In the Loop

April 26, 2009

In The Loop

The war in Iraq is (was, to a lot of people these days) one of those events that has caused so much outrage and righteous anger you wouldn’t have expected Hollywood to fail so miserably to ride the zeitgeist of anti-war sentiment.  Several films were all released directly addressing the subject, and all were mediocre-to-just plain awful, as well as being complete box office no-shows.  The Star-Power vehicles like Lions for Lambs were talky and dull, Stop-Loss was muddled at best, and In the Valley of Elah was just horrendous (the ending still makes me shiver with disgust).   They all suffered from the same self-importance, which basically meant if you didn’t agree with the war, you might nod along and say ‘right on’ even if the depths of the conflict weren’t being explored.  If you did agree with the war, you probably left the cinema (if you went at all) by writing it off as the Hollywood Liberal Wank you knew it was going to be.  Both sides were right, and none were entertained.  Indeed, the best drama America has produced that explicitly addressed the war wasn’t a film at all, but rather the HBO miniseries Generation Kill, which wasn’t sentimental or preachy at all (indeed, it sometimes skirted the edge of being too objective).  I would venture further to say that the most gut-wrenching and affecting Iraq war parallel that was addressed was by the television series Battlestar Galactica, in which the humans were occupied by the cylons and our beloved characters moved to enact a regime of suicide-bombing to keep up resistance, weeding out the so-called ‘collaborators’ in the process.  Perhaps, like Vietnam, it will take some years of distance for Hollywood to create some brilliant and moving pieces on the subject, but in the age of high-speed communication and short attention spans, they already risk the possibility of seeming outmoded, or “soo three years ago, daaahhling.”

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The credit crunch is biting down hard and as I fill out yet another job application to send out into the ether, I’m feeling decidedly stuck in a proverbial rut. It’s easy to become complacent, disgruntled, imagining days gone by and those stretching out as relentlessly similar, a blur of my own tedious thoughts and prosaic goings on. Yet it’s Spring, and as clichéd as it all sounds, it remains the ultimate symbol of new life after all those months of winter darkness. It gets harder to be complacent and to hibernate because Spring is a reminder that life will keep moving on-and it won’t stop to check if you’re keeping up.


So is the case in Doris Dörrie’s Cherry Blossoms, or Kirschblüten – Hanami in German and Japanese respectively. As is explained in the film, Spring cherry blossoms are to the Japanese the most beautiful symbol of impermanence. For one or two months only they flower in resplendent abundance then fall like flurries of delicate pink snow, attracting hoards of admirers who gather underneath to share picnics and general merriment, or to take photographs, paint or write poetry, inspired by this natural muse. Dörrie uses principally this notion of impermanence along with the basic plot blueprint of Ozu’s Tokyo Story to conduct the narrative of her film finding Trudi and Rudi (yes really), a married couple deciding to visit their grown-up children following the discovery that Rudi’s health is seriously deteriorating.  Read the rest of this entry »

Not Dark Yet

April 15, 2009


Apologies you select few readers.  I know there hasn’t been much in the way of updating recently, but as I like to think of myself as a victim of the current economic crisis, there hasn’t been much opportunity to see many films.  However, more films will be seen in the next couple of days and I’ll post something by the end of the week.

In the meantime, watch all 5 parts of Matt Zoller Seitz’s video essay on Wes Anderson.  They were commissioned by the Museum of the Moving Image, and can be found here.  Anderson has suffered through some very harsh backlash of recent, so haters might want to stay away, though I must say it is fair discussion of influences (some might say rip-offs) even if it is generally loving to the man.