Well, I failed in my mission to watch something fluffy at the theater. I went to see Barney's Version last night. It's up for Best Make-Up. Just kidding. (I mean, it IS, but that's not why I went to see it. After all, it's up against The Wolfman and you won't catch me watching that piece of shit. I forget what the third nominee is, but it's the obvious winner, whatever it is, something like Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland or something.)
ANYWAY. I like Paul Giamatti and had seen a clip of the film when he was recently on The Daily Show. And you know, I just thought it would be a somewhat funny, perhaps somewhat dark, romantic-ish dramedy thing. And I guess it was, but you know, the ending was just...pretty goddamn sad. Like, a whole lot sad. And not even in the sense that I really liked his character, since I'm not sure I DID, it was more that it was just a little too much REALITY for me.
So goddamn. But then today! Today I saw Grand Hotel, from 1932. I was perusing the list of past Oscar winners and thought I'd knock out a couple I had never seen before. This does not always go well, because sometimes I end up watching something like The Greatest Show on Earth, and all you can think is, "Holy jesus, they get it REALLY FUCKING WRONG sometimes, huh?" (See also: Forrest Gump.)
But I really, really liked Grand Hotel! To be fair, the ending gets a little swept up in melodrama (if you watch it, you'll know exactly the moment it starts), but hey, it's 1932, why not. It stars Lionel and John Barrymore and--this took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize--Joan Crawford. I guess I know her more from her later films, and I was sitting there thinking, damn that's a cute girl, surely I know who that is? DUH.
And then there was Greta Garbo...
I never knew this was the film her big "I want to be alone" scene is from, but there you go. Anyway, I liked it so much more than I expected, it was a good surprise.
I also watched a film tonight that's up for best documentary, Exit Through the Giftshop. I thought this was a film about Banksy, the famous-but-identity-unknown street artist. And it kind of is, but it's mostly about one of the douchiest people ever (if he's real, but I'll get to that).
So this guy, Thierry Guetta, used to be really obsessed with using his video camera and just happens to be cousins with another, though lesser known, street artist, Space Invader. And Guetta goes from filming and filming to eventually trying some of his own street art to suddenly making his own art show. During the film, I was trying not to dislike him, but the longer it went on, the MORE I disliked him. Not even counting what a total fucking asshole this guy is when it comes to his family, his "art" has got to be the biggest joke I've ever seen, and the success of the art show is so utterly depressing: what it says about people, trends, money--and I think the whole point of the original movement was the complete OPPOSITE of what this guy turned into. So I'm pretty sure it's not real.
(On a side note, I've always really liked what Banksy has done, or what I've seen of it...)
But this Guetta dude? First of all, he calls himself Mr. Brainwash, and by the time the film is over, you get to watch everyone he has worked with completely re-evaluate their desire to be associated with him. That is to say they either regret it or are never planning to work with him again. And his "art" is a watered-down cheap rip-off of those around him.
Are you serious?
It was a really interesting and really painful documentary. Technically speaking, it also may not necessarily be a real "documentary," since staging this whole thing would be right up Banksy's alley. After all, it's certainly quite a statement about the art market. The whole thing seems a bit contrived and convenient, but that doesn't mean it isn't kind of great, too.