Friday, June 30, 2006

Complex carbohydrates

Watching Factotum the other night was a joy. The story of the writer Bukowski, Matt Dillon played 'Harry Chinaski', a drinker and shirker of work. With his movie-star good looks, it was odd seeing him with the facial blemishes accompanying heavy drinking, burst capillaries spread across the face like sunburn. The film nailed the right atmosphere, a warm, mouldy fog that you struggle through when you wake up drunk from the night before.
In amongst the recurring bottom-dollar jobs and boozed up escapades were fine moments of deadpan humour, enough to laugh out loud. All the acting on offer comes deceptively easy considering how hard it is to fake drunkeness without resulting in the wrong kind of foolish.
A hard film to recommend to anyone on the basis of plot, this is all about life at the poverty line without the earnest desperation that usually clogs up such films. It is good stuff.

Junebug is a different story. I caught this at the cinema last night, the tale of an art gallery owner travelling to Carolina to kill two birds with one stone - courting a potential client and meeting her husband's family.
Junebug is wonderfully acted without a bum note, the writing avoids the obvious and some of the cinematography is unafraid to keep at a mild pace, with scenes of greenery held for that bit longer than many editors would feel comfortable with.

And yet, for all its US indie techniques, this is treading a well-worn path. The conflict between family and career and the old country mouse/town mouse - the sophisticated, travelled and articulate meets the religious Southern hicks, and while it's not quite as straight as that the stereotypes are still well-defined.

So, a tale well filmed and well acted, should it matter if the story is all-too familiar? After all, the love story with or without infidelity is rehashed time and time again, and is still capable of coming across as fresh and new in the right hands. Why shouldn't this apply to the 'meet the parents/fish out of water' tale? Maybe it does, but I didn't really feel it here.
Junebug is a good film, and going into it knowing what to expect will probably mean you'll enjoy it, there's still a lot to make this stand out from the crowd.

In other news, that B2 shop still has Diet Vanilla Coke, so much so that there were too many bottles for the shelves. The use-by on the bottle I bought yesterday was October, so it looks like that will be the ultimate last time I will be able to taste the sickly Cream soda/Coke joy.

1 comment:

  1. Its the little moments that make Junebug so good. Its those seemingly pointless shots of greenery. Empty rooms. Its the moment where Nivola sings - really well, really beautifully - at the Church meeting, and Embeth Davidz realises that she doesn't actually know him at all. Its the way he stays downstairs when they get home and lets her suffer through the introductions to his family, his mild terror and then the way he sweeps it away with ease and charm. It captures the ennui of returning to a childhood home thats very different to your day-to-day home in a way I've never seen a film do quite so well before. Its also the way the antagonism and resentment between the brothers is portrayed, and the fathers decency, the vivid evocation of the south, the artists insane Anti-Semitism and Davidz' half-reluctant exploitation of it.

    When I first saw it, I was slightly underwhelmed, but it percolated and gained power the more I thought about it.

    But a good story well told? Well yeah, thats enough, most of the time. Obviously explosions help, though.