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Tag Archives: Daft Punk

Weekly Mishmash: September 27-October 10

Caveat: all of these entries are from more than a week ago, so my memory of them might be hazy. Hence, shorter tidbits.
poster_interstella5555Interstella 5555 (2003) and Streets of Fire (1984). These films fall under the “style over substance” category, but I had fun with them both. Interstella 5555 was the collaboration between French dance music duo Daft Punk and famed anime director Leiji Matsumoto. Hobbled by a silly plot about abducted blue-skinned alien rock band, this was a gorgeous looking film. The entire film is skillfully synched up with Daft Punk’s terrific 2001 album Discovery, start to finish, free of sound effects and dialogue. The animation has a wonderful ’80s feel with lots of pastel colors, glowing lights, and constant movement (I wasn’t aware at the time, but Matsumoto gave the film a deliberately retro look – gotta bone up on my anime knowledge, I guess). I was expecting cheese with Walter Hill’s MTV-influenced Streets of Fire, but it was actually pretty fun all around despite a storyline that goes way beyond pedestrian. Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Willen Dafoe, Amy Madigan and Rick Moranis all deliver good performances, the ’50s-meets-’80s production design is cool, and the soundtrack is a blast.
The Lost World (1925). I got this DVD for patiently logging in the numbers on Stouffers dinner packages — several years’ worth! I’ll never do that again, but I’m glad I own this silent classic. Sure, the acting is dated, with Wallace Beery doing his usual bluster and Bessie Love called upon to do little more than act startled. Willis O’Brien’s stop-motion special effects, however, continue to impress even today. I love the ending, with a Brontosaurus wreaking havoc on London’s streets. The DVD copy I got also contains some cool extras with more of O’Brien’s stop-motion trickery.
Obsession (1976). I always wanted to see this early Brian De Palma film and was pleasantly surprised when it showed up on the TCM schedule. Shouldn’t have bothered — it’s derivative, creepy and dull. Cliff Robertson is a dour, unappealing lead and Genevieve Bujold is out of her depth in a dual role. I was also squicked out by the film’s (spoiler alert!) incest angle. Probably the most regrettable aspect of this film is Bernard Hermann’s unsubtle score. Rent Vertigo instead.
Popeye the Sailor: 1933-38, Volume 1. This DVD set has been out for a few years, but I never paid it much attention until hearing that retail chain Big Lots were selling these at the princely sum of $3.99 each. I’m glad I picked one up. These are the earlier, cooler Popeye cartoons that zing with the creative stamp of Dave and Max Fleischer. Jazzy, energetic, surreal, full of character — these b&w beauties are the real deal, cartoon-wise. The DVD package itself is a marvel, packed with documentaries and examples of early silent animation from the Fleischers and others. Immediately I headed back to Big Lots (twice) to get another one for my nephew, but alas they were out.
When Ladies Meet (1941). Dated, improbable Joan Crawford comedy of manners, a remake of a 1933 film (itself adapted from a Rachel Crothers stage hit). Although this film boasts beautiful black and white cinematography and Joan looks great in swanky Adrian-designed duds, this film falls short of the ’33 version in every department. Most glaringly in the casting — all four leads are inferior. Crawford completist that I am, I’m still happy to have marked this one off.