Western Watchins #77
What is the Price of Power? It’s a question we’ve probably all asked ourselves at some point in our lives. If you actually watched The Price of Power like I did you might also ask yourself “why God, why?” or “do I have enough rope in the house to end this right now?” A few friends and I played Western-Movie-Pack-From-K-Mart Roulette with a 20 piece collection recently. We randomely chose a title, threw it in the player then sat back for what seemed like un-ending hours of torturous boredom laced with feverish confusion and a painful lack of resolution. If you think I’m exaggerating know that a study from 2008 found that prisoners kept at Guantanamo Bay who were shown this film begged to be waterboarded and fed bacon at every meal in order to escape its soul-numbing monotony. If Leone’s many masterpieces were bright shining stars in the Cinema Italiano sky then The Price of Power is a black hole sucking down everything within reach into its suck-filled hole of ceaseless suck. It sure tries hard to fool you otherwise though!
Let’s go for that standard shot past the gun-hand because those are always awesome and ominous as we look out towards some dude or dudes about to get fucked up while tightly trained on the fingers that will soon do the fucking. Use of this technique, or any special techinique in your film, should be sparing. Too much and the technique itself becomes distracting or worse, laughable. Il Prezzo‘s director Tonino Valerii beats down deep focus like it’s a British orphan who just timidly asked for more porridge. He beats it so hard a group of dead horses filed a class-action suit against the guy. He beats it so hard deep focus doesn’t even know how to fully focus anymore:
This shot works past the hip at high noon but flagrant overuse and your film turns into a blur barraged music video for an 80s power ballad. And unless you’re Lita Ford or one of those hot chicks from Poison I don’t need you that far up in my personal space. For more than an hour I was convinced that the stars of the movie were the pores on that guy’s face and the hairs in that one’s nose. It might have helped if anyone was saying anything important but the multi-tiered plot was too overly complex for the way the script was presenting all the information necessary for you to properly give an invested shit. The Price of Power was dense in both senses of the word. I was drinking when I watched this but a whole room of people in addition to myself (some also drinking, some who wish they had been) couldn’t tame this wildly rambling film into any corral of comprehension. If you ever watch this, drinking won’t really help but it’ll feel like you’re giving at least some effort. And the bigger the drink the better:
Look at that poor bastard. He’s thinking “goddamit, you’re doing it again aren’t you? That goddamn deep focus shit! And now I’m playing a scene with a mug, a giant fucking mug, of beer. Great. Annnnnnnd my agent is fired.” To be fair, The Price of Power might be 97% split diopter insanity but that still leaves a little room for some redeeming qualities. Or one, one redeeming quality. And that was this blue dude’s most preeminent facial hair:
This poster doesn’t do it justice but imagine just what Wolverine’s, Lemmy Kilmister’s and Joe Manganiello’s bastard beard baby would look like and you’re getting close. It’s probably fair to say that this guy was voted “most likely to be King Under the Mountain” by his high school class. And maybe he was ripping off Thorin’s style but I can assure you even that wouldn’t have been the most flagrant theft on set. Exhibit “A” your Honor.
Someone’s picking on that poor woman! And it sure as hell seems a lot like the same guy who did this!
You might say it’s just an odd coincidence (Once Upon a Time is from 1968, this one…1969!) or argue that bitches fell down all the time in the Old West but I have it on good authority that Old West bitches were as sure of foot as a tacky-toed mountain goat so there! Whose good authority you ask? My good goddamn authority! And seeing as not five minutes prior to the fall I saw one of those chicks dancing her way through a performance of America Fuck Yeah! The Musical! I’m certain my logic is anything but flawed.
Those colors don’t run you commie bastards, nor do they fall down in the dirt without help. And neither did this horse amazingly enough:
Exposition, plagiarized domestic violence, show-stopping dance numbers and pursuit on horseback, it’s all necessary to move this not-at-all a story along to its not-at-all fitting conclusion. I mean after the assassination of President James A. Garfield in an almost shot for shot remake of the Zapruder film of course. Yes, the Kennedy assassination Zapruder film. As much as every Spaghetti Western was a pastiche celebrating our lawless frontier days The Price of Power takes it to another level. A level where everyone drops acid before throwing a few American history books into a blender on script writing day. It’s got so many stereotypes (none of them interesting) and so many nods to our past (none of them accurate) it’s as if Yakov Smirnoff directed this movie right after yodeling “I luuuvvv Amerika!”
Please God…please make this stop.
Oh, you heard me Lord!? Thank you man, thank fucking you! So there’s our hero, I think, shooting or maybe dodging a shot or being Italian or something. Of course he doesn’t have to be all that heroic (he wasn’t), nimble (he wasn’t) or Italian (he fuckin’ was!) to take down guys like this:
I’m no expert by any means but I’m pretty sure rifles need barrels. Maybe it’s a table leg. At this point in the movie I wouldn’t have cared if they had to beat each other with inhuman clubs made from infant children while they simultaneously burned the cures for AIDS, cancer and attention deficit disorder as long as it meant the movie would be over soon.
But there’s always time for some more deep focus fuckery right?
Jesus Cadbury-hoarding Christ. Easter just recently passed and it reminded us all that the Son of God died for humanity’s sins, one of them being this film. The Price of Power aka Il Prezzo del Potere aka Fuck I Just Stabbed my Eyes Out, I’m Free, I’m Free gets 1 round in the cylinder probably only because it’s from Italy as were some of my favorite Westerns and my most favorite wife. Yes, it’s a Spaghetti Western, sure it is, but this pasta is stale, it’s cheese past expiration and its spicy meatballs are a mysterious and palate confounding mixture of feces and discontent. I always want to love every poorly but lovingly produced title from the Italian Peninsula’s dusty boot but some are beyond any kind of affection like a girl who wears a smoking hot cosplay with lots of leg showing only to ruin the ensemble with control top hosiery. They make sheer-to-waist for a goddamn reason! That girl and this movie, they both had the right idea but somewhere along the way they took a wrong turn, away from “bad-assery” and squarely into “bumble-fuckitude.”
I’ve had a lot of whiskey tonight, sometimes it’s the only way to ride true. So I’ve had a lot as I’ve finished this review off and you know what? It wasn’t enough. I’m gonna go pour another shot to toss back and wash this taste away while I promise myself to never again ask “what is the price of power?”
Because now I fucking know.