Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chat: Amelie and Black Swan

We're back! And we've got a (hopefully) workable plan to keep posting more regular.

--Tracy:  All right! Two movies that I don't seem to like as much as everyone else in the world does. Though one MUCH less than the other.
--Natalie:  Ditto. So, the lesser of the evils first?
--Tracy:  Okay. Amelie. It struck me as Wes Anderson-esque in its twee-ness. Which is a good thing--but it struck me as a little too long.
--Natalie:  I thought it was a little long this watch too. I don't know if it's because I'd seen it before and some of the magic was gone but it did seem long. I guess it's a little Wes Anderson-esque but I probably would like it better if it were a little more self-consciously intellectual a la Anderson. I'm ok with twee but I wanted something a little more from it.
--Tracy:  I only really care about the love story. Like the dude with the box she found? Didn't really care. And yeah--it's not intellectual at all. Something that did strike me this time around was Amelie's introversion. Having just read the Quiet book, did you think this movie was successful in depicting shyness?
--Natalie:  Oh, it's absolutely about introversion. Quiet talks a bit, if I remember right, about introverts devising intricate plans just to talk to someone--whether it's as simple as writing out notecards or as complicated as Amelie's plan. So I did like that aspect--how a severely introverted person manages the world and finds love for herself. But I wanted more of that and less of everything else. And just more something. Like it seemed to not quite commit to anything. Just a little of this and a touch of that and a strange effect here but we're not going full blown surreal.
--Tracy:  Yes! When she gets the dude to the cafe and is literally feet from him and can't look at him--oh I've so been there. But yeah--I like the little surreal touches, but I don't understand why they're there. Is it the friends/fantasies Amelie constructed for herself because she was so shy? Or are we in some magical version of Paris? There's a lot about the movie that I really love, but there's too much that just distracts from that for it to be a full-blown favorite for me.
--Natalie:  I've been there, too, so, yeah, that felt real to me. And, I agree, the surrealist parts detracted because they didn't DO anything. I'm on the same page about this one. I want to like it more because I do like Audrey Tatou but I also think she's better in some other roles and this one gets her typecast a bit.
--Tracy:  It SO does. She's an adorable pixie! So, on to the cover girl of our latest version of 1001?
--Natalie:  Well, first, the book says about Amelie a whole lotta nothing and plot summary and this tidbit of psuedo commentary: “Using a remarkable array of playful (and often playfully literal) effects, Jeunet transforms contemporary France into a beautiful and surreal reflection of reality, in which the wide-eyed and idealistic titular character spreads love and happiness to the frowning faces all around her. . . As fantastical as the world may be in Amelie, you never get the impression the film is about anything other than the way two hearts beating on opposite sides of a vast metropolis can somehow find a way to interlink and beat as one.”
--Tracy:  Oh right--the book. Well, yeah, the movie is about that, I guess. And that is a sweet sentiment which I totally am for. But the "fantastical world" detracts from the good story. It's like when Lucas put all that crap into the new versions of Star Wars.
--Natalie:  HA! Exactly. Ok, so now the other movie. Sigh.
--Tracy:  I have made my feelings on Black Swan known on our Occupy 1001 post, but just to reiterate--yeah, it's interesting but I ultimately HATE everything it has to say about how femininity, ambition, and art intersect. And the more people loved it, the more I started to hate it.
--Natalie:  And, me, too. Black Swan has the opposite problem as Amelie in one way. Whereas Amelie needed more, Black Swan needed MUCH less. The lesbian scene for example. That does not a damned thing for the movie but get it press. BUT, on the other hand, it has the same problem as Amelie in that it needed a healthy kick in the ass of intellectualism. I needed something smart and interior from that movie and all I got was shiny surface followed by bloody cracked glass. It parades around as a psychological thriller but psychology relies upon a brain and Black Swan didn't have one.
--Tracy:  Yes! How dare they call it a psychological thriller? The movie couldn't be less interested in the main character's interiority. It's very interested in her body and how the male director manipulates it. The male director, who though odious, the analysis of which the film endorses in every way. I liked the scene where she transforms into the Swan, but I hated what they ended up doing with it. Do you think Portman deserved the Oscar?
--Natalie:  Yes--and so DO something with that examination of her body. Make a point about that. But, alas, it really didn't. I liked the ballet parts--mainly because I wanted this to be more Center Stage than a lobotomized Mommy Dearest--but I don't think Portman deserved the Oscar. She didn't DO anything. Yeah, dancing is hard but Oscars are for acting. Except when they're given out for the most talked about movie that's "risky." And that's why she won. Who else was nominated that year?
--Tracy:  Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
Let's see--I would have gone with Williams.
Because you're right--she just looked uncomfortable for the entire movie. That's not acting.
That's face-making.
They didn't give an Oscar to Elijah Wood for looking wide-eyed and scared for 12 hours.
--Natalie:  I've not seen Blue Valentine but I think that would be my pick. And, actually, that's the year Christian Bale won for The Fighter. That's a one-to-one comparison in a lot of ways. Physical transformation required. Sport/art. Portrayal of pain. And Bale stomps her in every category. HE acted. And she--hilarious by the way--only made faces, you're right.
--Tracy:  Yes! And it was a better movie! It looked at the relationship between his ravaged body and his damaged mind. That performance was amazing. The Wrestler was a better movie. I think Aranofsky has a problem with women. Not like he's a misogynist, but he doesn't capture them in his (admittedly, sick and twisted) worlds as poignantly as he does men. Same thing with what's-her-face in Requiem for a Dream. And he had to make Weisz a dying angel in The Fountain.
--Natalie:  Oh, good God, Requiem for a Dream. I always forget he did that because I try my hardest to forget it exists. But, yes, Aronofsky has problems creating women that have interior lives. So, You bring up The Wrestler and the book does too. The book, actually, is just a big 'ol name dropper in this entry: “Aronofsky’s unique vision implies that there can be no true greatness without touching the darkest parts of existence, and he makes this all too clear through highly subjective storytelling reminiscent of . . . Rosemary’s Baby (1968). . . While lacking the honest inner dialogue of its predecessor and companion piece, The Wrestler (2008), Black Swan’s mix of psychological torments and classic horror elements will be sure to haunt you long after the curtains close.”
But, the book agrees with us re: lack of interior life which, to me, would mean I excluded it from the list. But the book loves to include an Oscar winner.
--Tracy:  How dare they compare it to Rosemary's Baby! For shame. RB is intimately concerned with a woman's experience of her own body, and how (evil) patriarchy seeks to interrupt and distort that relationship. And yeah--they're admitting it's shlock horror in pretentious clothing. But you're right--they totally pander to the Oscars. I definitely think Amelie, with all its shortcomings, deserves inclusion more than Black Swan.
--Natalie:  Agreed and agreed. And I'd rather a list include a movie that is just liked even if they can't quite come up with a reason than include one that they have to apologize for and only include because a shiny gold dude told them to.
--Tracy:  Hah! Yes! The tone is totally apologetic. So next, another movie about performance--but with a slightly different tone.
--Natalie:  Right, which is . . . . Sigh. I watched it but totally forgot
--Tracy:  42nd Street!
--Natalie:  RIGHT! I definitely watched that!

1 comment:

  1. Many good points. Although I do still love Amelie It's so whimsical:)