Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Now That’s What I Call Archaeology!

***This Review Contains Spoilers***

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade takes everything that made Raiders of the Lost Ark great, to begin with and builds on top of that. Last Crusade is unquestionably my favourite of the series, the main reason for this being the role of Sean Connery as Indy’s father Henry Jones Sr which I consider to be one of the greatest casting choices ever. This casting was largely due to James Bond being one of the inspirations for Indiana Jones although oddly enough despite my love of Indiana Jones I’ve never been keen on the James Bond films. There’s something about father-son stories that I’ve always had a particular affection for and the relationship between Indy and his father is so difficult to put into words how in-depth it is. They don’t get along despite being so much alike, at heart they are both being giddy schoolboys. Their scenes together are so melancholic and full of complex emotions which humanises the character of Indiana Jones. I really do think this may be the greatest pairing of two actors ever.

This ties in with the other aspect which elevates The Last Crusade, just how thematic it is. The search for the bond between father and son ends up becoming more important than the search for the grail; I always remember Henry Jones’ words of “Let it go” as legitimate life advice. The score by John Williams is not only one of his best but one of his most moving, perfectly capturing the melancholic and deep thematic nature of the film. I regularly listen to the movie’s soundtrack in moments of personal reflection, it’s that powerful.

The Last Crusade is also a comedy classic in its own right from the North by Northwest type moments (“No ticket!”) to more slapstick-oriented gags. The Forest Gump type moment in which Indy inadvertently confronts Hitler face to face is brilliant on so many levels. It works the same way the clothes hanger scene from Raiders did. I also love that Marcus gets to go along on the adventure, revealing that he’s a clumsy fool who once got lost in his museum. His line “The pen is mightier than the sword” always cracks me up with the manner in which he delivers it in an English gentlemanly way, or Indy Sr’s uttering of “Junior!”; music to my ears. Indy Jr, Indy Sr, Sallah and Marcus are simply the most fun group of characters.

If I was the make a list of my favourite action scenes in film, I swear my list would be dominated by scenes from the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones films. Last Crusade was one of the last blockbusters to have such extensive use of practical effects, you know, before CGI had to go and ruin everything. Also, does anyone else think Donavan looks like Doc Brown after drinking from the wrong cup?

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is one of those rare movies which gives me everything I could ask for a movie. Like the filmmakers specifically made it just for me, encapsulating everything I love about cinema.

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Back To The Future Part II (1989)

It’s a Wonderful Future

***This Review Contains Spoilers***

Back to the Future Part II is one of the most relentless films I’ve ever seen. A one hour and forty minute film yet it feels like only a fraction of that length. As the characters are already introduced to us, the movie immediately gets the ball rolling. I love how frantic and faced paced Part II is; the movie almost never pauses and is one hell of a thrill ride. How many movie sequels return to the events of the first film? I can’t imagine the effort that went into recreating the scenes from the first film from different perspectives, it makes you see the first film in a whole different light. The film’s portrayal of 2015, on the other hand, is the future we all wish we could have, unlike most movies which predict a future of doom and gloom. I still want those self-tying shoelaces and the pizza which can be cooked with a few seconds – its fun watching all those future gizmos. Although they got some things right; the large, flat, wide screen TV with multiple channels or the market for nostalgia with the Cafe 80’s.

Part II takes The Empire Strikes Back route by being darker than the first film; the alternate 1985 is like an even darker version of It’s a Wonderful Life. Part II is Biff’s movie; while he doesn’t have the most complex personality. What makes him such a great character is all the different incarnations he has from different ages, timelines as well as his relatives. Thomas F. Wilson has by far the juiciest role in the film, playing no less than five variations of the same character and even having the young Biff interact with the old Biff. I find it funny that the universe could get destroyed just because this one guy has to be an asshole. Also, I’m not the first person to notice this but it’s dawned on me how much the alternate 1985 Biff looks like Donald Trump. If the first Back to the Future showed the good side of capitalism: this movie shows the bad side of capitalism.

Back to the Future Part II is one of the best examples I’ve seen of single actors playing multiple roles and how they seamlessly have them appear side by side and interact with each other. It still makes me wonder how they did those effects. Today, of course, they would be achieved using CGI but not back then and that’s part of the fun of these effects – on top of being cool to look at – you find yourself asking “how did they do that?” Robert Zemeicks had just directed the technically challenging Who Framed Rodger Rabbit and then directed a film as complex as this followed by directing the third Back to the Future; someone had a busy set of years working. They also got a new actress for the role of Jennifer and even then they manage to make the change in casting appear seamless.

Part II is by far the most and I do mean by far the most complex of the trilogy, these movies seriously screw with your head if you think about them too much. For example, (presuming time travel exists) if you go to the future you can’t actually meet your future self, as you skipped the intervening time period by travelling forward in time, your older self would not exist in that timeline; instead you would find your loved ones mourning over the day you disappeared or how about when old Biff returns to the future after giving his younger self the almanac, should he not have returned the future which he changed? I’ll admit the first time I saw it I found the plot a bit confusing; it took me a number of viewings until I finally figured out why the old Biff is in pain when he returns to 2015. I don’t see these inaccuracies as a bad thing if anything they strengthen our love for these films. Part of the fun of the trilogy is discussing the time travel mechanics and trying to find explanations for any possible inaccuracy. Also one other thing I’ve always wondered, why does Marty make no effort to protect the letter from the rain when his life depends on it? The scene in which Doc tries to explain to Marty that they are in an alternative 1985 must have been similar to the interactions between Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale when they were writing this film.

To Be Concluded…

The Sensual World (1989)

This Woman’s Mediocre Work

It brings me great displeasure to say this but I don’t like Kate Bush’s 6th studio LP The Sensual World. This is the only Kate Bush album I’m not keen on (unless you also count Director’s cut). However, I would think based on the album’s three singles this would be another masterpiece. I’ll begin with the good.

The title track, well it has sensual in the title for a reason. The combination of synthesizers and uillieann pipes creates the most well, sensual sound. Like Wuthering Heights I question if there exists another song like it and if it is one of the reasons why Kate Bush’s work acts like a gateway to a world of high culture. This Woman’s Work is my favourite Kate Bush song, despite this being my least favourite album of hers. This is it; this is the saddest song ever – the crème de la crème of tear-jerking songs. I can’t listen to this song in a public place or else I’ll well up. Although the song is about having a baby from the father’s perspective, the lyric “Of all the things we should have said that we never said, all the things we should’ve done that we never did” always conjures up thoughts of regret that I have in my life of things I should have done but didn’t; but not necessarily in a depressing manner.

Upon hearing the song Deeper Understanding I could not believe just how ahead of its time it was; a song from 1989 about people not only being addicted but having relationships with computers. I wonder if this song if any way helped inspire the movie Her. Even the music video for the Director’s Cut version in 2011 is reminiscent of Her. By comparison, what could you do on a computer in 1989 that you would be spending hours on it? Is she predicting the invention of the World Wide Web? Also take the lyric “But I was lonely, I was lost, without my little black box, I pick my phone and execute”. Did she just describe an IPhone? Man screw Nostradamus, Kate Bush is where it’s at. This is one of two Kate Bush songs which speak to me the most, the other being Sat In Your Lap.

The rest of the album is mediocre to average. The Fog, Reaching Out and Never Be Mine; I feel there are great songs in there but these tracks feel incomplete to me. Heads We’re Dancing is a song I find lyrically interesting, involving a story about dancing with Hitler himself but the rhythm of the song is lacking. Between a Man and a Woman is completely disposable with its generic lyrics and mediocre rhythm but my least favourite song on the album, as well as my least favourite Kate Bush song, in general, is Rocket’s Tail. The choir featured in the song are far too loud, to the point that I feel like saying “guys can you keep it down, I’m trying to hear Kate sing” and right in the middle of it all is a very obnoxious guitar solo. It pains me to write this review but I guess you can’t win ‘em all.