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

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Random blurbs I feel like putting up

Capote (2005, Bennett Miller) [C]
There’s no way I was going to fall for the stereotypical middlebrow approach anyway, but this is no mere case of hagiography. Most reviews have asserted that Miller and screenwriter Dan Futterman don’t chose sides/remain ambivalent re: Capote’s journalistic approach. That may be so for the first half (which is more interested in fish-out-of-water antics), but their contempt for him and his vast army of faults (see if you can find them all!) is unmistakable in the second half, and their condescending pity for him by the end drips off the screen during the final scrawl of suggestive pop psychology. (“And he never finished a book again! DUM-Dum-dummmmm!”) This guy does a far better job than I could at combing it for hypocritical moves, but maybe Miller should’ve also taken a look at the In Cold Blood movie, where Richard Brooks' instruction to Robert Blake to show no guilt but stand in front of a rainy window produced one of the most memorable visual accidents in Hollywood history, while this one just has Clifton Collins, Jr. fight back a couple Visine drops. (During a different monologue, but still. Don't directors know actors love to do the ol' I-told-myself-I-wasn't-gonna-cry routine?) Among the autumnal landscapes and drippily-scored moments (why, Mychael Danna? why?), only Catherine Keener produces actual life, eventually suggesting that a better movie has sprung to life somewhere else once the movie no longer has use for her. You know? Kinda like Truman? Fuck this movie, in my opinion. Also, why has no one mentioned that Philip Seymour Hoffman looks kinda distractingly like Ralphie from A Christmas Story?

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005, Nick Park & Steve Box) [B]
Easily the least of the W&Gs, but a mark above Chicken Run, I’d say. Essentially, what Park and Box have done is take the 30 minute shorts and stretch them out, Rack-style, so there are no highs, no (or few) lows, just medium -- which, in the case of Aardman working in the world with which they're most comfortable, happens to be pretty goddam high. Great to see people still doing the painstaking, fingers-on-clay stop-motion stuff, no less because of Gromit himself, who’s the best example of The Kuleshov Effect used for comedic effect since Buster Keaton. More Rube Goldberg devices next time, fellas. Ile de France brie is great, chewy stuff.

Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997, Werner Herzog) [B+]
The most haunting part of this late Herzog doc is Dieter himself, more specifically his singularly casual mien. You think he’s merely learned to live with the trauma of his life -- which he recounts with a gabby insouciance that somehow never seems to hide reservoirs of pain -- until we see a clip from just after his escape, where he treats a press conference in much the same animated, “well, glad you asked” manner. Herzog being Herzog, his attempts to punctuate his subject’s shell are many but fruitless: he even has Dieter re-enact his capture and imprisonment by the Vietcong, to which he acquiesces without so much as a shrug, never breaking down during or afterwards. ("What the fuck do I have to do?," you can almost hear Herzog scream.) Even moreso than his wildly lurid history, Dieter is one of the greatest wonders Herzog has ever dug up.

Oh, and here's my Weekly junk: a review (third down) and a Rep.


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