M. Giant's
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Monday, October 05, 2009  

Movies 3Q09

It's been a slow moviegoing quarter. I blame this on something that pretty much everything can be blamed on: Big Brother.

Public Enemies

I was frustrated by this movie. Maybe it was the theater I saw it in, but the picture was frequently muddy and the sound worse, to the point where I couldn't understand a lot of the dialogue. Made it hard to follow what was going on.

It wasn't until later that I realized that things like dialogue and plot are pretty much secondary to this movie. It's basically, "Look how good Johnny Depp looks in thirties clothes, y'all." I just wish I could have realized that going in. Or even an hour and a half into it. I could have saved myself an hour.

District 9

I enjoyed this a lot, and found it interesting enough to let its flaws pass. What flaws? Well, there's a lot of telling instead of showing; that whole thing where two characters are each speaking their own language yet understanding each other perfectly (which I haven't bought since I first saw it on The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams when I was FIVE; the faux-documentary style even in segments where there couldn't possibly be a camera. Even so, I thought it was terrific. I'm ambivalent about rumours of a District 10, but if they ever make a District 1 through 8, I'm staying home.

Inglourious Basterds

Probably my favorite film of the year so far. Yes, it does have the typical Tarantino flaws, like talky stretches where the storytelling makes you feel like you're listening to some half-drunk guy holding forth in a restaurant booth, wishing he'd wrap up his current digression and get back to his main story. But what I love about it is that it follows one of my favorite dramatic forms: the Jacobean revenge tragedy. I have a special affinity for that form, having once written one.

Jacobean tragedy, for those of you who have lives, refers to the period of English drama during the reign of King James. It's distinguished from Elizabethan drama by being so goddamn dark it nearly comes around to being funny again. Bloody revenge is a common theme, obviously, but it's sometimes hard to tell whether it's reveling in it or warning against its dangers. Sure, it's viscerally satisfying to see evildoers go down hard, but the "good guys" tend to not survive, either. Sound familiar?

Mark Blankenship at The Critical Condition posted about this (and I participated in the comments thread), talking about how it could be read as a cautionary tale about revenge. In the Shoshannah plot, as Mark correctly points out, her plan for revenge results in her death. I'd go even further and add that even had she physically survived her revenge plot, carrying it out would have left her with almost nothing left of herself. She would have destroyed the theater, which is her home, as well as everything else she owns, including her aunt's film collection (and don't get me started on QT's idea of literally winning World War II with movies), not to mention she's already living under an assumed name and eating non-kosher desserts to pass as a gentile. Revenge may be sweet, but it ain't cheap.

You want more? Fine. It has five acts. I rest my case.

Yeah, sorry if that got a little heavy there. This wouldn't have happened if I'd found time to take M. Edium to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs last week.

posted by M. Giant 9:27 AM 0 comments


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