Wednesday, February 24, 2010

555 - You Aught to Know - Steve Carlson

1. Punch-Drunk Love, Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002

2. Mulholland Drive, David Lynch, 2001

3. Memento, Christopher Nolan, 2001

4. Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas, 2007

5. 25th Hour, Spike Lee, 2002

6. Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino, 2009

7. Jackass Number Two, Jeff Tremaine, 2006

I really wasn't expecting much more from Jackass Number Two than an amusingly juvenile time out at the movies. What I got instead blew my mind, and yet I don't expect my reaction to be typical. Upon reflection, the most impressive aspect of this unexpected artistic triumph is the Rorschach reactions it causes. It's malleable enough to be just about anything - it's the ferocious vanishing point of sadistic neo-slapstick; it's a radical queer document on the secret life of male bonding and a joke on its (presumed) fratboy audience; it's a gloriously juvenile ode to the sheer physicality that unites us in commonality (we all hurt when struck and bleed when pierced); it's Johnny Knoxville and company entering into the world of performance art; it's bleeding, screaming raw art-punk terror; it's jes' plain hilarious. You know what? Fuck art, let's dance.

8. Ratatouille, Brad Bird, 2007

Considering how many fine films were released in 2007, it seems unusual that the most emotionally and aesthetically fulfilling movie of that year should be a cartoon about a hungry rat. But it seems appropriate for the delightful Ratatouille, considering its claim that genius can come from anywhere. Leave it to Brad Bird and the Pixar team, the latter setting themselves right after the noisy debacle of Cars, to take an unappetizing premise (rat! in the kitchen! ew!) and invest it with enough heart, soul, energy and visual beauty to make it a richly satisfying experience -- a souffle with substance. The defense of careful, quality work in a world overrun and cheapened by cash-grab mediocrity is stirring, as it's obviously a subject close to the hearts of its makers (one can imagine Skinner as a surrogate for Jeffery Katzenberg, trading on the cache of experience in the house of a master to kickstart a career peddling bland, empty-calorie crud); what impresses most, though, is the way that Bird uses the American perception of animation as kid stuff to his thematic advantage. With food as his metaphor and Anton Ego as his vessel, Bird puts forth a consideration of the simple loves that start many of us on the road to cinephilia.

9. Before Sunset, Richard Linklater, 2004

10. Sideways, Alexander Payne, 2004

When not selling or drinking booze, Steve Carlson watches movies. Sometimes he writes about them. Most of the time not, though. He was called "reliably colorful" recently, and he thinks that's fucking awesome.

Readers who enjoy You Aught to Know should head to Steve's site to check out the currently unfolding results of the prestigious Muriel Awards.

Next time on You Aught to Know: Scott W. Black

No comments: