Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Buffalo Soldiers. The Village. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

Buffalo Soldiers
This Fight Club direction, this Fight Club sense of sleepiness, that one man solmeness, the solitude of strength, the duel between two anti heroes. Everything muted, even death; slow motion; blue. One of those films you like better the second time you see it, and you watch it that time because it got in your head in ways of which you’re not certain the first time, a film you approach as a comedy and so approach wrong; a film as about drugs as Trainspotting or any of the other drug movies; fatalistic, nihilistic; subversive and subverted.

The Village
What happens when you try to reinvent Eden?
Blood sacrifices.
The creation of demons.
Evil comes into the garden, and not with apples, and not with snakes. It is born in the hearts of men.
This, or something like, is Shyamalan’s thesis.
Its poorly acted, especially be Hurt, and second most especially by Bryce Dallas Howard, who is a girl I find it almost impossible at whom to look; this under or over directed piece in which half the performances are muted and the other half over the top…and yet something interesting at the heart, a solid story, well framed shots, nicely moving colors, more a whole than its parts.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
A film about therapy; about passive aggression; about control and control issues; about the way the therapist becomes part of a solution and part of a problem; this is like a documentary about a marriage trying to work, the sacrifices and blindnesses necessary for that possibility, and even then, how it doesn’t, not really, perhaps just as seen form the outside, or after one surrender or another. A film about the production of “art”, the sort of mess from which that springs, or seeps, or is accidentally born.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Misfits

A painfully sensitive film, a story about the ways we stop seeing each other, this woman, an object of desire, capable of empathetic connection with every creature around her, this Mars and Venus narrative about the way things fall apart, about the things we buy into because everybody else does, about the beauty of those who stand outside that circle no matter what; a story about men and women, how they are together, how they are alone, and what impresses you most, it’s not Miller’s understanding of men, which many male writers articulate well, but it’s his hard to parallel understanding of women. Monroe, out of shape even by the standards of her time, still beautiful, glowing, all the things she’s supposed to embody, mystery and innocence, clear in her character, clear through her eyes, this fractured love story false only in the hope you feel at the end.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Donnie Darko, director's cut

A series of straw dogs, a world in which the adults are clichés, more appropriate to Fast Times at Ridgemenont High or American Pie than a movie that believes in itself as much as Darko appears to; a film that hides its shaky philosophy in post modernism, the idea that if you reference enough, everything will seem to add up, the worst case scenario of a society in which information is easily available, these scratch the surface understandings of things that need to be studied. This is an 80’s film that works best not as the film, but as the “Mad World” video available on the first disc; a film like those of JT xx that is a better soundtrack. Proof positive that Drew Berryman really can’t act; either that, or she is under directed. And yet, a film not devoid of charm, alternately watchable and unwatchable. Whereas Napoleon Dynamite doesn’t mind feeling like it was made by a kid, this film tries to hide it, but unsuccessfully, behind all that cleverness appropriate to sophomore coffee table discussions. Want teen angst with a real edge, watch Heaters. Want a movie that acts as a puzzle with its own built in clues, Watch Greenaway, watch Lynch. Want something with interesting visuals, an excellent rabbit, and a lot of pop metaphysics? Donnie is for you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

White Dawn

Like Mutiny on the Bounty and any number of films with American Indians, it gives you masturbatory fantasies about indigenous women. And like many of those films, it means to glorify that simple life and suggest the evil of the progressed. Though in that polar world, not all the innocence was born in the garden, Bottoms in perhaps his best role, that Christ figure, walking on frozen water. That claustrophobic world of igloo insides, that cold world of snow and rain; that bloody world of torn out hearts and seals. A simple, straightforward story, mishandled at times and taken overly seriously by its director, but a worthy watch, that red and white story, those gray skies.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Little Prince

It’s a shame about the music, this surreal film that most certainly some day soon they will remake, the little blond boy in the desert, the lost pilot, the flower faraway and the snake, and the fox, these lonely and long journeys, that devastating image, the blurred white, frozen, and then the fall, as impacting as anything in film ever; a strangely tone film, one that you sometimes suffer for those moments when the image absolutely combines with the text, so that by the time the credits roll, you feel it is transcendent.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Door in the Floor

Rarely has sex looked so mournful, the erotic been so pained. These people who live after a loss that one can’t imagine surviving. The northeast beaches, the sun in the grass, on the sand, looking cold. These muted youths. These nude women in their fifties that make you want to be with nude women in their fifties. An Irving film, and to understand, you must know his work, though not necessarily the work on which it was based (Widow For a Year). His touch is everywhere, the self conscious, semi-forced one liners the echo—with the sort of inexpertness of fatigue—early, less conspicuous tag lines: Keep passing the open windows; beware the undertoad; sorrow floats. A confusing film if you don’t know how to look at it. You’ll think it’s the boy’s story, maybe the wife’s; unless you know Irving, you’ll not understand it is the writer’s story, as unlikeable as he; it is in fact a story about storytelling, the place between the life of the writer and the work a writer creates, a statement concerning the price of art, suggesting that to write, one must choose the door in the floor, all the terror behind it, one must go crawling round in there and get comfortable, so that to be a real writer, you have separated yourself from others, who would never choose the door in the floor, who avoid it at all costs, who are frozen by the thought of it, so that while tragedy destroys the normal person, the writer painfully embraces it and then, of course, tells the story, the most perfect witness, and perfectly alone. A self aggrandizing statement to be sure, one it’s hard to buy, but I have to like the way it’s offered.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Treasure of the Seirra Madre. Matchstick Men. Jaws: the Revenge

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
A film that goes apart as Fred C. Dobbins does; you just don’t buy it, this morality play sort of forced through its paces, a story not so much about what happens when one tries to get what he wants, but what happens to one when he does get what he wants. A classic indeed, the sand and gold in that Mexican desert, the mountain a woman yielding, and the men, their dirty faces and ragged hair, their beards curling, somber faced Mexicans who suddenly laugh and then go somber again, that particularly well contrasted black and what cinematography, a film about greed but only peripherally, more about madness, though it never unlocks its madness for us.

Matchstick Men
A sting you will see through, and knowing it doesn’t give you the pleasure that knowing the final twist of similar con films might, where you when watch it unfold you begin to understand the layers of trick beneath the layers; they layers in this film, their built sloppily, forced, false; Cage’s mannered performance; this Paper Moon rift; a film that has a box promising surprise but offers up no surprise; just a good looking piece of well lit anti-noir that you’ll never watch twice.

Jaws 3: the Revenge
Hello, I’m Lorraine Grady, and you will find it almost impossible to look at me, my face having taken on the characteristics of Roy Scheider, a not very pretty man; in any case, I’m the main character here and after my husband and son have been killed by sharks, I really need to get away, so I choose the Bahamas, an island, a house close to the water…
Hi, I’m the shark and I’m mad at Ms Brody and her kin so I decide to call on my supernatural powers that allow me to follow her plane…Hello, I’m Michael Caine, and what I’m doing in this film, you ask me, but don’t you love the scene where I fall into the water and pulled out with miraculously dry hair…Hello, I’m J Eric Miller, and what I’m doing watching a film like this at two in the morning is a type of penance.