Weekly Movies is probably going to be short on detail this week. I hurt my back and it still hurts to type a little. I did watch movies and not spend the whole week being obsessed with Gossip Girl, I promise. (Oh, but while we’re on GG: an entire (awesomely detailed) tumblr devoted to the greatest episode of TV ever.)
- Labyrinth of Passions (Pedro Almodóvar, 1982): This is Almodóvar’s second film, when he still was a wacky, trashy punk. How many Academy Award-winning directors have appeared in their own films, in drag, performing a New Wave song that if I’m not mistaken is partly about having sex with rats in the sewer? I’m guessing not very many.
- Waiting For Guffman (Christopher Guest, 1996): I had never seen this, but I had seen Best In Show. This is better. It actually really reminded me of the best episodes of The Office, because you have the mockumentary factor, the fact that these are people whose lives you don’t necessarily envy and whose denials you can see through, but there’s still something really beautiful about them. I really loved the one guy on town council or whatever who was just completely enraptured with Corky.
- Southland Tales (Richard Kelly, 2007): Okay, I’m not going to lie. This isn’t (as I’d hoped), a secret masterpiece. It’s not a good movie. Some parts of the story still don’t make sense, and not in a “man, this movie’s so complex” way, in a “there is no explanation for this chain of events” way. I was kind of okay with that, because all the porn stars and Marxists and WWIII and the oil running out and the scary government internet surveillance and the Rock being wrapped up in this big, sprawling messy narrative where everyone in the movie ends up riding a zeppelin kind of captures something real about the culture, even if I do think it was at least half accidental. But, more importantly, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Every scene with Sarah Michelle Gellar is comedy gold (I’d really forgotten ho funny she is); and obviously all the Amy Poehler and Cheri Oteri stuff was also actually funny, because Richard Kelly was all up with the political satire, but he still seemed to get that a lot of “Marxists” are really lame. For me though, the highlight was definitely Justin Timberlake, scarred and on drugs, lipsynching to “All These Things That I’ve Done” and pouring beer all over himself. Don’t ask me why.
- Romance & Cigarettes (John Turturro, 2006): This is another neo-musical (which Southland Tales almost is), with actors singing along with old songs that express their feelings, and the ways that the musical sections, which start out clearly coded as fantasy, kind of seep into the world of the movie a bit. This one is strange, but it’s actually worth seeing. There’s an amazing cast (James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Mandy Moore, Mary-Louise Parker, Amy Sedaris, etc), it’s set in a working-class neighbourhood, it’s really depressing, and I have been thinking a lot about pop cultural nostalgia, of which this movie is a really interesting example. It’s like Woody Allen movies, in that it’s apparently set in the present day, but all the references are about a generation too old for everyone.