Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Movie Tuesday.

Stylish long hair.

Over the weekend I saw two surprisingly great movies, and since I loved them so much I feel we should start a tradition you and I. We'll call it "Movie Tuesday". When I see a good one, I'll jot a few notes about it, and you, good reader, will use the comments section to dissect my purple prose. Sound fun? Here goes:

The first and most spectacular movie I saw this weekend was Gus Van Sandt's skateboard epic Paranoid Park. I won't try to review the whole movie here, just the most breathtaking bit. Needless to say, the story follows a young skateboarder who has committed the most heinous of crimes. Shortly after the act, in an effort to clean himself of the filth -- and guilt -- of the trainyards, he steps into a shower with his head hung in order to hide. As the water flows through his long hair, it collects the individual strands into streams of water running into separate shifting rivers of weight. The soundtrack, at this point, paints an audio collage of natural sounds of birds chirping and wind rushing through leaves. Slowly Van Sandt stops down the camera, the image darkens, and we hear more industrial and more unsettling sounds. At this point the rivulets become something sinister, a viper coat weighing down our young skateboarder. Near the end of the scene he has become a monster quite ephemeral and clearly unnatural, and at least a bit of our sympathy disappears and is quickly replaced by a feeling of revulsion, a sense of shock and awe at the terrifying apparition on screen.

Skateboarding culture as a whole exists in a state of constant exploration and gives its practitioners a sense of ultimate freedom. These urban reclaimers champion the hidden spaces of our devolving urban decay. In past years and centuries, explorers discovered unknown regions of the globe, now these modern day Aguirres find places where people have already been and constructed, but enjoy those most will never see. The very next scene repeats the themes of the shower scene and shows these youngsters gliding up and down a concrete drain tube in a state of bliss, but the camera reverses the shot and we see that the tube is enclosed in on both sides. Effectively, these men underground are less than explorers or heroes: they are trapped by the very freedom they champion. They have a complete inability to flee and escape from civilization's sewers. Spectacular.

The second of the two, Be Kind, Rewind wasn't so much a movie as it was an argument for movies. It follows two mentally challenged video store clerks -- actually everyone in the movie seems a little dim -- and, after one erases the store's entire library after a tragic accident with a power transformer, their attempts at abridging and remaking the movies we know and love. Chock full of references from 2001 to Ernest Goes to Jail, its a heartfelt appeal for the importance of movies, and since I'm such a sucker for shots of an audience lit solely by the flickering shutter of a projector, it had me in sentimental silly tears over the beauty of pretty much any series of moving pictures. Sappy, funny, silly and with a shred of a storyline, Be Kind, Rewind reminds us how completely awesome movies can be, especially ones made on a sunny summer afternoon.

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