Sunday, July 18, 2010

Viewing Log #51: Vanilla and skunk [7/13/10 - 7/18/10]

by Ryland Walker Knight

Here's another quick narrative for you. Spent a lot of this last week running around town, which seems to be a common theme as I continue to move my life more and more offline, but this was just tiring. I also started a couple new books and saw my sister perform in a play (that she wrote) at Berkeley Rep (in a summer school program); she's 13, if you need to know. I also saw just the one film, the opening night film (John Ford's The Iron Horse from 1924), at the SF Silent Film Festival. This bums me out. I missed Friday because of work and the sister, and was fine with that, but Saturday got away from me and today I couldn't move I was so tired and my throat was so closed. Somewhere in there I made time for a nerdsville 9:30am matinee of Inception, but I'm going to have more to say about that in conversation with my old friend Jen Stewart shortly. (You may remember she and I traded some ideas on The Dark Knight a couple years ago here and here.) The short of it: I enjoyed myself but I don't think it's good or actually smart and, again, I don't think Nolan can direct action at all, which is surprising given his eye for symmetry (and geometry in general; though not "architecture"). In any case, stay tuned.

Earlier today, instead of seeing awesome silent movies in the best theatre I know, I drank a lot of tea and grapefruit juice while watching The Hangover a year after the fact. Zach Galifianakis is great, clearly doing his own thing, but everything else is everything I hate about dudes; what's more, everything comes from fear and/or hate. No wonder it was a hit, eh? The conceit's great, of course, but the movie has no interest in what's interesting about a hangover's lacunae. Like Nolan, actually, Todd Phillips seems to prey on those fears we harbor; except he's a literalist of a different stripe. Nolan's got a thing for writing bad dialogue the way Phillips has a thing for making women intolerable or invisible or, well, whores. Lad mags haven't failed, they've simply been turned into movies. (For that matter, as I txt'd with Danny, Inception's a GQ subscriber's wet—you guessed it—dream; that's the advertisement film, not I Am Love; but I'll table that for now).

Later, I watched The Invention of Lying and, though it's simple, I liked its fantasy. I wish there were more comedies of morals that live in the realm of the concept. You can always count on Ricky Gervais for some teetering-near-mawkish-territory sentimentality, but you can also count on him for honesty. It's not exactly great filmmaking but, as with a lot of comedies I appreciate, its spirit (its philosophy, if you must) is something I respect and admire. That is, the film's moral position (cough) is one I can get behind. However, it's pretty sad that such a thing as thoughtfulness is a rarity; I take it for granted that most thoughtfulness is stuff of stuff like, say, a book (or a "puzzle film") and not a joke. Which brings me back to Nolan, again, and one last gripe before I go to bed: dude's got no funny bone. I have no idea how to imagine how Nolan has fun. Does he play a lot of video games? Seems likely? Ad hominem what!?

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