Dead Man - Close-up Blog-a-thon

I wasn't planning on participating in this blog-a-thon. Nothing immediately came to mind, and in general, I pay more attention to wide shots than close-ups: I love composition above all. However, I was watching Dead Man last night and this series of close-ups was too good NOT to blog about.

And then, the aftermath: notice especially where she is shot.

Don't forget to check out the other great entries!


Quick Thoughts - Trapped (1949)

Ah, but how you can see the production code at work here. The sympathy of the film is clearly with its charming protagonist, played by Llloyd Bridges, an his smart, sexy girlfriend Meg/Laurie, but of course in the end criminals are never allowed to win. There are two great fights here, clumsy and nasty and just two bodies rolling on the floor trying to hurt each others - none of the effectiveness here of Bourne or Viggo, they don't really know how to fight, just that they want to get out looking better than the other guy.

I'm not sure I liked the documentary voice-over, quite similar in fact to the one in He Walked By Night, and the end chase sequence is not all that captivating since it doesn't involve the main character, but all in all, this is a nice little noir.

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Top 50 - #2 - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I have a conflicted relationship with romance, and romantic movies in particular. Thing is, I'm kind of a cynic about "Love" with a capital, yet at heart I really am hopelessly romantic. I just don't put any stock in the formulaic, by the book kind of romance movies usually serve up. I don't buy two beautiful people being meant for one another just 'cause, I don't buy big romantic gestures, and that's not even mentioning the sneaky sexism often present, with many movies operating under the assumption that the main goal in a woman's life is to find "the one".

My sister suggested, yesterday, that I draw out my studies because it's in college that you have the highest probability of meeting this mysterious "one", and I don't even think she was kidding. I laughed at her, of course, and it's true: I don't make any life decisions based on how they will affect my probability of finding a mate. I don't believe there is one person out there for me who's perfect. That doesn't mean, however, that I don't long to make a connection with someone, somehow, if only for a little while.

All this is a much too long and personal detour to bring me to a simple point: I believe that aside from being a perfectly crafted and written masterpiece, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the most honestly romantic movies ever made. Not romantic like my #1. Not romantic in the sense that it makes you believe, for just a moment, in the magic Hollywood is so good at selling. But romantic in the sense that it doesn't let realism get in the way of hope.

Carrey's Joel and Winslet's Clementine aren't "meant to be", not even particularly well-matched in certain respects. They know, at the end, that they have many fights and difficulties ahead, that their relationship will be flawed. And it's knowing that, that they say "okay" to going through all of it again.

Charlie Kaufman is a brilliant screenwriter, I don't think there's anyone who'd deny it. I'd love to spend 15 minutes in his head, if not more. And I don't think he's heartless, either, his insecurities are much too close to the surface for that. His brain does however get in the way of his heart a lot of the time, leaving his films interesting, but a little cold, mental exercises that lead you to analyze them right away instead of getting lost in them. In this film, however, there's a perfect balance of the genius crazy idea and the feelings involved, and after the Science of Sleep I am inclined to give Gondry much of the credit for that. His imagery fills his film with wonder, but because he does most of his effects in camera the film never loses its footing in the real world. He managed to make this the best Kaufman movie to date, and that's no mean feat.

Next up: well, no hints this time, since any hint would give it away. Any guesses?