Couple of quick Film Reviews

I have been on a bit of a movie binge since leaving school. Three movies in four days and all of them worthwhile.

1. Inland Empire (David Lynch)
David Lynch needs an editor. If this three hour plus feature had been forty five minutes shorter it could have been up there with Mulholland Drive as one of Lynch’s best works, but at its current length, it is bloated and take experimental to self-indulgent proportions. Still, if you’re a Lynch fan, you’re going to see it, and you’re probably going to like it. It plays with identity and the send up Hollywood much in the same way Mulholland did, but is far less linear. I am really happy that Lynch is still willing to take so many chances, and that the humor hasn’t left his films* but I hope he can show just the slightest self restraint in his next outing.

2. The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chris Marker)
I love me some Chris Marker. I was trying to explain Chris Marker’s documentary films to a friend the other day and the best way I can describe them I think is to say, they’re sort of like WG Sebald’s early work. Sort of autobiographical, sort of historical rambling, sort of fiction. The Case of the Grinning Cat is Marker on post 9/11 France, and the post 9/11 french left in particular. Its hilarious, and great fun if you’re idea of fun is obscure jokes on Trotskyist political parties and experimental film techniques. When I saw this one at Film Forum, they were playing with a number of Marker’s animal based shorts which were so fucking dreadful, I took out my book.

3.  The Good Shepard (Robert DeNiro)
Spies. I love ‘em. This one is slow and methodical, people say that there is no soul to the movie, but I think that is the freaking point. Damon’s character is supposed to be devoid of emotion, he’s a freaking spook. This film is all about the spy as the bureaucrat, shuffling papers and watching the torture with detachment. It also demolishes east coast WASP culture, and I am always a total sucker for that.  I can feel a renewed interest in the dirty deeds of the men in suits coming on.

* Hello art film fans, dudes in bunny suits are funny, and Lynch knows they’re funny. Please don’t give me the cineaste glare when I laugh)

Film Review: Astra Taylor’s Zizek

I saw Astra Taylor’s documentary Zizek! last night. It was a lot of fun.* I think Taylor does a good job of allowing the hilarious nature of Zizek’s public performance to take center stage without totally forgetting about the serious parts of his work.

There’s a bunch of wonderful bits in the movie, including classic Zizek riffs on the difference between the way shit is represented in Germany, France and the US, an excellent dig at Judith Butler and a lot of talk about Stalin. Its worth seeing if you have any interest in the Zizek.

The talk of Stalin continued into the discussion after the film with Zizek and Taylor.The first part of the talk was a sort of disclaimer on the film, and that while it portends to give us an insight into his personal life, it does not. He claims to a great extent that it is all performance, and I think it probably is, but I think it is a performance he cannot completely control. There is a lot to be said about the introduction of capitalism into the Eastern Bloc, nerosis and parody when thinking about Zizek’s public preformance. But I think I’ll save that for another day.

After the bit about the film, Zizek went into a fairly serious bit about what a Lacanian ethics would be. After much back and forth and couching and blah blah blah, as Zizek would say, he came to the example of one of the woman caught up in the famous “doctors plot” in Russia who though it was almost  pointless exercise, and she was doomed to be executed refused to confess. Zizek see this commitment to continuing, even when it is not rational, as a form of ethic. He quoted the classic Beckett line, “I cannot go on, I’ll go on” as a summation of what a Lacanian ethics might begin with, and I liked that very much.