Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven strikes me as the best American movie of 2002. It’s a brilliant recreation–more than a simulation–of a genre I have long loved, the 1950s melodrama; more particularly, it is a loose remake of, and homage to, the films of Douglas Sirk, most notably All That Heaven Allows (1955). Haynes recreates the style and feel of Sirk’s films, while also interrogating the relations between real life and cinematic depictions of it, as well as between 1950s culture and the culture we live in today. In doing this, Haynes illuminates matters of gender and sexuality in a remarkable way. He endeavors to do this also for race; but race relations are the one area in which (alas) the film doesn’t succeed…
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25th Hour, Spike Lee’s latest film, is actually pretty good–despite the rumors of Lee’s decline as a filmmaker, and despite the fact that this is one of his films with a largely white cast, that doesn’t deal at all with African American issues (which is not to say that it ignores race)… (Warning: spoilers to follow)
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One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2003 was to write more in this blog than I did last year–even if the entries are less polished (& hence less good).
I’ll start by talking about Abel Ferrara’s R-Xmas–which I think is the greatest Christmas movie, ever….
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Hal Hartley’s No Such Thing got almost no favorable notice when it came out in 2001. But I found it deep and compelling, one of Hartley’s best films. It’s sort of his version of Beauty and the Beast, or maybe Songs of Innocence and Experience…
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I saw a number of fine films at the just-ended Seattle International Film Festival, but the one that has stuck in my mind the most, indeed haunted me, was Shunji Iwai’s All About Lily Chou-Chou….
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It’s hard to comment on Jean-Luc Godard’s 2001 film Eloge de l’amour(In Praise of Love) after only having seen it once (earlier today at the Seattle International Film Festival). But I’ll try…
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The Deep End, by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, is one of the finer independent films of 2001. Crossing noir and melodrama, the film is a fairly close remake of the last of Max Ophuls’ three Hollywood films, The Reckless Moment (1949).
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I just saw (on DVD) Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko, which is an extraordinarily beautiful film, certainly one of the best movies of 2001. It’s a delicate, creepy, and quite affecting portrait of male teenage alienation and angst, subtly bathed in the colors of what might be described either as schizophrenic hallucination, or as science fiction….
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Seeing Monster’s Ball made me wish that James Baldwin were still alive, because Baldwin wrote the book on the racial hypocrisy of Hollywood. Monster’s Ball continues the tradition of films like The Defiant Ones and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner–films that wear their ostensibly anti-racist messages on their sleeves, while actually continuing to perpetuate the worst racist stereotypes…
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I just saw Trouble Every Day, the latest film by Claire Denis. I seem to be one of the very few people who actually liked it. It’s gotten bad reviews from nearly every reviewer, except for my friend Charles Mudede. But I think it is an amazing film…
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