Thursday, June 01, 2006

Movies worth seeing: hypermasculine edition

"Straw Dogs" is an opera of violence, ambiguity and macho bullshit, but brilliant nonetheless. Renowned critic Pauline Kael called it "the first American film that is a fascist work of art." I'm still not sure what legendary director Sam Peckinpah was trying to say with this movie, but its fascinating from beginning to end.

Ardent feminists may want to avoid it; Peckinpah lets loose with the misogny here, as he so often does, though much of it is directed towards Dustin Hoffman's neutered mathematician.

Banned for many years in the UK, "Straw Dogs" was "much influenced by Robert Ardrey's macho-anthropological tract, The Territorial Imperative. Its take on Cornish village life is fairly bizarre -- this is a Western in all but name -- and many critics balked at the transposition of Peckinpah's trademark blood-and-guts to the supposed peace of the British countryside. A scene where Amy is raped caused particular outrage, not least since it's hinted she consents to it."

Peckinpah may have a warped take on sexuality, but he's a master filmmaker, badly missed in this era of metrosexual action directors such as Michael Bay and, gag, McG.

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