My writing muscles have atrophied over the last three weeks, and they need to be warmed up so I can get back to work.
Please enjoy this rambling braindump about movies which I hope will start knocking some of the cobwebs off:
I watched a ton of movies in the last three weeks, including a ton of Academy screeners, provided to me by my vast underground network of Big Hollywood Super Players. My thoughts, let me show you them:
I loved everything about Juno, from the casting to the dialog to the photography to the soundtrack (which I bought the moment the credits began to roll) and I was surprised at how much I liked There Will Be Blood. I loved Boogie Nights, but I feel like everything Paul Thomas Anderson has done since then has been one big, "My jerking off! Let me show you it!" Daniel Day Lewis made this movie for me, and I spent a lot of hazy hours thinking about what a gift it is — and how much dedication and hard work is required — to transform an idea and words into a living, breathing character.
The Orphanage was enjoyable, and if you liked The Ring and The Others, I think you’d like it, as well. Maybe it was the drugs, but I felt a step ahead the whole time, so I was forced to just enjoy the photography and MILFiness of Belén Rueda.
I gave up on 3:10 to Yuma after 35 minutes. I felt like I missed the first reel, or something, and didn’t know who the characters were, or why I should care about them. Bummer, because I really like westerns.
I thought No Country for Old Men was beautifully shot and brilliantly performed, but it didn’t shake the Earth for me like it apparently has for everyone else who’s seen it. I thought it ended abruptly, and it wasn’t until hours later that I realized, "Oh, they wanted it to be Tommy Lee Jones’ story, not Josh Brolin’s." I understand the Sheriff is a richer character in the book, and I probably would have
felt more satisfied with the whole thing if the Coen Brothers had included more of his backstory. Bummer, because I really like westerns.
I thought Control was okay, but your enjoyment of the film is going to be directly proportional to how much you love Joy Division, I think. It’s not deep enough for casual audiences, and felt a little long to me. I wanted to see more of Ian and Deborah’s relationship, and I was surprised that I didn’t, since it was based on her book and she was one of the producers. I loved the music, I loved the photography, and I thought it was cool that they shot it in color and processed it down to black and white. The actors sound great as Joy Division, much better than those modern bands who are stealing their sound. She Wants Revenge and Interpol, I’m looking in your direction.
I watched lots of older movies, too: Breach was okay, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Ryan Philippe totally hold his own with Chris Cooper. I’d skip it unless you’re a Chris Cooper fan. Or a Laura Linney fan. Which I am. But two MILF comments in one post may give you all the impression that I’m some kind of weirdo, so let’s just move on . . .
I tried — twice — to watch The Zodiac. I read books about this guy like crazy when I was a teenager (growing up in Richard Ramirez’ Nightstalker Los Angeles gave me an insatiable curiosity about serial killers) so I was really looking forward to this movie. I can’t point to one factor, but it never grabbed me.
The Last Picture Show goes in my top ten of all time, meaning I’ll have to knock something off to make room, but I don’t know what. I couldn’t help but feel like Lucas tried — and failed — to copy it with American Graffiti. It made me want to watch The Grapes of Wrath again.
I watched Chinatown for the first time since I was 19 or 20, and I’m really glad I did. For all the time I spent in my 20s worrying about being in my 30s, I remember something someone told me when I was 29 (paraphrased): "Your 20s are about gathering information and experience, and your 30s are about putting it to use." I still feel like I have a lot to learn, but I feel more sure of who I am — way more sure of who I am than I did when I was younger — and I don’t know what relevance this rambling tangent had when I started talking about it, but watching Chinatown in my 30s was a profoundly different and much more rewarding experience than it was when I was younger. "Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown."
The same thing goes for The Natural. I forgot that The Natural really isn’t about baseball, and have to admit that "Pick me out a winner, Bobby," nails me in my weepy manbits the same way "Hey, dad . . . want to have a catch?" does. I would have found this movie overly sentimental and too magical when I was a cynical 24 year-old with a copy of Howl in his pocket. Hell, I probably did. I’m glad I watched it without the baggage of being young and cocksure.
28 Weeks Later didn’t do for 28 Days Later what Dawn of the Dead did for Night of the Living Dead, but I like Robert Carlyle and can think of worse things to do with 90 minutes than watch The Infected do their thing.
I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t seen Spirited Away until this month. I loved every single thing about it, and I think it may edge out Akira in my top 5 Anime of all time. I know, blasphemy, but I responded to it on a level that I never have with Akira. It’s similar to the way Blade Runner moves me in ways that Star Wars does not. And we all know how much I love Star Wars. Oh, fucking hell, I guess I should just get this over with: if I had to choose, entirely on their individual merits, and took out the nostalgia, toys, and significance in my childhood, and look at them in a vacuum, Blade Runner resonates much more powerfully with me. I think it’s a better film. Hey, maybe I’ll watch that Final Ultimate Really We Mean It director’s cut in a little bit. I’m supposed to ramp up to normal activity slowly, so maybe I can justify it.
I’m sure I watched other stuff, but it’s not coming straight to mind, so I guess it’s safe to say that whatever else I saw didn’t make much of an impression.
Heh. There was a time when I’d look at all of this, say out loud, "who gives a fuck what you think about movies?" and delete the whole thing because it’s not that interesting to anyone but me. Maybe it’s residual drugs in my system, or part of that thing I mentioned earlier about being in my mid-30s (yipe), but I needed to write this because thinking about all of it has taken up cycles in my brains that I need for other stuff. So here it is, and if you’re reading this, I guess it’s safe to assume that you found something worthwhile in it, so at least I haven’t wasted your time.
Back in the days when Tony Pierce wasn’t spending his time trolling his own commenters and generating controversy for the sake of building page views, he wrote a fantastic post about avoiding blogging burn out, which was something we were all talking about in those days when we were all sort of defining what blogging was and wasn’t, making it up as we went along (but not admitting that we were.) I forget exactly what the advice was (and it’s all massively awesome advice that should be required reading for everyone — including Tony, today — who aspires to do more than talk about their cats with their blog) but it can be distilled down to a couple of things: write what you want to, write what’s on your mind, and don’t worry about who is reading it. It’s such simple and logical advice, but clearly isn’t easy to absorb and put into practice, because I need to remind myself about it at least twice a year. I used to worry a lot about wasting people’s time with my blog, but now I save that obsessing for my books.
Oh, totally unrelated to movies, but because I’m thinking about it: I bought the remastered Joshua Tree last week, because my original CD, which I bought at Tower Records in 1987, had a scratch across Running To Stand Still right when he sings "Cry without weeping." This scratched copy of Joshua Tree was one of the first CDs I ever bought for myself, and I couldn’t bring myself to replace it, so I’ve been listening to it this way, with the clicks and pops, for at least 15 years. It made me feel a little sad to replace it, like I was letting something go that I wanted or needed to keep around, but I haven’t been listening to the physical CD for years, and I figured it was okay to replace the music with a pristine version, while saving the original CD for keeping in The Vault of Memories.
Whew. This is the most I’ve written in a month, and it is ram-buh-ling. I’m tired, now. I think I’ll go for a walk.