Video of the Day


Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

Live and Active Affiliates
This area does not yet contain any content.
« In Which Señor Spielbergo Delivers Los Hobbits | Main | In Which We Relive A Week That Scarred Us All Forever »

In Which Indiana Jones Starts A Punch Up In A Soda Shop

Fear of the Berg

by Karina Wolf

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

dir. Steven Spielberg

124 minutes

I once had an employer who was asked to do an Interview-style conversation piece with Nora Ephron. Both participants had the right to redact the transcript before publication. The only thing Ephron excised was my boss's tirade about how Spielberg ruined the movie industry when Jaws distorted industry expectations for a film's opening box office.

This isn't exactly revolutionary criticism; I'm pretty sure the argument was lifted straight out of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. Nonetheless, Nora didn't seem to want her name anywhere near a critical dressing down of Spielberg. She's still trying to make a living in the movies, after all, and people in the movie industry are afraid to piss off Spielberg.

We have to be a little grateful, then, for Manohla Dargis' appraisal that the new Indiana Jones is ripe for a YouTube mashup. It's a politic way of saying that the fourth Jones installment is a mashup - of every film that Spielberg and Lucas have ever seen/enjoyed/earned points on.

Unfortunately the source material makes for more compelling viewing: echoes of The Ten Commandments, The Wild One, Rebel Without A Cause make me want to revisit the originals… though, I admit, Crystal Skull contains about as much of Apocalypto as I'd ever want to see.

Between these gimmicks (Shia LeBoeuf is not Marlon Brando) the dramatic premise is baffling—Cold War Communists in search of psychic weapons? I kept thinking I had wandered into the X Files sequel. Despite provoking the ire of present day Russians, the film leans on a global conflict that, as portrayed, is too virtual.

The Nazis—villains of Jones parts one and three—have an easily quantifiable casualty risk. What are the consequences of this fight, when a mushroom-cloud is played for laughs and "I Like Ike" is spoken with more chauvinism than irony?

Like 007, the Jones series works well when it coincides with topical world conflict. Nuclear disarmament is still an urgent issue—but we wouldn't know that from Indy's lighthearted romp through Silkwood territory. I know Lucasfilm is counting on a viewership of 8 year olds—but even a kid audience needs a fight worth winning so that all the egghead anthropological detail adds up to something.

Conversely, Harrison Ford is always better when comedy interrupts his pursuit of patriotic machismo. But the film is a nod to not one but two culturally static and humorless American eras. Ford is reduced to starting a punch up in a soda shop and attempting to call his son Junior.

The gee whiz reminiscences from the 50s can be charming; more troublingly, we get a re-working of many of the lucrative film franchises of the 80s. The guys from Knocked Up did a better job of paying tribute to Back to the Future when they riff on revving the DeLorian up to 88.

A red sea of ants is less poached from Cecil B. DeMille than from the melting Nazi scene in the original Jones pic. Crystal Skull is cannibalizing its own mythology, and not in a nifty, ouroboros sort of way. Was this script written in 1989, and someone slapped David Koepp's name on it to make it seem current?

Once the action heads to the Amazon, it is only a matter of time before the story "pays tribute" to one of my favorite 80s adventures, Romancing the Stone. Go back and revisit Joan Wilder; you'll enjoy her search for El Tenador Del Diablo much more than Jones' fieldwork.

If you've seen that film, you'll recognize a super-sized "Lupe's escape" (flight from gun-toting bandits by steering a vehicle over a waterfall) and familiar excavation of treasure behind a cataract. In the 80s, we had Danny DeVito mangling Spanish. Now, we have John Hurt speaking in tongues. He's our go-to actor for otherworldly possession. I'm not sure whether he's recycling Beckett or a character from Skeleton Key.

And what exactly has possessed Cate Blanchett, who evokes neither laughs nor true villainy? Her character's lust for the magnetized, semiprecious alien skeletons is never quite explained.

Maybe the film follows another Latin American phenomenon, described in Shirley MacLaine's Out on a Limb. When the actress/mysticist travelled to Peru to look for extraterrestrials, she learned that only the individuals who were ready to see UFOs were gifted with a glimpse of the levitating saucers. When we're evolved enough, we'll understand why the fourth Indiana Jones is here.

Karina Wolf is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find more of her work here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Her blog is here.

from here

"Distant Dreamer" - Duffy (mp3)

"Hanging On Too Long" - Duffy (mp3)

"Rockferry" - Duffy (mp3)

Screenwriting podcasts worth a listen.

A Brit crit who will make you laugh.

Blogging Bel Air.


What makes Karina laugh.

The heart needs a beat.

Don't apologize.

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: juxtapose
    In Which Indiana Jones Starts A Punch Up In A Soda Shop - Film - This Recording

Reader Comments (1)

[...] Karina on Indiana Jones [...]

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.