Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A response to a reader's request.

A correspondent kindly requested that I provide some thoughts on movies I have seen recently. Though I have not seen many movies in the last three weeks, I will comply with this request and do my best to address the movies seen and unblogged over the last month, along with one unseen movie.

The Squid and the Whale (Baumbach) A-/B+

This movie is excellent in many ways, all of which have been better articulated elsewhere, and falters only on occasion, which has also been otherwise noted. The reviewers are right that the performances are uniformly wonderful and the observations sharp and devastating. Other positive observations made by certain reviewers are also largely correct, at least the portions with which I agree. Also, Jonathan Lethem, Baumbach didn't read your fucking book and doesn't give a shit about your shared experiences. Get over it.

Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones (Lucas) C+

Most viewers have dismissed this movie as one of the series' worst, and it's a sentiment I mostly share, for most of the reasons that this sentiment is widely shared by most viewers. I do think the designs of different planets were cool, perhaps surpassing the ingenuity of other, also quite interesting elements of the production design, which were unsurprisingly excellent. Also, I was interested enough to check up on a couple of Star Wars related items on Wikipedia, only to discover the frightening depths of Star Wars nerditude. (Boba Fett's clone origin is "canonical"; his escape from the clutches of the Sarlaac "apocryphal." Yes, just like the Bible.)

Mirrormask (McKean) B-

Gaiman geeks who know The Sandman inside out instantly recognize his inimitable sensibility, as I do. It is also easy to identify the murky ethereal collage effects as the visual style of McKean, who aims to capture privileged moments stationed between dimensions. Or something. (I made the last part up.) As for the movie, the story stumbles in ways that Gaiman stories sometimes stumble, in the manner described by various Gaimanologists over the years, and the flickering lighting scheme and out-of-focus effects might have permanently damaged my retina, as McKean's out-of-focus visuals tend to do. Mirrormask is good in expected ways and not-so-good in expected and unexpected ways -- a true mixed blessing.

Le Amiche (Antonioni, 1955) A-

I have various reasons for my high regard for this early Antonioni, most of which I cannot divulge in the short space allotted. But rest assured perfectly good reasons exist to support this grade, backed by insight and careful attention devoted to this movie's acting, directing, lighting, camera movement, and script. Le Amiche's themes, both stated and unstated, seem to me especially poignant, and the execution well-nigh flawless. Overall, I agree with those who have called this an underrated gem.

Zabriskie Point (Antonioni, 1970) A-

This movie is excellent, which thereby directly contradicts all assertions of its non-excellence, of which there are many and all of which are of course wrong-headed and borne of a Philistine's sensibility. Those possessed of an adventurous and cosmopolitian appetite will undoubtedly be nourished by the experimental prowess of this director, the vision of which is exhibited in many bravura sequences that should be studied in semester-long film courses. I would describe said bravura sequences and the sublime spatial configurations that make up each image's composition with more specificity, but numerous Antonioni scholars have made the same points elsewhere, exerpts of which may be found on the internet, if the search words are wisely chosen. I recommend the Web search engine Google for the purpose of conducting an article search.

Thumbsucker (Mills) N/A

Mike Mills has the reputation as a good director, and this film has received fairly decent notices from cineastes much more esteemed than myself. Nevertheless, I hereby declare that I would rather do sake shots off the bare pudgy torso of three inebriated Young Republicans than subject myself to two hours of petulant whining from overprivileged white people looking to be passed off as the brave primal scream of a tortured "emo."