About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Movies in brief

In my review of Police, Adjective, I mentioned I might have liked it more than maybe otherwise because I'd taken a good nap during another movie right before. That movie was a preview screening of something called Fish Tank (seen Wed. Jan 6 2010 at the IFC Center Aud. #1). I went because I like to go to the screenings I get via Museum of Moving Image, because sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised, sometimes unpleasantly, this was unpleasant.

I knew very quickly this wasn't my cup of tea. As with Sherlock Holmes, we're thrust right in to the main character's life without any context or development. And in this case, the character is doing stupid things. She tries to free a local horse. She's driven off. She goes back, and gets into a fight almost heading toward a rape with the people who live there. Which doesn't stop her from going back to get her stuff that was taken during the fight. Why does she want to free the horse? There's no real answer to that. And suffice to say there's no real answer to why she goes back, and goes back again. I got to see people do stupid things when I was in high school and they were drunk. I've never liked much watching movies about drunk people, or movies about people who do stupid things, especially without any visible reason. Some movies I fall asleep in, this one I just kind of said I didn't need to stick around and shoud save my energy for Police, Adjective, playing at the same theater, two hours later.

The movie's set in Essex, UK. I've seen better movies about people living in British housing projects.

I did embarrass myself when I had to leave early to make the other movie, in the midde of the Q&A with actor Michael Fassbender, who was brilliant in the movie Hunger that I saw earlier in the year.

It's Complicated is very "enh." It's not bad. Meryl Streep is really, really good in it. There's an amazing reaction shot when one of her lovers tells her something she'd rather not hear where she lets it all hang out on her face in a way that doesn't seem at all like acting. But it's not so great, either. The rooting interest in whether Meryl chooses Alec Baldwin or Steve Martin is kind of like trying to get really passionate about whether Alec Baldwin or Steve Martin ends up with more hosting gigs on Saturday Night Live, where I believe they're neck and neck. It's a little bit long. Meryl Streep could have had one child less in the movie, nobody would have noticed.

And on the Romanian (like Police, Adjective) movie front, there were no new movies I really needed to see this weekend so I decided to borrow The Death of Mr. Lazarescu from my local library. This was the first movie from the current Romanian new wave to get prominent critical attention and NY release, followed by 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (aka the abortion movie), and Police, Adjective this year. I wanted to see Lazarescu when it opened, but it never left the most distant Manhattan theatres and I never got around to it. It's a fictional version of a Frederic Wiseman documentary. Old man isn't feeling good, calls ambulance, there's a bus crash that night so the hospitals are busy so he can't just go to one place for the diagnosis, the tests, the operation that he needs, so we follow along very verite like. It too is a tad long, almost 2 1/2 hours, and as we got to be well past a half hour and the ambulance not arrived yet I thought I should bail out, and then five minutes later I realized I was starting to get kind of hooked on the story. So this is at least a legitimate movie for critics to fawn over, with the caveat that it isn't the kind of movie most people really want to see. Its virtues and flaws are pretty much replicated in 4 Months (verite look as a woman and a friend try and get a back alley abortion). The fondness for Police, Adjective is almost like the critics have gotten so in the habit of finding a Romanian movie every year to fawn over that they couldn't notice when the movies were starting to become parodies of themselves.

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