As much as I prefer to do long, detailed reviews on related movies, I'm afraid the movies I watched this weekend had nothing to do with each other. They are all fairly notable in their own way, so I figured I would touch on them.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - Westerns have never really interested me, and I have to admit that the only ones I can remember watching before this one are Shanghai Noon, Tombstone, and Back to the Future III. I have however gained a bit more appreciation for the genre after reading The Dark Tower series, and since this movie is generally considered one of the best, I had to watch it. Its length was its biggest fault for me. I know it's all about style and mood, but when you consider how many minutes were spent with characters staring at each other or the camera sweeping over scenes, I can't help but think they really could have pared it down. It's also way WAY too preachy about war. I think Leone had a great story about a bandit, a gunslinger and a mercenary all out for gold, but felt the need to preach his "war is waste" message all over it and bogged it down. I tend to be fascinated by the Civil War myself, from the vastly different opinions on what we fought for, brother against brother, the attitudes of the civilians at the time, what effect it's had on the South to this day.. but this anti-war message wasn't interesting. Unfortunately when you watch a movie from the 1960s, you just have to accept that and run with it. If you can forgive the length, there's a really great movie in there. Tuco, "the ugly," is hilarious, Angel Eyes, "the bad," is chillingly cold, and Blondie, "the good," is just so cool. I need more Clint Eastwood. Someone recommend some good movies of his, stat!
Rambo: First Blood - Rambo is an image that is iconic for any kid of the 80s, but I never saw any of the films. After watching this one, I'm not sure I'll continue. The pacing felt a bit strange as it seemed like you would be caught up in the jungle scenes, and then they'd switch over to Brian Dennehy and Richard Crenna talking for awhile. Honestly I had a tough time paying attention. The ending scene should have been really emotional.. but Stallone mumbles like a man with something perpetually caught in his throat. The dvd didn't have subtitles either which is a pet peeve for me. I got the idea of what he was saying, but honestly I just wanted to make fun of him instead of feel for him. I was hoping these films would be something like a slasher or creature film with a soldier instead of an alien.. but it just didn't do it for me.
Vertigo - I love Rear Window and North by Northwest, so I was anxious to see more Hitchcock. The movie is essentially two parts. I really loved the first half. It reminded me a lot of Rear Window. The second half takes a much crazier turn. I LOVED the dream sequence. It's something that's obviously influenced so many other filmmakers and yet still felt really fresh and amazing. The rest of the second half just made me feel uncomfortable which I suppose was the point. I was mad at both of the characters for the choices they were making. The second half and ending are sort of like a speeding car that slams into a brick wall. I felt a bit angry when I finished the film and then proceeded to have dreams about the movie for literally all of last night. So I guess I have to give it credit for having an effect on me, if nothing else. My next Hitchcock film will probably be The Birds, because really it's quite ridiculous that I haven't seen that one yet.
FYI, I noticed that the first two movies are ridiculously cheap at amazon right now while I was adding the links. Definitely a good time to pick them up if you're a fan.