Monday, March 05, 2007

you want the ocean and not what he's giving you

Now, there's no sense in me trying to pretend that I'm some kind of classical music buff, because I think y'all could call bullsh*t on me pretty confidently. So, I may as well confess why the piece I posted this week suddenly struck me. I saw two movies this weekend, and really adored both, for thoroughly different reasons. The first was The New World, and the second was Children of Men. Both were involving and engaging, for completely different reasons. But, it turns out, both were shot by the same cinematographer. That should not surprise me, in retrospect.

I started watching The New World, expecting only to hate it. I mean, Colin Farrell. Full stop. That is enough to keep me from seeing most any movie. But then add on top of that the subject of colonial settlement, and I felt nauseated, feeling certain that it would be poorly handled. Of course, I had forgotten all about Terrence Malick, and really that's his own fault. He makes movies so infrequently that it's easy to forget how his films just hook you from the opening frames and you simply cannot look away.

The thing is, between the Colin Farrell business and the subject matter of the movie, it could so easily have deteriorated into a sappy Legends of the Fall-esque crapfest. But that's where Malick and the cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, step in and steer it away from the wrong path. In their hands, the scenery is not scenery, it's a character in and of itself, a character with a much bigger role than Colin Farrell- and thank heavens for that. And because Malick's movies are all so deliberate, so slowly paced, the trees and the water and the mud and the wind all get a chance to really express their nature.

The prelude to Wagner's Das Rheingold opens and closes the film, and it is a thing to behold. It is the first four or so minutes of the piece I posted, and there is really something it contains that a song with lyrics simply cannot. Just like Malick, it builds gradually, seems like disorganized background cacophony until it builds and thus makes its point. It's used so well in the film that I would happily watch the first and last five minutes of the movie, and be thoroughly satisfied.

Children of Men was quite a different beast, and I do mean beast. With Terrence Malick movies, the point is not to analyze, but to experience. With Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men, I found myself analyzing to avoid experiencing, because, y'all, that movie is almost unbearably intense. And also unbearably rings true. During the movie, I kept trying to distract myself by noting Clive Owen- just keep your eyes on Clive, I thought, everything will be okay if you just keep your eyes on the pretty. Yeah, not such an effective strategy.

The movie was relentless and violent, but it was also shot with this eerie realism. It could be a place that exists right now. And some of the shots just held your attention when you most wanted to look away. I spent all of yesterday thinking about it in one way or another, and then I sat and wrote something out based on the film that jarred me so much that I frightened myself into temporary insomnia.

In short, a less productive weekend than hoped for, but a treat for my senses. Sort of. I'm not sure it's healthy to proclaim Children of Men a treat for one's senses, come to think of it.


I also must report, with a sad and heavy heart, the death of my faithful, trusty electric mixer. The mixer died unexpectedly of natural causes while valiantly working in the line of duty, putting finishing touches on chocolate buttercream frosting late last night after whipping through cupcake batter. The mixer is survived by muffin, pie, and cake pans, cookie sheets, spatulas, a rolling pin and a pastry cutter, among other things. The mixer was six years old. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make donations of flour to your local kitchen gods.

you already know how this will end

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