Daily notes 2011-12/11

Just watched: Gerry
Man, that was fantastic. My #2 for 2002. I would call it perfect if not for a few aesthetic choices I would’ve avoided – one instance of sentimental music where I didn’t feel it was necessary, and that method of speedy imaginative camerawork.Speaking of camerawork, Harry Savides is just perfect.Just look at this. Nobody does that better than Casey. One day I hope to exploit it.

Currently watching: Martha Marcy May Marlene
I’m having a strong reaction to this film which is somewhat good. I distrust it. Working it out. But on many levels this is a special film, a rare film – it’s like exposing a scab for one’s pleasure. Self-negating fun. In the script I’m currently tooling there are more than a few similarities which are making me pissed – people will think I ripped this fucking thing off. Oh well. It makes me feel better, however, to note that in my script a (I daresay) Nabokovian ironic distance is observed from all character action, and the cultish, brainwashing, sexual slavery aspect is merely tainted dressing – I want it to be a FUN film, after all. But I won’t go on spoiling the surprise, which I am sure is eagerly awaited by my dedicated readership.

It’s easy to allow oneself to be taken in by the idea that “M” was not quite ‘weird’ to begin with – but what kind of person truly does allow her individuality to be pulverized? When you meet people like this is real life, it’s immediately evident that functionality is a cloak they wear and that they’re as cooky and disassociated as blazes. To sympathize with “M” makes this film kind of like a good version of Black Swan. Still terrifying, but I resent it slightly less. The conceit of both films – milked for sensation by Aronofsky – is that when one encounters madness that’s this far gone, what reaction is there but to gawk in horror? And entertainment. Doing it for entertainment’s sake is what I can’t do and why Aronofsky’s conceit is misguided (for this viewer). Mr. Durkin, however, is not simply entertaining but is taking a hard genuine look, and utilizing bias and sympathy and plenty of re-evaluating of our modern lifestyles. I guess it took a kook to get us there.

Also, does anybody notice how we largely are meant to sympathize with the cultists up until the murder? NOW it’s gone too far. Before? Not too far. That part was fine.

Curiously, last night I realized I was dying to make a Patty Hearst joke and inside my film – and now in MMMM – is the perfect opportunity…

A few more thoughts on Peter Jackson
Watching Charlie Rose’s interview with Jackson after the films were made – and just learned that Jackson originally wanted to do special effects. That’s it. That literally explains everything. It’s very revealing about the genre of fantasy that the most successful fantasy films are ones which make considerable use of props, elaborate sets, obviously extensive utilization of all kinds of special effects – and again, cements Jackson as the best person for the job. I’m starting to think his LOTR films are more about New Zealand than anything else. Note how much time is spent lingering over locations – and with Jackson that means models and such, which he loves (as do I). New Zealand certainly looks like it’s the perfect place to stage Middle Earth and whether or not that is true, I think the public at large benefitted from good hard look into the beautiful land – again, Jackson was the man for the job. The films are Jackson’s loving tribute to Jackson’s home and his people, never more readily apparent than in his treatment of the Shire.

I’ve actually re-watched the extended edition of Fellowship more than once in the past few days, and I affirm that it is a tremendously satisfying film – the other two don’t come close. I recall seeing that in the theater, and somehow I went in knowing nothing at all about LOTR and hardly being interested. I also didn’t see a trailer. Totally blind. That was maybe the last major studio production I’ve seen that really, really excited and pleased me…

Also have been playing the playstation 2 LOTR video games incessantly (they’re really awesome) and listening to the complete, four-disc-apiece soundtracks. Howard Shore isn’t exactly slighted but he doesn’t get enough credit – his score makes those fucking films.

Currently watching: Downtown 81
Basquiat being silly. Boy, this one I’m not sure about. Remaining open-minded. Five minutes and I already know I’ll feel differently about the film when it’s over. Well, it better be good – I interrupted the original Red Shoe Diaries for this! Thought it would be a fitting companion piece to Ciao! Manhattan.
Definitely a film made by people who love drugs. I like the blatant post-dubbing.
Ha! Holy shit. He’s smoking a Nat Sherman Black & Gold, the tailcoat and top hat of cigarettes.

A few thoughts on Peter Jackson
Days later and here’s what I have to report. I daresay that Peter Jackson is the sort man who should be making movies – insofar as he is ambitious, dynamic, unstoppable, and now gets exactly what he wants from the product. Retraction, sans ‘should’: let’s just say that Jackson thrives in a movie-making business. I did King Kong, which goes to show how bankrupt and useless (not to mention effing ponderous) a Jackson film can be without the proper writing behind it. But then I did Heavenly Creatures (for the first time since its release) and while I’m not as enthusiastic as many critics – it’s hard to be that enthusiastic about anything Jackson does – I will say that my critical faculties were overwhelmed by the sheer charm of the actresses, the never-ebbing pace and general monument to love, acceptance and imagination that the film represents.

I’ve been watching a great many films on Netflix and have not had the opportunity to capture screenshots for this silly blog of mine. This is a problem. The blog comes first, fear not, my non-existant base.

Re-watching: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
You know what’s great about living in Minas Tirith? You can’t look out your front door without seeing and thinking “FOE!” I’d also like to box the ears of the architect who designed a city which goes out of its way to shield itself from sunlight…

Re-watching: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
And just sort of marveling at Jackson’s ingenuity. My criticisms aside, the breadth of the filmmaking endeavor is staggering, and he got exactly what he wanted out of it.

Currently watching: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
It’s remarkable how little I care about these films.

Re-watching: The Tree of Life
OK, let’s try this one more time. First things I’ll note are – – Chicago! Sean Penn’s character works in Chicago. Here you can see the easternmost part of downtown…

And the building with the little temple on the top that filmmakers all seem to love to capture…

And to clinch it, the unmistakable route down LSD pointing right at the Drake Hotel.


Re-watching: This Is Spinal Tap
To celebrate 11-11-11.

Re-watching: M. Butterfly
OK, just tackled A Dangerous Method and tonight we’re going to be revisiting Mr. Cronenberg – just to facilitate my Dangerous Method review, not because I feel I have anything left to learn from Cronenberg. Let’s start with his most maligned professional work.

One thing I’ve learned about Jeremy Irons is that if you want naked male vulnerability and longing, he’s your man. The autopilot marriage.The precious love fantasy.

Re-watching: Chinatown
In HD for the first time. The production design, the costumes, obviously the casting, the score, the writing, the editing. Everything about it is stellar. Is this the best film made by Paramount? By Hollywood? Los Angeles, 1937. Tasty. Flawed.
Nosing into water.Mr. Morality.You can’t quite tell in this still frame, but while watching the film these two are lit in totally different ways and it looks a bit surreal.