Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Tarkovsky Year, Part Two: Slow And Steady Wins The Race, But What About Just Slow?

In my first post on Tarkovsky, I raved about his talent for taking simple yet mysterious images and imbuing them with a profound sense of meaning. In this post, I’m afraid I may have to backtrack a bit.

I blame myself more than I blame Tarkovsky, though. Several of his earlier works hit me so hard I expected nothing but perfection from him going forward. Yet perfection, as we all know, is an impossible ideal and a terrible thing to force onto someone else.

Still, I know I’m not alone when I look at the Russian filmmakers final two works, Nostalghia and The Sacrifice, and feel a sense of disappointment. In his new book, Zona, which I’m nearly halfway through by now, Geoff Dyer says: 
By the time of his final films...[Tarkovsky] is reliant both conceptually and incrementally on Tarkovskyan cliché. Bergman said that, towards the end, Tarkovsky ‘began making films that copied Tarkovsky.’ Wim Wenders felt exactly the same way about Nostalghia, that Tarkovsky was ‘using some of his typical narrative devices and shots as if they were between quotation marks.’ The guru became his own most devoted disciple (49).
I can’t put my finger on specifically what Dyer, Bergman, and Wenders are objecting to, but for me it’s Tarkovsky’s obsession with the long-take aesthetic--a technique which, I should add, I’m not opposed to. When used in the right way, it can be one of the most compelling tools in the filmmaker’s toolbox (4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days jumps to mind as an example). There are times, though, when that kind of approach just doesn’t work, and for me, The Sacrifice is a prime example.

Monday, March 19, 2012


If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, mark your calendar. On April 2nd at 8:00 pm, Tugg and I will be screening Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire at the Cinemark 14 in Denton.

But there's a catch--THE SCREENING WILL ONLY HAPPEN IF I CAN PRE-SELL 50 TICKETS BY MARCH 28th. If you want to make this screening a reality, head on over to my event page here where you can buy your tickets.

Tickets will NOT be sold at the door--you MUST buy them ONLINE by the March 28th deadline.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Twenty-Five Movies That Have Made Me Who I Am

Lately, my urge to blog hasn't been very strong, partly because I've been busy with school, but also because I haven't been sure of what to write about. That's why I decided to put this little list together. 

These twenty-five movies have essentially made me the person I am now, at twenty-seven. If you want to understand my tastes, my sense of humor, and what I look for in a movie, this list will tell you a lot about me. 

That doesn't mean all of these are my favorites--although many of them are, and some were at one point--nor would I say these are THE BEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME. They are merely the ones that have left the deepest, most noticeable impression on me. 

Over the next year, I'd like to dedicate a post to each one. A couple of these I've written about elsewhere, but oh well. My view is, there's always room for improvement, always the possibility of discovering something new.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tiny Furniture REVIEW

Recently, I watched Tiny Furniture, which The Criterion Collection just released on DVD and Blu-Ray. Written and directed by Lena Dunham, Tiny Furniture is about a young college graduate named Aura (Dunham) who’s going through that “What do I want to do with my life” phase many young people experience after college. Dunham’s real-life mother and sister (Laurie Simmons and Grace Dunham) appear as Aura’s mother and sister, inflecting the movie with a sense of authenticity and earnestness it might have lacked otherwise. Then there are the two men she divides her time with--Jed (Alex Karpovsky), a young YouTube “star” hoping to get his own show with Comedy Central, and Keith (David Call), an attractive but slightly slimy sous-chef she meets at the restaurant where she briefly works.

Tiny Furniture reminds me a lot of Noah Baumbach’s solo work, except that Dunham never pushes her movie's tone as far as Baumbach does. In other words, her characters never feel as quirky or snarky as Baumbach’s sometimes do, which I consider a good thing. Baumbach’s characters typically make me squirm, and not in a good way. Instead of leaning in to learn more about them, I typically want to get as far away from them as possible. (If I like anything Baumbach’s had his hands on, it’s because Wes Anderson’s been there to bring a lighter, more earnest touch, as in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Fantastic Mr. Fox.)

Dunham’s characters, by comparison, feel authentic and relatable, even if they’re privileged in a way I’m not. Aura wants to form an identity separate from her family’s, something we all have to do eventually, regardless of wealth. If she complains about her first world problems, they are at least first world problems that go beyond the borders of class, which puts Tiny Furniture leaps and bounds ahead of a trivial movie like Baumbach’s Greenberg.

Feel differently about Tiny Furniture or Noah Baumbach? By all means, share your comments below.