This movie is extremely different from what I was expecting, which is odd since my expectations were neither rigid nor conventional, so I should have been a tough audience to surprise. Ralph Bakshi, however, is full of surprises, and his creativity knows no bounds. Unfortunately, creativity sometimes needs some constraints in order to be understandable to those who are not the thinker, and Wizards lacks the lucidity it requires. The best example of this is how the film suggests an army in a fantasy world improves its performance simply by watching a projected film reel of Nazis to get pumped up, without any understanding of the Nazi party’s tenants. It’s a strange idea, but the way it is expressed visually makes it stranger: the reel isn’t projected onto any particular space, instead appearing behind the army as though the Nazi film filled the air and/or the soldiers in the fantasy world were becoming part of the film. This isn’t simply a matter of openness of interpretation – this is cinematically illegible, and it is typical of the rest of the movie, which seems to follow dream logic more than narrative logic and expects the audience to buy into many unexplained, confusing plot points. When this is combined with the bizarre characters, unsettling sexual imagery, and poorly executed climax, the result is a film that, in spite of its inspired artistry, has little substance and no coherence, making it regrettably difficult to tolerate.
As I’ve continued my new journey through old horror movies, I’ve decided to return to the director of Phenomena/Creepers to see what is probably his most famous and acclaimed work, Suspiria. Another of Dario Argento’s semi-Italian films with weird dubbing, this film caught my attention because I read a description of it somewhere that called it “candy-colored,” and based on what I saw in photos, that seemed to be an appropriate description. This is, in terms of visuals, one of the top three greatest films I have ever seen in my life, and it insists on lighting and coloring its interesting sets in the most theatrical style possible with no interest in explaining why everything turns red when the lights go out or why the walls have illustrations that sing of Lewis Carroll. When the visuals are put together with the wonderfully creepy score, it creates an eerie, powerful, and beautiful experience in nearly every scene. That being said, this film is evidence of the fact that a series of great and interesting scenes or moments does not constitute a great story. The plot is simply impossible to follow and hardly anything in this movie makes any sense. It has good moments, but they do not function within a machine of set-ups and pay-offs or anything resembling quality dramatic, ironic storytelling.
I’m giving this film a big pass on the stupidity of its plot because of how fun and scary it is in all the right ways, and because I’m a sucker for old cult films with Jessica Harper, but I’m still rather upset that it hasn’t been released on Blu-Ray yet. I know they’ve been working on it, but I can’t help but feel that my review is inevitably insufficient until I get to see all of the film’s magnificent beauty in the highest quality possible.
Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s comedy classic that was awarded Best Picture in 1977, is quite an impressive film. Allen and Diane Keaton star in it, and as usual, they prove to be very good at playing their characters believably and in the funniest way possible. While overall the comedy does not necessarily make one laugh hysterically, it is still a delight with many lines that are too clever and well-delivered. Cameos were used well, and it is clear that Allen took full advantage of the medium of film by artistically choosing to write scenes in which Alvy Singer, Allen’s character, can interact with his past. From the beginning, Alvy establishes a friendly relationship with the audience and invites his audience to join him on this wonderful journey, making this movie great.