Issue 4

They Live!  ****

The first forty minutes of this take place on a building site. Rowdy Piper walks around with some synth noise and meets Keith David. Then he finds some glasses, puts them on, and for ten minutes sees aliens. Or robot aliens. I don’t know, they seem to be metallic but you only ever see them in black and white so it’s hard to judge.

But Piper sees them and gets mad. Walks into a bank, says he doesn’t have any gum then shoots the aliens. It goes on from there, and as it did I was thinking, ‘is this shit or is it actually quite deep?’ I mean, Piper is a murderer as normal people can’t see the aliens and think they are human, and there’s a lot of ‘see the truth’ shit on billboards and magazine covers…but is this deep? Is Carpenter developing themes or just throwing everything in? I suppose he did ‘The Thing’ so he must know a little, but I can’t figure out why Piper and David have a ten minute brawl in the alley. What does it mean? Beats me, but it’s still a decent film. A little slow in places, but decent.

The Thing *****

Once I start on Carpenter, I just can’t stop. This is his ‘Slaughterhouse 5’, or whatever your reference point is for an artist’s best work. And again, like Piper, Kurt Russell is a murderer. He kills the big guy who turns out to be human. A bit of a dick, but still human. And the tension: Carpenter brings out the Petri dish and the blood and distracts you at just the right moments. He makes you think hard about who the ‘thing’ is and who might become the ‘thing’ and how the hell is Russell gonna get out of this? Or, if you happen to be a Keith David fan, how the hell is Keith David gonna get out of this? The truth is they can’t and that’s why it’s so incredible. And Carpenter…what the hell happened to him, huh? Does he still have it in him? Or is he really out of ideas? Reminds me of DePalma and his state of affairs…is the director of Scarface still capable twenty years on?


Galaxy Quest  ****

The script is decent, but the real gold here is the acting. Tim Allen, what a face. The bit where he returns from the ship, shivering and head-fucked, and we go to the close-up and stay there for at least five seconds…that was never in the script, no fucking way. And the others…Rickman, Rockwell, the black guy who must’ve disappeared post-release as I don’t know his name…all of them go way beyond what was written on the page. All because of two things: the throat and the face, the power of both. I mean, how the hell does Rickman know to do things the way he does? The shrugs and the grimace before he has to say that grabthar’s hammer line. He does it every film, even in Potter, even in Die Hard.

The only mystery of the film, really, was Weaver’s tits. I’ve seen that Polanski film, I know she’s not huge, so where’s the truth? Surgery? CGI?

Dressed to Kill  ****

The worst opening in DePalma history. A woman stands in the shower, stroking her belly button. Apparently this is masturbation. Now I’m not a woman, but I just don’t see this. But it gets better. Well kinda, in a stylized, DePalma sort of way. The woman gets killed off by another woman who’s blatantly Michael Caine in drag. An hour later the big reveal tells us that it is in fact Michael Caine in drag. The thing that makes this special is the camera. It is its own beast, if that makes sense. It spins and slowly pans around and somehow fits the story in despite itself.


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