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Tag Archives: Quincy Jones

Flick Clique: April 3-9

poster_bluewaterBlue Water, White Death (1971). Laid-back documentary on one crew’s hunt for the elusive Great White shark is a precursor to Jaws and Shark Week on The Discovery Channel. The film documents department store heir Peter Gimbel as he embarks on a quest to find a Great White off the coasts of Africa and Australia over a nine-month period in the early ’70s. The most interesting aspect of this film is the contrasting attitude the explorers had towards nature back then (it’s important to note that these are explorers, not scientists or researchers). The crew seemed like a pleasant enough bunch, but they foolishly attempt to lure a shark by harpooning a whale (an agonizing sequence to watch) and dragging its hulking carcass through the ocean. Later on, they are shown rudely poking and prodding a bunch of smaller sharks. In a sojourn on land, one of the men is shown yelling at a sleeping baby seal, who then waddles away frightened. This movie probably gave Jacques Cousteau a heart attack. Don’t these people know how to be discreet? Thankfully those scenes are the exceptions in what is otherwise a somewhat mellow doc sporting some nice widescreen underwater photography. Spoiler alert: the Great White is finally uncovered near film’s end, attempting to munch on some divers in cages. For anyone interested, this DVD was on sale for $2.98 at
Listen Up: The Lives Of Quincy Jones (1990). Picked this DVD up at Big Lots for less than three dollars. I like Quincy Jones’ considerable work as a film composer and music producer and was curious about this kinetic documentary, filmed at the same time he recorded his Grammy-winning Back on the Block album. The film corralled a lot of impressive stars (Sinatra, Streisand, Winfrey, Al B. Sure!) to speak on Jones and his influence, but it’s also told in a fragmentary way which gets irritating after awhile. The speakers are not usually identified, and usually don’t even utter complete sentences before the MTV-esque film moves on to something else. Jones is presented as a consummate professional, very driven and focused, but also something of a cad who cheated on his three ex-wives. This is a maddening film, jumping all over the place with little rhyme or reason, but where else can you hear Ella Fitzgerald scat-singing the Sanford & Son theme? Snippets of great music help, but then again the Back on the Block tunes make an already dated film have a virtual “expires 12/31/90” stamp. Interesting flick that those with no interest in Jones can safely avoid.
No Regret (2006). American gay films are a dime a dozen, but how often do you get to see a South Korean gay film? No Regret has the distinction of coming from one of that region’s few openly gay filmmakers, Hee-il Leesong — but it’s also a compelling, human drama regardless of the lead characters’ sexual orientation. In it, a poor young man named Sumin balances school with an evening job and a daytime factory job. It is at the latter that he ends up getting fired, and finds that the head boss’ son Jaemin is the same person who propositioned him the night before. He reluctantly takes on working at a bar/brothel where many other orphaned males must work. Eventually, Jaemin finds Sumin at the brothel and the two have a stormy relationship which intensifies when Jaemin’s parents arrange for him to marry a woman. The film takes on a much darker tone near the end, but for the most part the acting/drama has a subtlety that calls to mind the similar couple played by Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung in Wong Kar Wai’s Happy Together. If you enjoyed that one, think of No Regret as its less artsy but no less compelling cousin.
TRON: Legacy (2010). Such a disappointment. I won’t rehash the plot here, but TRON: Legacy is an update/sequel to Disney’s cult hit TRON. The original TRON was something of a flop in 1982, but has since gained an appreciative audience for its geeky retro-cool visuals. The same fate might befall TRON: Legacy, since it also has a seriously flawed script but a tasty visual palette that replaces the original’s black-light/neon computer graphics with a sleek interface that is one part fluorescent lighting and one part current Apple product line. The engaging way the film updates the light cycle and disc throwing games and Daft Punk’s atmospheric score were also plus points. Those were the good parts. The bad parts were — everything else. The film’s main fault lies in a muddled, hard to follow script that suffers from the “too many cooks” syndrome that afflicts every other Disney film the studio cranks out. Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner make welcome returns reprising their TRON characters, but bland Garrett Hedlund is a letdown as Bridges’ pouty son, and it doesn’t help that the actor engages in a hackneyed “my dad abandoned me” theme. Many scenes play out their welcome long after they’re supposed to, including the segments with Bridges, Hedlund and Olivia Wilde (as another computer creation, Quorra) confabbing in a 2001-ripoff hideout. And the mannequin-like CGI Jeff Bridges? Huge mistake. Abort! Abort!
Waltz With Bashir (2008). Edgy, visually arresting animated memory piece from Israeli writer/director Ari Folman. The film follows a middle-aged man who is plagued with surreal dreams relating to his time as a soldier in the 1982 Lebanon insurrection. Attempting to sort his own faulty memories from reality, he interviews fellow veterans as they recall various aspects of that badly planned, bloody conflict. This film explores the futility of war with both tragedy and humor, using (what I think is) documentary audio of real veterans. The animation ranges from cheesy, limited Flash to completely immersive — especially on the more surreal segments involving dying horses, porn tapes and Amazonian nude women. The film likely would have been more illuminating for those who already have background knowledge of the Israel/Lebanese conflict, but we enjoyed it all the same.
Under 18 (1931). An overlooked pre-Code melodrama that I got from Warner Archive. I will be doing a more in-depth piece on this at the Joyce Compton News & Notes weblog (Joyce has a small part as a model).