Mary and Max – A Review

November 14, 2010


Australian movies are full of camp: the vulgar shriek of real life. The cast of most Australian movies wouldn’t get work playing gargoyles in America…and yet, in the movies of P.J. Hogan, Baz Luhrmann, et al, aesthetic ruin is celebrated, even beloved. The comb-over, that three-legged dog of a hair-style, is to Australian movies what a baseball cap is to America; it tells the viewer: here’s life, beat up…and yet, weirdly, resplendent. In Australian movies, men and women are festooned with flagrant collapse. They dress like they are trying to confuse satellites. They advertise imperfection. As the latest in this long and bumpy line, the new movie Mary and Max proves that even Australian animation is besotted with grotesques.

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Synecdoche, New York – A Review

May 17, 2009

When Death of a Salesman opened in 1949 there was a newspaper cartoon of a couple leaving after the show; the husband turns to his wife and says, “I’ll get you for this!” And it’s true: people rarely have a good time watching Death of a Salesman. A play about failure and death and how very frail we all are is depressing; unless we see those qualities as essential to life. We’re unused to seeing our frayed edges and our worry as part of us. They’re meant to exist off-stage (where no-one can see). Synecdoche, New York begins with a production of Death of a Salesman. Both see beauty in our fears for our lives.

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The Savages – A Review

June 1, 2008

This is a New Yorker movie. By that, I mean a movie made by, for and about readers of The New Yorker. In Britain this demographic might also be referred to as Guardian readers. I speak of a mostly white, well-educated, pretentious, liberal sub-class of people; the kind of folk who know what focaccia bread looks like; who Elizabeth Bishop is, and when to use “farther” instead of “further”. Yes, such people are often referred to as “assholes” by non-New Yorker readers, but they (we?) mean no harm. Like the fractious siblings of The Savages, New Yorker readers are far too busy fretting over their next thesis to be the subject of big movies. No-one expects New Yorker pics, unlike Iron Man, Pirates, Jurassic Park, etc, to take over the world.

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