kiss me deadly apocalypto

(yes, I shamelessly grabbed this promo image online)

>>>some personal thoughts – not reviewing<<<

So yesterday afternoon I snuck out of work and saw Apocalypto – finally! I found it rather good. Probably what I like most about the film, and what stuck me as soon as it finished, was that the film comes across as though it is going to be heavy handed and preachy (esp. with the Will Durant quote at the beginning and the hype surround it’s build up), but in fact it only leaves one wondering just what it is saying – in a good, thoughtful kind of way. I believe this would be a great group discussion film. There is a lot to think about, from issues of violence and cruelty to issues of internal societal corruption, from normative cultural stereotypes to universal themes of familial devotion, faith, and fear. I am not sure if I think it is a great film (probably not quite), but it is a good film in many respects, not least of which is its ability to tell an interesting story chiefly through images – you could get rid of the subtitles and still understand 95% of the tale. To me that is one of the signs of a good director.

Also, Rudy Youngblood as Jaguar Paw does a great job, as do much of the rest of this unknown cast. Maybe that is because Gibson is first an actor himself.

So then I get home, the rest of my family was to be out for the evening (to a baby shower – a non sequitur compared to my day), and I needed something to do. So I put in Kiss Me Deadly (1955) and sat down to watch with a plate of nachos. With full disclosure I admit I had not seen it before (I know, shame on me! And I call myself a fan of film noir!). At about an hour into the film I realized I needed some good scotch, in which I indulged (Oban, if you want to know), and that set off the film just perfectly. I have to say what a wholly wonderful film, and a great “chaser” after Apocalypto. That might sound strange, but it had a refreshing quality for me after the heaviness of the jungle story.

I was particularly struck by the image of the dangling legs of the character Christina Bailey (Cloris Leachman – wow, did the credits say introducing Cloris…?) as she is being tortured to death.

You hear her screams and see her legs shaking and that’s all – except for seeing the shoes of the two men. To me this is a haunting image and it comes only a few minutes into the film. At that point I knew I was watching something rather remarkable. Some other parts of the film are a bit dated – but I love those parts too – yet scenes like this have a timeless quality, if that’s the right word.

As I continued to watch the film I thought again of the quote by Will Durant: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” hhmmm

Finally, my uninventive conclusion is that it’s better late than never to see a good film. I know I will be seeing Kiss Me Deadly again.

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