Following Love Letter, something slightly bitterer.
Supposedly, the divorce rate at Big Other skyrocketed after this post.
Jeremy agreed to go along with this, albeit with certain objections.
[Last weekend, en route to Madagascar, Jeremy M. Davies swung by my Chicago atelier to hear my neighbor perform Mahler’s "Quartet for Strings and Piano in A Minor" on his singing saw. Fifteen minutes in, two other friends stopped by, bearing bootleg DVDs of three new films: Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life, and X-Men: First Class. The singing saw forgotten, I fired up my video projector, and a marathon viewing ensued. Hours later, our guests departed, Jeremy and I recorded the following conversation.]
A D: Jeremy, when did you give up on Woody Allen?
Jeremy: Small Time Crooks.
NOTE: This was written in the infancy of my knowledge about cinema. Surely, eight is not enough. John Ford, Carl Dreyer, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, Roberto Rossellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Eric Rohmer, and Jean-Luc Godard are names that must be there as well.
I love film.
I want to pay tribute to eight film directors who have changed the way I see life.
Robert Altman 1925-2006
After college, a friend and I went on a tear, spending our weekends watching everything we could find by Godard, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Kurosawa, others. My friend’s father, a former cinephile who’d seen many of these movies during their initial US releases, occasionally poked his head into the living room, watching a few minutes here and there with us. Then he’d smile and leave, always quietly pronouncing, “It’s good, but it’s no Two-Lane Blacktop.”
July 30, 2007
Morning: Bush lied, Bergman died.
Evening: Bush lied, Antonioni died.
Kathryn Bigelow and her film The Hurt Locker are on tap to win Oscars and make history for becoming the first woman to win best director. The largest irony is that it would be for a film that is totally devoid of any significant female characters. It is a MAN’s film, a war film. But this leads to the more pressing question. The Oscars have hardly ever embraced a film about mainly women and women’s issues for Best Picture. I went back to 1966 and in 43 years (I discount Chicago because I haven’t seen it) there is only one film able to fit this criteria and that is Terms of Endearment 1983, directed by James L. Brooks, creator of Mary Tyler Moore and The Simpsons. The film came from a novel by Larry McMurtry.
Yes there is Shakespeare in Love 1998, Ordinary People 1980 and Annie Hall 1977, which all have stories centered around female leads, but they are seen through the viewpoint of other men (Annie Hall), the destructive force in family, separating father and son (Ordinary People) and having to dress up as a man and play muse to the greatest male writer in the English language (Shakespeare).
Lars has made some very good movies in his time. Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark and Dogville are all examples of exciting, provocative cinema. And now comes this–thing.
I’m very mixed about this motion picture. Not torn up, not oozing, like after Eyes Wide Shut. There are some beautiful images in this film, the black and white prologue showing an erect penis going into a vagina has to be one of the most gorgeous shots of the sex act I’ve ever seen. The unnamed couple, Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, then spend the next hour of the movie talking out their grief (mainly hers) after their young son fell out a window and died while they were in the throes of sex during the prologue. The film goes to color and it becomes a weird incarnation of therapist and patient (Dafoe plays an actual therapist). This interplay continues even as the couple goes to a cabin in the woods, their “Eden.” After a few days there, Gainsbourg says she is cured, but Dafoe does not believe her and continues trying to help her breathe, “Five, four, three…”
At times a David Lynchesque soundtrack comes on signaling something weird is going to happen. (Having just seen Inland Empire and being a fan of Blue Velvet, this touch seemed off-putting, as did Gainsbourg’s request to have Dafoe hit her during sex–another obvious borrowing from Blue Velvet.) The weird happenings are somewhat interesting–a deer running with a dead foetus stuck to its behind, a fox that is eating itself and then speaks English to a seemingly reserved Dafoe. He is the only one having these visions (if they are visions). Then, in the attic of the cabin, Dafoe finds Gainsbourg’s notes for a thesis (called Gynocide) she had been writing that doesn’t come to fruition, (film is fuzzy concerning whether it is finished). Arcane pictures, woodcuts in the manner of Dürer, and three never before heard of constellations in the sky called the Three Beggars–a deer, a fox and a crow (don’t worry the crow is coming).