Thursday, January 15, 2009

It is Human Nature to Connect the Dots, Which is Bad in That It Leads to Generating Conspiracy Theories But Good for Approaching Certain Movies

Last night I dined with Big Pat, Gayle and Richard at Gayle and Richard's, a fine evening topped off with a viewing on their Great Wall of Plasma of "Smilla's Sense of Snow." I think we all agreed that we very much enjoyed watching the movie, even as the plot went very slowly awry in the second half.

But that was all right because Julia Ormond was intense, thorny, off-putting and thus devastatingly attractive, and the scenes in Copenhagen and Greenland were unfamiliar and beautifully shot. There's a fine line between context and travelogue, and I think "Smilla" was well short of scenery for scenery's sake.

Though I do like scenery.

Very much enjoying a movie, flaws and all, is perplexing. That's not right, you think. One should say one liked this or that in the movie but not The Movie.

I was perplexed enough to wander over to rottentomatoes where what to my wondering eyes should appear but a paragraph from Roger Ebert that nailed how I felt about the movie:

Here is a movie so absorbing, so atmospheric, so suspenseful and so dumb, that it proves my point: The subject matter doesn't matter in a movie nearly as much as mood, tone and style. ``Smilla's Sense of Snow'' is a superbly made film with one of the goofiest plots in many moons. Nothing in the final 30 minutes can possibly be taken seriously, and yet the movie works. Even the ending works, sort of, because the film has built up so much momentum.

To which I say: yes. But not duh. I'm not confident enough about this approach to say duh.

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