Monday, January 14, 2008

My own private Auld Lang Syne

As I've mentioned, I hate the way we go about year ending reflection in this country. The idea that everything can be boiled down into a list of ten things makes entirely no sense to me, and why does everything have to be ranked anyway. If pushed to do it, I still don't think I could tell you whether I liked The Bloody Fortress better than The Bicycle Thief. I like them in different ways, and they certainly both struck me with different emotional tones, but to say definitively that one is better than the other. I won't do it, and shame on every film critic on the planet for cowtowing to editors on this front. Still I do want to get in on the look back on the year past even if in a belated fashion. Actually I wouldn't have it any other way.
So I'm just gonna jump into this because it's been roaming around in my head for a week now. I saw Black Snake Moan for the first time last week, and I was alternately harrumphish and happy with the outcome. There's just something about Craig Brewer's work that is a little off putting to me, and it's not the controversial nature of the subject matter. I have no problem with an old black man chaining a young white woman to a radiator per se, but doing that within the confines of an otherwise naturalistic film and trying to make it play without feeling forced like a conceit is tough. Brewer doesn't quite get there unfortunately because I'm totally rooting for him even if his filmmaking career may be coming to an end. How he got Black Snake Moan or Hustle & Flow made within the studio system is beyond me. I can't even imagine. Anyway, I had a point here.
The point being that Black Snake Moan seemed to fit in some kind of indiestyle counterpoint to the film Juno which has been in my mind a lot since seeing it a couple of weeks ago. It has quickly become the yardstick by which witty turns of phrase are going to be judged, and it also on some level deals with tough issues. Therein is really the problem. While Juno is the film that I preferred, Black Snake Moan is undoubtedly a more complicated and in some ways a much more honest film. It's messy and while neither of them have endings with the perverbial Hollywood bow around them, the end of Moan felt more like it was leading into the complications of life than Juno did.
Although there are some thematic undercurrents that both films share, obviously these are two very different films tonally. While I worry about a film that makes pregnancy seem like a mild inconvenience, I enjoyed Juno immensely, and while I appreciated the ideas of love tolerance that permeated Moan, the film seemed to much like a conceit, the blues movie, for me to really get to a place of willful suspension of disbelief.
Anyway, I think there's something in these two films that play off each other and make me think of them in some sort of comparative analysis, so I'll try to get into that a little more deeply. I have to say, I find it difficult to use the blog forum to say much in the way that is all the way to meaningful and considered. I do like that off-the-cuffness. Sometimes though I want to go a little deeper, and I just find it difficult to get there without maybe starting somewhere else. If that makes any sense.

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