An insufferable movie snob wanders off the beaten track, comes back and talks about what he has seen.
My Week of Movie Watching
June 8, 2015
Picnic at Hanging Rock – Largely impenetrable yet oddly captivating early effort from Aussie Peter Weir. The film concerns a field trip taken by a turn-of-the century rural girl’s college. During the excursion, two of the girls and one of their teachers vanish without a trace. The film is not about what happened to the girls, however. It is more about an atmosphere of sexual repression, an idea that applies to the girls in their chaste white dresses, gloves, and hats, and extends to the staff, who are viewed as uptight asexual blanks. The film also seems to be making a statement about the cold, unconquerable ways of nature. The Rock is presented in a way as to make it seem almost living, with shots of rock faces that almost seem to be leering at the people inhabitating it. Weir makes a point of showing creatures like lizards, ants, and birds intruding upon the humans without concern. Picnic is not for everyone; there is no tidy resolution and the film leaves with more questions than it arrives with, but I still recommend it for the way it withholds answers, and stays inside your head.
Head – Psychedelic free form film by Bob Rafelson stars the Monkees as themselves, and runs them through a bizarre string of unrelated adventures. This movie makes no literal sense, but it manages to be a lot of fun in its own toked-up way. The segments include the boys in a WW2 foxhole (Where Peter meets football great Ray Nitschke, in uniform - football uniform), a desert scene with Mickey (Where he blows up an unruly Coke machine), and a boxing match featuring Davy vs. Sonny Liston. Nonsense, right? Well, yeah, but you have to love a film that can throw together Ray Nitschke, Sonny Liston, Annette Funicello, and Frank Zappa leading around a talking cow. Oh, and Victor Mature is in here as a giant – The Monkess play his dandruff.
The Long and the Short and the Tall – 1961 WW2 flick from Britain stars Richard Todd, Richard Harris and Laurence Harvey as members of a squad doing exercises in the jungles of Burma who come to the gradual realization that the Japanese are a lot closer to them than they thought. When a lone Japanese soldier wanders into their camp and is taken prisoner, the men become divided on whether they can or should execute the man. This film is adapted from a play, and doesn’t really lose its “staginess”, especially where Harveys’ hyper-talkative, opinionated character is concerned. An interesting idea, but ultimately not quite a recommendation.