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Old November 9 2012, 09:10 AM   #1176
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Re: Movies Seen in 2012

174. Berberian Sound Studio (A-)
175. Tarantula (C+)
176. The Green Berets (F)

Berberian Sound Studio: There seems to be some discussion over the last act of this film, which enters David Lynch territory. I think it works, but some viewers will undoubtedly view this exercise in surrealism as a betrayal of the first two acts of the movie.

In my view, this will join the likes of Blow Out and The Conversation as one of the great movies to tackle sound rather than the moving image. It's certainly features a well-designed sound scape, which is not to say that it is a dense one. Frequently, the film draws attention to sound by its absence rather than its presence, which is a welcome counterpoint to the bloated mixes of modern blockbusters.

Toby Jones delivers another solid, understated performance here, playing a timid sound designer called in to take charge of an Italian horror film in the 1970s (the movie-within-the-movie is fictional, but it borrows from Suspiria heavily enough that at least one other person in the audience noticed). His character slowly loses control, in both a practical sense (he can never seem to get his reimbursement check for his flight to Italy) and a psychological one (his alienation is well-dramatized visually and sonically; he also can't speak Italian, which further isolates him from his co-workers).

Tarantula: In terms of Jack Arnold's sf output, this film falls in the middle of the pack. It features a couple of good performances (especially Leo G. Carrol, who played small parts in four films for Alfred Hitchcock, but really shines here as an elderly scientist), but the effects mainly consist of ineffective process shots. The movie can't impress in visual style, either (it's set on the Universal backlot and in the Vasquez rocks area, and features a lot of poor day-for-night photography as well as sequences that are underexposed). Only the make-up (on Carrol, who again gets the best material) really impresses.

Still, in terms of 50s sf cheapies, this one is perfectly fine. It's just not as masterful as, say, Arnold's The Creature from the Black Lagoon or that other giant bug movie, T.H.E.M.!

The Delta Force: This is essentially two movies that have been glued together with shoddy plotting, poor direction, and (at best) forgettable acting; neither of these movies are good. The first is a ripped-from-the-headlines airline hijacking, led by Robert Forster (sporting a spray tan and mumbled Arabic that are pretty offensive). My favorite scene may be when Forster (who hates the Jews and is, I think, supposed to be a Muslim) decides to wear a golden ring with a Hebrew inscription discernible reason. The first part of this movie wastes no time blaming civilians (and, through a Jimmy Carter era prologue, liberals) not only for getting soldiers killed, but for losing the Vietnam War(!). Others have surely dismantled it's right-wing ideology.

The second-half is a movie where Chuck Norris gets to save the day (mostly single-handedly, despite having a couple dozen other soldiers with him). Hardly anyone is killed except for the bad guys, and the good soldier who doesn't make it gets a dramatic death scene. The worst part of the movie might be watching Lee Marvin try to play the action hero one last time. He frequently looks physically uncomfortable with the action; although he was only 62, alcoholism had turned his body quite frail -- he looks 70 or older (he died the following year, making this his final film). We're at least granted the dignity of only having to watch him hit on a waitress for a brief scene in the beginning. Still, it's hard watching him (along with several other great old-timers, including Martin Balsam and Shelley Winters) forced into playing second-fiddle to Chuck Norris, a man who has no acting ability to speak of.

Theatres: 58+1
Home Video: 107+2
Computer: 10
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