dir. Sarah George
Sat-Sun July 5-6 at the Little Theatre. A fascinating film about a fascinating subject: modern-day tramps. Director George, shooting on digital, chronicles the train-hopping adventures of a group of travelers, showing in great detail their craft, as well as hints of the psychological makeups that may have led to their shunning of society. The result is a small, intimate documentary that showcases a handful of peculiar--and they are most definitely peculiar--people, ranging from a young couple named Switch and Baby Girl, to a radical lefty named Lee who lives in a shack (à la Snuffy Smith) in the middle of the woods. Go see it and you will feel the urge to roam. BRADLEY STEINBACHER
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
dir. Sergio Leone
Open Fri July 4 at the Varsity. Here is moviemaking with zero shame. Moviemaking that says and thinks of only one thing: It must be big. Bigger than life, bigger than the last film you saw, bigger than you can ever fucking imagine. A 21st-century film like Terminator 3 certainly wants to be big (it has a big budget, a big star, a big story), but in our heart of hearts we know that, despite all of Arnold's efforts, T3 will never be as big as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. With 15 more minutes added to the re-release of what was already a very long movie, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is even bigger than big.
Directed by Sergio Leone (who before making spaghetti Westerns made sand-and-sandals films) and shot in western Spain in the mid-'60s with 1,500 extras, the movie is set in a distant country (America), during a distant period (the American Civil War). Clint Eastwood (The Good, or The Man with No Name), Lee Van Cleef (The Bad), and Eli Wallach (The Ugly) are gunmen in pursuit of gold that's buried in a massive graveyard. Their journey takes them across a Western wasteland whose corpses outnumber the living. The towns are barely alive; they are gloomy places on the verge of collapse, of being overwhelmed by wild horsemen or nature itself. There's more whiskey than water in this big and empty country. And there are only two types of men: those who shoot and those who are shot. Prostitutes are bitch-slapped like there's no tomorrow.
The scene before the culminating showdown in the middle of the massive cemetery is one of the most delirious sequences in all of cinema. I shall spend the remainder of this review describing it. After blowing up a bridge that Union and Confederate soldiers are pointlessly fighting over, The Ugly (Eli Wallach) is informed by The Good (Clint Eastwood) of the secret name of the grave that has the coffin filled with gold. The Ugly steals a horse and gallops toward the end of the film. Once in the cemetery, which has thousands upon thousands of crooked crosses, The Ugly begins to look for the name on the cross. Cross after cross after cross after cross he searches, increasing his speed, his desperation, until in a blur of death and greed the black crosses are whirling around him. America the beautiful. CHARLES MUDEDE
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
dir. Patrick Gilmore and Tim Johnson
Opens Wed July 2 at a buttload of theaters. So there's this guy, Tyler Durden, who lives on boats and steals things for a living. He's sent to steal the last copy of the new Harry Potter book and Syracuse's stuffy prince is all bent out of shape about it because the book belongs to his dad, the king. Durden doesn't want the king to have it, though, because if Durden gives the book to a goddess, the goddess will buy Durden an island. Anyway, the prince and Durden go way back--they used to be bros--but then the prince stole Durden's girl and so now they don't get along. Things get fucked up: Durden is caught stealing the book and so the king sentences him to death. But, because the prince still has feelings for Durden (I'm pretty sure he's gay), he says, "No, take me instead." So the king is supposed to kill his own son unless, as the agreement states, Durden steals the book back from the goddess and returns it to the king ('cause the king's land will die or something if they lose the book). So Durden has to get back on his boat and travel to the end of the earth. It just so happens that the chick from the T-Mobil commercials, the one with the speech impediment [Eds. Note: Megan, she's British], is the prince's girlfriend and she doesn't trust Durden to go alone, so she sneaks onto the boat to go on the voyage with him. They run into big birds and big fish and big goddesses and after a whole lot of swinging and flying through the air, all ends well. In conclusion, it was dumb. No one over 10 years old ever needs to see a DreamWorks animated flick. Pixar is totally cool, and Disney's pretty all right too, but this was just bad. Bradley Steinbacher can suck it for sending me to it. MEGAN SELING