some men are fathers and some are former young believing husbands. uxbal, as played by bardem in this film, is both and he is taxed with being male and with believing it is his job to be good. the only way he can achieve this, he believes, is by making himself less bad. when he lessens, or tries to, his impact on those around him he becomes less of a man and invites those of his world to a party of which he is only the guest. he plays host only to his dying. he has few beliefs, but they are clarifying- that his children remain untouched, that death is not sudden. that both of these beliefs are relegated to the trash bin of faith makes uxbal a recycler of dreams in a world of stronger insomnias. the film is all color and grit and it’s good to see a hard film like this not play into a gypsy trap of hazy image- even its ghostly asides play fair and eschew surrealism for an impoverished horror. it has been maligned its length, and I’ve nothing for that except a measured what the fuck. uxbal touches the face of his dead father and uxbal’s son sleeps on the injured side of his own. one cannot call curtain on a man until that man is done. if it means one need watch the man full of others' demons in the a.m. in his own apartment squinting at a refrigerator hung picture drawn by his child, we’ve a duty to squint him into focus. special attention should be made to uxbal’s wife, what the filmmakers start with and allow her to end on. it’s a rare thing these days to see a woman character be forgiven, let alone allow that forgiveness to come from acceptance, to come from the woman. there are two films here, and inarritu the director makes a strong case for custody.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
odd, farmhand black film noir that tries to marry its ho-hum cynicism to an aw shucks fervor but manages only a brief honeymoon of blissful tone. affleck is dedicated without being loyal and is given one too many cheats to wink at. its desperation is well earned in some parts, and if the finale is the kind of crazy the movie had previously doused, it is also almost enough to make one thankful for the drier lands those involved with its making seemed to have migrated from. the brutality in many of its scenes is simultaneously numbing and calming- one is relieved that there is a true act, but distressed at how completely affleck’s hobbyist has collected himself.
when the walking and talking of people is used as a locale, it’s important to do what this film does: make it feel like home. what at first seems lazy and aimless becomes familiar and aggressive. the camera sets itself on shoulders and as the two main characters show up in place after place, sometimes returning and sometimes venturing, one finds him or herself wondering how the commonplace will footstool itself to that inevitable, disappearing step. the filmmakers here know what to do with a face, and in zoe kazan’s they have a winner. the film is quiet throughout, but there is no muting love, hurt, and disorder. that it finds the sequence of these things without giving the viewer a to b is what sets it apart from so many point-and-shoot indies.
before it turns its rather clever hypothetical into an actual calculation, this likable drunkard of a film is able to make its minor diners worthy of its road trip. the opening scene says more with image than it does with its writ and unfortunately after that it doesn’t trust its gravitas without having some rather annoying vehicles weigh in. by its end, it’s a rather accomplished youtube segment that stretches itself beyond the length of one’s patience. will, though, have one talking- and any film with a scene wherein a tire looks itself hard in the mirror deserves at least some reflection.
Friday, June 17, 2011
mentioned behind haneke and lynch, lanthimos is able to survive such comparison and live well beside. has humor and soul, despite its called-for bleakness. it is extreme only if one adopts it as a helicopter parent- hover above it and you’ll miss its depth. what we do to children in the name of new worlds and belief in the fantastic and in ritual…this film asks these with image and one is drawn to its disguise of answer. though punishing and frank, one feels more flogged of sin than chastised. let me say that there is a difference between being homeschooled and being home-kept. the only schooling that occurs in the film is in service of keeping the children in awe of a made-up doom, by which we learn how unprotected we are when armored. there is a fear in this film that is touchable, and it manifests itself in the hidden phone that makes its cameo at a nervous ear, in a shaking hand.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
a full fledged scribble of madness. one can hear Von Trier writing with his removed fingernail. he wants both to hold his fat finger, bleeding, up for chorus while at the same time wants to become as thin as the note scraped with the edge of his fingernail. the movie is not incoherent, and has terms. while up front with its imagery, it is not merely shock factor nor narrative lacking a denominator. many of the film’s themes are manifested physically- I’ve seen no more an honest portrayal of sex, visually, of what it does in and out of the mind. the awkward intro of each part of the film, presented on hell’s cardboard with qualifiers like ‘chaos reigns’, come off as childish, sad, and kind of narrowly beautiful. I think it odd that this film was criticized so strongly for its indictment of woman, all and or one, as it seemed to me more damning of man- that the good of one man, constant and uncompromising and selfish, may make one woman evil, even from far away. it’s a scary movie: dedicated, immature, and probably right.