Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tout Le Monde

Me And You And Tout Le Monde

• I haven't thought of high-school physics or the cover of The Dark Side Of The Moon in a very long time. And then I caught up with Miranda July's Me And You And Everyone We Know, the best thing I've seen in the theaters so far this year. With most new filmmakers, it takes the audience a couple of films to nail down their sensibility, scan their preoccupations, begin connecting the dots that define their aesthetic identities. But Miranda July's mind has all the lucidity of a crystalline prism. The outside world goes in, and then emerges, refracted, rendered mystic yet concrete, through her magical, melancholic sensibility. Her tone and touch are so assured and her vision so fully developed that it's hard to believe that this is only her first feature film.

• Sometimes the maddening movies stay with you — and yammer into your mind's ear — longer than the perfect ones do. Elia Kazan's Splendor In The Grass is squeezed tight into a pressure cooker of sexual repression. The teenage hormones dribble off the screen while you squirm in your seat. Parents are utter monsters in this movie, and every girl and boy (including Warren Beatty) is bursting with uncontrollable sex fever. Everyone except the madly angelic Natalie Wood, who happens to have a heart as big as the torrential waterfall that opens the film. When she suddenly stands up in her bathtub, outraged at her mother and wearing not a stitch (this in a 1961 movie), the audience feels no titillation, just a heartbreaking chill. Visually, the movie is drop-dead gorgeous, full of Edenic lap-dissolves, and was shot by Boris Kaufman, brother of Dziga Vertov.

• What an inspired site this is. (Thanks, Jim!)

• Other than being tenured profs, I'm not sure how much Powerprof and I have in common. (The other day, she opened a post with: "I'm 18 days late....did I not say that things would get interesting?"). And my life definitely does not have the soap-operatic sweep that hers does.


Anonymous Filmbrain said...

What amazing synchronicity. I just saw M&Y&EWK last night -- a film that I must admit I was avoiding. I had foolishly pre-judged it, and assumed it would be nothing more than one of those quirky indie-flicks, full of charm and offbeat characters. While it does have all of that, there's a depth to it that I never would have imagined.

The screenplay is just unbelievable. She threw in every idea that must have been stewing in her head for years, and ALL of them work. Easily one of the best of the year -- and one of the most original American films I've seen in quite some time.

August 03, 2005 12:04 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Same here, Filmbrain.
I was skeptical of its (assumed) indie trappings going in and then was caught completely unawares by how different it was from what I expected it to be.

You make a great point about the plentifulness of her ideas and how they all work. I was actually reminded of the first They Might Be Giants record from the mid-80s. It's teeming with a million and one ideas that they probably carried around with them for years, and then poured into that debut record.

I think one of the coolest things about the movie for me was that every frame (whether she was in it or not) seemed to vibrate so confidently with her sensibility. She's really somethin' else.

August 03, 2005 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

I really liked M&Y&EWK when I saw it at teh Atlanta Film Festival and had planned to spend a little more time promoting it on my blog, but got sidetracked when I moved. It has been unfairly pigeonholed in the "quirky indie" category in order to bring in audiences, but the film is full of well-executed ideas. And, as you point out, Girish, every shot somehow conveys that it's July's film.

August 03, 2005 1:18 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I have been avoiding the film, too, but will now try to catch it before it leaves town--thanks for the heads up, Girish!

August 03, 2005 1:34 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey Doug, it sounds like you had a fun week watching animated movies. And I'm glad you've returned to blogging! We missed you.

August 03, 2005 1:46 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Dead-on observations about "Splendor." Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty were both at the height of their beauty, which in both cases is like saying they were as perfect as perfect gets. The parents are such gargoyles that all these decades later it detracts from the movie. But, incredibly, I have run into people who told "My mom was just like that!" or "She totally reminds me of Soandso's mother." Amazing how a character that is true to life can seem so unrealistic.

All that said, the ending still breaks my heart.

August 04, 2005 8:51 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Though the parents are exaggeratedly drawn, I think the movie works because their "essential" aspects (possessiveness and protectiveness, pathological levels of concern for their kids, living their kids' lives for them) are all qualities that most of us have had experience with(alas).

August 04, 2005 9:15 AM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

excellent point. And it's the essentials that people probably recognize. I think another reason the parents register as such exaggerations is the way they're shot. In that bathroom scene (deserves its fame, I think) the camera is practically up Audrey Christie's nose at one point.

August 04, 2005 9:51 AM  
Blogger Ed Garrity said...

You've got a way with words, Girish. Well said. I especially like the phrase - "The outside world goes in, and then emerges, refracted, rendered mystic yet concrete, through her magical, melancholic sensibility."

- Now I have to get to the theatre next week. Good review.

August 06, 2005 5:44 AM  

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