I’ve seen so many lately, mostly good, I thought I’d set them down.
Happiness Todd Soldonz. Saw this at the wonderful Grutli Cinema in Geneva and it prompted me to set about collecting some more.
Life During Wartime Todd Soldonz. This is a sort-of-sequel to Happiness. I think it is better to think of it as a stand alone, it being rather offputting to watch characters played by different people; I don’t know if any of them are the same. Also, it was about very different things, if you ask me. Life During Wartime is all about not listening. It was seeing the next movie that made me reappraise this and realise it was much better than I first thought.
Ghost World Awful. What on earth possessed me? A teen comedy? An ultra-cool teen comedy. And it gets worse. An ultra-cool, ultra-funny teen comedy based on a graphic novel. It is difficult to think of anything I would less rather watch than an ultra-cool, ultra-funny teen comedy based on a graphic novel and starring Scarlett Johansson. Take me out and shoot me. I don’t need to watch movies about teenage girls being dickheads. Of course, having been one myself makes the experience somewhat redundant, but if not, surely one could simply hang out on facebook or watch reality TV to get the same picture.
Tracks The Robyn Davidson story come to film. I haven’t read the book, but from what I can gather the one is a faithful reflection of the other. Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver are startingly accurate representations of the real people they portray. Wasikowska was terrific. And if ever they do bring back Academy Awards for animals, those camels could take on the usual dogs. My idea in going to this was to finally get through to Manny that there is nothing out there, the middle of Australia is nothing. Despite this being the point of the movie, he still wants to go camping. Mission failed.
Dark Horse Todd Soldonz Splendid. The toing and froing from reality to fantasy was as well done as I’ve seen in a movie.
The Master We went to see this as part of the Grutli’s Phillip Seymour Hoffman retrospective. Fantastic from start to finish, the acting, cinematography, music, story, the lot. Brilliant performances from both Hoffmann and the star Joaquin Phoenix, both independently, and, given that the movie is more than anything the story of their relationship, also together. These two extravagant characters were completely convincing. By the way, if you are wondering what the scene means between the Master and his wife immediately after the scene where he sings and Freddie imagines the women to be naked, I found this explanation:
In the script, the handjob scene came (no pun intended) after a scene that was slightly different.
The Master flirts with a singer who tells him to his ear that she wants to fuck him. He calls Freddie to make one of his drinks and Peggy sees this. She is the only one that sees this. Minutes later the Master then suggests in a speech that the Mormons had a nice idea of plural marriages. The crowd doesn’t respond to it. But Peggy seems to get what’s happening.
The way it is played out in the film is different, but similar. This is definitely Freddie’s POV. The camera work all but confirms it and Anderson uses the same Freddie-looks-at-the-camera-cut-to-something-happening technique in other scenes to indicate when we’re in his POV (i.e. “Turn my eyes black” scene). There’s no argument to be made, I think, that it isn’t Freddie’s.
But the scene ends with Peggy looking at us, and at Freddie. So, in a way, it becomes Peggy’s too. Not literally. But she seems to understand what he’s thinking. And maybe because she understands what Freddie’s thinking, she is scared that her husband might be thinking it too. After all, her husband is dancing around women and touching them and so on.
Maleficent I didn’t think this was as bad as Manny did, but my expectations were zero. It was awful, but unremarkably so. Thank heavens movies are still being made in which special effects count for nought.