To borrow another thread from ye abandoned and decaying forums of olde.
Films are like games minus interactivity. Predictably, certain luddites out there continue to engage with this antiquated art form; more surprising, perhaps is that these unfortunate individuals are continued to suffer to walk freely amongst society. Yet it would be remiss of us if they were not at least offered a chapel in which to confess their sins. This is that.
So here’s me of late:
Moulin Rouge: A masterful production offering up a veritable feast of audiovisual delights. The colours, the music, the editing, Nicole Kidman! And yet, I wasn’t able to get into it. The film is sheer fairytale spectacle, but what of it? I’ve been able to relax and give myself over to such productions before - Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ remains a firm favourite - so what was different this time? The film does lag somewhat in the second reel, but I don’t think that’s it. No, it’s not you, MR, it’s me. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Or, more worrisome, perhaps there was a childlike spark in me that has gone out of late. Either way, it irks me, and thus Moulin Rouge offers up a rare instance of my head being more charitable towards a film than my heart.
Never Let Me Go: There’s a wonderful sense of austerity and solemnity pervading every aspect of this film. It’s set largely in provincial England, and indeed it is difficult to imagine it being set anywhere else. The male member of the trio of characters whose journeys define the film is particularly intriguing in his passivity. It’s an unusual and welcome role for a male character to assume in the context, but one which - in combination with certain other characteristics of the film - creates some problems. Specifically, the unceremonious and almost unmourned death of the most active and complex member of the trio in the second reel creates a vacuum that the film subsequently struggles to fill. And not just because the character in question was played by Keira Knightley. The concept underlying the film of children raised as future organ donors is intriguing and affecting, if totally implausible as presented. It’s unfortunate that the film declined to explore it further, perhaps fearing to distract from the core character story. If done well, however, I think the two could have reinforced one another, strengthening a film whose second half falls rather short of the brilliant first. Still, it’s a worthy film.
The Wrestler: The least of Aronofsky’s films, I fear. There are intriguing ideas wafting about here concerning performance and reality, from the casting of ex-boxer Mickey Rourke to the nature of professional wrestling, to the relationship between Rourke’s character and stripper Cassidy, to the roles assumed in the course of more ‘normal’ employment and parenthood. And none of it ends tidily. The performances and script are superb, the characters and events they detail heartbreakingly human, and now having written all this I’m not sure why I didn’t like it. Is it the wrestling? I think it might be. That sort of casual, visceral violence for entertainment has always left a sour taste in my mouth. Great.
How I Ended This Summer: Seen at the recommendation of an RPS member. Unfortunately I can’t say that I enjoyed it. Great setup, drags a bit, then blech. There’s a lot of ambiguity as to the motivations and actions of the characters at certain points in the film, and I think that’s meant to contrast with the mechanical regularity of their actual functions at the station and thereby make some kind of point. But it just doesn’t work and the film doesn’t even have the good grace to kill either of its two significant characters. It’s a pity; the Arctic research station and its surroundings make for an intriguing and hauntingly photographed setting, but I just didn’t get this one.
Certified Copy: I’m a sucker for this sort of thing, I really am. Usually, though, there’s some sort of reality underlying the multilayered dialogue. I’m not sure that’s the case here. And I’m sure that’s the point. Maybe there is a consistent explanation which accounts for all the dialogue in the film - I’ve read some well-argued theories - but even if there is I don’t think scrabbling to find it is what we’re meant to do upon leaving the theatre. It’s a very human thing to do, though. I need to see this again. And not just for Juliette Binoche’s remarkable performance.