Chinatown (1974, Roman Polanski)
Chinatown (1974, Roman Polanski)
Sam Peckinpah’s bleakest film is one of his most personal. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is nasty, brutish and embittered, but also romantic in its own drunken way; part wish fulfilment and part death wish. The late, great Warren Oates is in his element as Bennie, a cynical barroom pianist in a Mexican drinking hole who foolishly accepts a gig to bring the head of a philandering young stud to an angry Mexican crime boss.
Bennie knows Alfredo Garcia is already dead having met his end in a car crash. He searches out Elita (Isela Vegas) who knows where Garcia’s body is buried. Bennie and Elita become an item though he loses her when he crosses the threshold between life and death by digging up the corpse of Alfredo Garcia and sets himself on a confrontation with his paymasters.
Although famed for the violence present in his films, Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is a slow-moving affair. It moves at a drunkards pace, with Warren Oates shambolic protagonist realising too late his dreams of a life on the open road with his girlfriend and his £10,000 are impossible.
In its own perverse way it is a love letter to Mexico, even though the place is presented as being extremely dangerous. In its quieter moments though, Peckinpah makes the country look like heaven. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is fatalistic offering little hope for Bennie, nor for its director who by then had tired of Hollywood interfering in his work. Critics hated the film on its release describing it as nihilistic, but really it’s a sentimental work by a man who was big enough to admit he’d had enough.
The movies great appeal is not simple voyeurism, as so many people assume. It is the voyeurism of loss.
“If I left I’d never see you again. Don’t you think that’s sad?”
Sadly not much. There are a trio of Q & A’s; one with Fassbender after a screening at the Hackney Empire in London, and another two done during production, and a trailer.
It’s been thirteen years since they graduated from high school and nine since erstwhile pie fucker Jim (Jason Biggs) married expert flautist Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). Now they have a young son whose uncanny ability to appear unannounced in their bedroom has put a dampener on their sex lives. They’re happy enough though and about to head back to their hometown for their school reunion. The rest of the gang have gone their separate ways. Oz (Chris Klein) is now a TV sports anchor famous for a stint on a reality dance show. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) apparently leads a mysterious life moving from country to country. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is still fucking boring. Stifler (Seann William Scott) has avoided growing up completely and still lives at home with his hot mom (Jennifer Coolidge). In fact nobody has told Stifler about the reunion figuring he’ll find a way to fuck everything up.
Writer-directors Jon Horowitz and Hayden Schlossberg dealt with the themes of old friends getting back together much better in their last movie A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (2011). The most entertaining aspect of American Reunion is seeing these former bright young things back together. Especially the ones whose careers crashed and burned like the hapless Chris Klein who has been in the Hollywood wilderness since John McTiernan’s half-assed remake of Rollerball (2002). Klein remains beguilingly sweet as the dumb jock with a good heart despite his woodenness. Even more welcome is the talented Natasha Lyonne who makes a brief appearance here after spending the latter half of the Noughties battling drug addiction. It adds an element of pathos to the proceedings which is handy because the film isn’t particularly funny.
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