Sunday, January 3, 2010

1-02-10: From the steps of the Museum of Art to the Steps of Odessa

D: John G. Avildsen  S: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Tommy Morrison

When "Rocky V" was originally released it wasn't well received.  Many regard it as the weakest entry in the franchise, I don't entirely agree with that assessment.   I've had friends say that's not what they wanted to see, Rocky in the dumps.   No one liked Tommy.   The whole storyline with Rocky Jr. seemed weak on account of Sage's acting. I'm not saying it's not without it's flaws, but as a character driven story it is better than Rocky IV.   Rocky films are at their best when they don't make the fight the central part of the story, it's the characters we want to see.   Rocky IV did that and while many consider that the best one, I believe it's the weakest entry. 

In "Rocky V", Rocky is forced into retirement due to medical complications and is bankrupt thanks to some misguided money dealings by Paulie.  Rocky takes a young fighter under his wing and trains him.   Meanwhile, his family begins to grow distant.

I had no idea a director's cut of this existed until recently.  I think it's pretty well known that after the film was done, Stallone took over in the editing room and more or less made the film his own.  Avildsen actually released his cut online a few years ago. 

In my opinion, it is better than the theatrical version.  First thing that stands out to me is that the temp track used Conti's and DiCola's themes.  None of that hip-hop stuff that I found annoying at the time.   For example, in the theatrical cut the hip-hop version of "Take You Back" is heard when we see the Balboa's moving back into the old neighborhood.  In the director's cut, it's the original version.    Vince DiCola's training theme was used over the montage for Tommy's rise to the top.

The issue of the brain damage that Rocky suffers is now more prominent.   There's a touching scene where Rocky tries to explain to his son that his mind is not what it used to be.   In another, during the medical examination scene Rocky tries to express his frustration at the thought of retirement but he starts to stutter because he's having difficulty thinking. 

The most significant change in the film is the street fight which is now underscored by Conti's themes.   The fight seems more real and has more weight to it.   The fight is not choppily edited and has a sense of progression as opposed to the fight we see in the theatrical cut.   Throughout the director's cut, Tommy continues to bring up respect.   He looks for respect when he fights Balboa.  In the end of the fight, Tommy clearly loses but Rocky offers him his hand.  Tommy takes it, he got his respect.   Sure he lost but now he knows his worth.  In the original cut, you don't get that.   Yeah, Rocky kicked your ass, kiss off. 

If they kept in much of the dialogue and kept the original fight, it may have been better received.

It's certainly worth a look.

Check it out!

D: Segei M. Eisenstein   S: A cast of thousands!!!

Potemkin is a propoganda tale about the events that ultimately lead up to the Bolshevik Revolution.

It's visually arresting, epic in scope and powerfully told. 

This film contains one of the most memorable, terrifying and awe-inspiring set pieces every committed to film.   The Odessa Steps sequence is a sight to behold.    You may recall DePalma's "The Untouchables" paid homage to this sequence in that film.    The power of seeing the woman carrying her child up the steps is haunting. 

At 74 minutes long, the film is packed to the brim with action and drama. 

It's definitely worth seeing.

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