Monday, June 27, 2011

Films People Walked Out On Summer 2011

If you're not inclined to see Tree of Life, Anthony Lane's review will bring you up to speed.

David Denby on Meek's Cutoff, "a pleasureless, anti-sensuous aesthetic." !!?? Whose experience does he mean? That of the characters? Or the audience? Or the filmmaker? In each and any case, I don't agree.

Richard Brody is better, but his second take on the film is odd too.

In his review of Kelly Reichardt’s Western “Meek’s Cutoff” in the magazine this week, David Denby refers to the movie’s “new kind of feminist and materialist realism.” I don’t think it’s new, but it is materialist, and it’s a kind of realism that plays into an ongoing cinematic fallacy: the notion that poor people facing physical travails lack inner lives, as if having a life full of stories, dreams beyond survival, religious beliefs, and a thick tangle of social and emotional connections were a sort of luxury—and as if spending too much screen time finding and depicting them would be a form of disrespect or indifference to the characters’ immediate practical and economic difficulties.

Me? I love blankness and don't need a full-fledged 20th c psychological subject from every film I see. Especially if the film is about ye olde pioneer women in the 19th century . . .

He ends up, "The politics and the sympathies of Meek’s Cutoff are liberal; its aesthetics are not just conservative, but reactionary."

Which is funny, right? Because Tree of Life is so ideologically reactionary, but it tries to be aesthetically experimental.

I also read about Osama and Acai.

And you did see this, the funniest thing in The New Yorker ever? "New App on the Kindle 2GO" Directions to T.S. Eliot's house, "Arrive around 7:30. Our phone is 917-555-0133. Much appreciate if you could bring a dessert—keep in mind that I’m lactose-intolerant."


Friday, June 10, 2011

The Trial of St. Joan

Did you really think I was going to let that slide? Denby and "The Case for Joan Crawford."

Denby seems – rightly – rather scared of Joan Crawford. Not because she is all the intimidating and vaguely unflattering things he says she is, but because she is an amazing artist and he is . . . a man with opinions. I feel a conflict of interest here. He should recuse himself from passing judgment on Crawford.

This turn of phrase occurred to me as I was bitching about the article in the car – the magazine was not at hand. Imagine my surprise, then, when I started this post and read the following, from Denby, “Any call for justice to Joan Crawford, however, runs into a dead end . . .” Oh, we’re at dead end alright. I’m not sure evaluating Crawford as a date “the date who raises your blood pressure, not you’re your libido” is going to work out that well.

But he’s right, Crawford did “place herself at the vanguard of current erotic taste”- this is definitely my take on her adorable boyishness in Our Dancing Daughters “in which [according to Denby] she is pleasure-loving and wild yet candid and friendly, a straight shooter who gets the guy.” Well-put. And she develops and changes this basic persona to suit changing erotic tastes, and maintains it.

Also cute: how he describes her early commitment to her own celebrity as “dress-up-to-go-grocery-shopping.”

And I liked, “If you look at pictures of her at any age, the whites of her eyes show not just above the irises but below them, too. Her eyes are so wide open that she seems to be devouring the future.” The first is objectively true, the second is lovely.

Again with the eyes, on her amazing performance as Daisy Kenyon, “with an open-eyed stare and a hardened voice.” I like this wide-eyed image that isn’t innocence. And his take on the brilliant match between her tough elegance and Warner Brothers is easy to agree with.

I wasn’t that taken with his attitude towards the contrast between Crawford “bittersweet” and “melancholy” as the pushover stenographer in Grand Hotel, and Crawford “determined to show the audience how big a bitch a woman faced with few choices can become” in The Women. He’s right about the contrast between the two performances, but that right there is the brilliance of her artistry. Not all femininity is charming in its desperation. And not all desperation is charming. And that’s the difference between performing femininity for women and performing it for men. Yes indeed, “She was always a bigger hit with women than with men.”

I also dislike the idea that there’s “nothing flexible or playful” in her performances and that just doesn’t make sense to me. Denby seems fully aware that Johnny Guitar exists. And what about when she lifts the lid on that canary in What Every Happened to Baby Jane?
That film is every kind of brilliant.

And finally, do we, does Crawford, does anyone, need to be “rescued from camp?” If he's her self-appointed advocate, that's not working either. Thanks, but no thanks.


Friday, June 03, 2011

where intelligent classy well-educated women who say "fuck" alot meet...

"Christ, What an asshole!"

Apparently, one of the earliest uses of the word "asshole" in TNY involves no less a powerful and artsy triumvirate than Janet Malcolm, Ingrid Sischy and Rosalind Krauss.

And a bathtub in the kitchen and a bowl of chopped tomatoes. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

geez louise

I read full articles on Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Taylor in VF this past weekend. I was at the beach, right? I've always loved Taylor's looks, at every age, in every way. But she's not that interesting, apparently. Except for the part about her using her celebrity to support early HIV/AIDS research.

In addition to The Fug Girls, I also read Tom & Lorenzo now and then and it annoyed me that they didn't realize that Katy Perry on VF cover (and, I think in one of the inside photos), was supposed to look like Liz Taylor. Not even like Liz Taylor, like photos of Liz Taylor in that very issue of VF.

And Hills. I constantly disagree with her political positions, but I admire her a bit.

But really, this post is about profanity at The New Yorker - stop briefly at old favorite languagehat and continue on to The Awl.