and sexuality by having an ugly Malaysian woman defecate into her own mouth while lying in a bathtub. That said, despite all Blazing Saddles’ crude humor, I did find it progressive in certain aspects, certainly along the lines of racial humor. For goodness sake, the movie has more racial slurs than my high school valedictory address, and that got me on a CSIS watch list. I was actually shocked by watching this film. Not on a moral level, mind you, as my particular moral compass points somewhere between animal sacrifice and prostitute-tipping as acceptable date activities, but by the fact that a film that contains so many off-the-cuff utterances of the N-word could be so successful, especially in the era before rap made it necessary to have that word included in any film that contains more than three black people in any given scene. So, apparently, either Mel Brooks was at one point capable of the fine art of transmitting shock into humor, or he’s just a particularly hateful man. Personally, I’m not sure which I admire more, and I’m sure CSIS would agree.

28 Days Later…
2002, UK
Danny Boyle
DVD

The more times I see this film, the better it gets. This may, however, be because it’s made up entirely of three better movies, The Omega Man, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead, split up almost exactly along act breaks. To illustrate how ridiculous this is, let’s consider how high hackles would be raised if someone made a killer shark movie about a great white terrorizing a resort town, and the two divers who go on a hunt and get left behind by the boat only to be saved by Samuel L. Jackson before he gets eaten mid-sentence. The horror genre, however, thrives on homage, which is a legal term meaning ‘please don’t sue me, it’s a tribute’. But bizarrely enough, in the hands of chameleon director Danny Boyle, the film rises above the blatant rip-offs and becomes almost more than the sum of its parts. Hell, it even ripped off its title from a Sandra Bullock movie, and it still works. How does that happen? And, while 28 Days Later is not better than Dawn of the Dead, it is better than Sandra Bullock. The film is one of the first to make good use of digital video, with the harsh, cheap visuals coming off more as a post-digital-apocalypse look than an I-just-graduated-from-a-communications-program-at-community-college look. The hyper-kinetic editing transcends the music videos from which it was born and leaves the viewer in a hybrid state of panic and excitement, sort of like being on the edge of a really good seizure. But before praise is heaped too heavily upon this film, I would like to point out that this film did not invent the fast zombie, any more than George A. Romero invented the slow one. While slow zombies have been around since the 30s, fast ones have been around at least since Return of the Living Dead and Re-Animator in 1985, and probably further back if I could be bothered to either remember or research to any length greater than glancing slightly to my right to stare at my DVD collection. That’s not to say that 28 Days Later… isn’t a great film, it’s just not an original one. But I suppose if your choices are greatness versus Sandra Bullock, I’ll chose the former.

2 Comments:

Blogger gang stalking said...

Did you say your valedictorian speech got you put on a CSIS watch List?

Are you serious? If so, how did you find out?

11:42 AM  
Anonymous HERBACIOUS BORDER said...

THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY TRYING TO MAKE A GOOD FILM, THE PROBLEM IS IT`S STILL BLOODY RUBBISH. AS FOR BLAZING SADDLES, WELL ALL I CAN SAY IS "SLIM PICKENS IS GOD".

4:14 PM  

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