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MoFo Nostromo's Picture Show Reflections

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You gotta love the Shining. What an incredible movie.
Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake... I... drink... your... milkshake!
-Daniel, There Will Be Blood

so it won by 64 without our help... would've won by 100 had we gotten our act together (64+25+11)

Whoever thinks about deserting will be cut into 198 pieces

Aguirre, Wrath of God
(Werner Herzog, 1972)

the story follows a Spanish caravan of 16th century conquistadors exploring the jungle rivers of South America in search of el Dorado, 'the City of Gold.' i found all the other characters to be a tad bland, but then there's bizarro Klaus Kinski.. in his goofy steel helmet sounding like a nazi mein führer transported to a south american jungle in 1561. after the expedition struggles over mountains, through mud, and various terrain challenges, the noble leader throws in the towel and elects a small band of men and women to go deeper into the jungle. Only two of these men have leadership capability, Ursua, more of a gentleman... and Lope del Aguirre, a ruthless and ambitious soldier. Pretty quickly it becomes clear whose willpower is driving the group onwards

my initial reaction when this movie ended was 'da fuq did i just watch?' it was more raw and a had more experimental vibe than i was expecting. however, i kept an open mind the entire viewing, and as i've contemplated the story over the last day... it began to grow on me quite a bit

Making the Movie: if we are going to give Francis Ford Coppola props for the difficulties of his Apocalypse Now shoot... Herzog deserves major props for the difficulties of filming this one. Apocalypse Now had a $31.5 Million budget and took 3 years to complete. Herzog filmed Aguirre on a $370,000 budget and shooting lasted 5 weeks. in Apocalypse Now, at least Coppola's actors were driving around on a motor-driven boat. Herzog's actors were riding through rapids in the jungles of Peru on little rafts made of wood. also read somewhere that Herzog filmed this movie with a stolen 35mm camera. it's been said Werner Herzog himself didn't know what dialogue was going to be said 10 minutes before shooting his scenes. Aguirre, Wrath of God and Apocalypse Now, both a descent down a river into madness. without Aguirre in 1972, there pretty much wouldn't have been an Apocalypse Now in 1979

: so what is this movie really about? this did not come all at once while viewing... but only after contemplating this film over the past day. i believe Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski struck on something profound here... without bashing the viewer over the head with it. it's a story about delusions, lust for riches, fame, and power. Aguirre is pretty much batsh!t insane, he's sent off into the jungle with a small band of explorers by a Spanish nobleman, in the middle of a nowhere jungle, surrounded by savages... and yet he becomes consumed with finding the City of Gold, finding riches and power beyond imagination, and begins to dream of conquering Spain. they claim all the land they pass by on their little wooden rafts... and it'd be absurd, hell it is totally absurd, and yet this is exactly the kind of thing that happened back in the 1500's and 1600's with the Age of Exploration. expeditions set out to find insane destinations like 'the Fountain of Youth,' 'the City of Gold,' and who knows what else, claiming all the land they passed. when really it was just a bunch of wilderness and natives. but let's get to the point. if this were just a movie that said 'lust for riches, fame and power is destructive' it'd be a pretty flat story... and i don't believe it would be as thought-provoking a film as it is. i mean, we know these things.

i think there's more to it than just that. Aguirre's influence over the small expedition only became possible bc he was able to convince the muscle of the group to back him through promises of riches, fame and power, through finding the City of Gold. as batsh!t insane as he was, Kinski's character carries the entire film on his hunchback-limping shoulders. he is easily the only fascinating character in the story. he has a vision... and even tho he drives himself to insanity and destroys everyone in his expedition... who is the only man standing at the end? .........
because as delusional as he is, that vision and absurd ambition gives him something to live for. while all the others didn't share the extent of his delusion, and they perished. i'd like to see what happens to him after the credits roll. he's planning his new empire on a drowning little wooden raft in the middle of the Amazon jungle surrounded by the corpses of his crew. surely you'd think his death comes shortly after, but who knows

oh, and on top of everything i found Kinski's character totally hysterical in a sort of dark & cynical way

8.5 / 10

Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Watched Aguirre myself a while back and really struggled with it. Glad you enjoyed it though and nice review.

(Irvin Kershner, 1980)

most of us have seen this many times... although i watched this last night and somehow it seemed so fresh. if i taught a class on filmmaking i'd definitely have my students study this movie. maybe that's silly, i don't know what they teach in film school these days... maybe it's a lot of arthouse kinda stuff, maybe it's not. i'm not sure. but what i believe is this is a masterpiece of storytelling. this is the kind of movie i think people love to see. the first thing i noticed is the color palette. the opening act is white, taking place on Hoth. it's clean in a creative sense, brings an artistic touch, and creates a mood and atmosphere for the story. plus they totally set up the black-on-white contrast for when Lord Vader strolls into the rebel base

one guy i want to mention before i say anything else is Ralph McQuarrie. i think his storyboards and concept art are amazing, and he is one of the major heroes of bringing the Star Wars original trilogy to life. his drawings are dynamic, cinematic, and yet not overly-complicated. i love his work and could post a ton of it, but for now i'll stick with this one. R.I.P. Ralph McQuarrie, Star Wars isn't the same without you

bossman says: "Do it like this!" ↑

the other thing that happens right from the get-go is we jump right into character development and the growing relationships between Luke, Han, and Leia. the actors are at their best in this one, we love their characters, and i think Irvin Kershner's directing had a lot to do with that. as i watched, i got the sense that this movie really raised the bar for what a Star Wars movie could be. it has stellar artistry from a conceptual and directorial standpoint. it is also a character study of our three main heroes, and one that we love to revisit. the banter between Han Solo and Leia is always witty, humorous, and yet at the same time genuine. it's a really well-written love story bc it's not about the really romantic and serious stuff... it's more about the playful and fun side

now i want to talk for a minute about Darth Vader's meditation chamber. i want one of these

he has a screen inside that he appears to use primarily for communicating with his subordinates when they screw up

although i like to think Vader also has an extensive movie collection that he watches in his little egg / meditation chamber thing when the Empire has some down time. it'd be full of hundreds of strange, exotic intergalactic hits that we've never seen before. he'd sit in his little egg watching movies, he'd forget his Empire worries, he'd laugh too loud at the stupid jokes and wonder if anyone heard him, Imperial Officers would walk by and hear his strange cackles from inside his egg... the imperial officers would all whisper amongst themselves how strange their commander is. then Lord Vader would stride into the room and morph back to Dark Lord mode and be all intimidating. anyways, basically, Vader's meditation chamber is awesome and i want one

Conclusion: started thinking about the upcoming Star Wars VII, and about what the original Star Wars films are at their core... and to me these stories are the melding of excellent artistic design, fun characters and dialogue, and a genuine love and understanding for good storytelling (and great John Williams music!). the bar was set high for what a Star Wars movie could be with the 1977 and 1980 films. i'm splitting hairs when comparing those against each other bc i love them both. in Empire Strikes Back, the connections between our main characters deepen, and through that the audience's connection to the story deepens. ultimately i give a slight edge to Star Wars '77... it's the only Star Wars movie that stands completely on its own, and when i watch it i can consider the vast potential and possibilities of where they could have taken the story from there.
still, i give Empire a
10.0 / 10

Thoughts on Star Wars movies: while it's true in a sense that 'these are just movies,'... i think a Star Wars movie can be a bit more, if they are handled with care by skilled storytellers and artists who believe in and love their work. a Star Wars movie can be the consummation of all the stories and mythologies people have loved for thousands of years... presented in a fresh way to new generations... i believe all of this because it happened with Empire and Star Wars '77. i don't know if the upcoming movies from Disney, JJ Abrams, and the original cast will rediscover the magic, but it will be fun to watch them try