February 27, 2015

Other people’s ideas

Always keen on alternate readings, misunderstandings, dream double bills, impossible versions. So, Slavoj Zizek on Ida:
Of course it’s an excellent film, made in a perfect ascetic way, but it is this perfection itself that bothers me — there is something false in it. No wonder Ida made so many people feel good: everything that happens is utterly predictable, there are no surprises. The guilt for the murder of Ida’s family falls on the ordinary poor farmer, and the guilt-ridden Wanda, a promiscuous Communist judge, kills herself. As for Ida herself, after tasting the forbidden fruit of sex (clearly using the saxophone player as a mere instrument), decides to enter the convent, thus bringing about a fantasy-like image of a Jewish Catholic nun. The film immediately aroused in me the desire to imagine different versions of the outcome: what if Ida decides to get married to the sax player, and it is Wanda who discovers faith and becomes a nun? What if, in their inquiry into who killed Ida’s family, the two women discover that a local priest was also involved? One can argue that such a different film would have been much better.
And some guy called Matt on the frankly incredible notion that Titanic’s Jack might have been sent from the future, thus making it a time travel film. But why not? I haven’t watched it recently enough to disprove it. Plus, unmentioned but surely strengthening the case is the similarity with Cameron’s Terminator.

February 14, 2015


Nineteen Eighty Four (Michael Radford, 1984). The exposure in the scene above seems like a clear allusion to something like this. With John Hurt as Winston, Suzanna Hamilton as Julia. 

February 8, 2015

Naked Lunch, 1992

“On the way home, Allen stopped off in Kansas, eager to see Burroughs once again. The two went through a Native American sweat lodge purification ceremony that lasted all afternoon and evening. They even took in the new film Naked Lunch by David Cronenberg, which was both horrific and funny. It was no longer Burroughs’s novel, but a cut-up of all his works, presented as a collage. Still, they both enjoyed seeing it.” Bill Morgan, I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg.

February 7, 2015

Print the legend

American Sniper (Clint Eastwood, 2014). Even if this movie Chris Kyle is more idealised and easier to like than the real one, he still persists as a warning about gun love, war damage and the impossible expectations of duty and responsibility to family and country. Like The Deer Hunter a generation ago, American Sniper is concerned with how conservative values create soldiers and how the same values can destroy them (training that breaks down your personality and reconstructs it surely helps too). But an awful question is left hanging: where would we have been without the tragic and ironic ending? It would be a much less ambivalent, less complicated story. 

February 5, 2015


World War Z (Marc Foster, 2013). Sentimental about children and family, militaristic and respectful of authority, lacking in satirical intent, wisdom or insight: here is a zombie action film that is the complete opposite of everything George Romero was getting at.

February 4, 2015

The time traveler’s wife

The Theory of Everything (James Marsh, 2014). Thinking about the big stuff (time, the universe, its creation) but operating at the domestic level. Neither is satisfactorily resolved – making the title seem unearned – but both are given remarkable and affecting life by Eddie Redmayne, playing the junior scientist with the eccentric exuberance of a young Beatle, and Felicity Jones as the woman who loves him. Actors trump script, easily.