Sunday, September 14, 2008

Burning Down the House

258. A couple of years ago, one of my friends tried to get me to watch a horror movie called Cutting Class, a slasher movie. I don't much like slasher movies, so I told my friend that I'd take a pass on it. To which, he replied:

"What? You don't want to see Brad Pitt get his head crushed in a vise?"


If I were unsure of Burn After Reading, all someone would have to say would be "What? You don't want to see Brad Pitt get shot in the face?"

Again. Sold.

I loved Burn After Reading. It's not a laugh a minute. It's actually kinda dark for a farce, even a "black comedy." I think the movie is structured like a shaggy dog joke. Those jokes depend on the punchline, and this movie's punch line--that last scene with Clooney and McDormand in the park, is absolutely magnificent. I was laughing at that for hours after I saw it.

259. Regarding A Chinese Ghost Story III (1991): There's no getting around the fact that the Chinese Ghost Story movies are utterly insane. Completely bonkers. All three of them have more or less the same plot: comely ghost girl Joey Wang falls for some traveling shlub and helps him and his mentor defeat the evil spirit of the haunted temple that holds her soul prisoner. But that really doesn't say anything about what the movies are actually like. This third installment has a certain amount of kink involved in the early going, which is new to the series, and it has some more lunatic set pieces (particularly when it swipes an idea from King Hu's A Touch of Zen near the end), but in the end, it arrives at the same kind of delirium. Great fun.

260. I've probably seen Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers (1973) a dozen times, but I don't think I ever noticed before that the screen play for this version was written by George MacDonald Fraser. That explains a LOT. For the most part, my favorite parts of this movie are the villains: Fay Dunaway's Lady De Winter, Christopher Lee's Rochefort, and Charlton Heston's delightfully sly Cardinal Richelieu. That's in tune with Fraser, I guess. I don't think his Flashman would be out of place in this movie. Fun.

261. I think I'm getting burned out on fantasy movies. While I don't think that there's anything intrinsically wrong with The Golden Compass (2007, directed by Chris Weitz)--and, in fact, I like the idea that it's an atheistic fantasy a lot--I got pretty impatient with its world-building faster than I would have liked. The visuals are finely burnished, but don't seem to admit even the slightest flaw to give them any reality. It does have a pretty good child actress in the lead, which helps. But I was never really engaged.

262. Milos Forman's Loves of a Blonde (1965) might be another unwatchably dour New Wave slice of life without the antic sensibility that runs through it. It LOOKS like a New Wave film, in stark, neo-realist black and white. But then it lets its characters bicker, and the film comes to life. It's lead character makes foolish romantic decisions, it's true, but they are understandable given that there's a ratio of 16 women to each man where she lives. The loves she embarks upon are the stuff that dreams are made of, for the most part, in the same way that the Maltese Falcon is. Likable, but generally slight.


Lori D said...

I loved Burn After a morbid kind of way. Left feeling wickedly cool. The smile on my face had me wondering just how sick I really am!

caprice said...

I thought it was rather lame. With the exception of Brad Pitt's dunce, none of the major characters rang true--they were constantly doing things out of character. It's fine if someone is stupid, but not if they go back and forth between stupid and smart.

Also, McDormand was way too old for the part.