If you relentlessly abuse your no-name actors, then your film gets called torture porn, but if you treat Leonardo DiCaprio in the same manner, then you win Oscars. Or something. There’s a lot of nonsense politics involved in the Academy Awards and with critical evaluations of genres, and just general movie watchng. Just read the message boards on IMDB on any given film and you’ll see nothing but nonsense. Personally, I can dig a little low-brow torture porn alongside my high-minded films where big named stars get mauled viciously by bears. The Revenant certainly does abuse Leonardo DiCaprio over and over again. But rather than looking like porn, its more like a Renaissance painting come to life.
It is a stunningly gorgeous film to look at and director Alejandro González Iñárritu has created some intricately crafted scenes that are just jaw-droppingly executed. Early in the film, there is an attack on our hero fur trappers by a group of natives that will surely be studied for years to come.
There’s actually some weird, somewhat appropriate, emotional resonance for me to The Revenant as I saw it with a guy who died suddenly, just a few weeks after we caught the movie together. He was more my Dad’s friend than mine, but I’d grown up with him around me, in the background of my life. I hadn’t intended to see The Revenant that night. I was over at my parents house doing something or other when my Dad asked me if I wanted to go see it. The wife and I had planned to see something else but as it got closer to that time she was starting to not feel up to it, so I jumped at the chance to see anything.
Bill, the friend, was going to pick us up, but as I live closer to the movie theatre than my parent’s house I decided to just drive there alone so I could come home a lot faster. Bill honked as he arrived and I gave him a short wave before climbing into my truck. When we got to the theatre, the movie had just about started so we bought our tickets and found ort seats quickly. After the movie, we departed just as fast and so I only said but a couple of words to him that entire evening.
I did see Bill a couple of other times afterwards, in brief situations, but it's that night that’s stuck with me. That was the last time we actually did anything together. And we spoke hardly at all. As I mentioned, we weren’t great friends. In truth, he tended to get on my nerves. But he was a great presence in my life. He was someone who seemed to always be there. I saw him at church growing up. In later years, he and his wife often came over to my parents' home to play cards. I’d drop in and seem him gathered around the table playing 9-Hole, making fun of his wife and just laughing. I didn’t know him well, but his lack of presence still leaves a hole in my life.
None of that matters to anyone looking to see what new Blu-ray releases are coming out this week. I likely would have picked The Revenant this week even if I hadn’t seen it with Bill and he hadn’t died not long after. But that connection brings me to the movie even more so. The word "revenant" actually means a ghost come back to terrorize the living and while Bill certainly is not that, I’ll certainly feel his presence in many places in my life and now for always while watching this movie.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
The Lady In the Van: Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings star in this based-on-a-true-story tale of a homeless lady who lived in a van parked inside of playwright Alan Bennet’s drive-way for 15 years. That sounds interesting and I can never resist watching Maggie Smith in anything. [Read the Vern's review.]
A Whit Stillman Trilogy: Metropolitan / Barcelona / The Last Days of Disco (Criterion Collection): Writer-director Whit Stillman made a trilogy of films in the 1990s about young bourgeoise New Yorkers. I’ve only seen The Last Days of Disco out of this set (and that more than a decade ago) but it left quite the impression on me. Criterion has released it and Metropolitan before but they are finally releasing Barcelona this week. You can buy it individually or in a boxed set of the trilogy.
IP Man 3: Friends of mine love this martial arts series.
And Then There Were None: Agatha Christie’s classic novel has been adapted several times to the screen, the most recent of which is this three-part mini-series from BBC One. It's filled wit lots of great English actors including Charles Dance and Sam Neil, and I’m a sucker for Christie adaptations. [Read Luigi Bastardo's review.]
Veep: The Complete Fourth Season: I need to catch up on this brutally funny HBO political satire starring Julia Louise-Dreyfus.
Silicon Valley: The Complete Second Season: I need to start this highly regarded HBO comedy from Mike Judge.