December 2, 2012

The Artsy and the Unwatchable

I guess I'm getting more intolerant in my old age, at least intolerant of the 90% of everything that Theodore Sturgeon said was crap.

Case in point: Last night I tried to watch a DVD I've had for a while, the 1995 Sam Raimi revisionist spaghetti Western The Quick and the Dead, with Sharon Stone taking the role of the nameless gunslinging stranger riding into town and cleaning it up. This movie boasts several megastars just starting out, including an incredibly young and skinny Leonardo DiCaprio (who must have been around 20 at the time). A young(er) Russell Crowe was also featured, although his Australian accent sounded a tad out of place, to say the least, in a dusty town in the middle of the Arizona desert (I didn't make it to the final credits, but it looked like the movie was shot at Old Tuscon).

Unfortunately, the artsy-fartsy camera angles and long tracking shots started almost immediately, and never let up. There's a time, place, and film for those, but a Western? They were not appropriate at all, and only managed to make the movie look stupid. (It didn't help that the characters were cliche and uninteresting, despite Stone's gender flip.) By the time I got to the first shootout, which involved a series of ungodly twisty closeups--timed to the soundtrack--that only served to give me vertigo, I decided I had had enough of this unwatchable mess and yanked it out of my DVD player. It went immediately to the top of my To Be Gotten Rid Of pile.

(The soundtrack was quite good though. I went looking for it afterwards.)

Then I put on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to cleanse my brain. Aah, smart dialogue, straightforward camera work, and good characters. What a relief.

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