catapult magazine

catapult magazine


what's good now?


Feb 02 2003
09:03 am

Lots of good movies out right now. Who has seen them and what did you think?

25th Hour
Gangs of New York
About Schmidt
Russian Ark
Far From Heaven


Feb 22 2003
05:50 pm

I’ve been thinking about the “uplifting” feeling I got from The Hours. I think what I saw as uplifting (and this may have to do with having seen it with two friends who are lesbians) is that what seemed to be a common cause for part of the depression, homosexuality, was eventually able to be expressed. Neither Virignia Woolf nor Richard’s mother were able to express their sexuality preferences. Meryl Streep’s character (I’m terrible with names) was, although she wasn’t any less depressed. It seemed that she did have a greater sense of community in dealing with her depression though. Does that make any sense?


Mar 01 2003
08:11 am

Can I put a plug in for Russian Ark?

You must see it.

I just saw it last night, and am still blown away. However, I feel that I’m completely biased, because I viewed it with a very pronounced sense of nostalgia. As we followed the camera through the huge Hermitage in St. Petersburg, I recognized everything! I saw the huge red room with Italian Renaissance pieces of art, I saw Rembrandt’s The Prodigal Son up close once again, a painting I actually stood in front of for a full half hour when I was there. I saw the sculpture of a fairy that I ran my hands over and over, just like the woman in the film. I even saw the random bench on which I sat for an hour to have an extremely meaningful conversation with a close friend of mine (and also to rest from the exhausting trek through the Hermitage).

Exhausting—that is how I would describe Russian Ark. It’s a real departure from Hollywood films today in which you are flashed momentary clips of fast-paced action. This film was one 95 minute long shot. No cuts. No fading in and out. No stopping. So in that sense, it was tiring—kind of like running a marathon, because there was no break, and just the feeling of knowing the camera was YOUR eyes was tiring. Add to that the sheer spectacular-ness (?) of the vast amount of art, the elaborate/ornate “set” of the Hermitage, the thousands of “actors” on the screen, the complex historical commentary that is occuring both on and off screen, AND the fact that you neeed to read sub-titles….. that is why you leave the film tired and breathless.


Mar 01 2003
08:20 am

This past week I also saw A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake. A short but tender peek into Nick Drake’s life. My question is: is it possible to construct a type of biography (as much as this could be called a biography) such as this without it being romantic? What I mean is, Derrida claims that biographies will always end up being the view/story of the person making the biography, and not the actual subject’s story. Derrida: The Movie was neither romantic nor nostalgic. But The Days of Nick Drake was. Is that just a given, considering the nature of his music? Or was it built to be exactly how it came across? Would Nick Drake have wanted to be portrayed as he was? Because it was certainly done very stylistically.

Maybe I’m just reacting this way because I still feel so sad at how tragic his life really was, and I want to know I wasn’t just manipulated into feeling this way.


Mar 01 2003
05:06 pm

Are there any other comments on Gangs of New York? I have been on the fence as to whether to see it in the theater or wait untill it is out on video.
I had had almost decided to go see it in the theater untill I read Eric Metaxas’ review A Bloody Shame in Books and Culture. Ouch! In the review Metaxas says that Gangs is all about the blood, and that this film is another in a line of his that glorifies blood letting. Without having seen Gangs I thought that Metaxas made in intriqueing arguement against gangs, but I are there other arguments out there for or against.


Mar 06 2003
02:44 pm

I read that review. I can understand what he said about Gangs. It’s not Scorsese’s best, which is sad because this was supposed to be his defining moment. It feels like an inmiation of him rather than Scorsese himself. I think the film was so legistically massive and complicated to make that he couldn’t make much more than a traditional epic. But Metaxas guy doesn’t understand Scorsese at all. He’s a very skilled director and deeply concerned with morality, not just causing his characters pain and making them bleed. And he makes more than just his mafia movies, but Metaxas doesn’t mention this.
I think quite often Scorsese is the victim of critics who feel they’re too good for him; “people who really know film realize Scorsese is at best a mediocre filmmaker,” that kind of thing. Fine, he’s not a Werner Herzog or Carl Dreyer or something, but he’s made some fanatstic movies.


Mar 07 2003
06:11 am

As Susan Sontag reminds us, critics ought to show what the director is doing, how the piece is working rather than cast judgements about the relative value of the director within some sort of imagined canon of great directors.

And a word or two in response to SARAH’s post. I got a similar feeling of romanticism—particularly the kind that portrays the “suffering artist” stereotype—when I watched “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”, the movie about Wilco. It played up the “pure artist vs. corrupt industry” in such a way because it makes for a good story.

I think there are ways to write stories differently, but this is the challenge of our age. It is definitely time for our group to watch Storytelling on DVD. It shows the cruelty of storytelling, which should challenge us as Christians to dream up different kinds of stories.