A Fall From Grace
In short, it’s nuts.
The first thing you must realize about "Stormy Weather," before anything else, is that it is not real. Of course it isn't real in the sense that it is a narrative film and as such it is fiction, but it is unreal in another way. It is a romanticization of African American life offering one-dimensional characters without nuance-- in "response" to the one dimensional un-nuanced characters in other films.
The movie opens as famous dancer Bill Williamson (Bill Robinson) receives a magazine in his honor "celebrating the magnificent contribution of the colored race to the entertainment of the world during the past twenty five years." This prompts him to reminisce about his career and courtship of the beautiful singer Selina Rogers (Lena Horne). The plot however, is of little importance. The film is primarily a vehicle for famous black talent in music and dance. These are glamorous blacks in romantic and dramatic leads. Blacks with sex appeal. Blacks with their own storyline.
When I reviewed Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" a few months ago, several readers brought up the point that when a filmmaker constantly uses extreme violence in his films, there surely must be something wrong about the director himself.
I don't buy into that theory, but while watching Quentin Tarantino's films, which I mostly enjoy a lot, I have to admit I have a hard time disassociating my diagnosis of the filmmaker with his own work, especially "Pulp Fiction" which is clearly a film with an amazing understanding of violent criminals, the drug culture and the fine art of original cursing.
Back then, I could watch Max Fleischer's Superman cartoons forever and never get bored. Today, the case is almost the same. Oh, those films have some of the finest animation I've ever seen--even by today's standards, the animation is phenomenal, right from the fluidity of the movements of the characters to the uncanny weight of the objects. The characters and objects had shadows too.
With the exception of "The Matrix" and the odd documentary, movies tend to pay only lip service an architect's job. "Sleepless in Seattle's" Sam Baldwin is an architect, but he might as well be a meat-packer. The movie is a romantic comedy with little room for anything but serendipity. It takes us to a couple of architectural landmarks, but not because Sam's profession compels him to.
So naturally, I was curious to know what the architectural community thought of "Inception," where the discipline is actually effectual. I was a bit disappointed to discover that while architectural journalists were entertained by the film, they didn't care much for its buildings. James Benedict Brown calls Ariadne "a dependable square," Aaron Betsky says her work is "banal," and David Neustein finds that Cobb and Mal's dream city is "hardly a honeymoon destination."
While it is one or two steps behind "Dr. Strangelove," "The President's Analyst" (1967) is a very good black comedy sniggering at Cold War paranoid. Maybe it's not as ruthless as that great comedy, but the movie romps cheerfully on its subjects with a take-no-prisoner attitude. And during this loony joy ride we eventually discover that the movie foretold something very accurate more than 40 years ago.
We have seen many psychiatrist whose lives become more burdensome than usual thanks to their unusual patients in the movies ("Analyze This") and TV series("The Sopranos" and "In Treatment"), but I think no one can top our hero Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn). His new patient is none other than the president of the United States, the most powerful figure in the world who incidentally does not appear on the screen.
Sequels to Hollywood hit films usually take a couple of years to arrive, maybe up to three or five or even ten, but twenty-three? Why would Oliver Stone wait this long to bring us a follow-up to his 1987 "Wall Street"? On this opening weekend of "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," there doesn't seem to be that much of a mystery regarding the "why now?" The forces behind the collapse of Wall Street and most of the world's economies in 2008, and their nature, couldn't have passed unnoticed to somebody like Stone, whose name is synonymous with plots, conspiracies and the like.
The original "Wall Street" might be a product of the 1980s and it looks a dated in some ways, but if it proves anything to current audiences it's that there isn't much new under the sun. Like other aspects of life, the real Wall Street is ruled by cycles in which similar events seem to re-occur with time and may continue to do so again and again. Greed is not a novelty.
Yesterday it was cold and rainy and glum. I searched for background movies to put on while I wrote, but my usual George Cukor go-tos weren't doing the trick. I branched out. Shane, Forbidden Games, Love & Anarchy, Mogambo, and various classic TV shows were turned on and shut off. Nothing worked. I decided to take a twenty minute nap to shake the damp.
I told Roger it would take me 48 hours to review "Sin Nombre" and yet hours turned to days and days to months, and I still had not reviewed it. Scratch that. I did write four reviews, but not a satisfactory one. The first review was too much about my views on immigration and didn't elaborate much on the film. The second was the other way around. The third was about how the film was great based on the way it was shot. That one was too technical. The fourth review was too personal; a review should be about the
Sang-hoon is a terrifying piece of work. He is someone you never want to mess up with. He is callous, narrow-minded, vulgar and, above all very volatile. Whenever his hair-trigger fury erupts, there's more than hell to pay -- and that happens often.
Even when his temper relatively abates, he is still difficult and hostile to communicate with, probably even with himself. In the opening sequence, we see a young woman being beaten by some guy in the night streets. Sang-hoon appears and he savagely beats that guy. And then, he spits at her, smacks her, and insults her.
After exploring the mother-daughter relationship and social issues in "Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire," I decided to visit the father-son relationship and comparable issues in "The Color of Paradise."
Majid Majidi's work is one my favorite movies. It is a movie I enjoy from start to finish. Every time I watch it I discover new dimensions. Still, I don't know if it is depressingly sad or filled with hope and happiness.