Sunday, September 6, 2009

(500) DAYS OF SUMMER: A Second Look

My friends in LA (specifically those that are not my movie friends) don't understand why I go see movies more than once.

"Isn't your money better spent elsewhere?" - Why would my money be better spent elsewhere?
"Because you've already seen it." - True. But you buy movies don't you?
"Sure." -But you've already seen it, right.

Now, my friends (and family) have slacked off on this complaint and/or criticism since attending and returning from NYU. Is it that my five repeat visits to THE DARK KNIGHT, two visits to ADVENTURELAND, and my now two visits to (500) DAYS OF SUMMER are now legit given my extensive study of visual media? I guess.

"This is what he does. Okay, now there must be a valid reason to see something twice. He knows what he is doing. He has a Master's degree."

After seeing (500) DOS once, I knew that I needed to see it again in order to give it a fuller analysis. It is especially this kind of movie that paralyzes my analytical brain and therefore jumpstarting my analytical heart. I loved (500) DOS! Just loved it! It's about relatively young people succeeding and struggling with relationships (I probably should not use the word love when talking about this movie). It's about the relationship honeymoon when one might have an extra spring in their step. I am predisposed, betrothed to this movie. My liking of this movie is completely out of my hands - it's in my genes.

I realized about halfway through my second viewing of (500) DOS that I can use this movie to counterbalance my argument about PULP FICTION's lack - consistent coherent narrative. Many counterarguments come my way about my severe dislike for PULP FICTION which is generally regarded as Quentin Tarantino's pinnacle. Yes, I do enjoy the vignettes and specific portions of dialogue. The flaw is in the narrative hijinx. There appears to be no reason why Tarantino is playing with the narrative structure, other than to just play with it. It's as if he shot the whole thing in order and then told his editing crew to just chop it up and that'll be that.

My friend V (no, not you Veronica Mars, unfortunately) and I had a long discussion about PULP FICTION. V helped me come to the conclusion that I strongly prefer my movies to have their style motivated by the narrative and NOT the other way 'round. PULP FICTION allows the style to motivate the movie and its narrative. Some people may see this as a good thing, but I do not. The filmmakers need to make promises to me, about where they are taking me.

Don't misunderstand this. I am not saying that the filmmakers need to telegraph things. I just need to prepared for the events unfolding in front of me. Both PULP FICTION and (500) DOS are narratives that feature disjointed narratives. The difference is in narrative promise. PULP FICTION does not provide me with an expectation - only scenes loosely tied together. But with (500) DOS, I know where I am going and to some extent I know where I am coming from.

(500) DOS begins in the middle with the break-up. I know what the story is - it's the telling of the rise and fall of the relationship. I know that the relationship has to end. And yet, the narrative jumps around. (500) DOS's narrative disjunction has motivation. I understand why director Marc Webb pushes me forward and why he pulls me back to particular instances. It is either to explain what has come before, or to facilitate a smooth transition to the next scene.

But I needed a second screening to make the connection from (500) DOS to PULP FICTION. Is it a difficult pairing to make? No, and that only speaks to why multiple viewing are critical for me, and perhaps others. I am reminded of a line from the terrific Gus Van Sant film, FINDING FORRESTER: "You write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head."

It's the same thing with analyzing a movie. The first watch is an emotional experience (the aforementioned analytical heart). Did I enjoy the film? On a very rudimentary level. Subsequent viewings are an inquisitive experience (the aforementioned analytical brain). As always with me, the question remains: to which organ do I listen?

1 comment:

WeirdRash said...

This is a good romantic comedy. Zooey is excellent at this genre.

It made our member's top ten best romantic comedies list.