Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thinking About Movies

After I saw “Inglourious Basterds” at Cannes, although I was writing a daily blog, I resisted giving an immediate opinion about it. I knew Tarantino had made a considerable film, but I wanted it to settle, and to see it again. I’m glad I did. Like a lot of real movies, you relish it more the next time. Immediately after “Pulp Fiction” played at Cannes, QT asked me what I thought. “It’s either the best film of the year or the worst film,” I said. I hardly knew what the hell had happened to me. The answer was: the best film. Tarantino films have a way of growing on you. It’s not enough to see them once.----Roger Ebert

That's why I love film and watch movies over and over. I'm not a big fan of Roger Ebert, but I think he catches the essence of what I feel sometimes when I see a really good piece of art (film). A really well made, intelligent film, is hard to digest or really sort through on the first watch. There are things going on that you can't consider, because you don't have the time. I didn't care for "O'Brother Where Art Thou?", "The Big Lebowski", "Kill Bill", "Millers Crossing" or "The Royal Tennenbaums" when I first saw them. But, because of who directed them, I realized I had to watch them again to see why I didn't "get it". I knew what was going on, so I could take the time to enjoy the performances and/or the intent of the film. Most Coen Brothers and Tarantino films have layers to them. Tarantino directs his movies as if he were writing a book. He loves dialogue and lets the actors BE the characters in the film. When you see Carradine playing "Bill", you realize that it IS David Carradine. Nobody else could play that part. The same with Brad Pitt playing Aldo Raine in "Inglorious Basterds". Their pacing and "physicality" lend part of themselves to their character and Tarantino gives them the freedom to take over their scenes.

I've converted a couple of people over to the "dark side" when it comes to watching movies more than one time. I've heard it said that once you have seen it, you know what happens, why bother? Well, for many movies that is true. But who watches "It's A Wonderful Life" just once? Any fan of the Kubrick film "The Shining" has seen it multiple times. Ditto for classics like "The Godfather", "Fight Club", "The Wizard Of Oz", or "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance". If you love an album or a song, you don't listen to it once and put it away forever do you? Hell, radio plays the top 3 or 4 charted songs EVERY hour of the day. Great cinema is not to be viewed and put away. Like any other form of art, it's meant to be challenging. It should stimulate conversation and possibly allow you take notice of something in the world or in yourself that you haven't thought of or seen before. Granted, it's the rare film that does that, but if you tie your interest with directors, you will find movies much more satisfying for you.

Everyone loves to love an actor. But it's the directors that I follow. They are what the film industry is about. It's their medium. It's their craft. It's their art. Sure, I'll watch anything that Seth Rogen is in, he's entertaining. But, if I really want to know that I'm likely going to see a quality film, I follow certain directors. John Ford, Stanley Kubrick, PT Anderson, the Coen brothers, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorcese, and Ron Howard all produce or have produced stellar work. And not just once, they do it time and time again. And they put so much work and care into it, a person who really appreciates film, has to sit with their movies several times. I have seen "The Godfather" and "Millers Crossing" countless times and they still don't bore me. I get something out of every viewing.

Just thought I'd share that. Now, go rent "It's A Wonderful Life" again and take the time to watch the film unfold and to see how Jimmy Stewarts character "George Bailey" goes from a wide eyed, world in front of him young man, into a resentful middle aged man who blames his inner misery on those around him. You have seen it....you know the story....so focus on what made the film great. The performances and the story of hope, failure, and satisfaction. And......look for "Alfalfa" from The Little Rascals. He's in there.    

One flew over the cocoo's nest
The movies are the craziest
I'll be a movie nut until I die
The movies are great medicine
thank you Tommy Edison
For giving us the best years of our lives

The Statler Brothers

1 comment:

  1. I liked "Dead Man" with Johnny Depp. Some of the Indian guy's monologues may have been the best I ever saw. "F-----g stupid white men." lol. Check it out, Freddy, if you haven't seen it. There are some obscure and unsettling films, also - "El Topo", "The Magic Mountain", both by Alejandro Jadorosky which were part hilarious and part wtf? Like Fellini. The Coen Bros and Tarantino are fabulous stuff. Raising Arizona I could watch forever, lol.