Anyways, (aside)FUCKFUCKFUCK!!! Bit of a real life moment here, got up to brush my teeth, felt a loose hair on my arm and IT WAS A FUCKING SPIDER. Like not a daddy long legs, which tend to frequent our home but a fucking big brown one. Holy shit. I screamed and flailed in spazzy terror and the spider sailed to the floor, still attached to my arm by a strand of web (HOLYSHIT) and my brother threw a bathmat over it and stomped the crap out of it. My Dad came in to see what all the high-pitched shrieking was about and as he examined the squished remains, confirmed that if that thing had bitten me I would have been in some deep shit. Also, if you think I am overreacting, it's because I have a bit of insectaphobia, aka spiders, bugs any shit with more than four legs and a pair of pincers frightens me to an unnatural degree. HOLY FUCKING FUCK SHIT. Ok, I am going to make like the British and Keep Calm and Carry On (end of aside)
So, (FUCKICANSTILLFEELITONME)today I finally got around to watching Let The Right One In and now I never ever want to go to Sweden. It is bleak, all the people look like someone just ran over their dog and odds are I will either freeze to death, be menaced by tiny serial-killers-in-the-making or desaunginated by a vampire. I imagine this film was a great boost for tourism.
This poster is a dirty lie. During the movie, at that picture of her they used, she is leaking blood OUT OF ALL OF HER ORIFICES
So, the movie takes place in the early eighties, but leaves you to figure that one out on your own. we begin with the words "Squeal like a pig" which can never lead to good things but it's just little Oskar, our scrawny, lonely main character, posturing in front of his window with a penknife, playing the tough guy to no one. Oskar has a pretty crummy life, he is picked on by some bullies who at first seem fairly run-of-the-mill but get pretty damn scary later on, divorced parents (dad's an alcoholic, mom's good-natured but always working) and he appears to be a budding sociopath in training: no friends, carries that knife around, keeps newspaper clippings of gory incidents. Cuddly, right?
Actually, if I may interrupt the flow here, this does get surprisingly cuddly. It is simultaneously the most adorable and horrifying movie I have ever seen. What the hell? Explanations later.
So Oskar finds a friend when a girl and her dad move in next door. When this girl first appears out in the courtyard she is dirty, with greasy hair and a wild face. But Oskar, maybe sensing a lonely soul, is surprisingly kind to her, giving her his Rubik's cube and just generally being friendly. He remarks on her lack of winter clothes and her odd smell but is otherwise unconcerned with her weirdness. Her name is Eli, and she is 12 "more or less". In truth, Eli is a terrifying creature of the night and her "dad" is some random dude named Hakan who goes out and murders people so Eli doesn't have to attack people. It's never explained why he does this, what his connection is to her. In the book it's based on, he apparently has a pederastic attraction to Eli that she uses to her advantage but the movie never clears this up. Anyway, Hakan sucks at killing people. Not that he's too kind-hearted, in truth, Eli seems to have more remorse for the people she has to kill to remain alive, it's that Hakan is just totally incompetent. There are some incredibly awkward laughs to be had when he bungles each murder.
So while the townsfolk puzzle over the murders, Eli and Oskar begin to bond. This is where the movie shines the most. The kids are incredible actors and truly make you feel for them and their friendship. Oskar, with some of his creepier tendencies could have come off as weird as hell but instead we sympathize. Eli could've just been fucking scary and at times she is, the movie pulls no punches when she feeds, but while is world-weary and deeply sad, she also seems to have retained a sort of youthful hope and this hope manifests itself in her relationship with Oskar, who it's obvious she cares for deeply. The scenes of them together are cute as hell, and the more she sees him, the more human she looks, like cleaning herself up, wearing normal clothes etc. If Eli wasn't a bloodsucking nightmare this could easily be a heartwarming, coming-of-age story.
But it's not. And there are consequences as Eli visits bloody death onto totally innocent people which leads to one of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever seen when a woman becomes accidentally turned to a vampire. Seriously, it's difficult to watch and it's the total opposite of what you expect. So, climaxes occur, arms are torn off, bullies get comeuppance and then some, crotches are shown (very briefly) to prove vampiric androgyny, and then it ends with a scene that I think was supposed to be interpreted as one of the cute ones, and in a way it is, Oskar and Eli are together, their deep care for each other remains strong, but the long-run implications, especially with Hakan gone, are kind of fucked up.
So, let's see, beautiful cinematography, creepy as hell atmosphere (they used some kind of super-microphone because you can HEAR EVERY SOUND and this is creepy), wonderful acting and a story that is subtle, nuanced, scary and (dare I say) cute. And I never never never want to see it again. Four and a half catapults out of five for living up the hype and then some.
And now to completely change gears and tackle this week's Sean Connery movie, The Wind and The Lion.
So, in 1975, John Milius thought it would be awesome to make a movie based on this historical incident involving Teddy Roosevelt, this Berber outlaw dude named Raisuli and his kidnapping of a middle-aged man named Ion Pedecaris. Ok, sounds cool. He also decided that having Pedacaris as a dude would make a romantic subplot with our aforementioned Berber outlaw a tad awkward, and so he made her a lady and saddled her with two kids for the hell of it. But this ok too, because Eden Pedacaris is played by Candice Bergen and is a total bad-ass. Then Milius decided that it would be equally awesome to cast Sean Connery as the Arabic Raisuli.
Seriously, between Hunt for Red October, Highlander, Time Bandits, James Bond, First Knight, The Untouchables, The Name of the Rose, Robin and Marion and this, he has played every freaking nationality except Scottish! Anyway, the movies slips in some BS about how he was taught English by Scotsmen and that's supposed to make it ok. So the movie is very much like The Man Who Would Be King in that's a fun, swashbuckling sort of movie that you shouldn't think too much about. So Eden and her munchkins are kidnapped by Raisuli in attempt to get some attention, embarrass the Sultan, who held him in prison for several years and hopefully get some civil war going on. Raisuli is painted a noble outlaw, a warrior with a heart of gold which historically is kind of ehhh, but The Connery makes it work. He actually plays Raisuli kind of breezily, he's always chuckling and sort of amused by things. Bergen, as Pedacaris is straight up awesome. She holds her own with Raisuli and never stoops to that cowardly hostage bullshit. In fact, once the two begin to become romantically inclined and Raisuli is captured by the baddies, she's the one who rescues him! Sure, some American soldiers show up and give her a hand but she was totally ready to storm in their and kick some ass all by her lonesome! Fuck yeah, Eden Pedacaris!
The movie's biggest weaknesses are it's total flouting of historical accuracy, in that it arbitrarily makes Germans the bad guys because it's easy to do so, those little pre-Nazis bastards! (seriously though, they had like, nothing to do with anything). The other weakness is ironically also a great strength of the movie: Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt is captured perfectly by Brian Keith, in that he is portrayed as bad-ass mofo who when he goes riding needs an extra horse for his massive balls. Roosevelt rocks in this movie but he might just be too awesome. In what is ostensibly a movie about Pedacaris and Raisuli, Milius lingers on Roosevelt for extremely long amounts of time. And it's interesting and fairly awesome but it sort of pushes the main conflict to the side in favor of large amounts of Teddy-time, which I am all for, but I feel like Milius really wanted to make a Roosevelt biopic, which he ought to have just done instead rather than smoosh Raisuli's story in with it.
Overall, it is a sweeping adventure movie with likable, charismatic characters, a silly plot that moons history as we know it, and some spectacular desert visuals. I give it one third of a Roosevelt, which equals out to three catapults out of five.
See ya tomorrow, I'm gonna go not think about spiders now (god dammit). This is Sugary Cynic saying "screw letting the right one in, put bolts on the door and keep that fucker out!"
Sherif: "Great Raisuli, we have lost everything. All is drifting on the wind as you said. We have lost everything"
Raisuli: "Sherif, is there not one thing in your life that is worth losing everything for?"