Monday, January 19, 2009

Of course, so much of the news today focussed on the upcoming inauguration. But it's even seeped into the entertainment programs, like Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, etc. Obama really is the biggest celebrity out there.

Back to some movies. "Just Another Love Story" is one of those tricky thrillers which has a very clever plot, but the plot doesn't seem to be grounded... and, in a way, it isn't, because, as with other Ole Bornedal movies, it's a movie geared to the idea of an American remake. (I watched part of "Nightwatch" the other day, which was a previous movie which had been redone. Bornedal seems to be making this a career, to make thrillers in his native country which can translate to the American context.) The ideas of "Just Another Love Story" actually are clever, but (of course) they're very contrived. And eventually, the contrivances start to seem almost airless, because you're so aware that things are being shifted around for the "shocking" ending. Yet until the last half hour, "Just Another Love Story" actually was quite gripping.

But of course all art is a contrivance. But great art makes the contrivances seem inevitable. It's like in Dickens or Hardy...

Anyway, just got my new glasses today, and now i'm trying to get used to them.

Last week, got an Agreement addendum from the International Research Center of the Free University of Berlin. I had to e.mail them for some clarifications: in the fall, i was informed that the "term" would start in October, but now the addendum states September. Right now, i'm thinking that the frigid weather is my preparation for a winter in Berlin.

It's funny how people seem to forget things now. It's like the way that movies are often looked at in isolation. A great example is "His Girl Friday": it's actually not that original. The idea of the girl reporter-male editor dynamic was actually pretty well established by that point. In fact, you can go all the way back to "Platinum Blonde", where Loretta Young is the girl reporter in the newsroom, where everyone treats her as "one of the guys". And Joan Bennett played the girl reporter to Cary Grant in both "Big Brown Eyes" and "Wedding Present", and those movies were made in 1936. So by the time Cary Grant got to make "His Girl Friday" in 1940, he'd already played guys sparring with girl reporters. But by the 1960s, when "His Girl Friday" was being rediscovered by critics, it seemed so unusual, and it wasn't seen as part of a continuum. (For example, if Joan Bennett played a girl reporter in two movies with Cary Grant, her sister Constance played a girl reporter to Clark Gable's editor in "After Office Hours", an MGM comedy that was written by Herman J. Mankiewicz.) So when i realized that the famous sequence with Guy Madison from "Since You Went Away" was a copy of the sequence with Barry Nelson, Don DeFore, and Robert Mitchum from "The Human Comedy", that wasn't just a silly little thing, it was an example of the dynamic of popular culture.

And when i say that people seem to forget things... i can't believe that, in all the things that i've read about "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", there's been no mention of something that struck me (immediately): Cate Blanchett's daughter is played by Julia Ormond, so (unless the filmmakers are oblivious) that's the clue that there is a connection between the daughter and Benjamin Button... because, after his brief role in "Thelma and Louise", the movie that really made Brad Pitt a movie star was "Legends of the Fall", where Pitt played one of three brothers (the other two were Aidan Quinn and Henry Thomas) in love with Julia Ormond.

Maybe it's just me, and you're not supposed to have that connection.


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