Quick Takes: The Stand, The Wind Rises, Gold Told Me To

the-stand-movie-poster-1994-1020189668The Stand (1994)
twohalfstar

Starring Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Corin Nemec, Adam Storke, Laura San Giacomo, Ruby Dee, Ray Walston, Rob Lowe, Bill Fagerbakke, Peter Van Norden, Ossie Davis, Miguel Ferrer, Matt Frewer, Bridgit Ryan, Kellie Overbey
Directed by Mick Garris

Having recently re-read the book, I had to also revisit this. It’s a fair adaptation, about as good as you could hope for from a network TV mini-series of the ’90s. Of course, everything is truncated quite a bit (even at 6 hours long), but its the characters that suffer the most. So much depth is lost in this version, especially with Fran, but it’s still worthwhile for fans of the book looking for a “quick” refresher. I was also disappointed that they ended without including the final scene of the book. Yes, it probably would’ve been more comical than anything else in this version, but that basic idea that “Ka is a wheel,” that this is a struggle that has been and will always continue to go on for all time, is one that feels so integral to King’s work. Oh well… I can hope for this ending in the new version. The CG is also quite dated, but the makeup FX work by Steve Johnson still shines brightly.

TheWindRisesPosterThe Wind Rises [風立ちぬ] (2013)
fourstar

Starring Hideaki Anno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Miori Takimoto, Masahiko Nishimura, Mansai Nomura, Jun Kunimura, Mirai Shida, Shinobu Otake, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

The Wind Rises is beautiful in every way. It sits apart from the rest of Miyazaki’s work as his most grounded film, which is funny as it’s entirely about flight. What really impressed me was how Miyazaki weaves together the professional and personal lives of real-life aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi. I later found out the personal part of the story was pure fiction, adapted in part from Tatsuo Hori’s 1937 short story The Wind Has Risen, but knowing this doesn’t diminish the film’s power in any way. I was moved to tears by the relationship between Jiro and Nahoko, as I found it oddly similar to my situation as I care for my spouse as she is debilitated further and further by multiple sclerosis. It may not hit you the same way, but The Wind Rises made me appreciate each day just a little more. An absolutely wonderful film for Miyazaki to go out on.

god-told-me-to-movie-1088207586Gold Told Me To (1976)
AKA Demon

threehalfstar

Starring Tony Lo Bianco, Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis, Sylvia Sidney, Sam Levene, Robert Drivas, Mike Kellin, Richard Lynch, Sammy Williams
Directed by Larry Cohen

With a title like God Told Me To, I expected the film to be about a religious nutcase going crazy in some kind of slasher-esque film. God Told Me To is vaguely like that in the first few minutes, but very quickly you realize that there’s a lot more going on here than some simple slasher horror film. In hopes that someone reading this will watch the film, I’m going to remain vague, but know that God Told Me To is a highly ambitious B-Movie that tackles huge issues and largely succeeds. It’s the kind of movie that will require some suspension of disbelief, due to the subject matter and the limited FX work, but those willing to appreciate its power will find much to like. Personally, I think the FX work is perfect and everything the film needed, but I can easily see people nowadays laughing at it “because it’s old.” Their loss. The cinematography is also excellent and vibrant throughout, thanks in part to the brand new Blu-ray from Blue Underground. In any case, if you dig B-Movies, Larry Cohen is one to explore, and God Told Me To is one of the best films I’ve seen from him.

Scanners II: The New Order (1991)

Starring David Hewlett, Deborah Raffin, Yvan Ponton, Isabelle Mejias, Tom Butler, Raoul Trujillo, Vlasta Vrana, Murray Westgate, Doris Petrie, Dorothée Berryman, Michael Rudder

Directed by Christian Duguay

Expectations: Low. I went back and forth about watching the sequels, as I wasn’t terribly hot on the original.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


A rogue scanner enters a video arcade and starts playing Operation Wolf… with his mind! He easily masters the silly game, moving on to play a game of pinball at the same time. But that’s not enough to satisfy his gaming urges, and soon the maniacal lunatic is controlling all the games in the arcade. They explode in a shower of hot, white sparks and the man leaves, seeking refuge in an abandoned warehouse full of mannequins. In Scanners this introductory period was concerned with setting up our hero, but here the focus is on our villain. We don’t know he’s the villain just yet, but anyone with eyes that wild ain’t gonna be talking Grandma’s kitty down from the tree with his telepathic powers.

The villain was the most interesting character in Scanners, and the same is true of Scanners II. This guy doesn’t get near enough screen time, though, which is a real shame. When the film finally gets around to introducing us to David, the hero, we find that once again he’s a boring, average guy that’s just learning to harness his psychic powers. Y’know guys, there is enough room in a movie for two interesting characters, you don’t have to pour everything worthwhile into one. In any case, this everyman is meant to be our shepherd in this updated (to the 90s) urban world of the scanners, which we know is the near future because even the police water coolers are highlighted with blue, glowing neon.

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