I haven’t really watched that many movies this past while, it’s been a lot of Olympics this week. We celebrated the gold medal hockey win by making some very tasy lamb curry. (It is from a fine Canadian cookbook!)
- The Wolfman (was apparently directed by someone on purpose, okay his name was Joe Johnston, and it turns out he also directed Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, who knew?, 2010): I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie this deeply bad on purpose. If you like bad movies, it’s pretty fun, in that it features Anthony Hopkins wearing a tiger bathrobe, totally phoning it in, delivering shocking revelations like he’s talking about what he had for dinner last night; it also features a severed arm that is STILL ABLE TO SHOOT A GUN. And an arbitrary romance. And Benicio del Toro, English Shakespearean Actor. No seriously, that is his character.
- A bunch of more recent John Waters movies: things really go downhill after Serial Mom, huh? Of the later ones, I liked A Dirty Shame the most, and Pecker the least. Pecker is rough, y’all. I still love J-Dub though.
- Welcome to the Dollhouse (Todd Solondz, 1995): This kind of hurt to watch, almost. I was never really Dawn Weiner in junior high, but there was a year where it was close, and that felt really important in 8th grade. This came out when I actually was that age, and I never could have dealt with it then, never could have had the distance to find it funny as well as painful. Even now, it’s such a great combination of funny and awful: the way the kidnapping turns from this thing where everyone’s almost sincere about the kidnapping — but then it still kind of turns into a triumph for Missy and it’s back to being so cynical. I don’t know if you can really say anything else about this movie. This says it all:
- Jennifer’s Body (Karyn Kusama, 2009): I actually saw this first, but I put it after Welcome to the Dollhouse because it is clearly a worse movie about the perils of adolescent girldom. This one is more in the horror vein, sort of a pinker, poppier Ginger Snaps. It suffers from a bit of Diablo Cody’s patented adorableness, but I liked it better than Juno. It’s one of those things, like Twilight where I love it precisely because it speaks to such a fundamental thing of how I remember being a teenager. This is a different thing than Twilight, which is fully about the danger of one’s own desire; Jennifer’s Body is about toxic friendships. I don’t where this thing comes from, if it’s a teen girl thing, or a white girl thing, or a suburban high school thing, but I sure had a couple of those incredibly intense teen girl friendships where they’re the main person in your life. It’s the old-time “romantic friendship” thing: it’s not necessarily that you want to bone your best friend, it’s more that you just have all this energy to devote to…something that’s not your family, and you’re not ready for that to be a boyfriend yet, so it winds up being your BFF. And that’s scary, and those friendships always kind of implode. I love horror, and I love when things turn real high school fears into something fantastic and hideous. I’ve been listening to “Live Through This” constantly ever since.
- A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009): One word review: disappointing! The press has been so good, and the negative reviews (like at The Awl) complain that the fashion designer director aestheticizes the emotional content of the story too much, which to me, is not really a negative per se. But the problem for me was that the emotional content wasn’t even aestheticized well! You know me, I love a Minnelli, or a Fassbinder. I wrote a whole thesis on Almodóvar. Bringing all the emotion into the mise-en-scene is what melodrama’s all about; there’s a Hollywood tradition to this. But at this point it’s so done that you have to do it well to be effective. The thing where most of the movie’s shot with this yellow-ish gray filter, but then the full spectrum of colour comes in when something nice happens to Colin Firth (who was great despite the general lameness he’s working in) is so bad, and the “I’m a sad man in my meticulous modern house” sequence at the beginning is so laboured. It did get better as it went on and some life was injected (in the form of Julianne Moore and Nicholas Hoult). And the clothes were great: the suits, Nicholas Hoult’s giant awesome sweater, J. Moore’s giant hair; but ultimately it’s not fabulous enough to really transcend its coldness. Tom Ford might be able to make a great movie someday — but this wasn’t it. I keep thinking what an interesting story it is, how great it could have been if Almodóvar or Todd Haynes or someone had made it.
There are some arresting images though. I’ve woken up with ink all over my bed.