Last night, I watched Cure, and I can’t pretend I completely understood it. Think j-horror, mixed with existential ennui, mixed with weird cultural dissonance. I think Scott Tobias says it best when he calls it “unsettling and deeply enigmatic.” Ultimately, I think I prefer the director’s Kairo (or Pulse) better — even though that, too, was deeply enigmatic. Yet, while it’s a film that doesn’t lend itself to clear understanding, it’s not one I’ll soon forget.
This afternoon, I saw The Wrestler with a couple of friends (and writing group partners). It’s very good, if not exactly remarkable, almost solely because Mickey Rourke is so good. The rest of the cast and Darren Aronofsky deserve some of the credit, too, but it’s largely Rourke who elevates what’s otherwise a fairly predictable paint-by-numbers melodrama. I’m tempted to revisit (or visit for the first time) some of Rourke’s other work. There are a lot of really awful movies in there — you can’t have the comeback without the fall from grace — but the man is very gifted and natural actor.
Last night, I watched The Station Agent, which is really quite sweet and features a nice performance from Peter Dinklage. And then this afternoon, I watched The Lady in the Water, which is sort of stunning in its lousiness. I’ve genuinely enjoyed all of Shyamalan’s previous films — including the oft-maligned Signs and The Village — but I found almost nothing to like about this film. Thinly drawn caricatures, unconvincing and convoluted mythology, ponderous direction, giant leaps in logic and believability, terrible dialogue that drowns itself in heavy exposition, out-of-place comic relief, mediocre special effects — and all of it weighed down by Shyamalan’s ego and evident disdain for critics. If nothing else, the film is proof that a great actor can sometimes redeem even lousy material, but also that lousy material can undo even the greatest of actors. There are some bad performances here, mostly among the supporting players, and nobody comes out looking particularly good. But the blame rests squarely with its writer and director.
I’ve heard some very bad things about The Happening, his most recent follow-up. Do I dare tempt fate and watch that too?
I just finished watching I’m Not There, which is like a weird, fevered dream about Bob Dylan. It helps to know something of his life and his music to appreciate the film…yet it’s not a biopic. It’s not the place to go looking for information. And yet, it’s maybe the closest we can ever get to a biopic about Bob Dylan. A distinctly weird experience.