I'm back in Brooklyn after a relaxing five days in Maryland. While it was fun to see everyone and do a whole lot of nothing, a rather heavy seasonal depression barrelled into my brain along the way. It's still slowing me down at the moment, but I'm determined not to succumb to the temptations of that stank-ass ho. No more embarrassing stream-of-consciousness rants about Lost Love and Lonely Weeknights and Ignored Artistry. I'm too disgusted with myself to disgust myself even further with pointless whining, so you'll just have to wait until a mental tsunami strikes and I can't control myself.
As for Christmas, it was fun (for those of you with office jobs and time to kill, watch a Flickr-sponsored slideshow here). My sister Carol and I went to 11 o'clock mass on Christmas morning, where I had a few revelations: 1) Catholic mass in Libertytown, Maryland, is some bland ass shit. 2) The choir (and congregation) sounded like an incredibly low-rent Sufjan Stevens record. I know a lot is said about Sufjan being Christian, but listening to those hymns in that context made me think of his music in a much churchier light. Not a good thing or a bad thing, just a thing. 3) I went to church just about every week until I graduated from high school, I was an altar boy, I was confirmed, but, man, I have absolutely NO connection to Catholicism. I'm not knocking it--it seems to work for my parents, and everyone else who was at mass the other day--but I just don't feel ANYTHING when it comes to my religion of christening. And so I'll stick to meditating and playing basketball and ping-pong and listening to Leonard Cohen and Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki and Johann Johannsson and Max Richter and humbling myself however humanly possible whenever humanly possible.
I had to see THE GOOD SHEPHERD for work on Friday, or as I like to call it, Francis Ford Coppola's MUNICH 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO. (Side note: they shouldn't have called it NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, they should have called it FLIRTING WITH JUMANJI.) I don't know, man, I guess it was 'perfectly executed' or whatever, but at no point did I FEEL anything. (I know what you're saying, "It's just the depression, Mike," but read below to squash that theory.) I don't know if it's the fact that I'm so caught up in the ultra-indie filmmaking scene, but I mean it when I say that I was more affected by THE PUFFY CHAIR, DANCE PARTY USA, FIND LOVE, and at least a dozen other no-budget movies that I saw this year than I was by any two seconds of THE GOOD SHEPHERD or THE GOOD GERMAN combined. I don't know what that says about anything, really, but it says something.
But then there's a big-budget production that opens the can of whoop-ass and reminds you of your tiny little place in the filmmaking universe. Colleen and Carol and I drove to Georgetown on Christmas night to see CHILDREN OF MEN. It's funny how subjective this movie stuff is. After the final credit had rolled, we shot small talk back-and-forth on our way to the car, and when we got inside, Carol asked, "So, what'd you guys think?" I responded with an awed, "I thought it was amazing." To which Carol replied, "Eh..." To which Colleen agreed. Huh??? Carol thought it took an obvious approach to the subject matter and didn't like the dialogue and acting. Colleen said that Clive Owen was the only thing that made it watchable. Mind you, these are the same two people who watched the latest cut of SILVER JEW the night before and spoke about it with total enthusiasm. Double huh??? Whatever toots your horn, I suppose. All I know is that I'm still reeling from the experience of Alfonso Cuaron's masterfully realized production. Those two sequences everyone is writing about are as miraculous as they're hyped up to be. I would rank the later shot (with Clive Owen dodging bombs and bullets on his way into an under-attack building) up there with the hospital scene in WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES as one of the most dazzling one-takes in cinema history. I'm actually dying to see it again.
Speaking of seeing it again, I'm superduper thankful that the Film Forum is rereleasing ARMY OF SHADOWS on Friday, as I missed it the first time around. I'm still working on my gargantuan year-end film wrap-up for this site, which I hope to post within the first week of January (though I already had to submit my Top 10 list to Eugene). But I will certainly take Melville's lost classic into account when I do the definitive wrap-up.
I'd like to apologize for not delivering a daily post lately, but painting and Christmas and depression has gotten in the way. But I hope to kick back into gear once Earth turns 2007...