Sunday, September 12, 2010

Trapped in Croatia - Part One

And who wouldn't want to be trapped in Croatia? Lots of sun and Italians, promontory promenades and 80s hair bands. Octopus salad and feral cats. Scooters. Our hotel was wonderful - peaceful and with an excellent breakfast. Plenty of pale UK horses slathering in suntan lotion poolside, most reserving early morning chaise lounges at a 2:1 chaise lounge to person clip. And a freckling of Germans, one in particular, an aging Herren that read a novel-size history of tractors while sipping cool Ozujskos under the hot Dalmatian sun. All is well on the Adriatic.

Except when it comes to TV movies. I know, a niche topic, especially when traveling in Croatia. Why was I even watching TV in the hotel? My wife and I have a penchant for obscure thrillers, and miraculously, obscure American thrillers was the name of the game the week we were in Dubrovnik.

What follows is a series of posts loosely based on a chronology of films shown late-night within the confines of our dear Hotel Lapad. These will not be reviews but impressions that in the best case will lead you down a path of personal nostalgia. Worst case? All roads lead to Nicolas Cage.

First: Mel Gibson, Goldie Hawn. Movie? Bird On a Wire - probably the most well known of the bunch. Remember it? At one time Hawn had star attraction, playing older women behaving much younger then believability could ever allow. This is a great one, complete with boy wonder Gibson trying to really ride out the Lethal Weapon suite of art house classics. In fact, Lethal Weapon 2 was his last film before Bird On a Wire. Show me more, from the director of WarGames, Short Circuit and Stakeout (yes!):

Not enough of a taste? This guy liked the movie so much he made his own trailer, one extended out to a full 6 minutes to accommodate an unfortunate "world" remix of Leonard Cohen's otherwise iconic and wonderful song (don't watch more than 10 seconds):

Speaking of Cohen, here's a good video of the actual song:

In the end you really can't blame those that set favorite music to favorite movies, and then publish the final product on YouTube. It's no doubt a pleasing experience to plasticize music this way, immortalizing your own edited cut of a movie and then watching it interact aimlessly with a song only tangentially related to the movie at best. Finding moments of cohesion is easy. Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz is a good example of this:

And here's another good one, straight from Mel Gibson's own vault!

Back to the movie. One of the best-worst scenes in Bird On a Wire is when director John Badham (again, WarGames, Short Circuit, etc.) over-reachingly makes use of the venetian blinds convention from classic film noir cinema while lighting Mel and Goldie's post-sex scene. The horizontal arrangement of alternating light and shadow is traditionally meant to signal to viewers that the film's protagonists are caught up in events pre-determined and beyond their control. Something beyond escape, choice. Prison. Entrapment. In Bird On a Wire the blinds are used, well, to no great effect other than to emphasize Goldie's buggy eyes and Mel's timeless observation that "Mr. Wiggly's been on bread and water for five long years."

But where, the Croatian viewer must wonder, can I see more of this noir convention from the early 90s? Can I just watch tomorrow night's movie? The answer was and is yes! Because tomorrow night we get even more noir, in a film that is more David Lynch than David Lynch without being directed by David Lynch:

More to come in part 2...

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