Thursday, May 31, 2012
Thanks for responding, Brandon. I'm glad my post made sense. I think I was in a heat delirium when I wrote it.
I love Bachelard's THE POETICS OF SPACE. It's one of my favorite philosophical works. The idea of space and our relationship to it is is endlessly fascinating to me. It's also extra pertinent when it comes to movies. Filmmaking is, after all, essentially the art of manipulating space. The language and meaning of film is in the gaps between things, and yet the space of film is meaningless in-itself. It's only given meaning when our eyes meet it and imbue it with symbols. So, it's definitely interesting to think about how we view the space of film differently with a sense of foreknowledge than without it. I think I'm with you Brandon on desiring foreknowledge as opposed to being left in the dark. I think knowing more about film or a film can help you read the language of it better. And just think about how much foreknowledge actually goes into one viewing experience. Say when we all go see PROMETHEUS (even if we've read nothing of the plot), we are still thinking heavily about ALIEN, Ridley Scott as a director and his recent output, what we expect from the actors, what we expect from the sci-fi genre, what we expect from a good film script, how we expect space of the frame to be utilized, etc. Especially in the age of the Internet, a cinephile goes into a film with SO much foreknowledge. But this is a good thing. Hopefully it makes us smarter viewers. However, I do also miss the mystery of watching a film that came with the naivety of childhood. The lack of foreknowledge then made things more of a mystery and a bit more magical. But then again, everything in life was more like that as a kid.
Anyway, I agree with how well West manipulates space in THE INNKEEPERS. He certainly delivers the goods in that respect. I also think you're right about how his patience could be his downfall. Building so methodically and slowly only makes us anticipate the payoff that much more intensely. And payoffs are hard to get right, especially when you've drawn so much attention to them (just ask the creators of LOST). The payoff, the revelation, the grand finale, whatever you want to call it, is certainly where West could use the most work. The scene with the ghost in the bed is a great example. No reveal of her face could possibly be as good as the brief moment where it's only a sheet beside our heroine's head. And the finale itself is a bit underwhelming in terms of what we have been bracing ourselves so nervously for. But, I think he gets everything right in that basement scene with Claire and Luke. Perhaps because there's absolutely no reveal. The payoff itself is in the terror of waiting for a payoff. When the ghost is supposedly behind Luke, that's all we need. Him running away before we even see what's behind him holds that terror and mystery in perfect abeyance forever. No shock reveal needed.
I agree that Sara Paxton as Claire is great in that basement scene. And when I wrote that she has a goofy scream, I kinda meant it in a good way. When I first heard it, I thought "what the hell kind of scream is that" but then I realized that it was supposed to be goofy. It adds a great bit of levity to the scene, but it also serves to just make her more nuanced and human. I liked every gauche and dorky thing about her character. Paxton's performance isn't exactly at the level of greatness, but it's very good and very lovable, and that's all one really needs to make a character stand out. I had no idea who this girl was, and she'll probably do nothing else as interesting as this, but she's quite the star here.
I'll probably pass on THE WOMAN IN BLACK. I like a good ghost story, and that doesn't look like one. I remember when it came out, a friend of mine posted the trailer on Facebook and wrote "ewwww Daniel Radcliffe, you're not allowed to be in other movies." Radcliffe's not even remotely good as Harry Potter, but I think we can all agree that he should just stay as him for life.
Very relieved to hear that you love MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW, John, but not at all surprised. It's one of the greats, indeed. You're absolutely right that it's one of the best onscreen romances of all time too. The relationship between the two leads is as tender as anything put on film, and as close to real love as any two actors could ever communicate. It's a beautiful thing. Definitely one of my essentials.
Yes please to an ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD essentials post.
Season 2 of THE WIRE is great. I loved it as well. It heated up real quickly, and I probably watched the last 6 0r 7 episodes in an inordinately small window of time. I was so hooked I could finally 100% relate to Bubbles and that kid from KIDS. If any ambulance drivers have a copy of THE WIRE season 2, you know I'll be snatching it from the back of your rig. Anyway, I watched the first episode of season 3 last night. Every season of THE WIRE starts off a bit slow, if only because we need to re-orient ourselves to a new locale, a new time period, or a new investigation. Season 2 I thought was hard to get into at first because of the enormous changes that had been made from the end of the previous season. But once the detail started to come together again and the old gang was reunited, it felt like old times again. And that ruled. Anyway, I'm sure Season 3 will pick up and get great soon, just like the first 2. They should have just made Amy Ryan a member of Daniel's new unit though, am I right? She was an invaluable addition to the team. I agree that they could use more smiles in that unit.
I guess I need to watch DECISION AT SUNDOWN again. I would rank the Boetticher films I've seen thusly:
1. Seven Men From Now
2. The Tall T
3. Ride Lonesome
4. Comanche Station
5. Decision at Sundown
Though I really liked DECISION, I think I was a little put-off by it not being out in the open. If I watch a Boetticher western, I want to see some damn mountains and some impossibly beautiful landscapes. But, like I said, I should just watch it again. I was being unfair to it, especially after having just watched SEVEN MEN FROM NOW the night before.
Chris just drew my attention to the absurdity of FUNNY GAMES, which is exactly the word I was fumbling around with but never actually said when discussing it earlier. I think that's what drew me to it in the first place and the reason I still like it. It's so over-the-top in its self-awareness to the point of absurdity. I like absurdity.
Also, Chris is at least right that we do get some visceral pleasure out of seeing someone killed onscreen, even if they didn't deserve it. If I watch a HALLOWEEN film and Michael Myers doesn't kill anyone, I'm probably going to be disappointed. But, really our enjoyment of violence all depends on our emotional investment in the characters that receive the violence. If someone wicked who we hate is killed, we enjoy this death more than say the death of someone we love. Who wouldn't love to see Joffrey in GAME OF THRONES die? How wouldn't cry if Arya was killed instead? In a slasher film or in any type really, we usual can enjoy a kill if it is done on some nondescript person. Most of the kills in the original HALLOWEEN are done on these brainless teenagers and they're all pretty fun. Any gory GAME OF THRONES kill on some rando is pretty cool too. It's all about the circumstances of the violence. And the enjoyment/repulsion of violence is not just limited to the horror genre.
p.s. GAME OF THRONE's Battle of Blackwater episode is probably the best movie I've seen all year.
EDIT: Somehow, Jason's new post didn't show up on my side-feed there, but I randomly clicked on his blog and was surprised/terribly pleased to find a new one up.
I haven't seen most of what you reviewed recently, so I don't have a lot to comment on. I am glad that you saw the CAT PEOPLE series though. THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE is probably the weirdest sequel ever made. It's not even really a horror film, and it certainly has next to nothing to do with the first film. So, I'm not shocked that you were disappointed by it, especially with such a lurid title seemingly promising a continuation of the first film's mythos. Still, I absolutely love it. It's one beautiful childhood dream, and perhaps Lewton's defining film as an auteur.
Anyway, keep those Flixster rewiews a-comin'!