Outstreched arm

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Three totally unrelated movies

I didn't feel I had a full review in me for either one of these, for different reasons, so you get three for the price of one today.

I just watched John Sayles' Casa de Los Babys (don't stumble on that title; just go ahead and say it the way you think it's pronounced.) Having seen five Sayles movies, I don't feel comfortable calling myself a fan, but that's how I feel. There's something about his shockingly human approach to characters that at first says Lifetime, but he absolutely refuses to go for the easy, expected emotions and solutions. This can be frustrating for the "outsider" at times (the quotes go away after I've seen all his movies.) The curve of a Sayles plot is not one of conflict and resolution; he seems to weave tapestries instead, letting the movies end at however many minutes the average person is willing to spend in front of the screen. It's as if all his movies are part of the same neverending pattern of dialogue and affection - they could go on forever. He has said that editing is his favorite part of filmmaking, but it must be a bittersweet affair: I wonder how many movies could be made from what he leaves out.

More specifically, Casa is another life story with no beginning or end. It concerns American women who are waiting in Mexico for the paperwork to come through on the children they are adopting from a local hospital. Cultures meet (I will not say 'collide'), as do generations, attitudes, and genders (though this, to be honest, is a bona fide chick flick.) Because he introduces us to his characters in mid-development, Sayles stretches the time by showing the "past" (a maid who's had to give her daughter to adoption - a criminally unnoticed Vanessa Martinez; a pregnant 15-year old not allowed to keep the child), and the "future" (preadoloscent kids living in the street). According to the DVD cover, the movie has six main characters, but that is a real understatement. Even the smallest roles are memorable and believable, as well as multidimensional. To pick just a few - the lawyer who has to deal with an American bulldog of a me-first hopeful mother; the dream-chasing unemployed worker.

This is the best-looking of the movies of his I've seen. The colors of Mexico add an Almodovar flavor to Sayles' actor-focused compositions; the montages are fabulous, especially the one set to the bogus but not completely inappropriate drivel of a TV horoscope dude (who you'll have to see to appreciate). Rather than wrapping up, the movie cuts off, but again - you just have to feel at home in Sayles' universe. Lone Star and Limbo couldn't be possibly too long for my taste. (Brother From Another Planet, though - well, thirty minutes would've been just fine.)

I also saw On The Waterfront - yes, for the first time. Isn't it funny how everyone just assumes that everyone else has seen every classic movie there is? It would be pointless for me to write a 'review' of it, and I don't have anything terribly interesting to add that you haven't already heard. It's a disgustingly fashionable thing to say of a pillar of cinema, but I'll say it: I wasn't blown away by the movie; not by all of it, in any case.

Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob le Flambeur is a character study within a heist movie, full of that French cool that would look laughable on anyone else. Bob, correctly described as an "old young man", is a compulsive gambler of show-offy compassion and with an unfortunate police record and. When he experiences a few too many financial (and personal) failures, he starts planning a wildly unlikely casino job. While the robbery preparation scenes are tight and gripping, they're easily outdone by the excellent Rififi. The character interactions are also slightly underdeveloped, but Bob himself is an unexpectedly fleshed out person; New Wave cinema normally creates cool out of ambiguity. It's true but unfair to say that Cercle Rouge and Rififi are better in the same genre; Bob is still more than worth watching.

There are 0 Comments:

Post a Comment