Sunday, February 25, 2007

Movie Notes

I watched Miami Vice on Friday night. I admit that when this movie came out, I had no interest in seeing it. I tend to avoid movies based on tv shows, and I have some mysterious aversion to Jamie Foxx. It was reviews like this one by Keith Uhlich at The House Next Door, its presence on certain critics' year-end top ten list, and then this fascinating discussion between Uhlich and Matt Zoller Seitz (also at The House Next Door) that persuaded me that I wanted to see it. The Uhlich/Seitz discussion is about the so-called "death of film". At one point they're talking about how filmmakers who don't work in the classical narrative style get ignored by the canon-makers and marginalized. In this context, Seitz says:
And we're implicitly excluding filmmakers who do radical things within the context of formats that are quite well-established. Circling back to where we were a minute ago, I think that to have been made within the commercial exhibition system, Miami Vice and INLAND EMPIRE are, hands down, the two most radical works of popular culture to have appeared on American screens in 2006. Nothing else comes close.
I admit that I'm not well-versed in the visual-language of movies, and it often doesn't occur to me to think about why a certain visual appears instead of another. But damn, when a critic I respect says something like this, I'm going to want to see that movie. They talk about Vice some more in the discussion, but the whole thing is worth reading, if you're interested in film.

In the event, I enjoyed the movie. There were some striking visuals, to be sure, though what they necessarily meant I'm not sure I could say. As for the plot, I'd kept hearing that it was impossible to follow, but this complaint is strange, since the plot seemed pretty basic to me. (For another interesting--positive--take on the movie, see Brandon Soderberg's at No Trivia.) (By the way, the film's music included two or three Audioslave songs and somehow they didn't suck and may even have been good. I'm not sure what to do with this unexpected information. On the bad side, there was also a truly terrible cover of "In the Air Tonight".)

And last night, we watched The Departed, which was a second viewing for me. I liked it again, perhaps even more than I did the first time; still think Leonardo DiCaprio was better than I'd ever seen him before; still enjoyed Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg immensely; and still think Jack Nicholson's performance was all too often annoyingly cartoonish.

1 comment:

brandon said...

It is odd how Mann seems to be able to make pretty-stupid ideas kind of work...I had a similar feeling: "I'm sitting here, enjoying this movie even though it has Audioslave in it...". Maybe we should need to meet once a week and deal with this problem in a church basement or something...