Friday, May 17, 2019

A Comprehensive Review of the Good Things About Age/Lifestyle-Related Chronic Illness/Injury, Compendious in Its Correctness (Also It Is: Indisputable)

A Comprehensive Review of the Good Things About Age/Lifestyle-Related Chronic Illness/Injury, Compendious in Its Correctness (Also It Is: Indisputable)

  1. Always have a big, bold bottle of ibuprofen handy, so can always be like "Hey, you said your blank hurt—do you need an ibuprofen?"
  2. That's it. There are no other good things about age / lifestyle-related chronic illness / injury.

(A big, bold bottle of handy ibuprofen.)

Monday, May 06, 2019

Dark Star

When I ask myself if VFX comic book franchise movies that cost a few hundred million dollars, online streaming services, TV, shorter attention spans or the obsolescence of movie cameras shooting on film stock mean that movies aren’t as good as they used to be my answer is no. And Claire Denis is proof.
Beau travail (1999, Denis) is so fun to watch I get excited just thinking about it. The same goes for Trouble Every Day (2001, Denis) and The Intruder (2004, Denis).

If Trouble Every Day is a horror movie about sexual depravity, then High Life (2018, Denis) is a horror movie about sexual deprivation. Deprivation is something the characters aboard the ship in High Life share in common. They were all “on death row or serving life sentences” on Earth. They have no contact with anyone on Earth because they’re too far to receive communications. And the baby has no mother, no friends—no future.

I realize that if I were to get into an argument with anyone who’s seen High Life they would say it’s not a horror movie, and I also realize I’d lose that argument. Although I posit that High Life is a horror movie not in the traditional sense of eliciting a physical reaction of terror, but instead one that causes an emotional fear in the viewer.

In Heat (1995, Michael Mann) I wept every time I saw that ending when NEIL MCCAULEY (Robert De Niro) dies at the end. There’s a lot to analyze in that moment. First of all the title Heat comes from Neil McCauley’s principle rule: “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner.” And lastly, McCauley’s dying words are: “I told you I’m never going back.” So because he has this one fatal flaw (Waingro revenge) he gives up both his chance to drive off into the sunset with a woman whom he is in love with and loves him in return with enough money to be set, and his mortality—because it’s established this character will not return to prison.

My sorrow is triggered in movies thinking about characters whose only future is life in prison, then opt for death instead, because it reminds me how any one of us could run out of options. Anyway that’s what hooked me in High Life, what engages me with these characters: they’re headed on a one way voyage away from Earth into a black hole, by their own choice, to avoid life in prison. This is how to craft tragedy, and leaves me with a tremendous sadness and fear. So yes, I’m calling this a horror movie. And to be sure there are some terrifying scenes of sex, violence, sexual violence, and lactating. Dude Claire Denis is in top form and in full command of her art here.

The ending is transcendent. Depicting how contrary man’s nature is to be capable of hope while approaching oblivion is sublime. Needless to say, whether this is optimistic or pessimistic is subjective. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

After 25 Years in the Making

After Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998, Terry Gilliam) the work of Terry Gilliam began to decline. Brazil (1985, Gilliam) is my favorite cult film. The Fisher King (1991, Gilliam) is his best work—great cast, script and crafted out of raw emotion. And Twelve Monkeys (1995, Gilliam) is a cool, enigmatic sci-fi story of time travel and tragedy.

And what makes Brazil the quintessential cult film is that it’s not really that good but I enjoy watching it immensely nonetheless. That’s why I don’t really consider Pink Flamingos (1972, John Waters) a cult film: it displays too much genius. Brazil is that rare thing in movies, that is, bizarre in a good way.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018, Gilliam) isn’t as bad as Gilliam’s other work from the last 20 years, but that isn’t saying a lot. It was a fun diversion and I’m glad I went to see it in a theater, but I can’t imagine wanting to rewatch it. On the other hand if I heard there was a screening of Brazil coming up… When? Where?

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is surprisingly focused narratively for Gilliam. It has a theme. What if a person used their imagination and lost perspective on the difference between fantasy and reality, and what if that were contagious to a skeptic? Or wait, is that a theme? Maybe, mythology deconstructed through idealism vs. cynicism approaches?

Also the pacing was great. The movie really gains a momentum that makes it past the finish line with aplomb. The Spanish countryside, sets, costumes, wide-angle compositions, Dutch angles and spectacle is all there, but… The Man Who Killed Don Quixote takes us to another world, but it’s just not one I really wanna visit. And like Bridges' character in The Fisher King notice how The Man Who Killed Don Quixote's protag the Adam Driver character sports that signature top ponytail down at the sides doo Gilliam does in real life as an autobiographic touch?