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May 6th, 2004

Movie Therapy, Night Three

Last night it was Swimming Pool. I didn't know a thing about it beforehand---just taken in by the DVD box, which indicated that it was a suspense film that's been critically hailed.

I did enjoy its laconic ways (probably Lacan-ic too) (or "Lacan;ick"?, she offers snidely, still recovering from Ph.D. cand. partner) and director François Ozon's visual presentation of its story, even if one actually rather tires of the nude and semi-nude shots (this one did, anyway). The movie conveys a real feel for its setting, at and around an English mystery writer's publisher's house in rural France, where she's gone for a getaway and to write. And Charlotte Rampling (the writer) has a kind of absorbing presence, even if her character is initially a fairly stereotypical uptight Brit spinster.

Arguably the focal point of it all, though, is the punchline ending and its consequences for the "story"---what may qualify as a "twist" but I'd say is more accurately (at least a big hint at) a solution to mysteries of the plot, and/or of the film or the object d'art itself. I have no gripe whatsoever with the existence of this resolution, though I imagine some do; I do think I'd have preferred that the picture went on just a bit longer after we get the ending. Not that I wanted more to be revealed, or clarified, per se---I like the ambiguity and head-scratchy double take---but, given all those languorous shots earlier in the film, I wish there'd been a few more there at the end over which the "hunh"s and head scratching could happen (vs. during the closing credits). (The ending also made me wish I'd seen the film in a theaterful of people, to hear and feel their reactions.)

Now I kinda want to see Adaptation, just for contrast in its handling of the meta-. And I've been pondering taking in Eternal Sunshine... after all. Could be an awfully meta- spell if I'm not careful.

I do dig that shot at aesthetic mindfuck now and then, but not always. As some guy tells Anaïs in Henry and June, if you let yourself go in too much for aberrant tastes, you'll no longer be satisfied by the normal/vanilla. Now I'm not necessarily getting behind that point in terms of sexuality, but, adapted this way to cultural products, it's kinda the same argument I once tried to make to L. about not wanting to get too rarified in my tastes, particularly in film (though we may have been talking about books). I reeely like movies & already have an increasingly hard time finding ones I can like, with the corporate homogenization and crappiness of most Hollywood productions, my aging beyond the commercially Important demographic for moviegoers, and my personal qualms/sensitivities and aesthetic & political tastes---and, to a certain extent, my waxing sophistication as a receiver of the cinematic, an inevitable consequence of seeing so many films and talking/thinking about them. Letting myself become a film snob, or winnowing down to too intellectual or theoretical a positioning of myself as audience, would leave me with way too few movies to enjoy.

Swimming Pool rating: ***1/2

heartbreaklessness: 9.5 (wahoo!)
 
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