Monday, January 16, 2012

Movies that Begin with M

I really liked Moneyball
and Melancholia.

First, Moneyball.
Don’t you love getting screeners? This one came from S.A.G. And there we sat.

This is a movie about, primarily, looking at things in a new way and having the bravery to give that a shot in the midst of a group-think entrenched culture. Secondarily, it is about math. Baseball figures into it, too, of course. But that’s not the main thing here.

It’s sort of a dorky, nerdy movie with Jonah Hill pulling the statistics to teach Brad Pitt how to win by using pure formula. (Sort of cynical, sort of great strategy.) But what the deal is here…it’s the acting, the smart script, the directing. And isn’t that why you go to the movies? I know, many people go to the movies for fun and the script does not have to be that smart. Fine. Sure. But for the adults in the room, it is pleasant to have something well thought out.

With screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, and director Bennett Miller (Capote), you have a good helm going on.

The movie is purely enjoyable. Well done. Suspenseful. And I am, you know, no big baseball fan. But now, I sort of am. Maybe.

Brad Pitt made some crazy pact with some crazy devil. He’s about my age and he still has all that hair? How?

Brad Pitt’s acting really is great. But when you have had a life looking like that, being what he is, no matter how bad things get for your character, you always sort of look like people are probably looking at you and so you’ll probably be fine. Extremely good looking people have a great resource, themselves. We all know people hand things to people like that. This is a prejudice, I understand. And underneath the symmetry and the eyes and the nose and the pout and the thick follicles on the pate, maybe real pain lurks. But it’s hard to take it too seriously. Strange how beauty conceals or deceives or who-knows-what.

And he has that wife…

But really, best acting Brad’s done, seems to me. The cast, all around, is solid and interesting. Jonah Hill is clear and has almost no false moments. Growing up, our little Jonah.

Moneyball, see it. Today.

I loved Melancholia and I don’t care who knows it.

This thing is poetic, doesn’t make exact sense, is a bit over the top, has a mix of Brits and Americans and other European Whiteys at an upper class wedding that makes it all seem like the U.S. and G.B. are one nation. Parents from one country have children from another. This just slips along.

But the bigger picture might be, “IF THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END, WHO CARES ABOUT ACCENTS!”

Wagner, two sisters of differing bad temperaments (Kirsten Dunst is a depressive, her sister, Charlotte Gainsbourg, the anxious one), Lars von Trier directing magnificently as a bright blue planet is about to swallow up the earth?

By the end, I wanted to kill myself. You will, too. You have to see it.

It’s so beautiful and bleak. Who cares if the first part of the story is a bit unbelievable. (The wedding.) Or that you don’t understand how the super depressed main character, Justine played by Ms. Dunst, could ever land a good looking seemingly normal lad like Alexander Skarsgard or be promoted to director level at her ad agency considering what a mess she is.

Is she just a mess, now, because everything has nastily come together? Realizing she doesn’t like her job or her husband and the world is coming to an end? I don’t think so. It seems like she’s been like this for a long time. So, you know, it’s sort of hard to swallow.

But Lars von Trier (Nazi or not?) is going for full romanticism here. Let’s let him have it.

You don’t get to see things like this that often, if ever.

I didn’t recognize Keifer Sutherland until the credits. But I do that. I knew he was Kevin Bacony, but I knew it wasn’t Kevin. One gets dim with time…

But Kirsten Dunst’s breasts will wake you up. They could have called this thing Melons Cholia. (I tap my mike. Is this thing on?) It’s wonderful to see someone so beautiful in so much pain. She did a great job. With an insane witch of a mother (Charlotte Rampling) and loser nut father (John Hurt), divorced and seething, you could easily see how these two sisters ended up how they ended up.

There is this intense isolation. The world is ending and these simple rich people are all alone. And they have to face it.

I once worked for a man who had me open his mail during the whole Anthrax scare. He was very wealthy. The one percent of the one percent. He said, “I guess it doesn’t matter how much money I have, I could still be killed.”


But even better: When the world is about to end, the truly mad turn sane. The vibration finally suits them.

Visually arresting. Emotionally reaching into poetic truth. Go.

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