andalus: (Default)
#4: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Herzog movies generally take place in a world somewhere between the realities and the delusions of his main characters, and in this movie even the obvious fantasies: iguanas, break-dancing souls, etc, don't mark a clear line between reality and unreality. They're real to Nicholas Cage, and that's all that really matters. As the plot gets increasingly convoluted and nonsensical you might start to wonder if we're all tipping into fantasy-land with him. But no, turns out it's no more or less real than it ever was.

And Cage's performance is so strange, mostly because he's clearly wrong for the part. He walks around hunched over in suits too big for him, moving like he's fifty pounds heavier than he is, yelling like he has a voice for yelling. (He doesn't have a voice for yelling. He sounds more like a frustrated English professor than a professional, no matter what movie he's in.)

But Cage is fabulous at being miscast, I can't think of any other actor who so deliberately seeks out roles he is completely wrong for. If this movie were another Harvey Keitel vehicle you could imagine the Lieutenant as being actually frightening, actually loathesome, actually at times courageous and at times charming. With Cage, we have a character who is none of those things. He's nothing at all really, just confused and in pain, and the movie is better off for it.

The point of the movie seems to be that there's things out there (reptiles, water) that disaster lets in and once they're in they take hold and get stronger and stronger until at the end you're drowning in them.

Cage's question at the end is "Do fish dream?" Herzog's answer seems to be "Yes, they dream this movie."
andalus: (Default)
where the wild things are
loved it. cried.

my qualms with the voice acting will have to be answered by a second viewing.




the hurt locker
Fantastically realistic (or realistic-seeming, who knows if it's even remotely actually-realistic). So much so that little bits that didn't seem realistic stood out more, even a single canned sound effect was enough to jar me out of it for a second. Also unconvincing, that tendency for any squad in any action movie to be immediately qualified for any operation, no matter if more experienced troops are probably waiting by (Miami Vice-itis). The glimmerings of a plot thankfully they petered out, as if to say: here's the sort of movie you're expecting to see, but this isn't that movie.

There are no superior officers to be found, there are no consequences beyond the physical damage to the squad (almost entirely from themselves and each other), and there is no enemy -- everyone is treated equally as an enemy, allies, friendlies, squadmates. And it's an interesting consequence of a bomb squad that there really is no enemy: there's only it, and you, and what you do or do not do to it. It has no will or plan or purpose.

So war is a bomb, and the bomb is a drug, and the soldiers are addicts and they either see it and quit or they keep at it. The only way to view James is as an addict, and as an addict he serves a necessary purpose in the war, a purpose that the movie clearly admires. But this purpose is not a moral one, he doesn't save lives or make things safe for his countrymen -- the more he cares the worse he is at his job. He can't actually make a difference. His purpose is as inexplicable as the bomb's.

Avatar is the triumph of a gamer, an ultimate gamer's fantasy where the gameworld becomes more important than real life. Hurt Locker is nearly identical in that regard, they're about addicts who give into their addiction. And for all its brutality, Hurt Locker still glorifies the addiction. But that's the question, isn't it? Is James really being "All he can be"? Or has war made him less than he could have been? All we really know is that when he's in the suit he's all that he is.

Interesting that we've been talking about how '00s movies are specifically amoral, their exemplary heroes aren't anti-heroes (who do wrong things for the right reasons), they're the opposite: they have the wrong reasons and whether their actions are good or not is entirely up to chance or circumstance. This is another one that fits the trend.

We'll see if it continues with Bad Lieutenant.

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