movies!

1) I was sorry to read about the death of Vilmos Zsigmond, the great cinematographer. In addition to many (many) other great films, he shot Robert Altman’s two best-looking movies, McCabe & Mrs. Miller and The Long Goodbye.

 
2) “The George Awakens

It’s nice to be able to take a step back and appreciate what George Lucas actually achieved, rather than just thinking of him as the guy who invented Jar-Jar Binks and, for some stupid reason, thought that Han didn’t fire first.

 
3) “Orson Welles’ late masterpiece Chimes At Midnight is back on the big screen

Masterpiece? Well, yes, and it’s always good to see it get some well-deserved recognition.

 
4) I just watched a pretty good movie called Clouds of Sils Maria. it made me think about something.

In the movie, there’s an actress named Maria (played by Juliette Binoche). When she was 18, Maria appeared in a play where she played a young vixen who seduces her boss. Now, a couple of decades later, she’s being asked to perform in the play again, this time playing the part of the older woman. Her career was made when she was in the play originally, and the movie that followed, and she has mixed feelings about returning to it, especially since the playwright, who she liked and admired, has just died.

But she agrees, and she and her young assistant run lines from the play as they wait to meet the young actress who will play the vixen role. They go see her in a movie (3D, mutants, science fiction, CGI), and Valentine, the assistant, really likes it, and the actress, but Maria can’t control her laughter when the very subjects of mutants and superpowers and so on come up.

Then the young actress arrives trailing paparazzi, scandal, violent freak-outs on YouTube, and rehab.

So, it seems that we’re in a foreign/indie type film, rather smugly making fun of the modern world of Hollywood. Which would be pretty tedious. And since they young assistant is played by Kristen Stewart and the even-younger actress by Chloe Moretz — it could also be “modern actresses get indie cred by appearing in a movie that mocks movies like Twilight.”

And it is kind of like that, though well done (Stewart is the best thing in the picture, and I would not be amazed if she gets an Oscar nomination — probably with the usual trick of putting her in the Supporting Actress category even though it’s clearly a lead role)

But here’s the thing. From hearing the actress and her assistant run lines, it quickly becomes clear that the acclaimed play in question is dreadfully bad. The two characters — the middle-aged busineswoman and her younger lover/employee — sit around describing exactly how they feel and exactly how their relationship is, in clunky and obvious dialogue that makes absolutely certain that the audience will always understand exactly what’s going on.

Oh, and the play is also in the (very cliched) category of “gay stories where the character has to die at the end” — the sort of thing that was pretty popular between the middle 1950s and the middle 1960s and isn’t often seen anymore. Thank goodness.

And the play’s dialogue is even more obviously wooden in comparison to the dialogue of the movie itself, which, especially in the hands of three very good actresses, is quite subtle and entertaining.

But here’s the question. Is the movie aware of this? Is it deliberately undermining the simplistic “indie=good, blockbuster=bad” idea? There’s certainly no wink to the audience about this — the characters are all reverent towards the play and the playwright.

Or is it like some movies about the music industry where you’re told that this or that song is great, a guaranteed hit, and in reality the song sucks — but the movie doesn’t seem to know it?

I have no idea. Well, that’s okay. Another unanswered question about the movie that already has a few.

Worth seeing, I’d say. But every question won’t be answered.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply