Friday, March 21, 2008

It Came from Beneath the Popcorn Machine

It’s about time to talk about movies again and especially since one of the great filmmakers of all time passed away this week, Anthony Minghella. He did it all; writing, producing and directing. He was a lot like David Lean. Unlike many others who worked in film, especially those who had the opportunity to do so, he didn’t fill the atmosphere with an abundance of crap because he wanted the money or whatever the reason is that a lot of directors don’t know when to quit. He and Lean were both class acts with a serious gift.

Mr. Minghella directed “The English Patient”, “Cold Mountain” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, masterpieces all. He also produced some wonderful films. Ironically, the day before he died, I said to myself, “I’ve got to see Ripley again." ...and so I put it on and Susanne and I went away into the sun-drenched spectacle of that sumptuous feast. He will be sorely missed.

I want to say more about him but I don’t know anything about him other than his films and frankly, his work says it all. He was a true sweetheart of the rodeo, as I like to say about those who impress me.

I saw a few films since the last time I made my recommendations and did a little necessary slash and burn as well. “There Will Be Blood” is still stinking up the joint and I want to say it again because I can. Few films have pissed me off as much as this one. “Natural Born Killers” did and I don’t have time to think about some of the others and I don’t want to anyway. Let’s move on to the positive stuff.

Every now and then you see a movie that rocks your world. I saw such a movie last night. It was “The Dreamers” by Bertolucci. As I watched this marvel unfold, as silken as the rain streaming down the window pane in one of the scenes, I found myself in a place I have been only a few times before. That would be every time I saw a film by Minghella or Merchant and Ivory or David Lean. But this... this is a remarkable film. This is a remarkable film.

Near halfway through I said to myself, “Was this not nominated for the Academy Awards? No... and then came the scene where I knew why and therein saw I also why Hollywood is full of shit; quite simply composed of it. I flashed on the breasts and full length nudity that you see on posters and advertising here in Europe and which no one really thinks about, because the naked, human body can be beautiful in Europe but it isn’t in America. I remembered crossing a bridge in Muenchen and seeing dozens of people sunbathing nude below and no one paying attention; unless they were American tourists. I flashed on the English Gardens- also in Muenchen (not really gardens to my taste) and how I would routinely walk past naked people sunbathing while mothers went by with their strollers and kids frolicked about and no one paid any attention. It’s civilized over here. Nobody loses their job over a blowjob; though certainly one might question their taste.

Speaking of taste, I want to say something about the skank that brought Spitzer down but that’s coming up later today. God... it gave me the shivers to look at her and think about what it would be like to be locked up in Abu Ghraib and forced to have sex with her.

Bertolucci is a master. You probably know that. In this film was Eva Green who played the ‘Bond Girl’ in “Casino Royale” (the best Bond of all time on all levels). She was an entirely different person in “The Dreamers”. She is a multidimensional actress and destined to be one of the best actresses of her time. In this film she is amazing. She will take your breath away.

She is the opposite end of the pole from Natalie Portman who shot her wad in “The Professionals” and for whom I had such hope and who had turned out to be the leading exponent of the Al Gore School of Acting. Generally Portman’s work is around the level of Sophie Copola in Godfather 3, which would have to be the worst acting job in any mainstream movie in the history of film.

Eva Green... you heartbreaker par excellance. Bravo! And combined with Bertolucci’s directorial genius you are going to see things and be caught flatfooted in the most enjoyable way. There are various perspectives from which one can watch a film and I’m not going to list any of the categories except to say that I watch films from the director’s standpoint. If the director is good, I won’t notice other shortcomings. If he is not I will notice all of them. I can’t tell you what the shortcomings were because I was mesmerized. I want to go on talking about Eva but it might not end.

Also in the film was Hedwig boy, Michael Pitt who played Hedwig’s love interest. If you haven’t seen, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” stop what you are doing and go rent it now; one of the greatest films of all time and certainly the best soundtrack. I thought “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was a piece of shit, so... why did I mention that? Because I can.

Also in a lead role was Louis Garrel, a French boy who will set your heart aflutter be you male or female. Every player in this movie was deep and delicious. The parents were perfect... the time... the setting... the plot... perfect. It takes place during the time of the riots and barricades in the late 60’s. I’ll tell you no more. If you like a great movie, you owe it to yourself to see this. Do not take your children to this film if you are an American.

Okay... less impressive fare. I saw two movies that had marginal reviews but my intuition was as spot on as ever and these are worth seeing just for what the director was trying to do. “Cherry Crush and “Hard Luck” They are both thrillers and they will surprise you because someone tried really hard to make an enjoyable film. “Hard Luck” was directed by Mario Van Peebles and it looked like he was trying to go to Robert Rodriguez Land. He didn’t get there but it was a nice ride. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed. They’re better than the usual fare simply for the effort given and you’ll see it if you know what to look for. Wesley Snipes is in “Hard Luck” by the way.

I’m not going to clutter up my digressions with any more mentions except one. I’m not sure if I have ever mentioned “Van Helsing”. This is a super fun movie with a lot of heart and scenery chewing, humor and great special effects. If you want some pure entertainment, you want to get this movie.

Well... sadly, I must go now; sadly for me anyway because Eva Green will now be relegated to My Back Pages... honestly people, see this film. It’s a winner and I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I have only seen half the film so far. It was so good that I had to save the rest for another night so I can savor it. This is like my relationship with drugs. I can let them sit on the shelf because the anticipation is a big part of the experience. If you can’t do that you shouldn’t do drugs. What the passion of youth in pursuit of truth did not reveal, the cooling of age will manifest as the appetites lose appeal. I’d have liked to have saved that quote for another time and place but there it is anyway.

Visible and The Critical List: Not Politically Correct by Les Visible and The Critical List♫ A Love Song for Madonna (NOT)♫
'A Love Song for Madonna' is track no. 12 of 12 on
Visible and The Critical List's 1992 album 'Not Politically Correct'

About this song (pops up)

Not Politically Correct by Les Visible and The Critical List


Anonymous said...

This is a great list, I look forward to seeing these works. I am so very fond of art that takes us somewhere and fonder still of art that is the impetus for experience. By that I mean action, a journey that in retrospect was the starting point for interaction that may not have existed otherwise. The 1992 Fiennes/Binoche version of Wuthering Heights reopened intense scrutiny of that period in history in the same way the Deer Hunter puts us into the Heart of Darkness of Viet Nam in the same way Dances with Wolves leads to reviewing American history and strenghthens our relationships with native peoples. Milton Glaser said recently he thinks art is "to delight and inform", which a tidy perspective, but art does not always delight, does it. I prefer it not. Such a comment merely refers to pretty art as the draw, then, once behind closed doors, the real stuff works its miracle of transformation.
It seems that art is a sparkplug motivating us to broaden our relations with each other which helps us understand why we are here. It doesn't have to be limited to the humanities to be art. 99.999999% of art doesn't fit within the restrictions of catagory. An example of this is a recent thread I saw about Rev. Right and Candidate Wrong mentioning the Jim Crow laws, a thread so curious I was moved to source it, again, as if I'd never met it before. And what do you know, to see the list of laws stacked up with states and dates brings up the Tuskegee experiment in all too stark parallel. The post that inspired the research was composed with such authenticity and heart, it acted as the impetus for some sad insight, insight as ugly as Guernica, insight no less uncomfortable that Gustav Dore's visions of The Inferno or Sun Ra playing to a room of kicking junkies on lower 3rd street.
So I'm going to print your list, thank you, and keep it close. Going to share it too, because while its about art, it is art.

annemarie said...

My goodness, I so love reading Nina's comments. Thank you Nina, and thank you Les :)

kikz said...

i loved eva in kingdom of heaven. she was wonderful.

Visible said...

Several people have written me to say that their comments are not showing up. Sometimes blogger has a problem. If you find that you cannot make your comment appear then email it to me and I will post it for you since I don't seem to have a problem at my end.



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