Tropical Malady

I have not seen anything like this, and I would like to see more. I expect a lot of viewers would find the second half too long and slow, but I would like to be able to invent a potion that would enable anyone to quiet down to the place where you can just dream along with that second half, enjoying the alien voice of the shaman tiger ghost and the shimmering of the tree over the transfiguring cow in the jungle night.

Addendum: the first half is completely different aside from featuring the same two actors in roles that may or may not be related to their roles in the second half. It feels more conventional, in that a lot more is going on, and yet it is also unlike most things I’ve seen. It feels at once naive and worldly – not just in the innocent, near-chaste relationship between two gay guys, but in all of its facets: the dialogue, the production values – it could be amateur documentary, except for the regular sense of the poetic voice and crafty hand of the author here and there. Wow, check out that sentence. Anyway. The first half is wonderful in its own way, and I neglected to mention it earlier because the second half is kind of a show stealer.

Kelly and Michelle Dynamo

Wendy and Lucy made me want to dig up all of Kelly Reichardt’s work and study it to see if I could learn how she creates “tension” or at least a sustained engagement out of thin air, seemingly. It is possible, of course, that one could watch Michelle Williams read a book and find it compelling. Anyway.

Got to follow the Film Society of Lincoln Center in your mode of choice, blog, twit, whatevs. Stuff like this is why:

The Lives of Others

All story all the time. Well, and stunning performance from the surveillance guy. Major pageturner. Couldn’t help but reflect on Stephen Harper’s views on the arts in Canada, watching this. Extra impressive as a first feature. Here’s the director on Charlie Rose.

Schlongless Trailer

The movie, while not exactly schlongfull, does contain 100% more schlong than the trailer. But I am misleading you as to the greatest virtue of this movie. The Man Who Fell To Earth? Endless marvelosity. And the pee shooting out of the pink microdress! Movies I felt, at least for a moment, while watching this: Logan’s Run, Easy Rider, L’eclisse, Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. I guarantee if you try to tally your favorite visuals in this thing, you will lose count.

No Film For Civilized Men

I can contemplate, graphically, serial murder. I can appreciate a 90-minute depiction of slaughter. Movies I have enjoyed: Natural Born Killers, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, Scarface, Aliens, Tarantino’s, etc. I just need a ripping yarn. Or a big idea. Or a weird idea. Or wailing special effects and stunts.

Well, there are no effects or stunts to speak of in No Country For Old Men. There are no big or weird ideas, at least not presented in any way you could sink your teeth into. The official tagline is “there are no clean getaways”, which I would paraphrase as “no free lunch”, and hope for a commentary on “America”, or greed, or laziness, or the Buddha’s first noble truth. Instead, I get a video game. A guy finds money and another guy hunts him for it, killing everyone in his path. I don’t know why the first guy is trying to keep the money. I don’t know anything about him. No external forces bear on them. There are two other characters who appear to be pointless. Woody Harrelson’s character appears to be intentionally pointless. Tommy Lee Jones may be intended to provide a philosophical and/or moral input, which could be good, except that it goes something like this:

-“Anytime you quit hearin ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ the end is pretty much in sight”

Or maybe he’s intended to provide wry witticisms, which could be good, except that it goes something like this:

-“(It’s a mess, ain’t it.) Well if it ain’t, it’ll do til the mess gets here.”

I haven’t read the novel, but I’ve read that it’s about causality and fate. And indeed, the film has characters say, on several occasions, some variation of “you can’t stop what’s coming”. Now this could be an interesting idea, but as part of a “keep the psycho druglord away from his $2 million” plot, it’s kind of a no-brainer.

So you watch this series of murders of innocent bystanders, wrapped in absolutely nothing but the natural suspense of hunting, interrupted occasionally by the confusing pointlessness of Tommy Lee Jones, and for a brief time by the confusing pointlessness of Woody Harrelson.

And you say to yourself: Javier Bardem’s hairdo and method of shooting people is not enough to carry this material.

Surprising from the Coens.

A Pleasant Surprise

For some reason I thought Babel was a handheld, doc-looking political statement about terrorism. Maybe a lot of the marketing used big gun Brad, whose story would most match that description. Anyway, I wasn’t terribly interested in that, so only got around to this last night. Goodness! There is so much more to this than that. So much beauty. Technically pleasing. Some ideas to consider. My only complaint is that I didn’t feel it as much as I would have liked, and this movie seems to have the potential to make you feel deeply. I’m not sure if this is a performance problem, or a story problem. I suspect the former, since the character you feel the most for, the nanny, is no more revealed through story than the other characters. Whatever, it’s a great piece of work that did inspire me.