Saturday, August 27, 2005

BROKEN FLOWERS And More Random Babble

The most recent movie I’ve seen in the theaters was BROKEN FLOWERS, the new Bill Murray flick directed by Jim Jarmusch. It seems to be another entry in the minimalist phase of Murray's career. In earlier work like MEATBALLS, STRIPES, or GHOSTBUSTERS, Murray’s wise cracking persona worked every angle. Now he appears to be so jaded and too tired to even approach any angle.

Murray even has to be cajoled into this slight premise - revisiting past loves because of an unsigned letter saying he may have a 20 year old son- by an over-eager neighbor (Jeffery Wright). As much as I was amused by certain moments (Jessica Lange’s bit as an animal communicator particularly) I thought the movie was just okay. Not especially involving as Murray's character and a lot of the movie seemed underwritten.

Scenes made out of shots, like the one above, of Murray sitting inactive in his house seem artsy for artsiness sake, and the whole project feels like its piggy-backing on Sophia Coppola’s LOST IN TRANSLATION, which featured a much more nuanced performance by the same former SNL cast member.

Anyway, apart from plowing through the 4th season of Six Feet Under this last week, I also watched Igmar Bergman’s SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (1973). Because of a recent episode of Ebert and Roeper that told me about Bergman’s last film, SARABAND, updates the story of SCENES’ central characters played by Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson, I decided that I had to put it in my Netflix queue. 

SCENES was originally broadcast as a 6-part TV series in Sweden in the early ‘70s, but Bergman also edited the episodes together into a theatrical version that was released worldwide. The theatrical version, clocking in at 2 hours and 40-something minutes long, is what I chose to watch. I was struck about how close Woody Allen’s HUSBANDS AND WIVES (1995) was to it. I mean I knew Allen was a Bergman disciple but damn! SCENES’s documentary like set-up, the long involved and tortured conversational break-downs, and the probing close-ups are all used to great effect in HUSBANDS.

Film historian and supposed Bergman scholar Peter Cowie told me in the Criterion Collection edition’s sole special feature that it was best to watch in segments. But I watched it all in one sitting because I wanted to take it all in, then promptly return it so I could get more Six Feet Under discs.

However, I found that there was no way to rush a viewing of this pristine movie and found myself going back to re-watch various segments. I got wrapped up in the emotional turmoil surrounding the relationship of Josephson and Ullman’s Johann and Marriane so much that I decided that Six Feet Under could wait.

Now I feel like I should put the longer TV version in my queue. Damn my completist minded film addiction! Or actually, thank the Heavens for it. Not sure what I'd do with these random hours otherwise. Now with hope, Bergman’s 2003 follow-up SARABAND will come to my area.

More later...

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