Monday, July 25, 2005

the past couple days

Short Cuts - Robert Altman
Finally, saw this. I was in love with half the cast already, so seeing them play these cute character studies was obviously enjoybable. Lili Taylor. Peter Gallagher. Andie MacDowell. Julianne Moore. Lily Tomlin. Robert Downey, Jr. Frances McDormand! I loved the performances so much more than I loved the movie. Again, I am underimpressed by Robert Altman's directing skills. I am also really glad that I read Carver a long time before seeing this movie, but maybe, that is also what prevented me from being able to totally embrace this film, its unCarverness.

Ada, or Ardor - Vladimir Nabakov
I finally finished this book a couple days ago. The first third of it was amazing. The second third took me a couple weeks to read. The steam wasn't enough to carry it that far. It never is. The most perfect books are just shy of two hundred pages. It is the perfect length to say anything that needs to be said. Anything past that point and you are stretching things, having to go into family history that is filler and throwing all these stories and details at the page that ruin the possibility of a perfect moment. Sure, there are great long books, but they are all family histories, and they could be sliced down and be even more awesome. That magic can never sustain itself for that long, you can be impressed and wowed by parts - but you won't walk away thinking you had this beautiful moment with a book, because it's impossible at that length, you've had way too many moments, been reading the book for a month maybe, and no way did you approach every section of the book in anything even close to the same mental state. Whereas a book you can plow through in two days, you have that special moment with.

Trapped in the Closet videos - R. Kelly
These are so soap operaish, but in a good way. Yes, I was just complaining about length, but this series of five videos is pretty perfect, lengthwise.

Wedding Crashers - Who Cares
Predictable in every way as soon as you hear the plot. The two coxcombs are going to learn the errors of their ways and discover true love by the end of the movie. And yes, I am not giving anything away by saying that. Predictable as it was, the movie was still fairly entertaining. The homophobic jokes were pretty brutal and unneccesary though, specifically the grandma going on about "carpet-munchers." There is a gay artist brother of one of the chicks, and he is creepy and obsessed with Vince Vaughn in a dark, psycho way. As troubling as that is - having a gay guy obsessed with straight guys, I was mildly relieved that it was not a flamboyant queen like it normally tends to be, but this dark scary guy who might cut you in your sleep. That, I did like, and really, it is not a stretch at all to have a gay guy obsessed with straight guys, just I guess, a little saddening at the truth of it and how it is played up as a joke for straight audiences.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Tim Burton
Remakes of movies you have such a fond attachment are always bound to let you down in certain ways, and yes, in some ways, I think I like Gene Wilder more than Depp. But this movie has nice moments and Depp is pretty good in his creepiness. But every scene I was comparing to the original. I just watched this this afternoon, so I am still thinking about it, undecided about it.

James Wood's recent New Yorker piece and interview here
Wood is the most thoughtful literary critic currently writing. Even though, I have never read Cormac McCarthy, it did not matter. This essay still said so much and explained McCarthy to me. His level of analysis impresses me so much and serves in such strong contrast to the lack of analysis exhibited here today, and that is why he inspires me so much.

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