Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday's Triple Feature!!!

Alexander Nevsky (1938)

Alexander Nevsky is a must-see for all fans of war movies.

A rousing anti-German Soviet propaganda film that may be short on story (and the romantic subplot is an absolute snoozer---but probably demanded by that big old softie Uncle Joe) but is long on style, action and gung-ho Rooski patriotism. (It is a Sergei Eisenstein film after all.)

From J. Hoberman’s essay:
A spectacle of skeleton battlefields and devastated cities, Alexander Nevsky is framed as a near-cosmic struggle between good and evil. Scenes emphasize German atrocities against Russian civilians, with the invaders further dehumanized by their sinister, horned helmets.
And the heart of the movie is the 30-minute Battle on the Ice sequence. A triumph for Eisenstein as well as for Nevsky, this strategically undercranked and brilliantly-edited mix of massing soldiers and slashing close combat—alternately horrifying and carnivalesque—would serve as a prototype for the battlefield scenes in Laurence Olivier’s
Henry V, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus.

Meanwhile, film geeks take note:
Alexander Nevsky wound up being a big influence on the costumes for Monty Python and the Holy Grail (go HERE and then go 2:03 into the scene---and tell me Terrys Gilliam or Jones wasn’t influenced by these costumes), and genius-madman Ken Russell swiped Alexander Nevsky’s battle on the ice for the conclusion of his Billion Dollar Brain (also an Ivanlandia fave).

And today’s other film:
Samurai Vendetta (1959)

Lush, violent, richly detailed tale that, if like me, you have no tolerance for overly romantic subplots, is often a snooze.

But the swordplay in Samurai Vendetta is worth the wait, especially one scene set on a bridge at sunset. Worth a look!

Virus (1980)

I expect disaster movies to be poorly acted and poorly written,
and even to have bad special effects,
but I do not expect them to be this BORING!
Wow, is Virus a snooze:
Lots of long speechifying and overacting, and not enough shots of corpses in the streets and total destruction and mayhem.
Avoid. Like the plague.

And some of you may know that 47 is a special number here in Ivanlandia---so welcome to our 47th follower, Ponyorama! Hooray!


  1. Samurai Vendetta opened a recent samurai series at Japan Society. I agree with you. Disappointing, but that fight on the bridge and some of the other action was kind of cool. There were much better films in that series, but I'm not sure if any of them are getting a proper DVD release like this one.

  2. I think the actors are famous or something. I just wanted to leave a reply three months later....