How did I manage to see two snorefests this week?
I started 2016 falling down in the movie-going department. Determined to keep a foot in the door, I’ve seen 5 movies in the theatre in the past two weeks. Last week I saw old films – THE EXILES (Kent MacKenzie, 1961), 6 ½ x 11 (Jean Epstein, 1927) with the short SA TETE (Jean Epstein, 1929), all at the Harvard Film Archive, and a program of Joe Gibbons films at Mass Art’s Film Society.
This week I saw two current films on the big screen. Because a friend liked it, and because Charlie Kaufman seems like an interesting character, or did until yesterday, I took my friend to see ANOMALISA (Charlie Kaufman, 2015).
It’s a stop-motion animated feature, and the faces were made on a 3D printer. The movie would have been OK if it were 5-10 minutes long instead of 90. Technically interesting, but the story is SO BORING!! What is the point of spending 2 years making a movie that is about boring people (they’re at a customer service conference, for cripes sake!) living out boring lives in a boring hotel? Honestly, is there anything more boring than a typical hotel? There is a god awful sex scene that made me never want to take off my clothes ever again. The film doesn’t cut out any of the boringness that would be involved in watching other people’s dull lives in real time. About as interesting as going with someone to the tattoo parlor.
Why did I stick it out? Certainly one of the weirder existential angst films I’ve seen, but not worth my time or yours. I appreciated the MY MAN GODFREY scene, I’ll admit, but it did not fit in with the rest of the story. That movie is way too fun for anyone as boring as the main character of this movie to enjoy or even watch for more than 20 seconds.
Tonight my neighbors and I went far out of our way to catch THE DANISH GIRL (Tom Hooper, 2015) before it disappeared from the big screens. The Art Nouveau clothes and interiors are gorgeous, and worth the ticket price on their own, but the movie was surprisingly dull. Based on a novel that was based on a true story of one of the earliest known sex reassignment surgeries, this unusual tale was dumbed down and smoothed out for the big screen.
One hopes the real life people were fully formed humans who had complex emotions and unexpected things to say. Not so our onscreen heroines. Once she transitions, Lily loses her personality and artistic interests in favor of sly glances and nervous blinks. She gets a job as a shopgirl and pursues a pathetically shallow vision of womanhood. As far as I’m concerned, she actually stops being the main character in this film about her until she goes under the knife, as her jilted wife Gerta is allowed to experience and express at least vaguely more complex feelings.
It was way better than ANOMALISA, but our high expectations were not met. It turned out to be just the sort of generic biopic people make these days. Sigh.