Daily notes 2012-06

Currently watching: Maborosi
Hajime yo! Now begins my investigation into the films of Hirokazu Kore-eda. We begin in chronological order back in 1995. I am going into this with a very strong bias in favor of Kore-eda, so I’ll make an effort to be objective. But I must say that his photography and composition are expert, his eye thoughtful, ruminative, unhurried. I am led to believe his films will be almost entirely about death. Can’t wait! I am being somewhat realistic, though, knowing that in 2009 he will make a film called Air Doll about a plastic sex doll which comes to life, dons a pretty maid uniform and learns what it is to be human. Previewed a few seconds of that and it looks, well, quite insufferable.

Why does this make me start humming “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”? Because at almost the same time Von Trier is playing that song to a very similar shot.

As I said, Kore-eda is a very thoughtful observer. Perhaps… too thoughtful observer. How many distant shots of observation can you have? Well, I’ll tell you: a whole film’s worth.

Aaaand done! The word that comes to kill is “overkill.” Not meant snidely, it was a very beautiful film, but I think Kore-eda stretched his idea a bit thin. Still 4/5 stars.

Currently watching: At First Sight
Hm, another film where the actress has extraordinary chemistry with Kilmer (unfortunately this generally only happens in very bad films). Sorvino is so alluring here. Kilmer’s not bad. Reminds me of Brad Pitt – existential surfers, those two.

Currently watching: Dead Babies
The film that nobody has ever seen or heard of, adapted faithfully – somehow – from Martin Amis’s 1975 novel which I just finished. If you thought the book was arduous, as I did, the movie will be arduouser (if mercifully quicker to put through one’s system). This will be a totally forgotten film, but it does make me wonder about its creator, William Marsh (who plays Marvell). He’s not a doofus. Plenty of energy. Whatever became of him? But the bigger question, of course, is why go to so much trouble to adapt this story?
Mr. Marsh and ensemble. I will say that the product needed less quick-cut idiot editing and more high art. That’s Amis.A studly young Amis, not to be mistaken for a musician posing for an album cover.
It is a relatively special cast. Pity.

(Until I decide its better placed elsewhere, my thoughts on literature will be going here too. All my thoughts – made public – to connect – why not.)

André Gide (1869-1951)

Currently reading: André Gide’s L’immoraliste

some thoughts on the author and his work
Published 1902. André Gide, whom I knew nothing about until this morning, was a Frenchman that won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947, a decade before Camus would win the award. Much of what I write will be comparing the two authors, the similarities of which were immediately apparent to me.

After wading through Gide’s thorough apologia I am into the text of L’immoraliste. It’s OK, still just picking up steam, hope it goes further than its leading me to think. Reminds me of Camus, who also won the Nobel Prize ten years after Gide.

In time I’ll struggle to explain exactly why he feels like Camus. But for now I can only call it a higher intelligence mixed with a sort of doe-eyed, “I’m too sensitive for my own good and it terrifies me” naiveté. Combine that with a general narrative focus on beneficience, pity, empathy, love and fraternity. I can respond strongly to this ‘terrifyingly sensitive’ quality, but… but… I don’t know. Do I just want to beat up Camus and Gide? I find that I cannot take it as seriously as I am led to believe I should. Or maybe I just cannot take anything that is not ironic, one step removed from genuine feeling.

Currently watching: Body of Evidence
Right there with you, Willem. It’s insufferable.

Currently watching: Clear and Present Danger
Harford as Deputy Director of the CIA? I can get behind that.
The films are well-produced and Noyce is competent. Here I just completed the rather riveting Colombian bottleneck massacre of federal agents. Tense as hell but ultimately let me down as it is quite difficult to believe that anybody could survive, let alone Jack Ryan. Constant volleys of rocket-propelled grenades and half a dozen men, at least, with automatic weapons perched in perfect positions to pick off the panicked, pistol-bearing agents. It is vaguely conceivable that Ryan survives as he is just important enough to be safeguarded and just human enough to instinctively go on the defensive, not offensive. But for him to be the literal only survivor… it’s not that it’s impossible to believe, it’s just that it’s the greatest stretch we’ve had so far and I was enjoying the lack of stretches.
Wait a minute. Is that guy on the left for real?

And I daresay this is some very good Ford we’re seeing – perhaps the last good Ford. Perfectly middle-aged and damned attractive, soft-spoken and shrewd and terribly humble, seeming to realize “I’m smart. I’m attractive. I have everything. I won’t fuck up.” He just kept being involved in smart vehicles and the right people, from the beginning of his career: Lucas, Spielberg, Coppola, Scott, Weir, Polanski, Nichols. While Noyce is serviceably Hollywood, he would mark the end of Harford’s (Kubrickian moniker) run – next up would be Sabrina, The Devil’s Own, Air Force One, Six Days Seven Nights, the pukey Random Hearts, etc… Did Harford become genuinely uninteresting or uninterested? Or does this slide actually reflect the depreciation of cinema? Into the 2000s his resume becomes simply embarrassing: What Lies Beneath, K-19, Hollywood Homicide, Firewall, the sandfox fare Indy 4. By 2010’s Morning Glory he is officially an old crank who is only charming in memory. And further into the decade we will look forward to his headlining Ender’s Game (abandon all hope, ye who enter the the work of Gavin Hood).

Right now. This moment. 1:19:40. Horner is again recycling scoring. It’s also possible that he regards this as his signature and just likes to place it on his works.I like this sequence. We’ll call it “The Two Jacks.”Out of printer paper. Nobody said Deputy Director was an easy job.Ryan’s confrontation with the President has the potential to be a devastating scene, and it’s shaping up to be just that: the President says Ryan will take the fall and that the rest of the blame will be placed on Greer (James Earl Jones), the reputable and sagacious old man nobody could ever hate. “You’ll take him down with you, destroy his reputation.” It has the makings of grand disillusionment tragedy. It was so exciting! Until: “The old Potomac two-step, Jack,” says Prez. Then Jack mutters his action-film repartee, “I’m sorry, Mr. President. I don’t dance.” and walks out, quite dignified. I suppose he’s going to challenge the Presidency? I do know that in a later Clancy novel (“Executive Orders”) Ryan actually does become President for a time… now that I’d pay to see on the screen by this same team. But it never happened.

Just finished: Patriot Games
Harford, 1992:
Strong men also cry.
I don’t know how we got here, and I don’t care. Alas, Bean. You’re not so bad.
And finally: I do not miss it when James Horner recycles his scoring. This isn’t the first time.


About this entry