Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #100


End Of The Week Shorts #100

Today's shorts: Pola X (1999), First Man (2018), Ritual In Transfigured Time (1946), Suicide Squad (2016), What Women Want (2000), What Men Want (2019), Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)

French cinema. A place of lost souls, meandering struggle, grit, futility, sexuality and greyness. Pola X reinforces the stereotype, casting us into a world that refuses to be made sense of. Too dense to be more than a whirr of sensation during the first watch, I found this to be a haze of mild affect.

Known as an example of extreme French cinema, this is indeed trying to be provocative with its central incestuous relationship - which is brought to the screen with an unsimulated sex scene. Personally, however, I did not find this at all shocking as the scene is entirely undemanding and contextualised by unending ambiguity. Are they really siblings? Why did this all start? Where is this going? These are questions too pressing for any 'shocking' material to have an effect.

Whilst First Man is very clearly a solid piece of filmmaking, it feels ever so slightly lackluster.

A realist depiction of the first moon landing, First Man does away with much of the melodramatic nonsense you may come expect if too familiar with space movies like Armageddon. The core focus is the subtle emotional impact that this journey has on a rather broken, imperfect man and the quandaries faced by a governmental system with uncannily high ideals. There is then a dryness to this, also a distance at which we are kept from characters--which, one could easily argue, is more than necessary for this semi-impressionist exploration of subjectivity in the midst of a hugely significant historical event. Yet, whilst this has its logic, has its technical brilliance, First Man didn't grip me. And that's all I can really say about this film.

Deren's cinema loses its autobiographical sheen with Ritual in Transfigured Time and gains a focus on dance. Though I prefer Deren's first two narrative experiments due to their semi-mythic representations of the psyche, it seems all too clear that their is a certain sophistication in Ritual in Transfigured Time that was built through, not entirely present in, her previous works. More seems to be evoked with freeze-frames, with the circular elements of narrative, with movement and choreography. Alas, this doesn't secure the emotive evocation that At Land or Meshes of the Afternoon does. Much of this has to do with the biographical air that Deren's constant presence gives those films. But, there may be more. Only a re-watch will bring me closer to enlightenment.

I don't know what I took before I saw this for the first time - how high on my own delirium I must have been - but Suicide Squad has to be one of the dumbest movies ever written. The absurd amount of unfathomably stupid plot holes and illogical nonsense is sometimes dumbfounding. There is certainly a way to look past this - I somehow managed to do this on the first watch - but I'm not sure what the rewards are now I've seen this for a second time. All I have to say is... wow...

The first hour or so somehow manage to keep me hooked and then I'm stuck. The technical building of plot and character are, from the Hollywood perspective of cinematics , pretty flawless. I believe I've said it before, but our main character is not challenged enough in this film; he is let off far too easily and should have been pulled through more characterlogical and emotional torment. That said, I'm not the biggest fan of the way in which inner thoughts are used as a dramatic device. Far too strictly do they provide character and comedy. In no way are we ever given a true impression of the thinking mind - and such is a disappointment as much could be done here. Alas, this is most definitely Nancy Meyer's best film - best directed and most competently constructed on the page. Performances aren't bad either.

Far funnier than I expected it to be, What Men Want is less a remake of What Women Want and more a counter-part. The films need not be put into a conflict. What Men Want is undoubtedly less imaginative, but the comedic performances save all. Where Meyers' film has a better grip on the emotional and moral mess that the premise provides, Shankman provides better logic, addressing with more clarity the silliness of the question: What do men/women want? Both films fall short in the same departments: the depiction of a thinking mind is sub-par and simply utilised for comedic and narrative effect. Both films also appear rather naive in their depictions of masculinity/femininity with an over-reliance on stereotype and cliche. But, the laughs come. So, I'd happily recommend you watch this with a good friend as I did.

The endlessly anticipated Bill & Ted 3 just might come into existence in a few years--and I'm sure it will be a terrible mess--but why not use that as an excuse to make a return to a personal favourite.

I know this movie like music, almost every line and gesture, all the phrases and have unabashedly and unironically adopted 'dude' into my every day vocabulary because of this and Excellent Adventure. Whilst it is stupid beyond an excuse at certain points, Bogus Journey is a masterpiece of some class--too fun to be called anything but. Way non-heinous and truly excellent.

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End Of The Week Shorts #99

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Us - A Mire Of Many Possible Readings

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