and sometimes poetry

Posts tagged “star wars

Barney’s Version (2010) | Review by Mark Leidner

Ten thousand generations were born, struggled with nature, made love, waged war, bore young, feared death, gazed into the grief-guitared eyes of their survivors, and then died—before we even discovered language. Ten thousand generations of joy, terror, and bewilderment—multiplied laterally across all the people in each generation— mothers, fathers, hunters, explorers, gatherers, thieves, weaklings, strangers—all before anyone we even know of was born. Sometimes this perspective buoys me when angst and longing have wound a ball of anxiety so tight behind my eyes I feel I might explode against the nearest brick wall. Even the comfort literature offers, like a pillow of all-time’s futile similarity to the present, is dwarfed by it. Those lost consciousnesses from which we all came, like an extra layer of past wrapped loosely around the already unfathomable body of known history, wrapped tighter around the unfathomable body of the present, form a kind of dim, halotic corona. An orb bereft of detail and of a scale too epic to picture. But still I like to think about it, when I want to tint the possibly tedious talk of say, reviewing another movie, with mystery. I picture this idea like the belt of golden letters scrolling backward at the beginning of Star Wars, before the movie of the review begins. Barney’s Version is about a man’s life. Not a particularly likeable man, and not a particularly interesting life, but its particularity is in its totality of scope. Had it been shot and scripted by Mike Leigh instead of Richard J. Lewis and Michael Konyves, B’s V might have been able to overcome uneven pacing, some forced plotting, and visual style that sags as much as it blossoms. But I still wept walking out of the theater, and on the walk home as the clock on my cellphone struck midnight, pulling close the collar of my jacket, zipping up because the temperature had plummeted ten degrees during the 132-minute runtime, watching the shadows cast by the streetlight stretch and collapse on the sidewalk under my shoes as I stepped, I felt saddened and buoyed by the stupid similarity of the titular character’s plight to my own, flooded with gratitude for how many scenes in which I’d silently pled with him to wake up, simply forgive himself, love himself and allow himself to be loved; wiping tears and flinging them into the Northampton night with the side of my hand, knowing I too could change if only because I’d wanted Barney to so badly. The cast shines. Dustin Hoffman oozes charm. Minnie Driver cloys lusciously. Rosamund Pike is the womanly embodiment of dawn. And pasty, bloated Paul Giamatti fucks bad acting in the ass with a skyscraper. Gorged on popcorn and tortured by thirst, I climbed the two flights of stairs into my dark apartment. Light painted my profile as I opened the refrigerator, found the Brita, and poured a cord of cold water into the bottom of the Jacksonville Jaguars glass I’d drawn from the cupboard. The music made as it struck and filled and danced into the vessel echoed the voice of an ancient angel.


Rango (2011) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl

1.     Why is Rango delightful

2.     What specifically delights us about the animal in human attire

3.     Not of dress only, but of attitude

4.     Lizards in Hawaiian shirts; some sort of bird thing in a poncho

5.     Is it an aspect of miniaturism

6.     And from the miniature do we extrapolate perspective

7.     Is it perspective that delights

8.    How is it possible that for the first five minutes of Rango I literally did not know what was going on

9.     Why was this so delightful

10.    Is there less at stake for an actor in an animated role

11.     Or do they consider it an exercise in formal invention

12.     Like a Mark Leidner movie poem, for example

13.     What is the equivalent in poetry to Jesse Eisenberg being the voice of a blue parrot in the forthcoming, highly sucky-looking Rio

14.     Is this like if Mark made a movie of a Tony Hoagland poem

15.     The Tony Hoagland poem

16.     Does a topic’s importance—its claim on the political, the social, the real—bar it from delight, not to say delightfulness

17.     Is Rango partly delightful to me because it is fundamentally concerned less with the social and more with the self

18.     Whilst acknowledging the awkward demands of the polis—its tug

19.     But what is perennial about the search for the self

20.     When we sense allusion without perhaps knowing the exact nature of the referent, what is the pleasure

21.     Is this an allusion of codes—the hilariously absurd shot of Rango’s posse riding against the pulsating semi-circle of sun, for example


22.     “Hilariously absurd” because Rango is a lizard, his steed some sort of pheasant

23.     Because Rango is the voice of Johnny Depp, his steed a roadrunner with a butt-full of feathers

24.     In intuiting allusion do we feel bound more closely to the culture in which we and it bask

25.     Is allusion thus a tool of tribalism

26.     Which, like racism, is not delightful

27.     When I laughed so heartily at its Star Wars allusion, was I simply pleased to have been allowed access to the cerulean depths of Rango’s cultural sea

28.     Access because it proved I too am deeply cultural

29.     Is delight predicated mostly on consciousness or un-

30.     Is delight more complicated than we generally consider it to be

31.     Are good children’s movies the cinematic equivalent of the medieval jester

32.     In that they allow adults levels of experience conventional grown-up fare assumes

33.     Bewilderment; delight

34.     And yet it is only through recontextualization of cultural knowledge—which depends on the experience of exposure—that such delight can function

35.     Is it better to be young than old