Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kicking 2009.

In this new year, I'm intending to write more. And floss daily.

My goal, as far as this blog is concerned, is to write at least a sentence or two about every single film that I see this year.

Let's begin.

Wendy and Lucy is a traditional romance with a twist, advocating interspecies love as a valid lifestyle choice. As such, it's one of the most radical films to tackle American sexual hangups in recent memory.

Nah, it's about a girl losing her dog. And trying to find her dog. And losing her dog. And the image above has been taken entirely out of context.

It's a quiet film that takes its time in telling what is, comparatively, a boring story. But, of course, this is all beautifully told, and the understatement allows room for us to contemplate the little things long after the reels have stopped spinning. I only wished I could care about the character of Wendy more. She made stupid decisions, was mostly ungrateful, and seemed to be sleepwalking toward Alaska. Oh well.


I probably watched too much Godard last year.

While we're here, check out: Meetin' WA


I'm not familiar with Woody Allen's work. I've now seen five (of 44) films he's directed, only one of which (Sleeper) belongs to the period which most people love. I've never even seen Annie Hall. Maybe that's why I really enjoyed watching Cassandra's Dream. I didn't know much about it going in and really only picked it up because I was interested in seeing Sally Hawkins in something else after Happy-Go-Lucky.

After scanning some reviews this morning, I think that the worst that critics have damned this movie with is the idea that it's too conventional. Further, that the characters are underdeveloped stereotypes, there for the plot and not much as characters themselves. I disagree with this a bit. The two brothers are introduced to us in a marvelous way, both acting schlubbish together, a nice reversal for these two Hollywood idols. The moral dilemmas that each dig themselves into are clearly portrayed and developed. If Uncle Howard's arrival and request seems to come at a convenient time, at service of the plot alone, I can't argue. I can only maintain that I enjoyed this plot development. And that, within the confines of this story, it is believable that these brothers would consider granting their uncle any extreme favor once they have both reached terrible lows. What follows is convincing.

It's interesting that many compared this movie unfavorably to Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, a movie that I stopped watching halfway through because I was tired of being hammered over the head, from the opening shot in which Lumet gives us fair warning that he'll be screwing us dispassionately for the next two hours to the brothers' tortured whining to one another throughout. Maybe I didn't give it a fair chance. But, between the two, I'd pick Cassandra every time.

[note: it's rare for me to stop watching a film mid-way. The other winners in this category last year were Blade II, Wild at Heart (which I had seen before and never care to see again), and a Roy Rogers film that I repeatedly fell asleep to and figured it wasn't worth returning to. Admittedly, it's easier to turn off a DVD in disgust than walk out of a theatre, which I can't remember ever doing. Maybe someday I'll have that pleasure.]

Perhaps I'm predisposed to enjoy Allen's heavy-handed morality plays. I'm not sure yet. I do know that I enjoyed Cassandra's Dream in the same way that I enjoyed a movie like last year's Tell No One or several Hitchcock films that I saw for the first time recently.

1 comment:

Summer People said...

hey pal,
we watched Gran Torino here at the studio last night. It's refreshing to see Sam Fuller, Nicolas Ray, or Henry Hathaway come through. Will this be his swan song?