My sister Nancy and I were talking on the phone earlier. One of the subjects in our extended conversation of several chapters was the rarity of a sequel to be a really good movie. We explored and found The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series of 3 Swedish films equally excellent from start to finish. I like all of the films in the Fast and Furious series, hoping to see 5 later this week. They are not great films by any means, but for an action tough guy movie they have a lot of flash. Brings Road Warrior to mind, a film that kept its momentum going fast by having scenes only a few seconds apiece. Plus, in the Fast and Furious series, they're about driving cars the way young guys dream of wishing they could, and some do it. For me, it's subliminal. I'll watch somebody else get T-boned at 100mph racing in Tokyo traffic. I know it's all actors and fake cars and a great big crew behind the camera working by a script, just a made up story, but I like the characters. Vin Diesel became a star in the first Fast and Furious and a legend in the rest of them. He carries it well. He's a good guy, gets along good with others, but don't kill his woman. Then he's the badest of the bad. Like Steven Seagal; don't hurt his woman or little girl. That's when the killing spirit breaks loose and takes over. A friend recently said of a man who had hurt his little girl, When I'm done with him, his head's gonna look like a watermelon dropped off a fifty foot building. He meant what he said.
Tom Berringer's Sniper came to mind, another one with a sequel almost its equal, Sniper2. Sniper 3, son of Sniper, was another good one. It caught my attention to see an action movie series of three that were nearly equally good films. Hangovers one and two were both pretty funny. Three promises to be another funny one, too. Those Hangover movies tell me Surrealism has come to Hollywood pop comedy. The Marx Brothers were doing European Surrealism in film. The Hangover movies are homegrown American pop Surrealism. And there are plenty of series films lousy from the start, like the Wrong Turn West Virginia series. The Romans did some sick shit where decadence is concerned. We got-em beat. The Wrong Turn movies were super-sick creepy Fifties drive-in scare your date and get a wet finger kind of movies. The old white men killing teenage hotties theme tells me of a truly sick society. Obviously, they have a market. I saw one. That was enough. There have been countless sequel movies and I've only seen a few in relation to all of them. I have serious impatience with pop movies, best-seller fiction, and tv cop shows about older men kidnapping, torturing and killing pretty young girls. There is so much of it and it has been going on so long it's like an archetypal theme in American life. That's the part that concerns me.
Last night visiting friends I saw three Law&Order tv shows in a row. Every one of them was an older man kidnapping, raping and killing young women. Then I was told the stories were made from true crime stories. I don't like having shit like that in my head. It tears up my compassion center. Duck Dynasty on tv, completely different, looked at it once to see what it was. That was plenty. It's not that I don't like those kinds of people, because I do like them. The show itself is a silly spoof. These are middle class suburbanites doing very well. The bayou garb is all for the show, like the Village People, country style. Look at their wives. It's like seeing a picture of Keith Richards in his stage garb standing next to his trophy wife. I see them mocking bayou people more than being bayou people. They may have been that way earlier in their lives, but after work, they have their social life in suits and tuxes. You can be sure their wives won't let them go places looking like they walked up out of the swamp. My attitude toward them is like my attitude toward fake preachers. This is going by seeing only one show. I don't care to go there again. They might be good duck call makers, hot dang. I can fill an ash tray with cigarette butts; does that mean I could have a time lapse tv show watching me fill up ash trays?
The Star Wars series was awfully good, the first three. From there on, it was like the producers were carried away with cutting-edge computer movie-making and let content go, like a video game. So few series films start with a popular one that did good at box office, then the sequel that does well, but not as well, then the third one that hardly figures. This pattern seems so consistent that when three in a row good films like Kieslowski's Blue, White and Red, my pick of the series of three movies I've seen, makes Star Wars look like action movies. Come to think of it, that's what they are anyway. In a film Harold Pinter wrote, Turtle Diary, Pinter, himself, stepped into a scene at the bookstore where Ben Kingsley, the story's character was working. Pinter asked, "Do you have the sequel to the sequel?" That was all he said. A moment, like Alfred Hitchcock appearing in his films in a passing glance. The Fast and Furious series impresses me most in keeping a series of good action, fast car driving movies with characters we like. I'm a little hesitant about Five from the previews I've seen. It looks like an explosion a minute, big tanks blowing things up, outrageous computerized stunt tricks. From what I've seen it promises to be over the edge for me. But it may not be. It will probably be well done, so I feel like I'll enjoy it, at least enough to sit through it.