Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Dark Dawn 1990 - 1993 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 27


Twenty-seventh chapter in "32 Days of Movies", an audiovisual tour through 366 films
(2015 update: included Vimeo embed after the jump)

Today's chapter includes footage from the Rodney King assault, an essential element of the scene that incorporates it; that sequence is an important part of both American and cinema history, but not something everyone will feel comfortable watching in this context. So fair warning.
A Dark Dawn

The early nineties was a time that Dickens could have written about, full of hope and promise alongside frustration and worry. The Cold War was over and Mandela was sprung from jail, but an uncertain world - characterized by the Gulf War and violence in the Balkans - was cause for concern as well as relief. In America, the economy slumped while police brutality and racial violence dominated the headlines - yet there was also a certain optimism in the air, an excitement about a new era, characterized by new forms of pop culture, from hip hop to postmodern TV shows. This spirit, a continuation of yesterday's but with a darker edge, found its expression in the cinema too.

(continued below, along with NSFW & spoiler warnings)



The mystical vibe of the last chapter finds expression in diverse forms today, from a sensual European art film to a stirring American adventure epic. But it shares space with a more cold-eyed, if stylized, realism - from the first clip with its rather cold awakening, to the last with its weary, bitter-end wind-down to a marathon monologue (not without its touch of humor, however). Much of the melancholy, despair, and tragedy is personal, the suffering of individuals - but that penultimate clip, arguably the most powerful thing its young filmmaker ever did (and there's a lot of competition in his canon) shines a light on the rootless, discontented mindset as a social disease, a spirit of raging indignation verbalized with a speech from the sixties but visualized with images all too current.

NSFW: nudity & sex 3:05 - 3:55; real-life violence 5:05 - 5:50; profanity in song lyrics 6:35 - end

Spoilers: questionable 0:40 - 1:30 & 4:25 - 5:15; in both cases, a tragedy has just occurred - although nothing in the clip explicitly says or shows what it was, it could be inferred



*I was very dissatisfied with my original arrangement of the video, and around 7:30pm, I re-edited both the video and this introduction.

I have covered today's films here, here, here, herehere, here, and here.



Tomorrow: Pulp and Popcorn
Yesterday: New Age


Visit the Video Gallery for a complete list of the chapters so far.

2 comments:

Shubhajit said...

Ah, at last a compilation of films the majority of which I've seen :)

Goodfellas - Undeniably a highly engaging movie, and boasting of a truly unforgettable turn by Joe Pesci. However, despite the hoopla surrounding it, I don't consider it among Scorsese's greatest masterpieces. Just a personal opinion :)

Godfather Part III - Though it inevitably ends up being compared with the 1st two films of the trilogy, its a pretty good work as a standalone film. Again just a personal opinion :)

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams - A couple of segments of this episodic journey by the Japanese maestro are beautiful, but on the whole I found it a tad disappointing.

Double Life of Veronique - I found it hauntingly beautiful & emotionally resonating. Yet another memorable work by the Polish master.

The Doors - I'm a huge fan of Jim Morrison. The movie did a decent, if not a great job of delving into the troubled singer/songwriter's persona & psyche.

Last of the Mohicans - Saw it long time back. Remember it being quite enjoyable if not eminently memorable.

This sure is an interesting collection of films. I'd be interested in reading your views on them.

Joel Bocko said...

It is an interesting mix - all with varying degrees of dark/melancholy edge. There's a ton of links above, but unfortunately they are all to Remembering the Movies pages (since this is a '90/'91 entry many fell within the wavelength of that project) or brief mentions in larger pieces, like my thoughts on Last of the Mohicans in the "Dirty dozen" post I did when I first started blogging.

I didn't entirely warm to Veronique when I first saw it a year or two ago, despite being bowled over by the visuals, but I had to buy it recently, both because its beauty lingered so strongly in my memory and because I felt the 90s section of this project needed something of that bent to give it a tad more balance, given the overall blockbuster inclination! (Yes, that's right, by the end of this process I was buying movies specifically for inclusion in this, haha) I am really looking forward to watching it again soon.

Dreams is uneven but I bought it for the really lyrical passages - come to think of it, even the weak parts are pretty lyrical. Some of the messages are a bit heavy-handed but I think parts of it are among the most visually rich things he's done.

Godfather III of course suffers in comparison to the other 2 but the ending is among the most powerful scenes in any of them - or any movie, because of what's built up to it (even if Sofia's performance is mostly cringeworthy).

Doors is kinda trashy, Stone is his gee-6-months-have-gone-by-time-to-release-another-ambitious-3-hour-movie but I have a lot of fun watching it. Kilmer is great of course. That girl doesn't look or sound anything like Nico though!

Last of the Mohicans, I feel, is really underrated. I'd call it Mann's best - just an incredible, sweeping adventure film. And formally it's a masterpiece - that final sequence (which I could only sample briefly here) with its synchronization of music, sound, action, cuts, camera movements is like a world-class tutorial in kinetic, symphonic filmmaking. IMO.