Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Big Fan, Tokyo Drifter, The Baader Meinhof Complex

Here's some short reviews of films I've recently watched. Going to try to do more of these short capsule reviews to go along with the longer reviews of new films I've been doing for Urban Tulsa.

Big Fan. This 2009 film from writer/director Robert Siegel (who scripted 2008's The Wrestler) takes a darkly comic turn into the world of the obsessive sports fan. Patton Oswalt plays Paul, a New York Giants fan with a dead end job in a parking garage and a passion for calling sports talk radio. He lives with his mom, he hangs out with an equally obsessed friend (Kevin Corrigan) and posters of the Giants are all over his bedroom walls. When he actually comes in contact with his favorite Giant--bad things happen to Paul and his safe, going nowhere life begins to unravel.

Big Fan has a lot of cringe moments as you watch it. I imagine there are a lot of people like Paul, who lead sort of empty lives supplemented by their devotion and attachment to sports teams. I happen to be a huge follower of University of Oklahoma football (pretty much since the day I was born) and we've got our rabid, maniacal fan base. I have lots of other interests though--unlike people like Paul. All he has is the Giants and calling a radio show anonymously. It's pretty sad. Big Fan is full of the same kind of sadness and obsessiveness and is an interesting little film.

Tokyo Drifter. Seijun Suzuki's film is about style over substance--although not sure he meant it to be that way. The story is a convoluted mess that has a gangster named Tetsu sort of going about Tokyo or other cities while being pursued by rival gangs. You know, drifting. There wasn't much separation between the various gangs--he's being chased and people want him dead. That's really not enough but that's the story.

Tokyo Drifter is indeed stylish with lots of vibrant, colorful sets in various locales in a Tokyo that is in swingin' 1960s mode. The film is rather dated unfortunately and has not held up well in the forty plus years since its release in 1966. Yes, it looks really good at times but there's nothing below the surface for the bulk of the film. I didn't care about Tetsu or any of the other gangsters shown in the film. Style alone is not enough when it comes to Tokyo Drifter.

The Baader Meinhof Complex. Uli Edel's 2008 film tells the story of the Red Army Faction (RAF) in West Germany in the 1970s as they become increasingly more violent as the decade unfolds. At first, they are just leftist radicals angry with American influence in Germany and capitalism in general but soon they begin to load up on weapons, rob banks, blow stuff up and assassinate various people. If what is in this is accurate--these people make American groups operating at the same time (such as the Weathermen) seem like a bunch of middle schoolers.

The film is like most movies that attempt to address radicals from this era--lots of simplified political sound bites and communiques, lots of people hiding out in rooms, lots of scenes of the government attempting to capture them. The Baader Meinhof Complex is entertaining as it adds a lot of shootouts to its doses of its style and violence but you'd probably be best served to read the book that this was based on to learn more about them.


Bungle said...

I think you missed something about Big Fan. Yeah Oswalt is a sad loser, but he's OK with it for the most part. Didn't you ever know an obsessive geek that seemed aloof to anything outside of their niche interest? Could be sports, a band, D&D, whatever, but what seems sad on the outside, from their point of view is perfectly acceptable, even fulfilling.

Oswalt was great in the role, too.

Agreed on Tokyo Drifter. Haven't seen Baader Meinhof, but it's in my Netflix streaming queue.

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Bungle--Your right and maybe I didn't make it clear in my little capsule that I actually kind of sympathize w/ these people because I am a bit of a fanatic OU football fan. Fanatical. I'm not a fan of Oswalt but he was good in this...as was Corrigan. I liked BIG FAN--it is unsettling and interesting and makes you feel uncomfortable.