August 23, 2004
Not a good movie. Could’ve been, but there was one giant black hole sucking all the energy out of the film, the actors, everything:
The other actors were working their asses off, but she just had nothing to bring to the table. In a film that relies so heavily–perhaps solely–on acting for its power, this film is evidence that one weak link can break the chain. She was so bad that in every scene she was in, she made the other actors look ridiculous. Like they were playing house. But magically, when she wasn’t there, the other actors were phenomenal. Laura Dern and Mark Ruffalo especially.
But I do not recommend seeing this film. Not only because of the Watts black hole factor, but also because of shitty on-the-nose writing. It’s a film with zero subtext, a film that is trying to be about complicated lives and complicated people but is itself wholly uncomplicated.
August 16, 2004
August 11, 2004
I watched In the Cut last night, mainly because I am in love with Mark Ruffalo. I’ve heard it’s a horrible movie, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. The murder-mystery part could have been removed though–it was lame and the film was clearly more interested in examining male-female relationships. It didn’t quite integrate the murder into that so well, even if they were trying to use it as metaphor for masculine agression/sexuality/power struggle etc.
But there were a lot of cliches here that they managed to pull off–the writer/English teacher getting involved with the brutish male cop, for example, is usually bullshit but here they didn’t make it some love-sees-past-class-differences utopia–she’s hot for him because he’s a brute, but beyond sex it’s pretty clear they have nothing in common and it’s ambiguous whether they’ll really end up together. I liked that.
August 9, 2004
So Sofia Coppola’s next project will be an adaptation of a biography of Marie Antoinette. Whatever problems I have with her work, I gotta say she certainly has auteur-ish obsessions with the same themes. Rich women tucked away in tall castles, that’s her thing. Until now it has been metaphorical, but with this project it becomes literal. Rich people who do not apologize for being rich. Scarlett Johansson was tucked away in the posh penthouse of a Japanese hotel in Lost in Translation, the girls of Virgin Suicides were tucked away in their repressive family home. Women of mystery, women of privilege, inaccessible women. That is the cinema of Sofia Coppola. Even if it rubs me the wrong way sometimes, I am happy to watch a female artist developing. And I am eager to see how she treats Marie Antoinette, the most reviled rich woman in history. The biography is said to be sympathetic, and I’m sure Coppola’s treatment will be as well.
August 3, 2004
After reading about the Netflix fallacy, (via Pullquote) I had to admit defeat and this morning I sent back two Netflix DVDs I have been hanging on to for a few weeks. They were, in fact, subtitled films. And I will, in fact, reorder my Netflix queue so that for the next few harried weeks I will only be receiving light, english-speaking films that can be easily and quickly digested. When you already have a pile of subtitled films waiting to be watched, which you have to watch for your job, adding more to the pile simply creates movie-watcher’s guilt and Neflix bottleneck. I can’t even get through more than 15 minutes at a time of The Spanish Apartment! I’ve had that one for weeks. And forget Water Drops on Burning Rocks. Yet Secret Window came and went in 24 hours.
August 2, 2004
Filmbrain says the new director’s cut of Donnie Darko is darker and allows for the interpretation that the whole thing was possibly taking place in the mind of a schizophrenic. When I heard there was going to be a director’s cut released I was hoping this would be the case, because that was my original interpretation when I saw it two years ago, but not everyone agreed with me. And I felt the film wasn’t polished enough to give me enough concrete evidence to really argue that it definitely was intended to be read this way. I saw it the first time with students, and gave my argument in class the following week, and was given a healthy debate from students who loved the film but disagreed with my interpretation. Some even stayed after class to argue more. Then I tried it out on some colleagues, who were much more receptive to the idea. But I still had to admit that there wasn’t enough evidence. I saw the film again a few weeks later with my ARCH ENEMY and after seeing it I was even more convinced that I was right. I floated the idea to him and he dismissed it out of hand. “Nah. He just went back in time.”
So now I am eager to see the director’s cut to see if indeed there was intended to be more evidence that it was all a schizophrenic fantasy.