January 2004 Archives

A Failed Corrective

Coming a decade after Schindler’s List, Roman Polanski’s The Pianist seems wholly reactionary, a conscious counterpoint and correction to Spielberg’s popular and important but overly manipulative tear-jerker.

Terrence Malick spent 20 years away from Hollywood, 10 of those bringing The Thin Red Line to theaters. The work that ended up on the screen clearly stewed too long in one man’s brain, and I expect the movie the reclusive director thought he made is actually quite different from the one I saw.

As with Tool’s Ænima and Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf, The Mars Volta’s De-loused in the Comatorium is clearly of a genre but towers above it — which is one way of defining “transcendence.” The album, like those two other records, quite simply opens the mind to the possibilities of rock music.

dancer-1.jpgIn the end, there’s much to like about John Malkovich’s The Dancer Upstairs. But something isn’t right, nagging and prodding and saying that the movie isn’t all it might have been. It’s intelligent but not sharp, subtle in small moments but clunky overall, engaging without being engrossing, and sad but not heartbreaking. It’s as if there’s a layer of mist over the movie, dulling it, and that’s caused by Malkovich’s over-deliberate approach.