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Monday, September 05, 2005

Twin Killing

Diane and I hit up the Harvard Exit for a double feature last Sunday. We found that while it's inconvenient to waltz from one theater to the other, there didn't seem to be any security, so it actually proved little challenge. Helping us was the fact that they've moved the cafe into the main lobby, so we were able to slip from the upstairs theater into the waiting room/cafe without looking too inconspicuous. We took in two excellent films: 2046 and Broken Flowers. BummerMan was nowhere to be found. Both these films rated a solid 4 stars out of 5.

2046 is an unsettling and dreamy jaunt around the smoky backwaters of human relationships. More art film contrivance than true science fiction, the film's use of androids and time-traveling bullet trains only appear to serve the filmmaker's purpose of exploring desire, love and the heart's ultimate inaccessibility. It's a lonely story of sexual indulgence, a romantic tale of platonic friendship and a heart-melting vision of solitude. The film is wry, poignant and even sweet but bitterly pessimistic. The hardest part of the film to digest is the main character's unflappable commitment to emotional solitude; his true satisfaction appears to come only from his emotional attachment to his cigarette.
That said, there is much to love about this film and it's characters. It does not insult its viewer with a predictable ending or an implausible redemption of its central figures. And while unredeemed, the characters are human, lovable and filled with kindness. The film, which often depicts tears of frustration and loss (but sometimes with too little context to make sense,) is never about anger or cruelty. I think the genius of the film lies in it's quietness. It invites the attentive viewer to project their own failings, their own fears, onto the characters. In doing so, we're given a lush, haunting, gorgeous canvass to help us dissect our own lives.

Broken Flowers was the respite we needed after 2046. Though a reluctant hero, Murray eventually embraces his connection to the world. In his recently trademarked less-is-more approach, he teams up with the equally charming Jeffery Wright to explore his past, revisit old flames and seek out his unmet son. Thanks to Lost in Translation, no one will be surprised by this side of Murray, and no one will clamour this time for him to win the Oscar. But the humility, humor and humanity that pervade this film make it totally enjoyable. And it is Murray that brings this home. His interactions with Wright, Sharon Stone and Tilda Swenson are particularly compelling.
Lastly, while not nearly as slick as 2046, the soundtrack (as always with Jarmusch films) deserves special mention. I immediately went home and listened to samples of Mulatu Astatke's brilliant Ethiopiques. _Cinema



At 9/05/2005 08:10:00 PM, Blogger walaka said...

"I immediately went home and listened to samples of Mulatu Astatke's brilliant Ethiopiques."

(Soapy, I got you covered on this one.)

Sampled? Sampled? Don't you mean stole?!

PS: Oh, and Johnbai, put the damn word verification on already, okay? It takes two seconds.

PPS Good times tonight. Kudos for taking command.

At 9/06/2005 11:13:00 AM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Word verification is now activated. I wanted to avoid it, since it's another pain in the butt, but I do tire of blog spam.

At 9/06/2005 11:33:00 PM, Blogger diane said...

Extremely well done reviews John. May I add that "2046" was the most visually tantalizing film I have seen in years. Many scenes, and numerous shots just seconds long, still linger.

At 9/07/2005 03:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given that I'm supposed to hate this movie, I'm intrigued by these reviews...

"The film is wry, poignant and even sweet but bitterly pessimistic."

Heyyy, what the... Someone put that movie in my mirror!

"May I add that "2046" was the most visually tantalizing film I have seen in years."

Given that visual majesty just rubs me the wrong way, it's a good thing I wasn't there. Or you'd have gotten my half-digested popcorn aaaallllll over you.

Time to go see "2046."

Soapy / jjjpn


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