Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Too Films

by Drew Martin

I had roommate in college...actually, it's more like I slept on my friend's couch after I was not permitted to squat my personal art studio at school any more...who was a film student. At a certain point he realized he did not like any film and so his rating system was based on how much suffering each film caused him. Not to be cynical, but I think this is an honest approach. Personally, no matter how good a film is, I always feel that I have lost two hours of my life at the end unless I got something accomplished during it, such as ironing or having had the opportunity to sit next to a loved one. To idly watch a film alone is deadening for me. In my house, movies are something that happen around me...someone is watching something and I may or may not have a look.

Two films I saw in the past two months that I wanted to comment on, both too commercial for my taste, were Julia & Julia and Local Color. The reason why I am mentioning these is because of their relevance to this blog's stream of thought. Julia & Julia was much better than I expected and it was hard not to like with good performances by Meryl Streep and Amy Adams playing Julia Child and Julie Powell, respectively. The parallel lives of the women are moved along through recipes, and food becomes the metaphor for accomplishments and obstacles, success and failure, equal opportunities and chauvinism, as well as passion and neglect. There is, however, another well developed theme: media...or at least writing. By writing I mean the act of moving one's thoughts and actions into words and the world of editing, acceptance, rejection, persistence and publication. The difference between Child's heavy culinary tomes and the younger Powell's chirpy daily blog entries are transparent and both move towards mainstreaming: the future of Child's television persona and Powell's movie deal, which you are actually watching.

The other film, Local Color sounds like a film I would like...and I probably would have liked it as a book...about the relationship of an eager young painter and a crusty old Russian impressionist. The acting was not good, the script was forced and all the great lines about art and artists were so heavy handed that it was painful to watch. Though I love documentaries about artists, the reenactments always leave a bad taste in my mouth, as did Pollock, as did Basquiat. The problem for me is usually the focus on the surface and the lack of art in the making...uncreative films about creativity. In Local Color it was hard not to make the connection between the blatant expression of the story and the call for respect of representational art. Fortunately, I disliked the film so much that I went to bed early and got an hour more of sleep, which I would have missed had it been a good film.