The Phenix City Story

This post was originally written as part of my USA Road Trip series over at French Toast Sunday.

Phenix City, Alabama, 1954. The city, just across the bridge from Georgia’s Fort Benning, has been at the mercy of mob rule for a hundred years. The town officials all turn a blind eye due to either being on the pay roll or fearing the consequences of standing up for themselves, with town attorney Albert Patterson (John McIntire) only getting involved for which ever side hires him in various disputes. A small band of townsfolk regularly picket and protest the syndicate, but have always proved ineffective. That is until Albert’s son and war hero John Patterson (Richard Kiley) returns home with his wife and children. Upon seeing the state of his home town, and witnessing the brutality of the mob’s men against those that dare oppose them, John sets about trying to clean the place up, but he can’t do anything without his father’s help.
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My Week in Movies, 2015 Week 22

I watched Guardians of the Galaxy again on Saturday night. We started watching something called Life of Crime, starring Tim Robbins as an arrogant, wealthy drunk whose wife (Jennifer Aniston) is kidnapped by Mos Def and John Hawkes, but he doesn’t want to pay the ransom because he was going to divorce her anyway. Sounds mildly interesting, with a bunch of actors I enjoy – Will Forte, Isla Fisher, Kevin Corrigan and Mark Boone Junior are all in there somewhere too – but 10 minutes in Aisha and I were already bored and checking our respective phones, plus a 5.8/10 on IMDb didn’t bode well, so we bailed and watched Guardians. When I saw it in the theatre last year I loved it. At that point it was one of the best films I’d seen all year, and I raved about it on the Lambcast episode dedicated to it. It was quickly added to my prospective Christmas list, and I was overjoyed to find the Blu-Ray under the tree. I was hard pressed to find anyone with many problems with it, and couldn’t wait to see it again. Then I watched it my partner and her parents. They were all relatively lukewarm on the experience, and I found myself in a similar situation as I had the year before. When I saw Pacific Rim in the cinema back in 2013, I left proclaiming it to be my new favourite film (As an exaggeration, in truth no film can be thought that highly of until I’ve seen it at least twice, with the viewings being at least 9 months apart from one another. Yes, I’ve dictated myself a set of rules through which I allow myself to enjoy things. And yes, I know how absurd that is.). I subsequently got Pacific Rim for Christmas, watched it with my partner and her family, they all hated it, I suddenly didn’t like it much any more, and haven’t gone back since. My second viewing of Guardians brought me down not to the same level of dismissal as the potential in-laws, but somewhat closer than I had been.

It was my partner’s idea to watch it again this past weekend, and I didn’t hesitate because I still remember that first viewing, and I hoped her opinions would improve second time around. They did, she rather enjoyed it, but alas I did not. There was something missing, some spark of creativity and innovation that had dissolved and withered away since that first viewing. I found myself watching this vastly entertaining blockbuster, previously lauded by myself for its witty script, its deft handling and shaping of unknown characters, its ability to introduce a frankly ridiculous amount of new locations, people, items and mythology without feeling overstuffed or confused, and this time around I was bored. The jokes fell flat. The plot was dreary. Even the soundtrack had lost its appeal. Something has happened in my mind that seems to prevent me from enjoying something I loved in the past. And now I’m stuck with a quandary. Do I give it a few months – maybe even a year or so – and watch it again, in the hope that I’ll rediscover what I once saw? Or in doing so will I continue the ever-steepening downward slope of my appreciation for the film, evolving from outright love, through emphatic enjoyment and now sitting in disappointed mundanity? Will a fourth viewing make me actively dislike it? Help! Continue reading