A friend living in Qatar sent me the most beautiful New Year greeting I've received.
He wished me good health, happiness, prosperity--and safety in the new Year. I would like to forward these good thoughts to anyone reading this blog (I think there are at least two of you.)
I spent New Year's Eve at the local club which had excellent food, some nice Danish people who knew my Sheridan colleague Kaj Pindal, and a band that was both good and loud. When the loud upstaged the good (I think it was when they started playing disco) I went home, and spent the midnight hour celebrating with little Gizmo, who is in good health and happy in her new home.
On New Year's Day I had a friend over to visit (not the tall dark man of Scottish 'first foot' superstition, but a tall blond Canadian woman--oh well, nobody's perfect. And anyway, we are not in Scotland.)
I asked her which of the Academy screeners she wanted to see and she chose THE DARK KNIGHT, which I had not seen. (I talked her out of viewing the Bond picture, since I thought that the Batman film was supposed to be better.)
I was appalled by this movie. It is an overly loud, overly long, paranoid fantasy. Maybe it's just me, but I found it nearly unwatchable and if my friend had not been there, I would have turned it off after the requisite half-hour.
Is it just me? How did this film get such stellar reviews? There is a lot of noise, very little plot...It just goes on and on...and the claustrophobic feel it generates is not negated by the widescreen effects. Cameras go round and round until you are dizzy.
I felt that I was being forced to listen to someone raving endlessly about tinfoil hats.
The movie has one thing to recommend it--Heath Ledger's Joker is an outstanding portrayal of madness --but there is no motivation for any of the characters--they just are. Please don't tell me I had to read the comics or see the other movies. I read Batman comics as a kid and don't recognize much here. But let that pass.
I was puzzled to see Robin missing, but liked Michael Caine's Alfred. Maggie Gyllenhall and Aaron Eckhardt were simply colorless; I couldn't believe that this woman would make that man do those things.
And although I like Gary Oldman very much, I thought he was miscast and his hairdo , glasses, and moustache made me think of Ned Flanders from THE SIMPSONS. I kept expecting him to say "Hi-diddly-ho, neighbour!"
THE DARK KNIGHT and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (a much better movie, though also too long) have subtexts that seem to represent two versions of the American Zeitgeist. (Spirit of the times, for those of you who don't want to follow the link.)
THE DARK KNIGHT, in my opinion, reflects the paranoia in the American political system that dates not from 9/11 as some think, but from the Red scares in the 1950s. It has not been as bad as in the Fifties (there is no blacklist--yet) but it's definitely not a country that I recognize--fear is the watchword! Franklin Roosevelt was wrong--we have to fear everything, not fear itself! The Enemy Is Out There! Which one? Take your pick. End of political rant.
BENJAMIN BUTTON has nothing in common with the original F. Scott Fitzgerald story than the title and the concept. Fitzgerald's story is: A man is born old in 1860 and lives backward in time and becomes a real nuisance to his descendants. The subtext: their parents' generation has nothing to say to the Lost Generation of the 1920s. (The story was written in 1922.)
BENJAMIN BUTTON the movie begins in 1918 and ends in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina for a reason. The movie version's subtext appears to be the decline and fall of the United States. Death and loss feature in every scene. The entire city is dying at the end of the movie. Things fall apart. The future cannot hold.
I liked the movie, but wonder at the self-pity that is also manifest in its subtext.
I wanted to be a film critic when I was younger, and I could never have held the job. But anyway, there's my two cents for two films. Don't get me started on THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX. I turned that one off after one hour's viewing, when the film still hadn't developed a plot....
May your New Year bring you good films as well as good news!
I'm having a small party on Saturday for those folks who are back in town or recovering from the holidays. No movies will be shown, unless I absolutely have to...
May 2009 be a good year for you all. Yes, both of you.