Stoker

Stoker. When it comes to character and plot stuff, this didn’t seem very good. I got over the (I’m assuming intentionally) stilted dialogue. The problem for me was that I didn’t care what the truth was. I don’t need to like any characters, but I need to have a reaction to whatever the story reveals and develops. It kinda lands with a thud.

I wonder again how I would have liked the movie if the story were told linearly, instead of turning to distant flashbacks that cut into the movie after 80 minutes. There’s a distinct fun to the style of suspense where instead of feeling in the dark and curious, you’re in the loop, but powerless. It’s “Uh oh! I don’t know what’s going to happen!” vs. “I have a pretty idea what’s about to happen, but alas I am powerless to help anyone involved! Don’t go down that hallway! No seriously don’t open that door!”. It’s the shouting-at-the-screen instinct. When they withhold explanations for a long time and keep you out of the loop until the flashbacks, you end up as more of a spectator, less complicit.

So I have those complaints. But–and this is a big but if you like moving pictures for other more mechanical reasons–this movie was pretty engaging for its photography and editing and sound. I love how Park moves the camera around, all the blocking and pivots. Such a clever momentum with the timing. There’s a delightful climactic scene with parallel cuts between three locations. I had more or less the same reaction to Park’s movie Oldboy.

Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut. I didn’t love it, but I’ll put it in the plus column for Stanley Kubrick. The cult scene had some wonderful tension. I also respect his willingness to let scenes slow down to a near stand-still, like during Kidman’s monologues. And he’s got a great way with music and musical commentary (the Shostakovich waltz; “When I Fall In Love”; “Stranger in the Night”). My Kubrick rankings (there’s considerable distance between #3 and #4):

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. The Killing
  3. Eyes Wide Shut
  4. The Shining
  5. A Clockwork Orange