Sunday, October 29, 2006


Kind of a bummer, this one, because I was so ready for it to be good. Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation are so good, such great mood pieces, that I had high hopes. In part, I blame A.O. Scott, who wrote a positive review in the NYT. I should have waited to see in Anthony Lane had any opinions on it.

Sofia Coppola's known of course for how well she uses happenin' sound tracks in her movies, and she goes out of her way to live up to that promise here; for the first time, it's even sold as a double album, in fact.

Normally, I think of a movie's sound track as almost irrelevant because too much reliance on non-diegetic sound is a cheat, if you ask me. It's manipulative, or something. There are exceptions. The Leonard Cohen in McCabe and Mrs. Miller. The Simon and Garfunkel in The Graduate. But consider Desperate Housewives as an example. It's just a smutty soap opera, as thinly written as anything shown during the day time. But people who wouldn't allow themselves to watch a daytime soap flock to this one in part because, I think, of it's kind of dippy background music. Listen to it: it's light, almost circus music, and is used as something of an ironic comment on the loopy shenanigans going on on screen. "What a silly show this is" is the message: "we can't possibly take this show seriously; we're making fun of it, in fact." It's this ironic distancing that allows people to think that they're still superior to the soap opera they've become hooked on; it's how they rationalize watching something that is as worthless as it is (not that I never watch worthless tv of course; I'm not saying, that is, that I'm "better" than people who do watch the show).

Coppola's first two feature films are different in how they use music, though. In those movies, the incredible sound tracks really feel like a marriage with the tone and emotions behind the acting and the movies as a whole. But in Marie Antoinette, the music instead feels like a substitute for those things. Take away the sound track and there's nothing there. It's basically an expensive, rote, march through her tragic (?) life--a period piece Behind the Music. The fact that the sound track is a double album just underscores how much the movie is dependent upon hipster music for it to have any worth at all.

When I re-read this, I realize that I'm coming across harsher than I probably mean to. "Nothing there" is overstating it, probably. But still.

And another thing: I am getting grumpy as a movie-goer these days. A couple is talking through the first five minutes so I have to let them know how irritating they are and then move over a couple of seats. Then, there's this lady in front of me who's checking her phone through the entire film. It's not making any noise, but the screen on those things is so bright that it shines right in my eye--it's totally distracting. If there weren't a woman in between us, I would have leaned forward and chewed her out. There's actually a part of me that enjoys yelling at people for being rude at movies, I think. It's like a road rage where you can actually do something about it, maybe. Or maybe I just have issues.


Calypso said...

Trust me... you don't have issues. People are so annoying during movies, it's unbelievable. Even if it's a kid, their parents should be telling them NOT to kick the seat in front of them.

That's right... I almost chewed out a little kid for kicking my seat. That's how mean I get.

I'm seeing that movie tonight, by the way. I'll be sure to let you know my take on it.

PirateGecko said...

Augh, movie people. I can't even remember some of the examples of those horrible people I've had to endure a movie with. I'm guessing it had something to do with a lot of talking. Actually, I don't like going with my family because they make a lot of noise and I want to go sit somewhere else. But yeah, annoying movie people kill me a little on the inside. Unfortunately, I am too nice to say anything and have to suffer through their annoyingness, but I guess that's my fault for not saying anything.

T-Seabs said...

I don't even know what movies are out, and I even get emails from the Cinema Center.. That's how much I'm in the loop. It's funny though, I feel like a loser walking into a theater by myself as if I'm coming across as a unreasonably young creepy old man that has watching movies for a life or the guy who either was stood up or just can't get a date. I suppose I'm just a guy that can't get a date, but I often end up asking myself what is so social about watching a movie with people (when neither I nor they talk through it) and with my social network being as it is, no one talks about the movie afterwards beyond "good" or "sucked." So I'm usually left asking myself if that makes me the premature creep. The perverse side is I think I like doing things alone.

Mr. Hill said...

Thomas, trust me, it is totally cool to go to movies alone. You have to look like you are some intense intellectual and have to be careful not to laugh out loud at funny scenes--you can only betray a slight knowing bemusement at occasional on screen comic effects--but going to movies alone is an impressive act of individualism, really.

Obviously, this doesn't work for movies like Scary Movie 4. That would be dweeby.

Anonymous said...

I can't stand going to the movies with my mom. For some reason or another she's one of those family members that insist on speaking out loud during the movie as if we're not in a theater full of people at all but rather, still in our living room. Some how, in the end, I become the bad person for telling her to be quiet. Weird how that works out.

Mr. Hill, I must take the opportunity to encourage you to see the Prestige and/ord Hard Candy. Hard Candy in particular is my pick for the best movie of the year and the Prestige was absolutely fantastic.

T-Seabs said...

Indeed The Prestige is a wonderful movie. You can't go wrong with a major motion picture with Tesla in it. Least not when you're a former electronics nerd like myself. I haven't seen anything else lately.
Would wearing a cartigan help my intellectual appearance? Maybe a discrete leather bound journal?