So it’s been about forever since I’ve written about anything. It’s the same story too; a bunch of topics on my mind and a total inability to actually sit down and write about anything.
And bleh. I’ve already bitched about that so much that it’s boring. A total source of frustration for me? Yes. But once you’ve complained about it what else is there to do? Change it or continue to complain. Too bad change is hard.
Anyways, this post is about movies. Yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever written about movies here before, furthering this blog into some random shit piece of work where I don’t write about anything consistent. Big surprise there.
Sunday, I watched three movies. The only thing notable about this is that I usually don’t watch movies. I have a huge “movies to watch” list on my phone and never make progress on it. I’m talking Black Swan, The Departed, among others. You know, classics that have been recommended in Reddit threads that I’ve noted but never find the will to actually watch.
Watching movies is a strange thing for me. I need to be in the right mindset to watch a new movie, and a mindset that should match what the hell I’m watching. You can’t watch a horror film on a sunny and positive day and there’s no way you can watch something like Black Swan or The Shining unless you’re in some strange and fucked up mindset. While you can listen to a song on a whim to some degree this doesn’t work with movies. You’re signing up for a two hour experience and the mood must match what you’re about to do. It’s basically an adventure.
Sunday I awoke severely hungover and detached from reality and this mood was strange enough to set me on my movie watching path. So this is kinda like a ‘review’ or my thoughts on these three strange-ass and totally unrelated films I watched.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime For Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
(Note: From now on I’ll just call this film “Borat 2” because fuck that ridiculous title.)
I wanted to watch Borat 2. I had some anxiety about it but in my hungover state just fucking started playing it on Amazon. And…And it’s Borat 2. Borat. More Borat. You know what you’re going to get…
Borat (the first one, titled Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) is a famous enough movie and I don’t think I can say much that hasn’t been said before. It’s a comedic masterpiece and more importantly serves as a terrifying window into the US’s post 9/11 culture. It’s hilarious but was also dangerously accurate to our culture at the time. Sadly, many of the views displayed are still in force today which makes the film even more depressing; the 14 year old film is still somehow strongly relevant. The hatred and fear of foreigners, the paranoia over the possible “fall of western culture,” and societal change in general, it’s all blatantly shown in Borat.
Which is why I wanted to watch Borat 2. The first Borat, following along our beloved and clueless Kazakhstani reporter friend, was relevant enough, but if there was ever a need for another Borat movie it would be now. Our society has degraded even further since the original was released and the world needs another Borat. Something to save us all. Someone, like Sacha Baron Cohen, the actor behind Borat, to provoke the masses into stating their deeply held beliefs for everyone to see. Someone who has the unique power (besides All Gas No Brakes) to take the shadowy perspectives of the other side and make them visible. He gives a voice to the insanity to those that don’t agree with us and share our views and gives a point of view that is both shockingly believable and simultaneously absurd. It’s basically a window into our current US culture and a window that I think is much needed.
That perspective also comes with a heavy dose of sarcasm and parody of course. I mean it’s Borat for fucks sake.
So what to say about Borat 2? I don’t know. It’s Borat, it goes along with what I expected, but kinda fell apart midway through. I kinda lost interest and didn’t give a shit. Something about the first Borat film felt edgy where this one just felt samey and already-been-done. But then the last act pulled the shit together into a fantastic and hilarious climax and the film also served as a fun little father/daughter bonding lesson. Like shit, I didn’t think I’d get feels in a fucking Borat film or witness any character development, but that’s what happened. The end brought everything together in a positive way, showing a new bond between father and daughter, along with a twist that should’ve been obvious but totally wasn’t to me. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was actually pretty good. Maybe not as much of a landmark as the first, but more coherent with an actual plot I guess.
Yeah. For movie two I decided to knock off one of the films that was on my list for the past year, Eraserhead. Some strange-ass black-and-white film from 1977 created by David Lynch. I’d never seen any of his other work, but we’re talking Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet here; the dude is known to make some strange ass films and this might be his strangest film ever. I don’t even need to see the rest to know that this was indeed some weird shit.
I think I first became interested in David Lynch after reading a David Foster Wallace essay on him. He made his work sound really fucking abstract and important, like this was a guy making films that were strange, made zero sense, and left it up to the observer to interpret. I love shit like this. Works that give you some idea to start from, but don’t hold your hand plot-wise into some heavy-handed conclusion. Let yourself interpret the work. Let the artist present their work, as abstract as it is, and let the viewer put their own interpretation on it.
Honestly, this was my inspiration behind a ‘book’ I guess I’m working on. My idea was to adopt this approach: just write some random subconscious shit and see what happens. I’m glad to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well this worked. I’ve written some of my favorite stuff by writing and not knowing what the fuck I was trying to say. No plot, not plan, just write and see what happens. It helps me notice things about myself that aren’t obvious and it lets others wonder what the hell I’m even writing about. It gives much more room to interpret the work which is always fun.
But I still hadn’t watched a single David Lynch work. Huh. That’s strange. Until Sunday when I finally got around to it.
Eraserhead is…what I expected, but in a great way. Fucking nonsense from a standard perspective — I had no idea what was going on and still don’t — but something about the movie sticks with you. The whole desolation of the film, the harsh and subconscious industrial soundscapes, the imagery that seems to come more from dreams than anything in reality, and the awkwardness of the human interactions. The entire film seems like some anxious fucking fever dream/nightmare with an imposing sense of impending doom in each scene. You’re not even aware of what the doom even is which makes the feeling all the more dreadful. There’s no room to relax. There’s no room to reflect. It’s an oppressive atmosphere and the film revels in it. The entire thing has you feeling uncomfortable and on-edge putting yourself in Henry’s (the main character) place just trying to process what the hell is actually happening to the guy.
It’s a movie that takes some processing. You can’t finish watching Eraserhead and be like, “Okay, yeah, that was good,” or, “No, that was fucking stupid.” You end it sitting quietly asking yourself, “Huh? What?! Uh…Ummm….” And it’s fucking great when a movie ends that way.
Our 16-year-old was critical about it the entire time (rightfully so), frequently commenting how “It’s a film that you need to write a report on about ‘what it means.’” while deriding the whole lack-of-plot thing. But yet, to my surprise, she was also trying to interpret what the hell was going on despite shitting all over films that leave it up to the viewer to solve! I don’t know if she realized the beauty and irony behind that, but I found it intriguing. Here was someone who loves romantic comedies and straight-forward plots arguing about how dumb Eraserhead was but at the same time trying to piece meaning to it all. It was wonderful.
And that’s all I have to say about Eraserhead so far: the power of letting the viewer (or reader) figure their own shit out. Without a clear or direct purpose the human brain automatically and instantly tries to put meanings and patterns to anything it sees. Even if it’s confusing, random, and without obvious reason, meaning, or order, the mind will try to make sense of that. And I think that is the power of abstract films like Eraserhead. Sure, David Lynch can have his own reasons for the choices he makes in the film, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters in art is how the viewer interprets is, and by being abstract you yield nearly all the power to the viewer. You see what you see. You understand the art in your own way. You take your own perspective and project it over the film. It gives a nearly infinite amount of interpretations to the art, and how is that a bad thing?
And it reminds me of this introductory quote in Bioshock: Infinite.
(Note: I have a bit more to say here. There’s a very blurry line separating art that just puts random shit out there in an attempt to be ‘deep’ and whatever you’d call ‘legitimate obscurity’ and I don’t know where that line exists. Surely you can’t plop out a musical album of static just to ‘let the listener figure it out’ but the opportunity to do so still exists to the ‘real’ artist. I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with artistic intentions, but still, the fact there are no hard and fast rules in art continually fascinates my mathematic and rule-centric brain. The fact that people make good art with no ‘rules’ blows my mind.)
To end this fucking post: The Proposal. A straight-forward romantic comedy from 2009 starring Sandra Bullock as Margaret and Ryan Reynolds as Andrew. And let’s not forget the legendary Betty White as Gammy. It was a shock to watch this following fucking Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and Eraserhead, but here we are.
By this time I was drunk and when the kids asked if they could watch The Proposal I sloppily hit the ‘rent’ option on Amazon Prime TV. $3.99. Who gives a shit?
I’d saw the Proposal before, and only have good memories about it. It wasn’t like my favorite movie ever, but for romantic comedies I found it pretty fucking good and strangely memorable.
Fun fact: I don’t like romantic comedies. They’re formulaic. They’re boring. They bring nothing to the table. They don’t do anything that hasn’t been done before. While any stock rom-com might be ‘good’ plot-wise, if there’s nothing special about it I fucking hate it. And I’m not picky against only rom-coms; this is my complaint against almost all films; they’re boring. Who gives a shit. Horror films? Boring. Spooky, unknown ghost or killer that you need to evade. Action movies? Bang-bang gun shit to save the world with explosions everywhere. Rom-coms? Same boy-meets-girl, boy-hates-girl, boy-falls-in-love-with-girl shit with comedic undercurrents. Hollywood is filled with cookie-cutter plots only serving to make quick money and there isn’t much art to be found. It’s no surprise that I hate about 85% of movies.
And while I don’t know why The Proposal breaks from my gripe with rom-coms and films in general, it does. I seriously can’t pinpoint a single gripe with the formula of the film. Yeah, it’s been done before, yeah nothing really crazy happens, but I don’t hate the film for some reason. In fact I find it enjoyable. Maybe it’s the setting in remote Alaska on an island, maybe it’s Betty Fucking White as Gammy, and maybe it’s the growth of the characters, maybe it’s Bullocks and Reynold’s obvious chemistry, maybe it’s the Cessna 208 Amphibious Caravan on floats at the end; fuck if I know why I find the movie good. I just do. It’s as confusing for me more than anyone else: this is movie I shouldn’t like for basic reasons but I found pretty fucking good. Especially following the mind-bending Eraserhead, how could I find this kinda stock rom-com actually good? And maybe this is my intrigue with The Proposal: why the fuck do I even like it? It’s another puzzle, maybe not as abstract as Eraserhead, but a puzzle none-the-less. All I know is that, hell, I liked the movie, and fuck it if anyone tells me I didn’t like it.
So that was my Movie Party on Sunday. A random collection of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm For Benefit of Kazakhstan, Eraserhead, and The Proposal. And I liked each film for totally crazy and separate reasons. I don’t recommend you guys watch these like in this order or anything, but yeah, go fucking check them out. Chenqui!
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