Arnab told me to post this. Probably so he can comment meanly about it, or more to the point me. Boo hoo.

Is this the blog yet? I was going to right you all [right after complaints about “Sideways” started zipping around via email], to share some of my opinions, but my child–whom I call Eugene, although his name is allegedly Max, but whom I call (as I mentioned) Eugene as a part of an experiment, to test a theory of mine [My theory is: Kids are stupid. So far, this has been borne out, by the constant jabbering of gibberish and the tendency to fall down.]–my child was running around with an axe, and I had to protect him. This anecdote may also count, for those in need like Bruns, as teaching tips: no axe-running. Call ’em all Eugene.

Three–no, let’s say four–of my favorite films of last year were about men grappling with the consequences of their irresponsibility… or maybe it’d be better to say that their irresponsibility was not the object of scorn nor the subject for didactic rehabilitation, but in true generous comic spirit, each film is about the more complex pleasures of taking responsibility. (Even as we get–hurray!–the simpler vicarious joy of watching them behave really, really badly.)
Continue reading Irresponsibility

Aviator to Director to Criticism more generally

I saw this last night, and I enjoyed it. Enjoy: relished the sweep and spectacle, rocked gently in the film’s tight staccato rhythm, and dug the performances, the production values, the anachronistic tinted coloring of the shots….

… and was reminded how damn good DiCaprio can be. But maybe he has to play someone disabled to really sell a part.

Yet I still feel disappointed, sort of. Why wasn’t it great? More complex? C’mon it’s Scorsese, and he’s a genius, so…
…and then I pull back and look at how often conversations/writing about films falls into scolding directors for not being what they ought to be. To wit: Wes Anderson & Alexander Payne currently getting slammed, for being “hip” and detached and even (for Payne) cruel. Scorsese — hell, the normally-razor-sharp A. O. Scott has a witless idea that Scorsese so wants to be loved by the Academy that he made a sloppy-dog of a movie, a bit of cheap-seat psychoanalysis as melodramatically obvious as the bad-mother-washing-nude-son that is the germ [ahem] of Hughes’ madness in the film. Jane Campion getting savaged for “In the Cut,” which is at least interesting if not good. Spike Lee always taking shit, for every film, for not being as good as he “ought” to be. Same goes for the current objects of scorn, all intriguing films from idiosyncratic filmmakers. (And a couple other folks always get a pass, despite weaker films, because they’re well-liked–Michael Mann, Eastwood.)

What gives? Why is so much contemporary film criticism so dully focused on assigning blame? I’m trying to think of reviewers who struggle to convey something about the experience of seeing a film… and Elvis Mitchell is the only one who really comes to mind.

harold and kumar; better luck tomorrow

Okay, I also enjoyed Harold and Kumar immensely. Definitely better than dude where’s my car–actually didn’t like this much. Back to H&K, despite the enjoyment I was a bit troubled by the way it dealt with racism. Its basic position was that what goes around comes around; the racists will get what they deserve in the end, so Harold and Kumar need not get directly involved. A bit troubling? (I still feel bad for the convenient store clerk who was deserted by the two.)

A very different kind of movie but similar in its Asian American connection, Better Luck Tomorrow, also seemed to skirt around the problem of racism. The movie’s interest in class issues was interesting, but that seemed to have resulted in failing to treat with satisfaction what seems to be the more foundational problem of racism.

harold and kumar make me happy

many things could be said about harold and kumar go to white castle. in an ideal world it would be enough to merely note that it contains the following:

*the all-time greatest pee in the woods scene
*the all-time greatest truck ride with a man named freakshow
*the all-time greatest fantasy with a bag of pot
*the all-time greatest ride through a forest on the back of a stoned cheetah scene
*the all-time greatest sing-along to wilson phillips scene
*the all-time greatest english women taking noisy shits scene
*and for those watching on dvd, the all-time greatest dvd menu sequence

but this is not an ideal world and more may need to be said. here it is:
Continue reading harold and kumar make me happy