Wednesday, February 27, 2008

February 27, 2008
Last night I watched the legendary Spaghetti Western Django, which I have heard about forever, but had never seen. In 1959, Sergio Corbucci, the second unit director of an Italian film being made in Spain, called The Last Days of Pompei said to the director of the film, "For God's sake, if the Germans can make Westerns, why the hell can't we?" The director's name was Sergio Leone and both filmmakers marvelled at how Spain's southern regions resembled the American West. According to the extras on the DVD, Sergio Corbucci beat Leone to the punch with a Western called Massacre At Grand Canyon in early 1964. Leone's Fistful of Dollars followed with Clint Eastwood.

For all of its legendary status, the DVD commentary says Django never played in America, but became almost an industry in Europe with multiple Django knockoffs that spilled over into other genres ("more than 50 unofficial sequels!"). Franco Nero plays the "American" and Corbucci claimed he was making "an anti-Western" where his characters moved "in the cold rather than the heat, fighting with mud and snow instead of sweat and dust."

The film is notorious for its violence quotient, but even the cutting-off-the-ear scene seems rather quaint today (especially after Quentin Tarrantino poached it for Reservoir Dogs).

Still, it had some cool stuff in it (great vaquero-bandidos-bandoleered to the hilt). And Maria, the Mexican whore, is a looker, from the Claudia Cardinale school of pouting. BBB rank: two Bs (for cool battles) and one R (for ridiculous plot points, like the one where Franco hauls a coffin around behind himself—the idea evidently stolen from an Italian comic book—which has a machine gun inside: Holy Mariachi, nee Desperado, Robert Rodriguez!).

As the music industry lies in shambles, and with our dear-old print world currently under atttack (a website has instituted a New York Times deathwatch and vows to run it until "the last Schulzberg leaves the building.") a new cover story in the latest issue of Wired caught my eye. The premise: that everything is going towards free. Hmmmm, I wonder what ol' Stewart has to say about this?

"Information wants to be free. Information wants to be expensive. That tension will not go away."
—Stewart Brand

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