Archive for the ‘Movies’
from Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
by William Wordsworth
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.
The annual festival is where we first saw Renoir’s Grand Illusion for the first time and became a fan of Eric Rohmer via The Baker Girl of Monceau and Summer’s Tale. Last year they had a fine selection of recent movies. Watch as many movies as you can, even the ones you know nothing about. Especially the ones you know nothing about, and allow yourself to be surprised. (In this year’s slate I’ve only seen Toute Premiere Fois. It’s hysterical!)
Whit Stillman makes literary movies, specifically Jane Austenesque movies, so no one is surprised that his new movie Love and Friendship is an adaptation of a Jane Austen novella, Lady Susan. If there is anything Whit Stillman fans are used to, it is waiting. Since his first movie Metropolitan came in 1990, he’s made a total of five (and one TV pilot, The Cosmopolitans on Amazon–are they doing a full season?), for a five-year wait between productions. This is why we have memorized his movies.
On the other hand his last movie Damsels in Distress came out in 2012, so maybe he’s picking up the pace. In Unserious Austen, Adam Thirlwell nails what we love about Whit Stillman movies:
Sure, the surface may be all frivolity and flippancy, a high bourgeois/aristocratic setting. Such archness and such a setting can make it easy to see these films as exercises in the unserious unserious. But Stillman’s gravity comes from the way he both understands the terrors of social relations—the pursuit of love and friendship—and also admires all strategies in artifice that might soften these terrors, subvert the tyranny of misinterpretation, and restore a version of utopia. Against the malice of the social, he places a range of tactics: optimism, elegance, tradition, invented selves and accents, the desperate maintenance of outmoded or contradictory ideals. So what if an ideal is absurd! And his highest ideal is eloquence.
While waiting to see Love and Friendship, I read Lady Susan, which Auntie Jane wrote when she was 18 (but wasn’t published till after her death). It’s a 64-page novella in the form of letters between the widowed Lady Susan Vernon, her friend Alicia Johnson, her disapproving sister-in-law, the mother of the sister-in-law, the brother of the sister-in-law who becomes smitten with Lady Susan, and other characters whom we could consider Lady Susan’s patsies. There are wonderful moments of bitchiness and hilarity in Auntie Jane’s novels; in this shorter work the bitchery is more concentrated and less subtle. You end up rooting for Lady Susan—”the most accomplished coquette in England”—despite her conniving, manipulative ways because she’s leveraging her limited power in a society where she’s supposed to shut up until her husband lets her speak.
I wanted to write out all the letters, but I have work to do. Maybe table it for a future project.
What else can you do with the superhero movie? The Russo Brothers made a 1970s-style conspiracy thriller (Captain America: Winter Soldier), then an excellent fight movie that was really about friendship (Captain America: Civil War). (And friendship is worth fighting for, even more than money or power.) Bryan Singer has made a movie that recalls the German expressionist classic, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. With mutants. An excellent stylistic choice, because how else are you going to portray telepathy? Voice-overs get tiresome after a while.
Major roles in the X-Men series have been recast, bringing the movies closer to the comics—hushed chorus of “It’s the Phoenix” from the next row. (They’re going to have to recast Wolverine soon, even if Logan is very old, if only to minimize the ick factor when the love triangle comes around.) Granted, any heavy in armor could’ve played Apocalypse, but Oscar Isaac continues his attempt to be in every movie ever made. The regulars—James McAvoy as Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Beast—reunite to battle the world’s first mutant, who is disappointed with the state of humanity in the 1980s and plans to destroy everything and start over. I guess he saw the hairstyles. Evan Peters as Quicksilver gets another amusing music video, and a reverse Luke-and-Vader scenario.
Since the first X-Men adaptation, also directed by Singer, the history of the mutants has been conflated with the Shoah. The resonances are very loud in Apocalypse, where Magneto returns to Auschwitz. Erik, what makes you think you can pass for normal? Darling, we’re freaks.
Thom, get a haircut.
Their new album A Moon-Shaped Pool dropped yesterday. Critics call it A Haunting, Stunning Triumph.