I have seen neither of these movies till now, and I knew nothing of them, much, except their directors and a vague notion of Nicolas Cage being in the former, not the latter.Â And now itâ€™s been months since I have seen these movies, so my recollections of them are almost as informed as my preconceptions of them were: That is to say, not at all.
Wild at Heart is one of Meganâ€™s favorite movies.Â Strangely, it took almost two years of dating before we watched it, even though she referenced the movie often (even in the face of my obliviousness, since I had no idea what she was referencing).
Here is what I carried away from Wild at Heart.
I thought I wouldnâ€™t like the movie because of Nicholas Cage. I never want to see a movie he is in.Â At least thatâ€™s the way I used to feel.Â Now, I see Cage being in a movie as a sign that the production may be a glorious wreck, all the more glorious because Cage is soâ€¦ wellâ€¦ crazy.Â I mean, watch this movie and youâ€™ll see some of the insanity leak through.Â Cage throws himself so much into his characters that he bursts right through the other side of them, becoming uber-Cage instead of an exemplar of the Method.
I tend to shy away from David Lynch movies. Sure, I liked Mulholland Drive, but I canâ€™t name a single other film of his that Iâ€™ve seen.Â I never saw Twin Peaks.Â Although I know what Lynchian means, thatâ€™s all through cultural osmosis, not any firsthand experience.Â But wait, my subconscious is saying now, what about Dune?Â I must admit, I love Dune, and that is a David Lynch vehicle.Â But who doesnâ€™t love Dune?
(Okay, I should give Lynch more credit.Â I think itâ€™s just that everyone else likes him so much that causes me pause, some instinct in me that wants me to search out and test whatâ€™s untested rather than digging into the ore everyone says â€“ and has proven â€“ is gold.)
I had no idea what this movie was about. All I knew was that it was Lynch, that lots of people liked it, and I assumed it would be something like Raising Arizona â€“ a far stretch in tone, Iâ€™m sure, but itâ€™s also another Cage movie that Iâ€™ve never seen.Â But I liked what I saw.Â I liked the struggle to find the right thing to do, then to do it, to fail, and to try to do it again.Â Also, I loved the blatant absurdity of the ending where a knock on the head brings to Cage a deus ex machine that brings the movie to a happy conclusion by convincing Cage to do what we already know he wants to, and should, do.
As for Assault on Precinct 13, this is what youâ€™ll be tested on.
I knew I would love the movie because of John Carpenter. I have to say that Carpenter is perhaps my favorite director.Â I love and/or find merit in and/or find interesting everything heâ€™s ever done that Iâ€™ve seen.Â Mostly.Â Iâ€™m not sure where to put Ghosts of Mars on my Carpenter-scale, though Iâ€™ll probably be seeing it again to expose Megan to the movie and Iâ€™ll be forced to revisit my opinion then (and also because Iâ€™m writing a series of poems on Carpenterâ€™s movies).Â But his earlier work I often find entrancing because itâ€™s soâ€¦ real?Â Against the grain?Â Strange?Â Unbeholden?
Truly, I was going to have other bolded paragraphs, but the truth is that this is all about Carpenter.Â Yes, I found the acting well-done and loved the main characters.Â But I couldnâ€™t tell you any of their names.Â I loved the script (Carpenter) and the music (Carpenter again).Â I didnâ€™t know what this movie was about â€“ you know, other than there being an assault on precinct 13 â€“ but that didnâ€™t matter.Â Itâ€™s Carpenter!
I havenâ€™t seen the 2005 remake, and I confess that, Carpenter-obsessed as I am, I only saw his version late last year.Â But I imagine that the remake sped up the tempo and probably took out a lot of the idiosyncrasies that make the original so interesting (just like the remake of Death Race 2000 took out all of the parts that made the original a B-movie classic).
Perhaps my favorite scene: the ice-cream truck murder which starts this whole ball rolling.Â A child is killed by accident in a gang hit and her father finds the men responsible and kills them, but then is chased by the others in the gang to, you guessed it, precinct 13.Â Itâ€™s a nice bit of narrative that emphasizes the chance nature of all of the events in the movie, and reinforces Carpenterâ€™s focus on people doing their best in a world that doesnâ€™t make sense, where effect may follow cause but those two things arenâ€™t related in any meaningful way.
So there you have it.Â Wild at Heart and Assault on Precinct 13, fully-digested and expunged from my brain for your approval.Â And to fight to the death.
Final Verdict: Carpenterâ€™s film wins.Â They always win, even when they lose.Â And Wild at Heart wasnâ€™t half bad, neither.