Thursday, January 21, 2010

Movie Marginalia

The Golden Globes

How do they do it? How is it possible for the Golden Globes award ceremony to be more unbearable than the Oscars? Perhaps it was all those dreary TV shows I can never stomach that were in the running? (It does not matter that I have not seen three-quarters of the films. You do not have to be Nostradamus to foresee their mass banality. I will be seeing plenty of them - alas - in the coming months.)

As much as I love actors (pace Bresson), watching them make such whores of themselves was excruciating. They must have all been three sheets to the wind - or was it simply the shiny trophies that made them all turn out in their less-than-formal wear? It was nice of some of them to drop the word Haiti every now and then, even if Haiti is on earth and Hollywood is on another planet.

James Cameron's Avatar won in the Best Juvenile Fantasy category, proving once again that what he lacks in knowledge he more than makes up for in know-how. ($200M for colorful shadows on a wall - that jump out at you when you wear special glasses!) Backstage at the Globes, Cameron mentioned that the last "science fiction" film to win the Golden Globe was E.T., and that he wanted more producers to take the genre seriously. This is sheer hypocrisy coming from the director of Aliens, which took Ridley Scott's otherwise adroit science fiction concept and turned it into a stupid action flick.

But the moniker "Hollywood Foreign Press" puts one in mind of a bunch of foreign gossip columnists sucking up to movie stars for the delectation of their readers back home in Budapest and Perth. Which is, of course, exactly what they are, and why I have never taken their Golden Globes seriously.

In Bruges

One of John Simon's funniest dismissals came at the beginning of his review of Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger: "If vacuity had any weight, you could kill an ox by dropping on it Michelangelo Antonioni's latest film, The Passenger." One of the most stupefying films in recent years is In Bruges (2007), made by Martin McDonagh, an Irish director - which explains the preponderance of Irish accents (coming from Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson).

What it does not explain is what they are doing in Bruges, a beautiful city in Belgium. We are treated to a picture postcard tour of the old city, which is used as a backdrop for yet another story about the problems of contract killers, two of them this time, in whose nascent humanity we are expected to believe.

Schubert was dragged in, and we got a few moments from Der Leiermann (The Organ-grinder). And there is a touching bit when Farrell reads a little boy's note to himself as he waits to enter a church confessional: "1. Being moody, 2. Being bad at Maths, 3. Being sad". Of course, Farrell had just accidentally shot the boy in the head.

I watched it on cable, full screen, with the HBO logo stuck in the upper-right corner. Not the best way to watch a film, but considering that so many people are watching them on their i-phones, I was at a definite advantage. I suppose I could have taken it as nothing but a tourist's guide to Bruges, if only I could have overlooked the inanities enacted thereagainst.

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