Monday, June 26, 2017

Soul Stirring Scenes and Ladyhawke

The fascinating Rutger Hauer in Ladyhawke
Recently I started an online discussion on Facebook I entitled "The Best Movies No One Has Ever Seen". There are so many movies out there, it's not impossible that you might know movies that no one else has seen. The reasons can vary. Believe it or not some movies are excellent, but they are released at the wrong times, and they get lost in the hype of other movies.  Sometimes they have a limited release or such little fanfare that people don't hear about them. Independent films very often don't have the resources to make enough noise to attract viewers' attention and sometimes foreign films are very popular in their home countries, but almost unknown in others.

Ladyhawke, an 80s fantasy movie I reviewed last June is what I believe is known as a cult classic, so it's certainly not well known, but it seems to lack the massive audience many classic films enjoy.

This movie stars an entrancing Rutger Hauer plus Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick. With such strong stars, I am surprised it has not gotten more attention. This film has some flaws, but it still captivates me with with its medieval setting and myth. It is not at all the rather corny fantasy story you might come across in that decade. When I watched it again to refresh my memory before the review, it drew me in again.

I always thoroughly appreciate rich fantasy which stirs something deep inside of you whether it is fear, or sadness, or awe. Recently I saw Guy Ritchie's King Arthur, which I enjoyed despite the many negative reviews, but I was struck by its huge, over the top final battle which lacked the soul stirring quality of scenes from movies like The Last Unicorn and Ladyhawke. Some of these movies know how to create moments which awe without battering the senses and throwing in every possible special effect until what happens becomes less compelling. Even the Lord of the Rings movies knew how to accomplish quiet but powerful scenes though huge battles were also an important part of the storytelling. I'll explore that a bit more in my upcoming King Arthur review. 

For now read more about my views of the fascinating Ladyhawke at The Silver Petticoat Review, and let me know some of the best movies you've seen that hardly anyone else seems to know about in the comments.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Last Unicorn Continues To Stand As An Essential Classic Fantasy

"When the last eagle flies over the last crumbling mountain
And the last lion roars at the last dusty fountain
In the shadow of the forest though she may be old and worn
They will stare unbelieving at the last unicorn"

                                                              ~ "The Last Unicorn" - America

Last year I wrote about Peter S. Beagle's astonishing classic fantasy novel The Last Unicorn at The Silver Petticoat Review. I describe, Beagle's story as "the typical quest story, but it’s full of the unexpected and of contradictions while at the same time employing well-known fantasy elements". I also described his language as "exquisite". No matter how many years pass, I don't think I'll ever change my mind about that. I suppose that's the true mark of a classic.

Beagle is definitely one of the authors who simultaneously inspires and depresses me when I see the genius of his work. I can't imagine attaining his level though of course it's important to at least reach for it.

The movie adaptation by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass is also very extraordinary. They had a unique style that captured the poignancy and beauty and darkness of the tale. They're not afraid to touch on dark themes, something you won't see in most modern animated movies. I wonder if we'll ever see anything like that again in popular children's films. The soundtrack by America is enough to pull the emotions out of you. I can't think of anything more perfect for the theme. 

There's been talk of a live action version of the book for years now. Occasionally there's murmurs about it, but then they die down again, so it seems less and less likely. I think it could be beautifully done if someone was committed to it. 

Let me know what you think of my review  and your views on this essential classic and its movie in the comments. What other fantasy books do you consider essential?