Thursday, December 21, 2006

Q: Is it two-timing if there's more than one of you?

A: Ask David. I'm leaving off for the Christmas break with this extraordinary film rattling around inside my head. It's certainly hard work, but exhilarating with it. It's also exactly why I love David Lynch, and, pending a second viewing at the very least, my film of the year. A

Back in a week with end of year round-ups, once I've seen The Death of Mr Lazarescu (high hopes) and The Wind That Shakes the Barley (dreading it, but I'm a completist like that). Also a look ahead at the films I'm determined to catch up with in 2007, like most of Pasolini, and a lot more Buñuel. I'll welcome anyone's tips. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Truth in advertising

I'm fond of movie taglines that accidentally hit the nail on the head. Here are three:

"Whoever wins, we lose"Alien vs. Predator (2004)

"Nine men are about to change history"U-571 (2000)

"One taste is all it takes"Chocolat (2000)

Any more, anyone?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Reeling around The Fountain

I'm still turning The Fountain over. I like it. I like Hugh Jackman in it. I like the movie's swooning ambition, the tactile ways it teleports itself through the centuries. I admire the feverish quality of its overlapping certainties, and the ways Aronofsky wants to both conjure and unlock some essential mysteries here.

But I don't love it yet, or exactly feel it. I think the film organises itself around ideas too high-handedly to flesh them out in human terms, beyond the Cronenberg-worthy sexual imagery. (You're missing out until you've seen Jackman gulp down spunk — sorry, sap — from the Tree of Life.) I can intellectualise this odyssey and make it sound organic but I'm having to do too much of the work myself. The phrase "transcendental kitsch" occurred and kept clogging my thoughts, and my response to Aronofsky's overprocessed visuals, in the late going. I want the movie to be simpler, really: I want fewer pyrotechnics, more of a spare ascent. A honing to a point. Some kind of white-out.

But I'm dying to see it again, and there's one thing in it I genuinely adore. Clint Mansell and Mogwai's music is a thing of wonder: I've had little else playing in the flat for the last two days. I wonder what The Fountain would be without it, actually — a far lesser achievement. (Aronofsky seems to think with his scores.) Mansell's searching cellos, in love with their own melancholy, washed ashore by a tragic tide of expectant violins, will fuel my own obsessions, dreams, and longings for weeks yet. It's not just the soundtrack of the year, but one of the most beautiful I know.
The film: B
The score: A+

Thursday, December 07, 2006

When Leading Ladies Need Throttling

I hate how negative I can sometimes be. I really really hate it, you know. But how else is a critic meant to carry on when his week's viewing has included this vicious and wrong but infuriatingly well-executed genocidal rumble in the jungle, this sad, stunted and waddling half-stab at a genuinely ambitious children's 'toon, this slice of pure Yuletide cheese, so pornily predictable as to defeat criticism altogether, and this other slice of pure Yuletide cheese fermented at source 2006 years, 11 months and about 18 days ago?

Enough for one week, you'd hope. But there I was, all but ready to pronounce Cameron Diaz's excruciating performance in The Holiday the worst by a leading actress in 2006, and I had to go and blunder like a complete idiot into this shit: courtesy of a wretchedly uninteresting "literary romance" and its puckered-up little Renée doll, so winsome you could drown her in the village pond, we suddenly have a tie on our hands. I will make the admittedly extreme claim that I'd happily not see either of these actresses in another film again for about a decade, or five years if they behave themselves. Consider this a public health warning, and be very, very afraid.