Monday, February 14, 2011

Viewing Log #73: Two of each please [2/7/11 - 2/14/11]

by Ryland Walker Knight

Scissor skills

  • Somewhere [Sofia Coppola, 2010] What a bonehead "third act." What a bonehead idea of significance in general. See, I wanted to like it and that's probably the problem. There's plenty to respect, like a female director's representation of sex, say, but, to be 100% unfair, this is no In The Cut. And there's this pride that gets in the way of Harris Savides phenomenal (that's the word) work and Elle Fanning's affectless though not flat performance (the word "natural" seems wrong, though it may be right) and the expert sound design. Granted, that sounds like it's coming from the really absurd and really sexist angle on Sofia that most critics take. But you don't have to announce your ideas in a Work Of Art to make your points. That was the thrill of the mess of Marie Antoinette: it really aimed for something beyond literalisms (not a word). You'll have to excuse me this seeming dismissal, ladies I love, but: maybe Sofia should make a documentary all about food. She gets parties great, sure, with all the haziness, but she also has a lot of good takes on food, where it's eaten and how it's made. Which is another way to say that my favorite scene was Cleo's preparation of the eggs benedict breakfast, as evidenced above.

  • The Fighter [David O. Russell, 2010] # "Research" & "jokes"

  • L'argent [Marcel L'Herbier, 1928] Wasn't as wowed as I'd hoped. Loved all the shadows but I couldn't suss a logic to all the ostentatious stylistics. And it felt lumpy. Though I don't doubt the producers hacked it up and cut what I would not, this movie would certainly benefit from some fat-trimming. Or at least some silent-movie-cliche-trimming. That is, there's way too many reaction shots. My favorite scene came in the second half, with Brigitte Helm entering Pierre Alcover's Saccard's privacy to needle his fears with a certain masochism that turns into fear past an unmarked threshold; the close-ups here make perfect sense and even add some deviant sexual charge, though also some misogyny, when we're honest with what this man (this director) expects of his subjects.
  • Four Windows [Ry Russo-Young, 2011] Um. "Shorts. Fashion. Pretty. Vacant? You decide!"
  • The curve of forgotten things [Paul Cole, 2011] You don't say. (Also via that pullquote queen; see link above.)
  • High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell [Mary Ann DeLeo & Rich Farrell & John Alpert, 1995] Could only handle a half hour while sick in bed, but it made me rethink The Fighter to the extent that it's a movie out to serve reality at bottom but David O. Russell's out to serve an audience a good time, too, which complicates things. Watch here, via the cinetrix, who's maybe a little weirded out by all these links (don't know the lady!), but, well, I'm not; I'm just thankful.

  • No Country For Old Men [Coens, 2007] # Okay, maybe this is some kind of masterpiece, over-determined though it may be. Danny wrote about the inheritors of Hitch in a dispatch from Rotterdam and I can't shake that association when watching "later Coens" movies. Every shot is so intentional, loaded with specific significance, that their beauty isn't strictly pictorial (don't you love the shadows throughout this thing?) but, ahem, semiotically, which carries over to the specificity of the language; that is, words carry another weight of meaning, adding a sonorous burden to these brutal procedings. (Always forget there's no score in this one, very Birds-like, and that makes the words crystalize.) Also, top notch action scenes, one after the other, that are more "thrilling" than "fun" because they're meant to be scary and they are quite scary. Plus, this has to be some of the finest work Roderick Jaynes has ever done. That lap dissolve from the coins on the carpet to Ed Tom's truck barreling towards Ellis's hut is one of my favorite transitions in the entire Coens corpus.

One dime

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