Sunday, March 31, 2013

Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp (1939)

One Popeye cartoon to go!

I literally could not find a better cover image. Ugh.
Oddly, Fleischer Studios made three Popeye Color Specials and all three had to do with the Arabian Nights legends. This one proved the weakest of the three, but it still has a lot to appreciate for any fan of early animation.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

I have to admit that even in this blog’s as-yet short life, I’ve had a lot of fun with it. Turban Decay has given me an excuse to find something to discuss within most of my favorite film genres. Today, we take a look at a bygone, fondly-remembered one: swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks adventures!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

I love Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. A lot. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. A saner person would dismiss it as a cheesy, fatuous, facile money-grab that harvests a folk tale for royalty-free source material. But I look at this movie and, even with all its many, many flaws, I just see my first role model… and my dad.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor (1936)

In my zeal to cover Popeye’s adventure with Ali Baba in the second Popeye Color Special, I accidentally overlooked Popeye’s adventure with Sindbad in the first one!

I must say that I feel very remiss for forgetting this short, as on several occasions, I’ve heard it called the best Popeye cartoon ever made. I’ve seen most of them, and I feel inclined to agree!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves (1937)

Cinephiles like you and I know that cartoons didn’t always fixate on and extol the magic of friendship. Some of them got a bit… well, racist.

You can tell a cartoon came from a different time when its cover image depicts Bluto in blackface and a horde of half-naked dark men advancing on two established white cartoon heroes. You can see the racial commentary plain as day right here. “Can Popeye and Olive Oyl survive the cruel onslaught of the dark hordes of… dark-skinned Bluto?!”

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shout-Out: International Gorillay (1990) at TarsTarkas.NET

No film review at the moment. I just wanted to take a moment to encourage readers to check out TarsTarkas.NET’s review of International Gorillay, a silly no-budget Pakistani accidental comedy that portrays Salman Rushdie as a glorified James Bond villain and a bunch of brothers dressing up as Batman to get close enough to take him down. Along the way, Tars Tarkas writes an excellent history of The Satanic Verses, a side of Islamic history that I actually didn’t know much about myself.

You haven't lived until you’ve read a history of early Islam interwoven with hyper-macho VHS screenshots from some forgotten and now irrelevant invective against one author! Tars did a great job on this, so go read it!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The 13th Warrior (1999)

Jack Shaheen, probably the world’s preeminent source on media portrayals of Arabs, counts John McTiernan’s The 13th Warrior among the greatest depictions of Arabs in film. By that metric, this film indeed ranks among the fairest and the most progressive. Does that make it a great film?

Not particularly.

The 13th Warrior does indeed have a laudable portrayal of Arabs, but the film still has large problems with misogyny, mundanity, and missing the point of the original poem entirely.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Four Lions (2010)

I have to admit that I had a lot of trepidation about watching Four Lions. A lot can go wrong with any satire centered around Islamist fundamentalists. Chris Morris and the three co-writers had a lot of lines to toe. The screenplay needed to make the protagonists likable without unwittingly conveying approval of terrorism. The script required farce, gravitas, and memorable characterization without endorsing bigotry or alarmism. On top of that, the film ends on a downbeat, which comedies don't usually attempt.

I think Morris succeeded, and I must say I really like the result.