A Safe Place

1971 post-psychedelic drama

Rating: 12/20

Plot: A hippie girl interacts with three males--a Central Park magician, a guy with glasses, and a guy with a mustache.

Really? That's the poster you're going with, A Safe Place?

This might break my 2017 record for laughing at a movie that isn't really supposed to be funny. At least I don't think it is. But the Henry Jaglom experimental editing in this thing got to be too much for me, and every time I saw Orson Welles closing his eyes and opening them again in an attempt to make an animal disappear, I just couldn't help myself.

With an old-timey score and lots and lots of repeated, seemingly senseless dialogue, this movie irritated my son who was in the room but not paying attention. Edith Piaf, Buddy Clark, Fred Astaire, Vera Lynn. I kind of dug the music, but of course, I'm downright elderly.

I'm too old for the experimental montages in this. I know that. This bounces around narratively, juxtaposes conversations from different time periods, and has frequent quick shots of things that don't matter a single bit. It's fascinating for about ten minutes, but once the novelty wears off and you realize you're going to be watching over 90 minutes of the same thing for reasons that you can't figure out, you're likely to just end up kind of annoyed.

I love that Tuesday Weld though. I would have loved a girlfriend like Tuesday, free-spirited and confusing, the kind of girl who doesn't use oven mitts. She's good enough here, mostly because she creates an aura of mystery. Or maybe I was just confused by the editing. Phil Proctor, one of her two love interests, seems equally baffled by her. Jack Nicholson tries his best to keep up and gets a great moment where he takes an enormous bite from what is either a sandwich or a hot dog.

I hope it was a sandwich.

Orson Welles appears to have just rolled off a park bench where he was sleeping to shoot his scenes. He makes a ball levitate and plays chess with himself, and I think he's speaking in some sort of accent. I'm not sure because my son was loudly complaining during the duration of this movie. But watching him try to make those animals disappear? That was real magic, my friends.

Definitely a product of its time, it might be a curiosity for fans of neo-hippie counter-culture films or Orson Welles or Jack Nicholson. It's laughably avant-garde, often much sillier than I suspect it's supposed to be, and just not a very good movie. Still, I can't say I'm disappointed that I invested the time.

Wonder Wheel

2017 Woody Allen movie

Rating: 12/20

Plot: It's 1950s Coney Island. Drama ensues with a family after an estranged daughter on the run from gangsters returns home, a son develops pyromaniacal tendencies, and the wife starts an affair with a younger lifeguard who looks a lot like Justin Timberlake.

This is the first Woody Allen movie I've seen on the big screen.

Kate Winslet and Jim Belushi do their best with weak material, and the period details are terrific. The film's got a great look with Vittorio Storaro's cinematography. Those gorgeous colors and often stunning uses of light are the main reason anybody should see this movie, especially on the big screen. I just wish the script and the story, the latter which only succeeds in being mildly intriguing, was even nearly as good as what Storaro does. The Wonder Wheel itself works as a metaphor with all its moving parts and the endless circles, and it sure is a pretty to see in the background of a lot of these shots.

As beautiful as it all looks, it's about as stagy as a movie can be. Eugene O'Neill is referenced in the dialogue, and it almost seems like Woody had written this as a play and shelved the thing but decided to turn it into a movie after he ran out of ideas in his early-80s. The actors are often Acting (with that capital-A), and even though there are some nice extended shots where the camera weaves around the characters in these settings as they interact, it does kind of feel like you've just drunkenly stumbled onto the stage during a production of an O'Neill performance or something. Winslet really does overcome the poor screenplay, and Belushi, though inconsistent, has some powerful moments. Timberlake is completely harmless, and Juno Temple is good in a more limited role. Timberlake's character does, for reasons that aren't clear to me, narrate this, apparently in an attempted playful way. It just seems kind of lazy and pointless.

My theory: Instead of making a movie every year, Woody Allen should spend a longer period of time developing something. I think Wonder Wheel could have been a great movie with that Storaro cinematography and that Winslet performance. Unfortunately, this just seems off and doesn't really add up to anything that I'm likely to remember a few years down the road or want to see again.

But I wouldn't mind seeing stills from it.

The Lure

2015 Polish horror musical

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Mermaid sisters join a family pop bar band. One falls in love with the son while the other develops a thirst for blood. Lots of singing and nudity!

Beautiful, ugly art here with the only Polish horror musical I believe I've ever seen. There's some yucky stuff on display in this Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale retelling. Maybe it's not as yucky as the Disney version since that filth is intended for young children while this one obviously is intended for inhabitants of Poland. Everybody knows that Poland doesn't have children. It starts with the disturbing nudity and those mermaid tails. As my faithful readers know, I'm a fan of nudity, especially female nudity. However, the characters in this one are naked way too much, and since they're supposed to be very young, I started feeling like a Republican running for Congress or something. Additionally, the naked mermaids--both played by actresses in their 20s, I would like to note--don't display all the parts women are supposed to have. I should explain that they do have legs at times in this movie. But they've been CGI-scrubbed (or have some sort of prosthetic) to give them the genitalia of Barbie dolls.

More disturbing are those tails. I'm sure this blog entry, like my The Little Mermaid post, will attract some gentlemen looking for a mermaid fetish website because we all know that exists. I'm willing to bet that not many of them would find much of this arousing, although there is some extended lesbian action and, as I said, a great deal of nudity. Those tails, instead of being the normal almost-cute appendages that one could think have a sexy novelty, look like bloated green eels. Created with a mix of mechanics and computer effects, they're monstrously intimidating bulbous things that I wouldn't want to fondle. Heck, I don't even want to pet the tiny sharks at the Indianapolis Zoo.

There are liberties taken with the Andersen story, as you'd imagine. There's a feminist angle to The Lure (the lovely-sounding Corki Dancingu in Poland) though it's not in any kind of empowering way. Instead, it's got a much darker feminist message. As with movies with similar aesthetics, like Under the Skin and Neon Demon, the lurid florescent colors and 1980's decor feel like the perfect colors for that sort of message. 

Despite a pattern with how a lot of the songs started in this movie (a personal nitpick that others might not even notice), I really liked the songs in this. There's one giant musical dance number that takes place in a shopping mall, but most of the musical bits, provided by that family band which is actually a real band, seems like musical videos. They're interesting neo-new-wave numbers, sinister and catchy. They're not the traditional songs you'd expect to hear in a musical, maybe more in a rock opera. I doubt everybody would enjoy them, especially after hearing so many of the tracks, but as a child of the 80s, the nostalgia got me.

This isn't a horror movie because it's scary, but it does contain a lot of horrifying imagery. And I'm not just talking about that extended shot where we get a tour of the sleazy cabaret where about half of the action takes place. This isn't an adult fairy tale that is afraid to show the bloody bits. There are surgery scars, chomped jugulars, and devoured thumbs. There's a lovely and grotesque transplant scene that, along with a touching song that is more touching if you really think about the context, is just so stunning and weird. And if the part of mermaids that turn you pervs on happen to be their curvy fangs, you're in luck because those chompers are on full display in a lot of scenes.

It's not for everybody, but those of you who got a little excited when you read the words "Polish mermaid horror musical" should check it out.

The Chumscrubber

2005 dark comedy

Rating: 11/20

Plot: After a high school kid's best friend hangs himself, some kids demand to help them find his stash of prescription drugs.

There were elements that I liked in this Arie Posin film that seems to want to be the next Heathers or Donnie Darko, but it's hopelessly uneven. It's another of those suburban satires, the kind of movie that makes you think all directors who lived in the 1970s and 80s had terrible experiences in suburbia. It's odd to watch a movie that loses its steam without really ever developing much steam. The main character is too mopey to spend over and 1 1/2 hours with, and a lot of other big-name actors--Ralph Fiennes, William Fichtner, Glenn Close--seem a little out of place, like they stumbled into the wrong movie.

The biggest problem is with the target of the satire. If you're going to pick such an easy target, it's got to be done extremely well or give a unique perspective. This has a few moments and an interesting message about parents in this sort of environment with narcissistic adults addicted to pills and therapy, but it never really gels and never really gets all that interesting.

The revelation of what a "Chumscrubber" is actually made me angry.

Female Trouble

1974 crime movie

Rating: None. Traditionally, I refuse to rate John Waters' movies.

Plot: A large woman runs away from home after she doesn't get cha-cha heels for Christmas. After being raped in a cemetery, she has a daughter who she tries to support with a career that is a hybrid of fashion modeling and crime.

I was supposed to watch this with my brother several months ago, but plans fell through. Then, he inexplicably stopped talking to me, de-friended me on Facebook, and texted me to leave him alone. So I had to watch this movie by myself instead.

I never know what to say about Waters' movies. My enjoyment of them varies, but I usually end up getting kind of sick of them around the halfway point after some of the trashy novelty wears off. This one's plot was almost intriguing, and it almost has some satirical value if you're willing to hunt for it a little.

Is this a Christmas movie? I'm only asking because I know somebody who is working on a list of the best Christmas movies of all time and would like to know if this qualifies.

It's almost like Thomas Edison invented movies so that humanity could roll into 1974 with the ability to create a scene in which Divine plays a character that rapes another character Divine is playing. It was oddly arousing. David Lochary, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Mary Vivian Pearce, Cookie Mueller, and the rest of Waters' motley crew of thespians all appear to be having a blast making these movies, so why should I complain about anything.

The opening song, performed by Divine, is something else.

For the record, I think this movie is better than both Pink Flamingos and Desperate Living, the films that bookend it. I didn't rate those either. Maybe that's why my brother doesn't talk to me anymore actually.

The Disaster Artist

2017 movie about a movie

Rating: 15/20 (Fred: 16/20; Josh: 15/20)

Plot: Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero become pals and make the world's greatest movie.

Watching the opening of The Room as it is portrayed in this movie will be one of my favorite movie moments of the year. As cliched as it might sound these days, The Room really is one of my favorite movies, and Tommy Wiseau is one of my favorite people. Once I found out that Franco and company were going to put Sestero's excellent book on screen, I had mixed feelings. Part of me--the really selfish part--wasn't happy about it because I'm not sure I want a movie I love so deeply to have its popularity expand well beyond my circle of friends. Sure, I know there's a cult following. I know it's not just me and Josh and a handful of others who can always get a smile out of each other with a well-timed Wiseau reference, like having our school secretary page him on the intercom without having any idea who he is. But having normal people, people who aren't obsessed with terrible movies made by delusional foreign directors trying to make good ol' fashioned American entertainment, suddenly know all about The Room? I just wasn't sure I was ready for Tommy Wiseau to become a household name.

Still, there was some excitement to see what these guys would do with a story filled with so much potential comedy, drama, and--yes--even some heart? And watching that premiere and some of the most infamous scenes from the movie being created before our eyes really was a beautiful experience. The movie opens with some famous faces in front of a black background talking about their love of the movie, and one of them (I want to say it was Adam Scott) talks about how if he could go back in time to experience anything in history, he'd want to be at the filming of The Room. I think this would be on my short list, too, and this movie gives people an opportunity that is the next best thing to that.

There's a fine line with something like this between homage and ridicule, and another concern of mine was that Franco would nail the comedy with this whole thing but fail to capture the humanity of Wiseau. Because that's totally in the book! Wiseau is part-oddball, part-enigma, and part-tragic figure. There's been Oscar buzz for James Franco, and he really is excellent, mostly because he's able to not just do a killer Tommy Wiseau impression but also is able to be completely hilarious, mysterious, and completely human. I think the best thing I can say about the lead performance here is that there wasn't a single moment when I thought I was watching James Franco. "Continuity is in your forehead" and "Wow, happy birthday" and numerous other lines are delivered with perfection by Franco, and I like how there's no real attempt to "explain" the idiosyncrasies with Wiseau, like his multiple belts or his origin or money source. And during those moments when Wiseau, like any other human being rather than a buffoonish cartoon character, needs to show emotion, you really feel it with Franco, especially in the body language and expressive eyes. It really is a good performance, and it could have turned out so very wrong.

 Are there issues with everything outside of Franco's performance? The movie, really from the get-go with those interview snippets, is a little too cameo-heavy with appearances from Sharon Stone, Bob Odenkirk, Bryan Cranston, and even Wiseau. Apparently, David DeCoteau makes an appearance in this. Dave Franco and Seth Rogen and others who get a lot more screen time might have been a little too campy at times. It was good to see Nathan Fielder, star of the best show on television, in there though. My biggest gripe might have been the music. I guess this is technically a period piece, but all that Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, Rick Astley, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, and Faith No More, along with some cliched montages, were choices that lacked originality and made things generic and silly at times.

I've waffled between a 14 and 15 while typing this up and still don't really know what I want to rate it. I suspect the experience of watching this on the big screen with a pair of good friends has something to do with a possibly-inflated rating. But I also appreciate that this seems like a true labor of love.

Personal highlights for me:

1) Watching the Wiseau character throw a football for seemingly the first time
2) "Wow, happy birthday."
3) Our introduction to Wiseau, also the Sestero character's first exposure to the future legend
4) A lot of stuff I wish I wouldn't have already seen in the trailers
5) "Continuity is in your forehead."
6) The filming of the bellybutton sex scene
7) Jacki Weaver's Carolyn's somewhat touching storyline
8) Getting to watch Rebel without a Cause with Tommy Wiseau, maybe a dream of mine
9) All that glorious behind-the-scenes stuff, allowing fans to be flies-on-the-wall
10) No explanation of the spoons. Because you know what? Not every mystery needs to be solved.

Silent Saturday: Part One of Who-Knows-How-Many of a Georges Melies Film Fest

shorts from 1896-1901

Rating: No rating for shorts or collections of shorts. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Plot: Various plots. Or not plots at all. Most of these are magic tricks.

This is long overdue. I've enjoyed Melies' films in bunches, but haven't taken the time to watch this 13+ hour collection of what I assume is everything he made that is available. I haven't done the research to see if that's actually true or not. This covers disc one of this collection.

A lot of these films are cheap magic tricks because that's what Georges Melies was--a magician. Or maybe he really was a wizard. There were around 60 shorts on this disc, and as you'd probably expect, they're a little hit and miss. And some feel a little redundant after you see some of the same tricks utilized again and again. That doesn't make them any less mesmerizing, of course, as the beautiful backdrops, the display of early cinematic creativity, and the surreal imagery are just stunning.

Everything is so static with the shorts from this 5-year period. Most of these 60 pieces have one set and at least appear to be one continuous shot. Of course, there's a lot of superimposition going on here. Things start with the first remake in cinematic history, "The Card Game," about a group of people playing cards. Yes, it's as dull as it sounds, and I worried that a lot of these were actually going to be just filmed slice-of-life things that didn't showcase Melies' ingenuity. Silly fears as the rest of these, with the exception of one where a camera is mounted on a moving train which was still worth seeing, show off Melies work in his studio.

A series with a character named Dreyfus is a low point as all of those were too dull for me to even care about any narrative being shared. I also didn't care much for a lengthy (well, 9 minutes) Joan of Arc short. That one was also, for some reason, narrated. An extended "Blue Beard" story also lost my interest although it had its moments with bouncing keys and a great stabbing.

Some might argue that since you can see through the special effects and see obvious cuts, it diminishes the magic. I, however, chose to just believe in the magic since it's more fun that way.

And there's tons of magic to love here! Watch an ax chop a kid into a pair of boys; check out the removal of heads in several shorts including the awesomely-titled "Four Troublesome Heads" and, more violently, "The Cook's Revenge;" and loads of characters appearing and disappearing. Melies really enjoyed that move as he works his movie mojo to have figures and objects materialize and then completely vanish. "Nightmare," "The Haunted Castle," "The Magician," and "The Bewitched Inn" all utilize that little trick. There's more head with "Triple Conjurer and the Living Head," and eventually, Melies realizes that he has the ability to inflate things like heads and characters, taking advantage of that special effect in "The Man with the Rubber Head" (sounds like a Robyn Hitchcock title) and "The Devil and the Statue." Another effect that I enjoyed involved disembodiment or dismemberment with body parts removed and sometimes reassembled in shorts like the goofy "Fat and Lean Wrestling Match" and the misspelled "Extrordinay Illusions." Extrordinay? The latter used superimposition to whimsically detach limbs and heads while the latter used dummy parts and stop-animation to get the job done.

I mentioned the sets earlier, as well as the static shots. That is totally not a complaint here because a lot of these sets have all of these beautiful details. The time you get to spend with them, sometimes only around a minute in a few of these shorts, is great because you get to absorb all of those details.

Melies is at his best, I think, with the ones of these that involve dreams, usually surreal little nightmares where the subconscious plays practical jokes on the poor snoozers. Of those, my favorite is "The Astronomer's Dream," the first that uses a gigantic moon puppet with working eyeballs and eyebrows and a mouth that eventually regurgitates children.

Look at that fucking thing! Give me that over an X-man any day! No wonder Melies decided to reuse that monstrosity. When you create something as big and goofy as that motherfucker, you have to just keep rolling it out there, right? 

At some point in this blog entry, I got a little drunk. Bloody Mary is my drink of choice. I apologize for the language. 

Other highlights on this disc: 

"After the Ball," a pervy short with the sexy undressing and bathing of a woman whom Sir Mix-a-Lot would have likely enjoyed. The use of hand-painted colors in "The Haunted Castle" and especially "Pillar of Fire" are also awesome. The colors in "Pillar" are just plain obscene! 

Melies tells the last half of the Cinderella story, the first where I noticed actually scenery changes. It's not terrific, but it features nightmarish clocks that I liked a lot. I'm too lazy to research whether or not that's the first version of Cinderella ever filmed. 

One really beautiful short shows a ship wreckage with superimposed fish and a dopey sailor dummy. It just has such a cool look, the kind of thing you figure Guy Maddin pleasures himself to. 

Two of these use some tricks that Buster Keaton would later incorporate. "Nightmare" (and some others) reminded me of stuff in "Sherlock Jr.," but no, it does not diminish Keaton's brilliance. And "One-Man Band" has multiple Melies playing instruments just like in Keaton's "Playhouse." There are seven Melies! Buster did that more humorously and more effectively, but he has twenty years of other people playing with film and perfecting the craft to draw on. 

One of my favorites was the possibly-blasphemous "The Devil in the Convent," one of a few where Melies plays a devil. He also shows off his dancing skills as a demon in "The Devil and the Statue." 

I also really enjoyed the obvious use of dummies in a bunch of these. They were, arguably, less magical than the rest of Melies' effects. 

Stay tuned for part two which will cover disc two. 

Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond--Featuring a Very Special Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton

2017 documentary

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Jim Carrey is interviewed about that time he went nuts and thought he was Andy Kaufman for a few months. Behind-the-scenes footage of the filming of Man on the Moon is shared.

"I learned that you can fail at what you don't love, so you might as well do what you love."

I have more interest in Jim Carrey now than I ever did during his heydey. He's either become a fascinating individual or he's doing a good job of acting like a fascinating individual. You get the sense that Carrey is pulling our legs as he talks about Kaufman almost inhabiting him or possessing him during the filming of Man on the Moon, but then you kind of see it in all the footage filmed when that movie was being made. Is Carrey a nutcase? A charlatan? An actual vessel that Kaufman somehow poured himself into from beyond the grave? It's hard to tell, but it's also very hard to argue with the evidence presented in this thing.

This actual made me appreciate both Man on the Moon and Carrey's performance even more. I also liked that movie fine, a very good biopic, but in the review linked above, I said that Carrey's performance eventually just starts to feel like a 2+ hour impersonation. Watching all the behind-the-scenes stuff here with Carrey's method acting on full display, the performance seems more impressive. It also seems amazing that the movie even got made in the midst of all the Carrey-created chaos. Or maybe it was Andy and Tony Clifton who created the chaos. It's really kind of hard to tell.

Carrey has a unique perspective on fame and celebrity. I'm not sure it's fair to pinpoint this moment in his career as a turning point or not, but I really hope with his painting and whatever else he decides to do with the rest of his life, that the guy can find peace and happiness.

Something learned: Carrey buried a ten million dollar check he got for The Mask with his father.

And speaking of The Mask, I might want to revisit that movie. I remember giggling uncontrollably every time I saw the preview for that when it came out, seeing it at The Indiana in Terre Haute with my wife, and being really disappointed.

Silent Saturday: The Charley Chase Collection

shorts from 1924-1926

Rating: none

Plot: Various

This was a long, silent two hours.

How about these for 1920's comedy titles:

"Mum's the Word"
"Long Fliv the King" (What?)
"All Wet"
"Mighty Like a Moose"
"Crazy Like a Fox"
"April Fool"

The titles might be funnier than the actual movies. There's a cute barber shop highlight in "Mum's the Word," and you get to see Oliver Hardy in a couple of these things, but I wouldn't say the majority of this is worth watching.

The exception is "Mighty Like a Moose" which definitely is worth watching for fans of farcical silent comedy. There's an O. Henry-esque plot in this one that is a lot of fun although the whole thing seems a little mean-spirited.

There's a volume 2 of Charley Chase films released by Kino, but I can't think of a reason I would watch it.

Slack Bay

2016 lunacy

Rating: 14/20

Plot: In the early part of the 20th Century, a pair of detectives try to get to the bottom of a missing tourist epidemic at the titular vacation spot while a pair of kids fall in love.

I don't believe I've seen another movie from director Bruno Dumont whose other movies seem like they might be a little heavier than this one. This absurdist mystery throws in magical realism, a little cannibalism, some slapstick, and a generous helping of black humor. One of the main appeals is the ridiculous performances, especially from Fabrice Luchini and Juliette Binoche, the former who brings a wide-eyed idiocy and the silliest walk I think I've ever seen while the former just goes nuts. It never really completely gels, likely because I can't convince myself that it's about anything, but it's fun for those with a tolerance for absurdist French comedies.

Drive, He Said

1971 sports drama

Rating: 10/20

Plot: A college kid tries to play basketball during a turbulent period in American history.

This Nicholson-directed movie is too dull to be even anything that you should be curious about. Questionable editing, confusing characterization, and clunky plot development make this a frustrating work that isn't even interesting as a product of its time. It's very dated, and I suspect it was even a little dated when it came out.

William Tepper, Karen Black, and especially Bruce Dern did well with what they had to work with, but that unfortunately wasn't a lot.

The basketball scenes were pretty good although flashy editing made me a little dizzy. There were also probably too many basketball scenes.

I Believe in Santa Claus

1984 Christmas movie

Rating: 5/20

Plot: All Simon wants for Christmas is for the kidnappers in Africa to let his parents come back home. After mailing a letter to Santa, he finds a way to sneak onto a plane headed for Norway (or whatever Scandinavian country this movie claims is where Santa lives) with a classmate and finds the jolly red elf and a fairy he hangs around with. He also has to survive a cannibalistic ogre.

I'm aware the dubbing doesn't help, but there's no excuse for the ridiculous plot of this family Christmas movie. Kidnapping? That cannibalistic ogre? A fairy? Santa battling crocodiles (or alligators) or engaging in trash-talk with monkeys?

I would rather not talk about the songs in this one. I had to take a hammer to my head immediately after the movie ended to chase them out of there. 

A thrown dog to wake up children, the janitor character, elves who are just children with crappy ears. It's just what I asked Santa for!


2017 drama

Rating: 13/20

Plot: Young Auggie, a kid with facial deformity, attends school for the first time at the start of his fifth grade year.

Maybe it's a minor quibble, but I'm disappointed that some guy named Michael Alan Healy plays Chewbacca in this. Peter Mayhew wasn't available?

I just looked up Michael Alan Healy. He's got seven acting credits, and they're all for playing Chewbacca. In 2000, he was Chewbacca in some AFI tribute to Harrison Ford. Since then, he's been Chewbacca on four different late night shows (Letterman, Colbert, Fallon, and Kimmel) and on a Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards show.

So I don't know what's going on with Chewbacca anymore.

This movie is completely harmless. It deals with the idea of bullying in movie-ish ways, and gives Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson something to do even though they could have filled those roles with people who aren't stars. Actually, I'm taking that back. Nobody can take Owen Wilson's spot here, but I'm not going to say why. It's the kind of school experience that really only exists in movies, too. I did like the kids and thought that Jacob Tremblay did a really good job. You really do fall in love with little Auggie from the start even if you feel like you were manipulated into doing so.

There are some nice moments throughout, and the movie's got a theme that seems especially important in this terrible calendar year, but there's also a lot of fluff or sprawl and some subplots that take up too much space. As a whole, it has trouble finding a consistent tone and is too color-by-numbers to be anything more than a big-budget after-school special.

This book it's based on is all the rage. I've skimmed parts of it but not enough to know if it shares the same structure the movie has. This isn't 100% about Auggie, and that surprised me a little bit.

Silent Saturday: Flesh and the Devil

1926 romantic drama

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Childhood pals fight over Greta Garbo.

The story's a bit pedestrian, but Greta Garbo just oozes sexuality and there's a fun, chilly ending. That Garbo could act, and she didn't need a voice. It's a good-looking movie, too. A climactic scene done in silhouette is stunning, and there's a great scene lit seemingly by a match in cupped hands that I liked a lot.

That's all I got. I had forgotten that I watched this movie a couple of Saturdays ago.

A Ghost Story

2017 ghost story

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A guy dies and then, as a ghost, watches his wife grieve and eat pie. Then, some other people happen.

There's a scene in this where Rooney Mara comes into her house, washes some dishes, notices that somebody has left her a pie, cuts a piece of the pie, eats that piece directly out of the pan, sits on the floor of the kitchen, eats the entire pie, runs to the bathroom, and vomits. It's all while Casey Affleck, last year's Best Actor in the Academy Awards, wears that sheet with the eye holes and watches her. This scene has to be at least 8 minutes long, completely unbroken. I can't tell if it's my favorite scene of all time or the biggest waste of time I've experienced in a long while.

I don't understand all the metaphysical logic of this ghost stuff. There's a scene where a bunch of things rapidly happen, and Affleck does something and then abruptly ends up in another setting. I don't want to spoil it for you in case you decide to stay awake long enough to get to that point in the movie. If you've seen this, I'd love it if you'd explain to me what the hell happened there.

This movie has a unique pace. It moves at ghost speed. Time doesn't work right. Maybe that answers my questions that I addressed up there.

This movie gives you more space than any movie I think I've ever seen. Maybe since Gerry, also featuring Affleck. Nothing much happens on the screen during long periods of time, and the viewer has no choice but to reflect on what's going on. It makes the experience more harrowing.

There's some unfortunate music, but Will Oldham, a musician, comes in and makes up for that with lengthy pontificating. I think he has way more lines than Affleck and Mara combined.

I was moved by an interaction with a second ghost and an ending that both floored and confused me.