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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-11-27 06:47
Subject: [movies] Storytelling on the screen
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:awake
Music:rain outside my window
Tags:movies, personal, process
It will come as a surprise to no one reading this blog that I am a sucker for storytelling movies. I'm talking about films such as Secondhand Lions (2003) imdb ], Big Fish (2003) imdb ] and Bliss (1985) imdb ]. I love that journey through the creative process. (Though the casual experience of the film is very different, I'd also place The Aristocrats (2005) imdb ] in this category. But I digress.)

There are other things I really like. Thematic challenge for example. This past Sunday, after finally landing home from weeks of nearly continuous travel, lasirenadolce and I had something of a Terry Gilliam film festival. We rented Time Bandits (1981) imdb ], Brazil (1985) imdb ], The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) imdb ] and The Fisher King (1991) imdb ]. We got to watch all but the last.

Gilliam has said in interviews that these films are linked, and I understand what he means. They are all four about the tension between the Apollonian and Dionysian cultures, that dyad of mind and heart which twines all through our civilization and its discontents. Time Bandits comes to naught, in that framework. Brazil celebrates the triumph of Apollonian thought with a deliberately sour taste. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen celebrates Dionysian thought in a manner which clearly delineates Gilliam's sympathies (and mine). The Fisher King, which we ran out of time and did not watch, concerns an uneasy balance between the two — the bargain that our society has made which places us somewhere between the spiritual withering of Calvinism and the violent abandon of the Maneads.

I love those movies for their commentary on the nature of society as well as the state of my own soul. What I was struck by on watching them now, in 2007, is how incredibly contemporary they feel. Not in a filmic sense — the bluescreen effects in the earlier films border on the embarrassing, for example — but in the thematic sense. The moronic banality of evil in Time Bandits, the Bush-era mirrorlogic of politics and policy in Brazil, the "Turk is at the gates" paranoia about the amorphous pervasive enemy that is terrorism in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: all of these feel like issues of our time and place.

In the end, I suppose I am most like the baron. I always want to push open the gates and see for myself what lies beyond. I mistrust the proclamations of authority, from the pulpit or the hustings either one, especially when their self-serving nature is beyond painfully evident. Most of all, I believe in the power of storytelling to change hearts and minds.
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Paul Weimer
User: princejvstin
Date: 2007-11-27 14:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
With no offense to the Princess Bride, which is a fun movie, the Adventures of Baron Munchausen is what the PB wants to be when it grows up. PB is a string of comic situations. Munchausen is a *movie*.

And how can you argue with a young Uma Thurman as Venus?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-11-27 15:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh yeah. I could watch that scene about 800 times.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-11-27 15:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, duh. That too. I was being all intellectual and shit.
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User: jess_ka
Date: 2007-11-27 15:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You are now the second of the only two other people besides myself I know who saw Bliss and know what an excellent movie it is. (the other is littlebirdblue)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-11-27 15:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's one of my favorite movies, ever. The book has quite a different ending.
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User: jess_ka
Date: 2007-11-27 15:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I never read the book, but the movie is one of my favorites, too.
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Renee Babcock
User: renegade500
Date: 2007-11-27 17:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jessica, it's like we were separated by birth! I just said the same thing about Bliss.
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User: jess_ka
Date: 2007-11-27 17:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heh! Cool. I wish it was available on DVD; we could have a viewing.
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Rose Fox
User: rosefox
Date: 2007-11-27 16:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Fun fact: the red brick castle in The Fisher King is my high school.
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Renee Babcock
User: renegade500
Date: 2007-11-27 17:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I just have to say that Bliss is one of my favorite movies in the world! And it seems so few people I know have ever seen it or heard of it. For me, it's one of those that every time I see it (and I have to admit, it's been a while since I last saw it) I get something new out of it that I didn't get before. I love being able to have a new experience (among the familiar). BTW, I also loved Brazil.

I'm the same way with books, although the number of books that hold up to a repeat reading for me is extremely small.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-11-28 15:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You owe yourself a session with The Stunt Man (ignore what IMDB has to say about it), Jay... and then with The Sinister Saga of the Making of The Stunt Man. Not, however, while you're still sick, or while The Child is around.

— CEP
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