Wednesday, January 04, 2017


Unfinished movie reviews are lurking around in my computer archives, never sent.  I can barely remember the films now, so maybe one of the answers to what to watch next is to create a category for these fragments and go back to watch them again.

I tend to watch in pairs of films that are different takes on some similar subject.  This unfinished review fails to say what one film is, but I think it’s “Don Jon.”  At least I quote Gordon-Levitt at length.  The named one is Holy Smoke.

This post is clearly “click bait” because all I have to do is review a movie for the hits to jump up.  If the film is about sex and/or intimacy, it will go up even more.  If anyone comments, it will not be about the moral context, which is usually what I watch for and try to address.  Other films named here are “The Princess Bride,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “The Grand Seduction”, “Quartet”.  Here's the fragment written Jan. 13, 2015.

Netflix is up to its old predictable tricks.  On the one hand trying to capture a broad span of viewers and on the other trying to round us all up into blind corrals where we’ll obediently watch whatever movies are profit producers at the morning.  The latest is to get us linked with Facebook (how much do you think Facebook, even more greedily avid for readers, has paid Netflix for this) so that people can automatically tell what movies you’re watching as you’re watching them.

I don’t even want to be on Facebook, that tricky greedpot, much less want everyone to see the movies I watch.  These techie goons are monocultures and therefore expect everyone to be the same: coastal, young, narrowly educated, conventional, aching for sex, and incapable of irony or reflection.  I’m only reporting what I know from the evidence they themselves provide.  Do I want the sweet conventional Jehovah’s Witness lady down the street to watch a Pasolini classic because she thinks I’m like her?  Do I want the town homophobes to know how often I watch gay movies?  (They will assume that I only watch because I’m gay, since in their minds only people like themselves count.  No one wants to find out about people who are different.) 

Here are two movies I watched on Netflix recently that I would not recommend to anyone incapable of cultural criticism. 

Gordon-Levitt, who wrote this movie, produced and directed it and played the star, stated: "I always intended this to be a movie for a mass popular audience. Everyone told me it was a long shot ... I couldn't possibly be more grateful.”  He explained his understanding of the concept of "true love" in a November 2013 promotional interview for Don Jon:  “Well those two words can mean a lot of different things. You mean, the Princess Bride version of true love? Do you mean the Sleepless in Seattle version of true love? Um, I would say true love means a genuine and unique connection between two unique individuals. What I think true love is not, is some shiny trophy that's the same "riding off into the sunset" image that you can get. I don't think ... if you think about true love as something that you're after, that you can have, um, you're missing it.”

Gordon-Levitt is an insider who has been acting since he was a small child, “made a conscious decision to do quality work.”  What does a guy think is quality?  Brits like Peter Brook, who in turn thinks that quality work is French Antonin Artaud -- moody, experimental, out on the edge.  But Gordon-Levitt, though coming from a liberal, “pink,” family treats “Don Jon,” which is explained by reference to “Don Juan,” though that character was NOT hooked by porn and was confronted by the Devil, not a middle-aged woman, a grieving mom, who finally evokes a little empathy, though it looks like a pity-fuck to me.  Gordon-Levitt is a kind of dimpled nebbish who makes a good marker for a complex director.  This movie is going to be an all-time fav for 12-year-old suburban boys who have just realized that church is not a reliable reference point.

The other movie for this compare/contrast exercise, “Holy Smoke” also mixes sex and religion, but since it’s an Aussie Jane Campion film it’s for minds more than bodies.  The heroine Kate Winslet gets swept up in a cult in India.  Her family hires Harvey Keitel to “de-program” her from her bliss.  It’s all very dramatic and Keitel is an obvious charlatan and con artist, but the message in the end is that innocence and honesty are the more powerful forces.  It it Keitel who gets de-programmed.

This film also has sexual encounters and nudity.  Keitel appears full-frontal again, though a sophisticated urban teen told me authoritatively after seeing him in that state, “He ain’t nuthin’.  I seen better.”  Whatever that means.  Kate Winslet also appears nude.

So what about fantasy/comedy for grownups?   Here’s another pair to compare/contrast:  “The Grand Seduction” and “Quartet.”  The first one is about a big vital man who has decided to save his little fishing village by persuading a doctor into moving there which is a prerequisite for a factory locating there.  The whole community participates in the seduction of the young unanchored but earnest physician.  The second is four characters played by veteran actors and backed by actual retired musicians in what is supposed to be a retirement home for them.  Tom   hopes to have “a dignified senility” away from Maggie Smith, who rather hopes to renew an ancient love affair with him.


That’s the end of what I wrote and abandoned.  Now I’ll sit back and see how many hits I get.  If I put in a cat, I’d get more.

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