December 11th, 2009

cameron undone

the best MacGyverisms by people who are not named MacGyver

I recently watched A BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, which is a pretty nifty movie. It falls into a class of films that I don't think has ever been described as a genre: "a guy comes to town and finds a mystery." THE THIRD MAN is another classic example. The nice thing about the genre is that it's not as limiting as (say) the DIE HARD imitators; DIE HARD is a perfect movie, but UNDER SIEGE and PASSENGER 57 and all these other flicks don't depart very much from the DIE HARD formula. Whereas in "a guy comes to town and finds a mystery," the nature of the mystery and the town's reaction to his investigating it can vary considerably.

One thing that was really interesting about the movie is a bit that comes out of nowhere, but is absolute genius: in a climactic scene, Spencer Tracy does a glorious MacGyver bit to save his bacon. It put me in mind of Geoffrey Household's novel ROGUE MALE, which is not a famous blockbuster movie for reasons that escape me (it's been filmed twice, once by Fritz Lang and once for TV with Peter O'Toole; have to look for those). ROGUE MALE is about a prominent Englishman on a hunting trip who, on a whim, just to see if it can be done, tries to aim his rifle at a dictator who is not explicitly stated to be Adolf Hitler. (Household tips his hand very little; he does everything he can to make you think it could just as easily be Stalin.) Caught by the secret police, he is tortured and dumped in an attempt to make his death look accidental, because they don't want an international incident, and the hero is prominent enough that Questions Would Be Asked. But the hero survives and goes on the run, with the bad guys chasing him. It is, I think, the greatest fugitive thriller of all time; the tension never lets up. And there is one part where the hero, in a tight spot, does a completely amazing and horrifyingly brilliant MacGyverism that I wouldn't dream of spoiling for you but will make you go, "Fuck yeah!"

Got me thinking: what are some other works with great MacGyverisms? Not MacGyver's own, I mean.
cass groovy

APED: "not so young anymore"

Sometimes I feel like I missed out on time,
like on the way up, I missed part of the climb;
I was thirty-three, and now I'm thirty-four,
and I'm not so young anymore.

I didn't feel old, and I don't feel it now,
but I know it's coming someday soon, somehow,
I'll be forty-three, then I'll be forty-four,
and I'm not so young anymore.

And I'll be fifty, sixty, and seventy, too,
and eighty or ninety, if my luck comes through,
and who knows how much longer? I could hope for more --
and I'm not so young anymore.

And it's not looking young that I'll miss, when it comes,
though I might miss my hair, and the teeth in my gums,
but the spring in my step, and the joints free of pain
when I first wake up, or when I feel the rain,
and it's losing youth's hope, which I had, once before,
and I'm not so young anymore.

So stay here with me, for as long as you can,
and you be my woman, and I'll be your man,
and we'll live while we can, and we won't ask for more,
though we're not so young anymore.

The world is real big, so let's go and explore,
who says we're not young anymore?
cass groovy


THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is a hell of an interesting movie. It's definitely a major evolution for Disney animation, and not just because the main character, Tiana, is Disney's first black princess. There are several points where you will find yourself thinking, "Huh, that's really not what I expected out of a Disney movie." There are some bits and characters that don't quite work, and others that are really glorious; it looks absolutely beautiful, and it has a feeling of experimentation that is nice to see, if it's not always successful. Disney is playing with its format and trying to do some new stuff, and that's always interesting to watch.

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