...where distraction is the main attraction.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Three movies in one day!

I can't remember the last time I got in three flickers in one day. Whether back-to-back or spacing it out, it's easier when you're in high school or college. But, as time goes on, it gets more and more difficult to put away three movies in 14 hours. No matter what vitamins one may take.

I'll list these three in reverse viewing order.

Just finished The Diving Bell and The Butterfly. Kristen and I saw this in the theatre as soon as it hit LA in late 2007. In a year full of surprisingly good films, Diving Bell was a full head above the rest. It was my favorite artistically, literally, visually, spiritually, emotionally, and the soundtrack is just fantastic. There are moments in it where I feel like I'm watching the rebirth of cinema. And it reminds me why I feel like cinema is the great art with so many artists and artisans struggling together to make each heartbeat work. There is no exaggeration of recommendation that would be inappropriate for this. No only is it great art, but it is simultaneously deeply sad and joyous, insanely erotic, and humbling. Schnabel is a genius.

In the afternoon I watched John Turturro's Romance & Cigarettes. It was unfortunate that he had such trouble getting this picked up for distribution, though I do understand why. I mean, what American company wants to release a musical about a miserable blue-collar family? James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, and Kate Winslet are the leads while Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, Mandy Moore, Amy Sedaris, Eddie Izzard, and Mary Louise-Parker are supporting. Yeah, awesome cast. And the fact that this movie is so bluntly sexual is why I can't help but recommend it. I mean every scene is about rutting and every other line of dialogue fashions graphic descriptions of the act. If you're a Kate Winslet fan, yeah, you're going to want to watch this. Unless of course you'd rather not listen to her spout lasciviously about what she wants to do with specific parts of her/your body, in a British accent. And I still have something for Susan Sarandon (62 years hot, yeah believe it). Enough about the cast, how's the actual filmmaking? The musical idea is bold and works most of the time. The actual emotional journeys of the characters aren't holding up so well under deep reflection, but the general insanity that ensues in the process is refreshing and unique enough to hold its own.

I started my morning with A Clockwork Orange. That idea I don't recommend. I also would not suggest watching this movie with a loved one. The film is cold, cruel, bitter, and disturbing. It's one of the few movies that I'd rather wasn't made, but will defend to the death Kubrick's right to make it. The focus on rape and the destruction of the feminine can be a little overwhelming. This was my second pass at the Burgess-adapted experience. The first round, while in film school, elicited a blindingly negative response from some angry serotonin alcove of mine. I wanted to give it another pass when I could watch it on my own with pauses for hydration and walks in the sun.

When it was released, Ebert hated it while Vincent Camby loved it. I'm somewhere in the middle. Kubrick is brilliant and I'm fascinated in this divide that I've found in his career. I will defend his work pre-Clockwork every time, but post-Clockwork...well...it takes more effort to find the positives, let alone brilliance. Some sort of split happened in his filmmaking and the work seems more uneven -- Barry Lyndon, Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut -- and entirely lacking brevity. Clockwork's satire reaches for so many targets, striking some better than others, that it seems like a different filmmaker was left it its wake. Maybe it had to do with the public and legal response. Needless to say, it still strikes a raw nerve. I can't imagine a film with that much sexual violence and nihilism getting distributed in America today.


  1. Re: Kubrick

    I will defend Full Metal Jacket to the bitter end, even though it IS very uneven and the last portion of the movie is so clearly filmed in England and not Vietnam. There's something about the scizophrenic nature of the film that is a perfect reflection of love/hate relationship Americans have with the millitary.

    As for A Clockwork Orange, it's a monumental feat that he even made such a book into a coherent film.

    "I can't imagine a film with that much sexual violence and nihilism getting distributed in America today."
    I think that's a perfect description of its brilliance. It's not Saw, it's something REALLY scary.

  2. By the way, have you seen "The Squid and the Whale"? I love that film.

    BTW, again, skip "Wanted" It is trash to the nth degree. It manages to rip off every interesting movie from the last 15 years, and yet, somehow, manages to be completely uninteresting. Like one long montage.

  3. I'm going to give Full Metal Jacket another spin now that I'm 33.333% less of a film snob than when I had watched it.

    Squid and the Whale was very well written and really intense.

    Yeah, I'm skipping Wanted, but that director made two Russian vampire-zombie movies and I'm going to watch them before the summer's out.