Friday, January 31, 2014

Moonlight Dissolving

One tends to think more of lost love than of the absence of dreams when one thinks of the lyrics to the song "Blue Moon". But the singer caught, standing alone in the cold light of the moon, illuminating his or her lack of inspiration, is far more significant to Woody Allen's 2013 film Blue Jasmine than anything else in the song. Essentially a modern day version of A Streetcar Named Desire, the film is in its own right a brilliant portrayal of human nature, whittling away absolutist moral judgements and portraying just people caught in the traps of personal and social illusions.

The analogue for Blanche DuBois is Jasmine--played flawlessly by Cate Blanchett--who we meet babbling about her life history to a stranger in first class on a flight from New York to San Francisco. It's the first of several occasions in the film where she fondly recalls "Blue Moon" being played at her wedding to Hal (Alec Baldwin) who we meet in flashbacks shown throughout the film. He's dead at the beginning of the film.

A sort of Bernie Madoff investment swindler, his incarceration was accompanied by complete financial ruin. Since he'd used Jasmine's name on many of the fraudulent documents, her assets are as thoroughly claimed by the United States government. So she goes west to live with her working class adoptive sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), who's engaged to one of the Stanley Kowalski analogues, Chili (Bobby Cannavale).

The film splits Stanley into two characters, the other being Ginger's ex-husband Augie who, in the film's most surprising bit of casting, is played by Andrew Dice Clay. Both Chili and Augie are rough, blue collar guys but Chili gets more of Stanley's brutality--having the film's version of the famous "Stella!" scene. When, under the influence of Jasmine's judgments, Ginger breaks up with Chili, he breaks her telephone.

Augie, meanwhile, gets Stanley's insightfulness and breaks through Jasmine's deceits in a far gentler way than Stanley broke down Blanche.

It is perhaps more interesting in the Tennessee Williams play to have one man possessing both qualities but Clay does deliver a great performance. Maybe it isn't surprising since he's used to appearing in interviews improvising as his "Dice" character--he's so good at it that many people don't realise it is a character.

Jasmine talks about wishing she'd finished her degree in anthropology and says she wishes to be someone "substantial", something of a contrast to the woman we meet in the flashbacks who contently existed in wilful ignorance of her husband's schemes. She hatches a hazy plan of becoming an interior designer--she heard of someone who'd gotten a degree in interior design online so Jasmine takes a class on computers which she proves to do very poorly in. But "designer" is a good word for what Jasmine is by nature--with her husband's wealth, she had designed a life for herself as distant from reality as the moon. Without those resources, she finds her designs pale in comparison to more substantial dreams.

Jasmine is manipulative and shallow but the genius of the story is in how horrible we feel for her. Her thin personal philosophy is one that stiffly divides humans between those who have worth and those who don't and it's our empathy for her that proves her wrong.

Twitter Sonnet #591

Wax pearls revive the roof tile clay knife.
Vanished bays resort to bouquet glimmers.
Yaks repair bargain dignity for life.
In excess heat even pizza simmers.
Quads of cubed ice respect the sliced concrete.
Power walking blackboards bring toes to hand.
Salted sardines destroy the melted peat.
Rubber plays alone in elastic band.
Yoda played chess in Russia for nine years.
Backgammon has been mentioned fifteen times.
Goban stones crawl across his leafy ears.
Only Force sack vibrates for midnight's chimes.
Corrugated campus platinum flakes
Silently fall on cherry blossom rakes.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

God Says No to Drugs

One of the side effects of having school early in the day seems to be that I feel like the day is over at noon. I'm so used to night classes where I just go home, have a drink, dinner, and a movie and then go to bed.

When I left class to-day, I walked down a quiet corridor where only a young, pretty woman with long red hair was sitting on a bench. As I walked past she abruptly laughed and said, "I was just going to tell you to suck your own dick!" I looked at her and her glazed eyes suggested maybe she had a Bluetooth hidden in her hair. I'm still not entirely sure.

You know, there was a time when the explanation for someone talking to herself in public, "She had a blue tooth," would have sounded about as crazy as the behaviour itself.

This was my second day of Health Education, the class I took for a P.E. credit because it required no exercise. It really feels like the school decided to punish the students who would rather not run and jump and play outside because the class so far feels like some of the things I've heard about happening in rehab. The instructor began with defining "stupid" as actions taken despite knowing they will be harmful or futile. She then told us about how smoking causes cancer, told us about the burden placed on society by obesity along with the detriments to the health of the individual. She went over the benefits and drawbacks of going cold turkey or slowly weaning oneself off addictive substances, psychological factors related to addiction like denial and enabling social circles. She talked about how all weight loss techniques discussed in class would be scientifically verified before moving to another section where she held forth on the importance of "spiritual health", the importance of recognising the existence of a higher power. She's instructed us to line up on both sides of her desk every day for the rest of the semester and, one at a time, to say our last names followed by the first three letters in our last names.

Going over factors in our lives which we can't control that are related to specific health risks she discussed age and gender (not sex) before breezing past sexual orientation, mentioning it but not explaining why it necessarily entailed health risks.

She says herself she's strict, lecturing us at some length on the difference between "strict" and "mean". The syllabus came with a contract we were required to turn in signed to-day with individual items checked in reference to our agreement to never be late to class, never cheat on tests, never leave electronic devices on in the classroom, etcetera. A student showed up late to-day and as she walked in the door the instructor said, "Haven't you learned how to tell time?" before adding, "That's strict, not mean, because I know her." The student quietly sat down.

Glancing through the text book now, I see a chapter which appears to be basic sex education featuring labelled illustrations of genitalia; I see a chapter about eliminating or reducing the presence of drugs in my life. I see one chapter about grains and complex carbohydrates so maybe this class will be slightly less depressingly useless than my interpersonal communication class.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

From Women with Women for Women to Women (and Vincent Price)

"What have you gotten me into now?" - Omar Khayyam

"Heaven." - Sinbad the Sailor

Sinbad was referring to a, er, captivating 40 of the 127 beautiful, scantily clad women cast in Howard Hughes' 1955 film Son of Sinbad. Eminently pulpy, sometimes surprisingly sly, this movie is essentially a wonderfully ridiculous filmed burlesque show.

The story involves the son of the famous Sinbad who is also called Sinbad (Dale Robertson) making love to the Sultan's private harem, falling in love with one of the servant girls, rescuing a beautiful woman who knows the formula for Greek Fire (a real life ancient incendiary weapon), and falling in with the forty beautiful daughters of the famous forty thieves. Along the way, the film gives us four lengthy and impressive belly dances only slightly related to anything else that's going on.

The credited director is Ted Tetzlaff but, as usual, the touch of producer Howard Hughes is unmistakable.

The two big names who appear on screen were big for vastly different reasons.

Vincent Price plays the real life poet Omar Khayyam who's somehow become sidekick to the fictional Sinbad. He makes up some smooth lines for Sinbad to woo the ladies with, generally against his better judgment. Robertson is charismatic enough as Sinbad and shares a good rapport with Price but Price easily carries away this movie with a genuinely funny performance--on screens two years after his break-out horror movie performance in House of Wax. Though Son of Sinbad was actually made in 1953, its release delayed for concerns regarding the Hays Code, in large part due to the other big name in the cast, legendary striptease performer Lili St. Cyr.

She's good but actually not half as risqué as Sally Forrest as the serving girl and secret bandit Ameer who, in what I think we can call the film's climax, attempts to win Sinbad for herself wearing only what we can barely call a costume.

The film is essentially an unabashed adult indulgence and it maintains its charming enthusiasm for its entirety. The dancing is genuinely impressive, including this first dance from Turkish dancer Nejla Ates:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Elements in Art

Now I'm seven episodes into season two of Breaking Bad, I've finally gotten to meet Jane, the character played by Krysten Ritter my friend Ada likes so much (she'll be happy to know). I can see why Ada likes her--I remember seeing the actress in minor roles on Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars where she always stood out. It's nice seeing her in something closer to a major role finally. It's good to see she's appearing in the upcoming Veronica Mars film.

The episode of Breaking Bad I watched last night also featured a great cameo from Machete himself, Danny Trejo, as a DEA informer from a Mexican cartel.

It's part of a plot featuring Walter's DEA brother-in-law, Hank, moving into the upper echelon of the agency. He's one of the weaker characters on the show but I like how the writers made strides in the sixth and seventh episodes of the season to make him a little more layered. It's funny, too, seeing him, used to being cock of the walk, feeling out of place among the jaded, fluent in Spanish, agents.

I still haven't seen Machete 2, on the subject of Danny Trejo, as much as I loved the first Machete. I imagine a lot of people can say the same. And most of those people would probably give the same reason--Mel Gibson. It's possible that's what swayed me, too, or maybe it's just that I couldn't fit it in with the other twenty seven new movies I saw last year. I don't know. I'm not sure how I can happily sit down to watch a Cecil B. DeMille movie and still shrink from Mel Gibson. I doubt one man held less despicably intolerant views than the other. Maybe it's that Gibson represents more hypocrisy, that so many superficially righteous Hollywood people are eager to forgive Gibson for things he evidently doesn't feel sorry for.

No, that's not it.

Gibson repels me as an artist. His work is somehow both puritanical and narcissist. It's in every second of Braveheart and Passion of the Christ. I'm really, really tired of the preoccupation with self worship. I want to hear people talk less about themselves that way.

I was sorry to hear Pete Seeger is dead.

Twitter Sonnet #590

Inflatable feathers reward nothing.

Ragged coal tunnels pinch the airless mine.

Cobalt gum routes results from blue pathing.

Ivory chalk dust lightly seasons the lime.

Dog-eared Daleks return to Christmas armed.

No knowledge dribbled ignorance's ball.

Radiators leave the frown land harmed.

Waves of paper pulp against the rock wall.

Purple mouths waver on the makeshift stage.

Godly sloped bonnets sweat on the weak chefs.

Frozen seas'll ring with tuning fork age.

Innisfree draws moon eyes from Dover's cliffs.

Hillside flowers turn indigo with dusk.

Silt peninsulas wear skyscraper husk.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Broken Glass, Anklets, and Liquor

Destructive misunderstandings arise between people who grew up in happy environments and people who grew up accustomed to having their trust and faith betrayed. This is the driving force in 2002's Devdas, one of Bollywood's many adaptations of the popular 1917 novella. The only other adaptation I've seen is the deeply flawed 2009 modern retailing Dev D. The 2002 version, set in the original period of the novella, is a much more effective film. It's also easily one of the most decadent films I've ever seen; every frame of the film contains something visually stunning. It's so over the top that sometimes it eclipses the story but for the most part this is a beautiful, tragic film with excellent performances by its three leads.

Shah Rukh Khan plays Devdas in this film and it's good casting--vulnerable and obsessive are perhaps the two things Khan does best. As the film begins, he's returning home after being educated in London at the command of his cold, abusive father.

I thought Devdas' home was impressive and gorgeous but I figured it must be distracting for anyone watching the film who recognises what famous temple or palace was used for the location. It was only later that I found out the place was constructed for the movie.

Everyone is overjoyed at the idea of Devdas returning, especially Devdas' mother and his neighbour (and childhood sweetheart) Paro--played by the intensely beautiful Aishwarya Rai. Her family is poorer and of a lower caste than Devdas' but you wouldn't know it from the sets and costumes--one of the flaws in making everything opulently beautiful is that it doesn't truthfully reflect the financial status of all the characters. But the movie certainly has a fairy tale, intentionally unrealistic quality as we see right away in the fact that Paro has kept a candle lit for Devdas while he's been away and we see that even a great, complicated dance number in the rain cannot extinguish the flame.

Over 12,000 pieces of stained glass were used for the sets of Paro's rooms.

Devdas' mother becomes bitterly jealous when he chooses to see Paro before her, a jealousy exacerbated by Devdas' hateful sister. The two women contrive a plan to humiliate Paro's family. In retaliation, Paro's mother decides to marry Paro off to someone even more rich than Devdas. In his despair over these circumstances, Devdas writes to Paro that he no longer wishes to be with her, telling her she ought to marry someone else.

Paro, of course, is heartbroken. And of course Devdas regrets his action which Paro can't understand why he executed to begin with. But it makes sense when one considers how his father exiled him to London to reform him in his mischievous youth, when one considers the machinations of Devdas' sister and mother. No one in his family has faith in one another and the devices they use in reply to this lack of trust are drastic, violent actions, meant to destroy the situations where hope has any chance of manifesting. Devdas' mother, after staging a deceit to humiliate Paro's mother, brings up the guavas Paro, as a child, had stolen from an orchard belonging to Devdas' family. Paro's mother, of course, can't understand why Devdas' mother would mention something so innocent.

So Devdas embarks on a self destructive spiral in the bad part of town which, of course, looks like the best part of most real towns. This was all constructed in Mumbai for the movie:

I was reminded of the enormous sets in old musicals, like the Venice set at the end of Top Hat complete with art deco canals and gondolas.

Devdas meets a famous courtesan named Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit) in a brothel that would be hard to distinguish from a palace.

He's rude to her, of course, his personal pride and his family caste compels him. It's his friend who brings him to the brothel originally. And yet, Chandramukhi, who's never loved anyone, falls for Devdas because of the despair she sees in his eyes. She also comes from a world that abuses trust.

Devdas, who before never drank, now dives into a permanent state of inebriation. In response to Chandramukhi's affection for him, he tells her he will only visit her brothel when hates himself and he thinks of Paro. So he essentially takes up permanent residence at the brothel.

It's a really beautiful film. I'm curious now to see some of the older adaptations though I know it'll be just about impossible to get decent copies.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mining for Gold and Cats

I finally got around to seeing the highest grossing film of 1918 yesterday--Mickey, according the Wikipedia, made eight million worldwide. A simple story about a charming tomboy, who lives and works at a mine literally called "Tomboy Mine", who captures the eye of the wealthy owner of another mine. It's all just an excuse to watch Mabel Normand work.

She plays Mickey, the tomboy, who's a bit of a nuisance to her adoptive parents, constantly pulling pranks on her adoptive father like stealing his hat in the morning or playing with a cat in the mine shaft.

Normand unquestionably comes off as naughtier than her contemporary and friend Mary Pickford. She's very natural and quick with her sidelong glances and sly grins. The movie has a plot about her inheritance (the gold mine) and two handsome and wealthy gentlemen vying for her love, but she doesn't seem to care about any of these things as much as she cares about jumping around and spinning.

But you don't have to take my word for it. The whole public domain extravaganza is online for free on YouTube.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Killing in Lingerie

There's a site called The Hawkeye Initiative where people jokingly draw male superheroes in the ridiculous, sexy poses of female superheroes. Some of the drawings are funny though I don't agree with what apparently motivates these artists, the idea that fan service is inherently sexist. I wonder what they would make of Kill la Kill.

GAINAX was always well aware of what they were doing with fanservice, but GAINAX alumn Hiroyuki Imaishi has always been beyond unabashed with his cheesecake.

And it's hard to imagine anything more ridiculous than Kill la Kill's mostly male "Nudist Beach" militia. In the newest episode, the Nudists revealed their combat mecha, bird-legged machines which require them to lay flat on their stomachs while their bare legs and bottoms protrude out the back.

Somehow I doubt anyone drawing women in these poses would be doing so as part of a crusade for media justice.

It seems I was wrong when I thought the two week lull marked the end of the first season as there's been a couple new episodes since then--I'm glad I was wrong, particularly in regards to this latest episode which features another great showdown between Matoi and Kiryuin.

The dominatrix tyrant Kiryuin is one of my favourite villains in anime in a long time. I love how most of the time she just stands in some absurdly high place looking down, unmoving. When she activates her power armour, you know shit's going down.

This newest episode features some of the best animation the show's had in a while. It reminds me of the mid-series episode of Imaishi's previous series, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt where the show's sex and potty humour was interrupted for a grand running gun and sword battle at a high school. A lot of what Imaishi and his team learned in completely indulging their ids on that series has obviously carried over to the somewhat more restrained Kill la Kill and, indeed, Kill la Kill isn't as consistently impressive. The fight of the week format drags the show a bit but I did sort of like this ultra capitalist guy whose armour is shaped like a giant crab:

The kanji used for words relating to purchasing things, , contains the kanji for shellfish, .

Twitter Sonnet #589

Boats of Beatle records cut soft CDs.
Flat nosed yachts snort warlike Normandy sand.
The QE2 stood "around shops with peas."
Piggy bank pepper's hid throughout the land.
Niagara nights pummel drug store quarters.
Rented tapes lurk under damaged neon.
Boas of blue moonlight deck the waters.
Golden caves close up behind the peon.
Cherry red new callipers somewhere drop.
Mice redirect comets to the gold moon.
Tilsit always steps back from the stick stop.
While Mexico has no yellow doubloon.
White boots underline W domain.
Dehydrated brake pads scrape the tin vein.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Some Idea of Crazy

Samuel Fuller's 1963 film Shock Corridor. What a mess. Kind of a fascinating mess, I suppose. It's like going downtown and listening to one of the wide-eyed, muttering homeless guys on a corner tell you about all the things he thinks are really important. Though it would have to be an inordinately polite specimen.

Constance Towers plays Cathy, a stripper who doesn't strip, who doesn't dance very well, and who says she hates her job. The mystery over how she is employed at all is only one of the Lake Erie sized plot holes in this movie. She pretends to be her boyfriend's sister so he, Johnny (Peter Breck), can be committed to an asylum when she tells the police about his violent incestuous urges. A plan that actually works because apparently the police make no effort to ascertain Cathy and Johnny's history or the two of them had a really elaborate set of stories and fake IDs we never see.

Johnny wants to get committed so he can interview the three inmates who witnessed a murder in the asylum kitchen. Johnny's a journalist and he hopes to win the Pulitzer Prize for this.

All three of the witnesses turn out to be mad for extremely topical reasons--one was brainwashed by Communists in North Korea; one is a black man who was one of the first integrated students who, cracking under pressure, became a white supremacist; one was a physicist who worked on the atom bomb and had a breakdown. All three have moments of sanity preceded by distorted colour documentary footage.

For a movie that doesn't seem like it gave much thought to its plot--presumably in favour of message--it spends an awful lot of time delivering exposition very awkwardly. We hear Johnny's thoughts in voice-over. The first time is when he's apparently telling himself who his boss and psychiatrist are and what they're doing as the scene opens.

I try to imagine Fuller directing Breck in this scene: "Imagine you're telling yourself who these people are as though you need to remind yourself."

The three witnesses also spend their moments of sanity to give Johnny a synopsis of who they are and what made them crazy. The guy who was brainwashed by Communists, who now usually thinks he's a Civil War era Confederate General, tells Johnny his parents never taught him to love the U.S. the way they ought to have and when he came in contact with an American prisoner in Korea who told him patriotic stories it reversed his brainwashing. Of course there's no explanation of how the brainwashing worked to begin with. As in (the far superior) Pick Up On South Street, one has the impression Fuller doesn't have a clear understanding of how Communism works in theory or practice.

Oh, I have to mention the scene with the "nymphos"--Johnny wanders into their room at one point and they hold him to the ground, proceeding to tear his shirt and bite him like animals. Look at the drawings on the walls:

The muscle man in tight shorts is particularly intriguing. I don't think these nymphos ever heard of sex.

Johnny starts to lose his mind during all this. He loses his ability to speak and refuses to let Cathy kiss him on the mouth when she visits which she for some reason interprets as meaning he's really starting to think she's his sister. I would have assumed he simply wanted to avoid blowing his cover. I'm actually not sure if Cathy was confused here or the movie was confused.

Johnny seems to go crazy for absolutely no reason. The movie drops vague hints about how the atmosphere of the asylum made him crazy. There's a director named Tim Hunter who writes in this Criterion essay for Shock Corridor, "As the film unfolds, though, the purity of the hero’s mission is undercut by his own monomaniacal ego, and the delusions of omnipotence that mask the darkest secrets of his soul. In Breck’s moving performance, Johnny becomes one of the great doomed figures of modern day film noir—unwittingly pursuing a killer at the expense of his own sanity." Well, he is there trying to win a Pulitzer, but there's nothing else actually in the movie to support Hunter's interpretation nor does he actually cite an example of a scene where we see this cause and effect.

Shock Corridor has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes--though with only four "top critics", none of whom I've heard of and none of their reviews are classified as rotten or fresh. I really like Pick Up on South Street but, between Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss, I'm starting to think Samuel Fuller may be a bit overrated.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gods and Farmers

Uniquely human dreaming creates dreamlike human beings. In 1960's The Magnificent Seven, one sees the contrast between the farmer, a practical and realistic human occupation, and the role supported by communal dreams, the gunslinger. The movie is a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai in which the more dreamlike profession portrayed is the samurai, portrayed in the film much closer to the nature of real samurai than the gunslingers in The Magnificent Seven are to real 19th century gunmen. Seven Samurai is a superior film in a lot of ways but both movies are about this essential contrast, this strange human compulsion to place some individuals in roles that could be described both as outsider and sacred. The Magnificent Seven succeeds largely because of its impressive collection of remarkable actors, Elmer Bernstein's exciting score, and the elements of Seven Samurai's story that were carried over.

It's difficult to watch The Magnificent Seven and not think of Seven Samurai, the similarities between the two films' stories often mainly serving to show how much better the Japanese film is in every way, on a scene by scene basis. Instead of Kambei tricking a thief who kidnapped a small child, the subplot that introduces Kambei's analogue, Chris (Yul Brynner), involves him and the Gorobei analogue Vin (Steve McQueen) driving a carriage hearse bearing the corpse of a Native American to a Christian graveyard through a town filled armed white racists. It's a fun scene as we watch the two supernaturally skilled and charismatically rough men casually pick off riflemen in second storey windows to forcibly effect some anachronistic racial equality. Right away we establish gunslingers as superheroes--uncannily skilled and possessing a moral authority superior to and distinctly different from normal.

Instead of the very human, desperate thief who seems as much afraid holding a child hostage as any of the frightened onlookers, we have several vague, frowning racists. Bigotry was and is of course common enough in the U.S. but we can perceive little else about the men. The anachronistic moral authority of the gunslingers also stands in contrast to the samurai's more practical role as the risk taker who saves a life. One wonders why it doesn't seem to occur to anyone that the townspeople will simply exhume the Native American's body once the gunslingers have left town.

The scene is also one of many that establish all the gunslingers as possessing super powers, the ability to use revolvers with speed and precision greater than possible in real life. In Seven Samurai, even the most skilled swordsman, Kyuzo, is shown as being perfectly credible. Extraordinarily skilled but shown defeating only opponents who are markedly undisciplined.

The Kyuzo analogue is Britt (James Coburn) who's faster at throwing knives than most men are at drawing and firing pistols--an ability Kurosawa gave the following year to the larger than life samurai in Yojimbo though, even there, Kurosawa doesn't attempt to suggest Sanjuro can execute a death blow that prevents his attacker from even firing his pistol the way Britt is shown to be able to do.

As such, Britt's fate seems more arbitrary than evocative of realistic horror the way Kyuzo's does. And here we can detect maybe a reflection of the two cultural perspectives behind the two films--it's not hard to see why a Japanese filmmaker, less than a decade after World War II, would portray a skilled and honourable warrior thwarted by new, powerful technology delivered from an impersonal distance. The scene is so powerful that it obviously moved The Magnificent Seven's director John Sturges to emulate it but without the credibility given to Kyuzo's character and shown in the context of a finale that jams together all decisive victories or defeats for individual characters it seems somehow less cruel and significant.

The movie preserves at the end the sense that the farmers win a victory in the continuance of a normal life the gunslingers can never hope to be a part of because of their misfit natures. Though the sexism of Hollywood sabotages the romantic subplot that showed the contrast between samurai and farmer more starkly and cruelly than perhaps even the samurai putting their lives on the line to save the village. Instead of the story about a girl whose father feared the loss of her virginity at the hands of visiting samurai that ironically ends up with the lusty girl seducing the most innocent of the samurai, The Magnificent Seven's love interest for Chico is in the vein of the devoted young sweetheart stock character.

I'm not sure it was a bad idea to combine the eager, untested wouldbe samurai Katsushiro and the erratic black sheep Kikuchiyo in one character, Chico (Horst Buchholz). It would be very difficult to replicate a unique character like Kikuchiyo. Kikuchiyo, though, was crucial for portraying the beautiful ideal of the samurai, the dream of humans who compulsively create this class system, and simultaneously the tragically imperfect reality. He would have no place in The Magnificent Seven because the gunslingers only embody the ideal. Chico has the speech about how the farmers are made treacherous by fear of gunmen but there's nothing to tie the superheroes with the bandits despite the bandit leader's (Eli Wallach) invitation to Chris that he and the others join up with them. They are too clearly from different worlds for Chico's words to carry any weight.

Charles Bronson as Bernardo, sort of the Heihachi analogue--he's introduced chopping wood--is the most interesting character in the film. Bronson is very good delivering a speech to some farmers' children about their parents, having perhaps the best moment to show his acting chops of anyone in the film and one can see he probably would have been a big star much earlier in his career if he had been white. Instead of being the laid back zen clown like Heihachi who functioned as a sort of mirror of Kikuchiyo's natural clownishness, Bernardo is a mouthpiece for The Magnificent Seven's reverence for the farmers. This is one of two points where the film stands in philosophical opposition to Seven Samurai, the other being at the beginning where the villagers, instead of lamenting the absence of a benevolent deity, praise God in piety. It's curious The Magnificent Seven feels the need for Bernardo to impress upon the children how much nobler and more brave the farmers are than flighty gunslingers who run away from putting down roots. There's no praise in Seven Samurai for the farmers and their way of life to contrast the disgust Kikuchiyo feels for them though it doesn't feel necessary. We understand the farmers are human, getting by through whatever means necessary. The contrast isn't necessary because we can see the disgust is Kikuchiyo's feeling rather than a reflection of an independent, objectively moral force which The Magnificent Seven presumes exists.