Monday, August 18, 2008

I Link the Body Electric

I'm Gonna Link Forever...
Empire apparently after 28 years it's time for a Fame sequel.
Cinemavistaramascope Title Card (I love this series)
David Bordwell asks where the superhero movie craze came from? Comic books aren't exactly widely read.
My New Plaid Pants Harry Potter's Equus moment. Again.
All About My Movies lists the "cutest" films - not a list you see every day
Shoot the Projectionist 24 words on In Bruges and they're all spot on.

Belated Birthdays
Band of Thebes
celebrates the work of Herb Ritts on a birthday I should've noted.
Stale Popcorn celebrates Madonna's 50th in a big way. Top 100 songs. Woot. My list would be so different but that mass of material to choose from is really something, is it not? Meanwhile Victim of the Time keeps his list to 50. I don't have time to join them but for the record my 2 favorite Madonna songs are Erotica and Like a Prayer... with roughly 25 others tied for #3 and 50 others tied fighting for the other top ten spots. That's how much bliss there is to choose from.

"Blinkered Fanboy"
That'd be me. Nothing Sacred and Jürgen Fauth both have issues with people who love Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Woody himself. Ah well. For the record: I don't need to "pretend" to like VCB or Match Point. I just genuinely do. This kind of reminds me of the time when Husbands and Wives came out and everybody was so busy hating Woody Allen for his questionable personal life and hard-to-miss problems with women that they forgot to notice how good the movie was. As for Allen's misogyny, I'm personally much more bothered by auteurs who just don't care about women at all (Chris Nolan, etcetera) than filmmakers who have massive hangups about them (Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, etcetera). Slant also really hates the film... seeing its representation of two wealthy educated artistically inclined young women and their dalliances as somehow indicative of a statement that All Men are pillars and All Women are confused, which... well, it confuses me. I can't see anything that distastefully universal in the ultra specifics of this film.


Unknown said...

It´s official, she will tour in Brazil, and yeah I will go, I can afford the tickets, but not sure If I can afford the travel!

Hi ít´s lawyer tf, in another account and I the blond guy is calling me 3x a day!

Nat, I´m really lucky, but I´m not sure if I can join the rainbow side!

lawyer tony fernando said...

Just to make sure, daniel is my other account!

Billy D said...

VCB didn't really impress me at all. I found Scarlet stiff and amateurish, Javier confused and uneven, and Rebecca Hall shrill and way to gorgeous to be that awkward and nebbish.

Still, Penelope saved it for me. I have a new atressexual crush. Her introduction to the film, her back to the camera, after being so talked up, is so great--a very "Rita Hayworth in Gilda, 'Me?'" introduction on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum.

Adam said...

I read that Salon article on VCB too and I think it's remarkably off base. The women certainly get the focus in the narrative, but I think time and again Woody has made his male characters just as befuddled and aimless. The articles against Woody Allen praise are completely off as well though. Myself and probably 80% of other critics took some issue with recent efforts like "Scoop" and "Cassandra's Dream" because they were flawed films. It's not like Woody has gone unscathed throughout the years, far from it. Critics are just gracious that one of the seminal American directors has made another worthwhile film. I think the Woody Allen hatred is more common than the love nowadays, so I personally consider it refreshing to see a glowing review. Plus, the film was good, that's why it's getting notice.

Anonymous said...

I've seen some really baffling opinions about Woody Allen and his work. His women are supposedly "projection screens for his own fantasies," which I just can't comprehend. Of course, the blogger who wrote that said that when she looks at "70s movies" (presumably all of them?) she sees all the women as caricatures. If Diane Keaton ever sank to the level of caricature, well, I must have missed it.

I'm not even a big fan of Allen, I just enjoy some of his movies, that's all - and suddenly I find myself having to leap to his defense all the time. I don't know what it's all about.

billy d, were you SURPRISED to see Scarlett being stiff an amateurish? Ah, I'm so mean. (But seriously, why is she so popular? I really do want to know.)

ed gonzalez said...

Nat. Friends thought I was joking when I described the three types of women in the film, but that's almost exactly how all three of them describe themselves—out loud and to each other and to us (what is the Patricia Clarkson character but a vision of Vicky's future self?). And, yes, I do think Allen sees all the men in the film as pillars: from José, a lothario you can really get behind because he's so honest (unlike any of the women), to the dude in Vicky's Catalan class whose practically clairvoyant—an angel sent from above, never to be seen again, grabbing her hand and stating that he sees her fucked-upness (to Allen, she should have gone with him, but for that to have happened she would have needed to have half his sense). Fine, whatever. I don't care if people don't see that. More offensive, to me, is this laughable depiction of the Spanish. Maybe I'm more sensitive to this because, you know, I'm Spanish and shit, but the whole Hostel comparison came to me with that last shot, of Vicky and Cristina arriving in the States, whewing that they had escaped the clutches of those horny Spaniards in the same way Jay Hernandez makes it out of the bathroom at the end of the Eli Roth film. That was close! Even people who like the film—like Karina Longsworth—have mercifully called out the film's crazed exoticizing. It's bad enough that people seem to want Cruz to win an Oscar just because Bardem will be the one to give it to her (is this a sign that the days of US Weekly and Perez Hilton are not as counted as I thought?), but it's going to be a long and painful Oscar season if I have to endure more praise for Cruz's "seamless ability to go from Spanish to English" or how "sensuous," "tempestuous," and "lusty" she looks on screen. Javier too. Seriously, folks, is this everyone's first encounter with a bilingual person? If so, I invite you all to come to my parents house any Tuesday during the summer, when my parents have their weekly BBQs. After Allen has guided you all to North Bergen in New Jersey, cutting through the high grass outside our house with his conquistador's blade, you will come face to face with a rather common sight in my neck of the woods: young people speaking to each other in English with an old lady (Abuela) in the background screaming, "Habla Espanol!" Needless to say, none of us have been nominated for Academy Awards yet, but I will admit, we do tend to attract people like the reviewers at the New York Times who want to lick our faces and speak sweet, dirty nothings to them in Spanish.

Billy D said...

Ed, I'm not impressed merely with Cruz's lustiness, but that she went above and beyond it (something Scarlet just can't do) to create a truly memorable, nuanced, and sublimely creative performance. And, um, hilarious too.

The thing that bothered me so much: if you're going to anglicize Cataluna, then the adjectival form would be "Catalonian," not Catalan, which is the proper spanish name for the language (and I suppose culture) itself. It grated on me the whole time that they kept referring to her masters in "Catalan Culture" because it sort of sounded funny, both in concept and phonetically. And, um, she can't speak the fucking language? I guess it is indicative of Vicky's peurile sense of American entitlement, that just because she likes Gaudi she can write a thesis on an entire culture, but it also seemed too obvious and contrived.

Why is Scarlet a star, Liz? Because she's got a face for the screen and a body for the tabloids. I haven't given up on her yet because I am a member of the cult of The Girl with a Pearl Earring, but she has to make good on her potential sooner or later. Not that it's easy to make Allen's scripts sound natural or spontaneous by any means. Did I mention the lips and the boobies?


Ed, you're hilarious. I'm totally taking you up on the offer whether you meant it seriously or not.

As for the men being pillars. I just don't see it. Juan Antonio is honest sure... he does have that going for him yes. but he's never going to have a successful relationship and that's right there in the text. Plus, don't you find it interesting at all that his "genius" is totally stolen from her?

Vicky's fiance isn't idealized either. He's totally lacking in depth of any kind and he's as materialistic as Vicky fears.

I just don't think this film is as misogynistic as people are saying or as half baked. I think it misses the mark on occassion (cough*Scarlett) but still... I actually think that Allen is sympathetic to people who don't know their own hearts. I think he has been for a good long time in his filmography. I'm not sure why people think he's so hateful (apart from the offscreen problems and the occasional exercize in total misanthrophy like Deconstructing Harry)

Billy D what you said about Penelope (she's totally above her material here... and richly comic) and about Scarlett. Scarlett has "it" but I fear she just doesn't know what to do with "it". Yet. I'm still pulling for her. But I think she probably needs a director that's less enamored of her than Allen and somebody who is willing to actually direct her (Allen being famous for not speaking to his actors and all) rather than just gawking at her like Allen does or like DePalma did.

Glenn said...

I stopped reading because I feared people were giving away spoilers. It has only been out for one weekend after all, so warnings may be nice...?

Anonymous said...

"I'm not even a big fan of Allen, I just enjoy some of his movies, that's all - and suddenly I find myself having to leap to his defense all the time. I don't know what it's all about."

Except for the fact that I'm a fan, I second that completely.
It didn't even come to my mind that Woody Allen would some day need defense of his work. It just speaks by itself. He's made masterpieces, very good movies, good ones and not so good ones, exactly as most directors do. I'm just so grateful a man in his seventies (let it be him or Clint Eastwood) manages to do a movie a year, I can forgive one Cassandra's Dream every one or two years.
And in fact, aren't there many more tons of talent in any single frame of Scoop (as flawed as it is) than in the whole The Happening? And Allen is the one supposed to be in decline...

And then his personal life. Did the man go to jail at some point and I missed it? Besides the fact that we all seem to enjoy to judge other people's life from the comfortability of our couch, why the double standards? Why every single piece I read about Allen has to include something on his personal life and I don't see the same references when talking about... let's say Colin Farrell (just an example because I mentioned Cassandra's Dream)?

Personally, most of times I don't care about what actors or directors do in their private lives: I love Amy Winehouse's songs and can't stand any of Tom Cruise's performances (except maybe Interview with the Vampire, but that must have been the deglam thing), and neither of them, nor the love or the hatred? (it's not hatred, actually, but I can't find a better word) have anything to do with their lives. But if you're going to judge someone's work in terms of his life, let's play it fair and do it with everyone.

And finally, I second the spoiler alert comment. Of course, no one is forced to include alerts, but it's so nice and it takes so little.

Sorry for the rant.


Jürgen said...

Hey Nathaniel -- I don't make it a habit to snipe at people who like movies I don't; the "blinkered fanboy" crack had more to do with my confusion over the Lucas/Clone Wars backlash than with VCB.

That said, I don't think Allen has made a decent movie this millennium yet. The last one I thought was worth anything was Sweet and Lowdown. I wouldn't even bother digging for misogyny in VCB; it's too shallow to arrive at much of an argument. (And Allen's personal life is none of my business.)

I agree with Ed, Marcy, and others about the "laughable depiction of the Spanish" -- but I think it's just a symptom of his laughable depiction of most people. His conceits and characters now are so simplistic that very little has the ring of truth to it. I can see how the surface of VCB may be enjoyable if you like this sorta thing, but I found myself wishing I'd walked out.

Anyway -- blinkered or not, you're certainly welcome at my family's barbecues as well, where beer and Bratwurst rule. (I guess it's a safe bet we'll never get a chance to argue the merits of Brigitte Claudia Wuppertal?)

Ed Howard said...

Just to weigh in, I thought VCB was fantastic, maybe even one of Woody's best movies. I think the people criticizing the romanticization of the Spanish are spectacularly missing the point, which is that the main characters are the ones who indulge in this romanticization. They're lily-white dilettantes indulging an exotic adventure, and Woody certainly doesn't praise them for it -- what is the film if not an indictment of this tourist mentality? The haunting final shot makes it clear that all the girls have learned from their European summer is to play it safe from now on, to retreat into dull lives of routine. Woody sympathizes with these characters who don't know what they want -- or who refuse to admit it to themselves, anyway -- but he also mocks their shallow understanding of art and the Spanish culture all around them.