Knife in the Water (1962) Directed by Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski is extremely talented when it comes to what I call “creeping emotions.” His characters slowly, subtly transform into their madness. For the most part, the people in his films shifted along with the story, not because the story required them to. So many movies seem to change characters because that’s how the characters need to change to fit into what’s about to happen, and thus the change is abrupt and awkward. “In this part of the story, Jason Statham needs to be mad. So this is what suddenly happens that makes him mad.” If you have a cheese pizza, and you want to have a pepperoni pizza by the end of the day, you don’t just dump the entire bag of meat on it, last minute. It’s messy, it’s lazy, and when you finally cut it into slices, you end up with half cheese and half too-much pepperoni.
Knife in the Water is a good example of this. The story is about a married couple that goes boating, but on the way there, end up picking up a young hitchhiker who they invite along with them. The story mostly takes place on the boat/in the boat, and while I usually have a big problem with movies about people talking in a room, Polanski nearly makes it work for me. Nearly.
Most of my discontent with Knife in the Water comes from the fact that not a lot goes on. I know that, if you look into it, a shit ton goes on. You watch a married couple’s internal turmoil and slow unraveling. You watch the emergence of an affair, not just between two people but two social classes. You have a bucket of metaphors and imagery to sift through and interpret by the time the movie ends, and while this film uses all of it in a way that doesn’t leave me bored, Polanski would take most of these themes and put them together later in more exciting productions.
I have an affinity for Polanski’s genre films, like his horror efforts Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby, and much of what is displayed in Knife in the Water are displayed there too. So, in the end, it’s not that I dislike Knife in the Water, it’s just that I like some of Polanski’s other films more. Sorry, Knife in the Water. We’re still cool, but you’re not invited to poker night.
Three-And-A-Half Out Of Five Knives In The Water
Blade (1998) Directed by Stephen Norrington
I really like Blade. Whatever inkling of film scholar that I have in me feels terrible for admitting that I like Blade, the “Some motherfuckers always trying to ice skate uphill” Blade, more than Knife in the Water, a top notch art house film. But I do. Blade is just too cool.
Wesley Snipes plays the titular character, a vampire hunter who is also a vampire that can walk in the daylight. He sometimes has his doubts about his job, but mostly, Blade is about being cool, taking his vitamins, and continuing with his mission.
I like it when superheroes enjoy what they do. I know it’s trendy right now for films to put more emphasis on how tortured the hero is because he’s stuck between wanting to go on dates and punching criminals, but I’m a bigger fan of the ones who love kicking ass. Like Michael Keaton’s Batman. That guy was 100% dedicated to getting laid when he could and attaching bombs to clowns that he didn’t like. And Michael Keaton fucking hated clowns.
Blade never really has time to worry about ladies anyway. You think, the whole time, that he is going to make out with the girl he saves and joins him on his quest throughout the entire film, but the only sexual chemistry that Blade has is with his mom, (who is resurrected as an evil vampire) and the girl, one time, and that’s only when he’s sucking her blood to get the strength to go fight more vampires.
I also dig the mix of villains in Blade. Stephen Dorff plays the main one, Deacon Frost, whose the young hotshot who takes control of the vampire underworld from the always entertaining Udo Kier. The older vampires are all like “We should stick with tradition. Deacon, you’re not even a full blooded vampire. You can’t tell us what to do!” And Deacon Frost replies with “Shut up, Dad! I’m not joining the football team. My passion lies with the theatre!” There’s also the tech expert vampire, who looks a lot like Mojo from the X-Men universe. He’s only in the movie for about five minutes, but he’ll leave you talking about him for at least eight.
Donal Logue, from Grounded For Life and Terriers, plays Frost’s henchman who has a problem with Blade constantly cutting off his limbs. The more I watch this film, the more I like him. Everyone else in the movie speaks in stage whispers and are grimly doing hero poses. Donal is wild and yells everything.
The only way, for me, that the film fails, is with the whacky end, with skeletons flying out of vampire’s mouths and floating through Deacon Frost in order to give him some ultimate, La Magra power. I’m sure there are ways that this sequence could have been done that doesn’t look stupid, because even when Stephen Dorff gets cut in half, only to be pulled back together like a bloody Stretch Armstrong, the flying skeletons still stick out as a little cartoonish.
Oh, and Kris Kristofferson is in the movie too. He plays the old curmudgeon Whistler, who serves as Blade’s weapon expert. I think it’s a funny casting choice, since usually that kind of role would be filled by Wayne Knight or something. But here comes limping, gruff Kristofferson, to talk science with you. He’s my spirit animal grandfather.
Four-And-A-Half Motherfuckers Trying To Ice Skate Uphill Out Of Five