Monday, August 14, 2006

The Horror... The Horror!

It's not every day that I revisit a movie I disliked as strongly as I did The Hills Have Eyes, but I found three indications that a second screening might be worthwhile: my favorite print critic gave it a favorable and interesting review, and our debates about it haven't ended yet; I felt like I was in bad faith slamming it as a sidebar in my reviews of both The Descent and Lady in the Water without properly articulating my case; and, as I've now tried to explain in my full review, Hills makes too strong an impression both visually and sonically to be dismissed out of hand like typical garbage. I may dislike the film, as in fact I did on second try, but I do think it's a potent provocation and one of the few 2006 releases deserving of extended debate. Pipe in below with your take: between Tim and me, you're bound to find at least one quick ally.

Meanwhile, for someone who loves actresses, I saw precious few of them in my screenings of the past week: the spectacular but remarkably verveless Ben-Hur; the curious jailhouse drama Birdman of Alcatraz; Billy Wilder's ambitious but unpersuasive prison-camp story Stalag 17; and the exciting seaboard adventure Mutiny on the Bounty, which I had the terrific fortune to catch in 35mm projection at the LaSalle Bank Cinema in Chicago, an exhilarating revival house managed and operated by my new/old friend Goatdog and loyally attended by some of the most true-blue movie fanatics I've ever met. Anyway, barely a handful of women in all four movies combined, at least if you discount the Russian female POWs in Stalag 17; I didn't realize that the Third Reich paraded captive women in such glamorous single-file arrangements.

(Image © 2006 Fox Searchlight Pictures, reproduced from the Hills Have Eyes page at

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Blogger tim r said...

Hooray! I knew I'd wrest one out of you eventually. A fabulous read and nails what's absolutely tricky, slippery, sardonic and troublesome about the movie, whichever way you're coming at it. (Me, I still quite like being toyed with so proficiently, even by leering sadists.)

Anyway, I feel we've probably flogged this horse to death by now and perhaps spiked it in the head with a US flag and run off thumbing our noses. Case closed. It's fun, or, it's not.

Now, shall I try and mount a defence of one of your other F-graded movies from recent months? Ask the Dust? Er... bear with me here... I'm sure there was something...

9:09 AM, August 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget all of the scantily clad Tahitian women in Mutiny on the Bounty. Some of them even got to speak!

10:15 AM, August 14, 2006  

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