Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

30 October 2004

The Desert is the Garden of Allah

This morning's film was 1936's The Garden of Allah with Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer, also starring Basil Rathbone (always get him confused with David Niven for some reason) and Joseph Schildkraut. The most important thing I have to say about this film is that the DVD looks awesome. The color in this film (1936, don't forget) is gorgeous. It looks like it could have been filmed in the 1950s. The digital transfer is so beautiful. The film isn't really remarkable in any other way. The color cinematography is just beautiful, though, and there are a lot of shots of the Algerian desert. Neither Dietrich or Boyer are very good. Schildkraut seems to locate something interesting acting-wise, but that's it.

Allan and I went to see The Machinist yesterday. It was fair. I found it a little manipulative and purposely obtuse... I was telling Allan... this always frustrates me. I don't like it when a director knows something he isn't telling me. I would rather know, but Anderson deliberately obfuscates the truth in this movie. I suppose he thinks that the revelation at the end is stunning or powerful, but it's really not. It's more like... just an answer to a question that he posed to us at the beginning. Christian Bale is quite good in the movie, and the actor weighs something like 118 pounds in the film. It's so weird and sick and definitely assists in creating the mood of The Machinist. Mood is what Anderson succeeds at creating. The Machinist is creepy and dirty and filled with soft, artificial, washed-out light, and often no light at all. It is a descent into the dark places of the human psyche: jarring and creepy and frequently repulsive. Jennifer Jason-Leigh is beautiful and warm in the film, and Aitana Sanchez-Gijón is beautiful as ever (although not sexy and alive like she was in this I'm Not Scared from earlier this year.)

What to do today... I think I'll go to the cinema again. Maybe to see Being Julia, finally. I'm thinking about it. My friends' Halloween party is this evening, but it won't be normal. Relations are on shaky ground in the circle and no one wants to dress up this year. It won't feel normal, but I think it will be okay.