Monday, May 14, 2012

Cult Following

I don't have a lot to say about Chris Nolan's FOLLOWING, so I'll make it brief. I hadn't seen it in a long time, so it was good to watch it again. I can't even remember how I reacted the first time I saw it. It might have been 10 years ago. Yikes.

I understand the "clever" dig at Nolan. I actually don't even know how to respond to it. Part of me thinks it's extremely perceptive and an apt criticism while another part of me thinks it sounds nitpicky. I guess I'd have to think about it more. He definitely does try to do "clever" in a way that will impress his audience and leave them feeling like they've seen some ingenious spectacle (THE PRESTIGE being a very explicit example of this). I'm not sure how egregious this is. I guess it depends on how impressive the spectacle is. When you work with sleight-of-hand, the more disguised the trick, the more impressive it is. MEMENTO to me is a good trick for remaining so mysterious; INCEPTION, on the other hand, (though impressive at times) gives itself up to0 easily.

Anyway, enough about later Nolan, let's talk FOLLOWING. This baby came out in 1998, and watching it again, I definitely get the sense that it was a good first film to make because it's the sort of thing that gets you noticed. I'm assuming a lot of the conspicuous "cleverness" you found in FOLLOWING is mostly in the form of its nonlinear structure. Post-PULP FICTION, wasn't this all the craze for indie filmmakers in the 90s? I'm sure Nolan toyed around with the structure because really it's the best way to add a more attention-grabbing dimension to what is just a straightforward neo-noir story. To us, now, this non-linear structure seems like serious old news, but back then it was probably the only way to get anyone talking. Not necessarily defending its use, just trying to reflect on why it's there.

My primary interest in FOLLOWING isn't its structure, but in it's mix of 80s Brian De Palma neo-noir and actual 40s noir. It's loaded with old noir tropes and classic genre set-ups. I suspect that its non-structural cleverness (in terms of its final "gotcha" twist) is just a product of its noir adherence. Film noir and neo-noir is brimming with double crosses, backstabbings, and the sort of twists and turns that FOLLOWING revels in. To say that Nolan is trying to be uniquely clever with his twists would be to overlook the fact that he is working very closely within a genre here and exploiting its patterns. This is more quintessential noir than it is quintessential Nolan.

Anyway, I like FOLLOWING well enough, though I'm not a huge fan. It's serviceable and efficient, but it doesn't quite carry the knock-out punch it might think it does. It's ultimately more neat than astonishing. It's a nice warm-up card trick before a big show.


Good to have you back Brandon! Glad Cleveland was a success. We missed you Saturday night for Alex's birthday, but I'm sure you were getting wild in your own right.

I love talking about old movies you with. It helps me to think about them in a way I likely never would have. Let's keep it up as long as we can even if it's just us.

I love movies too much to ever stop blogging now. And I'm grateful to have met friends who love them just as much as me. I'll vow to keep it going as long as I possibly can.

I don't mind HOSTEL PART II's filthiness. It had better be immoral and depraved with such a premise. However, I do mind its overall airheadedness. It just felt wickedly idiotic independent of all its trashiness, and I didn't even watch the whole thing. It completely drowns in its formula instead of even remotely transcending it–something that comes across even more conspicuously than in its predecessor. Unlike the HOSTEL films, I'd say that CABIN FEVER dabbles with formula, but it ultimately feels refreshing–like a nice, cool glass of lemonade :). I don't doubt that Roth has talent as a horror director, I just wish he would use it more.

I understand your iffiness on Faulkner. I know more people who hate him than even tolerate him. To me, as someone who is interested in writing, he's a genius. He's the best wordsmith in the English language since Shakespeare, and the greatest sentence writer in the history of the written word. Again, that's just me, so no one get too upset. And, apart from his technique which is astonishing, the dude could traverse the human soul like no other. His poetry rattles me to the core. I haven't met too many Faulkner fans (certainly haven't met someone who loves him like I do), and I'm glad of it. Most of them are probably pricks. I too lament the shallow assembly line tastes for art in college kids. I think that's why I hated college so much. You either have kids who just came off the TOSH.O assembly line or kids that just came of the Michel Foucault one. NOTHING IN BETWEEN!

I don't think I've had a dream like ANDREI RUBLEV either. But I've had some weird ones like MIRROR. I think that is the more apt "dream" movie. haha I think I mostly have actual BOY MEETS WORLD dreams. Just me and Shawn hanging out at Chubbies.

The pre-'36 years are great too. I don't want to give the impression that they are somehow wildly inferior. I just really, really love from 36' onward.

"I think I prefer my realism to be diluted with a little dash of sensationalism." Me too!

"I think I can safely say, without any hyperbole, that GAME OF THRONES is the greatest thing in the history of time" - John Owen's impression of what I said about GOT.

What I actually said was that it is my FAVORITE thing on TV at the moment. Doesn't mean it's the greatest or better than anything else. I just would rather watch it than anything else, except maybe DOUG.

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