cinemania, petit

Writing the post i do not love you had an unexpected rebound effect – despite what I wrote, I found myself thinking about, reading about and watching movies more than I have in a long time.

In three days I watched two movies – not a drop in the bucket for the serious cinephile, but for me, a sort of big deal.

Two days ago, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which I got because someone I know is reading the series for the summer and talked it up. Usually I’m a book first sort, but I had not quite gotten to the checkout with Stieg Larrson’s novels more than once over the last couple of years, so I thought I’d work backwards from the movies.

My dvd copy sucked, misbehaving through much of the last half. No matter; it was as good a thriller as I’ve seen in a long time. There’s a realism to it – the violence is very violent, and the furthest thing from cartoonish you can imagine – and the leads behave like damaged people, not stars playing damaged people.

On the other hand, Shutter Island, tonight’s movie, was terrible. Martin Scorsese made the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio as the star; it’s supposed to be a psychological thriller but doesn’t earn it.

DiCaprio plays a U.S. marshal investigating a mysterious prison/mental hospital, but as the movie works itself out DiCaprio is in fact a patient on the island, suffering from delusions.

DiCaprio turns in a fine performance, but the movie plays like a clock that’s almost run down. As it hit each one of its “don’t believe what you’re seeing” moments, I cared a little less. We’re asked to believe DiCaprio has completely blocked his true past because of the trauma of being part of the force that liberated a concentration camp and, later, the trauma of his wife drowning his three children.

Lucky, he’s not.

Anyway, the movie feels random; up to a point, it’s good movie making when moment ‘a’ doesn’t telegraph what will happen down the line. But that moment is supposed to propel the movie and give you something to consider. Me, I just got confused and discouraged. At the end, as DiCaprio was being led away for a lobotomy, I think I was supposed to feel bad, or like there was still a chance DiCaprio was right and the whole “he’s really a mental patient” meme was, in fact, false. What I felt was relief that it was over.

(About the post’s title: one of my favorite movies is a documentary made by German tv about obsessed movie fans. That’s Cinemania. The ‘petit’ part is my bow to Cahiers du Cinéma and all the other great, endlessly parodied but still vital thinking about movies of the last 50 or 60 years.)


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