I’m going to think a bit more about what I was trying to say about ’2001′ and negative critical faculties and so the post promised for today will appear on Monday. Instead – the weekly roundup: What I watched this week, so you don’t have to (but maybe you’ll want to):
Somewhere in Time: a film in which a man falls in love with a woman in a picture taken 68 years ago, and then finds out she was looking at him when it was shot. He’s played by Christopher Reeve, she’s Jane Seymour. Before you shout ‘the horror!’, think about the fact that Ray Bradbury wrote it. And then think about the fact that the film was directed by the guy who made ‘Jaws 2’. It’s an original guilty pleasure; and the fact that Christopher Plummer, whom Jett has recently anointed as my favourite actor, plays the bad guy means that it adds up to something that runs the gamut from over-egged to fantastically compelling.
Randy and the Mob: an often deliriously funny, truly original piece of what might be called ‘regional cinema’ – through their Ginny Mule Pictures, Ray McKinnon, Lisa Blount and Walton Goggins are reinventing the cinematic landscape of the American Southeast. Jett’s interview with Ray McKinnon, and our review will be on the site soon.
Woodstock: As Jett reminded me, this is the film that Charlton Heston’s character, the last man on earth, watches repeatedly in ‘The Omega Man’ – either because it’s the only film left, the greatest film ever made, or he figures there’s some explicatory relationship between people having fun in a field and the imminent destruction of the planet. The split screens permeated my childhood – my Dad’s Hendrix vinyl granting me early experiences of tactility and turquoise; the film really does give the impression that this event was as unique as they say.
Spellbound: maybe Hitchcock’s funniest film (and I hope it was intentional); the cod-pscyhological evaluation of murder is so paper thin as to be laughable. But Ingrid Bergman! And Gregory Peck! And Miklos Rozsa! And lots of shadows! And a Salvador Dali dream sequence!
On Golden Pond: Why did I watch ‘On Golden Pond’? Because I had to. For professional reasons. I had avoided it for lots of reasons; chief among which is probably the fact that it’s called ‘On Golden Pond’. And it really is golden. And Henry Fonda really is great in it. I can imagine this being a film that becomes more important to its fans with age; it’s about loneliness, and how to be yourself; and what it means to be a family. And so it can’t entirely avoid overdoing the sentiment; but I really believed in the characters, and wouldn’t mind if I got to be that old, and that well surrounded by people.
Crossroads: The best mid-80s Ralph Macchio film without high leg kicks and martial arts headbands. Just your typical boy-meets-bluesman-who-sold-his-soul-to-Satan-and-wants-it-back-so-they-hitchhike-and-steal-a-car-to-get-to-Mississippi-and-meet-Jami-Gertz-along-the-way-and-eventually-fight-the-devil-by-proxy-in-the-form-of-a-guitar-duel-with-Steve-Vai-who-even-though-he-was-the-same-age-as-Ralph-made-Ralph-look-even-younger-than-the-babyfaced-Daniel-san-already-looked-but-it-all-works-out-alright-in-the-end story. And it’s everything you could possibly want from such a film.
There’s Something About Mary: I was delighted to discover it’s as funny as I remember it; more than that, this is a bloody serious movie – about male angst, the experience of being caught somewhere between jock and nerd (I guess another word for that is ‘average’, like me), and the desire to have something meaningful in your life. The Farrelly Brothers make comedy out of real life; and instead of making the real life look ridiculous, the emotional truth of what happens to Ben Stiller’s character – humiliated pre-prom, lost for ten years after – ends up looking like the mythic journey of an ancient hero. I’m not kidding; and I don’t think they are either.
I’m not sure about what Abel Ferrara’s doing, though; ‘The Addiction’ and ‘The Funeral’ are two of the most engaging films about liberal grad student vampires and guilt-ridden religious gangsters I’ve ever seen; but his ‘New Rose Hotel’, to whose delights I gave myself over last Saturday night appears to be footage gleaned from hidden cameras trained on Christopher Walken’s gestalt therapy. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound like it would make a bad movie.