Wednesday, March 10, 2010

WMD! (Weekly Movie Diary) - Playing Catch Up

Chronicling my adventures in home video

“Inland Empire” David Lynch, 2006

Like I said, I’ve been on a Lynch kick recently, and after trying to watch “Inland Empire” on the Netflix instant queue a few weeks back and finding it the first film available on the service with what I reported to be of “unacceptable” picture quality, I finally got around to renting the DVD.

--And frankly, it’s an endurance test. Where a film like “Mulholland Drive” politely waits until its last act to not make any sense, “Inland Empire” is 40 (relatively) understandable minutes followed by nearly two hours of utterly nonsensical collage. Given, there are some pretty great sequences thrown in there, hilarious and unnerving both, but without a narrative to latch onto, “Empire” never feels rewarding.

It’s also the first film Lynch shot digitally, which I can’t say agrees with him. Whites are nasty and blown-out, and dialogue scenes are often executed in extreme close-up with a fish-eye lens. I realize Lynch, as a textural director, wanted to play around with a whole new palette, but it ends up being another liability. The humid colors and subtle film grain are a huge part of his best work—which “Inland Empire” is far form.

“In the Loop” Armando Iannucci, 2009
“In the Loop” is a witty political satire—Or it was when my ears could pierce the thick English accents. Shot documentary-style, the wry comedy is lent the familiar feel of something like “The Office,” though its characters don’t address the camera or offer testimonials.

The plot revolves around a bumbling English politician who becomes the subject of a political firestorm after telling a reporter “war [in the Middle East] is unforeseeable.”
The way the story escalates is predictable enough, but what “In the Loop” lacks in plot, it makes up for in character. The entire cast delivers really subtle, hilarious performances that drive each respective subplot.

They’re so good, you could strip away the political context completely, and “In the Loop” would still be a funny and charming film. The way everyone seems to be at odds as they struggle to save face and pass blame works in any context.

It’s a minor gem, but one completely worth digging up.


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