more movies…

On Tuesday, Blue Velvet was playing at McCarren Pool, the currently unrestored but gigantic old pool in McCarren Park, Greenpoint.

We got there at around 6, even though the movie itself wasn’t scheduled to begin until around 7:30 or 8, because we read that the venue opened at 5:30, and we wanted to get good seats. Well, when we arrived, the place was empty. There were a few tents in the back serving mexican food, and a tent in the middle giving away starbucks energy drinks, and then a few people wandering around, but only maybe one or two people actually sitting down in front of the screen. It seemed like the reason was probably that the sky looked slightly on the grumpy side, but when we went in, the guy at the front, who checked our bags for food & drink to make sure we weren’t bringing in our own instead of buying theirs (I had to finish an Odwalla before he’d let me past) assured us that there was no way they’d be rained out. I specifically asked, how rainy is too rainy, i.e., is a little drizzle enough to put off the show, or does it need to be a downpour, and who makes the call, etc, and he said, oh no, nothing will stop the show, we will go ahead no matter what. I was a little surprised by the answer but didn’t think too much about it as the weather prediction had been only 30% chance of showers and I figured even if it did rain it probably wouldn’t last too long, so I thought he was going on that assumption.

Anyway. We got some mexican food and it started to rain. We decided to find a spot to stand underneath the brick arches to stay dry until the showers were over, so found a little niche behind some electrical wire and opened up a crossword puzzle book (& finished the last wednesday! yay!). The rain got much harder. It started to look like it was coming down at quite a severe angle and possibly really screwing with the tent cuisine. We were quite safe, although the puddle of water in front of us was getting quite deep… Eventually, the rain let up, and a magnificent rainbow appeared directly across from us and it seemed as if everything was right with the world… except that we were meant to see the movie in a pool, and it was flooded. The show was cancelled.

Still, we saw a gorgeous rainbow, had a great dinner in williamsburg, had fun in the pool, got free coffee flavored energy drinks, and walked through parks, so it was worth it.

The next night we discovered Fellini’s 8 1/2 was playing in Socrates Sculpture Park at about 6:30. It was meant to start at 8. We basically just ran for the subway and hoped there’d be seats left, though we were worried about getting a seat where you could still read subtitles.

I had never seen 8 1/2 before. But we got fine seats, even though it was pretty crowded, because it is one of N’s favorite films, and so he basically just walked right up to an empty spot next to the projector and sat down… no one seemed to mind.

I enjoyed the movie, although it had been very hyped and wasn’t really what I’d expected. It wasn’t exactly a Good movie because it was basically a discussion about the impossibility of a Good movie, which I agree with, fundamentally – yet, like all art, we try to make something anyway, as impossible as it is to ever make what would actually be worth making. And this project did work, because it was so self-aware, although at the same time, it offered little beyond its own self-awareness, so it felt limited as well: but it knew it was limited! so you couldn’t fault it for that; it was always ahead of you, so to speak. And really, many of the fantasy / dream sequences or lines back and forth were just so wonderful that it didn’t really matter what the set up was, exactly. Any excuse to create that scene or character… But altogether it didn’t tie up and satisfy something, because its essential point was about the hopelessness of that goal, so a frustration always hung there a bit for me. Like the filmmaker got away with more than he should have because he said from the start that nothing was happening. But maybe the secret is the title: 8 1/2 refers to the number of movies he’d made; every time as a director he goes through this and the 7 1/2 other times he had sucked it up and made it into a story of some kind, he had put that symbolic girl in the white dress, he had cast all the characters, he had made all the decisions and gone forward and just completed the thing, and it had been a movie, Good or not, a finished thing. This time we see what happens when you just can’t deal with all the imperfection of art, all the pain of trying to create when the product is never what you hope for, but it’s just one among many, and Fellini still goes on to keep sucking it up in his other movies even though he never does in this one. (almost related: woody allen discusses creative process with the Onion…I basically just wanted to link to this interview)

Finally, last night I saw Tropic Thunder. I had been expecting a sort of silly comedy about a bunch of guys too dumb to notice they’re not in a movie anymore, with lots of references to serious war movies – a spoof that could be fun but might get a bit eye rolly. This wasn’t that movie. Yes, there were silly jokes, plenty of them, but the whole angle of the thing was self reference rather than movie reference, and the satire was all pointed toward hollywood, or really, our general cultural thinking that we can represent something that someone else has been through and thus, make it more true by making it more accessible to everyone. This was brilliantly pointed out in Robert Downey Jr’s monologue explaining that you “never go full retard” in a movie, since the audience has to relate; it was subversively portrayed by his character being a white man playing a black man; and it was the basic plot with regard to war movies all the way through, as a look at the disparity of actual war and creating a movie about war and the emotional experience of the audience watching the movie about war and thinking it is meaningful: when those emotions they are feeling are based on people’s presentations who have very little idea about what war is actually like. Much like Robert Downey Jr in that blackface.

It was really funny too.

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