Thursday, November 03, 2005

Day 34: Go West: Man vs. Nature 5

Watching Go West was a trying experience for me, through no fault of Buster Keaton or the movie itself.  As I’ve written about earlier today, the DVD I received was scratched to the point that it crashed my DVD player and, for about twenty minutes of the film, I had to struggle to make out the images through the boxes, lines, and ghost images of previously onscreen boxes and lines.  Additionally, the company that produced the DVD put a synthesized score to the film that, while written well and evocative of the silent-movie sound, was more distracting than not (especially those snare hits!).  It’s a choice that feels incongruous with most silent movies, especially one set in the rustic, rural environment as this one is.

So, it’s really not fair for me to review this, since the dominant emotion I feel is one of frustration unrelated to the movie.  From what I saw, this is a totally endearing movie with a hilarious sequence at the end featuring thousands of cows marching down the streets of Los Angeles.  I particularly enjoyed this, given that I’ve been watching so many movies with the theme of Man vs. Nature.  Most of those movies have dealt with people going out to the middle of nowhere and trying to play god, trying to create some artificial world of their own design.  Here, it’s nature that invades as cows take to the streets, invade department stores, and stand around in a barber shop, looking at a man who’s waiting to be shaved.  I suppose I could analyze how the sequence climaxes: a thousand cows chasing Buster Keaton, dressed in a devil suit, toward a slaughter house and, thus, their ultimate doom. But, really, it's funnier than it is meaningful (though if anyone has any theories, let's hear 'em! The sillier the better).

My impression is that this is a lesser Keaton vehicle, as the jokes didn’t seem as funny or consistent or honest as the few other Keaton movies I’ve seen.  However, I was greatly amused at one point when a man points a gun at Keaton and tells him to smile.  Keaton was known for playing comic characters with a deadpan, and the movie pokes fun at this.  He’s unable to smile, even at gunpoint, and, so, must push the sides of his face up with his fingers.  It’s a funny joke and it epitomizes the Keaton character.  He never gives up on whatever task he’s faced with and, at the same time, he never compromises himself to achieve that task.  And, ultimately, it’s hard to dislike a movie where the victorious hero rides away in a car with the love of his life: a cow named “Brown Eyes”.

Finally, please take care of your Netflix DVDs so I can actually write about the movies I’m trying to watch.


Last night while watching a Buster Keaton film, Go West, the DVD from Netflix was so badly scratched it crashed my DVD player.

I didn't know that could happen.

I managed to get through the movie, despite the fact that watching it was at times like trying to see a movie through a post-modern video game of squares and lines and bad synthesized music.