What a strange movie. I like the shot selection. I like the depth. This movie is a good lesson in "show don't tell". Most things are revealed through dialogue or situations. So opening the locker reveals the picture of Wendy, which primes us for Wendy showing up at Denny's, which reveals more of Billy's (sort of terrible) past, which breaks Layla's heart a little more.
We can all agree this movie is meticulous, right? Gallo wanted to show he could make a film. His camerawork, his mise-en-scene: as far as I'm concerned: all artistic decisions to reveal things about the characters. To that end, I question the end of the movie. We're set up for 'happy ending". Billy is happy. He's buying hot chocolate. He's buying heart shaped cookies. He's calling Layla his girlfriend. We even end the penultimate scene in the convenience store with a shot of romantic flowers. The last shot: Billy cuddling Layla. It's the image I used above. Look at his face: that's the most content I've seen that guy looks this entire movie. It's also the closest he's been to Layla the entire movie. That's one happy dude.
But look at Layla's face. Does she look happy? At all? Yeah. She said she loves Billy. And she was happy at times around Billy. But don't forget: WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HER.
We know she was in a dance class and can drive stick shift. We know she can think on the spot. We know she gets cold.
We also know she was kidnapped and never tried to escape. We know when her kidnapper let her go: she willingly stayed with him. We know that within a day she's telling the guy that kidnapped her and was mean to her: I love you.
The movie is a cruel trick of perspective. We view Billy as the main character. When we think Billy ends with happiness, we're happy. Who knows what will happen next, though. Layla could have a more fucked up history than Billy. She could be wayyyyyyyy more fucked up than Billy. She could have liked him because he was mean and now that he's nice: she's going to leave him. Whatever her life is: we know if she's been attracted to Billy in spite of Billy's behavior: something is wrong with her life, she's probably damaged just like Billy is damaged, but we don't know if she's gained the catharsis Billy has. Because of this, the final shot of the movie doesn't leave me happy, it leaves me haunted.
GoLion Episodes 1-6:
GoLion is the original Japanese version of Voltron.
Go is wwaaaaaayayyyayayayayaya more violent. And I think has a deeper story? Vo was simply a cut-up version of Go, so I assume they dropped some narrative material as well.
The changes are weird too. GoLion was a soulless being that simply loved fighting and proving its strength and was so arrogant it challenged the Goddess of Space. Voltron was just something created and used to fight evil. GoLion is thus on a redemption arc while Voltron is simply doing what Voltron does.
This is an example of the missing depth in Vo:
I must say: the formation of Voltron is A MILLION TIMES BETTER than the formation of GoLion. GoLion's is so...empty. While the Voltron formation is one of the coolest things ever. So many good quotes. And the GoLion song is sort of stupid "One...plus one....plus one....plus one...plus one...." Uhg.
The show is really making me want to watch Escaflowne.
Man of Steel; Despicable Me 2; Iron Man 3
Look, I realize my limits. I'm a busy guy. I've got lots of movies to watch, then talk about/write about. I need to read. I need to make time for the wife. And, unfortunately, I have to get back to the job that actually pays me.
So all of that combined with the fact that I saw The Brown Bunny, Laurence Anyways, and, hell, even Pacific Rim this week, I say to these three movies:
Who gives a fuck?
Stories We Tell:
If it weren't for that crazy ass Harmony Korine and his Spring Breakers, this would be my favorite film of 2013 so far. A convoluted, purposely misdirecting documentary about the power of storytelling, Sarah Polley paints a picture in the vein of the Iranian New Wave's innovative docudrama style that allows film and reality to become one in the same. I really never thought I'd mention Sarah Polley's name in the same breath as Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, but where those men found inspiration through film and its relation to life (with films like Close-Up, The Mirror, and A Moment of Innocence), Polley finds inspiration through film in relation to her own life by exploring her family history through a gathering of tales told by her family members.
I can spoil shit, right? Because I'm about to. And the revelation is pretty important to the juxtaposition of the film's three parts (seriously Nolan, take some goddamn notes!). So:
It's revealed at some point (very ambiguously) that every piece of home video footage on display throughout the film had really been a reenactment directed by Polley. And as the film transitions into this portion, we see that Polley and her biological father were arguing over how to tell the warped tale of her mother. He begged to make it into a book, a film--anything that could entirely be his own work. But Polley saw some rarely tapped potential in storytelling, and I'm bold enough to call it a landmark moment in film. Through creating reenactments, Polley did indeed create a piece of art that's entirely her own. But by combining the perspective of her family, she also created a layered piece of film that actually reveals the depths of storytelling and how intimately it combines all of its participants.
As far as I know (with my limited knowledge of film), this probably hasn't been done so magnificently since Close-Up, which is simply one of the greatest films ever made. Combine Close-Up with Mysteries of Lisbon and I think you'll get an idea. It's less concerned with film like Close-Up was, and more concerned with how we all fit into the realm of storytelling. At the end, Polley turns a camera on the audience, puts it down, and continues eating her dinner. It's a moment of catharsis that makes this wimp *right here* want to cry--a realization that we are all part of a story and how it's told.
A reallllllllllly bold piece of work, and easily the best film Polley has directed in her short career.
A strange movie indeed. Well, I guess Vincent Gallo is really strange. I also learned through reading comment sections and general opinions on the Internet (oh why oh why do you torture me so?) that people hate Vincent Gallo for a few things he's said, and thus hate all of his movies. Kind of like how all of D.W. Griffith's movies suck because he made that racist one.
Anywho, I really enjoyed this. The strip club scene is really beautiful. The colors, the innovation, the fluidity--it's all great. But what really makes it great is the build-up. The payoff, or "the twist" of the scene, has a much greater impact upon Billy once put into perspective and pit against the rest of the film.
This is a film that deals in the past and how it's shaped us. Up until this scene, Billy has been unable to create his own path. Literally every horrible decision he makes is the result of somebody who has caused him harm. His resentment towards the Buffalo Bills stems from his mother's resentment towards Billy for being born on the day of a Bills game. He has to make up a career and lie about his beautiful wife in order to please his horndog father. He creates a surrogate of Wendy (his past crush) in order to cope with the fact that he could never date her.
In essence, Billy hadn't been able to create his own identity until the moment he decided that he couldn't kill the field goal kicker. This allows the "twist" to carry a lot of humanity that escapes most twists in film (Nolan, for the love of GOD, please take some notes). Before this scene, several cuts to "home videos" would appear over Billy's face to reveal a moment from his past that shaped him. None of them are good: an allergic reaction to chocolate; his father killing a puppy; being sentenced to five years in prison. All of these moments haunt Billy and have built towards this very moment where he feels the need to murder a football player he places all of the blame on. But when we see that the entire murder/suicide scene was a scenario played out in Billy's head, we can see that Billy is committed to creating his own memories and starting a life that isn't dependent upon the people who shit all over him for years, but with somebody new who loves him for who he is.
I agree with Modig about Layla. The movie is strictly from Billy's perspective, thus our understanding of those final moments is shaped by him. I think it probably should have delved more into Layla, considering she's such an important piece of the puzzle for Billy. Also, Gallo hints at a lot of pain and suffering for Layla (the tap dance scene), but only allows us to catch a glimpse of it. Maybe that was the point. But for Billy's sake, I think exploring Layla would have made it a more multifaceted film.