So this was a very big and very busy week, following a very tough and very busy long-weekend, but I don't want to talk about that, or do the work on my desk, for that matter. I want to muse.
At some point, I want to examine in more detail why it is that I like a film better when it "tricks" me. The Usual Suspects, Fight Club, and to a lesser extent The Sixth Sense are among my favorite movies. Why? It is not only jaded, overconfident and egotistical, but also analytically wrong, to rely on the notion that I am so rarely outsmarted that I find the sensation of being outsmarted to be fun. I say it's wrong not only because I'm outsmarted far more frequently than I'd like to admit, but also because many unfamiliar sensations are unpleasant, and certainly I find being outsmarted in the, say, professional arena to be profoundly unpleasant. That said, I think there is a decent chance that I am smarter than the average bear, and I certainly admire a filmmaker whose intellect, or at least deviousness, is greater than mine . . . provided they use that deviousness and intellect to tell me a good story, and tell it well. So that first idea goes down the drain. Perhaps it's a simpler reason, namely that it's just entertaining to be surprised, in the context of a good and well told story. But there's more to it than that. Perhaps it's because I don't like being spoon-fed and so the intellectual work that it takes to appreciate a "trick" film is part of the fun. Perhaps there is some as-yet uncontemplated reason. As I think about it, maybe it's the same reason I like mysteries so much. Regardless, I also enjoy films that don't trick me (The Princess Bride comes to mind) and sometimes even those that try and fail, see below. Anyway, I definitely want to analyze this point more, and get input, because it's been weighing on me lately. Yeah, I know I should find more vital things to worry about if this is the big issue keeping me up at night, but be assured, there's other things too, and anyway I've been sleeping fine lately. ;)
So on to the reviews. This week was the vaunted "unintentional Alison Lohman film festival," since I didn't know ahead of time that she was in both of these films, but regardless, I find that I really like her and the films she has picked, or at least these two. Perhaps I should go rent White Oleander after all. (and M, it's not as strange as we thought, she's actually 25).
Matchstick Men in 25 words or less:
It never "tricked" me, but I nonetheless loved watching its twists unfold. Quibbles aside, this is a dramatic and darkly funny story about interesting people. B+
Big Fish in 25 words or less:
Sometimes the little things make personal stories larger than life. This film treads the tightropes of fancifulness and sentiment without overindulging in either. Great casting. A-.