Blow Out begins with a broadly visual joke, nearly four minutes long, about filmmaking. It ends with a second joke on the same subject, this one more complex, pointed, and black as tar. Over the course of the narrative, the material has turned rancid, so discoloured and malodorous that it’s hardly funny. That’s because, between the two grand gestures that bookend the film, writer-director Brian De Palma has traced a hero’s journey from idealism and optimism to disillusionment and despair. If cynicism were a superhero franchise, Blow Out would be its origin story.
My review of Broken Embraces is online at FilmFreakCentral.net:
The box describes Broken Embraces as an “acclaimed tale of sex, secrets and cinema,” which makes me go, “Uh-oh.” Pedro Almodóvar reliably delivers heady blends of glamour, melodrama, and emotional turmoil, but such stuff still runs hot and cold from movie to movie. So although I liked his Bad Education, a film that was all about “sex, secrets and cinema,” the prospect of Almodóvar returning to the tortured-filmmaker well filled me with trepidation.
Over at Film & Video, I’ve just posted my interview with Christopher Rouse, the virtuosic film editor on The Bourne Supremacy, United 93, and now The Bourne Ultimatum. He’s worked with director Paul Greengrass on three films (going on four), and man oh man, nobody makes movies more intense than these two.
Q: Have you heard the complaints from some viewers that this specific style of filmmaking — handheld camera, quick cuts — makes them physically ill?
A: Often. [Laughs.] At the end of the day it’s a big tent. There’s room for many, many styles of filmmaking. Probably my favorite filmmaker of all time is David Lean, who has a style that in many ways couldn’t be more antithetical to the way we shoot a Bourne film. I’ve had people say to me, “Gosh, I watched your film from the third row of the theater, and I was getting physically ill.” Fair enough. Personally, I wouldn’t watch any film from the third row of a theater, and if I were to watch Lawrence of Arabia from the third row of a theater I’d probably get physically ill myself. It’s an aggressive style, so it’s going to attract more attention, but I think it’s a style that absolutely supports the film and the narrative. If you like it, great. And if you don’t, that’s fine too.