Year of Good and Bad

2017 has been a difficult year. I’ve realized that, since the news about them broke, I have avoided all films starring Kevin Spacey or produced by Harvey Weinstein. Same goes for Woody Allen, Bryan Singer and others. I would like to say that it was an unconscious decision, but I have to confess that it was largely intentional. Used to be a time when I could easily divorce an artist’s stupid statements or antics from his or her outstanding artistic performance. The fact that Morgan Freeman appears in a Turkish Airlines ad makes him look like an idiot, but it probably won’t keep me from watching The Shawshank Redemption again. With sexual threats or abuse by Weinstein, Spacey and far too many others, a line has been crossed. I can no longer sit there and watch John Doe do his grisly work without thinking of Spacey and his crimes. So how to react? Should I really stand before my movie shelf and start throwing out Seven? The Lord of the Rings trilogy? Anything ever produced by the Weinstein Company and Miramax? All the Tarantinos? The English Patient? How do Woody Allen fans react to such abuse? Fans of X-Men or The Usual Suspects? I know, of course, that the harm done to the abused persons is not limited to the movie business, and that the damage they suffered weighs far more than the harm done to cinema and acting, but since movies are a crucial way of storytelling, at least to me, and since storytelling has the human condition at its center, I suspect that those movies will play differently to me when (if?) I watch them next time. Something, a kind of honesty in storytelling, will be lacking. Continue reading

Twins 2: Starring Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen

I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a bit longer ’till I start going on at great length about the films that didn’t click for me. You have my sympathy, though; it can’t be easy waiting even longer for something that highly anticipated… (On a related note: Amazon recently sent off my copy of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, according to the Moore-man “not my best comic ever, not the best comic ever, but the best thing ever. Better than the Roman civilisation, penicillin, […] the human nervous system. Better than creation. Better than the big bang. It’s quite good.” Sounds like something to look forward to.)

Anyway, the reason for today’s delay is this:

(Note: I’m afraid the YouTube video is in Spanish – here’s a link to the English video.)

While it’s probably a bit too precious for its own good, it’s still an amazingly well done advert. But what really throws me every time I see (and hear) Martin Scorsese is just how much he looks and sounds like an Italian-American, less neurotic though just as fidgety Woody Allen. And they both love New York.

Hmm.

Twins, separated at birth? Or are they actually the same person – i.e. Woody had better acting skills than we’d thought, and he’s been working on his Brooklyn accent? My guess is that this is just another one of those Hollywood mysteries that will never be solved. Like Ben Affleck’s success. Or William Shatner’s hair.

Spooky, huh?

Newsflash: Death cheats at chess!

From Lowell Bergman to Ingmar Bergman. (Classy, huh?) Yesterday we watched Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Call me odd, but I find his movies entertaining. They get a bad rap for being a film nerd’s wet dream (but actually somewhat boring), but I think that many of the parodies of his style are unfair.

At least in the two Bergman movies I’ve seen so far – Wild Strawberries in addition to The Seventh Seal – there’s always been a gentle sense of humour that puts the more lofty philosophical and metaphysical passages into perspective. For every scene with the knight Antonius Block contemplating life, death and the existence (or lack thereof) of God, there’s a scene with his more cynical, down-to-earth squire Jöns, puncturing the musings of his more pompous master. And beyond all this, there’s nothing boring, overly intellectual or pretentiously existential in the very real dread of the scenes with the flagellants or the distrurbed girl about to be burnt at the stake.

And there’s something refreshingly sly about both Block and Death cheating at the chess game they’re playing, even if they cheat for different reasons.

But, fair or not, without Bergman we wouldn’t have scenes like this (wait for a bit to get to the Seventh Seal bit):

P.S.: By the way, I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to give away that they both win in the end.