September 11, 2005

The one fall movie I suddenly care about.

When I went to the movies today, I was irritated by all the trailers for the coming Oscar Season movies — that thing with Scarlett Johansson and Helen Hunt, and then that one with Emma Thompson and Ian McKellan. Actors acting in that I-deserve-an-award mode, swathed in Cinematography. They finally got to the last trailer, with me in a thoroughly negative mode. But I loved it: "Everything Is Illuminated."

CORRECTION: That wasn't Emma Thompson, it was Natasha Richardson. But who gives a damn?

MORE: Manohla Dargis writes:
As Stella, the 1950's bored wife, inattentive mother and unhinged adulteress at the center of this story, Ms. Richardson initially affects the vacant mien of cinema's classically oppressed women. Like the lonely wives and widows of untold Hollywood melodramas, Stella is a martyr in heels and pearls. She burns from within; we, in turn, wait for her to be consumed in flames.
Ha, ha. I'll just get out my old copy of "Beyond the Forest."

9 comments:

PORTSIDER said...

I'm impressed as well. Reading the novel, I didn't imagine Jonathan quite as nerdy as Elijah Wood seems to be portraying him. Liev Schreiber's performance is my pick for best supporting actor, though none of the Oscar-potential movies have even been released.

Rick Lee said...

It looks like a very interesting story, but Elijah Wood's clothing and glasses seems a bit contrived at first glance.

Sally said...

Exactly! I was taken aback at first when I saw the advertisements featuring Elijah Wood as Jonathan. I thought, this is not the Jonathan I knew and loved in the novel! And I loved the novel so much that I'm almost frightened to see the movie, I refused to see Mrs. Dalloway for the same reason.

But occasionally a movie is as good as a book, or even better, and this one might be worth the risk. As far as the contrived nerdiness issue, I wonder if this is a foreign person's perception of what an American Jewish man is, someone who has never met an American Jew?

Robert said...

someone who has never met an American Jew

Here on the Internet, I believe it's spelled Jooooooooo!

I will now reveal my massive literary ignorance. The trailer looked interesting; we'll see the movie.

But what book is it based on?

miklos rosza said...

The problem was, after everyone was so drenched in cheap irony, how to escape. To move into the "post-ironic" mode.

The answer, commercially at least, so far seems to be: sentimentality. This was where Douglas Coupland went, and David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers and now Jonathan Safran Foer as well, inoculating himself by means of the Holocaust in his first book and 9/11 in his second.

In other words, "Don't hit me, I'm a victim too." Thus one repents, these days, of being a white male.

Is Foer opportunistic? Well, stealing the name "Oskar" for his supposed 9 year old genius while in so many ways invoking Gunter Grass's "The Tin Drum" (whose hero's name was also Oskar) may be a little too post-modern a calculation for some. Particularly when one surveys the other calculations Mr Foer seems so adept at calibrating.

The film might be great.

vbspurs said...

I saw the previews for that last week, when I caught sight of The Constant Gardener (or as I like to call it, The Constant Gripe against Capitalism) which BTW, I might be reviewing on my blog sometime this week.

In response to allicent:

As far as the contrived nerdiness issue, I wonder if this is a foreign person's perception of what an American Jewish man is, someone who has never met an American Jew?

It could be, but speaking as a foreigner, it's hard for Americans to see the impact certain famous Jewish personalities have on the world cultural psyche.

Both Jerry Lewis and Woody Allen fit this bill perfectly, and the first is adored by many cinephiles in France precisely because he is nerdy.

I once wrote an article published in a paper at Oxford, where I argued that his Jewish nerdiness is revered because it's the stark opposite of the Marlboro Man machismo so associated with Americans post-WWII.

(I also argued that I believe Jerry Lewis is not consciously making fun of American males, but that that's how it's perceived by many foreigners)

Obviously, you can see a similarity in the nervous, intellectual twitchiness of Woody Allen.

I think in trying to represent Joooos as nerds, there's an automatic association with such "beloved" persona.

A longer reply than I intended, perhaps, but I thought you might be interested in a "foreign" perspective.

Cheers,
Victoria

Ron said...

victoria: Interesting remarks on the foreign perception of American nerdiness! American pop culture is awash in nerdiness, to the point I feel the nerds are the new establishment figures, even though they would not relish such a title. Yet in America the nerds that get the most praise are the techno-geek nerds, not the Lewis or Allen types. How do you think this geek-nerd type is seen in Europe?

Matt said...

A little off the subject... the picture of the movie poster on the trailer page reminds me of Elijah Woods' character in Sin City.

Anyone else see that?

vbspurs said...

American pop culture is awash in nerdiness, to the point I feel the nerds are the new establishment figures, even though they would not relish such a title.

That's exactly how I perceive them -- i.e., not that they are the new Establishment figures, which I'm not sure about although I believe it's close, but that they don't relish such a title.

From experience having read and met geeky-nerd techies, they are anti-control of anything, which marks them out as modern-day Conservatives, pro-libertarians types.

Yet in America the nerds that get the most praise are the techno-geek nerds, not the Lewis or Allen types.

Heh. I had to re-read that twice as for one instant I read Gates and Allen, and thought, but they ARE techno-geek-nerds! ;)

How do you think this geek-nerd type is seen in Europe?

Well, Ron, I know you know this, but it's difficult to generalise about "Europe".

(Most people in Britain don't consider themselves European, e.g., which is indeed my own case)

But if you were to pin me down, I'd say that Europeans are non-plussed by techno-geek-nerds, with the exception of Germans (who have always been comfortable with unsociable rascals of enormous intellect, like Albert Einstein or Ludwig van Beethoven).

Continental Europeans especially prize the forms of life, the rituals of sociability, with emphasis on elegance, and worldliness.

And though it's a very wide umbrella I am throwing over tech-nerd types, it's true to say that these people are very awkward in social situations, and can be perceived as rude, even hostile.

Plus, Europeans lag much, much behind Americans in terms of futurism-fetish. They are not the gadget-freaks that Americans are, and thus there is far less need for their citizenry to go into those fields.

So in summation: the pocket-protector wonk with the thick glasses, and rude manners is anathema to most people in Europe.

They only like it when it's being done to make fun of them.

Watch a film from France (c-1999) called "Dîner des Cons" (I think called "Dinner Game" in the US), for you to see this dynamic in action. :)

Dîner de Cons = Dinner with Assholes/Nerds

Cheers,
Victoria