Monday, December 20, 2010

Viewing Log #64: No mad dream weaver [12/14/10 - 12/19/10]

by Ryland Walker Knight

—They come reversed

  • I Know Where I'm Going! [P&P, 1945] # ...and I know who's going with me. Also, this part (h/t, DC). Silly distinction but: maybe my favorite of P&P's (ironic) propaganda era?

  • The Bad and The Beautiful [Vincente Minnelli, 1952] Love the cast, love the photography, bored by the story. Probably the best shot of somebody driving crazy in a movie, and there are some arrangements in certain frames that tickle the eye, but it's a lousy script peopled only by rote hubris.
  • Spy Game [Tony Scott, 2001] # Could have hinged an entire film on the two minutes spent skipping over how Redford throws away Pitt's love object (that lady's hardly anything else) into that Chinese prison; instead, Tony goes for the cheezeball atonement angle that doesn't resolve the mud of intentions. Along with the consistent sentimentality, there's the stuck-in-a-room-of-exposition staple, but the film's fun enough to breeze through all of that. At my most generous, I'd argue it's about Hollywood actors as liars, preying on their audience's willful blind eye to fantasy. At my least, I'll call it kinda simple compared to the other dreams T.S. gave us last decade.

  • I Am Love [Luca Guadagnino, 2009] # Yep: again. This time on BluRay. It looks fabulous, and the details are there. This time, of all three times I've seen it this year, I paid particular attention to the mother-daughter relationship as the bridge to Tilda's/Emma's actualization. More pointedly: somehow I hadn't thought about the daughter's haircut as prelude to Emma's and felt rather chagrinned. Guess the first couple of times I was too busy looking for the (air) quotes and marveling at Tilda's face.

  • Film Socialism [JLG, 2010] There's a common, let's call it, "lay complaint" that Godard speaks in code. Here's the first movie whose constellation of associations might just fit that bill for most of its audience. That is, despite the (simple?) pleasures afforded by its construction, the film demands a lot of familiarity with a lot of things and not just with JLG and his pet projects. Though I'm not fluent in all the languages required to enter this hermeneutic circle, I like to think I'm approaching fluent in the language of the image et du français (not to mention "Philosophie und verstehen"), which helps my entry, but I'm still barred. Or, I am at one arm's length. Or, I need more visits to this well. Or, etc. Still love that digital, though! Still love that editing, though! (Still, thanks to M.S. for the "proper" subs and for the salient review.) Some day I'll watch it again on a much larger screen; some day I'll catch up. Until then, I'll hold tight my own understanding of it as a, um, crie de resentiment or something.

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox [Wes Anderson, 2009] # Appreciates, seriously.

Fore, not aft
Wed to the window


  1. I'm currently working on my own series of posts about Film Socialisme, centering on the impossibility of fully understanding it. It's a great film, and one that defies comprehension at every turn: one can only take away ideas and moments and images. That seems to be more than enough for me, though. I watched it twice in succession this weekend.

  2. It sure does confound but I don't know if it's impossible to fully understand; it'll just take a few times, and the pause button, to really build an argument. I don't think complete tower-of-Babel chaos is the goal here. I don't think JLG sees things so. Language, though, is clearly a big part of the project and without a fluency in the languages present it's pretty tough to grapple with all the nuances of the field of associations (the plot, such as it is, is easy enough to follow) around the parts and jigsaw pieces JLG's assembled/overlayed/abutted/etc'd.

    And, yeah, this lil graf and this comment are by no means anything more than a "hey, I watched it!" bit of logging. I realize I offer no help here other than whetting certain nerds' appetites to see this mosaic in motion.