Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Five Obstructions" comments by Andy

Um....I thought I was becoming more mature in my movie tastes. I considered myself to be growing and learning, much the result of the movies we've been watching for this blog. I guess I'm not as far along as I thought. I didn't really get why we needed "Five Obstructions."

I get that it was a short film that Jorgen Leith did many years ago and that Lars von Trier obviously loves. I'm just not arty enough to understand why Jorgen needed to do it again with different constraints.

I think that's what I'm struggling with in my movie-going maturity - can I appreciate art films with no plot???? I don't know. This had interesting parts, I guess, but on the whole I didn't enjoy it, nor did I appreciate it's artines. It's beyond the line for me. I needed to watch a good big-budget mainstream movie just to get back to center.

But I'm still interested in a challenge, and I'm in no means swearing off odd films...

thoughts by Andy


Jason Pyles, Movie Critic said...

To Andy:

I suspected you might feel this way. Though “The Five Obstructions” is an alienating film, it certainly fits the criteria of our blog whose design is the discussion of unusual films.

Von Trier is such a bizarre and antagonistic filmmaker behind the camera, this film — which captures him in front of the camera — could almost serve as some sort of psychological document, like rare footage of an eccentric animal on film. Von Trier loves to assault and afflict the audience with his images (ie. “Antichrist”), and his tendency to want to torment is also evident in his exchanges with Leth.

But I get you, Andy, and I agree. I think in the past year or two, I’ve tried to grow too much in my cinematic maturity. I’m a little weary from trying to wrestle with artistic, abstract or deeply thematic films. Last night I watched “Gomorra,” which I have anxiously waited to see for months, and I was disappointed by how hard it was for me to stay awake. I’ve longed for mere big, dumb escapist entertainment — not as dumb as “2012,” mind you, but more like “Die Hard.” My Netflix queue has an old Steven Seagal movie lined up for me next, and it feels like I’m going on vacation.

We are forced to explore, though, since we don’t want to limit ourselves to constantly watching old, tried-and-true movies that we’ve seen 100 times, like “Lethal Weapon.” Looking for new, good movies is as inconsistently satisfying as trying to eat a good banana: Usually we’re disappointed, with only the rare exceptionally delicious find. It’s almost not worth it sometimes, until you find a gem like “Let the Right One In.”

The toughest films for me (besides abstract, experimental movies — or anything by Richard Kelly after “Donnie Darko”) are old, slow-paced, black-and-white, subtitled, foreign, political films. All of the adjectives in this string challenge me as a viewer, and they make me ashamed of myself as a critic.

As for “The Five Obstructions,” it amused me somewhat, I guess, because it reminded me of the extensively extravagant waste-of-time pursuits I engaged in with my friends.


Jason Pyles, Movie Critic said...

P.S. My Seagal movie is "Out for Justice" (1991). Can you believe that there's a "long wait" for it on Netflix?

Andy Howell said...

Maybe that was Leith's plan all along - to have a nice inside joke with Von Trier. Maybe it's as simple as he wanted to be closer to his mentor, and flex his directorial might.

I quite enjoy the stupid films we made at church, and I fully recognize that nobody else would think they were funny, let alone entertaining (except for my films which had unquestionably broad appeal).