So I had this operation yesterday. Operation’s a fancy word for it–in and out of the clinic in thirty minutes. But I had to lie around the house all day with ice on my scrotum, so I watched a movies.
“Songs from the Second Floor”–not really sure how to describe this, and the critics’ quotes on the box are terribly confused (“Short Cuts meets Night of the Living Dead” is one inept [and lousy] attempt). It’s an absurdist existential comedy of despair, by a Swede. The film is gloriously composed–each shot a fixed-cam tableau, the lighting and sky usually artificial. (In contrast to Sky Captain . . . actually I’ll put this in a comment there.) I laughed, I was intrigued, and my scrotum wasn’t hurting while I watched.
“Odds Against Tomorrow” — 1959 noirish heist film by Robert Wise, starring the amazing Robert Ryan and the pretty damn good Harry Belafonte. The best thing about this is how the two protagonists’ bleak prospects are worked through so precisely, with such attention to socioeconomic conditions; Ryan’s racism is not just a convenient ploy for suspense, it’s part of where he comes from, and what he’s struggling with. It’s a smart, small wonder of a film.
“PTU” — renamed “Into the Perilous Night: PTU” for Americans, as if Hong Kong action films didn’t seem melodramatic enough on their own, or as if this addition actually would clarify the PTU part following. But get past that my friends–director Johnny To has made some strong films, always marked by a far better sense of how to choreograph both shots and editing to wring out comedy and suspense than 95% of Hollywood’s big guns. (I think a cheap Michael Bay shot would go here if I was writing for a newspaper.) Plot: cop loses his gun one night, and he and his colleagues need to get it back by dawn.
All of these films will soothe a swollen scrotum, and they’ll probably please in other ways, too.