Sunday, June 19, 2005

Weekend Movie Roundup

We didn't quite manage to get out to see Batman Begins this weekend, but we did watch a bunch of stuff at home, as well as a stage production of Steve Martin's (adapted) play, The Underpants. If you're really interested in my opinion on that subject: The play is an amusing farce, though not quite as good as Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The performance, particularly the acting, was considerably better than the disappointing recent local production of Crimes of the Heart.

On to the movies:

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: See, this is why I love movies. I know some people complained that this wasn't quite as good as Wes Anderson's other movies, but I don't care. I've said this before, but I've seen so many movies at this point that any time a filmmaker can show me something I've never seen before, it's worth praising for that alone. Wes Anderson has demonstrated that he can reliably do that. My favorite thing in the whole film, and it comes at the very end, so don't read on if you don't like spoilers: Finally facing, again, the Thing that had hurt him so, had utterly destroyed him, Zissou says, "I wonder if it remembers me." I understand completely. I've been there. Any film that can include that kind of emotional truth is a great one, in my book.

Mulholland Dr.: David Lynch, being David Lynch. I think you pretty much either like what he does, or you don't. I happen to like it, so I enjoyed this movie. No, it doesn't make sense in a linear narrative way, but on the other hand, it makes perfect sense when you understand that part/all of the film takes place in one character's mind. Like several of Lynch's other films, it has a dreamlike logic - events on the screen relate to one another in ways that have little to do with traditional dramatic narrative structure, and more to do with the ways our mind connects unrelated images in dreams. Someone on the IMDB discussion board for this film lays out what's "really happening" in some detail, and I find it lines up pretty neatly with my own opinion, for those who insist on understanding the plot on a "literal" level. My only real disagreement with that interpretation is that I disagree with his insistence on labelling part of the film "dream" and part "reality" - personally, I think it's pretty much all dream. Some of the dream is just (probably) a more accurate depiction of reality than the rest.

X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes: A classic Roger Corman movie. A doctor experiments with increasing the frequency range of his own vision, gaining the ability to see through objects, until it all becomes too much for him. In some ways, it's largely an example of untapped potential - the concept is strong, but the movie ultimately doesn't go far enough with it. I would love to see a remake of this, by someone like John Carpenter or David Cronenburg. Imagine a version of this story in which the character at first performs miracles (a doctor able to see inside his patients), then gradually becomes disconnected with other people - much as with the legendary second wife of Adam, he sees only the biological unpleasantness inside everyone. Gradually, as his vision becomes stronger, he begins to see the Lovecraftian horror underlying reality (as in Corman's version, he abruptly does at the very end, talking about vast blacknesses, and the Eye at the center of the universe, watching us all). And then not shying away from the ending Corman apparently discussed but never actually filmed: After clawing out his own eyes, the doctor exclaims, "Oh, God, no! I can still see!" That would have made a great last line of the film, and it's a shame Corman didn't use it. As one review I just found puts it, "Frankly, it's such a good line, we all want it to be part of the movie!"

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