Oscars 2011

Mar. 6th, 2011 12:17 pm
arf_she_said: (Default)
What a boring Oscars that was. However, possibly the first Oscars I had a legitimate stake in as I had seen all the BP nominees and Have Opinions on them.

Said opinions being rather pedestrian so here instead is a ranking.

1. Black Swan
2. Toy Story 3 - another film with an astoundingly stellar last half hour
3. Winter's Bone
4. The Social Network - So well put together, and so cold. And such an AWFUL last line.
5/6. The Kids Are All Right - the least epic of all the crop of darlings, with some mighty fine actressin' (and actorin') that makes these very personal crises compelling.
5/6. The Fighter - made me care about boxing. Unlike The King's Speech, can harness performance to a story engine that feels like it actually has stakes.
7. True Grit - even lesser Cohens makes for awesome funtimes but in the wake of Deadwood an ornery mumbled western doesn't feel as unique an achievement as their other work.
8. 127 Hours - Franco is game (unlike at the Oscars - BURN NOTICE!) but Boyle is such an insincere mess.

and then way beyond the black stump....

9. The King's Speech - warm milk in the form of a movie; enjoyable in the moment, pointless and nap-inducing after the fact. Firth is great, but he ought to have won last year's A Single Man. Who else could have projected such organic, minimalist feeling into Tom Ford's gorgeous, glossy, rigid frames? No-one. Who else could have played a stuttering dude who sits in front of mouldy wallpaper? Any British actor. Hooper's directing win is ridiculous in the face of the skill it must have taken to turn what is largely three long conversations and a bunch of typing into a driven, exciting movie (The Social Network).

Okay so I did have opinions.
arf_she_said: (Default)
A recent tipple of Gosford Park and Remains of the Day and some very favourable reviews led me to give Downton Abbey a go. I will now sum up the experience in two and a half minutes:

Elaboration, with pictures:

Just like Nanny used to make. )

But to point this out is to misunderstand the show. These people aren't real because reality doesn't attach to people in Downton Abbey but to itself in an oroborousian freakshow. Its gestures towards complexity are an excuse, a feint. It is pure simulacrum, representation for the sake of representation, a reference only to its own vision of Edwardian England, which equates historical accuracy with a house of things gorgeously arrayed, and assumes both projects ends in themselves. Steven Loyd Wilson notes that the show avoids criticism from a modern perspective and historical apologia, but of course it does: Downton Abbey's Edwardian ara needs no apology: everything was beautiful, hard work was appreciated, physical and emotional wounds were sutured by rich, caring strangers. Ultimately, the whole thing is as comforting, validating, and empty as the South Downs-iest, Garbaldesham Road-iest vision of creamy old England you could ever conjure.

Black Swan

Jan. 25th, 2011 01:32 am
arf_she_said: (Default)
I take back what I said about Black Swan being old-school Hollywood camp. The excess is there, yes, the big female performances, the heavy-handed symbolism, the archetypes -- stage mother, aging actress, temptress, seducer/abuser.

But it's too interior a film to be camp in that sense. These figures are not unruly women, they're categories filtered through a mind under increasing strain. Watching it again I see how completely Nina's psychotic break overwhelms and dictates the movie. Cracks appear early, before the pressure really starts to mount. The paintings move the first time you see them. Her shadow haunts her in the subway (embodied and reflected) before she even hears they'll be doing Swan Lake.

cut for length and spoilers )
arf_she_said: (Default)
well last year was meant to be a year of writing, but I have never been able to get into the habit when it actually means something; I need to learn how to hold myself accountable but how do you hold yourself to account when you find yourself so boring?

The two times I managed to post with any vigour were attempts to understand the frustrating mess of disappointments that is Inception and purge the overwhelming push-pull of Broderskab's narrative conceit and dense sensuality. Beginning with Live Free or Twihard, I also had a series of enjoyable conversations over in the threads of the AV Club Supernatural reviews.

Nevertheless I must, I must write! I must watch and think and read and think and write in proportion or else I will get kicked out of uni, and then the dear knows what I will do.

2010 ended up being about movies. I saw more non-English language movies than I usually do, I checked out some of the classics, and I had a bit of a fitful nostalgic trip down Disney lane (Pocahontas is skeevier than I remembered even though Miss P herself remains the hottest of all the Disney girls, and Sleeping Beauty even more perfect than I remembered). It turns out I can recite and sing the entirety of Robin Hood along with the movie. Hey, if this academia gig don't work out, maybe I can take that on the road!

Of all the movies I saw for the first time this year there were quite a few that stick in the memory.

movies, yo )

Thus ceaseth the opinions. FOR NOW! Hopefully.
arf_she_said: (the situation being fluid and all.....)
So Brotherhood (Brodeskab) you guys, I don't even know where to start with this movie.

I could start with the heartwarming scene where the two attractive white guys bond over the creation of awful, just simply vile racist Neo-Nazi propaganda and proceed to distribute it with the sweet, guitar-accompanied abandon that sees young lovers in other movies frolicking in autumnal drifts.

I could start by comparing it to Brokeback Mountain and Einaym Pkuhot, two other recent, stunningly acted movies about the intense homoeroticism of a repressive, masculinist culture.

Or I could start with David Dencik.

Let me start with David Dencik. )

Man, I am so glad to purge my thoughts on this, I haven't been able to think about anything else for a whole day now.
arf_she_said: (Default)
All Christopher Nolan's movies are about about reality, self-deception and our shadow-selves. Some of them are pretty great: Memento was just about a perfect movie, lean and purposeful with a conceit that doesn't feel like the joke's on you. As the years have passed his stuff has become more bloated, substituted thought and meaning for glossy cleverness. The more I think about The Dark Knight the more I resent how thin that patina of philosophical depth was, how little that movie had to offer on the nature of myth (which wouldn't be a problem except that's what the thing claims to be about).

I read as little about Inception as I could but I couldn't help seeing the effusive praise. I got pretty excited, and here are a whole bunch of words about how that excitement was justified. Just kidding! I need to try to break down the ways this movie failed because this thing could have been, and should have been, so much better.

Spoilers! )


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