A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Terminator (James Cameron, 1984)

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Rearden, Bill Paxton, and Brian Thompson in The Terminator
The Terminator: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sarah Connor: Linda Hamilton
Kyle Reese: Michael Biehn
Lt. Ed Traxler: Paul Winfield
Detective Hal Vukovich: Lance Henriksen
Ginger Ventura: Bess Motta
Matt Buchanan: Rick Rossovich
Dr. Peter Silberman: Earl Boen
Pawn Shop Clerk: Dick Miller

Director: James Cameron
Screenplay: James Cameron, Gale Ann Hurd
Cinematography: Adam Greenberg
Art direction: George Costello, Maria Caso
Film editing: Mark Goldblatt
Music: Brad Fiedel

Watching The Terminator a week after the school shootings in Parkland, Florida, is a different experience than it might have been, especially when the Terminator goes into a pawnshop to get his weaponry and is told by the owner, "There's a 15-day wait on the handguns, but the rifles you can take right now." Still, although the movie's promiscuous mayhem may feel a bit off at the moment, it serves its purpose. The Terminator is a film of ideas about humanity and artificial intelligence, about machismo and law and order and survival -- maybe not as much as it's a film about things blowing up, but still enough that many of us can watch it and not feel the deadening effect that some action films produce. It's also a movie whose old-fashioned special effects like stop-motion puppetry feel oddly fresh and real when contrasted with the slick computer-generated effects of most sci-fi films now -- including most of director James Cameron's later work. The performances are good, the pacing is right, there's just enough humor in the dialogue, and even the time-travel gimmickry manages to make enough sense to be plausible within the confines of its fable.

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