Monday, March 08, 2010
Before There Was Tarantino, There Was Kathryn Bigelow
It's hard to describe how giddy I was last night seeing Kathryn Bigelow get two Oscars. I don't usually care too much about who gets the actual awards, I watch for the clothes and stuff...I mean, it's the Gay Superbowl. I love it. If you love the Superbowl, then maybe you might know how I feel about the Oscars. Hey...it felt really cool seeing someone I admire so much who has been working without the kind of critical acclaim or interest partly due to her working within genre stories get major mainstream recognition.
I am wondering what movie rentals might come out of Bigelow winning Oscars last night. I can just see someone saying "Hey honey, let's rent Blue Steel, it's made by that lady director". I liked Blue Steel very much but it's not uplifting the genre B-movies...it's not trying to rise above or bend the genre content. I'm trying to imagine Oprah discovering some of Bigelow's movies this week. I love Oprah and all but I can't imagine her enjoying the vampire horror film Near Dark. Not because of violence but because so many genre films are not considered "classy" or high-brow. Bigelow in many ways is a classic director her interests are in pushing technique and the viewing experience, rather than genre-bending. Bigelow movies have never seemed to shy away from the campy elements of genre movies or the sex and violence. Where a movie like Basic Instinct had aspirations of being Hitchcockian...Bigelow's films seem to accept their own history. They are embracing Russ Meyer or Al Adamson or Roger Corman genres rather than trying to tart it up. Much like QT. (and Sam Raimi, Eli Roth, Rob Zombie)
The thing is...so many people love to trash movies. Especially on the internet. A film maker like Bigelow is exactly the kind of director that weeds out the real lovers of movies. Bigelow makes movies for people who love movies. Kind of like QT, if you think about his work. It's no accident that Bigelow's nomination and Tarantino's nomination inspired the Academy Awards to dedicate part of the programming to the horror genre last night. Long fucking overdue. I can't imagine my movie-going history without the camp, without the spectacle and mess of genre movies. And I am so glad that someone like Bigelow might help bring more creds to horror and action movies. Maybe her filmography will knock all those film snobs over and we can all start to discuss the wide history of storytelling without worrying about whether we are fucking authentic high brow or not. Or tasteful.
Yipppeee Kathryn Bigelow!!! Bigelow hadn't been able to finance a movie for 7 years!!! Not since the commercial failure of The Widowmaker. So more than anything I hope people might open themselves up to the low-brow genre side of film history and Bigelow will surely get all kinds of funding now. Yahoo!
Probably the only movie a lot of people might have seen by Kathryn Bigelow is 1995s Strange Days produced by her then Ex James Cameron. They are friends to this day contrary to media games of trying to put them at odds in Oscar race. Above is the opening scene and it's pretty cool. Bigelow got a fair bit of word-of-mouth success with Point Break and established herself easily as a cult film maker. Tom Sizemore is in three of her movies including this one...which is kind of interesting Bigelow and her former husband Cameron have often cast the same actors in several of their films making for a near-ensemble company crossover in each of their movies (same cast for Aliens as for Near Dark). I've always thought this was a good sign of being great to work with these two directors. Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and wrote, "The movie is a technical tour de force ... The pacing is relentless, and the editing, by Howard Smith, creates an urgency and desperation". In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin praised the performances of Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett: "Mr. Fiennes gleefully captures Lenny's sleaziness while also showing there is something about this schlockmeister that is worth saving, despite much evidence to the contrary. As for Ms. Bassett, she looks great and radiates inner strength even without the bone-crunching physical feats to which she is often assigned"Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers called the film Bigelow's "magnum opus"
In Blue Steel you can see a lovely young Tom Sizemore, and the late Ron Silver. Tom Sizemore was in Celebrity Rehab just this season and his recovery and story is really moving, I hope he gets better because we stlll have yet to see what else he can do acting. Ron Silver just passed away a few months ago. Jamie-I-take-off-my-shirt-Curtis is terrific in this campy action flick. Bigelow seems to work and respect the tradition of the genres she explores, sometimes via camp, or role transgressions and with violence and action. Sound familiar?
The first time I ever saw Willem Dafoe was in this cool movie The Loveless.
Above is a quite long clip from The Loveless and can give you a good idea of the style and flavour Bigelow achieved.
Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson in the same movie! What more do you want?
I was really glad to see Keanu Reeves introduce The Hurt Locker last night on tv seeing as he was awesome in one of her early movies...and one of my favourite movies...Point Break.
Check out about 50 seconds into this clip...totally something we might see QT use...with the little mirror action and then re-creating it for the screen.
I've watched Point Break maybe 50 times. I mean, really, it's nuts how much I love this movie. Above is one of the best chase scenes and you can really see what Bigelow is made up of, she rocks! This chase starts out ina car but ends up as one of the best foot chase scenes ever. At the time of the movie's release, 1991, it felt unique. We've seen this recently in The Bourne Identity and Casino Royale but when Bigelow did this I thought it wa such a great idea, so organic and she made back yards very exciting. That's the wonderful Patrick Swaze in the Reagan mask btw.