It’s a bit late this week because of school-related exhaustion, and the first two are repeats that I’m kind of written out about.
- El Sacerdote (Eloy de la Iglesia, 1978): I’m so in love with this movie, I could talk about it all day. I love how his relationship to Catholic doctrine is borne out on his body, what with the self-flagellation and the increasingly extreme measures of mortification of the flesh.
- Dark Habits (Perdo Almodóvar, 1983): This one’s still also amazing. I love the nun-cabaret bit at the end the most.
- Padre Padrone (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1977): I actually rented this one by accident. I wouldn’t say that I really enjoyed watching it — it’s kind of the platonic ideal of “Italian art film that won the Palme D’Or” — but it was good at what it was doing. It’s the depressing but kind of inspirational tale of Gavino Leddo this shepherd who’s pulled out of school at a young age to tend sheep all by himself and get beaten by his dad a lot, but eventually becomes a linguist. There’s lots of shots of the unforgiving Sardinian landscape and sounds of harsh winds blowing, and also a lengthy bestiality montage that is intercut with sex with actual women. Which, is as gross but kind of impressive. It’s a seriously good movie, if you enjoy tales of child abuse and hardship; even the “hopeful” ending is kind of brief. It doesn’t really sell that American-style pull yourself out of hardship and everything’s cool Hollywood version of triumph over adversity.
- Grand Theft Auto (Ron Howard, 1977): Okay, I never thought I’d recommend a Ron Howard movie, but this was amazing. It’s basically a comedy version of Vanishing Point, with the high-speed car chases and the radio DJ narrating the whole thing, only instead of a dude driving as fast as he can to (basically) his death with no clear motivation, you have a couple racing to Vegas to get married. Like all American comedies, it’s really about class: she borrows her Daddy’s Rolls (and eventually winds up driving it into a demolition derby) and they’re running off to get married because Daddy doesn’t approve of her less-than-rich boyfriend. (At one point he literally yells “Get out of my mansion!” — it’s amazing.) Anyway, all the rich people steal various cars and crash into other cars and offer rewards and there’s a lot of chaos and car crashes that don’t hurt anyone every five minutes; and everyone’s in totally inappropriate cars, like some kind of automotive Bakhtinian carnival. Oh, so they are being chased by: the plutocracy (her rich fake fiance, who doesn’t take off his polo helmet for the whole movie), religious orthodoxy (a greedy Evangelist priest) and the “patriarchy” (her dad, who totally has a CIA-like operation designed to get her back). Awesome. (See also: Arbogast on Film on Grand Theft Auto).
- 13 Going On 30 (Gary Winick, 2004): I always try to see the good in movies, especially “chick flicks,” because I think that being designed primarily for women doesn’t necessarily make a movie suck. But this movie? I can’t stop thinking about how many different ways this movie bothered me. I started to watch it on TV because I think Jennifer Garner (or as I still call her, “Alias”) is pretty charming and “Female Big! How bad could it be?” The answer: pretty bad. Setting aside the lazy timeline — you have a 13-year-old in 1987 who likes “Jessie’s Girl,” which came out in 1981; has memorized the “Thriller” dance, which came out in 1983; and then later does “Love Is a Battlefield,” which also came out in 1983 — it’s one of those awful “women can have a career or be good and have a boyfriend” movies. At first I thought it was about innocence and choices, because we find out that Jenna (J. Garner’s character) has been transported into her future body at just before the time she started being a kind of a selfish jerk. So she has a chance to see how she’s lost out on love because she’s apparently spent the last years being kind of an asshole while climbing the corporate ladder at a fashion magazine. There’s a whole lot of talk about how you can’t go back and undo your choices. But (and I’m giving away the ending) — of course — the movie ends with her getting to go back and undo her bad choices. Her reward: eating fucking disgusting gum candy and being married to Mark Ruffalo who’s a “cool” photographer. High powered careers that are everything you ever dreamed of are too scary and hard! I found it especially galling that all the things that she and Judy Greer (her magazine frenemy who happens to have been the popular girl in high school) are castigated for were things typically associated with femininity: they’re basically “in trouble” for buying into what the magazine they now work for was selling them when they were kids. Also, the fact that the choice was this zero-sum professional success or true luv thing, is just, no. It’s also, like, not really entertaining: it’s not particularly funny and the love story isn’t particularly convincing, mainly because you have no idea what that dude sees in her, especially given that for most of the story she has the mental and emotional maturity of a THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD. I’ve been obsessing about how much I hated this movie for days now. The whole thing was just this weird fantasy about getting out of being responsible for your mistakes by reverting to your youth combined with a lot of sad fucked up ideas about where women’s priorities should be.
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