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June 24, 2010


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Hoberman's review is persuasive indeed, but nevertheless I was knocked out by this movie when I saw it last fall at NYFF. The Lynch comparisons are apt and are, as you say, avant le lettre. There are certain images in Last Year at Marienbad—the horse in the bedroom for example—that I'd be sure Lynch had stolen if I wasn't utterly convinced that his creative process is intuitive and not derivative.

Don Fabrizio

I suppose this is a sign of the apocalypse. But I agree 100% with J Ho.

Richard Brody

Glenn, I had the eerie experience, upon seeing myself quoted in your post, of not knowing that I had written this--in fact, while writing a new post about "Wild Grass" today, I had completely forgotten about having written about it at the time of its NYFF première; at the very least, it's a film that was made on the basis of plenty of substance--which doesn't make it a substantial film:

Glenn Kenny

Yes, Richard, I think yours was one of the more substantive and notable contra writeups of the film when it played at the NYFF. While I still disagree with you (and with J.H.), I will note, briefly, that I find your detailed perspectives preferable to the reflexive, "just-because-it's-cool" praise heaped upon the film by certain glib, know-something-ish hipster types who couldn't tell Niala Sianser, the author of "Rosmer," from a hole in the ground...

James Keepnews

Renais' mid-to-late-period listing in the direction of "cosmic frivolity" (I don't think I mean "cutie-pie modernism", partially because I'm not sure what it means -- is that like Shirley Temple reading one of Pound's Cantos?) is one reason I can't stand Mon Oncle d'Amérique. Its facile, behavorist correspondences of its protagonists' journeys with those of lab animals -- up to and including the utter gaucherie of putting them in freaking mice costumes! -- seemed unintentionally risible at the time, and in retrospect. My interest in Renais has been pretty much finis après La Guerre Est Finie, but I'm always interested in seeing works that so thoroughly divide critics I trust and respect, so I'll have to give Wild Grass a looksee.

Nathan Duke

Can't wait to see "Wild Grass" and "Dogtooth" this weekend. On a somewhat similar note (to Hoberman's pan of WG), I'm not exactly seeing the brilliance that apparently everyone else sees in "I Am Love." Have you seen that yet, Glenn? It's an admirable, good looking, well-made film. Tilda Swinton can speak Italian. But it's not even one of the top five films I've seen this month. I admit to not getting all the fuss.


I was a tad disappointed with 'Dogtooth': it was very well made, but too much indebtned to Haneke, with all the awkward silences and meaningless everyday conversations while the framing traps the characters in common surroundings that acquire sinister connotations in yet another indictment of that poisoned modern life wich pushes us to pick up the nearest knife and cut somebody and at some point do something with VHS tapes not Cronenberg-related. And also too many Alienating REALISTIC Sex Scenes, with a static camera framing an almost bare room, the naked actors showing the genitalia and going at it like automathons, covering a minimal space in the composition... it's getting to be as cliched as the Syrupied Couplings With Music in romantic comedies. Or how I imagine they shoot these things for romantic comedies, for I haven't seen one in ages. For God's sake, Antonioni could infuse a scene with countless contradictory sensations, and he didn't even need anybody displaying the goods... Anyway, as with 'Revanche', the Hanekeness was a minus for me: somehow, the original always maintains a conviction that here was a bit lacking.

Another thing: there were about thirty people in the theatre, and they kept such a sepulchral 'SHHH, SERIOUS movie' silence that I felt very restrained to laugh at the obvious though extremely straight-faced jokes in the film. Only once I couldn't contain myself (a line about cats) and let go a shy chuckle, and a couple of seconds later the people around started laughing, as if somehow once somebody had did it, it suddenly was okay. I think Glenn was right in his assesment of this matter on the 'Cyrus' post. Maybe 'Dogtooth' will grow on me if I revisit it with a receptive company...

By contrast, the style of 'I am love' was more palatable, and if the film was pretty uneven, with the unexplored characters (I would have liked to see more of Tilda's character's husband and their life together, or know more of the youngest son) and the easy "liberating" ending, I found the whole thing a sort of not-so-guilty pleasure. Plus, Tilda. Russian Tilda. Always Tilda.

As for 'Wild grass'... a French film, and no release date in Spain yet. And the wankers in our Ministry of Culture can't figure why filesharing is so popular in this country (admitely, it's mostly Hollywood films which are ripped... and if I knew for sure that getting an illegal copy of 'Transformers' would help to end Micheal Bay's reign of terror, I'd run to download it several times).

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