Believe me, I wanted - at times frantically - to like Ultraviolet. While the plot is entirely reductive, the acting painfully amateurish, most of the special effects uniformly crummy, Ultraviolet is breathtaking to watch. At times it looks like a 3rd generation bootleg of some ultra-obscure New Wave music video (perhaps, Experimental Projects' "Glowing in the Dark" - try tracking that one down), at others like goofy outtakes from Kill BillKill Bill: Volume 1. The film rampages wildly through neon infused colors and minimal THX 1138 styled sets, Matrix stunts, and gaudily shot sentimental close-ups. The entire film is an uncanny buffet of cult culture - we've got everything from Grant Morrison to Max Headroom, Tron to the Wachowski's Doc Frankenstein comic book, Iggy Pop's abs to Cassavetes' Gloria, all stuffed into a weirdly affected plot.
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But Leone developed similar elements into films that ran more than three hours. Rodriguez packs it all into 97 minutes and can't help but give only suggestions of a plot and impressions of the forces that drive it. Nevertheless, once the bullets start flying and the one-liners start ricocheting, it doesn't matter much that Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a confusing mess of a film. When it works, you don't care about all the times it doesn't.
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'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.