Thursday, August 03, 2006

Places I don't want to go

So, the summer laze has kicked in and I decided to start a film watching spree. Being mindful of moderation, I only rented four from Blockbuster. WARNING: Spoilers ahead, but I don't think they'll detract very much if you decided to watch them.

#1. Mysterious Skin. I had no idea what I was in for when I popped in this 2005 indie critics' darling. Note: Those rave reviews on film cases are not to be trusted, especially on more recent releases, as they were hand-picked by the producers and more deceptive than ever. In short, MS is one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen, primarily for its sexually graphic scenes and themes. (It's unrated, but apparently the theatrical version is NC-17, I later found out.) The film deals with pedophilia, homosexuality, gay prostitution, and the trauma of sexual abuse. Besides the shock factor, it left me utterly befuddled about Hollywood's stance on those intertwined issues above. (Not that Hollywood anywhere near resembles the public population in terms of their views.) It sounded like 'bad, ok, not so good, and bad.' What?? The value assignments all seem so arbitrary. After searching long and hard for a Christian review and finding no such thing, the closest thing I found was a sneering remark by a non- Christian against Christian fundamentalists who would probably reject the film for its portrayal of 'immoral behavior.' There is no evidence for or against this, except that few Christians have probably seen it to make that sort of judgment. Joseph Gordon Hewitt did a smashing performance as one of the lead characters, though. One thing I'm glad this movie taught me is that even though it was highly acclaimed for its masterful filmmaking, being good art is not the only criterion for watching movies or experiencing any other kind of art. Meaning, I really didn't need to see this film.

#2. The Virgin Suicides. I thought I was doing myself in by watching this one hours after being pummelled by two sordid tales of sexual abuse. The title itself is so suggestive and racy, a perfect moniker for a modern cult- classic. But besides featuring the charming Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett with a hotness- extinguishing haircut, this movie was plain vanilla boring. And shallow. Romanticizing the pointless suicides of five suburbanite teenage girls from the eyes of their prepubescent male counterparts, whose nameless characters were barely developed anyway? Please. There are more serious and substantial topics worthy of million dollar undertakings. Perhaps if I was eight years younger (age of the first Lisbon daughter who committed suicide .. boo hoo) and had an unnaturally long attention span I would have enjoyed this self- indulgent film and tucked it away as an triumphant teenage piece against clueless adults. There was nothing violent here, just haze, soft fantasies, and a handful of odd scenes meant to be meaningful but ultimately weren't. Sofia Coppola, even though I like your style (outside of filmmaking), that's already two strikes out. (No, I wasn't entranced by the plodding Lost in Translation either. Anyone care to explain?) At least the soundtrack was really good.

#3 and #4. Taxi Driver and The Manchurian Candidate. Now we're getting to the real time- tested classics, so hopefully no more of this disappointment or deception.

1 comment:

mcoker said...

I do enjoy a good Taxi Driver from time to time. You might also check out Velvet Goldmine and A Clockwork Orange (if you haven't seen those already) if you're looking for some cult, weird movies.

I saw the Virgin Suicides a couple of years ago, but the movie left such a non-existant impression on me, I honestly don't even remember what it was about. I just remember some girls playing records or something. And something about pictures?