Can I have some fries with that Catch-up?!

Sometimes there are lulls between my posts, not because I’m not watching any films, but because I am lazy. I am watching films constantly. And, really, I have no excuse for not writing about the films by the next day but alas I sometimes find myself with a cartload and not enough energy to write a full post on any of it.  So I’m going to briefly tie up the loose ends that have been plaguing me, starting with the most recent:

The Big Lebowski (1998): This film came highly recommended. And as the film’s opening titles were beginning, D was already quoting famous lines from it.  But as I’m sitting here wondering what to say about it, I’m stuck on the “Yeah it’s funny, but what else?” schtick. It’s not a GREAT movie: yeah, the characters are over-the-top; yeah, all kinds of unexpected things happen; yeah, there’s bowling and potsmoking and funny one-liners and naked chicks flying through the rafters. But, what else?  I think what sticks out to me the most (besides the naked chick) is how poorly Sobchack (Goodman) treats Donny (Buscemi) and how poor Donny dies in the end and his ashes are blown into the Dude’s face because Sobchack isn’t paying attention.  This seems to be his M.O.: he’s so focused on giving Donny a weird Nam-esque funeral that he doesn’t pay attention to the fact that Donny wasn’t in Nam, and that he’s basically perverting his ashes by strewing them on The Dude rather than in the Pacific. Something else that sticks out is how Sobchack is constantly bringing up Vietnam. He’s stuck in the past.  He’s ‘agro.’ He’s the reason The Dude gets into trouble. He brings The Dude down.  I suppose the story is what it is: two guys up to some antics because one is toxic and the other’s too laid back to do much about it.  They’re both modern Everymen in their own weird ways. One’s passive, one’s aggressive. One lets things happen to him, the other makes things happen. Which is worse? Who knows…..

 

Lars and the Real Girl (2007):  This is a really sad movie.  I couldn’t believe it, actually. I thought it would be funny but it evoked a kind of pitiful melancholy that I can only suppose its sole purpose was to make people cry.  I can certainly appreciate the sentiment: 27-year old adult male dealing with abandonment issues and finding comfort in his imagination. It was obviously touching that the entire town helped him through his trauma. But that’s not realistic. Only in the movies does that sort of thing happen. I was surprised that the director didn’t take the cliched approach to resolving Lars’ Fake Girl problem: he very well could have had the sister-in-law begin to give birth, and have some complications, to help snap Lars out of his fantasy world. Because it was ultimately Lars’ fear that his sister-in-law would die in child birth (because Lars’ own mother died that way, giving birth to him) that caused him to create Bianca.  But, instead, he let Lars act it out naturally in his own time. I suppose this is a testament to coming to terms with your own life problems, in your own time, rather than having people force a cure.   It was a decent movie. But, like I said, very sad. Too sad.

 

The Duchess (2008):  One can never tire of watching films about women suffering under the hands of oppressive husbands.  Well, actually, that’s not true. This film, though its main plot was clearly the tyranny of the patriarchal hegemony, was mostly about Freedom. I mean, that was the whole platform of The Duchess’s lover: freedom for all!  Yes, yes, yes. We need freedom.  Especially in 2008.  But who is subjecting us to such tyrannical rule today? I have my suspicions: media, government, our addiction to consumption. Can we escape those? No. Well, maybe a little, but not completely. The Duchess could not escape at all, or she would have suffered very dire consequences. She lived her entire life in that situation: with her husband’s lover under the same roof. Aren’t we supposed to see that and be outraged?  Aren’t we supposed to say: not ME!!!  I would NEVER!  But I have to look a little further than the confines of my little house to identify what I need to escape from for my freedom. I think this film was a good attempt, but I fail to see how it truly instilled an invocation to actually free yourself from tyranny. It seemed to give off the impression that you should sit still and look pretty. I suppose the film could just be about the poor Duchess’s life…but what would be the point of that?!

 

Cache (2005): This is a French film directed by Michael Haneke. Ironically, lately I seem to be reading/watching texts that deal with the history of French-African relations. I read Camus’ The Stranger, which is about a Frenchman killing an Arab in Algeria, and I watched another film on the subject of the French suppression of African troops, Camp De ThiaroyeCache is apparently about the bad history between the French and Algerians (North African Arabs).  It is a slow-moving film, which I don’t mind at all because many Italian films run slow so I’m used to that.  The plot is such: a French man, Georges, and his wife, Anne, are receiving videotapes of themselves from an unknown source. The tapes are just sort of watching them: the watcher wants them to know that he/she is watching them. But the tapes then begin to lead them to specific places, and eventually to an apartment where Georges encounters an Algerian man who Georges finally realizes is a boy he grew up with that his parents were going to adopt, but because Georges lied about the boy, he ended up getting shipped off to an orphanage to grow up, presumably, in miserable circumstances. By the end of the film, there is no resolution as to who was sending the tapes: the man or his son. But one of the MOST SHOCKING moments in cinema that I have ever seen occurs in this film.  I say this because I feel I am relatively desensitized to what we tend to see in fictional film.  Now, this is not to say that real images of shocking things wouldn’t make my jaw drop too (I’m thinking of such real footage as Faces of Death). I’m just saying that I don’t get shocked that often, and my jaw literally dropped and my eyes bugged out in one scene in particular in Cache.  I won’t give it away.  BUT, clearly the point was to exhibit the shocking after-effects of the French on the North African Algerians. Georges’ selfish history with his once, almost-brother is an allegory of the French and their history in Algeria. One gets a major sentiment of abandonment, and a desire to SHOW the ill effects of such, through this film. It was a very good film. I should research the French in Algeria and African in general to understand better what this filmmaker is trying to explore. But the raw meaning is clear, even without the history lesson.

 

I have watched other films and TV shows but, like always, I don’t write about everything. I mean, you don’t want to hear about Ping Pong Playa (2007) or The Gods Must Be Crazy 2 (1988)….

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