take 20
bathroom pix

what i watched last week

Donnie Darko, Director's Cut. I shouldn't list this, since I couldn't keep myself awake. I liked the original version OK, although I can't remember why. The director's cut didn't do much for me, but since I gave up on it, I won't give it a grade. #917 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the 1000 greatest films of all time, #49 on the 21st century version of the list.

The Trial. How can a movie be simultaneously overrated and underrated? OK, this one was once underrated and is now overrated, so maybe time is the culprit. Another question: how can a movie be simultaneously fascinating and boring? The Trial has many tedious scenes, but even those scenes are remarkable to look at. The soundtrack is a mess, as was so often the case with Welles (who reported dubbed eleven of the voices himself ... I caught a couple). I'm not trying to stick up for Kafka, or saying that the book is always better blah blah blah. Welles' vision and temperament don't seem like a good match for Kafka, though, and I imagine Kafka fans would dislike this movie. Me, I tend to forgive Orson Welles for pretty much everything he did. For as often as I complain about "style over substance" art, I'm a sucker for Welles' playful side. But the good and bad of Welles can be summed up in his use of existing buildings for The Trial. On the one hand, he turned a lack of money into an artistic plus by the imaginative use of real locations. On the other hand, while many of the most amazing images in the film come inside those gigantic buildings, they are the antithesis of the claustrophobia that Kafka was so good at. Welles doesn't care ... he doesn't think "these builidings don't fit the story," he thinks "I could do great things with these buildings." And he does, but in the process, the text transforms from Kafka's The Trial to Welles' The Trial. Whatever ... like I say, I'm not trying to condemn Welles for imposing his own vision onto the novel, just trying to get a handle on what ends up on the screen. It's easy to see this as Welles' version of his own life ... he never seemed to understand why he had to fight so hard with the money behind the movies, and must have often thought of himself as condemned for unknown reasons. He said The Trial was one of his favorite movies, and he had less interference from the money folks than usual. Despite all of this, the wonderful images and the Wellesian atmosphere, too often the movie is a bore. #810 on the TSPDT list of the 1000 greatest films of all time. 6/10.


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