Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Real Ending to Little Shop of Horrors

I'm not a musical fan. There are plenty of exceptions (most of them containing Muppets), but I generally find the genre tedious and overlong. But the first musical I remember loving was Little Shop of Horrors (and of course, it's directed by Frank Oz who was a puppeteer and voice of many Muppets). It's got an amazing cast -- Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, John Candy, Levi Stubbs, Christopher Guest -- incredible songs (Martin's being my favorite), and ambitious puppet work. In high school, a classmate and I did a report on the movie for music class and built our own little Audrey II.

It wasn't until I was in college (or thereabouts) that I learned of an original ending that wasn't used. I've always wanted to see it, hearing that it dealt with worldwide annihilation. I never bought the DVD, holding out for the super deluxe edition (come on Criterion!) with the original ending. Not the happy, piece of shit that exists now (actually, the ending is very satisfying as it stands). As luck would have it, just put out a small list of movies that had the endings tampered with by studios and it directed me to the following series of videos of the original Little Shop of Horros ending! With commentary from Frank Oz!

I almost can't believe the studio didn't use this stuff because it looks amazing and must have cost a fortune. Oz gives a fair amount of interesting info about what it took to operate Audrey II, as well. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top 5 Films: New Hampshire

It's been a while, but the Top 5 has returned! I was inspired to pick New Hampshire because I just met a friend's dad who is visiting from there. I didn't find a ton of films that take place there for certain, but that wasn't a problem because so many of the films I did find are so damn good. Please be sure to tell me if there's a glaring omission.

The Devil and Daniel Webster
I can't type this title without having to think about it's Webster or Johnston. It'd be much less confusing if more knew it by its alternate title, All That Money Can Buy (of course, the documentary might then be called All That Daniel Johnston Can Buy). This film has been parodied countless times, most notably by The Simpsons (isn't that the case with all popular culture?):
A man sells his soul to the devil for seven years of luck and wealth. When the devil comes to collect, the man wants to reneg on the deal and gets Daniel Webster, a skilled speaker to fight on his behalf. The film is basically a courtroom drama played out in a barn. Walter Huston is amazing as Mr. Scratch (the bad guys get to have all the fun) and Bernard Hermann won an Oscar for the score before he started his most famous work with Alfred Hitchcock. The film was edited by Robert Wise, so between Hermann and Wise, it was like a mini Citizen Kane reunion.

In the Mouth of Madness
What is it with evil forces and New Hampshire? I didn't care much for In the Mouth of Madness the first time I saw it. It was OK, but not John Carpenter's best. Then, not long ago, some friends picked it to watch and I loved the crap out of it. In fact, I recommended to a friend who'd felt the same way to rewatch it and he had the same experience as me. I don't know what we missed the first time around, but it's creepy and unsettling and off-the-walls. I like watching Sam Neill in borderline crazy mode (even in Event Horizon, which I don't particularly care for). Sutter Cane is a fantastic name for a horror novelist. Just the sound of it conjures images of some reclusive, dark, tormented soul. It fits in perfectly with the excellence of the other films in Carpenter's "Apocalypse Trilogy," The Thing and Prince of Darkness. It saddens me that this, like most of Carpenter's films, are confined to cult status and more people don't experience them.
Ok, that tag line sucks.

Lolita isn't my favorite Kubrick film and I've never read the book, so I can't say how it stands up to that (though more and more, I'm less concerned with how faithful a movie is to its source than I am that it gets the spirit of the source right). My biggest problem is that Lolita loses its momentum the minute Lolita and Humbert start road tripping it (the film runs 152 minutes which is WAY too long for the subject matter). Until that point, everything is great. Shelley Winters is batshit crazy the way she always is, but it's perfect for the role and James Mason makes for a great pedophile. But Peter Sellers steals the movie. Every scene he's in is alive with humor and tension. Claire Quilty is a great counterpoint to Humbert. Funny, suave, confident. The role was smartly expanded for the film (seriously, you can't waste someone as great as Sellers who seems to be training for his multi-part performance in Dr. Strangelove with this role).
That's the first time I've seen this trailer and it's amazing!

The Rules of Attraction
I was reluctant to see The Rules of Attraction when it was initially released. Call it "van der Beek-lash." I hated both Dawson's Creek and Varsity Blues and thought him quite the smarmy douchebag. When I finally caught up with the film, I was pleased to see that not only is it more of an ensemble piece, but he's not at all unappealing in it (as a person, not a character, if that makes sense). The film is darkly comic and features one of the most intense suicides I've ever seen on film. Seriously, the scene made me woozy. Also, regarding the character that commits suicide, I'm pretty sure a device used in the film that shows her at various parties and whatnot around campus was used in a Tiny Toons episode where Buster and Babs were competing to see who could get in more pictures in the yearbook. The device is the reveal of the winner at the end of the episode (I wonder what the crossover of Rules of Attraction and Tiny Toon Adventures enthusiasts is that will understand what I'm referencing).

What About Bob?
I saw this in the theater with my mom and I felt like for the longest time I was the only person in the world who liked it. What About Bob? is directed by Frank Oz, which I'd forgotten, but makes me intensely happy because I want to love anything made by people involved with the Muppets (which, sadly, isn't possible). I still think variations on "baby steps" to myself, especially when doing something mildly challenging. Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss make a great pair, watching one become more comfortable and overcoming his neuroses while the other descends into madness. I'm particularly a fan of entertainment that features one person with a view of someone that isn't matched by anyone in the community. It works for comedy, drama, thrillers... well, everything! It's kind of sad that Murray seems to mostly play pseudo-comic, understated depressives these days, but I guess his '90s run of playing happy-go-lucky goofballs didn't get the critical plaudits he's getting now. I just miss this particular Bill Murray (see also: The Man Who Knew Too Little).
And, with some minor tweaking, it could've been this:

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Premature Rant About the Baseball Post-Season

It seems that every year, Bud Selig is talking about wanting to expand the MLB post-season by adding two more Wild Card teams. Right now, MLB only has 8 (out of 30) teams make the post-season while the NFL has 12 (of 32), and the NBA and NHL have 16 (of 30). Selig justifies this by stating that MLB will still have the lowest number and smallest percentage of post-season teams in amongst big four sports. The idea is that it will make for more meaningful games late into the season and and allows for more variety of teams that make the playoffs. Oh, and will make lots more money for the League.

Forgetting the fact that more games in the postseason means playing well into November (which the World Series consistently threatens these days), I fail to see what expanding the post-season would really add to the game, except favoring the top teams more. So we have some sort of playoffs between the Wild Card teams then they get to join the others? Why bother? Plus, right now, the Tampa Bay Rays are in third place (fourth in the league overall) of the toughest division in baseball (just compare run differentials to see that) and would barely make the second Wild Card spot even though they are a game and a half up on the first place Detroit Tigers. I've got enough issues with the current baseball post-season system to add more ridiculousness.

Right now, barring any team going on a terrible losing streak (which has happened, but I doubt will), the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, and Brewers are going to make the playoffs and it's not even September. That's five out of eight spots. Expanding the post-season adds a few more teams to the mix, but also secures the odds of the five teams already on their way. The chance of historic collapses shrinks as more teams are let into the playoffs. And collapses are just as exciting as dog fights for the playoffs.

Of course, I don't understand why the top four records don't make it to the playoffs. It avoids years like 2005 when the Padres made the playoffs with an 82-80 record. Sure, the schedules aren't balanced, but with Interleague Play, that's the case as it is (and boy is that a feature that's worn itself out). As I stated earlier, right now the Rays have the fourth best record in the American League. They play the Red Sox and Yankees (combined run differential:+332) a total of 35 times! Can anyone suggest that if they have the fourth best record in the AL at the end of the season that they don't belong in the playoffs? There's only one team in the AL East with a record under .500! Before Selig starts adding more teams unnecessarily to the baseball post-season, let's at least make sure that the teams already making it deserve to be there.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Some Diamonds in the Rough (including Dancing De Niro

One of these days I'm going to continue my States Series and finally finish the Top Films from Each Year of My Life (I can't even remember where I left off!). Until then, here's another Netflix recap (re-Capp?).

Dead and Buried -- Gary Sherman
I kept seeing this movie in my recommendations, but it wasn't until watching Guillermo del Toro's commentary on Trailers From Hell that I added it to my queue. It was kind of late one night and I was up alone wanting to watch a scary movie not much longer than 90 minutes on Instant View and Dead and Buried fit the bill. The first thing that perked me up to the experience that night was that it's written by Dan O'Bannon (Dark Star, Alien, Return of the Living Dead). That dude rules! Dead and Buried starts out super-cheesy but that doesn't last long. I'm not going to give much about my experience watching it because there was a turn that really surprised me and hooked me for the rest of the movie.

Tangent: Contrary to want recent research claims, I believe that spoilers can (not will) ruin the experience of reading a book or watching a movie. Firstly, there's a reason the author constructed the narrative in the way they did. Leaving out certain information, shrouding things in mystery, etc. If the author really thought it would be more enjoyable for the audience to know this information, they'd include it. Secondly, how does one quantify the experience? Knowing the ending changes the way one interacts with the story. The experience between someone who knows the ending and one who doesn't aren't comparable. There's no control. The former may say the experience was more enjoyable because they didn't have to work to figure out where the story was going. Additionally, when there's a really great plot development or twist, it sends tingles through my body. Something I didn't see coming. People who know that information don't have that visceral reaction. Finally, what's overlooked in all of this: what's the harm in watching a movie or reading a book twice? Don't people do that anymore? That way you can experience the thrill of discovery and the joy of the structure. End tangent.

Anyway, Dead and Buried is a ton of fun. One to watch with a crowd. The ending doesn't completely makes sense, but the ride is pretty awesome. Keep an eye out for pre-Freddy Robert Englund.

Ginger Snaps -- John Fawcett

The Last House on the Left -- Wes Craven
I was really surprised by Last House. I know people who love it and revere it as a classic and those who hate it and talk about how overrated it was. All I really knew was that it was pretty brutal and intense. What I didn't know and the main reason why I liked it (and am liking even more the more I think about it) is how it bounces between genres. Yes it's brutal and that's all anyone talks about, but it's also bizarrely comic. There are bumbling cops who can share the blame for everything bad that happens to the girls and the parents. The psychotics, when not demeaning and murdering teenage girls, are kind of an amusing band of misfits. David Hess is incredibly charismatic whether tormenting or just being a macho ass (he basically reprises this role in The House at the Edge of the Park). Hess makes for a good seque to the music, which he also composed. There's no menacing score. It's almost all ragtime-influenced ditties that, if my ears detected correctly, recount the events of the film. There's so many disperate elements working that I couldn't help but be endeared to The Last House on the Left (as far as one can be endeared to a movie in which a man makes a woman pee herself).

Bang the Drum Slowly -- John D. Hancock
This movie is a piece of shit. And I promise it's not because the featured team, the New York Mammoths, strongly resemble the Yankees. Michael Moriarty is an utter bore and he's the narrator! He's got not charisma and he's stiff as a board. There are some good performances, most notably Vincent Gardenia, but there's not much going for this film. The baseball scenes are a travesty and I noticed at least one time where they reused footage of De Niro running to first base (if, in fact, it was him). De Niro isn't given too much to do except play dumb, though, as hard as I'm being on Band the Drum Slowly, it may feature De Niro's most riveting performance in a scene ever.

The Case of the Bloody Iris -- Giuliano Carnimeo
This is basically like every other giallo I've seen I had to reread the synopsis just to remember what it was about and I just watched it. There's very little to set it apart from other efforts in the genre. I'm still not sure why the two women moved into an apartment where, from all I could tell, a colleague of theirs had just been murdered. But you don't watch these films for sensical narratives and it does deliver boobs and blood. So there's that...

Following -- Christopher Nolan
I don't know if I have an anti-fanboy reaction to Christopher Nolan or what. His films are good. I've never regretted watching one, but I rarely have a desire to return to them let alone tout them as great (right now, the IMDB Top 250 has The Dark Knight and Inception at the nine and ten spot, respectively, though that could change by the time you look). Given his current crop of (admittedly) visually and technically stunning films, it's interesting to go back to his first movie. There's more Memento in Following than any of his other works and I enjoyed the time jumping and slow reveals. It's purpose is more to keep thing audience in the dark as opposed to any narrative reason (like in Memento), but the film is brisk and the performances entertaining. Nolan is very good at delineating moments in time visually without having to resort to titles. Definitely worth checking out.

Small Change -- Francois Truffaut

Red Riding 1980 -- James Marsh
I just learned that Marsh directed Man on Wire, which makes me excited in retrospect that he's getting work, but also because I'm fascinated by people who can bounce between documentary and fiction filmmaking (using "fiction" for lack of a better term). There weren't the odd "artistic" flourishes the plagued Red Riding 1974 and I thought it was interesting how the two tied together, but I think I need to adjust my thinking about this trilogy before I get to the third. I'm expecting the investigation of the murders to play a bigger part, but the films appear to be more about the roadblocks in the way to the truth. There's an X-Files level of paranoia and conspiracy, just without the aliens. I may have to watch these again sometime with my new found perspective. As it stands, I like 1980. It's beautifully shot. I love Paddy Considine (though I can't see him anymore without him saying "Murder, murder, murder!"). But didn't get what I thought I was getting. Right now, I'll say the deficiency is on my end.

99 Women -- Jess Franco
Oh, Franco. I'm almost done with you. I've been saying that for a while, but there's only one more film of yours on my queue. Soon, this self-flagellation can stop. I think we all have these perverse curiosities about things. A coworker of mine just watched the entire Twilight saga (the ones on DVD at least) knowing full-well that he'd hate them (he does claim the third as the best, for what it's worth). What can I say? 99 Women sucks. First of all, it should be called Woman 99, since she's the focus and it has little to do with all 99 women imprisoned. I couldn't help but think Franco took the idea of people as numbers from The Prisoner, which aired a year or so prior, but I'm not going to put any effort into finding out. It's not Franco's worst, but it's not his "best" (in quotes because, as far as I can tell, none of his films are really worth watching. My mind reels at the fact that he worked with Orson Welles and assembled a cut of Welles' Don Quixote.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The X-Files: Season (Gr)8?

For what seems like an impossibly long time, I've be watching entire series of The X-Files, start to finish. I was one of the few people who never got into it when it first aired (more of a Third Rock from the Sun man, myself) and only saw episodes in syndication about three times (two of which was the episode with Jack Black and Giovanni Ribisi [the other was the riff on The Thing, Ice, and is amazing]). However, since my youth, my sensibilities have changed a lot. As a kid, I got scared quite easily and slept with the light above the stairway to my room on all the time (my room was in the attic and my dad would occasionally turn it off before I fell asleep, so I'd have to brave my room in the dark to turn it back on, a process a call "re-lumination"). It makes sense that I would favor the comedy about aliens than the one with monsters, violence, and any number of creepy crawlies.

Seasons One and Two were largely hit and miss. The episodes that everyone hated weren't as bad as all that and many of the episodes people loved weren't as good, either, but the show had a good hook and I knew that it was going to pick up into Season Three. And it did. I was told that the show started it's downward decline at Season Six by some sources, Seven by others. I'd say Seven as Six is my favorite season with ease.

The X-Files took a lot of risks during this sweet spot playing with genre and storytelling. The Monster-of-the-Week episodes were generally more entertaining and interesting than the alien/Mulder's/Native American stuff, which was usually stilted and self-serious (and convoluted as the show went on). And almost right on queue, Season Seven hit a creative nadir for the show.

That's not to say I didn't have problems with the rest of the series. Mulder is frequently an ass hole who mistreats and marginalizes Scully (the better writers are able to play this up and self-consciously mock the show, which generally makes Scully seem all the stronger in the end). Scully is almost always a passive participant in the X-Files who is usually the victim. She is a target against her will whereas Mulder is fully responsible for any peril he is in. For as strong of a character as Scully is, the gender politics of the show/writers is very evident (it'd be interesting to see how many of the episodes that give Scully short shrift were written by non-staff writers).

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have great chemistry together and as the show progressed, the filmmaking just got better and better. Then Season Seven comes along and everyone seems like they're sleepwalking through it. Most of the episodes are outright boring and the whole pregnancy angle is a drama killer. Add to that Duchovny the departure of Duchovny for much of Season 8 and it really does feel like the show is going to fall apart.

I get why people aren't into Season 8. I have friends who've already voiced skepticism about me liking it. A lot of it stems from losing the Mulder/Scully chemistry and having to insert a new character into the middle of all the action, give him a backstory, and make the viewer care. I don't envy Robert Patrick for having to dive and try to fill Duchovny's shoes. But by and large, I think the shows writers nailed a Sisyphean task. Agent Doggett could have come across as an ass, just like the people who used to mock Mulder, but he views his job as having two duties: finding Mulder and being there for his partner. While the switch in Scully to trying to be more like Mulder sometimes feels forced, she's given a great monologue about how she's trying her best to think like him and it's not working. The shadow of Mulder looms over the show in his absence and that's a good thing.

It's fun to watch a new person experience the paranormal for the first time again as the show couldn't sustain Scully's disbelief much longer since she's seen so much herself. When (spoiler alert) Mulder returns, the writers mine some nice conflict between Mulder and Doggett who bot want the best for Scully, but Mulder is Mulder and can't trust anyone until he sees them do something to show whose side they are on.

Season 8 isn't all good. Scully's pregnancy puts her on the sidelines a lot and I'm not a fan of Agent Reyes (who looks like she's going to be around for a while). The trama from Doggett's life about his son is pretty hackneyed and a cheap way to try to humanize him. But by and large, the show needed a shake up and it worked. Season 8 was pretty awesome. Not Three to Six awesome, but close. I'd be very interested to hear what fans who revisited Season 8 think about it now knowing what to expect and not having the same emotions tied up in the show.

I haven't watched Season 9 yet, but if there's one thing I know, it's that babies ruin everything.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

No Fishing, I Swear

I've been oddly busy for an underemployed gentleman this past week, so I haven't had much time to post (and I get a little down when all I post is what I just watched on Netflix as those aren't the most thoughtful of pieces). Writing a blog is a weird thing because you always hope that you're going to have some kind of audience, but that's no guarantee. You hope your friends are interested enough in what you have to say about (mostly) nonsense, but what everyone really desires is to reach people outside of a small circle of friends. Odds are that's not going to happen. On top of that, the only way to know exactly who his reading your stuff is if that person comments on it to you, either in the comments or directly.

I don't actually think I offer much substance on a regular basis on this blog to make anyone outside of people I know care, nor do I think I offer much that is that different from stuff you can get at a million other sites. Plus, I can track the traffic to Creamy Nougat to some degree, which is some kind of feedback (even if most of the traffic is coming because of a picture I took from another site for me Hoop Dreams post... seriously, the Hoop Dreams post has nearly 3x as many views as anything else I've written). However, over at my Tumblr site, Backboard Jungle, I really have know idea how many people I'm reaching. My photos post to Twitter and Facebook, but it's super easy to gloss over things in both of those venues and aside from an awesome friend liking many of my photos, I don't get much feedback. At this point, I'm starting to worry that people are getting tired of seeing this shit pop up in their feeds.

I'm not fishing for accolades, compliments, kudos, or anything like that. I know I'm not doing anything that interesting. All of this is to say that in the past week, I've had a couple people comment on how much they enjoy my little photo project and it made me feel really good. It's easy to get insecure about stuff that you do, especially idle and esoteric pursuits, and knowing that there are people who like what you're offering is more than enough to keep you going. So thanks for the kind words, friends, and thank everyone for engaging with my idle pursuits. I'll try to be less introspective on my next post. And for your enjoyment:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Where I Fail to Come Up with a Witty Title

I had big plans for some other posts this week, but I couldn't find a way to convert VOB or .m4v to .avi or .mpeg or anything I could edit in iMovie. At least not of free and on a Mac. Hopefully I can get it worked out next week. The effort I put in for a bit of silliness. As it stand, you're stuck with another account of my Netflix watching, you lucky things, you.

Girly (aka Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, Girly) -- Freddie Frances
I talked about this briefly in my Cinematographers as Directors, but not to much substance. Girly is one of the weirder films I've ever seen and I (kind of) highly recommend checking it out. It's bizarre and doesn't make much sense it's also pretty unsettling due mostly to the portrayal of the family unit. The Netflix description does not prepare the viewer remotely for the experience:
Girly (Vanessa Howard), a fetching but evil-minded schoolgirl, shares a dark hobby with her oddball household: she lures unsuspecting men to their mansion on the outskirts of London, then engages them in "games" that inevitably end in their deaths. The horrific family project runs smoothly until Girly brings home a new friend (Michael Bryant) who's operating under his own set of rules. Soon, he turns the entire household upside-down.
Basically, that's right, but it's also fairly misleading. I can see watching this film with others and laughing the whole way through it, but watching it alone, it kind of creeped me out (not unlike my experience watching The Other).

The Hallelujah Trail -- John Sturges
I have an issue with comedies that are over two hours (and if I'm being completely honest, over 90 minutes, but there are many exceptions to that). Comedy needs to sustain a certain amount of energy both from the film and the viewer and as a viewer, it can be difficult to stay engaged for much longer than that and The Hallelujah Trail runs about 2.5 hours. Fortunately, it does feature some interesting action set pieces and the film frequently looks great, but unfortunately, it's not really funny. There's plenty of conflict to mine from trying to get many barrels of alcohol through Indian territory into a town run dry, but the story throws in obnoxious temperance movementeers that really drag the film down. I'm not sure I've ever seen a movie where the temperance movement added anything good (though depending on my mood, Elmer Gantry could be an exception). The best I've seen it handled is in The Wild Bunch where it's in the background. However, I'd probably jump at the chance to see it in 70mm.

Intolerance -- D.W. Griffith
Thoughts can be found here.

Red Riding 1974 -- Julian Jarrold
I'm of two minds about this first film of a made-for-television trilogy. It looks amazing (shot on 16mm) and the acting is quite good, but it's basically a procedural that veers off track and features lots of "arty" shots that have little to do with anything (my taste for those type of shots may be at its nadir since I'm reading a book of interviews with Sidney Lumet and he firmly believes that the camera should not be detected). I'm curious to move on to the other films, but that's partially because I feel like nothing was done in this first one to forward the investigation into the murder(s). Still, there's a lot of nice stuff going on and I'm jealous that they can get away with swearing and nudity on British television.

Antichrist -- Lars von Trier
I read a quote from von Trier that I love regarding this film. Paraphrasing, he said that he tried to make a musical and ended up with Dancer in the Dark and he tried to make a horror movie and ended up with Antichrist. The film is pretty disturbing with some intense imagery and shocking scenes (which I won't spoil for you). It falls in the "intense, hyper-real melodramatic horror" category I previously reserved only for Possession. Now that's a double feature that will melt your brain. The only other von Trier work I've seen is Riget and I'm fascinated by the man. I'm going to have to dive into his other works.

Tapeheads -- Bill Fishman
It's a little weird to me including the director when no one really knows who the person is. Whether you buy into the auteur theory or not, it generally tells you something about the film. Anyway, you can find my thoughts here, but clearly discussion of this film is lacking.

A Virgin Among the Living Dead -- Jesus Franco (as Jess Franco)
They may as well call him "Je-zoom Franco" with the constant in and out of the zoom lens. Those of you who read this piece regularly know I'm a masochist when it come to Franco, not unlike my friend who is watching all the Twilight movies just to be culturally up-to-date. I've only kind of liked one of his films and this one just sucked. Reading the title, I bet you thought to yourself, "Ooooo... a zombie movie!" That's what I thought. Holy lord, I was wrong. I can't even get mad at the film because technically, there are many living dead in the film. This falls squarely under the classic exploitation tactic of naming the movie something crazy and having an awesome poster to get an audience. There were two really cool shots in the film, so it wasn't a total loss, golly, it's a stinker.

Midway --Jack Smight
My viewing of Midway was greatly shaded by my general annoyance at American politics. This film is very "Rah, rah, America!" and my feelings are quite the opposite. Plus, the film is not that good. It has an absolutely stacked cast, but no one gets much to do. The most interesting aspect of the film is that they use actual combat footage in the fight scenes, though occasionally that feels a little exploitative. Plus, with Toshiro Mifune leading the Japanese, it's hard to believe that the Americans could best him. After all, Mifune is the ultimate badass.

Ran -- Akira Kurosawa
I can't think of a better segue than Mifune to Kurosawa. Ran is a beautiful film that's basically the story of King Lear. Possibly the most amazing thing about the film is that Kurosawa made it when he was 75. It's not my favorite of his films, but given how many directors fail to make good movies in their old age, it's pretty remarkable. He also fully embraces gore in this film, which could be viewed as a bit over the top, but I found the occasional rivers of blood to be quite aesthetically pleasing (I also have an image from another of his films, which I can't remember right now, of a geyser of blood shooting from a man's chest). But really, this makes me want to rewatch Seven Samurai.