James Ellroy, Brian Helgeland, and Curtis Hanson, 1997
The first half of this movie is a cracklin' tale of crime and corruption in
1950s Los Angeles, blurring the boundaries between cops and crooks, starlets
, the Golden Age and the modern era, and
all that other stuff that cultural studies teachers like. But there comes a
point when the movie suddenly gets in a big hurry and starts rushing through
plot points. Ed Exley and Lynn Bracken go from introductions to sex in 118
seconds. The "Rollo Tomasi" gimmick goes from setup to callback in a grand
total of 13 minutes. It sort of feels like someone in the editing room
accidentally sat on the fast-forward button at the 1:20 mark.
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
Errol Morris, 1997
This is a documentary about four guys whose work touches on questions of
how living organisms operate and the extent to which those operations can
be controlled. You've got a robotics professor who designs machines that
mimic the motions and, seemingly, the thought process of insects; an expert
on naked mole rats who's trying to learn all the details of how their insectoid
society functions; a lion tamer who thinks he has a pretty good handle on how
his animals think and takes advantage of this knowledge to get them to do
tricks; and, in a somewhat redundant thread, a topiary gardener who knows how
shrubs grow and takes advantage of this knowledge to twist and clip them into
the forms of animals. There's some interesting food for thought and a number
of cool overlaps... maybe 45 minutes of really solid material here.
Unfortunately, the movie is 79 minutes long. That means lots of random
circus clips and scenes from old movies that, for me, added absolutely nothing.
This semester I've been listening to the webcasts of a
European history class at Cal. I'm glad the professor doesn't stop every
two sentences to show a ten-second video of Otto von Bismarck eating dinner
or something for atmosphere.
Return to the Calendar page!