Johnson covers up the potential issues well enough, but there are places where the film asks us to blindly accept a confusing logic that relates directly to the major, major events of the film. Can the events depicted actually alter the future? How much interaction does it take before the butterfly effect takes hold and all possibilities are destroyed? If you know (essentially) the day you're going to die, why don't more loopers disappear? How many people in the past are aware of time travel in the future? Doesn't that awareness impact its future use? Also, did they really have to mess with JGL's face that much to make him a convincing Willis stand-in? My advice to you: as long as it's not wondering why JGL's lips look so made up compared to Old Joe, don't think about it. Just go with it. There's enough substance to the story outside of the scientific logistics and Looper uses its assets to pull the story in truly unexpected directions far away from the average formula.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
I'm not sure whether my teenage self would have been insanely happy or extremely annoyed by the addition of David Bowie's "Heroes" at a crucial point here. My teenage self loved that song to bits. My current self still does. My teenage self, I think, would not have wanted this song spread about willy nilly to all her unworthy classmates because it would have defeated the purpose One time my teenage self was listening to this song on her boombox when she looked outside and realized that the sky was gold and everything was saturated in color. My teenage self was not on drugs, guys, but there was a weird ecstatic moment in relation to this song where my teenage self ran out of the house and down the block and everything was very quiet and very synchronized and it was like the beginning of Vanilla Sky and no one else existed on the planet and when I came back the song was still playing (or playing again?). That was feeling infinite, and the use of the song here exploited my goddamn emotions and I felt all that emo kid shit and I was like "yes!" but at the same time "why are you doing this to me?" And with that I conclude: feelings. Perks of Being a Wallflower is filled with feelings. It may not be flawless, but goddamn is it potent.
When The Master ended, we didn't leave the theater. It's not as though the credits were stylishly managed or as if we were waiting for some sort of bonus footage, but we just sat, and stayed, and at first there was no communication at all. It just didn't seem like the right time to speak. We stayed there til the lights came up, and when they did we stumbled into the lobby like we'd emerged from Plato's cave and embarked in a standing discussion for what was probably a very long time. No one had any definite answers last week, and I'm afraid I still don't have them now. The Master is a confounding, remarkable cinematic achievement, and though I'm not sure what it all adds up to, I look forward to watching it many, many more times.I'd like to imagine that the strange, foggy bewilderment is deliberate. Perhaps this is excuse making on behalf of a filmmaker I'm quite fond of and a movie I'd been eagerly anticipating, but The Master reads as so formally perfect that it's hard to imagine Paul Thomas Anderson making it strictly in service of a cinematographic ideal. Anderson's vision is very much on display in each and every shot of The Master, and the compositions are crisp, spacious landscapes built to house the larger than life performances of its leads. We travel by land and by sea, with aerial and tracking shots that are very nearly worrisome, as if our protagonist's erratic behavior is something we should fret about in real time. Everything is beautiful in the most mundane way, alive with a strange post-war tension rooted in some strange, moth-eaten distaste for the washed-out banalities of modern existence. And, um, yeah, if that sounds pretentious, you probably shouldn't see the movie.
Monday, September 17, 2012
I've been wanting to begin cobbling together a list of "essential" films for some time now. Every notebook I have from the 11th grade on has a half completed version of a 100 Favorite or 100 Best films list, but they always get cut short or run long, weighed down in some conflicted notion of what I believe should be on there and what is culturally expected to be on there. So, instead I want to try and slowly force myself to revisit and write about the the films I personally feel are the real essentials as I think on them or return to them. One at a time, no big rush. Maybe it'll stop at 100, maybe, like Ebert's list of Great Movies, it will go on indefinitely. The one thing I know? There will be no particular order and every one of them will matter.
Black Narcissus operates on a fairly simplistic conceit: it's a tale of corrupted faith, repressed passions, and the madness the two of those can induce when mixed with the thin mountain air. Deborah Kerr is Sister Clodagh, a fresh faced, disciplined nun charged with taking a gaggle of nuns to set up a school and hospital in the abandoned living quarters of royal concubines. The paintings on the wall do not match the new inhabitants, the building is built into a cliff face, the townspeople who come to them are jewel-covered narcissistic princes (Sabu), lusty young girls (Jean Simmons), and children who doubt them. It's a haunted place, and the ghost is one of carnality. Their sole connection to their UK homeland is a British ex-pat (David Farrar) who teases and taunts them in a way that belittles their beliefs as much as it seems a flirtation. He's not of their moral fiber, and he seems to take up a place in their collective consciousness. Clodagh begins to drag up memories of life prior to the habit, and the mentally unstable Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) seems further and further beyond her vows with each passing day. There may be only so many outcomes, but the way the film reaches them is luxe and spellbinding.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Bachelorette is, ostensibly, a comedy. At times, however, it reads more as a comedy only in the classical sense that it "ends with a wedding." There's not much that actually registers as funny here. While the mishaps and mayhem of the plot belong to the genre, everything has been bent out of shape by writer/director Leslye Headland. Things that would be spun in cutesy directions in a Katharine Heigl movie arise from cruelty here, and the characters dare to make jokes about one another's disorders, disabilities, and weaknesses in a way that stings in its honesty. There were points at which things became uncomfortable enough for me to wonder if the dialogue was achieving something clever and fresh or if it was simply perpetuating the mean girl rhetoric it seems to want to tear down. I can't say I liked everything here, but I can say that I found myself admiring its tenacity. Bachelorette is an ensemble comedy that never feels like more of the same old same old. It's always dangerous enough to be interesting and cynical enough to shun conformity even if it's in favor of bad taste. So, in the spirit of weddings, let us offer a toast: may you never have friends like this, and may you never be part of this.