a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Heart Still Relatively Smashed

Quelle shoque: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry, A, as ever) still holds up, even after ten-or-so months and five viewings. Newest revlation (courtesy my astute, fuzzy-haired friend Jon): Elijah Wood's pointed, off-hand line about Carrey's post-Winslet apartment looking "uninspired." Of course, a sizeable percentage of Carrey's former digs are in his backpack, that insecure pud. "I'm glad we both know it" and "I'm building a birdhouse" still howlers. Of course.

Comparatively speaking, there's not much life in The Trial of Joan of Arc (1961, Robert Bresson, B+). But then, it's a Bresson, isn't it? The "life," so-called, is hidden underneath the surface, hinted at through the ususal progression of self-consciously monotonous action (or non-), its emotions oblique and rewarding when discovered. Bringing the compare-and-contrasts between he and Carl Th. Dreyer a little too close to the surface, Bresson takes a stab at the exact same period covered in The Passion of Joan of Arc, and whaddaya know? Both are "religious" experiences, but in the most different of ways. There's roughly ten set-ups in the movie, the film building on the repetition of trial scene (largely shot-reverse-shot) and downtime, rinse, wash, repeat, et al. But if the film's redundant on a plastic level, Bresson allows things to build -- e.g., the running subplot about people spying through the tiniest of cracks into her cell. Though frequently brilliant, Trial can't help feeling like an exercise (Bresson got his mitts on the actual courtroom transcripts), or, even worse, a brilliant self-parody, imparting St. Joan with The Bresson Treatment™. It's as though he was getting a little too comfortable with his deceptively-cold-view-of-the-world style. He rebounded pretty quickly, though. All it took was five years and a donkey. Doesn't it always?

By the way, The Office Special premieres tonight; BBC America, 9pmEST.

Oh, and way to go, Soxs.


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