Wednesday, January 26, 2005

GOODNIGHT, MOON: A Postponement and Other Thoughts


Well, I'm only into the first category of nominations in my logorrheic entry regarding Tuesday morning's Oscar announcements, and it's fast approaching 1:00 a.m. I in no way imagine there's anyone out there in Blogland breathlessly awaiting my observations re all this seasonal silliness. That said, I am going to have to pack it in tonight, as lingering cold symptoms and simple exhaustion are beginning to take their toll. If at all possible, I hope to have something posted and ready for shredding as early as tomorrow evening, and it promises to be a long one, so be sure to stock up on your double espressos and Diet Rockstars now.

But there are a few things outstanding, so with apologies to Pete Townshend, here are just a couple of unrelated quick ones before I go:

Patty and I managed to rent four movies this weekend and actually saw all of them. The first was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Leaving no room for "I told you so's" and the like, I have to admit that my original three-star, moderately enthusiastic response fell about a full star short of the mark. Seen in real time, and in color (my only previous encounter with it was at work), the movie neatly stripped away almost all of my objections and fulfilled its promises of heady sci-fi-tinged emotionalism rather spectacularly. What seemed like mere plot devices before seemed wholly integrated and organic developments this past weekend; the entire experience was a crash course in how a movie can expand (or, of course, shrink) on a second viewing, depending on a million different variables, some of which we control, some of which we don't.

The second part of our Saturday night triple feature was Young Adam, a grim, deliberately paced (a mite overly so, I thought) , pictorially splendid but ultimately unyielding exercise in British kitchen-sink noir. This movie goes a long way without saying much about its rootless, demon-driven protagonist, played by Ewan MacGregor, who knows more than he lets on about the cause of death of a female corpse he finds floating in a Scottish canal. And it's loaded with unpleasant sex, usually conducted in locations that made me think less about eroticism than goosepimples-- these folks are forever rutting outside, in the rain and fog, under train cars or in dimly lit and dank boat compartments, steam rising from their bodies more due to extreme thermal contrasts than carnality. The only sex scene that takes place in the comfort of the indoors is also the movie's most grotesque, a rape scene so humiliating that I was jarred out of all subjectivity and lost my desire to track what made its perpetrator, MacGregor's character, so reticently tick. I left the experience knowing two things for sure: 1) Ewan MacGregor is a very good actor and a magnetic screen presence 2) He's also got a very big penis. What I couldn't fathom was to what exactly was the film's title referring, or why I should care.

Thank God we topped off with Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, in no way a great film, but still a terrific antidote to the rudderless nihilism of Young Adam, and a damn sight more intelligent a consideration of race in America in 2005 than I would have guessed when it came out last summer. It's a very funny gross-out comedy in a long tradition of gross-out comedies that deliver a lot less in terms of laughs and smarts.

The next night I finally got Patty to see Hidalgo, which she, to my delight, found as captivating and exciting as I did. My appreciation starts from director Joe Johnston on down, but while she loved the movie as a whole, I suspect her appreciation might find its roots closer to what my best friend Bruce has termed "Viggo Amour," a condition to which his wife has also succumbed. Not a bad weekend for Patty, all told, what with MacGregor and Mortensen both lighting up our big screen this past weekend. And imagine my surprise when I came home Sunday night and found her watching her special edition DVD of Trainspotting...

I have hopes for a movie currently featured at the Sundance Film Festival called Game Six, an original screenplay by author Don DeLillo centering around a kidnapping that takes place during the infamous Red Sox game which extended the Curse of the Bambino and made Bill Buckner an all-time Boston goat. This past Saturday's Los Angeles Times featured a very good article about DeLillo, his surprisingly avid appreciation for film, and the development of this project, the first screenplay he's written. Check it out at http://www.calendarlive.com/custom/envelope/cl-et-delillo22jan22,2,6546903.story?coll=cl-movies-features

Speaking of good writing, Manohla Dargis has come up with another terrific piece, this time on plastic surgery's grim implications for actors and films, in the New York Times. Read it at http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/23/movies/23darg.html?oref=login

Finally, it's so strange to think of him as gone, but nonetheless I'd like to wish a pleasant journey to Mr. Carson...

Goodnight, stars... Goodnight, air... Goodnight, noises everywhere...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I anxiously wait your Oscar nomination rant! And I enjoyed your roundup of weekend DVD reviews. When you talked about YOUNG ADAM, I remembered that Pattie (yes, this is Bruce, and I have a Pattie at home, too) and I watched that film some time ago, and had since forgotten all about it--a tribute to its quality. As for Ewan McGregor, he's one of my favorite actors (and Pattie's, too...sigh, he and Viggo), but may I jealously point out that 1)as I remember, he was photographed from an angle just below his crotch, so of course he appears jumbo (which doesn't hold up as an argument, of course, as he wasn't in the other 1200 movies he's shown his stuff in), and 2)he probably doesn't expand that much when he gets aroused. So there. Haha. Anyway, great article by Manohla D.; here's a link to a related essay by the SF Chronicle's own annoying but occasionally funny and right-on hipster, Neva Chonin:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/01/23/PKGAB986U71.DTL

Hope you're feeling better!

Thom McGregor said...

I enjoyed the four-movie (or five if you include "Trainspotting") marathon. I haven't felt like watching movies at all in a long time. Though I didn't make it all the way through "Harold and Kumar," due partially to the late hour but mostly to the high level of grossness involved, I appreciate any movie starring Asians where they just happen to be Asian, where the movie doesn't use their Asianness to represent either suffering, inscrutability, sneakiness or good math skills. And yes, I have happily succumbed to both Ewan and Viggo Amour. It's a lovely feeling. And, Bruce, I don't believe there's any "expansion" necessary. However, I appreciate Ewan more for his sweet, handsome face and lovely body and charm and talent and-- Oh, but he's nothing compared to Dennis. Goodnight, Moon!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Holy smokies, I thought I was gonna have to fly into a jealous rage and destroy all evidence of Ewan MacGregor in my house (it would be a long and arduous task, believe you me)... until that last line, anyway. Whew!
Sincerely, you folks are making this blog a lot of fun for me. Thanks, and keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

Hey Thom, I'm glad you got that weekend movie marathon. We've had a few of those lately, and it's a nice way to spend a cold, rainy winter weekend, especially if most of the movies turn out to be decent. As for Mr. McGregor, he is certainly the bearer of multiple gifts aside from the one discussed here; for one, he's a terrific singer. Usually chooses interesting projects, too.