Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Critical Eye...

This is a remarkable week of cultural learning and awareness for yours truly. I was going to devote probably a post each to a couple of these, then realised that would be boring ramblings. This will keep me down to a minimum.

First up, on Tuesday we saw The Departed. It was very, very good. However, I think with the hype, the Oscar nominations, I was expecting a little more. More what, you may yell? Leonardo di Caprio was astonishing, absolutely amazing; Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg also incredible (I am becoming huge fans of both of them), and Matt Damon played an unsympathetic (in my opinion) character well. Matt Damon's character is one of my biggest grumbles, though - how can we have a 2.5hr film with so little character development? Maybe that was intentional - despite his being undercover, anonymous, non-existent, we find out most about di Caprio's Billy Costigan. Nonetheless, I felt cheated - clearly there were ambitions that Sullivan had, hence needing to always see the State House - why don't we know about that? What he was aiming for? There were hints but not anything more than that... Again, maybe deliberate. Still... It was very, very good. These are grumbles - it was fabulous. PLUS the best thing about it was this notice to remind you to turn off your mobile phone to avoid ruining the movie. Thanks to whoever recorded it on their phone!

On Friday, we then had the unexpected pleasure of going to see Bebop Lives! at Jazz at Lincoln Center. We have friends who work there, and have been meaning to go for yonks, but finally did it. I am not a jazz fan, in general: I tend to admire the technical skills, but it leaves me emotionally unmoved. Therefore I was apprehensive, but I felt it was a real turning point for me, for several reasons. First, I really started to appreciate it as a form of dance music - you could genuinely get up and shake your thing to it! Second, the trumpet - it's an amazing, amazing thing and the guy who played was remarkably good. Third, the singing - there was an incredible Italian woman singing and I started to understand that scat, in jazz, is a way of playing, messing around with the music and was in fact funny. Weird. I'm not saying I'm going to get myself a rollneck, black beret and start smoking gauloises... but more amenable to it, definitely.

Then yesterday, we went to see what can be described as a rather long film on the 1968 Paris Revolution. Regular Lovers was, as my beloved put it, a great 1.5hr film trapped in a 3hr rather pretentious body. In places it was extraordinarily funny, and the stillness, inaction and inertia of the people supposedly on fire for the revolution was telling. Nonetheless, I think Garrel could have told us that in under two hours, to be honest. Still, everyone was very pretty (apart from one poor unfortunate guy whose forehead was roughly the size of Mars) and it looked incredible. Phillip French described it as a rather tiresome affair . . . redeemed only by veteran cinematographer William Lubtchansky's outstanding high-contrast black-and-white images. I think there were moments of ingenuity, but IT WAS JUST TOO LONG. And I've seen Atarnajuat.

Still, it was a great opportunity to hang out with wonderful friends and ponder the various questions the movie raised - not least what period the allegories in strange 18th/19th costume were referring to - and eat moules afterwards. That was great. I love me some moules. It also brought about some blitz spirit, particularly for those who realised they needed a bathroom trip early on... and had to wait. And wait. And wait. Some people left, they couldn't stick it out. Not us. Not us. We stay to the end - no matter what.

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