Thursday, November 08, 2007

Spillane the Beans

Certain admissions can surprise you, such as when someone with a master's degree in cinema studies admits he's never watched The African Queen or Gone With The Wind, or when someone who likes mystery novels admits she's never read any Agatha Christie (I'm going to, I swear -- Murder on the Orient Express is on my shelf right now). Essentially, I think the reason for this is because certain things just seem so canonical that we've absorbed enough of the text by osmosis and thus obviated the need to actually see it, read it, or otherwise experience it firsthand. That being said, classics are classics, and generally we all mean to get around to them eventually, but the aformentioned osmosing makes it easier to put off.

Given that, my Netflix queue sometimes has the appearance of an introductory course in film studies, because of all those films I meant to watch (Night of the Iguana, The Shop Around the Corner, Band of Outsiders, Le Samourai) but put off in favor of:

- numerous AbFab episodes
- innumerable Simpsons episodes
- repeated viewings of the Golden Girls
- prodigious amounts of Seinfeld
- watching The Big Lebowski* and Rushmore over and over again

There are only so many hours in a day, and I prefer to waste most of mine. Which is why the other half of the time my queue has the appearance of belonging to an idiot woman-child of the 80s whose questionable taste and judgment has unfortunately carried over into her adult years (The Truth About Cats and Dogs, Less Than Zero, After-School Specials 1976-1977, Disc 1).

But I have finally put "Kiss Me Deadly" in my Netflix queue, in part because of this neat review in the superbly named Thrilling Detective Magazine:

"Kiss Me Deadly shows Mikey at his brutal, unstoppable best. Although set in sun-drenched Los Angeles instead of the shadowy streets and dark alleys of New York, this all seems to take the back-seat once the action gets started. From relentlessly sadistic fist-fights to smacking people when they don't give the "right" answer, Ralph Meeker portrayal is dead on, pulling no punches, showing the raw fury and violence that fills the character."

Reviewer Bryan Schingle describes the film with such enthusiasm that I bumped the movie to #3 on my queue right after I finished reading this vigorous description:

"Along the twisting trail of murder, violence and the Mafia, Hammer punches, kicks and shoves his way into and back out of trouble. He bucks the odds, bucks the system, and discovers that a hidden container of weapons-grade uranium is what everyone has been dying to get their hands on ... This is how Spillane's great private dick-as-avenger was meant to be; the embodiment of unrefined, never-ending fury combined with just enough brains and balls to crack the case."

Thrilling indeed. I may have to take my lace gloves off for this one.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* A film both under- and over-rated for all the wrong reasons. Though it's gotten a bad rep as a stoner staple, it's actually a really good and funny movie and a fun mystery.

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