Time to get back to Trifle, I think. Been kind of spinning my wheels on various other projects and, while I'm sure no one else cares, I do write this blog for a reason - to keep track of what I've been reading and watching. I've been very lackadaisical adding to it, and it is time to get fired up about it again, as I have been reading and watching, just not documenting.
First up are the movies.
I first heard about The Dead Girl after reading about it here on Vox, although I'll be damned if I can find that original posting. I find Brittany Murphy to be the cutest actress going today (oh, those eyes!). She was huggably adorable in Little Black Book and, despite being the murder victim in this movie, I was looking forward to seeing it.
And it was a pretty good show, all in all. The movie follows three intersecting story arcs in a very interesting fashion. The stories sort of overlap and intertwine, and are told in a chronologically twisted fashion. There were some great performances by veterans like Toni Collette, Giovanni Ribisi, Mary Steenburgen and even Piper Laurie. In the end, though, I'm not convinced everything hung together as tightly as it should have and in the commentary, the director (Karen Moncrieff, also the writer) mentioned how a lot of it ended up on the cutting floor. I'm also not sure of the motivations of the wife, and what she was doing.
But I love films that play games with chronology. Movies offer a unique opportunity when it comes to jumping around time and I find the ones that do it well to be some of my favorite movies. Memento is one of the best known, as it also plays games with memory, but other great ones include Run Lola Run, with its three versions of the same time span, and Betrayal, Harold Pinter's fascinating exploration of a failed relationship, told backwards in time. Even my all time favorite movie, Casablanca, plays games with time, albeit in the more straight forward fashion of using a flashback sequence. But by doing that, it lets the characters be more mysterious in the beginning, as they allude to times in the past that will be explained to us a little later in the movie. This makes repeated watchings a must, as that is the only way you can follow the interwoven dialog.
Next up was the HD disc of Goodfellas and, while it was miles better than The Departed, it was still only okay. It did have the most annoying voice over of all time, though. I just wanted the narrator to shut the hell up already and let me watch the movie. I'm really beginning to detest voice overs. They just pull you out of the "now" of the movie too much and don't seem to let anything visual take precedence. And while The Sopranos isn't perfect, maybe it has jaded me to other mob flicks. We're just about to finish up the fourth season, and it has been a pretty languid pace for the entire season, but they still seem like real, albeit not very pleasant, people. The gangsters in Scorcese's movies seem to all be cardboard pinups, and all too "movie-like". Just not all that much fun.
My most recent Netflix DVD was Steve Soderbergh's 2002 Solaris remake starring George Clooney. Now I really enjoyed the original Solaris, the classic 1972 Russian film by Andrei Tarkovsky (whose Andrey Rublyov was also an epic masterpiece). A long, languid movie on memories, emotions, and human nature, it isn't a movie for everyone, but I surely got into its flow and really enjoyed it. The Criterion DVD had an excellent critical commentary that opened up much of the symbolism from this 2 1/2 hour epic.
The American remake by the Soderbergh/James Cameron team strips the original of much of its languorous feel and goes straight for the mystery that is Solaris - ho and why it conjures up real memories of the space station inhabitants. Told in a pretty straight forward narrative (while the original does much more chronological hopping), it was okay but paled in comparison with Tarkovsky's masterpiece. You might be better off viewing them in opposite order. Start with Soderbergh's film, as it is sort of the Cliff Notes version and then settle in for the true masterpiece that is Tarkovsky's.