Reel Life #3: Deadpool 2, Woodstock, and The Lady from Shanghai

This week had me return to the theaters after a no show the previous weekend. It’s pretty obvious which film I chose to see, as it’s the one many other people in this sphere likely saw as well.

Deadpool 2 by David Leitch (2018)

Ryan Reynolds returns as Deadpool in this darkly funny sequel that pits him against the mysterious Cable. I’ve heard quite a few reviewers express that they prefer the first Deadpool over this one. As for me, I’d say this one edges its predecessor out. For that matter, I have to say I enjoyed it more than Logan if for no other reason than because it’s not ashamed about being a superhero film and decides to have fun with it rather than making a conservative effort to appeal to the super-serious critics.

I feel what helps Deadpool 2 triumph over its predecessor is that it has a more interesting driving conflict. Indeed, what really stood out to me about this film is how its cast goes through more interesting arcs than characters in certain serious works. Then of course, there’s the fact that with the origin story out of the way, there’s more time to set up the jokes and flesh out the plot.  All in all, if you liked the first one, you will like this one as well.

Rating: 7/10

Woodstock by Michael Wadleigh (1970)

You don’t really become a music fan without learning a thing or two about Woodstock. For that matter, even those who aren’t music fans would know about it thanks to history classes. Opened by Richie Havens and closed by Jimi Hendrix, this legendary three-day music event was one of the era-defining moments of sixties America. After hearing stories about it, it was great to finally see the performances for myself. Whether you’re a music fan yourself or would look into such a film as a historian, this documentary is a recommended watch, perfectly capturing the energy of the festival in the moment.

Rating: 7/10

The Lady from Shanghai by Orson Welles (1947)

Orson Welles is one of the most celebrated filmmakers of all time. Despite this, most people can only name one of his films. Previously, I watched Chimes at Midnight, which he considered his favorite work alongside The Trial, and though I liked it, I have to say it wasn’t as good as Citizen Kane. This brings us to his fourth feature-length film: The Lady from Shanghai. This film was notable because while it received a lukewarm reception in the United States, it was quite popular in Europe. Having seen it for myself, I can say it’s an underrated gem.

Orson Welles is Michael O’Hara, an Irish sailor, who meets a beautiful blonde Elsa – played by Rita Hayworth. Accepting a job aboard her yacht, Michael finds himself caught in a complex plot involving helping a man fake his death. |For his efforts, Michael gets framed for murder.|

Critic David Kehr has described The Lady from Shanghai as “the weirdest great movie ever made”, and I can say that’s an apt description. You’re going to be wondering where the film going at any given moment, for it always seems to have a twist up its sleeve to prove you wrong whenever you convince yourself it can’t get any stranger. If you’re a fan of classic film noir, you will enjoy The Lady from Shanghai, and if you wish to get into the genre, this would be a great one to start with.

Rating: 9/10

9 thoughts on “Reel Life #3: Deadpool 2, Woodstock, and The Lady from Shanghai

  1. Woodstock for the Who’s set – I’ve been amazed by the See Me, Feel Me performance for a long time. Shame the Band’s set was cut out, though. Plus, apparently it was a bit horrible to be there, like a “war zone” Pete Townshend said. Makes for great archive footage now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know, right? The Who’s introduction was one of the most memorable moments in the entire documentary. It really grabs your attention like nothing else.

      Yeah, I don’t believe the Band’s performance was in the cut I saw either. It’s a bit of a shame considering how they played some of their best songs in their set and their mentor, Bob Dylan, notably skipped the festival.

      I can imagine being out there in the heat was quite daunting. You’d have to be a real trooper to see it through to the end whether you were a performer or an audience member!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also liked Deadpool 2 more than the first one. I honestly don’t know what the first one had over it, except maybe being the first one. 😛

    I like Orson Welles and his movies (I like Citizen Cane most from what I’ve seen him direct, and I also really enjoyed The Third Man), but I do still hold that I don’t think movies were better as a whole back in those times. I actually think it’s kind of a reverse of the video game world. While nostalgia often lifts people’s opinions on the video games of yesteryear because they grew up with them, the fact that certain movies are older than any current generation puts them on some different kind of ‘sacred’ pedestal. As in, if childhood memories influence gaming opinions, I think the movie world almost looks at films before our time as being like some sacred texts that need to be adhered to. I’m not trying to rag on old movies, but I also don’t buy that they were innately better than contemporary movies, as many critics would have us believe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure why either; Deadpool 2 had a much more interesting plot while never losing the humor that defined the original.

      I think the reason Orson Welles gets a lot of credit is because we’re talking about someone who regularly directed, produced, wrote, and starred in his films and managing to succeed on all of those fronts. No matter what era of films you’re talking about, that is an impressive feat.

      If it is one unequivocal advantage filmmakers from that era have over contemporary ones, it’s that they were generally a lot more prolific. With auteur directors these days, you can expect a project from them once every two or three years (sometimes even longer than that). Following that pattern, the old-school director will have made more good films than the newer one – even if only half of the former’s output is good and all of the latter’s output are masterpieces.

      Another advantage I feel old-school directors have they have is that I think they went into their projects wanting to tell a good story rather than obsessing about making everything an allegory for something and having the message subsume the work. One thing I’ve noted about District 9 and works like it is that there are no real characters to found – just living plot devices meant to push the message forward. Having a sense of humanity and empathy made those older films much more personable even when they were dealing with heavy subjects. Even a film as cynical in tone as The Third Man may as well an uplifting family tale compared to the fatalistic fare critics nowadays trip over themselves to hard awards to – and we’re talking about a film that took place in a bombed out Vienna.

      Having said that, I also have to agree with you in that one of the more irritating things about film criticism is that it’s easy to get the sense that nothing made after 1980 or so is worth your time, and having seen the Three Colors trilogy, Memento, and Fargo I can tell you that’s absolutely not true. In fact, I think the plight of modern filmmakers isn’t so different from that of video game creators; they have to deal with critics comparing their work to that of their predecessors. Why do they feel the need to say something is the Citizen Kane of [X]? Why can’t it just be its own kind of good?

      As for video games, my stance remains the same: I am astounded that the most vocal gaming community is so jaded to the point where they consistently fail to recognize that they currently live in what is going to be considered an incredible era for the medium somewhere down the line.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I can imagine that’s the case for a lot of kids who grew up in that era. I was born a little too late to get caught up in the Transformers hype, so it wouldn’t be until earlier this year when I watched Citizen Kane for the first time that I finally saw one of his performances.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Me too. It’s great to see a good comedic superhero film that is absolutely unapologetic about being what it is. It’s a nice change of pace after the uber-serious Logan (though it was pretty good too).

      Like

  3. Pingback: May 2018 in Summary: Extra Life is Now Four Years Old! | Extra Life

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