Sunday, January 16, 2011

Walking Out Of Movies

It must be that I'm an optimist. I always think that every movie I go to see could be brilliant. I don't read many reviews so I don't know a whole lot about the flick at the get go and usually, therefore, I waltz in on a surge of hope. Today I waltzed in and slunk out of Black Swan twenty five minutes later. Four star reviews all over the shop. Praise to the rafters. Oscar buzz for Natalie Portman. And the thing is I know the director's work. I know he's cheesy. But the good kind of cheesy I thought. Well, not this time. Black Swan is not a fine aged, blue veined roquefort but a reprocessed yellow brick from some Kraft bunker in an industrial park in Madison, WI. Black Swan's plot probably would have been rejected by the writers of Days Of Our Lives as "just a little bit silly," and as for the acting...think Se Busca Un Hombre or Maria of the Barrio or indeed any televnovela you happen to flip to while you're looking for the place where the Discovery Channel used to be.
A couple of days ago when I was in New York I would have walked out of Sofia Coppola's Somewhere but for the fact that I was with my buddy Scott and we were going back down Broadway together. Somewhere has also gotten a lot of four star reviews and Oscar buzz. It's a remake of Coppola's own Lost in Translation with all the wit taken out. It begins with a fixed camera watching a car doing circuits of a race track. There are five circuits which take about seven or eight minutes to complete. Finally the male lead gets out of the car and has a think. Back in his hotel he picks up a pear and looks at it reflectively. Later still he stares off into the middle distance for some time perhaps wondering if maybe he should have had that pear after all. In a later scene in the same hotel room I noticed that the pear was gone which generated quite a bit of suspense for me.
I know people who will never walk out of a movie. Yes they've paid a lot of money to see the show and probably they care about how things turn out, but once you walk out of a bad movie you feel ecstatic. The claustrophobia has gone, the teeth grinding has gone and you're free. The badder the movie the freer you feel. When I walked out of Avatar I felt like Nelson Mandela at the gates of Robben Island. Walking out of Black Swan today I merely felt like Paris Hilton after her 13 days in the LA County Pokey. It's hard to know what vibe I would have had if I'd walked out of Somewhere, because, unfortunately, I stayed right to the dreary, dull, bitter end, something I didn't do with the much better but still ridiculously overpraised Lost in Translation. Somewhere doesn't really end, of course, but instead just kind of peters out...And, spoiler alert, we never do find out what happened to the pear.