I watched movies at two extremes of the emotion scale Sunday, both of them being fantastic, but with each of them leaving me in different mental states.
First, I watched The Savages, and while it gets labeled by many critics as a dark comedy, I’m not sure I’d quickly call it as such. Sure, it has some humorous moments, particularly between the sibling bickering between Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman (both of whom are excellent, by the way), but mostly it left me drained as I watched them deal with their father’s growing dementia.
I had recently asked a friend if she was interested in watching the film with me, but she told me she had already seen it and didn’t want to sit through it again because despite being a well-made movie, it was just too depressing. I think that’s a fair assessment. The writing and directing are pitch perfect, and the acting is some of the best of last year, but the overall mood of the movie was so realistically somber that I wouldn’t want to sit through it again.
On the other hand, I also watched Raiders of the Lost Ark in preparation for the May 22 release of Indiana Jones and the Movie With the Long Title That Features Something About a Crystal Skull and, Quite Possibly, a Monkey.
Raiders was one of the first movies I remember seeing as a child, and despite it now being 27 years old, it holds up surprisingly well. In fact, other than the whole “Ark melts the Nazis” scene, which I thought looked incredibly cheesy even as a child, the movie would completely work today. (In fairness to the melting scene, it is very likely Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made it look a bit fake in homage to the serial movies they were basing Raiders on). Few movies can truly be tagged as “classic,” but Raiders definitely can, with such iconic scenes, music and, of course, heroes and villains.
Two things struck me after re-watching it. One, it certainly seems Spielberg and Lucas were fully aware they had something special on their hands as they were making it. Check out the first time we meet Indiana Jones, and the way he’s introduced just screams “Classic Movie Hero” as he emerges on the camera. Also, they used shadows to perfection, including one great image as Marion Ravenwood reunites with Indy after a 10-year absence. See that, then watch the trailers for the new movie, which also highlights Indy’s shadow, and you’ll see what I mean.
The other thing about the movie is that I can’t believe I didn’t die of fright watching it as a child. There are some truly intense, scary moments (Marion being surrounded by skeletons, Indy in a pit of snakes) that had to be overwhelming for me in the early 1980s. Hell, I was a little (OK a lot) freaked out watching it in the late 2000s.
On a completely unrelated note, I seem to be the subject of some mild threats, although honestly, I have yet to receive them. I’m learning of them secondhand, and it really is amusing me. All in all, it reminds of this moment from A Few Good Men, which despite not being nearly as famous as the “you can’t handle the truth!” scene, is really much cooler (and I hope this link works – I haven’t been able to watch it yet because my damn computer wouldn’t load it; fingers crossed):