Sunday, December 14, 2008

the immobile moving picture review

In the past two weeks of being a lady of healing and leisure, I have consumed great quantities of movies and TV, far exceeding my normal intake. Along with lots of painkillers, antibiotics and ginger ale. As both an aid to those who might be stuck in a similar situation or just in need some movie recommendations... and as a light counterpoint to my last post of misery. Some of these were viewed prior to being in the hospital (though some would have been better avoided altogether, or postponed for pleasant escapist viewing during my rest) but should be included.


Synecdoche, NY: Cinema Overwhelmité. If you see this with so much as a headache, I promise it will be amplified tenfold by the end and you might end up in the hospital yourself, suffering from mysterious boils, pustules, anxiety and a general sense of malaise.

The Fall: Probably the ultimate recuperation film. The story outside the story is of two patients in a hospital, a man telling a little girl a story. The story is very simple but the visuals are whimsical, so if escapist you need, escapist you get.

Eraserhead: I'm not sure there is a good frame of mind in which to watch this. Certainly not when you are on the verge of throwing up and/or passing out while on a clear liquid diet while alluring scents of Thanksgiving dinner are filling the air, wasted on codeine. But it sure did make that story a lot more real to me.

Persona: Though I am opposed to b&w film and movies made pre-1970 rarely appeal, I actually enjoyed this bit of very eloquent and understated visual poetry. It is a slice of a very intense relationship between a struck-mute actress who has had a breakdown and the nurse caring for her and the tale of how their thoughts and beings merge and overlap. My first Ingmar Bergman film.

Tideland: I really wanted to like this movie. It had all the makings of something great, beautiful art direction, Terry Gilliam at the wheel, awesome abandoned houses, interesting if freeform story, and Jeff Bridges playing an evil version of The Dude. But it also had this overwhelming undercurrent of pedophilia and child-directed violence. Sure it was about the resilience of children. But damn. Never have the words "special secret" made me want to vomit. This was very hard to watch.

Northern Exposure: I had such fond memories of this show which I had not seen since its original airing back in the 90s. Alas Netflixing it now, 18 years later, I realize that certain things are better left as memories rather than relived. One of those gems that has not aged so well. In what must have been a sea of really bad television in 1990, it was a bright kooky light on the horizon... now its more than a few of its charms and is kinda creepy in certain respects. I don't think I recalled Shelly being just barely 18 years old getting married to Holling.

The Young Ones: At the opposite end of that wish I hadn't TV shows of yore spectrum is this gem. I remember watching it on Comedy Central in the mid 90s and loving it, but now I realize that I really didn't get it fully. Viewing all these years later, it has retained all of its incomparable irreverence. It is still truly hilarious and bizarre as it ever was. Eternally quotable and still fresh and applicable 26 years later.

Renaissance: The animation was beautifully done and it was always very compelling to watch, even after I lost interest in the kind of thin story line. It was entertaining, better with drugs no doubt.

Cube: This seemed too simple to work and some of the performance were a little shaky, but it was still kind of engrossing, if only to see how they can resolve something so abstractly defined.

The Human Stain: So many layers of implausibility to this I don't know where to start. I don't feel like Anthony Hopkins was ever anything but an old white guy and watching him get it on with a poorly cast Nicole Kidman... eh no thanks. I think the story would be better served in its original form, as a book, where your imagination can build the perfect characters for the roles. Seeing this is not believing.

Vatel: I realized a little too late that I had already seen Vatel, but it was worth a second viewing. It seems at first to be all about the spectacle, but the story of the subtle interactions between the characters behind closed door, underneath the carefully choreographed acts is quite intriguing. Yeah and the sets were quite awesome... and I have a thing for Tim Roth.

Mad Men: Is there is a show more beautifully styled, acted, written and polished.... cripes I feel like I am slinking around drinking scotch and having discreet liaisons with handsome strangers. And hot damn you could butter bread with Joan Holloway. Sheeeeeeee-it.

Sweetie: Darkly funny throughout and the frustration of the characters is quite palpable. Particularly Australian feeling, something which Jane Campion has seemed to have lost touch with over time. Comparable to The Price of Milk which I found slightly more enjoyable in its lighter-sweeter mere melancholy and loopy alienated misery.

Dexter: Three seasons in and this show just does not lose its razor sharp edge. Funny, naughty, cool and smart. You could probably cut off some of my limbs and I would still be thoroughly entertained and distracted.

Happy Accidents: A friend sent this DVD to me to watch while recovering and from the case, one would take it for your run of the mill rom-com. Now I have to say, there is never a bad day for Vincent D'onofrio in my book and the idea of him as a romantic lead was odd, but I had to know. It was a rom-com only for about 15 minutes and then it took a rather unexpected Sci-Fi turn and never looked back. It was surprisingly entertaining. Especially on lots of painkillers.

I actually watched quite a few more DVDs than this alas I am running out of steam to review them all. These were just the glowing highs and lows. I need to flex by brain muscle by doing something other than vegetating in front of the television or my laptop for weeks on end.


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