Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"You Live on a Spaceship, Dear."

I never had the time or critical acumen to say it myself, so I'm glad someone finally said it for me: Owen Wilson was the unacknowledged key to the success of the first three Wes Anderson movies.

Chicagoans, the Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre exhibit at the Art Institute is wonderful. I'd highly recommend checking it out while it's still in town.

I'm more than happy to report that The Island is summer blockbuster fun at its finest. As Mike O'D astutely pointed out, it's not as good a movie as, say, Batman Begins, but it's a hell of a fun time nonetheless. It doles out plot points way less insultingly than it could have, and once it really sinks its hooks into you, you'll be more than happy to keep your brain turned off and enjoy the ride. I was ready to be done with it maybe half an hour before the credits rolled, but even that didn't necessarily diminish my feelings of goodwill. A perfect excuse to sit in an air conditioned theater during the hottest afternoon of the summer.

Oh, I'd forgotten what a wonderful bastard Kubrick can be. I was able to catch up with Barry Lyndon at the Siskel on Saturday afternoon, on the big screen, the way it was meant to be seen. Not only does the experience of seeing it in a theater allow you to bask in the beauty of the mise-en-scene, but it also allows the subtle, dry humor to really shine through. This movie is hilarious. In all the talk about those famous zooms and natural lighting and obsessive attention to historical detail, the laugh-out-loud humor of the piece gets pretty much ignored. Of course, the comedy is also a cunning trick to lure you into the story, emotionally, so it can kick you in the kidneys that. much. harder. in the last forty-five minutes or so. The duel, yes, the duel, but also the tiny little casket in the sheep-drawn carriage. Egads. Brilliant.

Finished the Firefly DVDs this weekend. (Thanks again, GH!!) Let the countdown to Serenity begin. These are amazing characters, and I can't wait to get to spend another few hours with them.

As Ms. Ward and I have already discussed, Bust magazine cover boy Justin Theroux is en fuego, and one hell of an enlightened human being to boot. Witness:

"Everyone in life, every day, we're sort of given the choice to make a left or a right. . . . I feel like you have to be the guardian of your own curiosity. You have to be pushing yourself to make the more ballsy choice in life or in relationships or in circumstances or in your career or whatever, you know. I've made some chicken shit decisions that I regret in my career and in my relationships and I've also made some brilliant decisions. Not brilliant in any sort of outward way, but brilliant in that I felt as though I'd made great personal gains in spite of the fact that it was the more painful decision."

Swoon. Preach on, brutha.


brendon said...

HA! I was just going to send you that thing on Owen Wilson... I thought of you immediately (and also thought that letter that is referenced is pretty hilarious)!

DS said...

Couldn't agree more about Barry Lyndon--the humor is so dry, and rather than being antithetical to the rich visuals, its enhanced by it: what's funny is the contrast of the enfeebling, crippling facades we see ripple across the screen with the resonating and baroque voiceover. Hearing the narrator speak of love and seeing Ryan O'Neal stutter like an adolescent=tension=funny.

On the other hand, I adore 'the life aquatic' and think that it will be re-reviewed years hence as Anderson's smartest movie. Not his best (rushmore) but his most brilliant and self-effacing. Thoughts?

allison said...

My thoughts about The Life Aquatic are like a cut-rate frozen pizza prepared in a studio-apartment stove: crusty and burnt around the edges, but still uncooked and mushy in the middle. While I feel obliged to represent for my boy Wes, the fact that movie didn't expand for me the second time I saw it doesn't bode well in my mind. With his previous features, the more times I saw them, the deeper everything got—the set-ups to the jokes were as funny as the punchlines, the relationships between the characters seemed more heartbreaking, more intricate, and more true, the plot twists (such as they are) seemed more organic, more inevitable. I didn't get any of that with the second viewing of LA. I laughed at the same jokes, felt confused by the same contrivances (the pirate attack—WTF?), and, for the first time, caught a glimpse of the cloying tweeness naysayers must have taken issue with in Rushmore and Tenenbaums. All that being said, however, I'm not sure I believe any of it. I need to see it a couple more times before I pass something more like final judgment. I mean, give me even the most subpar Wes Anderson film over War of the Worlds any day of the week.