Thursday, July 11, 2013

Movie: The Last of the Mohicans Part 2: The Actual Movie

I have always liked the scenery in this movie.

This movie was filmed in my back yard, and the foliage combinations look familiar.  So do the views, which are very reminiscent of The Great Smokey Mountains.  These areas are beautiful outside of the movie, and that helps them a lot.  Despite the cinematographer's tendency to induce claustrophobia during intimate scenes(I swear he puts a camera in someone's armpit sometimes), when he backs the camera up he is able to capture their beauty.

Daniel Day-Lewis is here in all his hyphenated last name glory.  People looking to find a bombastic performance like that of There Will Be Blood or Gangs of New York will not find that character here.  Hawk-eye and those he travels with are very solemn.  It is the script that limits almost all the actors in this story.  Day-Lewis' role, except for near the end and one bit of very close in, quiet exposition, is regulated to snarky, one liner, smart ass comments at "stupid white people".  All the best stuff is given to the British characters, and by and large they deliver the lines without stumble, and with convincing feeling.  The most emotional kick comes from Russell Means' Chingachgook, but sadly that comes late in the movie.

By 1992 standards, this movie has lots of action.  This movie is obviously before fight choreographers got top billing.  The colonial fight scenes can hold no candle to the likes of Mel Gibson's The Patriot, but for its era it was visceral.  Watching Hawk-eye use any weapon he can get his hands on to take out the enemy is great, and even though these are single shot muskets, there's always some lying around that he can grab and put to use.  The use of tomahawks and clubs result in blood splatters and sickening thuds, and in general this adds to the fear of seeing your favorite character in a fight at all.  Largely the mass combat of the British vs French war is regulated to "hearing" and not "seeing".

Romance from a Romantic Era writer is going to remind you a lot of Romeo and Juliette when looked at with a modern eye.  These people fall in love forever, at the drop of a hat.  The primary love story plays out between Cora and Hawk-eye, but the whole time you're thinking "but what about her fiance'?"  In the Romantic Era, this would have been the usual kind of "destiny" love story, but today is just looks like Cora can not keep her lips off this savage, masculine white guy raised as a noble native.  Even throwing away her Fiance' because she can not resist the animal urge of his rough nobility.

Amazing scenery when it gets the spotlight.
Competent acting with several spots of true greatness showing through.
High and deadly action when it is needed.
So so romance.

Most criticism is a stretch and generally does not detract from the overall experience.  A great movie worth watching.  I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Movie: Last of the Mohicans Part 1

The Last of the Mohicans seems a perfect movie to start all this off with.


Well this movie has quite the history with me, which will be the focus of Part 1 of my post about the movie.  This post is about my personal history and so might be boring for the rest of you, but a trip down memory lane for myself.

I have often told people that before the 2nd half of 2nd Grade, I was not much of a student.  Outside of standardized tests(which I've always excelled at), I was horrible at doing daily work.  I think I always loved learning new and interesting things, but I have always hated repetitive busy work.  At the end of 2nd Grade a few things came together that changed my life.  The reading of Greek Myths and the eventual discovery of King Arthur along with the Dragon Warrior video game ignited my interest in reading.  Once I started, I could not get enough.  There was a particular King Arthur book I checked out and re-read over and over.  It was not till 3rd Grade that I really began reading by the boatloads.


I love food.  Anyone that knows me knows that I'm not dead as of this typing, and that is largely because I eat.  Eating does things like provide nutrients, but also provides a sort of pleasure that if you have not eaten, then I can not describe accurately.  Try eating, I whole heartedly suggest doing it several times a year.

In 3rd grade there was a program that if you read a certain amount of books, you got a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.  That year I read so many books that just about everyone except my mother questioned it, to them it seemed like this student who a couple of years before was slightly under achieving, was gaming the system for pizza.  No way could I be the number 1 reader in my class.

At first my teacher questioned me about the books.  Then other teachers who saw I was leading the whole grade would come and quiz me about the books.  Eventually even the principal, a man that had worked with me in my early years, came by and questioned me.  I did not realize myself just how well I remembered things I read back then, but I could rattle off facts and quotes from books that were 10-20 books down on the list.  It satisfied them all, and I was never questioned again.

So what did I read during all of this?  Well my school had this gigantic collection of "famous childhoods" semi-biographies on the shelf.  The majority of them were based on presidents and frontiersmen.  I read the childhoods of Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, but also the lesser knowns such as Ethan Allen, Will Clark, and Kit Carson.  Interestingly, they also had the Native American series of famous childhoods, and through them I was able to get a view of the other side of the frontier expansion.

One of these books I particularly liked:  James Fenimore Cooper.  I do not know if it was his strangely fun to say name, or what, but I liked his book.  I had no clue much about why he was famous, I think in the back and the beginning they mentioned he was an author about the frontier.  It was around the beginning of 4th Grade that the movie, Last of the Mohicans was released.  I actually got to go and see it when it was new because my best friend at the time was going to see it with his family and I was invited along.

You have to understand that I am much more a "read it and remember it" kind of person, and at this age this movie was really all over the place for me.  First, I have never been in a huge theater like this before.  Earlier I had my first Chinese food EVER when the family ate at a restaurant.  The scenery of the movie was amazing, there were a lot of characters to keep up with, and and... well I loved the movie as a kid, but I would have to see it a few more times once it came out on video before I fully understood everything that was going on.

I would be in "frontiersmen" mode for a couple of years.  I ran out of books in the library about that subject, and I had recently began thinking maybe baseball was something I was interested in(the Braves were the most successful baseball team at the time, and Atlanta did not have much luck in the 80's, so the early to mid 90's was a new golden age, but I'll save that for some baseball movies later).  Watching Last of the Mohicans is kind of like revisiting a very formative time in my life, one that I felt instilled in me a lot of my values.

Despite that, I do not watch this movie with rose tented glasses in my adult life, there are flaws, but that's for Part 2.