Low: You May Need a Murderer

Low You May Need a Murderer


It may seem overkill for the so-called slow­core band Low to be the sub­ject of another doc­u­men­tary fea­ture film only a mere four years after Low in Europe, but it must be because they’re just so inter­est­ing. Film­maker David Kleijwegt’s You May Need a Mur­derer could just as well be titled Low in Amer­ica, as he speaks with found­ing mem­bers Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker at home in Duluth, Min­nesota, and on tour across Amer­ica in sup­port of the Drums & Guns album. The key char­ac­ter­is­tics of that record are what most inform the film: Sparhawk’s mood post-nervous break­down, and Low’s most overtly expressed social and polit­i­cal com­men­tary yet. Low had also just adopted a new bass player, Matt Liv­ingston, after Zak Sally’s long tenure, but he does not par­tic­i­pate (he’s only barely glimpsed, even in live onstage footage).

You May Need a Mur­derer is a much more sat­is­fy­ing film over­all than Low in Europe. Whether by their own desire to open up or by Kleijwegt’s per­sua­sive inter­view skills, Sparhawk and Parker are notably more can­did and direct, espe­cially on the topic of their faith. Which is exactly what one would sin­gle out as the most inter­est­ing thing about Low: Sparhawk and Parker are a mar­ried Mor­mon cou­ple that that tithe a tenth of all their income to the church. I sup­pose Low might belong in that rare cat­e­gory of bands whose music is often char­ac­ter­ized by reli­gious beliefs, like the often overtly Chris­t­ian U2, but would never be filed under “Inspi­ra­tional” in record stores. Unlike U2’s joy­ous hymns and opti­mistic calls to activism, Low’s inspi­ra­tions are con­sid­er­ably more dark and apocalyptic.

Low You May Need a Murderer

When Low gets polit­i­cal they do so with a vengeance. Sparhawk is in despair over America’s econ­omy and pol­i­tics, and has long believed that the world may reach a cri­sis point in his life­time (he stops short of pre­dict­ing it will actu­ally “end”). Sparhawk’s gen­uine beliefs gives him the real author­ity to crit­i­cize George W. Bush’s claim to faith. The title song “You May Need a Mur­derer” is sung from the point of view of one who goes before his god and asks to be used as a war­rior. It becomes clear that the speaker is in effect star­ing into a mir­ror, bring­ing his own bag­gage to an imag­i­nary con­ver­sa­tion, and jus­ti­fy­ing his own dark impulses. Sparhawk is, need­less to say, talk­ing about self-proclaimed men of faith like Bush and Tony Blair. The song is utterly ter­ri­fy­ing, and raises the hairs on the back of my neck every time. It may be the ulti­mate state­ment on the topic, and does not com­pare favor­ably to the similarly-themed song by Bright Eyes, “When the Pres­i­dent Talks to God.”

The most sur­pris­ing per­sonal topic to come up is Sparhawk’s appar­ent ner­vous break­down in 2005. We see Sparhawk appear­ing very ner­vous back­stage before a show, but oth­er­wise func­tional. But he describes him­self as hav­ing been “clin­i­cally delu­sional” at the point of his break­down, and while hav­ing nom­i­nally recov­ered, he also cops to being a drug addict. To him, the biggest con­flict these two aspects of his life have is with his religion.

Must Read: The Speed of Silence review

Must Read: Pop­Mat­ters review

Offi­cial Low site: www.chairkickers.com

Buy the DVD from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.

Woman of the Year

Woman of the Year


George Stevens’ Woman of the Year is one of the famous Spencer Tracy and Kather­ine Hep­burn double-acts, but there’s no ques­tion who was the real star. Dis­count­ing a brief glimpse of her character’s news­pa­per byline, there is much talk of star reporter Tess Hard­ing (Hep­burn) before her delayed reveal. In a scene that would make Laura Mul­vey’s head spin, the first time we finally spy Hep­burn, the cam­era trav­els up her leg as she adjusts her stock­ing in her editor’s office. Was she flirt­ing with her edi­tor? Is any prac­ti­cal expla­na­tion nec­es­sary to jus­tify a 1940s star­let show­ing a lit­tle leg? It’s hard to imag­ine Hep­burn as a sex­pot. He intel­lect and sass are undoubt­edly sexy, but not in a way I would imag­ine would appeal to a 1942 every­man. Her face and fig­ure are made up entirely out of angles, drawn by pro­trac­tor and cal­cu­lated by slide rule.

Woman of the YearIt takes balls

Even decades later, the rumor per­sists that one of or both Tracy & Hep­burn were gay, and their mar­riage served as each other’s beards. I don’t bring this up to per­pet­u­ate the gos­sip, but rather to segue into the pri­mary theme of Woman of the Year: a bat­tle of the sexes, or at least, their per­ceived gen­der roles. In the tra­di­tion of Hollywood’s best bed­room farces, two oppo­sites attract into a mar­riage, and it’s not long before the barbs are fly­ing (some of which really smart). Sam Craig (Tracy) is a true man’s man, who cov­ers sports for the paper and hangs out in the pub. But the ques­tion of the movie is, how much of a woman is Tess? She is witty, urbane, edu­cated, and glo­be­trot­ting. But she is deserv­ing of blame for impul­sively adopt­ing a war orphan with­out being con­scious of the respon­si­bil­i­ties. But the movie seems to equate this seri­ous fault with her inabil­ity to make pan­cakes. And I don’t think it’s merely a fact of the 1942 gen­der pol­i­tics or this Dork Reporter’s mod­ern sen­si­bil­i­ties, for the end of the film is gen­uinely con­fus­ing, send­ing mixed sig­nals about what exactly Sam wants of Tess: does he really want her to relin­quish her inde­pen­dence and be his break­fast chef, and does she really want to acquiesce?

Woman of the YearGood god, woman, what is that on your head?

Buy the DVD from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.

Crin blanc: Le cheval sauvage (White Mane) / Le ballon rouge (The Red Balloon)

Red Balloon White Mane


Janus Films and the Cri­te­rion Col­lec­tion have released two clas­sic short films for chil­dren from French film­maker Albert Lam­or­isse: White Mane (1952), and The Red Bal­loon (1956). Each is mostly silent, with only the odd line or two of dia­logue. In essence, both are extended chase sequences that deserve to be taught in film school.

White Mane is the story of a proud, wild horse sought after by cruel ranch­ers. Only Folco (Alain Emery), a poor young fish­er­man, treats the horse with the due respect in order to be able to approach and even­tu­ally ride him. The two become equals, as opposed to mas­ter and pet. Shock­ingly, their tale ends in an appar­ent sui­cide, as Folco and the horse both chose the free­dom of death over liv­ing under oppres­sion (poverty for Folco, cap­tiv­ity for the horse).

Red Balloon White ManeThe Red Balloon

I vaguely recall see­ing The Red Bal­loon in ele­men­tary school, as an ancient film print run­ning through our rat­tling pro­jec­tor. As the lit­tle boy Pas­cal (Pas­cal Lam­or­isse) makes his way to school through a depress­ingly grey Paris, he frees a stray bal­loon (the red­dest red you’ll ever see on film) tan­gled on a lamp­post. The bal­loon becomes his faith­ful and play­ful pet, but causes him noth­ing but grief. He is kicked off the bus, made late for school, gets in trou­ble with mom, and pro­vokes a gang of ruf­fi­ans in short pants. Still, through­out, the boy remains the faith­ful defender of his adopted friend, and is ulti­mately rewarded after suf­fer­ing tragedy.

Red Balloon White ManeWhite Mane

Together, the two films present the fol­low­ing morals: adults are cruel and unfair, intent on stamp­ing out plea­sure and free­dom, and ani­mals and inan­i­mate objects make bet­ter friends than humans. Both fea­ture heart­break­ing tragedies that would almost cer­tainly never fig­ure into con­tem­po­rary children’s films.

Buy The Red Bal­loon or White Mane DVDs from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk


The Incred­i­ble Hulk is Hollywood’s lat­est inci­dence of what has become known as a “reboot.” The term, I believe was orig­i­nally coined in the comic book world, with fur­ther deriva­tions in com­puter ter­mi­nol­ogy. When a fran­chise begins to show its age with stalled cre­ative energy and declin­ing sales, its own­ers may opt to check it into surgery to be refreshed with a new cast, cre­ative team, and updated plot par­tic­u­lars. Warner Bros. and DC Comics kick-started their valu­able but stag­nant Bat­man and Super­man fea­ture film prop­er­ties, mak­ing them rel­e­vant to 21st cen­tury audi­ences, and now it’s Mar­vel Comics’ turn. Embold­ened by recent suc­cesses with Spider-Man and The Fan­tas­tic Four (and con­ve­niently ignor­ing the fail­ures Dare­devil and Elek­tra), Mar­vel has obtained fund­ing to inde­pen­dently pro­duce its own films with greater cre­ative con­trol and, pre­sum­ably, a larger chunk of the finan­cial return. The mas­sive suc­cess of 2008’s Iron Man seemed to prove their instincts correct.

Remark­ably, The Incred­i­ble Hulk comes only five years after Ang Lee and James Schamus’ Hulk, itself a reboot of the comic book, car­toon, and tele­vi­sion series. Even before Mar­vel announced it was to start over from scratch, the orig­i­nal Hulk film had already been seen as a crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial fail­ure, even though the reviews were not actu­ally ter­ri­ble (54 on Meta­Critic and 61 on Rot­ten Toma­toes, both about the same as what The Incred­i­ble Hulk scored) and it earned $245 mil­lion worldwide.

The Incredible HulkNORTON SMASH!!!

This Dork Reporter fully real­izes his is the minor­ity opin­ion, but the Lee/Schamus ver­sion is a far, far bet­ter film, not only in com­par­i­son with its suc­ces­sor but also on its own terms. To para­phrase a review I recall read­ing at the time, “only the direc­tor of Eat Drink Man Woman and Sense & Sen­si­bil­ity would look at ‘The Hulk’ and see ‘sprawl­ing fam­ily melo­drama.’” Lee and Schamus saw the core story as more than a sim­ple Strange Case of Dr. Jeck­yll & Mr. Hyde retread, and instead chose to tell a deeper tale of fathers and sons. The Hulk him­self was cre­ated using motion-capture tech­nol­ogy using Ang Lee’s own body lan­guage, and real­ized on screen as a giant green petu­lant baby (which is both absurdly funny and oddly mov­ing, like the orig­i­nal King Kong). I still main­tain it is one of the most bril­liantly edited films I’ve ever seen, the clos­est in flow and visual style to a comic book a film has ever come. It’s also just really fuck­ing weird, in a good way.

With Mar­vel in total charge of its own intel­lec­tual prop­erty at last, The Incred­i­ble Hulk had low artis­tic ambi­tions and was unsur­pris­ingly crafted with comic book geeks in mind. In harsh con­trast with art­house main­stays Lee and Schamus, it was directed by action film spe­cial­ist Louis Leter­rier (of Trans­porter 2 and Danny the Dog) and writ­ten by Zak Penn, who has appar­ently cor­nered the mar­ket on super-hero scripts (includ­ing X-Men 2 & 3, Elek­tra, and the upcom­ing Avengers and Cap­tain Amer­ica). The backwards-facing film gives the fan­boys a nod with admit­tedly fun cameos from Lou Fer­rigno (who also voiced The Hulk’s few lines, and who also seems not to have aged one bit) and orig­i­nal Hulk co-creator (with Jack Kirby) Stan Lee. But the CG is sur­pris­ingly uncon­vinc­ing for a film that should have been state-of-the-art; the Hulk looks like he’s made of string cheese and quiv­er­ing gelatin.

The Incredible HulkIt’s show­time at The Apollo

Truth be told, I was actu­ally rather enjoy­ing the film, until one nig­gling fault grew to an unig­nor­able degree that ruined the entire expe­ri­ence for me. Key char­ac­ter Emil Blon­sky (Tim Roth) remains trag­i­cally under­de­vel­oped. Any screen­writ­ing stu­dent (hell, any film fan) should know the sto­ry­telling mantra “show don’t tell,” and yet Blonsky’s moti­va­tions are only hinted at in one or two lines of dia­logue: he’s a career sol­dier grumpy about turn­ing forty. Blon­sky even­tu­ally evolves into the Hulk’s neme­sis The Abom­i­na­tion, a hideous beast that lives to destroy. As the two crea­tures smash Harlem to bits in the final reel, there was no sense that the Abom­i­na­tion was once a man. What drove him to this? Inter­est­ingly, Roth plays a not entirely dis­sim­i­lar char­ac­ter in Fran­cis Ford Coppola’s Youth With­out Youth: a man who uses up his youth in pur­suit of an unat­tain­able goal. In each case, the oppor­tu­nity for a sec­ond chance is a mixed blessing.

Rumor has it an alter­nate, sig­nif­i­cantly longer cut of the film will even­tu­ally be released on DVD, pre­serv­ing more of Edward Norton’s reported script doc­tor­ing, so this Dork Reporter hopes he will be able to revise his opin­ion at a later date.

Must read: Peter Bradshaw’s review of The Incred­i­ble Hulk as told to him by… The Hulk (spot­ted on Kottke.org)

Offi­cial movie site: www.theincrediblehulk.net

The Andromeda Strain (2008)

The Andromeda Strain


Michael Crichton’s orig­i­nal novel The Androm­eda Strain was first adapted into a fea­ture film in 1971, and now into a tele­vi­sion minis­eries from exec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Rid­ley and Tony Scott. This 2008 incar­na­tion is part feel-bad thriller, part wish ful­fill­ment. As we thrill to the spec­u­la­tive illus­tra­tion of how civ­i­liza­tion might sud­denly come to an end, we also can only hope the gov­ern­ment does in fact have such an elab­o­rate and high-tech pro­ce­dure in place for iden­ti­fy­ing and con­tain­ing new con­ta­gious dis­ease outbreaks.

The Andromeda StrainGood times, good times

The orig­i­nal book is only nom­i­nally about a super­virus, evi­dently of extrater­res­trial ori­gin, that threat­ens the human race. It is actu­ally more about how intel­li­gent, well-meaning peo­ple can make sub­tle errors of judge­ment that may cas­cade into cat­a­stro­phe (Chrich­ton would also employ Chaos The­ory as a key theme in his Juras­sic Park nov­els). But the minis­eries com­pli­cates this inter­est­ing theme with added gov­ern­ment venal­ity (a basi­cally hon­or­able pres­i­dent is under­cut by a cor­rupt chief of staff), the media (a drug addicted reporter breaks the cover-up), and the envi­ron­ment (strip min­ing of the ocean floor leads to the cri­sis). To give but one exam­ple of the dimin­ish­ing returns: in the book, a sim­ple unno­ticed glitch in a sup­pos­edly per­fect com­puter sys­tem causes a dan­ger­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tion black­out at the worst pos­si­ble time. It’s both more plau­si­ble and more sus­pense­ful than the minis­eries ver­sion of events, in which Gen­eral Mancheck (Andre Braugher) delib­er­ately cre­ates the black­out, to everyone’s mild and tem­po­rary frustration.

The book is not with­out its flaws, par­tic­u­larly an undra­matic end­ing in which the con­tin­u­ously adapt­ing virus even­tu­ally mutates into harm­less­ness. But the minis­eries dis­ap­points by giv­ing the virus a defin­i­tive ori­gin, indi­cat­ing it is expressly tar­geted towards humans, and show­ing its defin­i­tive defeat.

The Andromeda StrainThe cast checks in for the long haul

Mis­cel­la­neous other thoughts:

• Mikael Salomon’s direc­tion is very bor­ing and staid, except for a wildly over-the-top decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion pro­ce­dure that is filmed in a styl­ized, almost erotic fashion.

• The minis­eries is prob­a­bly one of the talki­est sci-fi movies and/or TV shows I’ve ever seen. The bulk of the action is set in a sin­gle inte­rior loca­tion, and nearly every scene com­prises heated con­ver­sa­tions in lab­o­ra­to­ries or over teleconferences.

• The minis­eries is laden with even more pseu­do­sci­en­tific bull­shit than Crichton’s orig­i­nal novel: wormhole-enabled time travel and nan­otech buck­y­balls from the future are the order of the day. The whole thing ends in the kind of tem­po­ral para­dox that typ­i­cally makes a plot point in shows like Doc­tor Who and Star Trek.

• The minis­eries updates the book’s euphemism of “unmar­ried man” into “don’t ask don’t tell” ter­ri­tory. It seems fab­u­lous Major Keane (Rick Schroder) is a friend of Dorothy.

• Spot the homage to Hitchcock’s The Birds!

• Why does the under­ground facil­ity begin to dis­in­te­grate dur­ing the run-up to set­ting off an atom bomb? Wouldn’t there just be a count­down and then an explosion?

• This Dork Reporter, a long­time fan of the TV show Lost, is happy to see Daniel Dae Kim in a star­ring role. But the Korean actor is unfor­tu­nately cast as a Chi­nese stereotype.

• Ben­jamin Bratt is really ter­ri­ble, giv­ing the prover­bial phone-it-in per­for­mance. He deliv­ers every line with the same into­na­tion, whether it’s say­ing good­bye to his fam­ily for pos­si­bly the last time or announc­ing humanity’s first dis­cov­ery of an alien life form.

Offi­cial movie site: www.aetv.com/the-andromeda-strain

Buy the DVD from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.

The Sweet Hereafter

The Sweet Hereafter


Lest the brevity of this post indi­cate oth­er­wise, The Sweet Here­after is one of my favorite films. Although I’ve read the orig­i­nal novel by Rus­sell Banks and seen Atom Egoyan’s film sev­eral times, I feel ill-equipped to “review” it. It is qui­etly heart­break­ing and dev­as­tat­ing, and dif­fi­cult to cap­ture in words.

Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin tale runs through the film as a metaphor. A tragedy of the worst kind imag­in­able, the death of an entire gen­er­a­tion of a small Cana­dian town’s chil­dren, reveals that every­body, every­body, has demons. Lawyer Mitchell Stevens (Ian Holm) descends upon the town, claim­ing to be able to help the sur­viv­ing fam­i­lies avenge their children’s deaths. His zeal con­vinces many of fam­i­lies to join a law­suit, but his true attrac­tion to this par­tic­u­lar case are com­plex and per­sonal, and it becomes clear he is pos­si­bly an even more tor­tured soul than any of his clients. His cru­sade only fur­ther pulls back the veil on the town’s deep­est secrets, and it falls to the young sur­vivor Nicole (Sarah Pol­ley) to put an end to it all.

The Sweet Hereafter

One excel­lent scene that demon­strates the high level of film­mak­ing at work: when we finally see a flash­back of the acci­dent in ques­tion, par­ent Billy (Bruce Green­wood) watches in shock as an over­turned school bus car­ry­ing his two chil­dren skids slowly to a stop atop a frozen lake, pauses for a heart­beat, then begins to crack through. The whole thing is filmed from a locked-down van­tage point, at a dis­tance, with muted sound design. Every ele­ment of the sequence shows aston­ish­ing restraint on the part of the filmmakers.

The Sweet Hereafter

Offi­cial movie site: www.finelinefeatures.com/sweet

Buy the DVD from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.

Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade


In order to catch up on the over­whelm­ing back­log of movies I intend to cover here on this blog, this Dork Reporter is going to keep it brief with a few dis­con­nected bul­let points:

• Re-watching the orig­i­nal tril­ogy as an adult is an inter­est­ing expe­ri­ence; even the first time around as a kid I was right: Raiders of the Lost Ark is excel­lent rip-roaring fun, The Tem­ple of Doom is bor­der­line offen­sive crap, and The Last Cru­sade is thank­fully a return to form. Gone are the annoy­ing kids and mean-spirited xeno­pho­bia, and back are the Nazi-bashing and Judeo-Christian overtones.

Indiana Jones and The Last CrusadeWell, this is a fine how-do-you-do

• After a fun pre-credit sequence set in 1912 Utah (fea­tur­ing the late River Phoenix doing a bril­liant Har­ri­son Ford impres­sion), The Last Cru­sade is set in 1938. The pre­vi­ous install­ment was set prior to the first, neatly side­step­ping any hint of Indy dump­ing Mar­ion (Karen Allen). Appar­ently Spiel­berg and Lucas stopped car­ing, and this time just went ahead and implied that he did, after all.

• The biggest area of improve­ment over the lam­en­ta­ble Tem­ple of Doom is in the “Indy Girl” depart­ment. After the spunky Mar­ion and the bimbo Willie, we were due for a third stereo­type: the femme fatale. Dr. Elsa Schnei­der (Ali­son Doody) is both a wor­thy love inter­est and neme­sis to Indi­ana Jones. And Henry Sr. (Sean Con­nery) totally hit that! Way to go, old man.

Indiana Jones and The Last CrusadeOf course she can be trusted

• Why did Elsa wait until the most dra­matic moment to reveal her true iden­tity, and cap­ture Indy and the diary? The woman has a knack for melodrama.

• Fun fact: Each film in the series starts with the Para­mount logo mir­rored in a land­scape or prop.

• Must read: Indi­ana Jones and the Fonts on the Maps, an analy­sis of the anachro­nis­tic typo­graphic choices made in the films’ iconic ani­mated maps (via Dar­ing Fire­ball).

Offi­cial movie site: www.indianajones.com

Buy the DVD from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.

Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom


In order to catch up on the over­whelm­ing back­log of movies I intend to cover here on this blog, this Dork Reporter is going to keep it brief with a few dis­con­nected bul­let points:

• An open­ing cap­tion places the action in “1935.” Raiders of the Lost Ark was set in 1936, so, The Tem­ple of Doom is actu­ally a back­door pre­quel! Inter­est­ing, but why? Every­thing is basi­cally the same, except for the absence of Mar­ion (Karen Allen). Had that cap­tion not been there, Indy would have seemed to have uncer­e­mo­ni­ously dumped her, offscreen.

• On the topic of “Indy Girls,” how could Steven Spiel­berg and George Lucas trade in the spunky, resource­ful, inde­pen­dent, strong Mar­ion for the help­less scream­ing igno­rant bimbo Willie (Kate Cap­shaw)? It’s a cry­ing shame only par­tially excused by Marion’s belated return in the fourth install­ment, Indi­ana Jones and the King­dom of the Crys­tal Skull.

Indiana Jones and The Temple of DoomDot your eyes and sleep with your starlets…

• In the DVD bonus fea­tures, Spiel­berg and Lucas both des­per­ately defend Tem­ple of Doom’s “dark” tone, com­par­ing it to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. This is puz­zling, as to my eyes, The Tem­ple of Doom is notably more jokey and car­toony than Raiders of the Lost Ark. Worse, it is casu­ally sex­ist and racist, and not to men­tion, quite unkind to the cui­sine of India.

• The globe-trotting begins in Shang­hai, with an old-school Hol­ly­wood musi­cal num­ber. Jonathan Ke Quan (Short Round) is actu­ally Viet­namese, and clearly a good sport.

• Hey, it’s that guy! Can you spot the Dan Akroyd cameo?

• The Tem­ple of Doom has the least com­pelling MacGuf­fin of all the Indi­ana Jones films. While the oth­ers con­cerned the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy freakin’ Grail, and UFO arti­facts, this time Indy must recover and return a stolen relic to a starv­ing Indian vil­lage. He only learns of the injus­tice in the first place by accident.

Indiana Jones and The Temple of DoomPlease, sir, can I have another shit sandwich?

• It must be said that this is the only film in the series that has Indy grap­ple with the moral grey areas of his pro­fes­sion. Not exactly a stand-up model arche­ol­o­gist, he explic­itly vocal­izes his moti­va­tions for the first time: “for­tune and glory.” So this time around, his relic-hunting is in the ser­vice of jus­tice and not his own per­sonal gain.

• Indy and pals stum­ble upon a sac­ri­fi­cial pagan cer­e­mony dead for only 100 years? That’s not very excit­ing. If you’re mak­ing up a fake reli­gion, why not make it a thou­sand or more?

• One of many tragic flaws that crip­ple this film is the obvi­ous tin­ker­ing with the for­mula, made in the mis­taken belief there would be more for the kids to iden­tify with. Yes, I’m talk­ing about all the annoy­ing chil­dren run­ning about the place: obvi­ously Short Round, but also the horde of child slaves toil­ing in a mine (a straight lift from Pinoc­chio). Memo to Spiel­berg and Lucas: kids had no trou­ble flock­ing to Raiders of the Lost Ark, so you don’t need to give them an on-screen cypher.

Offi­cial movie site: www.indianajones.com

Buy the DVD from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark


In order to catch up on the over­whelm­ing back­log of movies I intend to cover here on this blog, this Dork Reporter is going to keep it brief with a few dis­con­nected bul­let points:

• The 2008 DVD reis­sues of the clas­sic Indi­ana Jones tril­ogy have ter­ri­bly designed menus; it looks like everything’s been over­processed with Photoshop’s “Dust and Scratches” filter.

• The zippy, witty screen­play is by Lau­rence Kas­dan, known to genre geeks as the beloved writer of the best Star Wars script, now and for­ever: The Empire Strikes Back.

• Hey, it’s that guy! A young Alfred Molina briefly appears in his first film role. In the DVD bonus fea­tures, he recounts an amus­ing tale involv­ing his lack of dif­fi­culty in evok­ing fear in his per­for­mance as a batch of real taran­tu­las scram­bled across his face.

Raiders of the Lost Ark“I like your hat.” “So do I.”

• Karen Allen is really win­ning as the hard-drinkin’ Mar­ion, and it’s a pity she never became a big­ger star, or at least appeared in the sec­ond and third install­ments. She was robbed!

• Does the Indi­ana Jones fran­chise really give the field of archae­ol­ogy a good name? Indy is moti­vated by money; he loots relics with­out the per­mis­sion of indige­nous peo­ples, and sells them to a museum asso­ci­ated with the uni­ver­sity where he teaches (it’s implied his job or tenure — and that of his boss Mar­cus — depend on it).

Raiders of the Lost ArkRated PG, my melt­ing face, suckas!

• I think I had the offi­cial col­or­ing book as a kid, and I recall being fas­ci­nated by the con­cept of lost cities buried under sand.

• For bet­ter or for worse, the prac­ti­cal details of the phan­tas­magoric cli­max are left unex­plained: why is the Ark empty, why does it make bad guys’ heads explode and/or melt, why does it mat­ter if your eyes are open or not, and why does Indy know that it does?

• There’s lotsa drink­ing, gun­play, gore, and Ger­man pro­fan­ity — in other words, all the stuff kids love! They don’t make PG movies like this anymore.

• Kids, the moral of the story is: any­one with an accent is not to be trusted.

Offi­cial movie site: www.indianajones.com

Buy the DVD from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.