Monday, November 20, 2006

You Must Revise Your Life

I was looking through a big book about Buster Keaton this weekend, and had to come to grips with the fact that, although he's responsible for some of the most amazing, hilarious moments ever committed to film, there's not one film of his (including "Steamboat Bill, Jr." which, last time I rented it, I fast-forwarded to the climactic sequence at the end) that really belongs on my desert island top-five.

But I'm putting in his picture to compensate. I just hate to think of Buster Keaton being excluded from any list having to do with comedy. But it's time to buck up and be a man and push "O, Brother, Where Art Thou?" up on my list.

I guess. I think I'll make it easier and do a top 25...

Meanwhile, following a comment on the Room w/ a View post, I want to mention "Babel":

I haven't seen a movie that describes more devastatingly the situation we 21st-century human beings find ourselves in. It's beautifully written, movingly acted, stunningly shot, and directed and cut with a respect for the audience that is all too rare. But I came away thinking there was something missing, some little thing here or there that would have made it a truly, historically great film instead of simply an amazing one.

At first I thought, it's a lack of levity. The mounting dread and grimness of it is not just hard work to sit through, it's unrealistic. Life isn't as relentlessly heavy as that, is it? But there are a couple of light moments. And you do forget for long stretches that you're watching a movie. It's realistic enough to draw you in.

I don't know what it is, exactly. Maybe it's that there's one story in the middle that touches the two others, but those two don't really meet, except through the middle story -- like a triptych, where the larger middle panel is hinged to two panels on either side.

If the movie's a tower, it's missing a wall. But maybe that's intentional. The tower it's named for was never quite finished.

Or maybe we're the wall.

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