Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Viewing Log #78: Philogyny forever [3/15/2011 - 3/22/2011]

by Ryland Walker Knight

Peace is a name
—This guy...

  • Spanglish [James L. Brooks, 2004] Not quite a success, but noble yet. The framing device is too television and the narration far too choke-me. Sandler does his nervous thing well and is largely absent for a lot of the picture, which is a funny flip on the Ho'wood marketing plan, but it's maybe odd that his major function in the movie is to fawn; cool that he's a chef, sure, and that you see him cook some dishes in snippets, but that creative side isn't funneled into the rest of the character except that he's such a sensitive dad that the weight of his heralded genius* just seems like neurotic self-abnegation. The biggest surprise is just how caricature ugly Tea Leoni's character is compared to the saint-like Paz Vega who is literally an alien sent to fix humans (or at least catalyze reflection/education/change); doesn't hurt that Vega's a curvy lady, tho still movie star thin with the cheek bones to prove it, and Leoni's got this absurd fitness addict body the movie almost makes fun of; or, it's just too easy that the softer one's the mom. In any case, I still didn't mind a minute of it, really, because I'm an idiot for kindness and good lighting and a pretty face—just like the movie hopes I am/you are.
  • Broadcast News [James L. Brooks, 1987] # Sorry, but I gotta: Holly Hunter in all her polka dots is so god-damned adorable in this movie it's insane. Part of that is the character touch of her private crying jags, part of it is her mouth full of accent, part of it is that she is not needy the way Albert Brooks is; she keeps her real pain to herself (for the most part) and she's a real lady who is excellent at her job and the weight of that brilliance is understandable. Love that JLB is all about the right choice, too, but what keeps it from moral high-grounding is the way each choice is rooted in consequence. Makes it feel like ethics even though it isn't, quite, despite the word getting bandied about a few times. I wish there was more play with the medium of television on an image level but the bottom line is that I hope to watch this one with my sister before she goes to college.

  • How Do You Know [James L. Brooks, 2010] The bait-y punk in me wanted to tweet, "HOW DO YOU KNOW > CERTIFIED COPY ????" immediately after finishing this one (instead). Granted, it hit some sweet spots for me, but the construction is this rare patient thing that arranges characters like chess without seeming a game. That is, for however contrived it might be, it's just as up front about its fiction as the AK film below. Further, there's a number of set-pieces designed to make certain freaks with theoretical clouds hanging in their heads leap to attention. Simply put, it relates to the notion that the only audience for philosophy is the one performing it. But, of course, this is never a simple thing to reckon and the picture of education in Reese Witherspoon's character is as winsome as Brooks' commitment to the importance of compartmentalizing daily life. That is, there's a time and a place for everything. It's in that awful trailer and it's better than a gag in the flick: Rudd, backing from dad Jack with eyes up to heaven, pleading, "God, are you going to literally make me run from bad news?" He does. It's the right choice.

  • Certified Copy [Abbas Kiarostami, 2010] Rather lovely, yes, but also not a masterpiece, I'm afraid. In fact, the further I'm from it, the less generous I'm getting—though, I must admit, at first it put me in a trance**. That said, as I briefly "discussed" with Akiva, one of the interesting things that doesn't seem to get talked about is the role of gender in the turns this path takes. That is, how it determines these, to use Sicinski's word, pivots as much as any history or motivation behind this reality or these realities that may be false or may be true (all of which sure are some bogus words in this conversation). Maybe better: how does this lady control the events or rip agency from the man? She's driving the car to start, she directs their walk for the most part, she finds their turret of a honeymoon room; it's her fabrication, if we want to believe it so, and it's her anger, which is real no matter what's fake, that move this thing. Binoche is, as you might suspect, rather out of this world.

  • Caught up on the second season of Archer [Adam Reed, 2011] and it continues to be a fun way to waste a half hour.

Steam cleaning

* Akiva also pointed out this motif in Brooks, which is consistent in all three I just watched: Reese's softball player has these little sayings as a ritual to balance the heft of being excellent at something; Holly does her crying; Sandler can't quit moving his feet.

** When I got home I shot angles on/of my bathroom mirror for a half hour. Then again in the morning for longer, as evidenced above. All I could really do after that movie was listen to wordless music and think about geometry.

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