Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chat: Point Blank

 Natalie:  So, Soderburgh says this film inspired/s his work. Were you inspired?
 Tracy:  I was inspired to shoot my television after the longest walk ever down a hall. Did you like it? I just could not get on the Point Blank train. Though Angie Dickinson is quite pretty.
 Natalie:  Ha! I did not like it one bit. Angie Dickinson is pretty but she needed to be pretty with better material to work with. And, surprisingly, this was the second, supposedly miles better version of the screenplay. Lee Marvin took over and tossed the original and hired Boorman. Boorman later said Mel Gibson's Payback (based on the same source material) was probably made from the original screenplay Marvin tossed. Ouch.
 Tracy:  So "You're a very bad man, Walker!" was from the better screenplay? Ouch indeed. I couldn't decide if it was campy or sincere. I mean, what was up with that slap fight? And the naked spiral fall to the pavement?
     Natalie:  Yes! That's top writing there. I sadly think it was serious. Everything I read about it seemed to make it seem like we should take it seriously. While "cult classic" was tossed about, "camp" never was (which surprised the hell out of me). Even the book wants it to be serious: “as arrestingly and unselfconsciously stylish as the day it was released.” But that seems wrong because the film purposefully plays with color--filters and just interior/clothing color choices to make things mono-chromatic (I bet that's what Soderburgh took, hi there Traffic) and that's as far from "unselfconsciously stylish" as you can get.
 Tracy:  I totally agree. It's absolutely self-consciously stylish. Dickinson was constantly in yellow! And that spiral fall was hella-stylized. I also bet you're right about the Soderbergh borrowing. But yeah--I could not give two shits about the revenge plot or the betrayal or the absurd Alcatraz drop. It was trying so hard with the music and the Marvin but fell way flat.
 Natalie:  I think the whole thing was flat, too. All of the emotion seemed drained from it--but I also read it was French New Wave influenced so there ya go. So, the book also says this: that it is a  “masculine film—full of tough action and even tougher sexual situations” and then, about the only tough sexual situation I remember, “The long moment where she [Chris/Angie Dickinson] seduces Reese for Walker’s revenge remains an agonizing and perversely sexual love scene, erotic yet gut-wrenchingly distasteful.” Is the lack of emotion and presence of guns what is supposed to make it "masculine"? Because I thought it was actually one of the most neutered crime films I've ever seen. And, the prostitution for a good cause scene left me without emotion either--I didn't feel anything--probably because the most recent Mad Men had a similar situation that left me feeling dirty because it was handled so well. I certainly didn't think it at all erotic. 
 Tracy:  This movie had NOTHING interesting or even comprehensible to say about gender! It didn't give the audience different versions of masculinity to judge between. And the honey pot scene was, yes, completely whiffed because Angie Dickinson played it like a robot. Not that that was her fault (or an interesting performative choice) because everyone played everything like a robot, with the score doing all the emotional work. Oh, when she turned on all the kitchen supplies--that was I guess supposed to be an objective correlative for her insulted femininity but it was stupid and made no sense. Yeah--the gender arguments were completely muddled and almost felt like a bad collage of what crime films should have, but without any coherency.
 Natalie:  I agree. When she turned on all of those appliances I almost thought we might get something good for a minute but nope. And then when you think about it, it's just stupid and trite that she would turn on all of the appliances to protest whatever she wanted to protest after her "masculine" attempt at slapping a lot left her strangely exhausted. Is it just me or was everyone in this film easily exhausted and knocked out? I really doubt Angie Dickinson can swing a pool cue hard enough to knock Lee Marvin for a loop.
Tracy:  They were probably all bored out of their minds and looking for a reason to pass out! And that slap fight just Would. Not. Stop. Hence I was hoping for the camp. Oh my God, and what about that screaming singer??? 
 Natalie:  Oh. My. God. That singer. I wanted to reach through the TV and strangle that man. So, to wrap up what the book says, it concludes with the idea that this is the "perfect thriller in both form and vision" and talks about how Boorman used wide screen to his his advantage--tossing people from one end to the other, basically. I think we both think that's nonsense. Using wide screen isn't going to save the film.
 Tracy:  I hate it when people talk about camera angles and cinematography making an otherwise shitty movie "perfect." It was crap. Crap crap crap. Which makes my plea for it to be booted rather unsurprising.
 Natalie:  I know--shooting crap from a different angle just makes it crap from a different angle. I would boot it, too.
 Tracy:  But next week we get a movie that makes interesting cinematographical (maybe not a word) choices in the service of things like plot and character. And it's French! Can't believe it!
 Natalie:  Almost! Next week we have The Big Sleep--I forgot about it when I said Amelie was next before! So, next we have a crime film that's actually decent! And then we have the interesting French film

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