Lyndon Goodacre's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

The Case of the Grinning Cat
8 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

In watching this I had to decide what it was a product of... Drugs? Boredom? Insufficient creativity to carry out an interesting idea? My friend and I convened on old age trying to rediscover youth.

If you are into political protest, you might really like The Case of the Grinning Cat. I am not, and this must have intimate links with my increasing boredom and listlessness while viewing the footage. I was in Paris for part of the period documented, and the anti-war protest I attended may well have been one of those featured here. But the attempt to connect the (fictional) graffiti cats appearing all over Paris to some overarching historical symbolism didn't move me at all.

The Case of the Grinning Cat is undeniably a different movie. The same things that I dislike about it would probably make it a unique pleasure to someone with different tastes.

Blood Simple
Blood Simple (1984)
8 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It reminds me of Escher in that the shape holds only through perspective. In this case, the perspective is more psychological than optical. So much of the movie runs against what you would do in a given situation, yet tension balances with inevitable answers. Cuts work around exchanges that are painfully incomplete, leaving key players with assumptions that drive the plot further and further into contortion. Blood Simple's pretzel follows film noir contours in style while adhering to a certain rationality. I'm reminded of the Coens' later movie No Country for Old Men, but also of the Italian horrormeister Dario Argento. One shot is inspired by the cover of The Shining perhaps, another by the famous Michaelangelo painting of God and Adam in the Sistine Chapel, another by the ending of Blade Runner.

The horrible parts of this film make sense upon reflection, and their bizarre quality points to ironies of guilt (specifically, romantic irony, for sometimes a viewer's special knowledge would excuse murder). In short, the movie floats along a needlepoint of incredulity and fateful retribution. Every character is in fact guilty, and the physics of the story at any time can be predicted by knowledge of who on screen is guiltiest. The point should not be exaggerated, though: I was constantly in suspense.

Watching this debut makes the point to me that art is often what has never been seen. The Coen brothers and their team tell a story that is not so terribly interesting on the surface, until you realize that in this particular configuration, with the characters knowing what they know and assuming what anyone might assume, it is suddenly a very particular voicing of otherwise faded elements, suddenly burning with life, the seemingly always renewable promise of Cain and Abel, and Antony and Cleopatra. They tell their story made of predictable elements by interposing what has never been seen, nooks and crannies that are so improbable and yet so aesthetically coherent with the rest that their origin seems irrelevant. I can understand why directors like Quentin Tarantino become obsessed with cinema that others consider detritus, so full of invention because it doesn't cost much money and it doesn't make much money, at which point what is there to lose? And you take these little bits of shock value and work them together in a harmony or careful discord, sampling from near and far, and before you know it, it scarcely matters whether a shot or an idea was original or copied, because it fits its present home so beautifully.

Wanted
Wanted (2008)
8 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Shades of The Matrix, Office Space, Fight Club, and possibly Lucky Number Slevin (along with all sorts of stuff I didn't think of like the graphic novels, of which I was ignorant). The beginning is amazing, but the middle slumps and becomes ridiculous, a pale hand fumbling plot twists from the grave by telegram. The ending whips a little anthem together, but only traces after the first 20 minutes have the early sleek and cool brilliance. Wanted is like The Matrix without the brains, or Lucky Number Slevin without the offensive quirkiness and Ben Kingsley. In its solid favor, I don't think I've ever enjoyed a car chase as much, and while I'm not really a *fan* of car chases, this is quite something. Wanted might have stayed magnetic if its purveyors had decided not to explain any powers for once (the answers are so bloody disappointing), and if they hadn't pressed their scabby band of destiny makers into a mock-up of Fight Club. If you, on the other hand, enjoy training scenes with people getting beat into pulp again and again, you may well enjoy yourself. I get--and got--bored and annoyed: almost the entire latter half disappears into gung-ho, chosen-one-in-training malarkey. Seriously, did you know that there is a Loom of Fate that gives commands? A bold claim like this might have worked outside of the hospital of slick and serious, but in my eyes that is indeed its hospital. Group suicide with one bullet travelling in a circle? Weirdness... in a circle. Basically, I'm disappointed to see a movie of so much talent walk down a path that is less and less emotional, intellectual, or adventurous. The whole thing is about revenge, and the dialogue and acting get some job done, but by the end the characters have very little more than a physical appearance. I'd recommend any of the movies above first, and also Dark City and 12 Monkeys, and V for Vendetta which I found mediocre but interesting, and City of Lost Children because it's zany enough that it could have made a Loom of Fate work, and then maybe if you're still curious, see this.

La Ricotta
La Ricotta (1962)
8 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

An actor plays "the good thief" on the cross next to Jesus. The movie shoot is long, and he's not paid enough to have eaten recently. Frantically hungry, he wrestles with a feast made of props (The Last Supper, of course) and discovers sumptuous snack tables for the cast, but he can't seem to get food in his mouth. This is a short movie, so far my favorite thing by Pasolini. Orson Welles stands in as Pasolini directing the movie-in-the-movie (Pasolini's The Gospel of St. Matthew was filming at the same time). I saw La Ricotta back to back with Un Chien Andalou in a small Paris cinema... it was a heady introduction to both, and if you have the means, they make a very strong complement.

Zombi 2
Zombi 2 (1980)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

This is a relatively coherent movie with a happy helping of continuity problems and gratuitous stupidity (eg, standing around while dead guys get hungry and wish each other bon appetit), gratuitous nipples, gratuitous sharks, and gratuitous flesh-razing zombies that go out of their way to vanquish humans in highly unpleasant and eyebrow-raising ways (driving a spike through the eyeball, say). The music is quite good with synthesizers reminiscent of Goblin, but common sense does fairly unravel. Still, the whole point is zombies--zombies from a Conquistador grave in the Caribbean to be exact--and these ones are pretty respectable, grungy things that look like they've been exhuming themselves lately. The original title Zombi 2 places this movie as a spiritual sequel to Zombi, Dario Argento's recut of Dawn of the Dead. However there is no plot connection whatsoever or even much physical resemblance in the revenants; the music is by far the strongest similarity. It's quite possible, in fact, to watch this right after Dawn of the Dead without having any idea that it is in some marginal sense intended--or at least advertised--or named--or something--as a follow-on. That's how I did it. Completely, blissfully oblivious. I actually preferred this one, on first watch.