The villain is the slaveholder Calvin Candy. He is evil, and as loquacious as anyone in Spielberg’s film; he is suave, and he dispatches his slaves casually and horrifically. At the center point of the movie, he delivers a long, intimidating speech on phrenology. The difference between the races, he explains, is physiological: the construction of the African American skull reveals the construction of their brains, and it is this construction that makes them inferior. […] Here, we are at the epicenter of Tarantino’s vision: the villain is exactly as cool and violent as the hero. Given this tenuous balance, morality becomes a matter of keeping, and defending, a code. This is American history as a story in which the qualities of greatness are also the qualities of terror; it is a vision that understands the double-edged nature of our proclivity for violence and our existential belief in the individual.
Even at its most obscure, Upstream Color keeps the viewer involved thanks to the aforesaid music score and the flow of its nature-derived imagery – sunlight, water, animals, insects, and birds (see still at top of page) and the archetypal blue flower motif. The consistent beauty of the imagery gives the movie the feel of poetry:
O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm: Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
(“The Sick Rose” by William Blake.)
Great appreciation for a great film. The Talented Mr. Ripley was kind of a wake-up call for me. I think I saw Magnolia around the same time. I was 17. Like there was something different about the way these movies were good and strange that I hadn’t seen before and didn’t really have a reference for.
An interview is a halfway point between a psychoanalytical sitting and a competitive examination.
Blast of Silence. A Criterion essay cleverly calls it “the best movie ever made about a common, important, and unjustly neglected American experience: the really bad business trip”. It’s a great film noir that will only take 77 minutes of your time. It came out near the tail end of the genre’s peak, but in some ways it feels prototypical. Distilled. Lovely shots of New York City as he wanders in a sort of malaise. The hard-boiled voiceover really drives the misery home. Gangsters, dames, old friends-who-aren’t. Loneliness and disaffection. You know the clock is ticking on this guy from the very first moments. Nice appreciation at Bright Lights.