Daily notes 2012-02

Re-watching: Barton Fink

Just started: White
Off to a good start.I like the cut of his jib.It is hard to imagine things getting worse for Mr. Karol than they are at the moment.…”Being the Curious Misadventures of Mr. Karol Karol, The Fool.”

Currently watching: The Kid With a Bike
Oh hell. The film makes me feel irresponsible for not devoting myself to the lowest echelons of humanity, as I’m sure the Dardennes wouldn’t be displeased to hear.

Currently watching: The Rum Diary
Too glossy, too much money put into a Thompson story – and money never ever improves art. Would’ve benefited from no funding whatsoever. Altogether it feels totally superfluous, and Depp isn’t being given nearly enough to do.Funny caricature.Unfunny caricature.It’s Robinson’s adaptation, I’m sorry to say. He’s giving too much attention to the minutiae of Thompson’s talent – missing the forest for the trees. Like I’m doing by writing about it.

Currently watching: Sherlock: The Blind Banker
Less than five minutes and I see this week we’ll be swept away to Epcot Center without leaving our posh London flats. What did I say about taking on more intelligent writers?

Currently watching: Sherlock: A Study in Pink (BBC)
Do not at all care for the digitally imposed titles, which god-willing will be phased out, though I don’t expect it. It’s impossible not to get caught up in Cumberbatch’s arrogant delectation, I just wish the show’s creators weren’t so cute about it. First ep. My hopes are high that season 2 will be superb. And you’re damn right it was smart to make Sherlock obsessively tied to his cell phone and the eternal network of information.Very dubious about the Moriarty casting, and the flamboyance with which they’re portraying him. Don’t have much faith in the show’s creators altogether, actually, who were clearly aroused by 2009’s Holmes film and are spinning out their few gimmicks here unimpressively. The show has potential but needs more skill and intelligence at the top – so far they’re too concerned with homage (a hole all those in The Biz seem willing to dive into) and not enough with topicality. Now a man like Holmes would represent much just how powerful a single individual can be with the world’s information at his fast fast fast fingertips. And I’m already thinking that a potential supervillain is one who would use such power evilly. Sounds like fun.Oh there I go, being harsh again.So far they’re taking every opportunity to copy Ritchie’s Holmes by making a gag out of the perverse and awkward intimacy between Master and Student, or Narcissist and Self-Hater. It’s funny, but it’s patently purloined. Art is all about who you steal from, and the people who make television probably only watch films and never read, so it’s no surprise that any quality to be found on television is a result of prior cinematic invention. Fictional TV is a testing ground, a practice range, or a venue for regurgitation… but is never better than cinema. For good reason.Whoops! They got me. That wasn’t Moriarty but Mycroft. Thank heaven.

Re-watching: The Pianist
It’s funny, with this one. The first time I saw it I felt strangely unimpressed; “Another holocaust drama.” But when I watched it again I was incredibly moved, and again, even moreso. Polanski’s masterful mise-en-scene and ever modest, story-respecting direction achieve more than the pages on a script ever can. Now I cannot understand how I could’ve been “unimpressed.”

Currently watching: Road to Nowhere
First Hellman. Sue me. Jesus, he’s 79. Lightly jazzed.It’s always awkward to see an average script taken utterly seriously by an aged director. We’ve seen it before. Here Shannyn is seen childishly flapping her gums.This literally feels like it’s taking place in a vacuum. There is no rhythm. This is the result of an aged man’s infinite patience revealing the utterly jejune writing.I never thought I’d say it, but this is utter pretentious horseshit. This girl feels “like a just-cried tear.”

Currently watching: If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
More Oscar investigations…
Eco-terrorists and Oregon. I’ll be back with an opinion later. Too early now.It’s rather disgusting when documentaries play exciting music to make the audience feel excited – it’s a transparent bias and secondhand journalism (or worse). The rationalization of terrorism?The faces of fanaticism.It’s sad I suppose but I find myself having little sympathy. Yeah, nobody was killed, yeah, real terrorists are more evil. But this man knew what he was doing was wrong, knew the risks, knew he’d face prison time… and sometimes young people make mistakes that leave permanent scars. He knew what he was doing, and he did. He didn’t have to. He used fear and terror as weapons and disturbed the lives of many people. So he has to face some prison time.

Currently watching: Terri
This is good, because we don’t have enough cute films about high school in America. Never thought I’d say it, but thank heaven for John C. Reilly. I can’t get enough of him and this would be UNWATCHABLE (say it aloud) without him.I’m being harsh, it’s actually a bit charming and clever. But it has the sappy sensitive score. I’d like to lynch 90% of the composers out there – no, I’ll censor that thought. But let’s be goddamn fucking honest: scoring ruins films as often as, or more than, it enhances the experience of narrative drama. Everybody’s gotta be cute.This scene was particularly difficult to watch. Reilly’s been off-camera for WAY too long, where is he?!Heh. Excellent.Intimacy is scary. Wysocki’s a nice kid, well cast.

Just finished: War Horse
Jesus Christ. Spielberg doesn’t exactly do subtle.