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October 16, 2002

DVD Journal: "Rollerball"; "The Shipping News"; "Donnie Darko"; "Monster's Ball"

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Friedrich --

The Wife and I had a DVD orgy over the long weekend, managing to watch four movies without sitting all the way through any of them. A good reason to love DVDs is that they give you the ability to bop around inside a movie and get to know it in the same way you can get to know a book by paging around inside it. No need, if you aren't completely taken by the work, to labor your way through every little bit of it.

The remake of Rollerball is certainly the stupidest movie ever made, although redeemed, if only for 5 seconds, by a few shots of Rebecca Romijn topless. Cute!

The Shipping News was beige and painful beyond belief despite Cate Blanchett, who has a few tiptop minutes as a doomed, high-strung working-class sexpot. I love some of Lasse Hallstrom's movies ("Cider House Rules," "What's Eating Gilbert Grape") but here his taciturnity gets pretty opaque.

Donnie Darko is an oddball pretentious gen-Y art thing in the guise of a dysfunctional-suburbia horror/sci-fi thing -- "American Beauty" meets David Lynch meets a Moby video, basically. The youngster who made it is certainly talented, and his movie did make me think "whither the cinema" thoughts that I won't bug you with. But he's also the winner of this week's "get back to me when you have a little life experience" award.

I have to admit I enjoyed hating Monster's Ball, a Euro-fantasy of southern bigotry and insanity that has a handsome, German-art-photo-book design. But I'm a sucker for suave Eurosleaziness, at least the sexy stylishness of it. (The movie doesn't look anything like what the south actually looks like.) But it also has one of those two-messed-up-and-desperate-losers-make-some-kind-of-pathetic-connection narratives, and a boring "issue" -- racism. What would Europeans do with themselves if they couldn't sneer at Americans? Billy Bob Thornton is passable, but Halle Barry's a really, and I mean really, terrible actress, always reaching for (and never coming close to grasping) an appropriate emotion. I hit the normal-speed button so I could give the infamous fuck scene my full attention. It was hot, arty, and pretentious, just like I like 'em. So I watched it again.



posted by Michael at October 16, 2002


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