Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (IMDB) (Netflix)
A friend asked just the other week, "when are you going to really paste one of these movies in a review?" I explained that that would be unlikely, since I only see movies that I expect to like, and don't go in for the summary judgments you get from those professional reviewers. Then the projector started...

The title seemed so forthright and self-effacing, but what got delivered was a shining example of Tom Stoppard's "imagination without skill gives us modern art." The Sprecher sisters, Jill (director and co-writer) and Karen (co-writer), mix the multi-threaded story structure of Short Cuts and Magnolia with a dollop of the reverse sequencing of Memento (I think, I'm still not sure) to needlessly confuse and torture the audience , while an assortment of fairly miserable people whinge about why they're unhappy and how fate controls our lives ("Have a few story ideas kicking around, but none of them add up to a complete movie? No problem, just jam 'em together into one feature and call it art!"). I usually avoid reading other reviews to avoid contaminating my own blinding cinematic insights, but after reading several of the many favorable ones just now to discover what I missed, I still don't get the genius of all that is Sprecher, or the fifteen producers (go ahead, count 'em.)

There are action-driven popcorn movies and there are character-driven art films, and then you've got muddled efforts that puzzled-but-insecure viewers assume must be brilliant. Or they're a lot smarter than me--one or the other.