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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Feel-Bad Movies of the Year 

I somehow managed to see Pan's Labyrinth in theatres, followed a few weeks later by the DVD of Borat.

Borat you surely know about. I found it a mostly uncomfortable experience.

First, I found the movie funniest when it was most contrived and least based on ambushing the unwitting. The scenes with the bear? My favourites. I mostly felt the movie was "Americans having their patience tested," as most of the participants tried to fit Borat's increasingly outre behaviour into their default preference to be polite to him. One hint: the less screen time a person got (think Alan Keyes here) the more likely they were essentially unimpeachable in their behaviour.

The frat boys have a lot of explaining to do. They were drunk, but that's essentially shorthand for "willing to let yourself drink enough that you are out of your mind," and I think that's a pretty thin excuse.

That said, the revelation that frat boys like to drink, say stupid things, and pursue women sexually was not especially shocking.

I found large chunks of the film virtually unwatchable. The DVD menus were nice.

Pan's Labyrinth was just astoundingly depressing. Its structure, with a gritty, realistic tale of newly Francoized Spain juxtaposed against a young girl's fertile imagination, is a nice way to plot the movie, but thematically it suffers from a viewpoint that, as best as I could make out, was either hopelessly confused or dogmatically nihilistic. It was a children's movie that absolutely should not ever be shown to children. Well, unless you're a devout nihilist, in which case you could make it into a little trilogy with The Ninth Gate and The Life of David Gale. Maybe sprinkle in some Kenneth Anger for spicy weirdness. Okay, maybe that trilogy ranges a little too widely from satanism to nihilism, but you get the idea.

I'm loath to say more about the plot at the risk of spoiling it, but I can't help but read the ending as either astoundingly empty or else filled with a Marxist sensibility. Only the future matters! We will write you out of History!

I'm probably biased and over-thinking it. It's still an astoundingly depressing movie with lots of wild imagery and no character development.

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Hey, since this is a movie post, ever notice that in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the only character who is not changed by the day's events is Ferris himself? He is very much the same person he started the day as.

Of course, the thing you really want to know is what happened to all these characters 10, 15, 20 years later. There's a good reason people were so eager to read Election as a pseudo-sequel to Ferris.

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You're still here? It's over!

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