Sunday, February 14, 2010

Viewing Log #33: From here we go [2/8/10 - 2/14/10]

by Ryland Walker Knight

—to sublime

  • Basic Instinct [Paul Verhoeven, 1992] # The other day, Miriam called it "one of the great feminist films of the last half century." Since my dad has a copy just sitting around, I thought I'd see if I see anything new. Now that I'm all about Black Book, maybe I will. In any event, I'll update tomorrow after I draw a verdict of some kind.
  • Nausicaa [Hayao Miyazaki, 1984] # When I first watched it, on some crappy dvix I found online in 2000, it wowed me with its metaphors and imagery. The imagery still wows in spots, but it's a clunky thing, ain't it? At this point, I like Mononoke more because it's the more mysterious story of these two screeds. (Though I also think Howl's Moving Castle the angriest, and most intriguing, of Miyazaki's eco- and pax-preaching.) Still, though, the finale here is pretty powerful. Watched with Chloe around leftover suppers.
  • Zombieland [Ruben Fleischer, 2009] Funny, apt flick with the fam on a day purportedly about "love" or whatever. Not exactly "smart" but easily clever. I like all the popup titles acting like video game information, but to call it interested in gaming would be misdirection. It's a family road film! With zombies! Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson are great, of course, but I was surprised at how winning I found Jesse Eisenberg. No real surprise, though, that Emma Stone's just going to get more and more attractive through the next, say, ten years.

  • Adam's Rib [George Cukor, 1949] # Found time to watch this one, and take some stills (look here), but I am mad at myself that I didn't actually get my full post up in time. However, that just means life got in the way in good, productive ways. And I think Cavell would salute that. (Not to mention Emerson and Locke and Katherine Hepburn.)

  • Lost "What Kate Does" [Paul Edwards, 2010] Kinda shitty groundwork episode. More here.

  • Saute ma ville [Chantal Akerman, 1968] What a goof she is! Here's your kitchen with kitsch, at all events a tongue in cheek tumble into activity. Quite literally a kitchen sink film. Such fun with sound, too, as it seems like everything is post-dubbed to nutty ends.

Broke obnoxious agreement
—May need to stretch more


  1. As promised, some ideas on _Basic Instinct_: Gorgeous film on a compositional level with Verhoeven's style saving a lot of Eszterhas' worst moments. All the movie-movie stuff is great, Stone is scary-crazy hot, and it flies by. It has "classic" all over it and for good reason. Don't want to write it, but would love to read a considered take by one of those _serious_ feminist friends of mine.

  2. Didn't like Zombieland at all. It isn't "smart," true, but I wouldn't say it's clever. It's "clever." As in lazy, and convinced it's a lot funnier than it is. It seems to have been made by guys who've seen two or three zombie movies, tops.

    Or maybe I'm just miffed that it's close to the movie that was playing in my head when I was 15. (Let me amend Emerson--I'm way behind on Cities but I've gotten that far--and say that not only in every work of genius but also in many works of mediocrity we recognize our own rejected thoughts, though in the latter case they were rightly rejected.) But I'm sure if I'd made it I wouldn't have wasted "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" on a hack scene transition.

  3. You know? I debated using quotes for "clever" but then in a move of charity decided to take them off. It's a fine little nothing. Something to watch on a lazy V-day with your family while you break apart your defunct credit/debit cards and trim your nails and digest steak. I think the reason I can get into this brand of adolescence, over something like Watchmen, say, is that this thing is meager and knows it and it's not out to change anything or even say anything. Maybe I'm going soft.

  4. I presume you're referring to Watchmen in Snydervision? Watchmen the comic is a considerably less meager, more satisfying and alive thing. But then Alan Moore is one of my favorite human beings, and his every project is a worthy and valiant undertaking in my view.

    While I didn't like Zombieland, I have a hard time being fiery about it, as it's modest and good-natured and the cast is uniformly good. I just like my zombie movies to be about something more than how kewl it is that the filmmakers are getting to make a zombie movie.

  5. Yes, Snyder. Boo.

    And, nope, not every zombie flick can be _Shaun of the Dead_ or a Romero. (Can't wait for _Survival_ in May!)

  6. I don't necessarily demand that zombie movies have subtext (or in the case of latter-day Romero, drop the sub- part entirely). It's more that Zombieland is so wrapped up in how kewl it is to be a zombie movie that it forgets to be about, you know, zombies.

    I think can wait for Survival, though I'll see it. I enjoyed Diary, but ambivalently. If GAR's going to be that didactic, he should try to be more lucid about it.

  7. I thought the coda to _Diary_ was a little dumb, but overall I thought it was awesome. He's always going to be angry. And you're right: the zombies are a means, like set dressing, in _Zombieland_.

  8. Zombieland is fun for the whole family, especially those family members who don't go for Romero's uncompromising gore. ZL does manage to get Romero's political humor with that opening shot of the American flag in a 'world upside down' as seen in a motorcade's rearview mirror. And in the end, like a Romero movie, a 'family' of survivors is formed, and sets up a sequel. It also has funny stuff to say about the direction of action movies today, becoming variations on shooting gallery video games. It was one of the best movies I saw last year -- funny, unpretentious, a tad gross, a great cameo by BM.

  9. Virgil, I think you have slightly more populist tastes than I do, but I did appreciate the shoot'em'up gee whiz of the carnival and, for once, the Eisenberg schtick kind of worked on me. Also, again: thank you _Superbad_: Emma Stone was quite the find.

  10. For that matter, Abigail Breslin was pretty good, too.