Sunday, October 25, 2009

Viewing Log #17: Burn off by now already [10/19/09 - 10/25/09]

by Ryland Walker Knight

—What's a womb? That's a home?

  • The Informant! [Steven Soderbergh, 2009] Totally daft-deft stab at greed. Maybe the most ironic film of the decade? Easily the best thing Sodeyface has done since The Limey. But where most of the rest of S.S.'s career is about self-aware charisma, Matt Damon's Whitacre isn't charismatic so much as crazy, a perfect boob, caught inside his own tape loop confessional; it's still about acting, but this film is more about delusions than anything. I feel like I could go see it again tomorrow and the next day—and then the next day, too.

  • Antichrist [Lars Von Trier, 2009] I watched the prologue, then struggled to stay awake for the next twenty minutes of Charlotte Gainsbourg jumping all over Willem Defoe. I'll have to get back to you on this one.

  • 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup [Jacques Rivette, 2009] Damned flawless. Boy do I wish I'd seen this on film for the first time (you were right, DP), but I trust that pleasure, yet to be had, will come to pass a lot sooner than I expect. I will write more soon, maybe, after I finish some projects.
  • Bright Star [Jane Campion, 2009] I'll have more to say later, in another space, but in this right here I'll say, hey, this is nice; and, for good measure—I'd say this if she was a stranger—Martha's recent piece at The Auteurs gets at this sweet thing but good. Further, it was great to see on a big screen, and mostly alone, as my reintroduction to cinema-going in a big city.

  • Eyes Wide Shut [Stanley Kubrick, 1999] # Total fkng masterpiece. Very Rivette, it strikes me, now, with its hidden worlds and masks. Otherwise, very Kubrick, duh, with its fluid and (near) fish-eyed camera; with its dissolves; with its compassionate distrust of the human (and excoriation of male pride); with its color and compositional eye; with its musical arrangement; with its acetate wit; and with its quite "flawless" acting. Another rarity that deflates fantasies but keeps hope alive that marriage is a viable way of life in this world of temptation and commodity-fixation.

—Out to dry


  1. I'm jealous you've seen the new Rivette. Not sure when I'll get the chance.

    And I'm glad to see another admirer of EWS, which is for me Kubrick's finest film by some distance: just utterly gorgeous in its imagery, of course, but also insistently probing in its examination of its themes, as you point out (male pride/insecurity, sexual fantasy, marriage/fidelity). It really is a masterpiece.

  2. Eyes Wide Shut = Probably my favorite Kubrick film, too. Watching it is a very visceral experience for me: so much tension!

  3. Ed, all I can say is I'm pretty sure you'll dig it. Does EWS have some poor reputation or something?

    Andy, yes: despite its length, it's a helluva taut film.

  4. Life goes on. Until it doesn't.

    Having seen only one Rivette (the latest, the coy, enigmantic Around a Small Mountain), I can ignorantly agree: very Rivette, that EWS.

    Also, as noted everywhere else, Ophuls like a muffuh. A waltz with several jarring interruptions.

    You do some of your best writing in capsules, man.

  5. "Ophuls like a muffuh." No doubt. But Kubrick doesn't go for vertical the way Max did. They both snake around, tho, don't they? We should be so lucky to float with them every week. (Also, thanks.)

  6. The new Rivette is a masterpiece indeed. Something of the last few Straub-Huillet films in there.

    Eyes Wide Shut, while having its own moments of excellence, has a) one of the worst filmic representations of smoking pot ever put on celluloid and b) the most absurd, make you question the whole fucking thing last lines in movies.

  7. Marcus, yes, definitely some of the green of the recent Straub works.

    Also, I used to hate that final line of EWS in much the same way you do. But this time I saw the picture, despite its obvious scare tactics (that one-note musical piece most especially), as mostly mischievous. Further, their whole relationship is about her correcting him, or deflating him, and I like this line now as the most playful appeal she can make possible. It's the ultimate invitation to participate in the disorders of desire.

    As for the pot... it strikes me that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman probably didn't smoke much pot, if any, during their marriage; but if they did they would be that dumb about it. I think Kidman is amazing in that scene precisely because she's navigating loopy and committed and she reacts so wildly/nakedly. He may get more screen time, but it's her movie.

  8. Not only the green but the place of people in and of the earth and landscape, at once part of and seperate, characters and repeated dialogues that are established in a space while depicting, questioning working towards what it means to be both part of and removed from such a grounded sense of the earth.

    And touche to the pot. One should probably not trust a scientologist for an intelligent attitude towards drugs.

  9. Yea, I need to see more S-H on a big fucking screen. Why can't we have year-round film festivals? Why are there so few fucking programming jobs in the world? How in the world can we crack into that circle?

    I need my own cinematheque with Danny and Brian and Phelps in Oakland.