In honor of Virginia Woolf and her difficult but occasionally rewarding style, I’m not going to write a review of Stephen Daldry’s “The Hours” based on Michael Cunningham’s novel, which drew inspiration from Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway”.
And much like the Woolf’s novel (and that opening paragraph), the movie is layered and at times frustrating. So this time around, I’m just going to write some thoughts down that will hopefully all gel together at the end.
Woolf would be so proud.
“George Washington,” written and directed by David Gordon Green in 2000, is the story of a group of friends in small, depressed Smalltown, U.S.A. They play near railroad tracks, in abandoned buildings, and pick up stray animals as pets. They’re happy enough, but only because they are right at the point before they realize their lives aren’t going anywhere.
In the beginning, the focus shifts between the characters, but for the most part, is divided between two friends; Buddy (Curtis Cotton III), who is unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend, Nasia (Candace Evanofski), in the opening scene, and George (Donald Holden), a soulful boy with a soft head that prevents him being a kid with full abandon (and who is also the object of Nasia’s affections).
What a difference a medium makes.
Earlier in this blog, I posted a review of Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” (check the December archives if you want to reminisce). After the review posted, a coworker-to-remain-nameless teased me a little about my negative review but told me that the play was coming to Redlands.
To quote myself:
“A heady and talky enterprise would lend itself well to the stage, where the tools and tricks of film just aren’t available, but in a medium based on visuals, endless philosophical dialogue becomes dull and ultimately pointless. … “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead” is too much a part of the theatrical experience to make the cinematic leap; nothing specific dooms the film, except that the premise was flawed from the start.”
Not to brag too much, but I was so right.
“Life can be such a drag” is one tagline that appears on the DVD case for “Breakfast on Pluto,” Neil Jordan’s 2005 pseudo-biopic about an Irish drag queen. To paraphrase that line, sometimes Neil Jordan’s films (“The Crying Game,” “In Dreams”) can be such a drag. This time around, he hit the right notes for the character, but with his usual bumps in the story along the way.
The film opens with Patrick “Kitten” Braden (Cillian Murphy) being left on a doorstep in an Irish village by his mother (Eva Birthistle), a dead ringer for Mitzi Gaynor, who then splits for London. A local woman takes him in, but Patrick realizes soon enough, with his desire to dress up in woman’s clothes and wear makeup, that he’s not like the other boys in town. He copes as best as he can, making friends with some other outcasts, but always longing to meet the woman who left him behind.
” ‘Eraserhead’ was easier to follow than this movie.”
– Crow, “Mystery Science Theater 3000: Overdrawn at the Memory Bank”
The above quote is from my favorite episode of MST3K, a geek’s dream of a show. And after finally viewing “Eraserhead,” David Lynch’s 1977 directorial debut, I have to agree.
“No Man’s Land,” Danis Tanovic’s 2001 film about the Bosnian/Serbian conflict, is better known for an award than its subject. Yes, this is the film that won (stole) “Amelie’s” Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 2002.
And I know I’m diving into dangerous territory here; “Amelie” and “No Man’s Land” are wildly different films, apples and oranges, etc. But since Oscar set up the grudge match, and I have now seen both, I’m going to offer my voice to the debate.