Friday, July 15, 2005

Film Fiesta

watching mucho movies this week...

The End of the Century--I think that was the title, which will explain why I had Ramones songs in the ear this week. Not your usual crash and burn rock bio pic, but I guess the R's didn't quite peak so high as the typical narrative dictates. I didn't realize that they came along so early on the punk scene and influenced dozens/gazillions of other bands. Dee-Dee (applause for degree of functionality while on drugs) was the most vivid- like it was only yesterday with no length of jading years between- recalling their heyday. Video store guy tried talking me into renting the GiGi Allen biopic (speaking enthusiastically of feces throwing) when I was returning this one which made me embarrassed to ask if he had Before Sunset.

Before Sunset--So I'm the same age as these characters and of course my developmental stages have so far all proven to be spot-on with every cliche there is which is why I found the first one (Before Sunrise) so dreamily resonant of every late night existential conversation I ever had... And since we're on a Paris kick, and a kick for expatriation in general, it seemed like if there was ever a plausible excuse for bringing home a movie with Ethan Hawke in it, this was it. And you know, I have to say, that Linklater is indeed still in step with the questions of the age, but more than that- I've decided I'm a huge fan of films that are basically 2 hours of a good conversation. Plot? Piffle! Perhaps it's my poet bias, but I wish more films made a go of the rhizomatic structure.

The Spanish Apartment--(probably more easily recognized by its French title, but I returned it, and I don't have a French dictionary handy.) Kind of a sweet group-living/studying abroad picture with a microcosm EU of studentry. Of course the Brits are portrayed as either neurotic or oafish and the American character is too stoned to achieve even oafishness. One of the best scenes is at the end when the main character returns to France for his first job after college, suit, tie, briefcase in hand, and he is shown to his bland, corporate-looking office where two of his older coworkers begin to fill him in on, I don't know, who does what, who takes long coffee breaks, how to finesse extra staples out of the supply room guardian and all the twaddle that consumes anyone who has been in a workplace for any length of time (but this seems to take root at some point in one's 30's and people seem to really take this stuff seriously from then on.. at least I've found=scary.) So of course he runs out of there screaming because he knows better... note to self: keep knowing better.

Closer--While it was absorbing at the time, once it was over it really bothered me. The plot and the dialogue have that smarmy, precocious David Mamet/Greek tragedy style that all the Yale dramaphiles win prizes for, right? But it's just so artificial, so self-conscious, too connecty (it's that Hollywood device of the main characters repeating some irritating catch phrase throughout the movie to create the illusion of (stoner voice:)"whoa, everything's connected!") Even though this film doesn't do that outright parrot trick, its desire to be tidy, especially disappointing since its characters start out so inexplicably messy, is a real let down. Plus, the last 5 years of Bush's America has made me damn sick of simplistic moralizing- that goes for art, politics, entertainment, etc.

Belle du Jour--viewed the same night as Closer, this is a much more intresting study in deception. The characters are nuanced and have motives I can understand even when they use them to make choices (way!) outside that territory of understanding.


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