Saturday, June 18


Catch the Malady

Sitting at home all weekend trying to work the rest cure for my aching throat is also a good excuse to watch movies (and update the blog). Mostly I've been in Criterion-land. I watched The Lady Eve with Marion Keane's commentary track on. I haven't listened to that many DVD commentaries in my day, but this is the most delightful scholarly commentary I've heard. Keane seems about to burst with joy in every sentence she speaks. This is either due to her love of Preston Sturges, or her love of her own analytical insights. Either way its justified in my view, though I can sympathize with those who can't stand her kind of reading, in which every detail of the film can be interpreted as a comment on the nature of filmmaking. I guess I was never forced to sit through a bad version of this kind of analysis in film school so it feels like a breath of fresh air to me. I'd love to hear Keane's commentaries for Hitchcock films.

I also watched the last four episodes of Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage. I'd started out trying to ration them one a day, recreating the way they were originally broadcast, but after the third episode, Paula, I was too sucked in to help myself. Then I watched all the extras. These three-disc sets can be overwhelming!

I also popped in my Region 3 disc of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady in the hopes that watching some of it would inspire me to say something truly insightful about this incredible film before it plays at the Castro Theatre at 9PM on Monday. After having seen the film twice last November it feels like revisiting an old friend, but subtle things I missed before become clearer and clearer each time. Like the very first shot of the soldiers finding the dead body on patrol. It looks like a man, but they're handling it as if it were a wild beast. This is all obfuscated by Apichatpong's deceptively wavering camera which always frames the soldiers' faces and torsos in the center, their discovery never more than barely in the shot.

I only watched about 15 minutes before I decided I wanted to let the film surprise me all over again on the Castro's giant screen. I'm especially excited about letting the "pure cinema" second half of the film immerse me. Look for me in one of the first few rows. That said, so far I disagree with those who call the first half of the film comparatively weak. I think its full of fascinating, beautiful moments and that its contrasting style works in dialogue with the wordless second half. At least, that's what I thought last November. We'll see if I change my mind at all on Monday.

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