Archive for January 12, 2010

Happy 100th

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on January 12, 2010 by dcairns

By some strange socio-linguistic quirk, it is not ever acceptable to refer to a woman as old if you know her name (although an unidentified person in the street might be thought of as an “old woman”) so one can only observe that the mighty Luise Rainer is today 100 years young. That must be really young.

While it’s tempting to attribute her longevity to getting out of the picture business while the getting was good, genes as strong as those cheekbones must also be involved, and a certain determination too. An attempted comeback in LA DOLCE VITA was thwarted when Fellini cut her scenes, and then he had the nerve to base the rather irritating movie star in EIGHT AND A HALF on Rainer, but even this can be spun into positivity: Rainer remained an inspirational figure even when not onscreen.

Hooray for her!


Something Wild

Posted in FILM, literature, Television with tags , , , , , , on January 12, 2010 by dcairns

So, we went to see Spike Jonze’s big-screen version of The Banana Splitz, which he’s called WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, perhaps to explain the lack of dune buggies. It’s very nice though: as Fiona said, it’s rare to see a movie that smells of wet dog so consistently. At one point, a Godzilla-sized Old English Sheepdog strides through frame, a massive alibi for the film’s prevailing pong. It’s also rare indeed to see a film visually indebted to Stanley Donen’s film of THE LITTLE PRINCE (quite markedly, I’m not kidding), unless you’re talking about the first STAR WARS, so that was welcome. I hope somebody brings it to Mr. Donen’s attention.

Lots of visual pleasures in this one, from the way the whiskers on Max’s wolf costume cast shadows on his face sometimes which in turn look like whiskers; to the conception of the Wild Things as essentially hollow bags, their stomachs wet canvas containers within which things eaten simply continue to exist; to the funniest prosthetic arm since DR. STRANGELOVE.

I was a little skeptical or resistant towards this movie going in, but really I found nothing to not like. Maybe that’s because there’s not that much there, but the slightness wasn’t a fault, just an attribute, and one that allowed more than the usual amount of attention to be paid to the textures of snow and dirt, the way people in baggy creature costumes bounce when they walk, and the wondrous things that can be done with a CGI-augmented animatronic facial expression. Great kid, too. Seems that Spike Jonze has really used pop promos well, to rehearse the stuff he wants to try out in features (as well as making diverting, attractive musical baubles): you can find a lot of the spirit of this one in his video for Daft Punk’s Da Funk, under the title Big City Nights.

In particular, the ever-pleasing notion of a character who is cartoony in appearance, but not in voice or personality.