Thursday, May 19, 2005

Pop guerrillaz.


After languishing on my shelf for eight monts (No late fees! Thanks Netflix!), I finally rewatched Todd Haynes' Safe.I'm not sure I concur that the film--a minimalist portrait of a woman on the verge of a complete and total breakdown--is the best of the decade*, but it's certainly one of the most bold and provocative.

It's been years since I first saw the film, but I remembered how potent it is... the way that subtle hum on the soundtrack and the sting of all the flourescent lighting gets to you, enforcing the notion of toxicity through everyday life. I didn't remember how darkly comedic the whole thing is. Somehow Haynes manages to skewer suburban hypocricy with grace and wit, without it coming off as tired and pathetically obvious (a la Todd Solondz).

And I really shouldn't have been surprised by Julianne Moore's extraordinary performance (for fuck's sake, she's Julianne Moore), but it's so entirely original and fearless and (at times) ugly that it's unreal that a mainstream actress was willing to tackle it**. That's the genius of Moore (and Haynes, too): She's smart enough to find the right risks to take, the ones that push the limits of popular film without breaching them.


Speaking of whip-smart pop-radicals, I tracked down a used copy of Armond White's The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World (for three bucks, no less). Holy shit is this guy good***. I've barely made a dent in the thing, but have already been treated to a passionate defense of Spielberg's The Color Purple adaptation, a dismissal of the "immoral" Pulp Fiction, an essay on why Jane Campion's The Piano is painfully out of touch with modern feminist thought, the assertion that Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video was the best film (short or feature length) of 1989, and an appraisal of Tami from the second season of The Real World. (And I still have--among many others--polemics on Metallica, 2Pac, Spike Lee, Spielberg's treatment of history, and Erasure's Pop! to look forward to.) I'd advise you to track that shit down. Everybody could use a little more combative pop crit in their lives, don'tcha think?


Oh, one more pop rebel bit: I've yet to tire of M.I.A.'s Arular. Months after its release, I'm still repeatedly listening to "Bucky Done Gone" and "10 Dollars" and "Sunshowers," etc. If you somehow managed to avoid or miss the album, go buy it now and start making up for lost time.

* That's a link to the Village Voice's first annual film critics poll. As it happened in 1999, they not only ask for the critic's pick for film/etc. of the year, they ask for a list of best films of the decade and the century. You could spend hours looking at critics' ballots. And when I say "You could," I mean "I could."

** I am reminded of a quote from The Cinetrix's favorite critic, Noni Da: "What Moore does with her role is so beyond the parameters of what we call great acting that it nearly defies categorization." (From her Far From Heaven review).

*** By "good," I mean "crazy." Well, "crazy and obscenely intelligent."

4 Comments:

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julliane Moore staring in the mirror at her pale, washed out face under the flourescent lights of her white pod house, saying without confidence, in a shaky voice, 'I love you' to her reflection is one of my favorite film endings ever.

sacha

www.shes-krafty.com

 
At 11:29 AM, Blogger Dashiell said...

oh my god -- "safe" is an excellent idea for a short film expanded in to a banal and snooze-inducing feature.

 
At 1:14 PM, Blogger ethan said...

yeah, i was really tired while watching safe and some of that was the fault of the film because it's a little difficult to watch and emotionally draining, but that said, the film is pretty powerful. a few days after watching the film, i remember driving behind a truck and smelling some severe fumes and wanting to change lanes but i couldn't so i rolled down the window, but that didn't help much and it was really starting to bother me but i realized i'd survive.

 
At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're right on track and not many people are willing to admit that they share your views. creation fox matthew spirituality is an AWESOME place to discuss LOST.

 

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