Mike Mills’s & Kasper Tuxen’s Beginners

Mike Mills is capturing what he can of the human soul. I do not mean he is out there with a box. I do not mean he has a box and a net and he is trying to coax the human soul into a box using a wad of bacon and magical snare. Mike Mills is not a hunter. He knows nothing of snares. But Mike Mills does have the noblest of ambitions – he is trying to capture something magical without possessing any actual magic. He is recreating the brevity of the soul’s movement through THE HOUSE.

Our problem is the assumption THE SOUL is IMMORTAL. This could not be further from the truth. The soul is brief. The soul is moving. When something touches our soul we say WE ARE MOVED. Movement above all implies a temporality. The soul is constantly and happily deteriorating. When I say THE HOUSE it is to say this world is not OUR HOUSE. We have no claim to it. No entitlements. We are visitors passing though this space. The soul is a tenant moving through THE HOUSE. It is very difficult to watch. It is almost impossible to map. It is like a handful of flour moving off the board in a bakery. Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent are tenants moving through the temporary space of light and screen and film gelatin. Mike Mills is mapping the human soul. He tries to anchor the experience down using concrete details – the stars, nature, the president . . . but even these are representations and must succumb to their own temporality. Even these are made of gelatin. Gelatin implies a temporary fixedness.

Perhaps none of that will make sense to you. Suffice to say Beginners is the best film moving through our screens right now. Soon it’ll be gone like anything. The reels recalled and burned in the crematorium. Maybe one or two copies will be hidden away, to echo, flickering like a ghost on a private screen. But the nostalgia and the ephemeral nature of a film’s run is part of the point. Mike Mills enacts brevity as his subject is BREVITY.

Ewan McGregor has charmed his way back into my heart and my pants. Melanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer never left. Goran Visnjic has burned a new poison into my heart. Together they perform the excruciating ballet of grief, new love, longing, heartbreak, sexual desire, loneliness, splendor. Perhaps I am making this film sound too serious since at its core it is a comedy. And I’ll be the first to admit I laughed a thousand times greater than I cried. But what better currency to operate in than laughter? A moment of ephemeral and coincidental bliss – whose novelty degrades over time. There is so little need to cherish something if we really do think it will last forever. The soul’s brevity defines its value – there is a dire importance we cherish what can vanish at any moment. Even if I’m wrong about all the rest – you’ve still got about the cutest pup I’ve ever seen . . . $12

If you heart Beginners:

Recommendations by Cheet Cheet
John Cameron Mitchell’s & David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole
Yojiro Takita’s Departures
Takeshi Kitano’s Kikujiro

Gregg Araki’s Kaboom

Maybe no one watches enough pornography to understand what this movie was trying to do. I mean, people know pornography. People know Ds in Vs action. People know Ds in As action and Ds waggling and bumping into and rubbing up against other Ds. Or multiple Ds being eaten after having served a brief tour within various As. Or possibly Vs grinding out on other Vs or maybe a solitary V existing without any stimulation at all (yeah I don’t get it either). Or a V stimulated by her own animal. Or a D being massaged with a foot or stocking. Or a D being prodded and berated by a smoking woman. Or a V disguised in a whipped cream beard. Or a D cumming into a midget’s derby hat while calling him a “very small cowboy” and asphyxiating an illegal alien with your grandmother’s nylon. Yeah, people know that side of pornography.

But what people no longer consider is the narrative of pornography. Maybe that is because narrative has been obliterated by pornographic websites that attempt to distill a film’s essence into a short, thirty second clip you watch over and over while choking yourself with a phallic vegetable. For these films the narrative is the act itself, the violence itself, the progression itself of this distribution of this meat touching that meat. By progression I mean to say the narrative is the order in which Vs are slurped and Ds eaten and rammed and so forth. By violence I mean to say the narrative is also replaced by genre – it is a narrative of FISTING or MILF or PRE-TEEN or DONKEY PUNCH. But milf and pre-teen are not actually characters. And the trajectory of donkey punch or dirty Sanchez does not simulate a traditional narrative arc (of the Freytag pyramid variety) (though Aristotle might disagree, I don’t know, he was a real pervert).

Kaboom director Gregg Araki is looking for that fleshy material that encapsulates the titillation of a sexual act. You know – the material that has brought the actors together. Maybe a woman is showering when the bug exterminator arrives and needs to spray. And her bath robe is at the cleaners. And the bug exterminator has a penile condition where if he doesn’t orgasm when he gets aroused, his boner swells and it explodes. What – you think that woman isn’t going to F him? You think she is just going to let his boner explode? No – they go at it.

Araki takes that substance around the titillating act and cultivates it. Elongates the terror, the fear, the excitement. Teaches it some new tricks. There are super powers. There are cults and conspiracies. There are underground resistance fighters. And there is sex in almost every major scene. Araki  has made a brilliant, sprawling film out of a fascinating constraint . . . $12

Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

O Scott Pilgrim! At the sound of the synapses firing from reading these words we should be dashing (even if you are a swift walker, still you should dash) to watch the ecstatic playground, the festival of lights, the melting pot of rock, the pinata of quirky mayhem that is your stomping ground.

Edgar Wright! It is no mystery why lesser directors such as Kevin Smith want to suck your cock. If talent behind a camera was cock Edgar, you would be . . . a python . . . that is eating another python. And Kevin Smith would be a vagina. And you would be blowing the steaming moneyshot of your genius all over Kevin Smith’s brow and eyebrows and probably a little bit in his beard too.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead! Who wouldn’t kill themselves to be with you in this one? Your beauty is not merely a novelty (even if they say well in Death Proof you did spend the entire flick running around in a cheerleading uniform – hot). I think it’s just that when asked, you fulfill the roles of caricatures superbly (i.e. it is very easy to project our fantasies on you). But you are beyond scream queen status. I’m looking forward to following you into more complex terrain.

Michael Cera! The greatest presence since Woody Allen who is making awkwardness cool and ostensibly appealing to the ladies. Though I have to say, Ellen Wong! You stole the show! The best dramatic and comedic performance of the flick belonged to you.

There is too much genius to list, but here is a list:

1) Nigel Godrich
2) For making emotional battles – literal
3) For making every guy in that movie theater want to play bass guitar in a garage band
4) For casting the cutest girls, even in minor roles (i.e. Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza)
5) Video games – the oldschool way
6) For making sure almost every cut of the film was so fresh and so clean
7) For not blowing it on about ten million references to pop culture – comics, music, film, refrigerator magnets; for getting them right or right enough
And 8 – Kieran Culkin – King of all Culkins

I.e. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World you are the coolest MFer on the planet at this moment . . . $12

If you heart Scott Pilgrim vs. the World:

Recommendations by Quispy:
Peter Care’s The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Stephen Frears’s High Fidelity
Tarsem Singh’s The Fall

%d bloggers like this: